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Hey, everyone, I need some advice here. I bought an acrylic terrarium back in November and set it up for some vents. It is a nice setup, custom made by an acrylic fabricator, with a door that is mounted with two hinges to open to the side (not up and down . . . if that makes sense). Well, the corners began to slightly warp (curl, if you will) away from the tank before I placed the vents in there. I left the tank setup as an orchid tank and to allow it to grow in for a while until I could figure out what to do.

This weekend, I decided that the thing to do (without getting absolutely crazy) was to just make a custom gasket around the sides with silicone. I did that, and it was once again very tight. I put the vents in on Tuesday, as everything looked fine, and now I'm noticing that the gasket no longer sits perfectly tight against the front of the tank--it's curling again! AHHHHHHHH. :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

Since the terrarium front seems stable, I was thinking about cutting the door off and using a glass piece on front. Does anyone have any experience to offer a suggestion on this? the terrarium is made of 1/4" acrylic if that helps.

Thanks in advance,
 

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1) if your lights are right on top of the tank. Raise them at least 10 inches.

2) the guys at Maryland Cages tell me that heat is not the only (or even the main) factor in warpage. Moisture is also. I'm not if there is any other cure for this factor other than extremely thick acrylic/plexi on the front of tanks (where the door is).

I'm hoping this is not going to be a big problem wtih me as I've got quite a bit invested in these tanks.

s
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, Scott, that's what I was afraid of. I have never had the lights directly on the top of the terrarium, and I have a fan to keep it cooler. I really think there is a problem with the humidity and plexi. That's why I think that I'm going to end up having to use glass, or using a pin of sorts to keep the edge from pulling away. I appreciate your input. Keep us posted on how the 3/8" acrylic works out.
 

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Actually... I've got 1/4" all the way around.

I'm trying my best to keep things from warping. I've moved all lights out to about 10" where they were 3 or 4" before.

Things seem noticably better.

Holding my breath,

s

Homer said:
... I appreciate your input. Keep us posted on how the 3/8" acrylic works out.
 

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I would pull the frogs out homer. WHen I looked into making my own tanks, I had read too many stories like this with acrylic. I don't plan on ever using it. Just does not seem to fit out needs for this hobby, unless you go to 1/2 inch or something crazy.

Have you seen my custom tanks? I've been thinking about selling them:


They are 14 deep, by 18 high, and 11 wide. 4 just fit nside the sides of a 4ft chrome shelf. So far the only issues i have had is I vented the first one too much, and the did not like theacrylic latch I used. I plan to remove it, and use a brass one like on the others. They are much easier to open, and do not disturb the frogs as much.

Homer said:
Hey, everyone, I need some advice here. I bought an acrylic terrarium back in November and set it up for some vents. It is a nice setup, custom made by an acrylic fabricator, with a door that is mounted with two hinges to open to the side (not up and down . . . if that makes sense). Well, the corners began to slightly warp (curl, if you will) away from the tank before I placed the vents in there. I left the tank setup as an orchid tank and to allow it to grow in for a while until I could figure out what to do.

This weekend, I decided that the thing to do (without getting absolutely crazy) was to just make a custom gasket around the sides with silicone. I did that, and it was once again very tight. I put the vents in on Tuesday, as everything looked fine, and now I'm noticing that the gasket no longer sits perfectly tight against the front of the tank--it's curling again! AHHHHHHHH. :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

Since the terrarium front seems stable, I was thinking about cutting the door off and using a glass piece on front. Does anyone have any experience to offer a suggestion on this? the terrarium is made of 1/4" acrylic if that helps.

Thanks in advance,
 

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Homer, Kyle, Scott '84

I disagree I think the acrylic works great, you just have to be prepared ahead of time for a little warping. I have the same tanks you do Homer and what I suggest for those are to drill and tap holes near the corner where the warping will be at a max. Cut a piece of acrylic about 1.5"x .75" and drill a hole through it. Then as you thread your bolt through the acrylic tab you can screw it in as tightly or loosely as needed, and you'll be able to adjust for any future warping. This was the method used on the tanks I got from the Maryland Cages guys and I think its a great system. I talked with Sean Steward at IAD and he's switched the majority of his tanks over to these (A LOT of tanks!) and he said they've been working great.

On future tanks though I think I'm just going to start with a glass door and not have to worry about it all. I've got a tap if you need to borrow one Homer,

-=Adam ('01)=-
 

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Is all that work and extra cost worth it? The tanks they had at IAD in my opinion were WAY overpriced. The one I was looking at at the show was $260! I could make alot of tanks for that price, and no warping! I'm all for the front opening, but not sure about the acrylic. Just my opinion, adam and others have a lot more experience than myself. :) I plan to get mellisa one of my tanks to test out in the near future.
 

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Scott,

I forgot to add that moving the heat source farther from your tanks minimizing the humidity are no doubt the best things you could do for your tanks. However, in my case, I'm just planning on allowing a certain amount of warping to occur simply because I don't have enough space really to move the lights much farther that a few inches from the tanks (as they're on my rack). Your right though that keeping the lights farther from the tanks will be your best bet in the long run.

...no sleep (studying for a test tonight) made me forget the important point! :shock:

-=Adam=-
 

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Kyle - FWIW, I agree about the pricing frm Maryland Caging. I did not get my tanks from them.

That said... I have built tanks like yours, and I did it 7 or 8 years ago. I may yet try it again. It takes having a good glass shop nearby and patience (oh, and you must not mind small glass cuts either).

To get as many tanks as I did, with the quality (very high), and design (much better than those you saw at IAD, the tanks I have are European design. Full venting in front. Very nice.) would take a lot more work than I am willing to put into it right now.

I reserve the right to change my mind in the future though.

s

kyle1745 said:
Is all that work and extra cost worth it? The tanks they had at IAD in my opinion were WAY overpriced. The one I was looking at at the show was $260! I could make alot of tanks for that price, and no warping! I'm all for the front opening, but not sure about the acrylic. Just my opinion, adam and others have a lot more experience than myself. :) I plan to get mellisa one of my tanks to test out in the near future.
 

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Acrylic tanks

I am personally building some acrylic tanks. I have been told that 1/4 inch should not warp, but who knows. I am using 3/8 for safe measure and so its sturdier. I do know for a fact that plexi will infact warp. I would contact the builder of the tank, as these do cost some money to have custon made.


Damon
 

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Kyle,

I really don't know if it is worth the extra cost and effort at the moment, and I certainly want to try to build my own glass tanks to compare someday. I like the acrylic because I can experiment with misting systems, drains, vents, etc. easier than I can with glass at this point and I'm really still trying to figure out what I like or how to get what I want. I really just like trying everything glass/acrylic, different backgrounds, substrates, lights, plants, etc to see what I like. I guess if I can figure it out in acrylic on my own then make the same thing in glass someday I probably would. I'll just have to wait and see! Take care,

-=Adam=-
 

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I agree, acrylic is much easier to work with, but the warping really keeps me from trying it. Not to mention the cost. I am guessing I can get my bottoms drilled for about nothing at the palce I get the glass. Just have not done so.

-=Adam=- said:
Kyle,

I really don't know if it is worth the extra cost and effort at the moment, and I certainly want to try to build my own glass tanks to compare someday. I like the acrylic because I can experiment with misting systems, drains, vents, etc. easier than I can with glass at this point and I'm really still trying to figure out what I like or how to get what I want. I really just like trying everything glass/acrylic, different backgrounds, substrates, lights, plants, etc to see what I like. I guess if I can figure it out in acrylic on my own then make the same thing in glass someday I probably would. I'll just have to wait and see! Take care,

-=Adam=-
 

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glass vs plex

Kyle,

We are actually putting our drains in the back of our tanks (the back wall) vs the floor. Let me know if you ever need any bulkheads, I found a place that has them.

Actually, I am going to run over there at lunch to pick a couple up.

Melis

kyle1745 said:
I agree, acrylic is much easier to work with, but the warping really keeps me from trying it. Not to mention the cost. I am guessing I can get my bottoms drilled for about nothing at the palce I get the glass. Just have not done so.
 

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Re: glass vs plex

Thanks, if I need some I will let you know.

I have not had a need for a drain yet, and am trying to keep it that way. I'm sure like everyone else I will be forced to move to a drain system, but I really don't want the added complexity.

melissa68 said:
Kyle,

We are actually putting our drains in the back of our tanks (the back wall) vs the floor. Let me know if you ever need any bulkheads, I found a place that has them.

Actually, I am going to run over there at lunch to pick a couple up.

Melis

kyle1745 said:
I agree, acrylic is much easier to work with, but the warping really keeps me from trying it. Not to mention the cost. I am guessing I can get my bottoms drilled for about nothing at the palce I get the glass. Just have not done so.
 

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I have 6 acrylic enclosures and I am in the process of making 4 custom
vertical glass enclosures. I got the acrylic enclosures from MD custom caging and I am very happy with them. The first one I got about a year ago and it is made from 1/4" sheet all around, with a 1 1/4" wide inner door stop on the inside of the opening. The hinges (2) are
about 2" long. The door did warp a bit on this one because of the humidity,
about 4 mm. The next set that I bought had a 3/8" front and I am not having issues with the doors bowing, or it is at least not noticeable.
I also have two 48" florescent UV lights touching the enclosures, but think
that CFs and the additional heat generated might cause problems.

I thought about replacing the warped door with 1/4 inch glass, but the
enclosure houses 2 very large female leucs so there is no concern about them getting out. Even if the enclosure did house thumbs, because of the
door closures being in the corners of the door and the 3/4" overlap on the
door stop, I would not be too concerned about escapes. (maybe retics)


Homer, the difficulty with replacing the acrylic side opening doors with
glass and attaching them with the acrylic hinges is that the glass is approximately 3x as heavy and I am not confident that silicone would be strong enough to support the door when it swings free of the frame. I asked Kyle (please chime in if I get this wrong!) how he attaches his doors and he uses an acrylic piano hinge that is siliconed to the door, but
because the door opens down, the weight distribution of the glass on the hinge is different. The piano hinge distributes the weight differently too because of the greater surface area. I think that you have the same type of hinges I have, so in theory you could drill the glass and the acrylic and attach the hinges with a brass or stainless bolt but that would be a pain.

Pros of Acrylic: It is light, easily drilled for drains and misting systems,
does not break under normal conditions, easy to join
Cons of Acrylic : It is expensive, I bought a couple 1/4 inch sheets and
just that is a lot more than glass, it scratches and can warp

Pros of Glass: Inexpensive, does not scratch under normal conditions, does not warp, easy to join
Cons of Glass: Heavy, drilling is much more difficult, and can break or chip pretty easily

I like them both but I do not think that they are always interchangeable, it
depends on the application.

Ed
 

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You are correct with the hinges, mine are just flat acrylic hinges which work fine, but for my own piece of mind if I were to make them more than a little larger I would want a H type hinge. It would work just as well, but with less risk of it coming lose. I plan to try a larger one with a sliding glass door.

There are ways to make the glass work, but you are correct it can get heavy. I use 1/4 inch glass on the tanks I made which I would guess is overkill, but it was the same price as the 1/8inch so I went with the thicker. I think if you are looking for a larger group of tanks then custom tanks or at least 10gal verts are the way to go. At least for thumbs.

Ed Martin said:
I have 6 acrylic enclosures and I am in the process of making 4 custom
vertical glass enclosures. I got the acrylic enclosures from MD custom caging and I am very happy with them. The first one I got about a year ago and it is made from 1/4" sheet all around, with a 1 1/4" wide inner door stop on the inside of the opening. The hinges (2) are
about 2" long. The door did warp a bit on this one because of the humidity,
about 4 mm. The next set that I bought had a 3/8" front and I am not having issues with the doors bowing, or it is at least not noticeable.
I also have two 48" florescent UV lights touching the enclosures, but think
that CFs and the additional heat generated might cause problems.

I thought about replacing the warped door with 1/4 inch glass, but the
enclosure houses 2 very large female leucs so there is no concern about them getting out. Even if the enclosure did house thumbs, because of the
door closures being in the corners of the door and the 3/4" overlap on the
door stop, I would not be too concerned about escapes. (maybe retics)


Homer, the difficulty with replacing the acrylic side opening doors with
glass and attaching them with the acrylic hinges is that the glass is approximately 3x as heavy and I am not confident that silicone would be strong enough to support the door when it swings free of the frame. I asked Kyle (please chime in if I get this wrong!) how he attaches his doors and he uses an acrylic piano hinge that is siliconed to the door, but
because the door opens down, the weight distribution of the glass on the hinge is different. The piano hinge distributes the weight differently too because of the greater surface area. I think that you have the same type of hinges I have, so in theory you could drill the glass and the acrylic and attach the hinges with a brass or stainless bolt but that would be a pain.

Pros of Acrylic: It is light, easily drilled for drains and misting systems,
does not break under normal conditions, easy to join
Cons of Acrylic : It is expensive, I bought a couple 1/4 inch sheets and
just that is a lot more than glass, it scratches and can warp

Pros of Glass: Inexpensive, does not scratch under normal conditions, does not warp, easy to join
Cons of Glass: Heavy, drilling is much more difficult, and can break or chip pretty easily

I like them both but I do not think that they are always interchangeable, it
depends on the application.

Ed
 
G

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Dont know if you can do this on yours, but this is what I did when my corners started to pull away.

The wooden perimeter was also used as a track for the glass top.









after doing this, I have had no problems with warping, and my lights are only a coupl of inches off the top.
 
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kyle1745 said:
Very cool looking tank, how does the wood hold up? I want to use a wooden type top for a custom idea someday, but worried about warping.
Thanks. I have had no probelm with warping, as the wood is bolted to the plexiglass in several places. Plus, as large as the tank is, there is relatively little wood....mostly glass.
 
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