Plexiglas aquarium

аквариумы сделанные из оргстекла

Plexiglas aquarium can be made with your own hands at home. If you have minimal skills of working with Plexiglas, you will be able to make quite original constructions from this easy-to-handle material.

Organic glass can be used to make very large aquariums. But if you have not worked with this material before, we recommend that you practice by first making an aquarium of 10 – 20 liters. And then having gained experience can be taken up and for a more grandiose design, liters like three hundred. 🙂

Plexiglas as any material has a number of advantages and disadvantages, which will further inherent in the design assembled from it.

The advantages include the easy machinability of organic glass. It can be sawed, bent, sanded and glued. These advantages make Plexiglas suitable for making various crafts at home, including plexiglas aquarium.

A little about the disadvantages of Plexiglas

However, the advantages of the material as an ornamental material also cause disadvantages of products made of it. The mirrored surface is easily scratched both during the processing of blanks and during the operation of the finished plexiglass aquarium. Scratches and scuffs sharply reduce the optical transparency of this material and worsen the overall appearance of the product.

The low heat capacity, which makes it possible to make bent parts by heating the sheet to only sixty degrees Celsius, obliges the use of heating and lighting with care.

But despite all the disadvantages, amateurs quite often use this material for their crafts. Organic glass aquariums made carefully with observance of technological subtleties look very effective.

And if you need to quickly assemble a transport, spawning or growing aquarium, it is difficult to find an alternative to organic glass. If only there was a piece of plexiglass of suitable thickness and dimensions at hand or in the nearest store.

The classic square aquarium has approximately the same width and height. Its length is usually equal to the height, increased by one and a half to two times. Such a plexiglass aquarium is the easiest to assemble, and with the appropriate dimensions, it can serve as a spawning or nursery tank.

After gaining a little experience you can take on more complex structures, whether it is a pond of large sizes, transportation tank or aquarium of any tricky shape (from cylinder, to “what the imagination is enough”.

Plexiglas cutting

резак для плексигласа
ориентировочные размеры резака для оргстекла

It is easiest and simplest to cut Plexiglas at home with a special cutter for sheet materials made by yourself from a scrap of hacksaw blade. The nose of the cutter is machined on an emery wheel. It should be sharpened at an angle of 60 degrees. The distance from the cutting edge of the spout to the handle should be about 40-50 millimeters. With a smaller gap, it will quickly clog with chips when processing a thick sheet. The cutting edge should be thicker than the rest of the torch to avoid jamming.

It is not necessary to make such a cutter yourself. Nowadays, you can buy any ready-made tool. This includes a plastic cutter.

Torch technique

This cutter is used to cut the glass of the required size according to the previously made marking, guiding the cutter along the ruler placed with its edge on the marking line. A few words about marking. It has already been said that Plexiglas is very easy to scratch or cover with scuffs. To avoid this, it is desirable to wrap the sheet in wrapping paper before marking and cutting. Larger sheets are sold wrapped. There is no need to unwrap them. Marking is done directly on the paper. Cut them without removing them from the protective paper layer.

To do this, place the sheet on a flat surface along the marking line and place a ruler or another object with a flat edge of sufficient length, e.g. another sheet of Plexiglas. The ruler together with the glass can be lightly screwed to the table top with a clamp without excessive effort to avoid their mutual displacement in the future.

Making the first cut

Now carefully cut the paper along the ruler with a penknife. Having gained access to the glass, we make the first scratch. We guide the cutter very lightly, making sure that it does not go sideways. In the same way lead the cutter two, three more times. Only after the groove of such depth that the torch will not jump out of it, we start working in full force removing layer by layer with the torch. Do not hurry. You will succeed.

Special attention should be paid to the initial segment of the groove. It is often shallow because it is not possible to apply maximum force at the beginning of the groove. Such a poorly scratched segment can be cut by driving the cutter in the opposite direction. Do not cut glass from both sides. Setting the ruler exactly along the cut line on the other side will probably not work. The cut line will be staggered. You will have to put more effort into aligning it. This will increase the risk of deviating from the originally intended dimensions.

Thick plexiglass

It is easier to cut thicker and larger sheets with a circular saw. Use the thinnest blade available. A thick blade can split the sheet in the most inappropriate way. At home, it is still better and safer to use the cutter described above for making small containers.

After all the necessary glass has been cut to the intended dimensions, the edges should be lightly shaped with a wooden planer with a sharply sharpened blade. It is not necessary to remove a lot of material. It is only necessary to remove the steps left after multiple passes of the cutter.

Gluing the plexiglas aquarium

Now everything is ready to glue our aquarium together. As a glue for Plexiglas, organic solvents such as dichloroethane are usually used. Dichloroethane is used more often than others, as it is the most readily available. The vapors of this substance are very toxic. Therefore, all work related to its use should be carried out in a well-ventilated room.

Preparation of Plexiglas adhesive

Sometimes dichloroethane is used in its pure form, but more often a kind of glue is prepared. For this purpose, 5 grams of Plexiglas shavings are taken per 100 grams of solvent, the same shavings that were formed when cutting the glass. The liquid is stirred until the chips are completely dissolved in it. After that, tightly closing the container with the solvent give it to stand for about three days. After that, you can start gluing the plexiglas aquarium.

Fixing plexiglass sheets

It’s a little early, though. We need to think about how we will fix the glasses relative to each other. The simplest way is to clamp the panes to be installed vertically between three-liter bottles filled with water.

простейший стапель
простейший стапель для выставления прямого угла

A more complicated method, but also giving better results, is to make a kind of slipway, in which you can fix the glass relative to each other. The slipway is made of wood with dimensions larger than the aquarium to be made.

Since for home purposes the aquarium is made in a single copy of the aquarium, it makes no sense to create a single construction for the sake of a single slipway. Therefore, we will use liter or three-liter glass jars filled with water.

Which jars you need liter or three-liter jars depends on the volume of the aquarium you decide to make. With an aquarium of up to fifty liters will quite cope with three-liter bottles. Now that the bottles are prepared and filled with water, you can start gluing.

Plexiglas aquarium Gluing procedure

Place the bottom piece on a flat surface. Along the long side, place the side glass so that it rests on the bottom blank. Between these blanks put a steel wire with a diameter of 0.4 millimeters, if you decide to work with pure dichloroethane. If you work with dichloroethane solution of organic glass, the wire can be laid thicker. It is most convenient to apply the solvent cement using a syringe. A pipette is somewhat less convenient for this purpose.

шприц с клеем
удобно наносить клей с помощью шприца

If the glue is so thick that it can only be applied with a brush, which can be a match or a toothpick, it is better to dilute the glue with pure dichloroethane. Now we apply the first layer of dichloroethane, pouring it with a syringe into the gap formed by the wire laid between the glasses. After that we wait for 10 – 12 minutes. Then we pour the gap once again and after waiting about 60 seconds take out the wire and press the glasses tightly to each other.

Check the angle between the panes and, if necessary, correct it so that it is equal to 90 degrees. The remaining panes are glued in the same way. After that, let the aquarium properly dry for about three days. If you decide to make an aquarium of plexiglass more than fifty liters, the corners should be strengthened by gluing them with a strip of plexiglass cross-section 10×10 millimeters.

The top edge is reinforced around the perimeter with a metal corner. For an aquarium up to 100 liters, a corner with a side of 3 centimeters is sufficient. For a tank of more than 100 liters, the shelf width of the angle must be 50 millimeters.

Plexiglas aquarium – Error correction

It is easy to damage the Plexiglas surface during operation. If this happens, you can place the aquarium with the damaged side against the wall. However, it is better to grind off all scratches. If they are on the outer side, they reduce the optical transparency. A scratch on the inside of the glass quickly overgrows algae, which is almost impossible to clean.

For sanding, you can use a felt wheel, which is put on an electric drill or a grinder like “dremel”.

собранный аквариум из оргстекла
Используя липкую ленту при сборке аквариума можно обойтись без бутылей

The felt wheel must be liberally greased with grinding paste. GOI paste has proven itself. Care must be taken to ensure that there is always a roller of grinding paste in front of the grinding wheel.

If the felt wheel touches organic glass dry, it will melt it with the heat generated by the friction. If you need to grind glass and have no experience in this business, it is better to practice on an unnecessary piece of glass first.

I hope the recommendations in this article were useful to you. And now, if you want, you can easily cope with the manufacture of an plexiglas aquarium.

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