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PVC tank construction methods?

  • I am hoping to build a large tank out of pvc, and have a bunch of questions on materials/construction methods. I'm going to try and list my top questions here, but if you have a chance and feel like sharing your experience, i would appreciate your help!

    1. Can you send me a link with the exact pvc product you use? I'm having trouble sourcing it in my area..

    2. Does the PVC flex at all/ problematically?

    3. How thick of pvc would you recommend? My dimensions will be 48x24x24

    4. Do you only use cement as a bonder? Do you screw the boards together as well? Do you have a link to the cement you used?

    5. Do you silicone the joints as well?

    6. For a large tank like the one i am building, how would you support the glass top? I am worrying about flex. (And how thick would you make the glass).

    I've use glass euro styles, but i've never built one this large.


These three large PVC enclosures were made by a guy in the Virginia area and I think he is since out of the hobby. I got them 'third hand' acutally.

The PVC board does flex a bit and unless you have it WELL SCREWED in, there is a bit of a flex and where it becomes troublesome is the doors. The slight flex creates a small gap on one side of the glass front doors. Not quick large enough for a froglet but def for flies to crawl out. Out of the three tanks, one displays this troublesome flex and one does not. The other one has it a bit.

Again, the way to prevent this would be more screws, IMO

These PVC boards are @ 1/4 inch all side and bottom panels and @ 3/4 inch top and bottom front facing boards/ panels for the support. You could stand to go a tiny bit larger size but only 25% thicker IMO

Cement is PVC 'wield' search for the commonly used bonder not hard to find or unique I would think. You def need to use the wield / bond on the bottom as well a waterproof/ rubber membrane.

It looks like he did bond the entire structure. No idea what type of screws but I'd use extra and non rusting metal.

The flex was also a hindrance for one of the glass tops - Chris Sherman made my tops custom for these. They were thin plastic when I got them and that is not suitable. Glass is recommended and use your best judgement for the glass based on your size build. Cannot recommend a thickness due to different dimensions.

You are going to have to put shelves or little posts on all 4 inner corners to sit the glass top on and the glass top will need 'gussets' or slices of glued support underneath.

We can go back and forth on this thread for your build and I can post some pics as well as some point.

Do I like those large PVC tanks and would I recommend them. Yes. 100% The future of our hobby is to get away from glass except for the viewing panels and the top for light.

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".

Some pics

Attached Files Thumbnail(s)

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".

Sorry I couldn't be of more help....

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".

You can try to get outdoor signage material, but I think if you try to do all sides flex will be an issue. You can try something like this, it is likely what is used in the insitu tanks rear wall. (Alumilite), PVC with aluminum sandwiching each side. Supposedly easy to drill and is lighter than glass.

Thank you for your responses!

PVC flex is something I am definitely concerned about.. I have read anecdotally that in Europe a lot of vivarium makers use "cellular-core" PVC, instead of regular PVC. The foam core would give the material more rigidity than a plain pvc sheet, but I am concerned about durability and the potential for them to "snap" like foam boards tend to. I am looking at the three products below.

1. Ultraboard classic- if this material works, would be FAR less expensive than building out of glass. Edge banding available, but I'm not sure how bonding would work with the foam core.

2. much more expensive but still cheaper than glass. This product does not require edge banding and i think bonding would be more straightforward.

3. Same as option 1 but with aluminum faces.

Any comments on the above would be appreciated!

Also, does silicone bond to PVC??

Here's the build thread from DB:

Weld-On. It's a type of PVC cement

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".

Here's a VERY appropriate FB group to look into:

DIY Custom Cages and Backgrounds

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".

Thank you all for your input!

I settled on Duna Corafoam HDU, 15 lb. weight. You can see this product here, although the provided pictures on this site don't show what it is capable of-

I ordered 1 4x8 sheet each of 1/2" and 1". 3/4" is currently out of stock near me.

Supposedly this product can be worked just like wood, will bond with cement, but should be much more rigid than plain PVC because it is technically an extruded foam.

I will update this post once I get the sheets in (They will be delivered *free shipping* on Tuesday).

Thanks again!

Excellent. I look forward to seeing your progress.

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".

I’m interested in your thoughts on the material as well. I am starting to plan a large vivarium for our tree monitor ...

Jim from Austin |
fantastica nominant | summersi | reticulata

bumping this for Eric

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".

You know I contemplated the bowing issue on the ride home and think that it can be solved by adding a piece of aluminum angle to each side of the viv. That would prevent the bowing you are having around the doors.

It's not very pronounced and it's only on one of the three PVC vivs.

I think 'flex' is a more accurate description but you are right - a metal brace would probably solve most or all of that.

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".

If you are looking for PVC materiel like what Phil's vivs are made out of I am pretty sure you want to look for PVC Foam Sheeting.

This is the material:

Most plastic places can order it for you since it is very common and typical wood working tools can be used to fabricate it.

The solvent you will need is WeldOn 2007:

I priced some out at my local plastics place and a 1/4 inch thick 24 x 24 sheet was $35 and mine will custom cut different sizes and finish the edges for not much more.

I am also looking at a this material here that is aluminum sandwiched around a polyethylene core.

A kickstarter campaign to make vivs out of that materiel was kicking around for a while earlier this year but died on the vine. They were CNC cut knock down flat ship kits that you put together yourself using alignment tabs and screws. A little bit harder to work with and sealing seams would have to be done mechanically with silicone sealant.

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