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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Tonight I was bored and taking a closer look at my acrylic cube I bought second hand. It was made by AZDR. It's just a 15" cube. Very simple design. I was thinking, how hard can this be really?

Has anyone ever made their own acrylic tanks? I know acrylic has it's pros and cons, but I think it looks great and gives full view of the vivarium, especially since I use smaller vivariums on my rack.

I was in talks with a plastics fabricator in Boston, but the prices ended up being way more than I first heard.

I found another local company that sells all sorts of acrylic and other sheets of plastic. They also sell a kit that comes with several sheets, the glue, cutting tool, and everything else needed to making acrylic tanks.

I want to replace a 15 gallon tank I have with 2 acrylic tanks that are 15x18deepx15 high.

Just wanted to get some input on this. If anyone has any tips? Best cutting tools for cutting the acrylic cleanly. The door assembly can be very simple as it is with my AZDR tank. Actually, I would probably just replicate this tank except for some size differences.

Anyway I'm going to do a little more research than give it a whirl. I do like my bottom shelf of my 20 high vert conversions, but the rest of my rack is fair game to re-do in acrylics.

Anyway I'll post pictures here if I end up finishing a tank soon.
D
 

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doesn't sound like it would be too daunting of a task, but then again i've never worked with acrylic. I have made custom tanks out of glass, and thats pretty easy with the right tools though. If i'm not mistaken, acrylic will break at a weakened point much like glass, so i think if you score the acrylic right where you want it to break, it should break cleanly when bent downwards in a quick motion. Give it a try and let us know how it works!
 

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It just takes some practice with applying the glue. To many down sides to acrylic. Biggest issues are easily scratches and warps with the heat and humidity. Glass tanks are just as easily made.
 

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Unlike glass, acrylic needs a precise fit and good edges to get a strong/watertight seal. For most of my acrylic projects I've used a table saw with a plastics blade for cuts, and an edge scraper to smooth the cut edges. You can also flame polish the edges with a blowtorch, but that's a little more involved.
I also like to use the thinner cements like weld-on 22 with a hypo applicator, as opposed to the syrupy stuff that most people on the board use. There are several guides online detailing the steps, but I don't have any links handy.
 

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I started a thread about this not too long ago: http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/parts-construction/67575-plexiglass-questions.html

There is a lot of good information in there, I highly recommend reading it if you haven't already.

Since then, I have decided to go with glass. Between that thread (Pumilo who works with glass for a living), and talking with others off the site I decided to not go with acrylic. I even talked to a guy who owns a store that just sells the acrylics and stuff (no glass) and he said no even though he wouldn't be getting a sale then.

With that said, plexiglass should be very easy to work with, which is one of the big reasons I wanted to use it. I hope this helps :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Maybe I'll look into glass.

I want to build a unit that is 18 inches from front to back, 30 inches long, and 15 inches high. Divided in half into two tanks. Basically just as two smaller tanks in one, to save space, and look really nice.

I found a guy in Conn. that sells custom acrylic tanks on ebay. I am going to call him tomorrow as maybe he can build this for me and I'll pick it up in person.
D
 

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It's funny!!

Dj . These guys in Canada ( have been building these custom Acrylic tanks FOR years ( and they havent had " warping" problems!! Acrylic is great ( if built to accommodate the warping issue in mind.

they build them right! ( they got their ideas from European Vivaria hobbiests) which are years ahead of US hobby!!

Vivaria | Understory Enterprises


When i lived in Germany full time for 3 years 2008- 2011. I just came home 4 months ago ( as you know already). I saw ALOT of hobbiests used Acrylic. I would take the ICE train to Amsterdam and touring Holland for their frog shows. It was an experience I will never forget.

Like anything glass has their pros and cons. So does Acrylic. ( when it boils down to anything ) it's how much you want to spend vs what you want with the features that come with what glass or Acrylic. Acrylic is easier to customize, not nearly as heavy and can be manipulated it to have seamless corners. Caution with cleaning acrylic is using proper rags because Acrylic Is PRONE to Scratches.

Glass is ALOT cheaper. Doesnt scratch. More accessible to find tanks. But with caution in mind with whom you purchase from. Acrylic is Awesome. I had Patrick do a customs Acrylic tank 4 years ago( mine has never scratched or warped)lol Patrick Nabors has been using Acrylic for 21 years. Understory had been using them for 24 years. If they were warping all the time. They would be out of business :)

Again. It boils down to the almighty buck!! That's America!

I am going to Michaels and getting some of that Permastone :)
 

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Clean cuts and weld on 22 is the way to go as mentioned above.
I make signs for a living and do this all the time with great outdoor results. I have signs that are up 15 years later and still no leaks or separation at the glue joints but they must be CLEAN edges. The flame polishing is best and cleaner looking but scraping or sanding works as well.
 

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OBTW.. The Gallactic "Petsmart" Empire has a glass tank I saw. I will flirt with the cashier, distract her ( while you load it in your truck.. JK

30 x 18 x 24 ( great dimensions ) a bit taller than what you are looking for. ( I think because you are wanting it 15" high to fit into the height the rack you have will allow??
 

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In response to your OP, the biggest thing holding people back from working with acrylic is COST. Acrylic can be very difficult to toy around with without precise tools to cut them and get good, clean edges. The high risk of failure at first with using acrylic is what scares a lot of people away.

With glass, you can draw a line, cut along the line using a straight edge and a cutter and snap the piece in two. BOOM! Perfectly angled cuts.
 

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if you do decide to go with glass, you can always bevel the edges of the glass to make it look more professional. ADA and Do!Aqua sell really nice beveled edge rimless tanks (that are incredibly overpriced btw). There are some ideas that i have about making a rimless viv that's theoretically fruit fly and frog proof, but i have yet to make one. I have however beveled some glass panels without the commercial beveling tools fairly easily, but it takes a long time to do.
 

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Dan, if you ever feel brave enough to take a drive up to UE, they make the best acrylic tanks hands down, i have a few from way back when they used to ship and have kept them for well over 10 years now with no issues, have tried others and they just dont' compare.

What is UE???? ( just curious)
 

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People lump everything together way to much on this subject.

Yes, plexiglass will warp. It is also brittle.

There are MANY types of "Acrylic"

Polycarbonate sold under many names with Lexan being the most popular is a good stable easy to use sheet that humidity and heat have little effect on .

About ten years ago, we started laser cutting templates out of 1/4" lexan because it is lighter than steel, and it is see thru. The left over part of the sheets was thrown out, so I asked if I could have the scrap.

I built a 300 gallon octagon with 14" wide panels beveled at 22.5 degrees on each side for a tight fit. I did this on the table saw.

When I installed the bulkhead for the drain, I drilled and tapped the lexan and screwed the bulkhead into the lexan. cut perfect threads.

It is easy to work with, stable, and clear. And the 40" tall panels have never warped in the least bit. It is completely sealed with 92% constant humidity.

If you have an old acrylic tank, Novus plastic polish will remove the scratches just use a soft cloth and rinse really good before setting it back up.
 

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US Aquariums used to build a lot of high end aquariums. They did all their acrylic cuts using a fence and router. They got a very straight cut that way.
 

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IME a laser will provide the BEST edges in the least amount of time with the least amount of work. it does have its drawbacks though. laser cutting generally costs upwards of $30 per hour and the area around the cuts seems to become more brittle. the edges however are extremely smooth and suitable for even the thinnest of bonding agents.

james
 

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IME a laser will provide the BEST edges in the least amount of time with the least amount of work. it does have its drawbacks though. laser cutting generally costs upwards of $30 per hour and the area around the cuts seems to become more brittle. the edges however are extremely smooth and suitable for even the thinnest of bonding agents.

james
That's true, James, but I prefer to use my laser for blasting stormtroopers.
 
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