Introduction: DIY Office Fishtank

So, to start off I have worked at Arkwin Industries for almost five years now and they just installed new cubicles. One of my coworkers and I were joking around about what to do with the hollow glass portion at the top. The glass on either side pops out revealing a beautiful chamber, but we had to figure out what to fill it with. We ruled out snakes, scorpions, ants, and hamsters.... which left us with fish!! But not just any fish, something that was colorful (and blue, our companies color); which left us with one of my favorite fish, the Betta. 

Now before you get your claws ready to pounce on me for keeping fish in a tank like this, a Betta needs about a half gallon tank, I'm currently keeping two Bettas in mine (separated of course) and this tank is 1.49 Gallons. Not only is it big enough but it has places for them to hide and  has a filter. They are very well taken care of.

On to the Instructable!


Step 1: Materials

The decision to build this tank was made after a great deal of searching for a commercial tank or clear container that would fit our needs, however the tank could not be wider than 2.4" and of course the next highest standard is 2.5", the next size down we found was 2.25" which was too small so I decided to build the tank. Due to the size constraints I wanted to give my fish the largest volume of water so I opted for 1/8" thick polycarbonate, however if you are planning to build a larger tank I would highly suggest moving up to 3/16" or 1/4" thick polycarb for strength. I also suggest reinforcing the corners with extruded acrylic, I used triangular pieces but I would suggest using square bars as they will be easier to work with.

You will need the following for the tank:

1. Polycarbonate: [Mcmaster Carr]
2. Extruded Acrylic: [Ridout Plastics]
3. Acrylic Glue: [Ridout Plastics

The amount of these items will vary on the size of your tank, but for a small one like mine you are looking at 2 sheets of Polycarbonate (1' x 2'), 2' worth of Acrylic Extrusion, and about 3 ounces of Glue. This is for a 2.40" x 6.00" x 24.00" Tank. 

Tools you will need:

1. Cutting Implement: I used a bandsaw with a guide to get nice strait cuts. You could also use a dremel with the linear guide attachment. (Would have been really easy with a laser cutte... winkwink r ;) )
2. News Paper to cover your work area.
3. A drinking straw (I'll explain later)

Things you will need for your fish:

1. Well.... The fish themselves of course, I wouldn't put more than two Bettas in this size tank unless you are mean. 
2. Water conditioner, Assuming you are using Tap water
3. Food, mine seem to hate dried bloodworms and prefer the pellets.... go figure. 
4. Filter, there are a couple that will fit my size tank but look below for the one I purchased. It works phenomenally well for $15. 
5. Fake plants (Or real if you know what to do)
6. Gravel, to hold your plants down and make the bottom look nice.
7. An Easter Island head, optional of course. 
8. A mesh net for when you have to transplant the fish

So far my tank has been running for four weeks going strong, I run the filter during lunch for an hour a day and it keeps the water sparkling clean. Just add some of the water treatment of your choice each week to replenish the minerals in the water. 

On to construction!! 


Step 2: Construction

The construction of your tank will vary  from mine, you should construct your tank to fit YOUR needs rather than copy mine (unless you have the same cubicles or size constraints, then go right ahead and copy =) ). I will admit that this tank is not easy to work with as it is very long and narrow, and therefore difficult to clean. The construction is very simple and even if you mess up once or twice you will figure it out. Just make sure not to get the glue on any surfaces you want clear as it will fog the polycardonate or cure in a lump and look strange. 

The glue cures EXTREMELY quickly so light pressure for 20-30 seconds is enough to get it to stick. If you want your edges to be as transparent as possible i suggest you sand the edges with fine grit sandpaper and steel wool. I however did not have this luxury as I was trying to get this tank completed before my boss got back from vacation. If you plan to keep two Bettas in this type of tank you will need seperate them, I did this with a acrylic barrier. Make sure to add holes to let water circulate in the tank. 

Let your tank sit overnight, then fill it with a little water and see if there are any leaks. If there are, just empty the tank and cover the spots with some glue; the beauty of this glue is that it can fill small gaps and seal the tank without needing silicon. If you have a leak on the bottom you will need that handy dandy straw, this glue is very runny and will get everywhere if you try to just flip the tube upside down to reach the bottom of the tank; simply hold the straw to the nozzle and use it to guide the flow. It is a good idea to cover as many seams as you can before doing the test, just to be sure it is sealed. If it holds water just add some more fluid and continue this process until you have filled the tank and there are no leaks. 

Once the tank is filled leave it overnight so that whatever off-gas there may be from the plastic is absorbed by the water, make sure to change the water before starting the next step!

Lets decorate!!

Step 3: Decorating

A nice clear tank is great and all.... but we need some color!! 

I choose to go with neon green plants, an Easter island head, and blue gravel. My coworker went with the less "HEY THERE IS A FISHTANK OVER HERE!!" route and got darker colored plants. You would be surprised at how many people walk past this every day and never notice it, even with the neon plants. 

1. First wash your gravel, DO NOT USE SOAP. Just rinse it off with some water and add it to your tank. 
2. Once it is in the tank spread it nicely around the bottom
3. Next get all your plants and wash them too, once again NO SOAP. 
4. Bury the base of your plants in the gravel to keep them stable, bury the base of the divider if you have more than one fish. 
5. Find a spot to add your filter, I choose to stick it into one side of the tank being there are holes in the divider for circulation. 
6. Add the water treatment by the directions on the bottle. 
7. Bag your fish if they aren't already and let them soak for an hour. 
8. Add your fishies and let them explore their new dwelling

9. In my case the last step is to add the tank to my cubicle and close the glass (It isn't sealed so plenty of air can get inside). 

 (You should probably ask your boss before doing this), PLEASE read the next page =)

Step 4: Final Photos

And now for the results!

The pictures with the neon green plants and blue fish are my tank, the red fish/dark green plants are my coworkers tank. I think both came out quite nice for being the first two tanks I ever made. They are drawing quite a bit of attention and smiles when people finally started to discover them. You would be shocked at how many people don't even notice because they simply don't expect to see a fishtank there.

If you are reading this from the Epilog contest please keep reading!! I really could use your votes.  

What would I use a laser cutter for? The uses are endless! I recently graduated from SUNY Stony Brook with a bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and I am currently working full time at Arkwin industries as well as attending full time graduate school. My main fields of expertise are robotics, I plan to compete in the Robo-Games next year with a biped humanoid robot. A dream of mine is to also open up a hackerspace in my area to collaborate with other crazy individuals on some kickass projects to better Long Island. I have designed a few dexterous prosthetic hands and I am building, one of which I hope to release as an open source project within a year. A laser cutter would not only make this deadline easier to reach, it would allow me to get out several other open source projects such as my super low cost DIY servos,and circuit boards designed for use in various minimal cost medical tests for areas that do not have access to large well equipped hospitals. If I won the Epilog Laser cutter it would be a dramatic boost to what I am capable of achieving and hopefully will eventually allow me to release open source prosthetic to assist those in need. 

Your votes are greatly appreciated =)

Thanks for reading, I hope I inspired you to do something a little on the unusual side  =D

Comments

author
confu (author)2013-09-03

Hey,
that´s a pretty neat idea, but... think about the poor fishies...

Bettas may not be the cleverest and demanding fishes around and will probably "survive" in there for a while, but that build is really far away from an appropriate, not to mention a natural habitat.
I would rather recommend to put living plants and some shrimps (blue ones are also available, just a little pricey) in there, which can do fine in such a mini biosphere.
Google "Nano shrimp tank" for inspirations.
And use silicone sealant recommended for fish tanks instead of solvent-containing glue. Works fine with polycarbonate, too.
Just some suggestions from an aquarist, never mind.

author
Reflez (author)2012-05-12

Quick question, what did your boss say when they found out?

author
tycoon12 (author)2011-11-11

THEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

author
ZoDo (author)2011-09-27

Really great idea. Congratulations.

author
andydrumer12 (author)2011-09-17

Sooo cool. Great idea man! I've been wanting to make my own fish tank for awhile now and this is almost exactly what I wanted to build. Hopefully with in the next couple weeks I can put one of these together. nice job!

author

Glad to hear it, good luck on your build!

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