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RE: NFC: Re: Darter tanks and other stuff

Hey Jim, thanks for all the info thus far.  I do have a question though. I 
think it was asked before, but I don't recall seeing an answer.  What should 
I do in the front corners and bottom front seam where the glass meets the 
acrylic?  Does any stuff seal both?  Thanks, Ron
From: Jim Colburn
Subject: NFC: Re: Darter tanks and other stuff
Date: Sunday, May 23, 1999 11:48AM

     am going to make sure I have more time when I next post something like
that-this is the 9th message I have replyed to on this topic!
Ron wrote-
>Jim, I'm also in the process of building a large tank.  I have a piece of
>glass already, acquired for free,
     Right up front, let me say I like your pricing schedule here!  The 
is often the hardest item to acquire, and the most expensive.  Just don't
break it...  I have, several times.

> that measures 5' X 32" tall, and 5/8"
>thick. I was planning to make the tank 2' wide.
     Make sure you have the tank well braced-IMHO, 5/8" glass is minimum
thickness for a tank that deep.
     Also, a 32" deep tank is a nightmare to clean.  I would plan on that 
setting it up.  Best way is if you can work all the way around the tank
when cleaning it.

>  I was thinking about using
>formica inside.  Is this feasable in your opinion?  I know a few guys who
>have used it, but their tanks are only like a year old now.  I don't think
>they have had any problems with it so far.
     I worked with tanks lined with formica and with sheet PVC in use for up 
5 years in some cases.  The sheet PVC would eventually become brittle and
crack near the joints, and I don't know why.  I do know it was a pain to
fix, so I wouldn't recommend it for a tank in the home.  Formica gave me
some problems too.  Leaks would appear, and I was never able to figure out
where they came from.  The sheet acrylic seems to solve both of these
problems, so I gave up on formica and on sheet PVC.
     I have to point out that the formica and PVC experience was gained in
marine tanks-I don't know if things would go differently in freshwater 

> Is it possible to use acrylic
>to line the plywood and still use the glass for the front panel?
     I don't see why not.  Leave the gaps like I didscussed in my earlier 
and you should be OK.

Moon wrote:
>I make tanks from plywood and epoxy, I have some more than 20 years old and 

>still going.  Yes, it can be expensive, it only really saves money when you 

>make a really large tank 100gal.+. The up side is that you can make a tank
>that conforms to your fish husbandry needs.
     Wow!  That expense might be worth it.  My methods, using sheet acrylic 
a liner, were developed to reduce expense and increase speed.  As a fringe
benefit, they also allow a price break on smaller tanks.  I personally
wouldn't build a tank < 30 gallons, unless I needed to fit a particular
place or purpose.   But I wouldn't buy a 40 breeder-I know I can build one
using materials on hand for around $10.
     If you like the "standard" sized tanks-the ones you frequently see on
sale-I wouldn't build a tank.  If you like the odd-ball sizes such as the
40 breeders, or need to fit a particular area or purpose (like Tony's
darter tank, or the tank that will go across the back of the desk I am
building) then it may be best to build your own.
     But there are a couple factors to consider.  It really helps if you 
tools, a workshop, and some experience building things.  (Having said that,
I should point out that a friend of mine built a 4' long tank in his dorm
room, using only an electric drill.  He had the plywood cut at a lumber
yard to fit the glass he had.)
     Another factor is your ability to creatively acquire materials, and the
flexibility of your design.  Ron was given a piece of glass 5'x32"x5/8",
and seems to be planning his tank around this.  That removes what would
probably be his major expense.  If you check at your local glass shop, they
may have pieces of salvage glass or pieces cut to the wrong size, that can
be bought at a very reasonable price and designed around.

>It's a slow process and takes
>about a week to make a tank, I use several layers of different resins, no
>failures so far.
     Another advantage of the acrylic liner-I can build a tank in one day.

> I am considering making a 1000gal tank in my greenhouse for

> I always use glass, it's quite strong when supported on all edges
>evenly. <snip> No cross pieces are necessary, 8' long is as long as I have
>so far, but I do use an inner rim at the top.
     It sounds like you are using the glass as a structural element-that and
the inner rim would definitely increase the structural strength!
Personally, I prefer your method from an aesthetic and engineering
standpoint.  I just can't afford it!
     People interested in building tanks might want to refer to Martin Moe's
"The marine Aquarium Handbook-Beginner to Breeder".  He has a good
discussion on building glass aquariums on pp. 3-9.
Jim Colburn