A Guide to Build a Fish Tank for Fish keepers – 2021

guide to build a fish tank



A Koi fish pond can be a gr. 

Let’s start this post with the admission that Guide to Build a Fish Tank is every bit as challenging as it is rewarding. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s a significant DIY undertaking you can do in your free time.


Sure, you can always go to your nearest pet store and buy yourself a fish tank for sale, but where’s the fun in that? Use this materials list and a step-by-step guide to build your fish tank. Not only do you get to save money and build new skills, but you can also share your experiences on reddit.com/r/DIY


The most valuable material that you can get your hands on is glass. Here are a few tips for working with glass:


It’s best to plan everything before cutting into the glass by referring to a schematic. If you’re not sure about your glass cutting skills, hire a professional glazer to prepare the pieces for you.


  • Pro tip 1: Use accurate measurements for a proper fit and avoiding potential leaks.
  • Pro tip 2: Never cover the tank with a thick glass cover because it can restrict the oxygen cycle.


Guide to Build a Fish Tank Materials list:


  • One front, one bottom, two end sheets, and one back glass sheet
  • Single edge razor blades
  • Acetone
  • 100% silicone aquarium sealant
  • Lots of paper towels and duct tape
  • Washable felt marker
  • Emery cloth
  • If you plan on building a 30-gallon fish tank or more extensive, make sure to install support braces at the centre. To do this, cut a 6″ thick piece of glass with the exact dimensions of the front panels, and then secure it in place using silicone. For extra durability, you can install two support pieces.


Cutting the Glass Yourself


Remember, safety always comes first. Wear gloves when cutting glass to prevent cuts and leaving your handprints all over it. To aid with precision cuts, use a ruler and place it along the desired path.


With your glass cutter at the ready, place the glass into position to start cutting into it. Make sure to not bang onto the glass as it starts breaking away. Instead, firmly push down on it to separate it.


Here’s a quick tutorial on YouTube that teaches how to cut glass quickly and safely.


The choice of glass can make or break (pun intended) your big fish tank. Buying a glass sheet too thick is like sinking money into the drain. Too thin means your cheap fish tanks could collapse under the burden of their weight. Avoid sleepless nights by investing in the correct glass sheet.


Unfortunately, the manufacturing process of glass for fish tanks is a mess, and there’s no definitive way to minimize glass failure.


Most aquarium builders use a safety factor between 2.8 to 3.8. You may think that 3.8 is overkill when you’re building your aquarium, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.


The factor also varies with the size of the tank. Using 3.8 minimizes any risk of glass failure, which means that the glass will only fail because of structural weaknesses caused due to damage. Tiny chips and scratches on the glass will be the main reason for failure. 


Assembling the Fish Tank


Once finished, use your emery cloth to polish the edges for irregularities on the surface. Use acetone on paper to clean common glass areas to about half an inch inward. 


Using Duct Tape


Prepare 20 strips of duct tape at a length of about 6 inches. Keep the strips within reach by sticking them to a clean surface near you. The video shouldn’t stick to the body, with half the tape sticking out freely. If you run out of duct tape before moving to the other panel, prepare a few more pieces.


Pro Tip: If the tape is not sticking to the tank as it should, clean the surface using acetone and try again.


Assembling the Glass Pieces


Now that you have your glass pieces ready, It’s time to determine their placements to keep track of where each sheet goes (which side or edge of the glass sheet will go inside or outside, up or down). 

You can indicate this using a pen with a washable felt marker.


The most crucial piece of glass is the bottom piece. Place it against a flat, smooth surface, and stick two duct tape pieces on each side of the glass (on the bottom surface) with the sticky side facing up. Can do it by lifting the glass from each side to secure the tape strips in their place.    


Installing the Front Glass Sheet


Time to install the front glass sheet. This step becomes more comfortable if you ask someone to help you hold the glass sheet in an upright position while arranging the glass sheet’s first side.


Apply silicone on all inside edges of the front glass sheet, and then align it with the bottom glass sheet, firmly pushing it down.


Don’t wipe any excess silicone on the outside of the edge of the glass. 

You can do this later once the silicone has completely cured.


With the front glass panel installed, fold the two duct tape pieces upward to stick them to the front of the glass sheet.


Installing the Side Glass Sheet


Use the same technique shown above with the silicone to install the first side panel sheet. Once done, fold the appropriate bottom pieces of duct tape in the upward direction and stick them to the glass front.


You can wrap two additional pieces of duct tape around the tank’s corner for a more secure installation.


Installing the Other Side Glass Sheet and the Back Panels


I am using the same steps outlined above to attach the other side glass sheet and the back panels.


Once pieces are secure and the aquarium finished, apply silicone into the inside tank’s eight joints. Push firmly with your thumb and continue the pressure across the silicone that you just used. It is an effective way to make sure everything holds together.


For added security, allow the tank to stand for a day so that the silicone has enough time to cure (about 24 hours) properly.


In this state, the tank will be fantastic to use right away, and you can fill it with water. However, it may be better to give it a few finishing touches to improve it.


The good idea is to apply a thin piece of cardboard to the base of the tank. Doing so will prevent scratches to the bottom of the tank and keep it warm. Alternatively, you can also do the same thing with the back glass panel.


Now is also a good time to do some decoration and putting coloured pieces of cardboard to create the right atmosphere.


Once done with this process, let’s consider some areas of improvement.


Do I need a Lid Over My Fish Tank? 


If your fish species are notorious for being jumpers, it’s probably a good idea to use a tank lid before you decide to introduce your Fish. Use a glass sheet with smaller dimensions than the base of the tank.


Which Fish Tank Lid Material Should I Use?


You can also use a plastic cover, but finding the right piece is easier said than done. You can’t just put any part of plastic covering that meets your conditions. If you can’t find the right amounts of plastic for the lid, create yourself, just like you did with the rest of the aquarium.


Fixing Problems with the DIY Fish Tank


Despite your best effort, mistakes will happen now and then. The most common problem is the appearance of strange bubbles in the seals or leaking water.


Leaks happen to be the most common issue with aquariums. If you find a leak taking place, you’ll have to empty the aquarium immediately and start sealing it from the outside.


If the sealing does not take care of the leaking right away, you may have to remove the tank and reapply the silicone. Before you re-do the steps outlined above, make sure to clean the edges with alcohol and apply the silicone as usual.


If the leak persists and doesn’t stop even after you re-sealed the tank, you may have to cut out the piece of glass responsible for the leak and replace it. It should fix it.


The bubbles’ appearance along the seal isn’t always indicative of something wrong as long as the water isn’t leaking. Bubbles are simply the trapped air that formed due to silicone application. If you’re still worried, however, you can continuously reapply for the sealing.


Setting up the Inside of the Tank


  • The inside of the tank depends on the type of fish species you want to select.
  • If you plan on keeping freshwater Fish, you will need a sound filtering system.
  • The most common choices are power filters or undergravel filters that can easily hang on the tank’s back.


A power fish tank filter should easily circulate 5 gallons of water every hour per gallon of your tank’s capacity. For example, a 16 gallons tank would need a power filter that can handle 40 gallons per hour.


If you plan on using an undergravel water filter, find the right size for your aquarium. A large aquarium will need a large fish tank filter. It is because the air pump must work for the entire tank, not just its immediate vicinity.


Follow the specific installation instructions that come with your filter’s packaging. Regardless of the water filter you use, please do not turn it on until you’ve filled the aquarium with water.


Add a Heater


The heater goes inside the tank and can easily attach with suction cups. Ideally, Should place it next to the filter where the water is in constant motion (this will keep the temperature consistent throughout the tank). Do not turn the heater on until you’ve added moisture to the tank.


To choose a suitable model, find something that can keep it to 5 watts of heat per gallon of water. Some fish have specific requirements, however. It is ideal to find a fully adjustable submersible heater that we can easily configure later on.


Pro Tip: Any light pieces you add to the tank will also produce heat and contribute to the tank’s temperature. If this becomes a persistent issue for you, choose light options that don’t eat up. They are much healthier for your Fish. 


Choosing the Right Substrate


Fill your tank with the suitable substrate, whether sand, gravel, or whatever your Fish finds best. Most Fish will need sand or gravel, which you can see from most pet stores. The substrate will filter the water, provide nutrients to the plants and fish, and create a ‘safe’ space for your Fish to hide.


The substrate is available in a range of textures and color choices. In most cases, 2 to 3 inches should do fine. However, if your species are bottom dwellers, like the Diamond Watchman Goby, you should add at least 6 inches of substrate.


Before placing the gravel into the tank, make sure to wash it thoroughly. The gravel may have acquired dust matter throughout its time in the store. It is something that you don’t want to add to your tank.


How to Arrange the Decorations


Add a few inches of water to the tank to give you a much better idea of how everything will look. Adjust the decorations as necessary and consistently account for the weight of the water.


Once you have set up the terrain, fill the tank up. Some experts recommend leaving a gap of about 1 inch from the water’s surface to the lid, although this step is entirely up to you.


Some people prefer not to have a water line at all.


Adding a Dechlorinator for Water and How to Cycle a Fish Tank (freshwater)


Most freshwater Fish will die in tap water because they contain chemicals, such as chlorine. It is why a de-chlorinator comes in handy.


Just make sure to buy a de-chlorinator that is the right size for your tank. You should also find a bacterial catalyst to speed up bacteria’s growth in your aquarium (the right kind).


Once the de-chlorinator is in place, you’ll need to start a fishless cycle to monitor the water’s chemistry (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH values). Buy an aquarium testing kit and carefully adjust the numbers to zero. Once you’ve done this, it’s time to add in your Fish.


Use an ammonia remover if the levels of ammonia in the tank are too high. As a general rule, you should always change about 15% of the water to keep it fresh and clean.


Adding Live Fish Tank Plants


We will need Live plants to give your fish tank that natural look and help regulate and filter the water. It may be simple, but live plants cannot add to an aquarium if you don’t follow the correct installation instruction or provide them with the right conditions to survive.


Here’s what you have to do:


Set up specialty light bulbs above the tank to help the plants thrive. The best mornings are fluorescent and LED light options because they generate little heat and provide the right ‘kind’ of light fixture to help your plants get their energy.


  • Set up the lights so that they illuminate the entire tank without directly beaming into your Fish’s eyes. As a general rule, if it’s too bright for you to look at, it’s too bright for your Fish.
  • Avoid using incandescent bulbs because they are not effective at penetrating the water’s levels and will not be sufficient for your live plants.
  • Depending on the live plants, you will need to keep the light on for about 12 hours every day.
  • Find plants that are compatible with your fish species. In most cases, grasses are compatible with many aquatic pets. But it would help if you referred to their detailed care sheet to see which plants are to avoid. 
  • The plants should fit inside the aquarium without growing out of the water. Tall plants that grow too big will die outside the water.


Planting the Plants


  • To attach ferns: use a rock to secure the fern and keep them upright. Ferns do not need a place in the substrate layer. Some will need something tangible to hold onto for stability.
  • Potted plants: Remove the plant from its plot, careful not to damage the roots poking out from under it. Dig a hole in the substrate as wide as the plant, and place it inside.
  • Plants with stems: Push the branch about 2 inches into the substrate to keep the plant upright.


How Many Fish in a 10 Gallon Tank?


The rule of thumb is to go with one small neon-tetra-size Fish per gallon of water. It is worth noting that each Fish will have its bioload, and you’ll have to clean up after them based on how frequently they upset the tank’s water parameters (such as nitrates and nitrates). 


Wrapping Up


Building your fish tank can be a rewarding experience and save you plenty of cash as well. It may seem like a daunting task, but it’s not too complicated. All you have to do is exercise caution and patience to make your job just a bit easier.


Just follow the instructions outlined above, use the right tools, and find the correct schematic to build your fish tank without a hiccup. Eat addition to your garden or yard. Koi are beautiful fish that can live for decades in the right conditions. Watching them swimming calmly in water can be incredibly soothing and relaxing.

In this guide, you will find out about Koi fish pond ideas and care tips. With proper care and maintenance, your Koi fish pond can last long and serve as a meditation retreat in your house.


What is a Koi Fish Pond?


Koi Fish is a Japanese variant of the Amur Carp (Cyprinus rubrofuscus). The Fish belongs to the family Cyprinidae that also includes Goldfish.


The first known variety of Koi fish was the Narumi Asagi Koi fish, bred in the 1800s by fish farmers in Asia.


A Koi fish pond has become popular across America and Europe for its mesmerizing array of colours. The pond specifically built to house the Fish so that they thrive and display their best colour.


How to Build a Koi Fish Pond?


You can buy a standard or above-ground Koi fish pond kit online for building a Koi pond.


The benefit of using a kit is that you won’t have to design the pond. You will only have to dig a hole for the installation of the equipment. But using a kit has a disadvantage due to the limited design and size options available.


That is why you may want to construct a Koi pond yourself. Here are the steps involved in the DIY construction of a Koi pond.


Step 1 – Choose an Appropriate Size


Building a Koi fish bond is not that difficult. A Koi fish pond size of 13 feet x 10 feet (3.96 m x 3.04 m) can hold a group of 10 mature fish without being overcrowded.


The pond’s width and depth should not exceed 13 feet (3.96 m) and 4 feet (1.22 m), respectively. It is essential to make it easier for you to catch the Fish when changing water or cleaning the pond.


If you want to raise the Fish, the Koi pond’s depth should be about 8 feet (2.4 m). Beginners and fish enthusiasts avoid the deeper pond


Another essential factor of the Koi pond is the volume. Can calculate the required work by multiplying the length, width, and depth of the pond. 

It will give you the volume of the pond in cubic feet or meters. Calculating the pond’s magnitude in gallons multiplies the volume in cubic feet by 7.48 or cubic meters by 264.17. The volume measurement will allow you to determine the amount of water you will require for the pond.


Step 2 – Choose an Appropriate Location


The next step is to locate the right location for the Koi pond. A good place for the pond is close to the home window so that you can get a clear view of it.


Once you have selected the pond’s site, mark the area you want to build the pond with chalk. You can define the space in whatever shape you desire. The Koi pond can be a polygon, round shape, L-shaped, rectangle, or whatever form that seems suitable to you.


Step 3 – Build the Koi Pond


Clear the area where you want to build the pond. You may have to remove the vegetation surrounding the area or pull up the paver covering the ground. Now, start digging with a shovel. Dig the pond’s sides so they slope steadily downwards towards the centre of the pond.


Next, line the pond using a rubber or plastic liner. You can buy a pond liner from your local or online landscaping supplier. Should install the liner as per the recommendation of the manufacturer.


Roll the liner out over the pond but make sure that it overlaps the edges by about 3 feet (0.91 m). To prevent damage to the liner, remove any sharp stones and rock in the hole before installing it.


Secure the liner by placing large rocks over it at the edges. About 1 foot (0.30 meters) of the liner must expose beyond the stones. Dig a ridge around the perimeter once you are happy with the layout of the rocks.


You can also use a spade to shift dirt into a ridge formation with the liner reaching into the ridge. The small height will run along the pond’s outline beyond the rocks that will prevent soil, rainwater, grass clippings, and lawn fertilizers from reaching the pond.


Step 4 – Add Water


After you have built the pond, fill it with water using a garden hose. Use a de-chlorinator, water conditioner, or charcoal filter to add tap water to the pond. It will remove chlorine from the water as chlorinated water can harm your Fish.


The water should be slightly alkaline with a pH value between 7 and 8.6. You can buy a water testing kit to ensure that the water’s nutrients and pH levels are suitable for the Koi fish. Adjust the water temperature to ensure that the fish stays healthy.


The ideal pool temperature should be between 650F – 750F (180C – 240C). Use a thermometer to measure the water temperature. Add cold water if the pond temperature is getting warm. You may want to use a heater if the temperature goes below the freezing point.


Your Koi fish can survive in temperatures between 34–90 °F (1–32 °C). But it would help if you kept the water temperature at the recommended setting to ensure that they remain in the best health. Additionally, a change of about 10% of the total volume every week: avoid changing too much water at one time as it will cause the Fish to go into a shock that will be fatal for the Fish.


Step 5 – Koi Fish Pond Setup


Dirty water can kill your Koi fish. A filtration system is essential to ensure that the pond water remains clean. A pond filtration system consists of a setline chamber, biological unit, mechanical filtration, and a bottom drain.


Should the filtration system be set up next to the Koi pond? You may have to dig the ground slightly to install the individual parts of the filtration. The biological filtration unit will add beneficial bacteria that will reduce the nitrate and ammonia in the water. Moreover, the mechanical filtration part will catch any debris that floats through the water.


Consider placing an aerator in the pond that will keep the water moving. It will keep the water from oxygenating the pond and promote the exchange of oxygen. It will also prevent the pond water from freezing during frigid winter months. The aerator should be suitable for the size, shape, and depth of the Koi pond.


Step 6 – Place Your Koi Fish


Before adding your Koi Fish to the pond, you should turn on the aerator and the filtration system. 

Add Koi Fish in the pond but keep in the plastic bag for about 30 minutes to adjust to change in temperature.


Next, add a small amount of pond water in the plastic bag and let the fish float for 30 minutes more. Release the Koi Fish in the pond once it has adjusted to the freshwater conditions.


Koi Fish Care Tips


Koi pond requires a moderate level of care. You should make sure that the water is kept clean at all times. Additionally, it Should also hold parameters at the recommended settings. Use a de-icer to prevent water from becoming frozen during the winters.


Check the pond at least once a day and clean any debris. Ensure that you remove sticks, leaves, and other materials inside the pond as they will decay and pollute the water. Consider putting a net inside the pond that can catch leaves and other debris inside the pond.


If you live in an area that gets extremely cold during the winters, you should consider turning off the pump and the filter. The shallow temperatures will result in the freezing of water inside the pipes. It will result in cracks and damage to the pumps, filter boxes, and pipes.


Koi Fish Mates


Koi Fish are compatible with a wide variety of Fish as long as they are the same size or slightly smaller than Koi fish. You can add fancy Goldfish or imported Fish to your pond. Examples of fancy Fish include the Wakins, Fantails, Come Moors, Ryukins, Orandas, and Ranchus.


Golden orfe is also a suitable mate for the Koi fish. Moreover, you can add bottom feeders such as golden tench and barbell into the pond. Chinese Ha Fin branded shark fish will also make a good companion of Koi fish.


Koi Fish Feeding 


Koi Fish are omnivores that can eat algae, plants, small insects, and algae at the tank’s bottom. They also eat vegetables such as rice, peas, and lettuce. Moreover, you can feed them cereal, rice, watermelon, and shrimp.


Small Koi Fish feed on flake or small food items, while adults prefer pebble food. You should provide carbohydrate-rich food to adult Koi fish during the mating season that occurs in early spring to late fall.


Avoid feeding the Fish during the storms as they need oxygen to digest the food. Oxygen levels in the air fall when it rains that is harmful to the Fish when feeding.


Koi Fish also feed on plants. You can plant fanwort and American waterweed in the pond. Moreover, it would help if you planted water lily as it will serve as a cover for the Fish from the intense rays of the sunlight during the summers.


Wheatgerm is a recommended food product for Koi fish. T carbohydrates and healthy fats.


They are particularly recommended during the winters when the digestive system of the fish slows down. But sometimes the fish won’t eat the food. You should keep an eye on the feeding behaviour and adjust accordingly.


Common Diseases in a Koi Fish Pond


Koi Fish are a hardy species. But the Fish becomes susceptible to parasitic and bacterial infection during the winter season. The cold temperature slows down the bodily functions of the fishy ar, including the digestive system.


To prevent diseases, you should treat the water before e the onset of the winter season to ensure that the water remains free of parasites and bacteria.


Flukes and internal worms are the most common diseases. You can prevent these diseases by using praziquantel on the online pet store.


When given as per the recommended doses, the medication is effective in killing internal and external parasites. You should provide a dose of the medicine before starting the winter season and again at the beginning of the spring season when the Fish become active.


Related Questions



How Much Does a Koi Fish Pond Cost?


 Building a Koi fish pond is not that expensive. DIY ponds can cost between $500 and $1000. On the other hand, you can find a pre-built Koi fish pond for sale in the range of $2,000 to $15,000. The cost of a healthy Koi fish is between $20 and $30.


Can I Install Waterfalls and Fountains in my Koi Pond?


Waterfalls and fountains will significantly improve the look of the pond. They will also provide extra aeration and prevent ice formation. However, they also act as large heat exchangers that can cause heat loss at the water surface.


They will stir up the warm water in the deeper areas that will decrease the water temperature at the bottom of the tank where most Koi Fish tend to spend time. So, while waterfalls will look great, they will reduce water stability, So it’s not recommended for the Koi pond.


Can Koi Fish Survive in an Outdoor Pond during Winter?


Koi Fish cannot survive if the water temperature goes beyond the freezing weather. You have to winterize the fish pond to prevent your Fish from dying due to frigid temperatures. 


Do You Have to Feed Koi Fish in a Pond?


Koi Fish eat plants and can survive on the plants in the ponds. But they need a wide variety of food items to remain healthy. You should follow the recommended feeding tips mentioned in this article to ensure that they get the most nutrients.


How to Winterize a Koi Fish Pond?


You should use a de-icer during the winter if the temperature goes below the freezing point. Keep a breathing hole in the pond that will allow harmful carbon dioxide from accumulating inside the pond.


The easiest way for doing this is to install a de-icer before the water freezes. The de-icer will float to the surface and increase the surrounding water temperature. It will create a hole in the ice to remain open. Koi will be seen near the heater and occasionally come to the surface for air.


De-icers not made to heat the entire pond. If you install a powerful de-icer, it may cook your Fish. A de-icer should also not put in a pre-formed pond. Also, make sure that the unit is compatible with the Koi fish pond size.


How to Prevent Algae Formation in my Pond?


Algae require two things to grow: sunlight and nutrients. Cleaning sludge will reduce the nutrients that algae need to thrive inside the pond. 


Installing a UV clarifier will further prevent algae growth inside the tank. The device will also reduce harmful bacteria that cause bacterial disease in Fish. Clarifiers are safe for the Fish. Water passing through the UV chamber destroys algae in the water. You should install the clarifier soon after you turn on the pump after the winter.


How Many Koi Fish Can I Put in a Pond?


The number of Fish you can put in a pond depends on the pond size. A 13 feet wide, 10 feet length, and 4 feet deep pond (3.96 m x 3.04 m x 1.22 m) size pond can hold about ten adult koi fish.


It would help if you did not overpopulate the pond with Fish or too many plants as it will reduce the oxygen level in the pond that will be harmful to the Fish.


How Often Should I Feed Koi Fish in a Pond?



Avoid overfeeding your Koi fish as it can get sick. Do not feed the fish more than three times a day. During the winter season, provide them just once a day. Should feed the Fish for five minutes as long as they are eating.


If they don’t come up to the surface for eating, you should check and adjust the water conditions. The Fish usually don’t feed when the water is too cold or warm. If the water conditions are right, the Fish may not eat as they may not be feeling hungry.


How to Clean a Koi Fish Pond?


Drain the pond using a pump. Leave around a foot of water so that your Fish can swim around. It would help if you cleaned the sludge and other debris at the bottom of the pond. After cleaning the pond, you should add water and use a de-chlorinator if it’s tap water.


Wrapping It All Up


A Koi fish pond can be a beautiful addition to your home. Caring for the pond requires a moderate level of care. It would help if you cleaned the pond to avoid the buildup of harmful chemicals inside the pond. With the right supplies, you can easily set up the pond to ensure that the Fish thrive inside the pond.


The Koi fish pond ideas and care tips will help you install and maintain the pond in your home. The cost and effort required for building the pond will be worth it as it will help increase your property value.