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Custom Glass Tank Lid

How To Build A Custom Glass Tank Lid

Custom Glass Tank Lid

This is my attempt at a walk through for building a rather nice, and attractive custom lid for glass tanks.

Custom Glass Tank Lid

When I built this lid I built it for a 75 gallon reptile tank that used a sliding screen door, sometimes called a critter cage. Due to this, there was a gap left in the top rim of the tank that I had to first close up with something.
If you were using a regular glass fish tank style tank, you could skip that.

I used 3/4" thick MSB Board. It's cheap, easy to work with, and won't show a wood grain through the paint.
You can use whatever wood type and size you want, but all the measurements and materials here are for 3/4" MSB board.


Wood Board 3/4" thick, sized to dimensions of tank rim
Hardware Cloth, enough to cover holes cut in lid, I use 1/4" screen, but for small enough animals you'd have to change that.
Paint or stain, I match to the color of the tank rim
Water Based Sealer, I used Polycrylic
18 Machine Screws and fitting nuts, 1" long with heads sized for the holes in the clasps
48 Wood screws and fitting small hole large diameter washers, a hair smaller then 3/4" long, head to fit on washers
6, 3" Double-Hinge Fixed Safety Staple Hasps
2 part epoxy, usable on glass and metal
GE Silicone II
For the gap on the rim on the front I siliconed a painted piece of molding trim cut to fit in the spot.


Circular Saw
Power Drill
Proper Drill Bits and heads
Wire Cutters
Adjustable angle head wrench (monkey wrench)

If you're using a critter cage and replacing the sliding lid, the first step is to close up the gap. I used a piece of wooden trim and you'll have to look around until you find something that works for your tank.

Once you complete filling the gap, or if your using a regular glass tank, you have to cut whatever board your using to the size of the plastic rim on your tank. I used a circular saw, though if you have one, a good table saw would make this much easier.

The next step is to cut the holes in the wood for where lights would sit and where airflow will come from. This is where the jigsaw comes in, though a reciprocating saw would also work here. I cut 3, 10" diameter holes, equally spaced on the board, using a 10" clamp lamp as my template.

Custom Glass Tank Lid

After that was complete I then sealed the board with two coats, before painting. If you were using a stain instead, you would skip the preliminary sealing. I then painted the lid to match the tank rim (Black). I used 3 coats and advise at least 2 coats be used.

After that had completely dried (read the paint can for that info) I then sealed the board again. I used 3 coats and suggest you do at least the same. (Read the sealer instructions for times between coats)
You should now have a painted/stained board the size of your tanks rim, with the number of holes on top you desire. ( I used 3, but it depends on the size of the tank you are using and what you require.)

Glass Tank Lid

I cut circles out of the hardware cloth extending a bit (I'd say at the least 1" out from the 10 " holes cut in the wood lid.)

I then turned the lid upside down, and screwed the hardware cloth down to the board using 16 wood screws and washers for each opening, equally spaced around the hole. This is what holds the hardware cloth to the lid, and keeps any animals from escaping. This design allows light in, and air out.

After I had screwed the screen down to the board I then siliconed around the edges of the hardware cloth. This provided a tiny bit more security while also keeping the animals inside from being able to injure themselves on any possibly sharp edges of screen.

Custom Tank Lid

After the silicone had completely cured I flipped the lid over and placed it on the tank.

To Keep the lid secured I used 6, 3" Double-Hinge Fixed Safety Staple Hasps.

Tank Lid

I drilled holes into the wood, spaced apart, to attach the bigger piece of the hasp to the wood. I then screwed the machine screws and nuts into the lid, with the screw head facing down (The lid won't lay flat if you don't.) I then placed the hinge on, and attached the nuts, tightening them down with the wrench.

I choose to attach two hasps to each side, and two to the back, leaving the front unobstructed, if the tank was any bigger I'd probably have had to attach at least one hasp on the front, but I found the six around the rest to be sufficient.

The second, and smaller part of the hasp I then attached to the glass using a strong two part epoxy. Make sure the hasp can close, I closed the hasps while the epoxy was curing to ensure this.

Glass Tank Lid

After the epoxy has fully cured you're pretty much finished. I'd suggest leaving the lid somewhere warm to sit for a day or two. This can draw extra fumes off, and then you're all set.

To get into the tank you lift the hasps, pick the lid up off the tank, and set it down.


Author: Ryan Buckley
Images - © Ryan Buckley