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Tempered Glass vs. plate glass

Discussion in 'All Questions from Newbies' started by sharm, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. sharm

    sharm Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    West Virginia
    Hello everyone! I have questions relating to building aquariums from glass. First, I have a local source to purchase glass shelving from at a very reasonable price but I can't tell if it's plate or tempered glass. If the glass is tempered can it be used to build an aquarium? How do you tell the difference between plate and tempered glass?

    Respectfully,
    sharm
     
  2. Lou

    Lou Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2015
    Location:
    Western Michigan
    Yes, tempered glass can be used in aquarium and it is actually a better choice because it is stronger (unless you want to drill the tank). As a matter of fact, the bottom plate of some of the smaller and almost all the large aquariums is made of tempered glass.

    I doubt the glass they are selling is made of tempered glass mainly because they need to be cut before they are tempered. Otherwise, it is a very complicated process because the glass needs to be un-tempered first.

    To test, you need some kind of optical polarizer (camera lens filter, polarizing sunglasses, or take a piece to see a college physics Prof :)) There are many Utube videos about this test such as this one:
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2016
  3. sharm

    sharm Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    West Virginia
    @Lou Thanks for replying! Is it okay to combine the two types? If I can't determine the difference. I looked on Youtube and couldn't find an answer except to going ahead and trying to break the glass. Which would be counterproductive.

    Respectfully,
    sharm
     
  4. Lou

    Lou Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2015
    Location:
    Western Michigan
    Yes, it is OK to combine. Usually the bottom is preferably tempered and side could be standard glass but you can use anything you want. The only thing is that if the bottom is standard glass, then it is not a strong aquarium.

    Take a look at the video I linked in the earlier post, you do not have to do the breaking test to tell the difference.
     
  5. sharm

    sharm Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    Location:
    West Virginia
    @Lou Thanks again! The video you posted makes it very easy to tell the difference. I found glass shelving 44"x12"x 1/4+" thick that would make great sides for a ranchu tank already smoothed edges. Now, I just have to come up with a bottom piece and I can build my tank!

    Respectfully,
    sharm
     
  6. Fishheadz

    Fishheadz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Location:
    Moffat, CO.
    3 of these could be used bottom, front & back, then you'd only need end pieces. Though this would make for a 44" long aquarium that's 12" wide(front to back), and 12" tall, this would equal 21.54g. I'm not sure how much these glass shelves would cost you, or the additional cost of a bottom pane, and/ or end pieces, (+ sealant). It may be cheaper to hit PetCo/PetSmart during one of their $1 per Gallon sales, and grab a standard 20g, or a 40g Breeder.
     
  7. Lou

    Lou Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2015
    Location:
    Western Michigan
    If sharm can find one or two larger than 44-1/4" by 44-1/4" pieces, then a large, shallow, square aquarium can be built. This reminds me of these coffee table aquariums. A piece as the bottom and another on the top for the coffee. :)
     
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  8. CaliGold

    CaliGold Well-Known Member

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    Nov 23, 2015
    Location:
    South Carolina
    I love the coffee table design idea! Or it could be an absolutely gorgeous mini indoor pond. The clear sides would be nice for seeing the fish in side-view, but you'd still have the majority of top-view.
     
    Lou likes this.
  9. Lou

    Lou Well-Known Member

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    Dec 18, 2015
    Location:
    Western Michigan
    Something like this (but this looks like acrylic):
    [​IMG]
     
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  10. CaliGold

    CaliGold Well-Known Member

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    Nov 23, 2015
    Location:
    South Carolina
    I can imagine that being such a pain to do water changes and vacuum the substrate on, but it looks so cool! It'd never work in our household though, we leave too much stuff lying on our coffee table :p
     
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  11. Lou

    Lou Well-Known Member

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    Dec 18, 2015
    Location:
    Western Michigan
    Well, you lift the whole top glass off and then do maintenance. :)

    The way that one is setup, it should not be a problem for siphoning. The 110-gal tubs in my basement are on top of 1.5" styrofoam (mainly to insulate a bit to the cold basement floor). I have no problem siphoning. However, I need to dump the 5-gallon bucket more often because if the water gets too high in the bucket, the siphoning slows down.
     
  12. CaliGold

    CaliGold Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    ^^Hahaha! I figured that was the case, but that's exactly the problem for me! I keep waaaay too much stuff on my coffee table. I wouldn't want to have to move all that around constantly, and it would obstruct my view of the fish on a day-to-day, anyway.

    Also, what would be the best way to filter this type of aquarium? Canister filter, or sponge filter maybe?
     
  13. Lou

    Lou Well-Known Member

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    Dec 18, 2015
    Location:
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    Well, that was what I meant, lifting every off first. :)

    Believe it or not, the 55-gal acrylic tank in my living room has over 10 picture frames on top of the canopy. When I do water changes to this tank (this is the most difficult one for me to do water changes), it is really a balance act. I need to remove the canopy with all the pictures on top of it, as one unit. Otherwise, I would have to re-arrange all the pictures and the other part would not like the positions so she has to re-arrange them.

    If it were me filtering a tank like this, I would use course sponge filters (the ones intended as pre-filters for pond pump) but with powerheads rather than air. That way, there is only one electric cable going into it. The problem with air powered filtration in this type of tank is that the air bubble will leave some mineral deposits on the top plate, near where the bubbles burst.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2016
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  14. Arctic Mama

    Arctic Mama Active Member

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    Alaska, USA
    Just make sure the glass is appropriately thick for the size of sheet. If you're not cutting or drilling if you can go either way, and Lou touched on everything else I'd have mentioned :D
     
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  15. sharm

    sharm Active Member

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    Location:
    West Virginia
    @Fishheadz , @Lou , @CaliGold , @Arctic Mama I was planning on building a sturdy wood stand and then placing a sheet of Styrofoam on the top of the stand before placing the tank. I am planning on extra support by framing the top 2x4s spaced at 6" intervals and an extra 2/4 down the middle for additional bracing. Is 1/4" thick good enough or does it need to be thicker?

    Respectfully,
    Sharm
     
  16. Lou

    Lou Well-Known Member

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    Dec 18, 2015
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    Most aquarium up to 55 gallon use 1/4" glass. It is really up to the depth (tall). Now they use center brace for long tanks so to get away with using thick glass.

    The issue is the bottom plate. If you are supporting the entire bottom plate (like in rimless or acrylic tanks), then 1/4" might be adequate, if you are not using the plates for column tanks (44" tall). :)
     
  17. Fishheadz

    Fishheadz Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Moffat, CO.
    If you are able to obtain 4 of these glass shelving panels and each are 44"x 12" x 1/4" and you are wanting to do a square aquarium, with a finished dimension of 44" x 44" x 12", (100.57g), I honestly feel you will want thicker glass than 1/4'' for the bottom pane,(honestly, perhaps even thicker glass for the walls). I would go with something more in the 3/8" - 1/2" range, and it should be tempered. 1/4" is pretty thin, and I wouldn't use it on anything over 55g. My 140g is 1/2", however, it is nearly 30" deep. Have to keep in mind also the weight of water, which is around 8.33lbs per gallon. (i.e 100g = 833 lbs.) It may also prove to be a bit more challenging getting everything level (front to back, & side to side, corner to corner) being a square vs. a rectangle.

    I once purchased an aquarium that was supposed to be a 180g, it looked kind of homemade, it was a rectangle but had a very large footprint, something like 65" x 36" x18". I built a very sturdy stand out of 2x6's framed on 12"centers & 3/4" cabinet grade plywood top. with a sheet of foam under it as you described. This particular aquarium had no rim, edging or bracing of any kind. when I attempted to fill it, I got about 70% , and it started making funny noises,(like it was under too much stress), I noticed that the middle of the walls were bulging outwardly a great deal, (a total of several inches in either direction). I quickly stopped filling it, and started instead draining it. I seriously thought it was going to blow out. It then sat in my backyard for several months until I was able to resell it, specifically stating that it was not to be filled with water, but would be great for a lizard, or other small critters.
     
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  18. Lou

    Lou Well-Known Member

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    Dec 18, 2015
    Location:
    Western Michigan
    Fishheadz, did that tank have a center brace?

    Some people, for whatever reason, cut off the center brace thinking what can that thin piece of plastic do? Big mistake. The thin plastic can take a lot of tensile stress (but not much compressional stress). The thin bace can stop the bowing of many long tanks.

    Diy tanks can have glass braces siliconed like this.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2016
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  19. Arctic Mama

    Arctic Mama Active Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2015
    Location:
    Alaska, USA
    Can you give me the tank dimensions you're looking for? What is the finished water volume, length, depth, and height? Where in your home are you putting it?

    Larger glass tanks are, among other things extremely heavy. I can pick my husband's brain on whether the thickness of the glass will be sufficient for your application but only if I have some more details (he is a civil and structural engineer and may be able to do some back of the napkin calcs this weekend while we are at World of Concrete :) ).
     
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  20. Fishheadz

    Fishheadz Well-Known Member

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    No as I stated it had no rim, edging, or bracing of any kind. I was honestly describing this, specifically because if Sharm builds this, they will most likely need to incorporate some type of top bracing such as in the photo you've provided, to prevent aforementioned bowing (from front to back , or side to side on a square configuration).
    I would also like to note that with a square aquarium vs. a rectangle, I feel that "wracking" could be more prevalent, though I am no engineer, nor do I have any scientific data or proof.

    *My 140g has a 17" wide brace in the center, which equals somewhere between 1/4 & 1/3 of the Length.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2016

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