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Old 05-19-2009, 12:55 PM   #1
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What type of board for the top of a DIY canopy?

I am going to build a canopy for my 50 gallon tank. The dimensions are 36x18, and I am thinking of building a frame out of 1x6's, so that 2 inches of it hangs down on the outside of the tank to cover the 2 inch plastic frame. Then putting a solid top of either 1/2" or 3/4" insided the 1x6 frame, leaving about 3 inches clearance from the top of the glass top to the underside of the canopy top. I am getting a ballast and just mounting T8 endcaps for lights, so there is plenty of room for the T8 tubes under there. Depending on the heat it puts out, I might mount the ballast on the outside of the frame in the back, or possibly at the underside of the canopy right near the back where I will have to leave a few holes anyways for the filter. Anyways, I was wondering if a sheet of plywood would work for the top, or would that warp? My glass top is hinged at about 7 inches from the front of the tank, so I guess I would have to hinge the top at the same point, leaving 11 inches that is solid that I can mount the lights too. Does this sound like a good plan? Kind of a long post just to find out what type of wood to use for the top, but thought I'd explain the whole thing while I am at it!
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Old 05-19-2009, 01:22 PM   #2
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Stay away from pressure treated due to the arsenic that is in them, with your evaporation it might leach back into the water.

I think you can use any wood thats interior grade but water or moisture resistant.
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Old 05-19-2009, 01:46 PM   #3
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Just watch the heat. With it being inclosed, the heat from the lights can change the temp in the tank.
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Old 05-19-2009, 02:21 PM   #4
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Well the back will be partially open. I am going with regular T8 bulbs because they don't put off much heat do they? The ballast might, but if it does, I will just mount it outside.
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Old 05-19-2009, 03:26 PM   #5
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not too much plus you can always install fans to help move air around.
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Old 05-19-2009, 03:27 PM   #6
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FWIW, my canopy (which I did not build) does not have a solid top. It has glass tops but I don't use them because of the heat.
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Old 05-19-2009, 08:37 PM   #7
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I have a T8 single strip fixture that sits right on top of the glass top and I just stuck a bulb in there to see how hot it gets. Nothing at all, I can hold my hand under it and it doesn't even get hot. So with the canopy I would have at least an inch or more clearance between the bulb and the glass, so I should be good, even with two or 3 bulbs!
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Old 05-19-2009, 08:56 PM   #8
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What is your PH reading? With a glass top you might be in for some problems in that area.
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Old 05-19-2009, 11:15 PM   #9
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I have a "half hex" 50g tank. I used 1 x 8 select pine. I started with 1 x 6 and ended up re-doing with the 8". I wanted the extra 1 1/2 clearance for my lights - and I'm using t5s. So double check your sizes before making your purchases.

I used select pine for the top too, and glued them together with gorilla wood glue, then sanded them smooth. Works great so far.
You can see pictures of my project on my site:

The Aquarium Adventure


Good luck!
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Old 05-20-2009, 01:44 AM   #10
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JM, I have exactly what you are planning. My frame is 1x6 Birch, and open at the back (using a 1x2 placed at the top - so a 4" gap). The top is 3/8" plywood (A-D Birch). 4xT8's mounted in the canopy, both ballasts mounted outside.

I have had no problems with wrapping from either moisture or heat. I sealed the canopy with 3 coats of poly, so it is pretty water tight. <Since the plywood is interior (furniture) grade, it might de-laminate if wet.> If you are worried about the top wrapping, you can use Baltic Birch Plywood. This has many more plies than regular plywood (11 vs 7) & is very stable. I use Baltic Birch for drawers as it is the most stable material (apart from plastic or acrylic). However, it is quite expensive so I opted for the cheaper A-D Furniture grade Birch & it worked just fine for me.
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