Making a tank - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 27 Old 11-17-2006, 07:39 PM Thread Starter
Making a tank

I'm looking at a set of directions that would make it cheap to build a big tank. Here is my question:

The only piece of glass used is on the front. The side, back, and bottom are the wood used from construction. The wood is sealed and covered with epoxy. Is this okay for the fish (assuming a proper wait time before putting in the fish).

Anybody with information on this would be great!
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post #2 of 27 Old 11-17-2006, 10:26 PM Thread Starter
Well, I've done a lot of research and this is a project that has actually been cleared by my fiance!

My current plans will allow me to really expand my fish inventory! :D

I'm going to make a Plywood tank using instructions from My measurements will be as follows:

Height: 36 inches
Width: 24 inches
Length: 48 inches

A tank this size will add up to 180 gallons! Since I'm building it this way I'll be able to rearrange my living room and maximize the space available to me, which most store tanks don't fit into (especially at that huge size). The directions at are wonderful, but I'm going to try to take some pictures along the way to help anybody who may want to do this in the future. Ideally, I'll be able to start the project the weekend after Thanksgiving, and it shouldn't take too awful long to complete. The most tedious part will be letting the epoxy dry before adding more layers.

If anybody knows ANYTHING about constructing a plywood tank please feel free to post anything at all. Any experiences or links will help tremendously!
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post #3 of 27 Old 11-17-2006, 10:33 PM
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Plywoods for walls on the sides, back and bottom? Wouldn't the water contents strain it and eventually destroy the woods?

I don't think I understand your concept of how you're constructing the tank with plywoods as tank walls except the front.

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post #4 of 27 Old 11-17-2006, 10:40 PM Thread Starter
That's where the epoxy comes in.

I'll put on a layer, then sand it with 120-grit sandpaper. Then apply another layer and sand it with the same. After that I'll put on a third layer of epoxy and then use 220-grit sandpaper and add two more layers of epoxy.

Holes will be filled properly and the seams will be filled with silicone adhesive. I've been reading about them, and a lot of 500-900 gallon tanks are made this way, so long as the epoxy is applied correctly it will be a really cost effective way to build a tank.

The problem: Who wants to see a board in the background? So right now I'm looking at DIY backgrounds, but I lack a lot of creativity and I want it to be something that will be okay with any combination of fish and doesn't clash with different decorations I may use in the future. (ideas welcome!)

If I didn't explain that correctly, please let me know and I'll try again! :D
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post #5 of 27 Old 11-18-2006, 04:02 AM Thread Starter
While I'm waiting for wood and whatnot, I figured I could ask everybody what they think about the "fish" issues.

Right now I plan on running the three filters, 2 of which I already have. That would be composed of the following filters:

2 30-60 gallon filters
1 80-100 gallon filter

I plan on running bubble strips along the entire bottom in order to create enough oxygen in the tank without it being an issue (since I am planning on having a height of 36 inches).

Right now I have 2 heaters, and I'll have 2 installed. I'll need to upgrade at least 1 of the heaters, if not both.

What else do I need, or what recommendations may you have? All ideas are MORE than welcome!
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post #6 of 27 Old 11-18-2006, 08:13 AM
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This sounds like a great project -- can't wait to see your progress. :)

I have considered something similar for a dream project, but my main questions are: Is wood any stronger or more stable than an all-glass tank? Is it any lighter? Is it any more durable?

Here are some links to some interesting DIY background projects if you don't want the standard paint-on background. THe last link is to a distributor of pre-made 3D backgrounds.

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post #7 of 27 Old 11-18-2006, 01:13 PM Thread Starter
love_my_fish, GREAT LINKS! Thank you very much, there are some great resources there, and extremely thorough too.

Here is an update of where I am currently at. I've contacted several local hardware stores and they don't carry the epoxy needed for a fish tank (FDA approved). I've talked to a pool supplies company who is going to contact they're supplier for pricing information. I've also contacted a glass company to get the prices, just to make sure that it will be price effective to go with plywood. I think it would look better making it out of oak, but for safe measure I figured I'd e-mail the company.

I'll keep posting with progress, and thanks again'll give me some reading to do! :D
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post #8 of 27 Old 11-18-2006, 02:01 PM
wait the tanks not glass?
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post #9 of 27 Old 11-18-2006, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
Nope, not the plywood tank. With 4 layers of epoxy it will contain the water as well as glass. Just to show the extremes of what you can do with a plywood tank, here is somebody who made a 1700 gallon shark tank.

For a more conventional link, more along the lines of what I'm planning, here is a link.

The instructions of putting it together are on My hope is that once I hear from the pool supply company that I'll be able to get the epoxy reasonable enough ($50/gallon). If not, I'll probably go with the glass prices, but a plywood tank with a 3D or painted background would look really amazing. The biggest negative with plywood is that 3 sides will be wood, which only leaves the view to the tank from the front. That will be fine with where I plan to put the tank, though.[/url]
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post #10 of 27 Old 11-18-2006, 02:10 PM
JouteiMike's Avatar
I got a couple questions, but first of all sounds like you have a nice start to the project.

What are you doing for a top/canopy?
What fish are you planning on having?

With a tank that big, a couple powerheads wouldn't hurt either.
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