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Making Inexpensive Tank Covers

Make four 10-gallon tank covers for under 5 bucks! 

With just a few tools, you can make durable and inexpensive tank covers using prismatic lens lighting panels. The material comes in 2 feet by 4 feet sheets are used as the lenses for fluorescent fixtures in drop ceilings. You can find it any hardware or home center store.

Before you get started…

  • Be safe! Wear safety goggles.
  • This projects involves the use of sharp tools. Be careful! This is not a project for kids.
Step Pictures

Tools Needed

a. Utility Knife 
— or — 
b. Acrylic cutter

c. Carpenters square

d. Fine-point marker

e. Cutting surface such as a sheet of plywood, not shown.

f. Fine Sandpaper, not shown.

g. Gorilla Glue (optional)

a.   b. 
c.   d. 
g.    
        

Materials

a. Purchase a 2' by 4' sheet ofStyrene Prismatic Clear Lighting Panel. The green labeled material at right is available from Home Depot. Expect to pay between $3 and $5.

This is the cheapest material and works better than more expensive acrylic sheets which warp.

b. Close up view of the material.

  a.   b.

Step 1

Measure the inside frame of your tank and subtract 1/8" from both the width and depth dimensions.

Step 2

Place the plastic sheet flat side up on a hard surface like a large piece of plywood.

Use the ruler to carefully measure across the shortest dimension of the sheet.

Mark a small line with the permanent marker.

Step 3

Lay the square on the sheet at the mark you made in Step 2.

Hold the square down firmly and score the sheet repeatedly with the utility knife (or acrylic cutter).

Continue scoring until you have cut through the material.

Step 4

Cut the corners to add access for airlines and heaters.

Simply score a corner and bend to snap.

    

Step 5

Smooth the edges with the fine sandpaper.

 

Optional Steps

Add a Knob

A knob makes it easy to remove the cover. Purchase the following:

  • Plastic knob
  • 1/2" Stainless steel screw to fit knob
  • 1" nylon washer

Drill a 3/16" hole about 1" from the front edge of the cover and install the knob.

   

Add a Feeding Hole

Use a 2" hole saw to add a feeding hole. A drill press gives the best results, but you can use a standard electric drill if you have a steady hand.

Use a backing board and work slowly through the material.

Add filter cut-outs

For outside filters, carefully measure from the edge of the tank to the furthest protruding edge of the filter.

Transfer these measurements to the tank cover and score the outline of the cutout.

Flex the cuts leading from the edge of the cover in first. Next, flex the cuts parallel to the edge and break out the piece.

You may need to reinforce the cover. See below.

Strengthen large covers

Large covers over 18" may need reinforcement. Some options:

a. Use Gorilla Glue (polyurethane glue) and plastic drywall corners. This is the easiest method. The glue hardens through the small holes adding strength.

b. Use clear corner protectors and stainless steel screws. You will also need to add a small nylon washer.

a. 
  

b. 

Photos by Rick Borstein.

A high-quality, fiber-rich food | See other How-To Guides

Tropheus and mbuna are prone to bloating. Providing lots of fiber and vegetable matter in the diet is one of the best ways to maintain good health. Commercial, prepared foods are often lacking in fiber and vitamins.

This food is rich in fiber (shrimp shells, veggies), vitamins and includes garlic to help guard against intestinal parasites.

Before you get started…

  • Purchase needed items and lay out everything required.
  • Never switch fish to a new diet quickly. Introduce a small amount of the food at a time and watch your fish over a period of days to gauge acceptance and consequences.
  • This is not a project for kids. As always, use care when using a knife or a food processor.
Step Pictures

Tools/Equipment

a. Food Processor

b. Paring knife and garlic press

c. 8 Zip-loc sandwich bags

Measuring cup(s)
Measuring spoons
Spatula and a large spoon

a.       b.      c. 

Ingredients

a. 12 oz. package of med-large frozen raw shrimp with shell, thawed

b. Liquid Aquarium Vitamins (HW Multi-vit shown)

c. 8 oz. (1/2 pkg) frozen peas

d. 3 broccolli stumps

e. 2 medium carrots, scrubbed

f. 6 leaves Romaine lettuce, washed and trimmed

g. 2 packets of Knox gelatin

h. 1 clove fresh garlic, peeled

 a.      b.      c. 
d./e./f.       g.      h. 

Step 1

Measure 1/4 cup of very cold water in a measuring cup.

Sprinkle the two packages over the surface.

Mix with a spoon to a slurry consistency.

Step 2

Add 3/4 cup of boiling water to the gelatin mixture.

Mix thoroughly and set aside.

Step 3

Place the frozen peas in a heat-proof bowl.

Add boiling water to cover.

Step 4

Make sure the shrimp are thawed out.

Rinse and add to the food processor.

Step 5

Process the shrimp to a paste-like consistency.

Some small pieces are OK.

Step 6

Drain the peas.

Step 7

Add the peas to the food bowl and process until smooth.

Step 8

Peel the rough outer layer from the broccolli stumps.

Step 9

Cut the carrots and broccolli stumps into 1/4 inch pieces.

Note— if you do not have a very powerful food processor, you may wish to process these first with a little water and set them aside.

Step 10

Tear the Romaine lettuce into small pieces.

Step 11

Add the broccolli, carrots and lettuce to the food processor bowl.

Process to small chunks. You may need to stop periodically and scrape down the sides.

Step 12

Add the gelatin mixture and process until smooth.

Step 13

Force the peeled garlic clove through the garlic press into the bowl.

Add 1 TBS (tablespoon) of the liquid vitamins.

Step 14

Process until thoroughly mixed.

Step 15

Spoon some of the food mixture into a ziploc bag until it is one-quarter full.

Step 16

Lay the filled bag on a flat surface and carefully squeeze out any air.

Seal the bag.

Keep flat.

Step 17

You should have 6–8 sandwich bags of food.

Lay them flat on a piece of cardboard or a cookie sheet.

Refrigerate for 3–4 hours.

Step 18

The food mix should have firmed up to a jelly-like consistency.

Transfer to the freezer.

Feed it!

Do not thaw the food.

Break off small piece of the frozen food and feed your fish.

Always take care when introducing new foods.

Some fish, especially those used to flake foods, take a while to take interest in this food.

 


Photos by Rick Borstein. Demonstration by Rick and Sam Borstein.

 
Hey~

Some of you here have commented on the background I have started to use for my tanks…. and asked me to do a simple DIY for this easy to complete background that shows well, lasts well, and is much less work intensive than the DIY backgrounds using Great Stuff expandable foam, quickrete, and paint.

It’s very simple really, as a guy who is not a fan of the “Great Stuff Backgrounds” (although very cool, they interfere with my HOB filters and take away too much space from a thinner tank: i.e.: a 55 gallon is only 47” x 12” inside dimension). With the Central American Cichlids I have, they need every inch of space I can give them.

Basically I started to standard spray paint my tanks before installing them, well you know we are always looking for something different, so in a effort to “think outside of the box” I was perusing my local home center looking for paint for my 55, it was wintertime and I had to do it indoors, my garage was too cold (below 50 degrees) so I was going to do it in my basement, as I was looking for your standard gloss black/low VOC Latex, (I like the dark and the way my CA/SA Cichlids color up with the dark background and also use a dark substrate) and I came across a spray can of Rust-Oleum Stone Creations…… I tested it on my 20L and I could not be any happier.

I will say this; the Stone Coat is not something that you could do indoors. I took the tank over to my brother’s car dealership and painted it in the shop (weekend). It has high VOC’s! But the results speak for themselves. If you are able, do it during the spring or fall when the temperatures are not to cool and not too hot, that way the garage is a good place, and as soon as each coat is complete, ventilate your paint area, like I said HIGH VOC’s can kill you!

Stone Coat comes in a bunch of different colors: I am unsure of attaching a link to a Manufacturer, (I will provide the link if asked or you can PM me and Ill email it to you).

So I will just give a quick rundown of the colors I saw. (Percentages are just guesstimates on my part)

Black Granite (N7991) Black (70%) with shots of White (10%), Grey (10%) and Silver (10%) mixed in.

Bleached Stone (N7990) Tan (85%), with a Light Brown (15%).

Canyon Moss (N7987) Black (75%), Grey (12.5%), and a Moss Green (12.5%).

Granite Stone (N7989) Brown (75%), Black (12.5%), and a Grey (12.5%).

Grey Stone (N7992) Grey (75%), Black (10%), White (10%), Silver (5%).

Mineral Brown (N7988) Brown (85%), Tan (15%).

Sienna Stone (N7994) Brown (35%), Tan (35%), Natural Red (5%), Black (10%), White (15%).

Tuscan Rock (N7986) Mustard Yellow (75%), Brown (20%), Black (5%)

Other needed materials:

Clear Coat (V2102938) Fast Dry Hard Hat coating.

3M Blue Paint Masking Tape: (1”) Standard 3M Paint Masking Tape Model Number 2090

I don’t think you need me to tell you to tape off the edges of the tank, cover the top as well; I more or less wrap the entire tank with newspaper except for what I am painting.

This is a 3-4 coat process followed by a quick clear coat at the end to add strength to the back.

1) Using you painter’s tape, tape off entire tank more than 1 layer (newspaper, Chicago Sun-Times works great, I go with 3 layers, never have had a issue).

2) Clean and dry surface of glass (You have no idea how Windex F’s up a paint job should you start and forget/miss a 1”x2” area).

3) Break out your stone coat (I use Black Granite Rust-Oleum Model Number: N7991) and lightly coat glass covering all areas).

4) It is a textured spray paint, resist the urge to touch, (I could not) it will need overnight to dry. Do NOT overcoat, the more paint you lay on the more likely it will not be dry when you want to re coat (dries to the touch in 1-2 hours my ***!)

5) Ready for coat 2? Now try the touch. If it is dry, take a flashlight to the inside of the tank and look for weak coats. Reapply.

6) Retape you newspaper layers

7) Apply the test again for coat 3, and then apply the final coat of Stone Coat.

Cool Now that you have completed the Stone Coat, apply 1 thin but complete coat of clear (I use hard hat coating Rust-Oleum Model number: V2102938) Remember that the Stone Coat is a textured paint, and although you will not feel it yourself, it will chip easy if you do not apply a clear coat of some kind.

I am attaching the images from when I did the 20L. I will add more images to this if asked, as I will be doing this on a much larger scale with my new 110 and 150 in the next month or two.

(Images to follow)

Comments?? Opinions??  Huh?

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