Fishkeeping is an excellent hobby that also doubles as an elegant decoration for your home. Studies have also shown that interacting with fish in aquariums could be beneficial to the overall well-being of humans. But however great an aquarium might be, they can still be really expensive.
Fortunately, building your own aquarium tank could be cheaper than buying one. With relatively affordable materials, you could build your own fish tank at home. In this article, we’ll go through how to build your own aquarium from scratch, including a step-by-step guide.
Why You Should Build Your Own Aquarium
As a fishkeeper or aquarium expert, you should know that the process of building a fish tank is incredibly satisfying. You’ll enjoy every challenge and victory that occurs throughout the process. Besides, building a fish tank is relatively cheaper than buying a brand new aquarium.
By building your own fish tank, you get to create one that includes all of your personal preferences. You can decide the size, design, features, and details. Maybe you want artificial coral reefs or unique plants such as Moneywort, Hornwort, or Java fern.
How Hard Is It to Build Your Own Aquarium?
The level of difficulty faced when building an aquarium depends on the size of your aquarium and how much work you are willing to do. With that said, most people find caulking, cutting glass pieces, and assembling the glass panels to be challenging. However, having your glass cut at a local glass shop would be a great way to make your job easier.
How Long Does It Take to Build an Aquarium?
The duration it takes to build a custom tank depends on your access to materials and the size of the aquarium. It could take you a day to build a small aquarium, while it could take you a few days to finish a large one.
Using materials such as silicon could mean an extra day as the silicon has to cure. Additionally, you should allow the tap water or saltwater aquarium to sit for 24 hours after completing the fish tank before you add any living creatures.
How Much Does It Cost to Build Your Own Aquarium?
How much it costs to build an aquarium depends on the size and materials used. For instance, it could cost you up to $1,000 to build a 200-gallon aquarium, while it would cost about $200 to build a small one. Alternatively, it could easily cost you $4,000 to purchase a 200-gallon tank.
81% of participants stated they felt more confident about their tech job prospects after attending a bootcamp. Get matched to a bootcamp today.
The average bootcamp grad spent less than six months in career transition, from starting a bootcamp to finding their first job.
How Much Cheaper Is It to Build Your Own Aquarium?
Depending on the size, you could save anywhere from $300 to $6,000 by building a custom aquarium. Acrylic sheets tend to be more expensive than glass. So if you’re on a budget, you should refrain from using sheets of acrylic. You can also consider second-hand glass from previously assembled aquariums. Additionally, plywood makes economical sense for large tanks.
What Do You Need to Build Your Own Aquarium?
The materials you need for building your own aquarium are pretty straightforward. The following materials are designed for small tanks. Larger aquariums might need more materials to ensure a successful build. However, the key difference between building a large and small tank is that a large tank requires thicker glass, a near-perfect bonding process, a larger stand, and more support.
- Glass: Glass is arguably one of the most important components of any tank. If you are building a small tank, you should consider plexiglass. For large tanks, consider stained glass.
- Glass Cutter: If you are going to cut the glass by yourself, we recommend you use a glass cutter while wearing gloves to avoid any cuts.
- Silicone: Aquarium silicone is the safest and most popular bonding agent used to hold aquarium glass together.
- Measuring Tape: You’ll need to measure the dimensions of various items such as plywood, glass, and plastic.
- Water filter: Because all fish tanks must have biological filtration, you’ll need to buy or build your own water filter.
Building Your Aquarium From Scratch: A Step-by-Step Guide
Do you want to build an acrylic aquarium, saltwater aquarium, rimless aquarium, or freshwater aquarium? There is a wide variety of options that you should carefully look into before you can start gathering materials for your fish tank. Nonetheless, the process of building any fish tank is relatively straightforward, as shown below.
Choose Your Aquarium Dimensions
Before you start building your aquarium it is important to settle on a fish tank size that meets your budget, resources, and space at home. If you’re struggling with nailing the precise dimensions, consider the rule of thumb which suggests a gallon of water per inch of fish. Also, remember that the larger the tank the healthier the fish.
Choose the Right Materials
The choice of materials depends on the size of your tank. However, glass is perhaps the most important material for a fish tank. Most aquariums use plexiglass which is easily available. However, if you are building a large tank, you should consider acrylic sheets because they are stronger and have more insulation capabilities. This material also allows more light through than glass.
At the very least, an aquarium needs silicone, a silicone gun dispenser, duct tape, cleaning wipes, paper tissues, a razor blade, and sandpaper. A larger tank might require LED lights, plywood, and an advanced water filtration system. You should be able to find most of these materials at hardware stores.
Cut the Glass
Cutting glass is a delicate process that demands extra care and caution. Using your glass cutter, remember to always push moderately from start to finish without stopping. There is no need to bang on the glass after you’re done. This project would be easier if you had an expert cut your glass, especially if this is your first time building a fish tank.
- Career Karma matches you with top tech bootcamps
- Get exclusive scholarships and prep courses
Assemble The Tank
Assembling the tank is perhaps the trickiest part. For smaller tanks, start off by lining up the walls neatly and placing the base in the center. Use sandpaper to smoothen any coarseness to avoid any issues that might compromise how the glass stands on the base panel. Use duct tape around the edges to avoid the silicon sticking on the glass itself.
Don’t apply the silicon to all the sides of the glass at once. Start with one side and proceed to the next. Once you’re done, consider using duct tape to wrap the glass edges as the silicon hardens. Before you fill it with water, you should let the aquarium sit for a day to allow the silicon to properly harden
Setting Up the Tank
You can print out a piece of paper or cardboard with unique colors and pictures to create an atmosphere in the tank. Remember to keep the tank away from sunlight or any other radiators that might affect the temperature. Be wary of vibration and noises too. Once it’s finished, you can add your neon tetras, goldfish, or whichever kind of fish you choose.
How to Monetize Your Aquarium
Building an aquarium is usually a fun activity that an aquarium hobbyist would like to do for their own enjoyment, as opposed to making them for profit. However, many people are looking for ways to bring in money on the side in our gig economy. There are a few options you should consider if you want to monetize your aquarium.
Firstly, you can create customizable aquariums for clients. You can either design and build them to sell on a website like Etsy, or you can accept customized orders. Either way, your aquarium hobby can easily become a business or side gig. According to Statista, Etsy sellers have access to 81.9 million active buyers, so you should be able to find customers.
If that is not an option for you, you can start a blog or a YouTube channel where you offer advice to other enthusiasts. You can make money through Google’s Adsense as your pages will feature a ton of ads. According to Glassdoor, some YouTube content creators make up to $49,346 a year. However, you really have to be a pro for people to buy into your opinions and advice.
Gather Feedback, Reflect, and Iterate
When building a fish tank for the first time, you might want to consider starting with a small tank since it’s cheaper and safer to do so. This way you can get a better understanding of the materials and building process before building a larger tank. Remember to have fun and be patient with the process.
How to Build Your Own Aquarium FAQ
It isn’t as hard as you might think. Building an aquarium is a straightforward project. The simplest aquariums require glass, silicone, and a filtration system. Besides, the assembly process is relatively easy.
Yes, it is cheaper to build your own aquarium. It is easier and cheaper to build an aquarium since you are able to work with materials that are within your budget. For instance, you could decide to use second-hand glass that’s already been cut and is ready to use.
Aquarium glass should be half an inch thick. Different aquarium sizes require different levels of thickness. As a rule of thumb, the larger the fish tank, the thicker the glass. This allows it to withstand high levels of pressure.
Moneywort, hornwort, Java moss, Anaharis, water listeria, and Java fern are some of the most popular water plants used in aquariums across the US.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.