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Thread: A glass terrarium assembly video!

  1. #9
    swords's Avatar
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    Hey Ron, thanks for the offer of advice on this, instead of a PM I'll post here so others who may have these same questions will get their fix as well.

    Perhaps I am overshooting the glass thickness, I based my wild stab on seeing the huge bird display units / vivariums at my local Petco which are quite thick. Would 1/4" be enough for something like this:




    The vivarium will not be full of water but there will be a false bottom resivor (or a frog pond / waterfall I haven't decided) in the 8" tall lower "soil" portion to capture the plant watering/misting run off.

    On something this tall (36") or taller should I use "Angle Irons" of PVC or aluminum to help reinforce the corners or is that not needed? I don't like the look of them but if needed...

    I plan on getting all the pieces figured out and then having the glass shop do the cutting and hopefully also burnishing the edges for me. If they won't do the edges how do I use sand paper to do it? I definitely don't care to slash myself or whoever I con into assisting me.

    I'm making the assumption that the guy in the video is using plain clear Aquarium Silicone by AGA. Is this the correct stuff used for sticking a structure like this together or is there a more "professional" product out there that they actually build aquariums with?

    What is the tape on the edges of each pane of glass actually for? Is it to keep the silicone from getting everywhere or does it actually help in holding the structure together correctly positioned as the silicone cures?

    Once the structure is assembled and taped with the "retaining tapes" (the ones which wrap around the tank when the sides are up) how long do you wait to remove the tape and use the tank. Is 24 hours long enough or should it cure for a week or...? In the tank I drew I plan to build it lying on it's back and then "tip" it up, I just don't want it to crumble as it tips on the back edge and we lift it up onto it's stand! lol!

  2. #10
    RL7836's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swords View Post
    Hey Ron, thanks for the offer of advice on this, instead of a PM I'll post here so others who may have these same questions will get their fix as well.
    1st caveat: I'm definitely no expert on this - I've built a number of glass enclosures for plants & some aquariums (but just for my use). My 1st suggestion would be to draw up an approx. layout and call a place or 2 for prices. You may get sticker shock. I found that unless you're dead set on a specific size w/ doors, etc - you'll save money by purchasing standard aquariums. Over here, a guy actually finds that a plywood aquarium w/ epoxy paint is cheaper... In addition, it may be tough to find glass pieces as large as you want at a hardware store & even a glass specialty place may have to order it ....
    Quote Originally Posted by swords View Post
    Perhaps I am overshooting the glass thickness, I based my wild stab on seeing the huge bird display units / vivariums at my local Petco which are quite thick. Would 1/4" be enough for something like this:
    IMHO - yes. Aquariums are designed to hold lots of very heavy water (& some stones/gravel) and a 55 gal unit has 1/4" glass - for reference, the front pane on a 55 gal is 21" high X 48" long.

    When drawing up your plans, try to treat each pane as 3-dimensional. This way, you'll force yourself to concentrate on which piece needs to be cut longer to overlap the other. Although not ideal, this diagram at least notes that the end pieces fit in-between the front & back panes. Also, in your diagram, your top piece should be placed so it rests on top of the others - not just inside the others. This makes it more structurally sound so the joints are not subject to shear stress.
    Quote Originally Posted by swords View Post
    On something this tall (36") or taller should I use "Angle Irons" of PVC or aluminum to help reinforce the corners or is that not needed? I don't like the look of them but if needed...
    IMO - probably not. If you did, PVC would be useless since it doesn't bond well to sealant (had to figure this out for myself). Not sure how well aluminum or other angle-iron materials bond .... You need to do a good job ensuring the corners are bonded since much of your strength comes from their integrity. In the video, the guy was very careful to clean the edges where sealant would be with IPA. After cleaning, you want to ensure that your bare hands do not touch those surfaces again (oil from your hands will weaken the bond).
    Quote Originally Posted by swords View Post
    I plan on getting all the pieces figured out and then having the glass shop do the cutting and hopefully also burnishing the edges for me. If they won't do the edges how do I use sand paper to do it? I definitely don't care to slash myself or whoever I con into assisting me.
    Since I also do a bunch of woodworking, I take a random orbit sander (w/ 220 grit) and run a quick pass on each edge @ approx 45 deg (that's per edge - not per side - eight edges per piece). You can do the same by hand but your liklihood of getting sliced (or missing an edge) goes up. It really is hard to imagine just how sharp this stuff is ...
    Quote Originally Posted by swords View Post
    I'm making the assumption that the guy in the video is using plain clear Aquarium Silicone by AGA. Is this the correct stuff used for sticking a structure like this together or is there a more "professional" product out there that they actually build aquariums with?
    There may be some 'pro' stuff out there. I typically use whatever I can find locally - GE makes some as well as others. However, I ensure that it says it's safe for aquariums.
    Quote Originally Posted by swords View Post
    What is the tape on the edges of each pane of glass actually for? Is it to keep the silicone from getting everywhere or does it actually help in holding the structure together correctly positioned as the silicone cures?
    Reduce mess & make for a more professional job. It keeps the silicone where you want it. It might also help keep the glass in place (not too sure on this since I've never done it like him - this is probably closer to what I've done - here - although with more tape).
    Quote Originally Posted by swords View Post
    Once the structure is assembled and taped with the "retaining tapes" (the ones which wrap around the tank when the sides are up) how long do you wait to remove the tape and use the tank. Is 24 hours long enough or should it cure for a week or...? In the tank I drew I plan to build it lying on it's back and then "tip" it up, I just don't want it to crumble as it tips on the back edge and we lift it up onto it's stand! lol!
    Curing guidance should be on the tube of silicone. IIRC - 24 hours was about right...
    All the best,
    Ron
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    swords's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the info and the links Ron!

    I'll get to reading all these before I make any moves/purchases.


    My idea on glass sizes is as follows:

    Top and Bottom glass, same dimensions: 47" x 23"

    Rear Glass: 36" x 47"

    Front Top and Bottom glass sliding track braces 1/2" thick glass (sliding track is 1/2" thick to accommodate 2x 1/4" sliding panes) Top 47" x 3.5", Bottom 47" x 8"

    Left & Right End pieces 22 1/4" x 36" so that sandwiched between the 1/4" rear glass and 1/2" front glass it should fit the top and bottom glass dimensions,

    Of course, this is all provided the glass shop cuts glass better than Home Depot cuts lumber!

  4. #12
    N=R* fs fp ne fl fi fc L Pyro's Avatar
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    Sort of late coming into this but I'll toss in my thoughts on things based on the retrofits I have done on stuff. I have not watched the video so if I repeat things he said then I apologize.

    For your front. You want to double pane the upper and lower regions. Between the two panes you lay an e-channel for the sliding door to move on. This helps in a couple ways. The back pane in this equation acts as a "litter" dam and keeps crud from falling into the e-channel. And the front pane provides a secondary support for anchoring the sides. Best way I have seen to do this is to "sink" the whole thing back about 1-1.5" from the front (this may mean you have to reconsider the depth of your tank.) Mount the first piece @ 1.5" from the front edge and let the sealant fully dry. Lay the e-channel and let the sealant fully dry. Mount the second piece and let the sealant fully dry. It helps to lay your top and bottom side by side while doing this so you know that they will line up when you put the whole thing together.

    To keep things nice and clean you run lengths of masking tape 2cm out from any sealant joint you are making. Once all the sealant is dry you can just pull the tape up and it leaves a clean, pretty edge. I like to run 2-3 strip parallel to make sure I do not slime over the far edge...

    Sealant type... GE makes one called Silicon II for kitchens and baths. This would probably work for your purposes if you need to stay on a budget but if you can spring for it the aquarium specific, professional stuff is better. Has some stabilizers that hold up in the long run. Also does not contain "bio-seal" which some people freak about.

    I would let each round of sealant cure for 48 hours. They tubes always say 24h but I have found that 48h is better in the long run.

    For buffering the edges, emory cloth works well for this. Just be careful, as Ron said, fresh cut glass edges are a beast and will draw blood.

    In a bit, when I have time, I will search out a thread on the dart frog board that has some step by step on building a tank up. You may find it helpful

    Cheers
    'My love was science- specifically biology and, more specifically, when placed in a common jar, which of two organisms would devour the other.'

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  5. #13
    N=R* fs fp ne fl fi fc L Pyro's Avatar
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    Alright, took me a bit but here is the thread.

    This guy is building European style frog vivs but it is a pretty good step by step.

    http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/par...cratch-x4.html
    'My love was science- specifically biology and, more specifically, when placed in a common jar, which of two organisms would devour the other.'

    See You Space Cowboy

    actagggcagtgatatcccattggtacatggcaaattagcctcatgat
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  6. #14
    swords's Avatar
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    WOW! That's a great link Pyro - Thanks for that!

    I gotta head off to work tonight & tomorrow night so I can't give it my full attention at the moment but I'll be studying that in depth on my next day off since he's doing the style of tank I want to do, or quite similar. Are there lots of these building projects on that forum?

    Do you have some dart frogs? Do they impede you enjoyment of working on the tank / plants (adding new plants, pruning, etc.) by always being ready to escape anytime you open the glass or do they just snuggle down into their spot if they see your hand coming? Are they easy to catch if I need to drastically change something in the tank or they happen to escape?

  7. #15
    N=R* fs fp ne fl fi fc L Pyro's Avatar
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    Hey Swords,

    Glad you like the link Yeah that forum has a lot of good build info on it. The same member has a second thread showing pretty much everything that is in that one but done as computer graphics. Might want to search for other threads by him to find it. Nothing new compared to the link I put in here but sometimes a different pic makes things easier to grok.

    I have a few darts. Just a trio I raised from tads. Right now they are in a pretty low maintenance 10G cause they are still small (only about 8 months OOW.) They are quite enjoyable though. They tend to head for cover whenever the tank is opened, never had one even look like it was thinking of escaping. Wrangling them is a touch difficult but that is probably t be expected for a frog that could sit on a nickel with room to spare, I am sure the larger ones are a bit easer to put hands on if needed.
    'My love was science- specifically biology and, more specifically, when placed in a common jar, which of two organisms would devour the other.'

    See You Space Cowboy

    actagggcagtgatatcccattggtacatggcaaattagcctcatgat
    Hagerstown, Maryland

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