Aquarium Hoods

> From: bowkerg at NTU_EDU.AU (Gail Bowker)
> Date: Tue, 18 Jun 1996 14:29:00 +0930
> George - I tried to email this to you privately, but something
> wouldn't work....
> Would you mind sending me instructions for making your hood.  It sounds
> like just the thing I need. 

Since the archive are down right now, I'll post it here.

The following describes the hood I made myself for our 85 gallon tank.  I
have also had two more professionaly made out of oak (for better
appearance).  The goals of the hood design were:

  1. Be attractive and easy to build (very subjective).

  2. Enclose all the light fixtures and top side equipment, etc.

  3. Allow easy daily access to the tank for feeding, water chemistry 
     measurements and adjustments, etc.

  4. Allow unrestricted access to the tank for cleaning, planting, fish
     catching, etc, without removing the hood.

  5. Be lightweight and inexpensive.

The hood is designed for an 85 or 100 gallon acrylic tank: 60" long by 18"
wide (from to back).  The basic design is a box, open at the bottom and
split across the top with a piano hinge holding the two halves together.
Two shop light fixtures are attached to the inside top of the hood.  The
height of the hood is enough to allow the bottom of the light fixtures to
move over the tops of any external equipment.  The back is partially open
to allow it to slide backwards over the equipment and to provide
ventilation for the lights.  The hood fits over the rim of the tank and
rests on some 1/2" sq recessed wood strips on the side of the hood.  If you
have a 48" by 12" tank (55 gallon), you will need to make adjustments for
the length and width of the light fixtures.

                           front          hinge         back
                              _____________ ______________
       side view:             |     MMM   -o-   MMM      |
                              |   /=====\  :  /=====\    :
                              |  / O   O \ : / O   O \   :
                              |            :             :
                wood strips-> |n___________:____________n:
                               |                        |                 
                               |    tank                |                 
                               |                        |                 

To feed the fish or do minor maintenance, the front half of the hood is 
pivoted upwards and allowed to rest on the rear half:
                                           :            n|
                                           :\         /  |
                                           : \ O   O /   |
                                           :  \=====/    |
       side view:                          :    MMM      |
                                           :  /=====\    :
                                           : / O   O \   :
                                           :             :
                               |                        |                 
                               |    tank                |                 
                               |                        |                 

To do cleaning and heavy maintenance, the front part is raised like the
previous picture and the whole assembly is slid back 4 or 5 inches until 
it hits the wall behind the tank.  The first hood had some push-button 
switches on the side to turn on the front and rear lights independently
(turn off the front half so you aren't blinded when you raide the front!).
On the other two, I mounted the switches inside, out of sight (you are
only temporarily blinded when you raise the hood to get to the switch!). 

To build the hood, I made two frames of 1/2" square pine strips (kind of a
"wire frame" model of each half of the hood).  I then nailed and glued 1/4"
tempered (waterproof) Masonite on the front (or back), sides and top of the
frames.  I didn't overlap the corners of the Masonite, so there was a 1/4"
"notch" all the way around the top and sides.  I obtained some 1/4" square
basswood from the local hobby shop and glued this in the notch.  Using a
"Surform" tool, I rounded the bassword to give a nice edge (It would be
hard to round off the Masonite).  A little Plastic wood or spackling filled
in any imperfections, so the hood looks like a one piece unit.  The only
"precision" woodworking required is to cut the Masonite nice and square.
The frame simply serves as a way to connect the Masonite pieces and act as
a support rails for the hood; all the strength is in the Masonite.

                                       Masonite top
             1/4" basswood       ___________________________
             goes here ------>  _|__________________________| O <- 48" Piano
                               | |   |                  |   || |     hinge
                 Masonite ->   | |   |__________________|   || |
                  front        | |   |                  |   |
                               | |   |                  |   |
                               | |   |                  | o---- 1/2" pine
                               | |   |    Masonite      |   |   frame
                               | |   |      side        |   |
                               | |   |                  |   |
                               | |   |                  |   |
                               | |   |__________________|   |  frame rests on
                               | |   |                  |   |  top of tank 
      front and sides extend   | |___|__________________|___|  _______________
      below frame to hide      | |                          |  |
      top edge of tank         |_|__________________________|  |   tank

I painted the hood white and sealed the inside with Marine varnish.  The
smooth, seamless white hood gives the tank a very modern look.  I guess you
could get veneer and cover the outside to make it look like wood.  I have
been very happy with the hood; it makes access to the tank very easy and it
looks good.  There has been no warpage of any kind (over two years).