Stay in the aquarium hobby long enough, and eventually, the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) bug will get you. You might want to save money or discover that no shops carry the item you are looking for, or perhaps you simply want the enjoyment of knowing you created it yourself. Regardless of the reason, there are a lot of great resources on the Internet that provide information about a variety of DIY projects. Before you take the DIY plunge, there are a few things to consider.
Before Starting a DIY
Before you jump into creating your aquarium, stand, or other DYI projects, you should be well prepared and armed with plenty of information. First, consider why you want to do it yourself. If you are trying to save money, make a comprehensive list of all the equipment you will need to build that aquarium or stand. If you have to purchase a lot of tools, the cost savings could vaporize pretty quickly. If you lack the tools but still are set on doing it yourself, check into places that rent equipment.
Another resource to consider is local aquarium clubs. Most clubs have at least a couple of avid DIYers who may have the tools you need and be willing to lend them to you. They will also have plenty of tips and tricks to help you avoid costly mistakes. They may even be willing to assist you with your project. A skilled mentor is worth their weight in gold.
Also, consider how much DIY work you might perform in the future. Purchasing tools to build one tank isn't a very wise investment, but if you anticipate having several other DIY projects in the future, the cost of the tools might be worthwhile.
Check What Is Available
Some owners delve into a DIY project because they can't find something locally that they want or need. If that is the only reason for embarking on a DIY project, do more legwork, because what you need may very well be out there somewhere. Ask your local shop if there are other products they don't carry, but could order. Search the web for products—you might be surprised at what you find. Double-check all your options before choosing to do it yourself.
Look at the Big Picture
If you are building your aquarium because you need a custom setup, consider all the other supporting pieces of equipment you will need. A specialty aquarium will need other parts to complete it, some of which you may not want to make yourself. Where are you going to find a hood and light to fit the custom tank? How about a stand for it? Unless you are prepared to build all those things, you might be better off going with a standard size so you can purchase the accessories off the shelf. Some items may even be impossible to make yourself.
Lastly, regardless of the reason for your DIY project, always do your homework. That advice sounds like a broken record, but having information is a big part of being successful with any DIY project. Fortunately, there are plenty of information sources out there on the web. Research your DIY topic thoroughly before you start anything. Visit your local pet shop and fish club for advice. Don't get in over your head with a project and end up being a fish out of water.
Where to Find DIY Information
Below is a list of a variety of DIY project instructions that are available.
Aquariums: Glass or acrylic, from drilling to gluing
Aquarium Stands: A lot less expensive than store-bought
Canopies and Hoods: Especially helpful for non-standard sized tanks
CO2 Injection: If you have lots of plants, CO2 is a must
Filtration: A variety of great filter plans
Foods and Feeders: Recipes for foods and building feeders
Misc.: Everything from tank dividers to pump silencers to water changers