HOW TO: Build A Glass Aquarium TUTORIAL

HOW TO: Build A Glass Aquarium TUTORIAL

Hi everybody Joey here again and welcome back. So today I’m going to be showing you guys
exactly how to build a glass aquarium. Let’s get started right away with what supplies
you’re going to need. Ok, so some of the materials are pretty straight forward, obviously we
are going to need silicone, I’m using GE silicone 1 window and door, it’s also clear. This is
the silicone I have been using for several years, it works well and it’s aquarium safe. Second, you’re probably going to need a caulking
gun if you’re using the bigger tube of silicone, just based on the simple fact that you can’t
use one without the other (obviously). Getting more than you need in the silicone is a good
idea just so you don’t run out halfway through the job. Just when you think you have enough
you probably don’t – go ahead and get some more it’s only about 5 dollars a tube. You’ll also need some tape; this is going
to be optional which tape you can use though. You can either use painters tape, or electrical
tape. I like to use painters tape because it doesn’t leave a sticky residue, neither
does electrical tape but none the less, this rips really easy so while I’m working on the
job I don’t need extra hands. You’ll also need some sand paper, sand paper
is going to be optional, optional based on the fact that you may or may not have to cut
your glass. If you do, you’ll need to sandpaper it. For this job I’m using 60 grit, I don’t
have a lot here because what it’s going to be used for only takes a minimal amount. You’ll also need a right angle; this is a
mandatory piece of equipment that you’re going to need based on the sole fact that you’re
going to want to make sure your aquarium is square. You’re also going to need a glass
cutter if you decide to cut your glass. Now a glass cutter is a very simple tool, it’s
also pretty cheap as well. Essentially what it is, is a micro pizza cutter almost. The
wheels are carbide tipped and they will etch the glass. This is about 5 dollars, and you
might get maybe 15-20 cuts out of it but it’s worth the 5 dollars. Ok so now that we’ve had a look at the equipment
and materials that we are going to need, it’s time to consider the cost of them. Essentially
the glass cutter (which was an optional piece), cost about 5 dollars. Optional based on the
fact that it depends on where you’re getting your glass really, if you’re buying your glass
have them cut it for you – then you don’t need to cut it, takes a little bit of the
work out of it for you. If you’re cutting your own glass or reusing glass and need to
cut it in order to build this tank like I am, then you’re going to need a glass cutter.
We’re going to take a look at how to cut the glass here in a minute. Silicone was about 5 dollars for a tube; you
get two tubes maybe for 7 dollars or something like that. So we’re down about 10 dollars,
painters tape – maybe a dollar for a pretty big roll. So we’re looking at about 10 dollars
here, nothing too crazy. So now we’re going to look at the glass. For me, like I said I’m using reused glass,
so the glass for me was free as well. So the tank I’m about to build, cost me 10 dollars
total. The glass I’m using I found out in my garage. It actually came from old windows.
I noticed that it was plate glass and that it was 6mm, so immediately I took off all
the trim, cleaned it up, and seen if it was useable, seeing if it was scratched or anything
like that. It was in perfect condition so I’m going to make a tank out of it. You might
be able to find the same thing if you’re looking around, or buy your glass. It’s still cheaper
to buy and build rather than buy a brand new aquarium. So let’s now look at cutting the glass, if
you need to. Ok, so here’s a sample piece of glass, this
is an older piece of glass I had kicking around, it’s dirty and I’m not going to be using it
for anything; so let’s practice cutting on it. Something I suggest you do to get used
to how glass is cut. So taking our glass cutter, we find where we need to cut. Now let’s for
example say I want to cut this piece off, which should be a pretty simple process. Once
I find exactly where I need to cut I ensure that it’s a straight line, and then clamp
your tool down or piece of wood down, just to ensure you get a straight cut. From there, all we want to do is this; now
listen to what it sounds like. Ok, so that’s essentially it – as you heard
it almost sounds like fabric ripping. Once you’ve etched it, you haven’t cut it yet – all
you’ve done is scratched a line through it. Now what this is going to do, is cause a place
for the glass to stress on, and it should crack with a little bit of pressure. Turning
it onto its side, putting it onto a sharp edge of something and pushing down. So as
you can see, it cut it straight off – a nice straight line. Ok so now that we have our glass cut, we’re
left with a very, very, very sharp edge. You never want to touch it; if you do you’re bound
to cut your hands up pretty badly. Now, this is where the sandpaper comes into play. We
can’t really have this sharp glass, although it’s not really going to impact the build
it’s definitely going to make it extremely hazardous to handle. So, with your sandpaper
we are simply going to sand down the corners and edges to make it rounded off slightly.
So we’re just taking it and going back and forth, we’re not going down. And that’s pretty
much it, enough to take the sharp edge off. Ok so the first thing you’re going to want
to do is lay your bottom piece down. Now this aquarium that I’m building is 36 inches long,
by 28 inches wide. That’s actually the dimensions of all the glass that I had. I had three pieces
this size, I simply had to cut up a couple of them to create the sides, and front and
back. So, once your bottom pane is down, it’s time
to prepare it. You want to make sure the edges where the new silicone and new sides and front
and back are going to lay are spotless. To do this, you can take some acetone on a rag
and clean off all of the edges. The acetone is going to dissolve anything that’s there.
What you’re looking for it to dissolve is oily fingerprints and/or old silicone residue
that a razorblade simply does not take off completely. Once you’ve done that, you can consider laying
your glass. Now, in order to build your tank properly, it’s the same as building any aquarium;
since we don’t have a bottom trim how much aquariums are built, we are putting the bottom
glass on the bottom of the tank and all edges on top of it. Now the front and the back of your aquarium
are going to be the same length as the bottom. So in my case, this aquarium bottom is 36
inches long, so I need a front and back pane that are both exactly 36 inches long. The
sides are going on the inside (I will show you what I mean in a minute). Basically though,
the front is going to be here, the back is going to be here, I need a piece of glass
that’s going in between them. So I need to consider taking off a little
bit of glass. Based on the fact that this is 28 inches long, once I have the front and
back on there I don’t have 28 inches of space here anymore. Since I’m using 6mm glass, which
is 1/4 inch I’m losing a half inch of space in the middle. So instead of having a 28 inch
piece of glass inch lying here, I’m going to need a 27 and a half inch piece. So definitely
consider that when you’re cutting your glass and/or ordering your glass. Make sure that
when you’re cutting it, or ordering it that you get the proper dimensions. There is nothing worse than getting your glass
cut or buying it, and it’s the wrong dimensions and you have to work with it another way.
So I’m going to go ahead and clean up this glass simply by taking a rag with some acetone
on it (which is also pretty cheap, you get it for about 3 dollars for a liter), I get
mine at my local Walmart, its really accessible. Put it on a rag, dampen the rag a little bit
and wipe around. I’m going to wait for it to dry and then I’m going to go onto the next
step. Ok, so now we’re ready to move onto the next
step. The next step is a simple one now that all the edges are cleaned, I laid some tape
underneath the glass; essentially what these will be used for later on, is to tape the
bottom to the sides or front. We don’t need a lot of them because what they are going
to do is just hold things still for the moment, and you don’t want too many to take off later
on. One is spaced every 6-8 inches. Now, to open
up your silicone typically what you’re going to want to do is cut the tip at a 45 degree
angle, this is going to give you a little bit more control and allow you to do the corners
of the seams of the aquarium later a lot easier. So let’s get started by laying the first bead,
what I need to do is trace this silicone around the entire perimeter of this glass. What I’m
looking to do in terms of bead size is about the thickness of the glass, so I want about
a 6mm bead of silicone. You can use a lot a less, but I tend to use more and simply
remove the excess once I’m finished So let’s get started. So starting at one corner,
we are just going to continuously run a non-stop bead all around the aquarium. We want it as
close to the edge as possible, because that’s where the glass is going to lay.
Ok now that the silicone is laid, we don’t have a lot of working time with it as it will
start to skin, what I mean by skin is the outside of the silicone will start to form
a barrier, meaning it’s starting to cure. So, we’re going to go ahead and start with
one of the
rear pieces. What we’re going to do here is going to be simple, just simply lay it as
close to the edge as possible on top of the silicone. You don’t need to apply any pressure
just yet. Notice I’m doing this on an old sheet, it’s
already ripped and essentially I’m doing it because it doesn’t matter if I get silicone
on it. You don’t want to worry about having to be clean when you’re trying to concentrate
here. So try to have it on a rag or something around those lines. Now that this is up, I’m going to take my
tape, fold it up, there’s not a lot I can do about holding it or bracing it, because
I don’t really need to because you’re going to constantly be moving on to the next piece. Now, notice I have my silicone and my tape
handy, everything is within reach. Same with my next piece of glass. So while
holding the first one (this is where it gets a little complicated for yourself), have it
handy, we’re going to take the silicone (notice it’s wobbly that doesn’t matter, the silicone
is not curing yet), we don’t even have to worry about this being squared off yet. All
we really want to do is get a couple of pieces of glass on here. Now that the side panel is going to go on,
I’m going to lay the silicone bead up the side here, and put a side piece on. Once the
side and back are on, you will probably notice that it’s starting to hold itself up. Which
is probably true, because the silicone is extremely tacky. See, look at that. Now we’re going to take
the tape anyways, tape it up, again we are not worried about how pretty it is just yet,
we have plenty of time once it’s on. We’re going to make sure the sides are taped as
well, bracing it, holding onto it. I don’t know if you guys can see this or not
(probably not), you will in a minute. Ok, we now have the side piece and a back
piece on, they are kind of holding each other up at this point with the silicone as well
as the tape. Now, before we move on to the next pieces we are going to want to make sure
these are square. They probably are not, so that’s what we’re
going to make sure of. The square just goes up against it, needs to touch the bottom and
the back, it is very, very, very important to make sure your tank is square. Now it is. Perfect. Now I can move onto the next piece, which
is another side. Don’t worry if you get silicone inside of the tank, you can let it cure and
scrape it off with a razor blade later. That’s the beauty of working with silicone
and glass, you don’t have to worry about the mess you make. Everything needs to be handy, within arm’s
reach. See this is why I like building glass tanks
as well, you guys have seen me build acrylic aquariums and glass tanks things like that,
the thing with glass tanks what I don’t like about it is that its messy. I always get silicone
stuck to everything. But with acrylic aquariums, it’s so much cleaner. None the less, with glass you don’t need a
lot of bracing or structural support or anything like that. It tends to kind of hold itself
together while you’re getting the tape ready so that’s really, really nice. Now, again we want to square this off. See
this isn’t square so because it’s not square simply push it until its square. That will
typically square it off. Because I pushed it, I pushed over here. It did not have an
effect, which is perfect. Ok, now, the end panel here, or the front
whatever we’re going to call this side. This side is the same as any, but we are going
to have to do two at the same time, so this side is not going to be fun. Although it’s
going to have twice the amount of silicone to work with, so it will stick on its own.
Now with this silicone, because the tank is going on the edges of it we want the silicone
to run up the edges. It doesn’t matter how much you use right now,
we are going to probably scrape a lot of this off and/or push it into the seams here in
a minute. Ok, so this is the front or the rear. This
should be a pretty easy panel to put on. Ok so now we’re going to square off the entire
tank and make sure everything is fine. Again, this is the most important part of building
a tank is to make sure it’s square. So far so good. If your tank isn’t square,
it’s pretty simple just to push the panels around. For example if it’s too far out, you
can typically move it in slightly or move it around slightly, very slowly. Anyways,
this is all squared off we’re ready to move onto the next step. Ok so now that the aquarium is together it’s
all siliconed together, all the walls are up and it’s taped, it’s time to apply the
inner seam. Now for the most part there wasn’t enough silicone to apply to all the corners
in order to make a proper seal, but that’s what we’re going to do now. We’re going to take the silicone caulking
gun, and simply run a small bead all around the edges. If you want a closer look at me
doing something like this, check out my video on how to reseal an aquarium. I show you exactly
how to do this. So what I’m going to do is run this along
every single corner, starting at the bottom and then the sides. Then I’m going to use
my finger and smooth it out. Again, watch my video on how to reseal an aquarium to find
out exactly what I’m talking about here. Ok, so I’m going to do that and then we will
come right back. Ok guys, so the tank is now complete. We’ve
cut the glass, and measured it and put it in place, we’ve sealed it, and it’s essentially
done. So it’s really just three simple steps. One, cut, prepare and lay the glass. Two,
put your silicone in. Three, put the glass in. The whole time we’re squaring it off and
taping it, making sure everything is fine. From there, we’re going to wait about two
days for this to cure. Then we’re going to come back, and we’re going to do a test fill
to see if it holds water or not. I don’t have any doubts that it will, at that
time after we do the test fill we can come back and clean up some of the silicone that
I messed up here and there in terms of giving it better aesthetics. None the less, let’s
wait the two days then we’re going to do a test fill. Ok everybody, so the aquarium is now complete.
I’ve waited 48 hours for the aquarium silicone to completely cure, I then water tested the
aquarium outside for a few days. I recommend filling your tank up outside just in case
it leaks or bursts apart. It’s better to have that happen outside, than inside. After that’s
done, I came in and filled it back up, and that’s essentially it. It’s filled with water,
it’s good to go. Now, a few things we’re going to touch on
right now is pretty straight forward. Now that the tank is finished, we’re going to
need to put it on its stand. But before we put it on your stand since it’s a completely
glass bottom, we’re going to want to make sure that there’s styrofoam laying down underneath
the tank, simply to absorb the irregularities in the stand that might cause pressure points
on the tank, causing the bottom glass to crack, or break, or even the seams to twist. Once you’ve done that, fill the tank up and
you can start to enjoy you’re aquarium. You’re probably “wondering where can I get
glass?”, or “what type of glass should I use?”, ” what thickness should I use?”, “why don’t
I have a brace?”, etc. Well this aquarium is 36 inches long, 28 inches wide, 12 inches
tall, it runs about 52 gallons. I don’t intend to fill it to the brim; I’m only going to
run about 10 inches of water in it at any given point. Given the height of the water,
and the thickness of the glass, I’m not going to need a brace. Whether or not you need a brace, depends entirely
on the thickness of the glass and the dimensions of your aquarium. Go on to google and simply
google “aquarium glass thickness calculator” or something along those lines, there’s tons
on there. I haven’t done one yet, but I do have a ton of other calculators on my website, check them out there’s lots there for you guys to enjoy and to help
complete your projects. There’s really not much I can cover in terms
of what thickness you should use or if you should use a brace or not, because like I
said it depends entirely on the dimensions you choose and the thickness of glass you’re
going with. My only advice would be to simply use plate
glass or float glass, just your basic glass. Stay away from tempered glass because you
might need to cut it, and you can’t cut tempered glass once it’s off the production line. So essentially that’s it guys, I hope this
video helps or at least gives you a guide in terms of how to build your own glass aquarium.
The reason why I wanted to do this video was very simple; I did this video with scrap glass
which a lot of people will probably want to build theirs out of. I built it out of old
windows believe it or not. Total cost for this build was 10 dollars.
I got a 52 gallon aquarium for 10 dollars, that’s not bad. That’s the beauty of do it
yourself, you’re not going to be able to find a tank for less than that, not at this size.
That’s like 25 cents a gallon or something along those lines. None the less guys, the aquarium is complete,
the tutorial is finished, I hope you enjoyed the video and we will see you next time.

100 thoughts on “HOW TO: Build A Glass Aquarium TUTORIAL

  1. You mentioned putting Styrofoam underneath the tank to account for variability in the wood. What thickness Styrofoam would you suggest and would it be safe to cover the Styrofoam with fabric to hide the Styrofoam. This is specifically for a 48"lx20"wx12"h tank I'm making.

  2. joey I want to make a custom tank, I've 8mm with me.. please suggest me good dimension.. 100Lx50wx50H (in cm) is good?

  3. I went to Walmart to purchase some the other day and on the back of it-it says not for aquarium use. Now, don't get me wrong.. I do trust you but I just want to be sure it won't dissolve or be a problem later

  4. Hi Joey, I could really use your valuable input on a fish tank I just had made and was delivered yesterday. I plan to use it for my turtles, it´s measurements are 130 cm / 51.2" long 70 cm / 27.5" width and 80 cm / 31.4" tall. It has 10mm glass all around and aluminum reinforcements on all sides except the ones ontop. I have some pictures I would like to shear with you that will be very useful for you to see why my concerns. I´m planning to fill only 3/4 of it so I can put an island for them to take the sun directly. I live in Mexico by the way. May I have the means to send them to you? Appreciate your valuable help and input, it will make the difference between a Brain-ache and a happy new adventure… Regards from Queretaro and Thank´s again Bro! I´m Fan! Great channel and enlightening videos!!!

  5. Hi all just wanna to ask im gona build aquarium with will be 152 gallons
    But just wondering how much silicone need to be between the joints from front to side etc
    Im have read over the internet but here is not much to help..really someone say to me 0.5mm but is looks to me really low enough of silicone…
    And also what method is best inject or normal
    Thank you for help

  6. Joey can I build a 73x20x24 aquarium with 1/4 tempered glass? If so I’m planning on bracing it with metal so it won’t bold out

  7. I swear to god I didn't know I was watching Joey's video. I was like this dude voice sounds so damn familiar then i checked… it was freaking the king of DIY

  8. King is lookin swollen these days compared to this tutorial lol – gotta love joey-learned more from him in the last year and a half than I did during the first 12 years of school! no doubt!

  9. Man brother, I know this is an old video but you have come such a long way since this video and its awesome. Im going back to some of your older videos because Im going to be turning my Big Wooden Entertainment stand into a large Paludarium. I only need one piece of glass for the front portion that will hold the water feature, Ill have a divider with dual sliding panes for the top half. Your home made filtration videos are really saving my butt. As well as the video explaining the Pond Armor. Great Content as always

  10. Would it be easier to build a plywood frame to support the glass tank precisely until the sides are positioned and the silicone dries? Did you ever tryvthat? Is there some kind of chart by which you can determine the thickness of the glass? Doesn't it depend on size of the tank?

  11. ok, you said to place the tank on styrofoam to fill it up, but you didn't do that. why? and what kind of frame can you use to protect the naked bottom. that part bothers me. can you buy those plastic frames somewhere?

  12. Aren't there requirements on glass thickness? If you're going to build a 100 gallon aquarium, what is the minimum glass thickness used? You've gotta be careful telling people they can build huge aquariums with just "glass". If the glass is too thin, it can be a disaster.

  13. ive never understood how a little bit of silicone can handle the pressure of the water inside… For this reason alone, Im very sceptical about building one

  14. Umm, cool video but, this is unsafe as FUDGE, there was no calculations, water is heavy!!! You can't just wing it, this is coming from an engineer… Do the Math or you will have a room full of water!!!

  15. Your glass cutter only lasts 20 cuts because you’re pressing way too hard. Wearing down the wheel.

  16. Why you sit the front-back-sides of the glass on top of the bottom glass?

    Some of builder glue the front-back and sides ON TO the side of bottom glass. Whats the difference?

    Your method is easy, but is it suitable for 125gallon or bigger tank? Can the bottom glass able to handle the weight of side glasses?

    I've been searching for this thing on google and I cant find the answer.smh

  17. Be me – building an aquarium while listening to guns n roses – welcome to the jungle (I am very hype and aggressively applying the silicone) As I'm dancing around and singing, I run out of silicone. Headed to the store to get more, and I remember I need a micro pizza cutter. Fast Forward… Back from store. Forgot to get silicone. Time to put this micro pizza cutter to use I guess. Trip over my 100 roles of electrical tape on the ground and slice into the almost finished tank with my micro pizza cutter, slicing the tank in two perfect halves. I'm still singing guns n roses as this happens, but not so aggressively anymore.

  18. Cool thanks ive had fish tanks for 35 years I haven’t actually. Built my own yet but ice been wanting to my last one. Was Acrylic over. 12 foot long That I connected 2 6 footers with a swim tunnel I made. Myself to raise Cichlids. In It was a fun tank as i built custom Woosworking all around the tanks

  19. Please help i wanna build a tank exactly like this what is the exact measurements for each piece of glass?

  20. Cool you should. Make yourself some triangular shaped wooden pieces and attach. Them to your glass with a hot glue gun that would hold your glass at a perfect 90 degree angle for siliconing afterwards. Use a heat gun to warm up the hot glue again and remove the wood jigs you used i did Woodworking as a profession for over 20 years and we used to build similar jigs we clamped large panels to. For gluing perfect corners another old trick is to wrap the jig with clear wrapping tape and glue doesn’t make a permanently to that area

  21. Why not drill a hole in the bottom and put a pipe in it as the drain for the filter or sump, that way all the debris on the bottom would go to the filter.

  22. Tank you I have finally found the size of tank I would like to make problem is I am a numb scull when it comes to numbers I can not do the math. I want to use 6mm Glass OK. So I know the size but you have to deduct 6mm off the final measurements. or have I got that wrong. I would be very grateful if anyone can help. Thank you in advance

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