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Old 11-21-2020, 11:51 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Plastic Tank el-cheapo

Wasn't sure whether this applies to 'equipment' forum or DIY, but as its radical and probably a place where few dare to go, will put it here.

After returning to the hobby after twenty plus years, have been very impressed with the improvement in technology for aquariums, especially LED lighting - simply amazing, but one area I think we are stuck in the past is plastic aquariums.

Being a die-hard glass tank man (the thought of trying to clean a plastic tank put me off for years on trying plastic aquariums) I recently bought a 2 foot x1 foot x1 foot plastic (cheapo made in China) terrarium/reptile/fish tank and am very impressed. I was intending to use it as a quarantine tank or standby, but after 3 months I am looking for another one, but am frustrated how rare they are, and how small.

Advantages: weighs next to nothing unlike my glass tank, same size, which has green glass and weighs alot.
- so far have been able to clean with my hand wiping the plastic only and so far so good. The algae doesn't seem to stick at all. On my glass aquariums I sometimes have to use a razor blade to get the algae off, which I obviously won't be able to do here.
- as its tough I don't have to worry about its mounting base or leaking in future - its super tough and 100% sealed - no joins.
- it has some minor scratches on it (probably was like that when I bought it) but they don't bother me and if I was a handy man I expect I could buff the scratches out.
- it is super clear to look thru. As someone who has both glass and now plastic tanks I was surprised what a difference it makes. At first you don't notice the difference, but soon you do - you see how crystal clear and undistorted the view is - its like the plastic sides aren't there. Glass is not as clear a medium to look thru. Plastic really is fantastic - I have become a big fan. It's like the water inside looks 'white'. Yes I know that water is see-thru and colourless but in a glass aquarium the water always looks a bit coloured, no matter how clean it is. Its difficult to explain the difference, but the view thru a plastic tank is superior to glass. Until I owned a plastic aquarium I did not know the difference.

After searching in vain for a bigger one I am about to buy a 110L dirt-cheap clear plastic storage bin from my local hardware supermarket chain. Its going in an outdoor fish shed, so I am not concerned about aesthetics.

HAS ANY ONE HERE TRIED a dirt-cheap plastic storage bin? I can see lots of advantages for me.
Its about $40 Australian, so I can't complain about the price. If the plastic fades or becomes less clear to see through, for that price I can't complain. I'm not too worried about plastic material and toxicity. I expect that after holding water a few weeks with plants in it any chemicals would be taken care of and it will become 'naturalised' fairly quickly. Plants are used to clean toxins in water so I expect they will sort it, plus the algae.

In the past I have been tempted to use a general purpose large plastic black tub, but prefer a see-thru aquarium design, rather than a pond like set up. Being a mechanical engineer by trade I expect it won't be too hard for me to find a storage bin that looks strong enough to support being filled by water, especially the base, as plastic unlike glass will deform under weight.

One point rarely made about glass aquariums and their ability to be not 100% supported on their base (ie supported for example around the sides only of the base) is YES you can do it - glass will not deform at all - however by not 100% supporting the glass the bottom pane of glass will be under significant pressure. Glass does not deform but it can FAIL. I always 100% support my glass aquariums wherever possible. Zero deformation (ie glass) does not mean that the material is not being stressed. Plastic on the other hand must be fully supported on its base or it will deform over time, but for a cheapo setup its really not as critical as glass imo.

[As a student I once modelled a hypothetical 3-tonne glass aquarium using stress analysis software. The greatest stress concentration in an aquarium is in the center of the bottom pane, not the edges of the base, which is high, but not as high. I would never mount a glass aquarium supported only around the edges. By doing so you are lowering its lifespan. 100% base support, or as close to 100% as you can is better for stress distribution- design life- safety]

I was initially planning on building an indoor pond with liner in this outside shed but with rats and other nasties I doubt a pond liner would survive long term. A pond sitting on a hard concrete floor would probably attract rodents with sharp teeth. Plastic tubs is safer. I bait the shed with poison but they seem to eat it like candy - never seen a dead one - only the left over crumbs!

Last edited by Hank Junior; 11-22-2020 at 01:38 AM..
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Old 11-22-2020, 01:18 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plastic Tank el-cheapo

Advertising says:

:::
High clarity
BPA free, UV resistant and food safe with Ventilation ports
The Ezy Storage Ultimate tub is an elegant and practical storage container. The low profile reinforced lid sits flush inside the base to further complement the sleek styling. To improve useability, the tub features integrated comfort touch grips, press release clasps and.ventilation Ports. All Ultimate tubs are made from a lead and BPA free high clarity material.
:::::


Its food safe so probably not toxic for fish.
High clarity - sounds great. I think clarity is the biggest problem with storage tubs - they usually aren't that clear.
I'm interested. Sorry photo won't work but link is below: 550x 373x 790 mm

https://www.bunnings.com.au/ezy-stor...-110l_p2583669
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Old 11-22-2020, 04:05 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plastic Tank el-cheapo

I've held water in similar bins, and typically the sides bow out under the pressure. But they do hold water.
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Old 11-22-2020, 06:38 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plastic Tank el-cheapo

The ones I have seen and used were not very transparent. They were more translucent. I can see them used in a garage to grow plants, but never for a display in the house. I think I would tackle the job of making one from acrylic panels instead of using one of these.
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Old 11-22-2020, 11:29 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plastic Tank el-cheapo

Ah yes Davemonkey, I am intending to experiment with CLEAR PACKING TAPE - at the top-edge like a brace for hoop stress. Packing Tape is extremely strong - used it for a DIY aquarium light recently and it was as strong as steel nails - really struggled to remove it. Not pretty, but clear tape might be interesting.

Yes clear see-thru plastic is a problem - they normally look pretty misty, unclear.

One trick with structural strength is to compare the weight of a bucket with its litres holding capacity. The heavier the bucket the more likely it will handle hoop stress. A 1.9kg bucket with a 40L capacity could be a problem for example when you compare 40L=40kg of water and only 1.9kg of material, suggests thin side walls. HOWEVER plastic is very strong and light - have heard that some acrylics are 20xstronger than glass but I suppose storage bucket plastics are not a high specification as they are cheap as chips.

Want 2 cheap tanks as a plant experiment in an outdoor shed - 2 identical tanks - change one parameter to see changes. So aesthetics or failure is not a great concern to me. Don't want to spend big bucks. Its one reason I love this aquarium hobby - doing it on the cheap.

Last edited by Hank Junior; 11-22-2020 at 11:45 AM..
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Old 11-22-2020, 11:39 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plastic Tank el-cheapo

I'm keeping daphnia in those storage bins.
Lots of breeders use plastic bins of various sizes to raise fry. They're not attractive for display purposes.
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Old 11-23-2020, 05:41 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plastic Tank el-cheapo

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hank Junior View Post
.........

Want 2 cheap tanks as a plant experiment in an outdoor shed - 2 identical tanks - change one parameter to see changes. So aesthetics or failure is not a great concern to me. Don't want to spend big bucks. Its one reason I love this aquarium hobby - doing it on the cheap.
That should work very well. Also, 10 gallon tanks cost about $15 now, too, or that's what they cost here the last time I checked. The plastic tanks have the advantage of not breaking so easily.
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Old 11-23-2020, 09:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plastic Tank el-cheapo

Just bought 2 for $60, says they are 100L but my rough calcs allowing for 30cm depth and substrate would be 50L each which is what I was after. The quality of the plastic is not as good as the $80 reptile/fish one I bought but its a bit bigger.

My only issue with the reptile one is not the price - its how rare they are - would gladly pay for a bigger one - even finding the same size is difficult, roughly 55cmx30cmx30

The 2 I just bought taper in and are roughly 54cmx35cmx 40 high, but I will only fill it to 30 cm depth, the lower depth should give it a bit more fatigue life from water pressure, but I will still strap the top with clear packing tape for extra strength against hoop stress.

Promise I will send a photo in January after I set it up with plants. So far I like it. I am intending to set up a bit of a pond aquarium, no filter, no heater, nothing but plants, sunlight 2 hrs of direct sunlight every morning and liquid fertiliser. Want to test different substrates and fertilisers. Been having great success with 50/50 pre-mix of Seachem flourish and seachem advance ( that stuff is like magic juice). I feed my plants daily just like I would fish. Seems to work. They are only summer tanks, in winter it may get too cold - unheated shed. Its insulated but that makes little difference. Ultimate plan is to keep tropical fish in the shed during summer, but I am a long way from that point yet.

Personally I think in a few years plastic aquariums is going to be big business. Yes they scratch - they scratch like crazy. Just brush against them and they scratch - but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages imo. Starting to not like glass anymore. Its hard on my back.

Plastic has one major advantage over glass - it can easily be moulded as a one-piece in manufacture (no joins, no seals), just like they do storage tubs. Its just a matter of plastic quality and the manufacturer. I find it interesting that acrylic tank builders use flat plastic sheets, just like glass tanks. I think the future will be alot better, not that the present acrylic custom jobs are bad - wouldn't mind one myself.

Last edited by Hank Junior; 11-23-2020 at 10:29 PM..
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