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Old 01/10/2017, 07:39 PM   #1
Joe Lydon
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Plywood tank with 3 sides of glass

I'm having a hard time finding any plywood tank builds, with 3 sides glass. Is it possible? Can I join the side and front panels, as you would a standard aquarium? Or will I have to frame windows for the panes of glass to sit in? I'd really like to keep it all glass, up front, if possible. I've built all glass tanks before, just never a hybrid like this. Dimensions are 83Lx34Wx33H - 1" laminated low iron glass. I will be framing the top and bottom with bracing, tied into the rear wall framing. Really looking for realistic opinions, from experienced people. I'm pretty sure it can be done how I want. Maybe it's just uncommon, because people try to keep costs down by using plywood?


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Old 01/10/2017, 07:47 PM   #2
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I Have seen them done like this.

You will have to create a U grove in the bottom for the glass to it down in,the grove will have to carry up along the vertical area where the glass will bump into the back.I think you will also have to have a top trim with a u shape grove down to sit on top the glass... Your Resin and epoxy sealer will have to extent past this grove and you can seal the glass into the grove


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Old 01/10/2017, 07:52 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by ericarenee View Post
I Have seen them done like this.

You will have to create a U grove in the bottom for the glass to it down in,the grove will have to carry up along the vertical area where the glass will bump into the back.I think you will also have to have a top trim with a u shape grove down to sit on top the glass... Your Resin and epoxy sealer will have to extent past this grove and you can seal the glass into the grove
Perfect! I picked up the glass super cheap, and can't pass up building the tank. Hard to find what I'm looking to build, but figured there may be cost reasons involved. Thanks! So, just router a 1" groove for the glass to seat in, and do the same on the top. Thanks again!


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Old 01/10/2017, 08:17 PM   #4
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Yes..
The grove size you will want to determine depending on the thickness of your Resin/ Epoxy and room for sealant plus expansion... They have some at the local Zoo like this .
MY GUESS WOULD BE
1 INCH GLASS
1/4 for resin and epoxy
1/4 for Expansion and calking.. you prob need to sit the glass on some rubber shims say 1/4 wide directly under the glass along the bottom then adhesive Calk..


The top piece you will have to add after the glass is in and mechanically fasten it to the top back of the tank....

Wish i could remember where i seen the build thread doing a tank like this...

I am sure others will add to or maybe even give you different advice.. but if i were building a plywood tank this is how i would do it..


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240+G Mixed BB Reef tank.. 350 G Marine Pond. And the expensive stuff that runs it.
Chic's are for Chic's You silly men Go Fishing or something...

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Old 01/11/2017, 09:05 AM   #5
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Definitely document this... I'm sure a lot of people are interested to see how you do it!


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Old 01/11/2017, 10:11 AM   #6
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When I built a plywood tank, I went the 'window pane' route, with the glass front and one side held inside the plywood framing. This was essentially a 300DD before there was a ML 300DD



I used the wrong kind of plywood, so the thing ended up oozing after about 3 years.

I agree with Erica's suggestion of using a groove to hold in the glass; just make sure there is adequate wood on the outside perimeter of the groove because that's what will be holding the glass sides in place. You will also have to make sure there is adequate seal between the glass walls and whatever coating you use for the bottom and rear.


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Old 01/11/2017, 10:13 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ca1ore View Post
When I built a plywood tank, I went the 'window pane' route, with the glass front and one side held inside the plywood framing.



I used the wrong kind of plywood, so the thing ended up oozing after about 3 years.
What kind of plywood would you suggest using?

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Old 01/11/2017, 10:18 AM   #8
ca1ore
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I used Pratt & Lambert epoxy paint for the waterproof coating on all the inside plywood walls. The grain lifted slightly on the plywood I used and over time the epoxy coating cracked and oozed. I've not researched it, but were I to do this again, I'd want a plywood that doesn't lift the grain. Maybe luan, hardwood ply like poplar or even marine grade. I did use hardwood ply on an ATO reservoir that I built using the same epoxy paint - and I'm still using that, 23 years later.


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Simon

Got back into the hobby ..... planned to keep it simple ..... yeah, right ..... clearly I need a new plan! Pet peeve: anemones host clowns; clowns do not host anemones!

Current Tank Info: 265 Reef; 60 Frag Tank, 30 Introduction tank; multiple QTs
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Old 01/11/2017, 10:19 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ca1ore View Post
I used Pratt & Lambert epoxy paint for the waterproof coating on all the inside plywood walls. The grain lifted slightly on the plywood I used and over time the epoxy coating cracked and oozed. I've not researched it, but were I to do this again, I'd want a plywood that doesn't lift the grain. Maybe luan or even marine grade.
Thanks I've been looking into plywood tanks for my coldwater marine aquarium build.

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Old 01/11/2017, 11:41 AM   #10
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You would want to use Advantec OXB. No grayne to lift. The grayne is how the tree circulates water through the tree. That's why it expands. This is not a typical application so I don't know what the warranty would be or at all. Advantec can be gotten at lumber stores. It is a "chip" board but is moisture resistant and guaranteed to be so. That being said.....You will have a barrier(epoxy) between is and the water. Nothing to leach if the barrier is properly applied. The initial wood is unattractive but will be covered. The outside is covered too. Since the water is inside, moisture shouldn't be much of a concern but each wood wall should be double ply, opposite joined,screwed and glued. The exterior wall needs to be any kind of exterior (OXB) type wood. Smooth "x" wood can be found no,sweat. We are talking$55-65.00 a sheet for the wood alone. Good luck. This is a plan of mine too but,I will be doing a 700-900gallon with a 100gallon drop off. Good luck!


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Old 01/12/2017, 12:48 AM   #11
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I'm using 100% solids epoxy, with enough build to eliminate any grain. It's food grade safe material, for potable water reservoir containers. IE inside of water towers, etc.

With that said, I'm going to go with the 2 sheets of plywood retaining method for the bottom. Where the upper piece of plywood is just smaller than the base, by the thickness of the glass. Followed up by securing an outer frame to the base.

I'm thinking of going a step further, and coming up with a way to make this aquarium rimless. It's 1" glass with beveled polished edges. Would be nice to see it. 33" tall glass, with 30" of water. Worst case scenario, I brace the top.

Hydrostatic pressure at 30" of water, is 15psi + whatever the powerheads create. 1" glass has a safety factor of 5, at this water level, with that 84" span.

The problem with going rimless, is, the bond strength to the epoxy on the back wall. In what way can I secure/reinforce that bond, without being obstructive to the front of the tank?

I was thinking euro braces on all 4 top corners. Triangle shaped, reaching maybe 6" out from the corners.

Also considering a glass euro brace on the outside of the tank. Maybe a 10x33" piece of glass, coming 6" out with full contact onto the side of the tank, and 4" behind/beyond with full contact to a 2x4 coated in 100% solids epoxy. That's a lot of surface area of bonding/contact.

Tell me if I'm crazy, please don't call me stupid. (you can do that if I post photos of what 400 gallons of water looks like on the floor) Constructive criticism is always welcome.

Cheers


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Old 01/12/2017, 01:42 AM   #12
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Here's my plywood sump 6' x 2' x 2'

 photo 9C625286-C48F-43AC-B65C-FA5A90F728C0-368-0000004F13C5C315_zpsf471b615.jpg

 photo 17B1B470-5BAE-4B64-BA53-9D965BBDBCF3-368-0000004F1292CFED_zps3f6dd5be.jpg

 photo C5D2F8D6-03FC-49ED-BF7E-B77A5098C188-368-0000004F167AE608_zps90117f29.jpg

 photo 84E5ED47-EDCF-4D36-B6DE-785D2DCC6E66-368-0000004F1715552A_zps3851b666.jpg

 photo 2171D2D5-F3D5-48BB-921D-FCD8676795EC-1910-000001EF856F664C_zps6a96e1b0.jpg

 photo 0367B40B-36E5-472C-9884-C8BED7E0C3B3-459-0000010A599F95F6_zps391bbfef.jpg

 photo 3828F4F2-4803-4D30-A5A9-25BC79D0AF0B-459-0000010A5DFFE0B0_zps26a732e1.jpg

 photo B8AD5D28-F9DA-468A-9997-E7AF5A1DFFED-459-0000010A620D5D13_zps7bfa3a3e.jpg

 photo 692196E5-31BB-46BC-90E9-181CA4C2D516-459-0000010A6C03A541_zps55759039.jpg

 photo 74F55BFA-BD45-4B86-85A1-8250FB608DF9-459-0000010A7739F56E_zpsccf96593.jpg

That's not a crack or gap at the bottom. The plywood sheet was slightly warped so it's sticking out by 1/8" & creating a dark shadow.


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Old 01/12/2017, 01:43 AM   #13
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 photo BAEEC589-1DC7-45BE-8FAE-795BA773F658_zpsacoc3ctw.jpg

I know it's not fancy but it's been up and running for four years now


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Old 01/12/2017, 04:17 AM   #14
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There's a lot of very good resources for this information. This is very popular for large FW aquariums for the guys that need space for 4' long fish to turn around.

They usually paint the inside with pond 'liner' -- It's a very thick paint like mixture that is extremely strong and stands the test of time. I can't remember what it's called, so I just called it pond 'liner' but it is a very thick paint, not a plastic sheet.


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Old 01/12/2017, 08:59 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spectorman View Post
You would want to use Advantec OXB. No grayne to lift. The grayne is how the tree circulates water through the tree. That's why it expands. This is not a typical application so I don't know what the warranty would be or at all. Advantec can be gotten at lumber stores. It is a "chip" board but is moisture resistant and guaranteed to be so. That being said.....You will have a barrier(epoxy) between is and the water. Nothing to leach if the barrier is properly applied. The initial wood is unattractive but will be covered. The outside is covered too. Since the water is inside, moisture shouldn't be much of a concern but each wood wall should be double ply, opposite joined,screwed and glued. The exterior wall needs to be any kind of exterior (OXB) type wood. Smooth "x" wood can be found no,sweat. We are talking$55-65.00 a sheet for the wood alone. Good luck. This is a plan of mine too but,I will be doing a 700-900gallon with a 100gallon drop off. Good luck!

This is NOT! A Good Product.. Its Slightly better then Normal strand board. AS Far as i have been able to tell it has some type of wax coating over it.. Not only do i think its too weak for the structure of this product i think the Resin will have issues sticking to it as it will prevent it from being absorbed into the product.

I Have used this A LOT.. Its Rated Interior Sub floor use Not even rated for roof decking.... and Normal osb is ...


__________________
240+G Mixed BB Reef tank.. 350 G Marine Pond. And the expensive stuff that runs it.
Chic's are for Chic's You silly men Go Fishing or something...

Current Tank Info: 240= gal Reef /550 Gallon Saltwater pond 72 G Bay front Tropical aquarium
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Old 01/12/2017, 09:01 AM   #16
ca1ore
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Lydon View Post
I'm using 100% solids epoxy, with enough build to eliminate any grain. It's food grade safe material, for potable water reservoir containers. IE inside of water towers, etc.

With that said, I'm going to go with the 2 sheets of plywood retaining method for the bottom. Where the upper piece of plywood is just smaller than the base, by the thickness of the glass. Followed up by securing an outer frame to the base.

I'm thinking of going a step further, and coming up with a way to make this aquarium rimless. It's 1" glass with beveled polished edges. Would be nice to see it. 33" tall glass, with 30" of water. Worst case scenario, I brace the top.

Hydrostatic pressure at 30" of water, is 15psi + whatever the powerheads create. 1" glass has a safety factor of 5, at this water level, with that 84" span.

The problem with going rimless, is, the bond strength to the epoxy on the back wall. In what way can I secure/reinforce that bond, without being obstructive to the front of the tank?

I was thinking euro braces on all 4 top corners. Triangle shaped, reaching maybe 6" out from the corners.

Also considering a glass euro brace on the outside of the tank. Maybe a 10x33" piece of glass, coming 6" out with full contact onto the side of the tank, and 4" behind/beyond with full contact to a 2x4 coated in 100% solids epoxy. That's a lot of surface area of bonding/contact.

Tell me if I'm crazy, please don't call me stupid. (you can do that if I post photos of what 400 gallons of water looks like on the floor) Constructive criticism is always welcome.

Cheers
Sounds like a great build. My plywood tank is now many years in the past, so I'll be following along with great interest. I'm a charter member of 'overbuilders annonymous' so things that make me nervous don't others. If me, I'd def go with the full eurobrace.


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Simon

Got back into the hobby ..... planned to keep it simple ..... yeah, right ..... clearly I need a new plan! Pet peeve: anemones host clowns; clowns do not host anemones!

Current Tank Info: 265 Reef; 60 Frag Tank, 30 Introduction tank; multiple QTs
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Old 01/12/2017, 09:32 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by ca1ore View Post
Sounds like a great build. My plywood tank is now many years in the past, so I'll be following along with great interest. I'm a charter member of 'overbuilders annonymous' so things that make me nervous don't others. If me, I'd def go with the full eurobrace.
I'm torn. The glass is so amazing, and thick, with flat polished edges. I could avoid all stress, frame it out and build a canopy. Which wouldn't be the worse case situation, considering if I built a canopy, I could contain the massive amount of spill light from the three 400w mogal halides.

I have to use Sikaflex 295, with pre-cleaner/activator for glass, too. Because of the laminated layer in the glass. Using traditional silicone, within about 2yrs, it would deteriorate the laminate material, and compromise the seal. Sikaflex 295 is usable as a permanent bond, and it comes in black, but I'm unsure if it's reef safe, so I will follow up with encasing the bonds within cheap black DAP.

I'm not one for doing extensive cataloging of my DIY, but I will definitely be taking a few photos along the way. Most of the stuff isn't going to be far off from the dozens of other DIY plywood tanks on YouTube.

I should be getting started within the next week or so.

Until then!


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Old 01/13/2017, 03:37 AM   #18
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I'm going to learn to swim in this tank, lol...glad you're finding some solid info on this. I was getting worried


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Old 01/13/2017, 10:03 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Spectorman View Post
You would want to use Advantec OXB. No grayne to lift. The grayne is how the tree circulates water through the tree. That's why it expands. This is not a typical application so I don't know what the warranty would be or at all. Advantec can be gotten at lumber stores. It is a "chip" board but is moisture resistant and guaranteed to be so. That being said.....You will have a barrier(epoxy) between is and the water. Nothing to leach if the barrier is properly applied. The initial wood is unattractive but will be covered. The outside is covered too. Since the water is inside, moisture shouldn't be much of a concern but each wood wall should be double ply, opposite joined,screwed and glued. The exterior wall needs to be any kind of exterior (OXB) type wood. Smooth "x" wood can be found no,sweat. We are talking$55-65.00 a sheet for the wood alone. Good luck. This is a plan of mine too but,I will be doing a 700-900gallon with a 100gallon drop off. Good luck!
Please do not follow this advice! OSB is not an appropriate material for a plywood aquarium. OSB is cheap and has a great deal of shear strength along the plane of the board, but not much bend strength. This is why it is used as exterior building sheeting and not flooring. Plywood can withstand a great deal of pressure.


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Old 01/13/2017, 11:09 PM   #20
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With all the wood experts (waving ), I have to ask:

how about MDF ?




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Old 01/13/2017, 11:20 PM   #21
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With all the wood experts (waving ), I have to ask:

how about MDF ?

That too. Plywood is insanely strong and relatively water resistant in and of itself. If the epoxy leaks (guaranteed if you have an urchin or other creature that scrapes off coralline algae for food), the plywood will not melt. It will not last for long, but far longer than a chip or particle type board, hopefully long enough to make repairs.


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Old 01/13/2017, 11:33 PM   #22
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Can you not do multiple layers of epoxy to keep the urchin from scraping it off? Like they do on wooden stools where the shellac is like 1/8" thick.

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Old 01/14/2017, 09:20 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by karimwassef View Post
With all the wood experts (waving ), I have to ask:

how about MDF ?



This is the best construction material ever made.. you can use this and not even need to seal it .. Just cut spray paint and bungee cords around to hold it together . add sand live rock and water..


i Love mdf For a lot of project a TANK Is not one of them. Being the WOOD Lumber expert i am


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240+G Mixed BB Reef tank.. 350 G Marine Pond. And the expensive stuff that runs it.
Chic's are for Chic's You silly men Go Fishing or something...

Current Tank Info: 240= gal Reef /550 Gallon Saltwater pond 72 G Bay front Tropical aquarium
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Old 01/14/2017, 09:34 AM   #24
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Please do not follow this advice! OSB is not an appropriate material for a plywood aquarium. OSB is cheap and has a great deal of shear strength along the plane of the board, but not much bend strength. This is why it is used as exterior building sheeting and not flooring. Plywood can withstand a great deal of pressure.
actually this is true BUT..

strand board absorbs moisture better then plywood.. If you were to build it using two layers of material.. sandwiching them together 3/4 plywood glued to say even 3/8 strand board . The NON Waxed Stuff.. Cheap stuff that is 10.00 a sheet at box store..

This in theory would be a better solution then plywood alone.
My reasons for this..

The resin will be absorbed into the stand board and have a tighter bond then if you use plywood.. Strand board is not bonded layers so the resin could be locked deeper into the fibers..

I have tore floors up where idiots. ooops people did not use underlayment between strand board sub floor and glue down Tile ,You have to ripe the whole sub floor up as the glue goes deep into the strand board.. With plywood sub floors the glue usually just sits on the surface and might tear some of the first layer up...

So since all the pressure will be out word force in the strand the ply behind it would be the structure the strand board would become part of the fiberglass structure.. Boats are made with this technique for the above reason..


I Have never done this.. but it has some logic to it.. the strand board mentioned above that is supposed to be Water Resistance makes Great Concrete form materials because the wax on the surface prevents forms from sticking and they fall apart for easy tear down..


Anyway sorry to keep Its just something that came to my mind due to a discussion of another plywood tank build thread that is using STRAND Board. for the above reason. it just has a Different structure method..

Sometimes you gotta think outside the box to get the best results.

Erica Renee


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240+G Mixed BB Reef tank.. 350 G Marine Pond. And the expensive stuff that runs it.
Chic's are for Chic's You silly men Go Fishing or something...

Current Tank Info: 240= gal Reef /550 Gallon Saltwater pond 72 G Bay front Tropical aquarium
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Old 01/14/2017, 10:20 AM   #25
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This is the best construction material ever made.. you can use this and not even need to seal it .. Just cut spray paint and bungee cords around to hold it together . add sand live rock and water..


i Love mdf For a lot of project a TANK Is not one of them. Being the WOOD Lumber expert i am
So the first part is sarcasm?


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