Acrylic tank build

Joey

Moderator
#1
After building my plywood tank last year, i wanted a bigger tank. I was going to build another plywood tank, but really wanted either a huge glass or acrylic tank.
I went with acrylic.

I used 1/2" cell cast acrylic for the entire tank.
Since it is cheaper to buy full sheets of acrylic rather than certain sized pieces, i had to determine tank dimentions out of 2 full sheets that were 100"x51". I also had to consider the fact that if i were to have it cut up into the sizes i wanted, i had to have it cut into all straight cuts.(saw has to go threw one end and out the other)
I came up with the dimentions of 80"X40"X20.5" (284 gallons). This included the entire tank,all of its bracing and overflow box. since the tank is only 20.5' tall, this raised the tanks overall safety factor by almost double. I didnt need alot of height, just width and length.

So i ordered the acrylic, had it cut to size, and took it home... all i had to do was put it together... easier said then done..

To cement the tank together, i picked up a pint of weld-on 4, an applicator and a couple of tubes of weld-on 16.



The edges of the acrylic have to be perfectly smooth for the bond to be strong. Routing or bench jointing are the right metods, but i dont have either, i only have poor man tools :(
So i used the back of a hack saw blade. I broke the blade in two pieces to shorten it as it was bending as i was using it and rounding off the edges(dont want that) All i did was pull the blade length wise across the edge of the panel, shaving off the saw marks until it was smooth. To prepare all edges was very time consuming, approx. 4 hrs to do the whole tank.

Here is an example of an unprepared edge, and a partially prepared edge.



Big difference.... i went on the shave some more off and then sanded it a bit more with very fine sandpaper.

I didnt get any pictures of the tank build.. i forgot to take some...

Basically i layed the bottom pice on the ground and started with the side panels. The cement bonds very fast, so i only needed to hold them in place for about a munute, until they were free standing. i made sure the pieces were flush with the edges and right angles. I left the protective paper on the whole time in case i dripped some of the cement. i only pulled enough back from the edges to be able to see what i was doing.

Once all four walls were up, i started with the braces. I used 6" wide braces all around.
Since all of the braces over lap, the places that it does overlap is 1" thick. have it 1" thick, especially in the top corners where it adds a tremendous amount of support.

I also had a long strip of 1"x.5" acrylic left over, so i cut that into 5" strips and angled them in each bottom corner for added support.

Here is the tank with all of its bracing and paper still on it...





Paper removed except bottom outside. Overflow box i made, also in pic in postion...



I used weld-on 16, which is alot hicker that the water thin weld- 4, to seal all of the inside seams. It was not needed, but insured me that any pin holes or small gaps were sealed. it drys clear anyway, and is not that noticeable.

I made the overflow box 10" long and 5" wide and the same heigth as the inside of the tank. I cut the teeth of the overflow with a metre saw..not what is usually used, but it worked. I cut threw half of one side and then flipped it over and finnished cutting threw.
I ran into a problem when i placed it. I couldnt access the inside of the box for maintainence if i needed to as the supports were blocking access.



So i had to cut out a piece..... i cleaned up the appeance of the cut later on in the build.





Now that the tank was basically done. i removed all of the protective paper.... and did a test fill...



It hel water no problem for a day, so i drained it and started to flame polish all of the edges.. flame polishing the edges makes the edges appear clear like a glass tanks would.

Here is a poor example of a flame polished edge against a raw edge... the raw piece is laying on top of the flame polished one...

 

Joey

Moderator
#2
So then the tank was done... all i had left was to build the stand, plubming and filtration.

I did the stand first... a cheap and basic(yet very strong) 2x4 stand is all i did. I will wrap it eventually, but no time soon. I only made the stand 31" tall.. if i went any taller, id never be able to get to the back of the tank since it is 40" front to back.







I used a sheet of 3/4" plywood for the top of the stand, and then a sheet of 1/2" styrofoam, since the bottom of an acrylic tank is no like that of a glass one.



Next was filtration. I wanted to use acrylic for this as well. All i needed for this was 6mm extruded acrylic.. I didnt need cell cast becasue of it only hold a max of 10" of water.

The sump itself is 48x19x12... 47 gallons..
The wet/dry tower is 18x19x14.. 21 gallons

Sheets cut and ready to be prepared....



Sump put together





Drip plate put together



Drip plate drilled... 140 holes should do it.



Wet/dry(trickle tower) together

 

Joey

Moderator
#3
Tower completed



baffels installed in sump



I also wanted a compartment for submerged media.... water will flow under the egg crate, and up threw the media.




Needed some mech filtration after the trickle tower, but befor the submerged media...




completed.. i added 2" spports for the tower to sit on...





How this filter will work:



Filter in place



Overall shot, starting another test fill....



Filled to operating level




I filled the tower with 15 gallons of bio-balls...
The submerged portion of the sump will hold approx 6 gallons.

Next was plumbing... I used a 1.5" bulkhead for the drain, and 3/4" for the return. I only want to run tthe wet/dry at around 4Xs an hour, so this size works great. I will also being running canisters at 4Xs an hour on this tank as well(more for water polishing than anything)
 

Joey

Moderator
#4
I didnt get any pics of the overflow, but i did a durso stand pipe. works great..



Return was using loc-line tubing for flexability. I drilled a small hole in the top of it to create a siphon break.



I made a small lid for the over flow box as well...



Drain to the drip plate...



Tank has also been painted black... both the bottom outside and back... looks great...

All thats left is to get acrylic lids for the tank and sump this week.... i also have to upgrade all of the equipment... but the equipment upgrade wont happen for a few weeks.


Total water volume at any given point is 310 gallons... total system volume is 355 gallons.

I dont think i left anything out.....

At this point, i have my 3 rays in the tank and it is up and running....

Full tank shots will be added later this week.

Stocking will be:
2 motoro rays(Male and female)
1 Boesemani ray (Female)
1 panda gold asian arowana
 

chen88

Super Moderator
#5
damn you're good! wow...great job! wished I was good at that....I'd be making all sorts of things with the acrylic...just proper tools I guess....and most of all TIME...
 

Joey

Moderator
#7
damn you're good! wow...great job! wished I was good at that....I'd be making all sorts of things with the acrylic...just proper tools I guess....and most of all TIME...
Thank you... It was actually really easy... once i had the tank together, i thought.."thats it? thats all there is to it?" Needless to say, this will not be my last acrylic tank. If you have the basdic tools to work with wood, then those same tools can be used on acrylic... nothing fancy.

Time consuming is all it was, which is mostly spent preparing the edges... That and patience with the weld-on.. that stuff is not forgiving!
 

Joey

Moderator
#9
Absolutely fantastic. Your sump is especially inspirational! :)
Thank you very much. The sump was my favorite part to build actually... i had alot of better ideas for one, but all i had to work with was a 8x4 sheet of acrylic, so this is what i came up with given the restrictions i had.
 
#10
amazing setup. i like the dimensions of the tank!
Thanks! the rays really like it as well! Not sure how the arowana will like going from a secure 120gal(4x2x2) to the wide open space of the new tank... Might wait until he is a bit bigger, or i might try him in there for a few days. he is only about 10-12" right now. what do you guys think?
 
#13
You did an amazing job. Well done! My 12" aro is in a 270g tank and is doing fine but she was in the tank since she was small (6"). Your aro should be alright but if she seems too jumpy you can always put her back in the 120 for a while.
 
#14
You did an amazing job. Well done! My 12" aro is in a 270g tank and is doing fine but she was in the tank since she was small (6"). Your aro should be alright but if she seems too jumpy you can always put her back in the 120 for a while.
Thanks....

thats what i was thinking of doing with him... im not feeling like moveing any more fish right now though(not after moving the rays) so maybe later in the week, i'll give it a shot.
 
#15
Thanks! the rays really like it as well! Not sure how the arowana will like going from a secure 120gal(4x2x2) to the wide open space of the new tank... Might wait until he is a bit bigger, or i might try him in there for a few days. he is only about 10-12" right now. what do you guys think?
i think grow the aro in the 120 until he reaches 15-16 inches. they do get too jumpy if the tanks too big. or if you really want to add the aro in, get some mid swimming fish. maybe tinfoils and bala sharks. with more fish in the tank, the aro wont freak out as much.
 
#16
i think grow the aro in the 120 until he reaches 15-16 inches. they do get too jumpy if the tanks too big. or if you really want to add the aro in, get some mid swimming fish. maybe tinfoils and bala sharks. with more fish in the tank, the aro wont freak out as much.
I'll try him in the big tank and see how he acts... i dont really want any dither fish, so i'll move him back if things dont work out.
 
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