Introduction: Drink Dispenser Aquarium

About: I am a EHS advisor by day and by night I make and fix things. I prefer to work with wood but will give anything a go. I also enjoy gardening and an kept busy by my young son..

Re-purposing a 7L Glass drinks dispenser into a nano aquarium.


Glass Drinks Dispenser (I found 1 at a Car boot Sale and the others came from:

Sewing machine Light -

Lid - 3mm thick 150mm diameter laser cut perspex ( )


1 of 28mm x 40mm x 280mm I used Iroko as i had some

2 of 18mm Plywood big enough to cut a 230mm circle from


Wood glue

Aquarium safe silicone ( )

Screws 2x 30mm for back to base and 4x 12mm for metal plate

Metal plate

Plastic Plug

Aquarium Supplies

Substrate - 1 tank has just gravel, 1 pond soil topped with play sand and 1 pond soil topped with black gravel

Decoration - Lava rock, spider wood, live plants

Small sponge filter (

Air pump - I am running three tanks from one pump

All tanks have Cherry Shrimp, Red Ramshorn Snails and Malaysian Trumpet Snails

Digital Thermometer (

Step 1: All About the Base

Glue the two pieces of plywood together and leave to dry. (useful to have a small assistant for this)

Mark out a 230mm Circle for the outside diameter and a 210mm circle for the inside of the rim

I then mounted on a lathe and trued up the outside and recess cut the inside.

Alternatively before gluing together you could cut the two discs to 230mm and then cut out the 210mm circle from top one and then glue together.

With the back piece cut to size a small shallow half lap joint is cut to allow the piece to overlap the base, a flat is sanded on the base

On the back of the back a shallow grove is chiselled out to accept a steel plate for the magnetic light to stick to (sorry no picture of this)

The back and base are oiled with boiled linseed oil and once dry screwed together.

Step 2: Preparing the Tank

The perspex lid has a grove cut 12mm wide and 20mm long into it to allow the air line for the filter to enter and for the livestock to be fed. Drill a 12mm hole and then cut from the edge to it to make a slot

The tap for safety (I have a small person who likes to touch) is sealed closed with Aquarium safe silicone and is also siliconed into the jar.

I made a simple plastic plug to save on silicone when sealing the tap

Step 3: Tank Dressing

The tanks have a layer of chosen substrate added before filling with water.

The tank with the spider wood then had its wood arranged

The lava rock was put in the tank once the plants were super glued to it

Half fill the tanks and install the sponge filter

Plant any substrate based plants and top up the tank

As I had seeded my filters by running them in another tank for a few weeks, once the temperature had stabilised I could at live stock straight away. (Cherry shrimp and snails are happy in a unheated tank)

The lights are set in place on the metal plates and are on a timer with 3.5 hours on 3 hours off 3.5 hours on and off the rest of the night (this helps to keep algae under control)

The left tank has Java Fern and Anubis Nana glued to lava rock

The centre tank has a mix of Cryptocorynes and will have Rotala rotundifolia added for height when it arrives

The right tank has a large Anubia Nana, Guppy Grass and a small leaved Cryptocoryne

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