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20 long with DIY glass lid
20 long with DIY glass lid

I have DIY glass aquariums lids on three of my planted tanks. They're cheaper to make than almost any lid you can buy commercially and, unlike lids with hinges, they allow a ton of light into the tank.

Each one of these lids cost less than $20 and required no tools to make

Pros & Cons to a DIY Glass Aquarium Lid

Above you can see a glass lid on my 20 gallon long planted tank. There are a lot of benefits to a solid glass lid like this:

  • It wont become cloudy or discolored over time like plastic lids
  • It wont bend or sag like plastic lids
  • It keeps moisture in the aquarium, and blocks almost no light
  • It is made custom for your application, so you can choose its dimensions

There are only a couple of reasons NOT to use a solid glass lid:

  • This design only works on aquariums with a rim on the top
  • They are breakable, and can cause injury to you or your fish if broken (I have broken one)

In my opinion the benefits definitely outweigh the risks. I have used these lids for years on different aquariums and only ever broken one. No glass actually got into my aquarium, I was moving the lid and not paying enough attention. If you're always careful when handling them, there's not much to worry about.

How to Make a DIY Glass Aquarium Lid

Making one of these lids is very simple. All you need to do is:

1. Measure your aquarium

You want the lid to rest on the ledge inside the plastic rim of the tank, so you'll measure from one inside edge to the other. Then, you have to decide how far across the aquarium you want the lid to extend.

measure top of aquarium
measure top of aquarium

In the photo above you can see my HOB filters extend about 2 inches into the aquarium. I had my lid cut to leave a little more than 2 inches of open space in the back, so that the filters don't contact or spray water onto the glass. This space on the back side is also handy for dropping food into the tank without moving the lid.

2. Have a piece of glass cut to your dimensions

I have always gone to a local hardware store to have pieces of glass cut, but you can also go to a specialty glass shop. I use Ace Hardware in the Denver area, but I have also heard that some Lowes locations will cut glass. You should be able to find a place that will cut glass in your area.

Since this is just a single pane of glass, it should be less than $20, even for a long cut like my 29" lid below. I paid about $10 for that piece of glass that is roughly 29" x 9".

this lid is 29" long
this lid is 29" long

3. Attach hooks for lifting and moving the lid

I use clear command mini hooks as handles for these lids. A pack of these hooks is enough for 4-5 DIY aquarium lids, and only adds a couple dollars to the cost of each one.

clear hooks
clear hooks

I like these because they blend in with the glass lid, and they stick on extremely well. Once they are attached, you can lift the lid off just using the two hooks as handles.

That's it. These lids are easy to clean using a damp paper towel, and the only maintenance they require is being wiped down once every month or so. As long as you're careful not to drop them, they will last as long as your aquarium.

glass lids on my two 10 gallon tanks
glass lids on my two 10 gallon tanks

If you are interested in other types of DIY aquarium lids, see my post on making lids out of Polycarbonate here.



1

This weekend I drilled two 10 gallon aquariums and installed overflows for an automated water change system. This was my first time drilling an aquarium and it went really smoothly. These two tanks are going onto the new rack that I built (see post). Eventually they will overflow into a drain manifold that connects into the sink plumbing - I'll post more on that project when it's complete.

To install these overflows I used a diamond coated drill bit and 3/4" bulkheads from bulk reef supply. I did a lot of research and read a lot of conflicting opinions on drilling 10 gallon aquariums. Many people say the glass is too thin to be drilled, but I made two holes without cracking a tank. I even had an extra 10 gallon on hand in case I shattered one, but I didn't end up needing it.

water testing new bulkhead
water testing new bulkhead

Setting up for drilling the glass took longer than the actual drilling. I used a couple pieces of cardboard taped together as a guide for my drill bit. A piece of wood would have been better, but the cardboard held long enough for me to get the holes started. Without a guide to start the hole, the bit jumps all over the glass and scratches it up.

drilling setup
drilling setup

I taped the cardboard guide onto the side of the aquarium. Then I placed a piece of tape on the inside of the glass to catch the cutout piece. Finally I taped my garden hose onto the tank to keep water flowing over the bit while I drilled. This part is important. You need a steady stream of cool water to remove glass particles and cool the bit as you drill.

drilled hole
drilled hole

To make the holes I put my drill on the lowest setting and went as slow as I could. I could hear the diamond bit grinding the glass and slowed down whenever it started to screech. It took about 2 minutes to make each hole. You don't want to put any pressure on the drill, just letting the weight of the drill bite into the glass. I think a lot of people shatter their tanks doing this because they try to go too fast.

overflow assembly
overflow assembly

The overflow assembly (shown above) cost me about $2 in parts from home depot. My bulkheads are thread x thread, so making connections is simple. I used a threaded 3/4" street elbow, and cut a piece of PVC to the height I wanted to set my water level to. Then I used a dremel with a cutting wheel attachment to make 8 notches in the top of the pipe.

notched overflow
notched overflow

After I installed the bulkheads and overflows I painted two sides of both aquariums using black acrylic paint. The two tanks are going side by side on the shelf with the overflows in the back. I'm still waiting on some plumbing parts and the filters for these two tanks, so the final setup will be in a subsequent update.

painted drilled aquariums
painted drilled aquariums
drilled ten gallons on rack
drilled ten gallons on rack

Links to aquarium overflow parts on Amazon for your own DIY projects:


1

I've been spending time organizing my fish room this week and getting things cleaned up. I don't want to have power strips laying on the floor in case of a flood in the room, so I am mounting all of them. This is also an opportunity to work on storage and organization for each stand.

Mounting a power strip

Most power strips I've seen come with mounting holes on the back, like the photo below. This makes them super easy to mount to a vertical surface. All you need is a drill and some screws that have a wide enough head to hook into the power strip. I just used some small wood screws that I had kicking around. You can hang a power strip with just one screw, but if you want it to stay in place its better to use two.

back of power strip
back of power strip

On this stand I drove two screws into the inside of the cabinet, just under 5 inches apart. To get the exact distance between screws you want to measure the distance between slots on the back of the power strip. Then you just drive in the screws and slide the power strip onto them. If you want to move the power strip later, it will easily slide back off.

power strip mounting screws
power strip mounting screws
mounted power strip
mounted power strip

Tip: use cable ties to color code wires

For this tank I used small colored cable ties to mark the power cords for my two filters. Since one filter has blue on it, I know that the blue cord is for that filter, and the green one is the other filter. This helps a lot during water changes and maintenance. I can quickly unplug the equipment I want disconnected without having to guess.

You can also buy power cable labels that look a little nicer than zip ties to identify your cords.

finished setup
finished setup

With the power strip up off the shelf I have more room for storage under my stand. You can see here this planted tank has 4 powered devices: the heater, the light, and two filters. I know which cord goes to each of these devices without having to trace the wire back behind the tank. Having the strip up above the shelf also helps avoid getting it wet if I spill water or chemicals.

Buy Power Strips on Amazon

Buy power cable labels on Amazon

Buy Seachem Prime water conditioner on Amazon