Introduction: Aquatic Turtle Tank With Underwater Tunnel

About: Passionate of DIY of any kind, I am not of the trade (I am developer in computing) but I am self-taught and I like to learn new things. I decided to share my creations with you through photos and videos. I do…

Minette is our pet, it's a 13 year old Pelomedusa subrufa.

Nearly 10 years ago, I made her a 100-liter aquarium, since she grew up well and she needs more space !

On the occasion of a visit to a landscaper, I found this abandoned 450-liter aquarium which was kindly given to me by the owner.

I transformed rustic into modern furniture to adapt to our decor and I turned the aquarium into a turtle aquaterrarium.

Furniture video:

Aquaterrarium video:


Step 1: Furniture: the Transformation

I dismantled all the elements that were too old: moldings, feet ...

I replaced the feet with wheels to make it easier to move.

I cut the 2 door jambs to move them to the center. The purpose is to replace the 3 doors, by 2 square doors and smooth.

Step 2: Furniture: Modernization

Sorry for those passionate about oak furniture!

I sanded the varnish so the glue adhered better, and then I cut panels in 10mm thick MDF. I put these boards with wood glue and I added nails with a pneumatic nailer.

I closed the groove of the molding and the nail holes with wood paste and I sanded the whole.

Step 3: Furniture : Painting and Finishes

To have a nice finish, I used a paint gun. I applied 3 layers of white and I painted the top border in black.

For doors, I used commercial models (Ikea) with its brake hinges.

Step 4: Aquaterrarium : Cleaning

In the past, the aquarium was used for reptiles.

I cleaned it all up and filled it with water to make sure it was waterproof.

The aquarium has a capacity of 450 L (150x60x50 cms) and the window are 13 mm thick. For the weight, I do not know but it is very heavy!l lol

Step 5: Aquaterrarium : the Underwater Tunnel

I wanted to make a decorative tour tunnel as we see in amusement parks.

I retrieved a neon outdoor lighting tube and cut it to keep only half. For the ground, I cut a transparent plexiglass strip.

I pasted small modelism characters and some phosphorescent stones for more realism.

I added 2 RGB LED strips and closed the tunnel with special silicone aquarium. It has the advantage of not being toxic to aquatic organisms.

I had several leaks, so I started laying the silicone several times...

Step 6: Aquaterrarium : Cave Lanterns

For the next step, I needed 2 small lanterns. So I modeled them in 3D with Fusion 360 and I printed it with my 3D printer won on Instructables! FlashForge Finder.

I had a lot of stringing because of a head temperature too high for PLA carbon.

I integrated 10mm RGB LEDs in the lamp before gluing the lid. I then glued small windows recovered in a package.

The 3D file is available for download.

Step 7: Aquaterrarium : Cave

Under the decoration, I created a cave, it only serves as decoration.

I used polystyrene that I stuck and reinforced with wooden picks.

I painted the decor in black and I added artificial plants, a dinosaur skull and 2 lanterns to the ceiling.

Step 8: Aquaterrarium : the Decor

The main decoration has a part out of the water and it is sloping so that the turtle can easily get out of the water.

It is cut in a large block of polystyrene with a saw handsaw. It is then heated with a heat gun to harden the surface before painting.

I also integrated a t-rex skull with expansive foam.

Step 9: Aquaterrarium : the Assembly

I started by sticking the cave and I locked it in a waterproof box. Even if the water should not come so far, it will protect the cave in case of leakage. We'll see later that it was not enough :(

I stuck the tunnel and used tile trim strips to hide the joints.

Then I installed the styrofoam block and filled all the tower with expansive foam.

Step 10: Aquaterrarium : Paint and Resin

I applied 2 coats of anthracite paint then I resinated to make the decorations waterproof and resistant.

I used R123 epoxy resin and R614 hardener (Soloplast). It is important to follow the instructions carefully so that the resin is not toxic to animals! I put 3 coats of resin with a brush, insisting on the edges and I did several cleanings. The treatment was spread over 1 month !

I finished with a silicone seal on the edges.

Step 11: Aquaterrarium : Last Details

In the background, I pasted a poster with spray glue and to hide the polystyrene, I stuck black vinyl on the windows.

For the filter, I kept the JBL CristalProfi of the previous aquarium

Step 12: Aquaterrarium : the Heat Lamp

I chose a Solar Raptor lamp, It is a 3 in 1 bulb that offer both heat, UVa + UVb and intense light, the ideal solution for turtles!

I installed it on a board on I covered black vinyl.

Step 13: It's Over !

It's over ! Minette can now enjoy a great space for swimming and a heated beach!

Step 14: Fail

I underestimated the power of water! Despite all the precautions, the water ended up under the decoration, began to flood the cave, and there is even a little water that entered the tunnel!

So I turned off the LEDs of the tunnel as a precaution, and for the cave, I leave the lanterns on but I monitor the water level...

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