Fish Tank Coffee Table





Introduction: Fish Tank Coffee Table

I got the idea of building this coffee table fish tank after looking online and seeing them for sale for about $700.

And the other DIY tanks were not very thoroughly explained nor used wood which wouldn't match my house decor

I wanted to make something affordable and for the 30 gal fish tank that I already had. (32 x 12.5 x 18)

Step 1: Materials & Tools

Sides, bottom rails: 1"x4" x 23' oak board (2X 10" and 1X 4") ($65)

Top Rails: 1"x3" x 8' oak board ($20)

1.5 in. x 3/8 in. Fluted Dowel Pins ($2)

Wood Glue (Titebond III) ($5)

Tank Base: 1/2" plywood 32.25" x 12.75" ($15)

Tank support: 1 x 2 x 8' ($1.20)

Caps: 4X 5" x 4.25" (Cut from base)

Minwax PolyShades Bombay Mahogany ($10)

24x48x3/8" Plate glass with polished edge ($120)

5M SMD RGB 5050 Waterproof LED Strip light 300 & 44 Key IR Remote & 12V 5A power (ebay) ($25)

32 x 12 x 18 fish tank ($50 for all parts)

  • Undergravel Filter
  1. Air pump

Gravel, decorations, Heater, etc


Table Saw

Router with 1/2" Collet

Yonico 13322 3 Bit Edge Molding Router Bit Set with Large Designer 1/2-Inch Shank ($21)


Brad Point Drill Bits ($9)

Dowel Jig (Amazon: Wolfcraft 3751405 Dowel Pro) ($29)


Tape Measure

2 or 4x 36" C clamps (4x $9)

The total cost for the whole project:

  • Tank & All Accessories: When acquired on Craigslist: $50
  • Wood: $100
  • Glass Top: $120
  • LED: $25
  • Misc Parts & Tools: $100
  • The total cost for materials used: ~$350

Step 2: Wood Prep

Have a beer and get to work!

1. Cut the 1 x 4 oak boards into 8 piceces 22.5" long for the vertical supports.

2. Cut the 1 x 4 oak board into 2 pieces 25 1/4" long for the bottom length support

3. Cut the 1 x 4 oak board into 2 pieces 9" long for the bottom width support

4. Cut the 1 x 3 oak board into 2 pieces 25 1/4" long for the top length support
5. Cut the 1 x 3 oak board into 2 pieces 9" long for the top width support

6. Cut the tank support wood pieces 2 pieces of 1 x 2 x 32" and 1 x 2 x 11"


The dowels that I purchased are 1.5" long so the holes need to be 3/4" + 1/16" to allow for glue for the length and width supports.

Obviously, for the vertical support to dowel, the thickness of the board is only 3/4", so the depth must be less than the length and width support depths. I used 7/16" for the shorter side and 1 3/16" for the deep end.

Use a stop to measure the depth of the hole to prevent drilling too deep.

Use the jig or a drill press for the initial holes to ensure a perfectly straight drilled hole.

Length and width Vertical Support Dowels

1. Measure the placement for the dowels on the vertical support. The lower dowel was drilled ((13/16" deep)with the center 1 1/2" from the bottom of the vertical support. The upper dowel hole (13/16") was drilled 1 1/2" above the center of the lower dowel.

2. The upper support dowel was drilled 1 1/8" from the top of the vertical support.

Reference the 3rd & 4th image in this step.

Use the Jig to align the boards and make the ends match and the jig is over the hole to match the upper board. Repeat with the remaining 7 vertical support boards.

Length and width Support Dowels

1. Measure 1" from base of 1 x 4 pieces to insert first dowel.

2. Measure up 1 1/2" above center of lower dowel and use this as the second dowel position.

3. Measure 3/4" from top side of 1 x 3 piece for top support dowel positions.

Use the Jig to align the boards and make the ends match and the jig is over the hole to match the upper board. Fig 6 & 7 Repeat with the remaining 7 horizontal support boards.

Vertical Support Dowels

1. Measure up 6" from the base of the vertical support board where the deep dowel hole (1 3/16") will be inserted.

2. Measure up 18" from the base for dowel #2

3. Measure up 24" from the base for dowel #3

4. Arrange the boards as seen in figure 7 to drill the shallow dowel hole (7/16") for all 7 boards for all 3 holes.

Step 3: Glueing

Add a bead of glue down each end of the sealed area.

Add some glue onto the dowel and into the dowel holes.

Clamp tight and wipe away glue with a damp rag

1. I first started with the vertical corners

2. Then I made both width end of the vertical support

3. I added the length supports to one end of the vertical support

4. Add the other width end of the vertical support.

Step 4: Prep for Fish Tank

1. Glue and screw on the 1 x 2" horizontal mounts for the fish tank base. I chose to add mine 1/2" from the bottom of the horizontal rail; however, I later realized that this is too low for most fish tank pumps to easily fit without vibration.

2. Cut off a corner of the 32 1/4 x 12 3/4" for the fish tank wiring to feed through. 1 - 2" hole should be sufficient.

3. Sand with 150-300 grit sand paper

4. Apply 1 coat of the Minwax Polyshades to stain and seal the tank

5. Repeat 3 & 4

6. Before adding my fish tank, I used some 3/8" thick window sealing foam around the horizontal mounts to cushion the fish tank from floor vibrations. (Doesn't really do much)

Step 5: Final Touches

LED Lighting

The LED string that I purchased has double sided tape on the back allowing it to stick to the upper and lower horizontal supports without any additional effort.

1. Begin at the corner of the tank where the corner was cut off for wiring.

2. Adhere the lighting around the top of the tank about 1" below the top of the fish tank.

3. Bend the lighting down and add a the same 5M strand of lights around the bottom of the tank.

4. Connect the IR & Electrical connections to the end of the LED light strip.

Top Caps

1. I used a router and router table to create finished edge on the top caps for the fish tank.

2. I also used some crystal cabinet drawer pulls that I found on ebay to raise the glass off the top caps.

3. I have not secured these to the table in case I need to remove the fish tank. I will eventually spot glue them so that they can be removed fairly easily without damage.

Setting up tank

The goal here is to have all wiring, fixtures and pumps underneath the base of the fish tank with just a single cord power extending outside the tank; however, in my original design, it was slightly too low and causes loud rattling noises. I'd suggest raising the tank support rails 1/2 to 1" to prevent this issue.

1. I used a 40 gallon air pump with dual outlets to connect to the undergravel filter for my 30 gallon tank.

2. Place the pump toward the corner of the tank where the corner is cut off. Add all other pumps, and surge protector into the middle of the tank. Pull the tubing for the air hoses up out of the corner.

3. Add the tank support plywood.

4. Add the fish tank

5. Follow the appropriate steps for setting up a fish tank.

6. Add the top corner caps

Step 6: Voila



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    This is great, I have seen a similar one in real life. One of the think that's off though is: the rotten water smell after 3 weeks, despite having the filter I could still smell it... kinda odd.

    I've had my tank running for the last 3 months and don't have any odd smells. I clean the water & tank nearly weekly.

    Water changes are needed, if not your fish might be doomed. A bucket and a cheap pump should work for whatever water change you need, just keep a close eye on it while it fills!

    I might of missed it but how much is the space between the wood to the top layer of glass? 2 inches? Does it create condensation on the top layer of glass since theres a heater inside?

    Yeah, there's about 2 inches between the wood and the glass. There is condensation that forms on the glass but in a 3x3" area near the oxygen bubblers.

    I have a fish tank and I thought that was a great idea I like that blog

    Very nice job! Builders could shave a nice chunk off of the price of the glass top if they polish the edge themselves. It's not hard. I bet there's even an instructables somewhere on here!

    nice build , have you experienced any issues with smell / rawness . i find fish tanks to often develop a raw somewhat fishy smell after a while.

    Fish tanks when balanced should smell "sweet"... other links above, but this product (does not eliminate sound practices) helps to keep water balanced.

    (trouble posting photos earlier so posting here) The Globe water looks "cloudy" but was not (and I know water looks aka Amazon dark peaty so on - has nothing to do with water quality) but in this case both good. Was not good at photography.

    One in Japan - stellar... hard to find close ups on web any more - but it has both outside rocky features, falls and underwater. I had tanks with home made rock sculptures (one with betta in splash area) but four hang on back rocky "things" for large 75... sold to guy who owned Cichilds. She loved playing in "falls area" (high flow filters) but tore her tail so out she went into calmer globe, 20 long - she went after corries - viscous gal! The globes (link earlier) come in many sizes - some huge (two types of plastic, better then glass - can not even find now but still can not toss about or will crack). Need only one small hole in base to balance as filling up with water. (spot lights, underwater old box filter, hidden in back of plants). So many possibilities in this field!

    Great link to super product to keep aquarium (pond industrial use) water superbly balanced!

    Aquariums are lovely little bits of heaven that have been proven to lower your blood pressure and heart rate; some claim they extend your life.

    Anyone who owns an aquarium, salt or fresh water knows that constant care and maintenance is the key an appealing waterscape and happy healthy fish. Now there is a way to obtain these results without the constant cleaning.

    Biodigesters are the answer

    Biodigesters been specially designed to inhibit algae growth in aquariums by removing its food sources. Biodigesters (affectionately referred to as “bugs”) are a combination of all natural bacteria, lab grade purified enzymes with micro and macro nutrients. Biodigesters bacteria and enzymes are targeted to the food sources available in your aquariums water. Biodigesters can successfully attack, degrade, and liquefy fecal mass, undigested food, and other organics that contribute to a build-up of ammonia and bottom solids within the aquarium. Biodigesters condition the marine environments ecology, close to natures own.

    Biodigesters microbes are reliable scavengers that thrive on organic mass (waste). As supplied they are in suspended animation (micro-encapsulated) but are revived when added to the tank. Shortly thereafter, they begin to digest excreta, excess food, oxidize ammonia, reduce nitrites, nitrates, and other N-Compounds and reduce odors.

    Biodigesters proprietary blend of all natural bio-cultures and enzymes have been selected for their ability to effectively digest/degrade extremely heavy concentrations of organic mass within an aquatic system. Reducing those hostile factors that have been determined to be detrimental to the health and life cycle of both fin and shell fish.

    Globe Betta.jpgOrange Betta in rocky falls areaa.jpgGlobe Swords Blue Female Betta.jpgDSCF3942.JPG2260096456_8c79bbf17a.jpg