How to Build Custom Acrylic Aquariums

Custom acrylic aquariums don’t have to be purchased in a hobby store. You can actually build your own acrylic aquarium. Making your own aquarium may seem to be an impossible task, but a little time and patience are all you need to complete the task. This fun and challenging project will certainly give you a sense of satisfaction if it is successfully accomplished.

Tools and Materials

  • Measuring Tape
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Acrylic Panels
  • Acrylic Solvent
  • Applicator for Solvent
  • Glass Cleaner

Step 1: Designing the Aquarium

You first have to decide where you want to put the aquarium when it is finished. Once you’ve determined where to place it, measure the area where you want it to go. Use the measurement that you just made as a starting point or basis for your custom acrylic aquarium design. Start sketching your design and don’t rush the process. Make blueprint of your design, with exact measurements for the dimensions of the aquarium. This is the basis for the dimensions of your acrylic panels.

Step 2: Buy the Acrylic Panels

Find a supplier that will cut the acrylic pieces for you. Also, see if they sell acrylic in various colors to match the design you want. If you’re buying in bulk, negotiate for better rates. Once you’ve determined your supplier, order the panels. Make sure that all of them are correctly cut to spec for the pieces of your custom acrylic aquarium.

Step 3: Assembly Preparation

Review the diagram and blueprint that you made for your custom acrylic aquarium in order to determine which panels should be fastened first. For custom designs, the process might be different for each case. For a regular rectangular aquarium, the best way is to attach both sides of the panels to the back first. Then the front, and finally put the whole thing on the base.

Step 4: Assembling the Aquarium

Put some acrylic solvent in an applicator and start connecting the panels of the custom acrylic aquarium together. Set the large panel flat on your work surface and apply the solvent evenly along the edges of this panel. Then set the edge of the other panel and hold for several minutes to allow it to set. Once set, move the two pieces and prop it against a wall to dry completely for several hours. Do this same process to all sides of the aquarium. Note that you cannot attach a new piece to two bonded pieces until they are dry. Make sure that when you attach the panels, they are straight and perfectly aligned. You certainly don't want your custom acrylic aquarium to be crooked.

Step 5: Final Touches

Once the whole aquarium has been pieced together, move it to a secure place so it can cure for a month or so. The longer the curing process, the more bonded the edges will be, so be patient while waiting. Once the aquarium has cured for a month, put it in your preferred location and clean it with glass cleaner and you’re all set to put your custom acrylic aquarium on display.