Introduction: Table Top Aquarium

Picture of Table Top Aquarium

My wife has wanted a table top aquarium for a long time now. Then I remembered I love instructables and this would be a great idea to save money and build! total cost to build was $250 including tank and accessories.
Brand new just the table top tank without the pumps etc run over $700
We saved ourselves $450 and got it our way. Cant beat that!

If you are interested and are located near St Pete FL contact me at 415-935-9053 If you would like any tips or help building one.

Added notes:
WOW, did not expect such response. Let me answer some questions.

1. Goldfish
2. Table top is from a thrift store cost was $30 for the whole table threw out the table part LOL.
3. we currently feed the fish by spoon lol there is about 3/4" gap that we use.
4. I was going to add a removable part but for structural integrity for the glass top did not.
5. Other thoughts, were going to add rope light to the top and underneath thinking it will create a great ambience.

Step 1: Stuff I Needed

Picture of Stuff I Needed

Ok... so this was not an exact science but i will list what I used to make it.

1. Tank ( We went to about 20 different pet stores and the most ideal we found was a 20 gallon tank that was 1 foot high)
2. Wood ( Home Depot was a great help, we mentioned what we wanted to do and the guy was so excited he didn't charge us for cuts ) Great time saver!
a. 1/2" MDF board base of the table
b. 2" x 2" x 8'. I needed about 3 of these
c. 2" x 4" x 12'. I needed only 1 of these
NOTE: Wood dimensions are stupid and are not exactly 2" x 2" just remember that for later
3. Wood Filler. This will make the appearance of 1 solid piece of wood.
4. Paint, Mini roller, edger
5. Drill
6. Screws 1 1/4" and 2 1/2"
7. Stuff i sure i missed like tank decor etc. That was the wife's dept lol

Step 2: The Base

Picture of The Base

The base is what everything is built off of.

1. 1/2" MDF board that I had cut to the exact base dimentions of the outside of the tank
2. 2" x 2" make a border on the inside of the base board, mark where they will be
3. 2" x 4" place them on the inside of the lines along the width and mark their location
4. PRE DRILL the mdf board where you have marked
5. Attach all boards making sure that the frame of the 2" x 2" boards fit evenly with the outside of the mdf, this will be important for the rest of the frame.
6. Base complete, take a look at the pics to see all the steps in order.

I added the 2 x 4 strips to give the table the appearence of floating. worked out well

Step 3: The Corners

Picture of The Corners

Ok so the corners ended being a little tricky and if i was to do this again I would not put on the 2 x 4 legs untill after the frame was built.

1. take the 2 x 4 and 2 x 2 strips you should have 4 of each. the height of the tank was 12 " so i made the sides 15" to accomodate for mounting space.
2. PRE DRILL the 2 x 4 and attach the 2 x 2 creating an L shape as in the pictures below.

Step 4: Mount the Corners

Picture of Mount the Corners

Look at the pics to get a better view

1. Pre drill 1 hole at the bottom on each side to attach to the base made earlier
2. attach while holding even with the bottom of the base. ( again on hind sight i would not have put the feet on to make this easier

Step 5: Add the Top Frame

Picture of Add the Top Frame

This will give everything structure and support

1. place the frame of 2 x 2 for the top structure on by pre drilling and mounting to the top of your frame i recommend doing this with the TANK IN. to make sure everything is aligned

2. look at the pictures

3. after the top frame is in then remove the tank.

Step 6: Wood Filler Time

Picture of Wood Filler Time

Time to add the wood filler.

1. Find any gap hole where you put a nail and cover it.
2. along the sides where you joined any wood fill the gap with filler to give the appearence of no join
3. the more filler you use everywhere the neater it will look after.
4. Let the filler dry, then sand all spots smooth

Step 7: Paint, Paint, Paint

Picture of Paint, Paint, Paint

Ok this part needs no real detail, just make sure to get all corners with a corner brush so that no wood shows through.

We put on 3 coats to make sure it was nice and bold.

Step 8: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

Final things that we added on.

we placed little rubber cushions for the glas tops on the 4 corners, and also placed medallions on for a nice finishing touch.

I mounted a 6 outlet adaptor to one of the feet underneath to supply the pump and filter with power, we ran the wires out a corner at the top of the tank and hid it by running down the inside of one of the edges, running the cords under the table and plugging it in.

Place the glass on top and voila. table top tank.

Total cost $250. If bought new over $700. With the savings we went to the casino :)


NVDevastator (author)2013-07-29

How do you clean the tank? And get the water out? Other than that cool idea :)

FatMan2013 (author)2011-04-18

Oh its deffinately populated with fish!! no other way to have it.. Im deff not one of those that have a tank for ornamental purposes lol

aktreehugger151 (author)2011-01-24

what do you do when the fish die? 3/4 inch seems enough to feed them but i don't think you could navigate a net through it... also what about maintenance of the tank itself. ie, cleaning?

well generally i try and keep them alive lol however once every two weeks i clean the glass and then of course clean any fish out if any that need help to the bathroom

MattyV (author)2010-11-23

Beautifull Tank/Table

Emiiiiiil (author)2009-09-13

I dont like fish!!! So i keep meatballs in my aquarium. But fun aside. I would fill the tank with non rancid mineral oil. and sink a stripped pc and a screen in the brew, add a few lights and bubbels and u got a stunning mediacenter. The expected WAF factor (Wife Acceptance Factor) is pretty low, and is more a project for the boy in us all. But its sure to be a conversation piece. i just got offered 3 big tanks for free, so i might do a project like that in the future.

GeekyAdam (author)2009-09-03

Nice job! I really like the simplicity of it. I was cleaning my basement last week and found my old 10 gallon fish tank with all fish accessories needed, so I might start one of these in a week or so. I need to get one of those in-tank filters though, mine sits on the top side of the tank.

FatMan2013 (author)GeekyAdam2009-09-04

Dude totally go for it There are so many suggestions were probably going to make 10 gallon side tables with asian bonsais and landscape

GeekyAdam (author)FatMan20132009-09-08

nice _

Dzakovich000 (author)2009-09-03

Even if you don't fill it with water, it still looks cool. You could make a little landscape in their with little pagodas and bonsai trees if you wanted. Great instructable.

FatMan2013 (author)Dzakovich0002009-09-04

Great idea! were probably gonna do side table now! the wife saw your suggestion thanks dude lol

Dzakovich000 (author)FatMan20132009-09-05

No problem. Thank you for the neat instructable.

egbertfitzwilly (author)2009-08-30

Very nicely done. This same basic design with long bubbler stones could also be adapted for use as an algae scrubber. If LED strips were submerged into the algae to provide illumination I think a very interesting effect could be obtained.

Love the Led Idea next time i do this im going to actually cut out the bottom center and will place a light under the tank so it will come through the gravel it will keep it cleaner

domino88 (author)2009-09-03

Really like the design and the work you did looks really good. In my experience, a healthy and low maintenance aquariums really depend on very good filtration and good filtration takes space, there is no shortcut. A possible improvement could be to build an enclosure on one of the small sides to fit a larger external filter. I would also think you need a bit more space for an air draft between the wood frame and the glass or you might get condensation depending on the climatic conditions. But otherwise, really nice job! these things do cost a fortune in shops...

FatMan2013 (author)domino882009-09-04

The filter i bought was rated for up to a 50 gal i already figured on not wanting to have too much maintenance lol. as far as the gap our house is kept at a cool 72 so condensation doesnt seem to be a problem so far

Klappstuhl (author)2009-09-03

Awesome! Great idea man, just be sure not to kick it on accident.

FatMan2013 (author)Klappstuhl2009-09-04

LOL while we were building it the wife kicked the corner and opened up her toe funny you say that.

cx420ns (author)2009-09-04

LOL did you win anything at the casino? ;] excellent idea, i might have to try this sometime.

horseflesh (author)2009-09-03

Goldfish are little poop machines, as fish go. I would suggest instead a school of white cloud mountain minnows, or even a swarm of cherry shrimp.

FatMan2013 (author)horseflesh2009-09-03

I happen to agree with you however lol that was the bosses decision and so we went with large gravel and stronger filter to hopefully combat the ammonia

strangebike (author)2009-09-03

I used to work in a fish store when these first came out and what we found was that the fish were very disturbed by everything. They have no where to hide and they are constantly being shocked by cups being put down on the top they are so sensitive to noise it is kind of unfair to them to do this even though it is a spectacular piece of furniture and very well made I might add . possibly with a good layer of foam underneath the tank and absolutely no connection to the frame they may survive if they have some weed or something to feel safe behind.

FatMan2013 (author)strangebike2009-09-03

Lol I agree, we are actually a little anal with the piece of furniture we built and no one is allowed to touch it.. let alone put a cup on it lol.. But thankyou for your info

skiedra (author)2009-09-03

A very fine instructable indeed. Thank you!

haventmadeabombyet (author)2009-08-31

Are the fish startled when you set glasses and stuff on it? That was my concern when I was trying to design one. Separating the table top from the aquarium with rubber was a great idea.

desel3 (author)2009-08-30

why no fesh?

cartman (author)2009-08-29

Is there a filter?

albylovesscience (author)2009-08-27

lol your wife runs the show just like my mom :( phh its better of giving them what they what :)

cchubb (author)2009-08-27

I would appreciate a little more detail to the running of power and how you hid it. Are there any lights?

FatMan2013 (author)2009-08-26

WOW, did not expect such response. Let me answer some questions. 1. Goldfish 2. Table top is from a thrift store cost was $30 for the whole table threw out the table part LOL. 3. we currently feed the fish by spoon lol there is about 3/4" gap that we use. 4. I was going to add a removable part but for structural integrity for the glass top did not. 5. Other thoughts, were going to add rope light to the top and underneath thinking it will create a great ambience.

guitarman63mm (author)2009-08-26

Great job, I live just north of St. Pete actually.

Skabobaken (author)2009-08-26

No fish? :D

BOOJAN (author)Skabobaken2009-08-26

it would be better to add fish, but how will he feed it?? (this is for the author) -How thick the glass is...can you tell me?? -Great Instructable, if I have money, and if my parents want to have table like this maybe i will make table similar like your table...

valhallas_end (author)2009-08-26

Quite nice. What kind of fish are you getting?

DIY Dave (author)2009-08-26

where did you get the glass table top?

jbrecken (author)2009-08-26

An improvement I might suggest would be to have a little hidden door or removable plug in one of the rails so you could slip a spoon in and feed the fish without needing to take the glass top off.

FatMan2013 (author)2009-08-26

Fish coming soon we had to wait for the water to be conditioned

el_nico_dor (author)2009-08-26

Very nice! I Got to make one of these! I like the design and the colour. again, excellent☺

RetroTechno (author)2009-08-26

Excellent! The happy drowning Buddha is a nice touch. ;-)

Ginger Magnus (author)2009-08-26

Excellent Excellent Excellent, oh heck why no one more, Excellent! I'm glad people keep making these! I have 3 tanks in storage and about 10 times as many plans to make one. I really like your custom enclosure, the clean lines and wood really work in your room. Are you going to be keeping fish in your tank, or is Buddha going to raise the roof alone?

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