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davidncbrown

Acrylic thickness for tank building

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davidncbrown

What seems to be a good thickness of cell cast acrylic for making tanks. I used 1/4 inch for my 10g sump but I think it's a bit overkill. I have a 40 gallon truvu aquasystem that is made from 1/4 acrylic. It bows slightly but has been up for over a year and no problems. Does anyone with experience in acrylic DIY know if 3/16 inch acrylic would be fine for a 10 gallon fowlr tank?

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JustReef

It will probably be fine. Acrylic is stronger than glass and AGA uses 1/8" glass on their 10 gallons.

 

I would prefer 1/4", it just feels tougher.

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reefCrawler

1/8" maybe ok, but in long term, the heat from lighting will continue bake the acrylic everyday for over 6~8 hrs, I'll choose 1/4" if this is my project for some extra insurance :)

 

But another thinking, why not consider glass tank? easier to maintain, no serious scraches problem, won't bend... etc. frankly speaking, I'm done with acrylic tank unless it's for sump prupose.

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bfedick

For piece of mind use 1/4". Acrylic has excellent light transmission properties, the tank won't look any different.

 

As for thickness it depends on the depth of the tank. There is a handy calculator here: http://www.garf.org/tank/BuildTank.asp

 

If you have some 3/16 laying around you want to use up I'd say go ahead, but if your going to purchase it, get 1/4".

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calvin415

It depend on what kind of bracing... Truvu uses it because they are after a profit and while it will hold water, it will certainly bow and look like crap. Are you trying to build the cheapest tank, or the best looking tank? The price difference between the materials shouldn't matter that much to justify not getting the thicker material. Have you built tanks before? Thinner materials are very hard to work with and to make sure they won't break, you need very strong welds which are tough with thin materials and wouldn't recommend for anyone who hasn't built tanks before. Personally, for a display, I won't use anything less than 3/8" and don't know why would anyone tollerate bowing in their tanks?

 

Just my $.02 HTH...

Edited by calvin415

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davidncbrown

Thanks for the tip. I just like working with acrylic for one, plus I have all the tools and equipment to do it with. I was going to make a 10g acrylic tank for my girlfriend, and I also have plans to make a few custom pico's for a few local buddies I met through my LFS. I figured 3/16 inch acrylic since it is half way between 1/8 and 1/4.

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evilc66
Acrylic is stronger than glass and AGA uses 1/8" glass on their 10 gallons.

 

Not a good statement. Acrylic is more impact resistant than glass, but it is not more rigid. Take any tank of any size, and it will be built out of thicker acrylic than glass.

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REEFBUG

+1 to evil and Calvin. The thinner is way more difficult to joint well. I don't like it when a tank bows, so I would go with the thicker material.

But based on price, a 10 gallon is only $11.99 at petco so I wouldn't bother unless it has to be a specific shape.

Chris

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StevieT

I would also go with 3/8" acrlyic on any tank. I work with 3/16" on most of my products but don't feel it is strong enough for a tank filled with water. Deffinitly not 1/8", that has way too much flex which will fail the solvent weld over time or just crack in half.

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davidncbrown

My truvu freshwater aquarium freaks me out sometimes because it bows slightly. It's only 1/4" thick though! How do they get away with doing something like that? I think the 3/16" should be fine for a 10 gallon or less... I live 25 minutes from tap-plastics and the difference between a sheet of 3/16" and 1/4" is $20 :bling:

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kgross

I would not try to build anything water tight out of any material thinner than 1/4 myself. To hard to get a good strong joint.

 

Plus for a 10 gallon tank, the cost different between 3/16 and even 1/4 will not be that much. For a display tank, I would suggest going with 3/8 myself, easier to work with, and less bracing needed for the top of the tank.

 

Kim

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disaster999

if anything i think 1/4 is too thin for a 10gal tank if you are thinking of rimless

 

my tank measures 20x14x10 1/4" cast acrylic. i only have a brace for the front pane, overflow glued in the middle of the back so they dont really bow. the sides i left rimless and its bowing. it held up fine for a year already. but a huge pain to clean the glass. the magfloat does not contour the acrylic so it doesnt do a good job cleaning it.

Edited by disaster999

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calvin415

Are we talking rimless!? If you want to go rimless even 1/2" to too thin to span 20" without bowing... Why are we even debating/talking about this? Go buy a $10, 10g AGA glass tank and call it a day. If you want acrylic, shell out the bucks and do it right. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but if you were serious about your question, this would no longer being discussed, as the answer has been given.

 

3/8" minimum if you have a full eurobrace, and you can double that thickness if you want it braceless. Yes I've built many many aquariums and sumps and please don't give the constantly repeated, "this worked fine for my sump" argument, it's apples and oranges. Everything I build is out of Cell Cast acrylic and the only thing I use 1/4" for is small sumps with lots of baffles or for baffles in a glass tank. I had a 14x14x10 rimless tank built out of cell cast 1/2" acrylic bow. Please don't argue these points, 1/4 is a joke so 3/16 is not even a discussion.

 

my $.02

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thecowkid

If your going rimmed you can do it with 3/16"

 

Rimless 1/4" will bow a but not much at all.

 

1/2" is way overkill for the tank your planning on building.

 

here is a chart that is used by the pros.

 

Aquarium Height Sheet Thickness

1 to 12 inches 1/4 inch

12 - 18 inches 3/8 inch

18 - 24 inches 1/2 inch

24 - 30 inches 3/4 inch

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calvin415
Rimless 1/4" will bow a but not much at all.

 

1/2" is way overkill for the tank your planning on building.

 

here is a chart that is used by the pros.

 

Aquarium Height Sheet Thickness

1 to 12 inches 1/4 inch

12 - 18 inches 3/8 inch

18 - 24 inches 1/2 inch

24 - 30 inches 3/4 inch

 

WHAT!? I sure hope you don't build your tanks that way... :unsure:

 

You should clarify that chart is minimum recommendations for properly braced tanks.

 

Also here's a challenge if you can build a 10 gallon rimless tank that doesn't bow "much" out of 1/4" after set up for just 3 months, I'll send any person you like an SPS frag pack of mine for free.

 

Just for reference, because you obviously haven't done this before... Here's a 12x12x8 built out of 1/4" cell cast acrylic that was setup for just a few weeks and you can clearly see the bow. Just imagine something taller 20" wide! I would consider this much more than "not much at all".

 

12x12x8.jpg

Edited by calvin415

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thecowkid

I never once said that I build my tanks this way. I just put that up as a ref. to anyone that wanted to use it. They can take it or leave it.

 

Your pic of your tank isnt showing up. I am not sure if you were talking to me or David when you said that someone had obviously not done this before. If you directed that comment to me your are sadly mistaken. I challange you to find any customer of mine that would say that they got a sub par product from my shop. I have been in the acrylic/plastic business for years and have a wide knowledge of its limitations and specifications.

 

There is no need for you to put a frag pack on the line. I know that I have built many standard size 10 gallon tanks out of .25" acrylic that will not bow past 1/8" past plum. It is possable to do and has been done as will be replicated in the future.

 

Every tanks bracing needs are unique as I am sure that you know this. I am not sure what your "very much" tolerance is. Any tank should not bow 1/16" per foot.

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calvin415

Edited, hopefully the picture will show.

 

I'm sure you have built many products, but to suggest a 10 gallon 1/4" rimless/braceless acrylic tank won't bow more than 1/16" per foot is rediculous... It might now bow when filled initially, but it will bow given time. I'll say it again, I had a 14x14x10 rimless tank built out of 1/2 cell cast bow approx 1/8" after setup for 1 year.

Edited by calvin415

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thecowkid

That is excessive bowing in that tank.

 

Ambient temp variances on each side of the acrylic panel will cause warping. I have seen a tank with water sit perfectly, but then turn on a mh light, and warm the outside surface of the acrylil and you have a warped tank.

 

Is this tank lit by a mh?

 

your tanks should only bow within the first 20-30 days. I have never seen any standard 10 g tank that I have built bow past my stated amts. I as a standard practice water test all my tanks with hot water to show how much they will bow with extreem temps. All mine always stay within the 1/16" per foot. But I do tend to overbuild tanks. I dunno. But I have a 48 x 18 x 18 out of .5 and it only bows 3/16". Who knows I do know that I had to recall abunch of my sumps due to getting some soft cast acrylic. That was a nightmare.

Edited by thecowkid

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calvin415

Yes 70w 10" above the tank. I would hope any acrylic tank is built to handle MH's set over them...

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thecowkid

They should be, but the temp diffs will cause some minor problems.

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calvin415

Here's the 1/2" one that eventually bowed...

 

redolight.jpg

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thecowkid

Well come on now. Thats not fair that tank is floatin in the air.

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calvin415
They should be, but the temp diffs will cause some minor problems.

 

Which can be avoided by just going thicker... Again 1/4" rimless is not a good idea. Especially for a beginner. I'm sure you can agree to that...

 

Well come on now. Thats not fair that tank is floatin in the air.

 

Yeah, I like to think outside the box. ;)

 

Another shot, and this is not photoshoped, it's floating on the wall along with the light. ;)

 

nanolight.jpg

Edited by calvin415
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yellowslayer13

So if I was to do a 24'' 6'' 6'' what do you think 1/2'' I want to have it devided to hold fish.

Edited by yellowslayer13

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thecowkid

your correct that a beginner should overbuild.

 

I like that little tank. It looks like your like me in that you dont like seeing any hangers, wires, etc...

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