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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.



two planted 10 gallons
two planted 10 gallons

These two tanks sit on the bottom shelf of my DIY aquarium rack. They are standard aqueon 10 gallon aquariums, but they are positioned with the short sides in the front and back. I've never set up aquariums in this configuration, but I knew it would work really well with how I wanted to drill them. It's also an interesting layout to try to aquascape.

Plumbing

These tanks are drilled with an overflow in the back, which flows out to the main drain stack for the room. See this post for info on how I drilled the glass and this post for the drain system build.

The overflow allows water changes to be done by just adding new water to the tank. Eventually this will be accomplished through an automated drip system operating on a timer. For now I'm doing water changes using my python hook, which makes filling tanks really easy.

filling with python hook
filling with python hook

Filtration

hamburg matten filter

I used hamburg matten filters in these aquariums to hide the overflows and heater at the back of the tank. Matten filters provide a ton of surface area for biological filtration and are excellent for keeping shrimp and small fish away from an overflow. The filter is a thick foam sponge cut to the dimensions of the aquarium, with a hole for a PVC lift tube to fit through.

matten filter installed

The lift tube uses air to pull water up from the bottom of the tank behind the sponge and out the tube in the front. This pulls water through the sponge to the back, trapping debris in the sponge and feeding the beneficial bacteria. The foam sponge also provides a great surface for shrimp to graze on biofilm. I got these matten filters from Flip Aquatics.

Lighting

The lights for these aquariums are 20 watt LED floodlights. I am keeping mostly anubias in these tanks so I went with a cheap lighting option since I only need low light. The lights currently sit directly on top of my DIY glass lids. Two of these LED lights only cost me $22.

LED flood lights
LED flood lights

Stocking

Shrimp Tank

cherry shrimp on anubias
cherry shrimp on anubias

The tank on the left is home to a colony of red cherry shrimp I've had breeding for a long time. I may add a small group of nano fish like celestial pearl danios or white cloud mountain minnows later, probably after the auto water change system is complete.

cherry shrimp tank
cherry shrimp tank

I set this tank up with Fluval Stratum because it is marketed as a shrimp friendly substrate. So far I have been happy with it, although it does require a thorough rinse before you dump into an aquarium. I do like that it has a nice uniform grain size and shape. The substrate is larger than sand but smaller and lighter than most types of gravel.

fluval stratum
fluval stratum

Betta Tank

The other tank is home to my male betta. He is alone except for some ramshorn snails. I tried adding some cherry shrimp to his tank, but he hunted them all down and ate them within a day. In the betta tank I used a combination of white sand and white gravel. I like the combination better than using either sand or gravel alone.

betta tank
betta tank

Plants

Both tanks were scaped with easy low light plants.

Shrimp Tank

driftwood with anubias
driftwood with anubias

In the shrimp tank I used a single large piece of malaysian driftwood as the only hardscape. I attached to that two anubias nana rhyzomes and another large anubias that I've had for a long time. I used zipties for the larger two rhyzomes, and the smallest one is tucked into an opening in the driftwood. Once the roots attach themselves to the wood, the ties can be removed.

driftwood in shrimp tank
driftwood in shrimp tank

Betta Tank

betta tank layout
betta tank layout

In the back of the betta's tank there's a wall of rotala rotundifolia, which is a stem plant that should grow thick if its trimmed regularly. This plant will grow quickly under high light, especially with CO2, but it does fine in a low tech setup.

large anubias rhyzome
large anubias rhyzome

I also included two large anubias rhizomes attached to pieces of malaysian driftwood. The anubias plant in the back has been growing on the same piece of wood for several months. The one toward the front is over a year old, and was ziptied to the driftwood. Zip ties were easier than super glue and can be easily snipped off later if I want to make a change.

Finally I have a small cryptocoryne wendtii in the foreground. This plant has some nice red shades in its leaves and grows differently under different lighting conditions. If it does well here I will probably add more crypts to both of these 10 gallon tanks.