65 Gallon Tank Is it ever worth it to build your own large tank?


I'm fascinated by aquariums but I've never set up a proper tank before, partially because I'm poor.
I have a habit of snagging discarded glass tanks for terrarium use so I've got a few tanks with weird dimensions lying around. One of them is around 70gal but it's very tall and narrow.
I'm idly considering taking it apart, cutting the glass, re-doing the silicone, and turning it into a shallow tank. I'm not about to do it, but the idea of a river biotope with a (comparatively) small pleco in it is too tempting to not consider. Obviously I won't start with something that ambitious, but it's nice to think about.
I've heard that shorter tanks are more structurally sound, but 500+ pounds of water seems extremely risky to DIY no matter how it's braced. I know you get what you pay for and I'm not about to endanger fish (and my security deposit) just to save money in the short run.
Has anyone here made a large tank like this? Am I better off saving my money for something guaranteed to be safe?


Yes! Same story as you. Recycled some Craigslist 110 talls in to 4x2x1 low boy/frag tanks. Even put together a 4x2x2.5 150 the other year.
Breaking 3/8+ glass sucks.
GE SCS1200, and Momentive rtv108 are worth the extra money when compared to GE type 1, especially when going big.

I'll add... if you place any sort of value on your time, its totally not worth it. The time it takes to remove old silicone in preparation for sticking one back together probably makes it more expensive than having new glass cut.
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We have made a large tank - 576 litres (about 152 gallons). We did have the glass cut to size though. There are tables online that tell you the thickness of the glass required for different sized tanks as well as videos showing how best to assemble the tank. We used 10mm glass and it just has one brace in the middle. It measures 160 x 60 x 60 cm. It was much, much less expensive than buying such a large tank. We have also made two smaller ones, 175 and 180l, we used 8mm glass for those.
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I've never done anything personally, but from what I've heard of river tanks, you'd want to use acrylic so you can drill and add bulkheads and things. (On the downstream side, I'd just put a bunch of holes the fish can't get through, but that water could drain out via gravity. You'd just need one pump to put water back in, but would need to have a way to stop the water flowing out somehow. Maybe a piece of acrylic that blocks the holes, or only have holes above a certain height. Maybe a safer option would be siphon tubes that you can move and readjust as needed.
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I fancy rimless, shallow tanks myself. The standard rimless shallow tanks available in the market come in certain dimensions, and oftentimes I favour slightly different dimensions. I let a local supplier custom-build a tank according to my specs for 50-100 bucks, depending on the size. Normal glass is used. I always ask for a bit oversized glass thickness for psychological reassurance (8 inch tank height -> 6mm /0.25 inch glass thickness; 12 inch tank height -> 8mm/0.30 inch glass thickness).

Regarding a hillstream setup, personally I would favour a glass tank with no holes and an oversized canister filter ("oversized", to be able to create a strong enough current) with a spraybar on one side and the intake on the other side of the tank. Such a setup gives you max flexibility. I had such a tank years and years ago, housing Sewellia lineolata. I still miss that setup.

Good luck.
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