Building aquariums vs Buying them


Original poster
MFK Member
Oct 23, 2018
Just researching the cost differences between each. It seems like building aquariums which under 75 gallons or are over 300 gallons are cheaper than buying them. And, of course, building is much more fun when you have time.

For example, a 120x60x 50cm build costs £250 (cut to size) and has a volume of 350 litres.

What are your guys thougts?
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MFK Moderator
Staff member
Global Moderator
MFK Member
Dec 24, 2005
Looked into before for acrylic large aquariums and it was cheaper just ordering the panels. Would order from my local acrylic/glass shop. The work and quality can’t be replicated and that’ll cost you in the long run if it’s diy. If a catastrophe happens then the money will really add up.


Redtail Catfish
MFK Member
Jul 12, 2017
Fredericksburg va
If youre making a custom size or type tank, you might go with a diy tank. You could probably find a comparable size 350 liter tank new on sale or used in good shape for cheaper than that, but sometimes standard tanks arent able to be modified, drilled, and are only good for certain uses.

Diy is best if you can acquire materials on the cheap and are trying to build something with custom dimensions and configuration. And of course you have to have the capabilities to do the work.

Of course theres also the fun factor. After diying a couple tanks of my own, i don't think I'll ever buy another tank new. Im still learning of course, but its a blast and i look forward to putting together a monster build one day.


Redtail Catfish
MFK Member
Dec 30, 2015
If you are DIY minded, have the skills, can pick up cheap materials and are planning a tank of a size that is cheaper to build than buying an equivalent glass or acrylic tank, then you should go DIY definitely.

I love a bit of DIY. Last year I had a plywood build all mapped out and was really looking forward to the challenge. Anyway, a deal on a fibreglass tank came up and so the plywood tank plans got shelved.

I love my fibreglass tank but part of me regrets that I never went down the plywood route just so I could test myself and have that feeling of accomplishment at the end.

Also, i think part of the DIY deal, especially when you bear in mind the catastrophe that could happen if you don't get it right, you really need to have complete confidence in your own ability.

Either that or the biggest pair of nads ever :naughty:


MFK Member
Mar 29, 2019
Manitoba, Canada
I like the DIY plywood route; built a bunch of them over the years, working on another now. It seems that the smallest size that's worthwhile building is a 4x2x2 foot tank, which works out to about 120 gallons. It's the perfect size to build with one 4x8 sheet of plywood, with almost no waste. I've built smaller ones, but only when I happened to have scraps of plywood, glass, etc. left over from other projects. The biggest I've done is 360 gallons (8x2x3 feet) which takes 3 sheets of plywood. And I've never made one taller than 24 inches, so haven't had to worry about the extreme overkill construction methods that many builders use.

Aside from being cheap...and I am talking about myself and the tanks :)...the thing I like about DIY plywood is the fact that there is virtually no chance of any kind of catastrophic failure. You might get a small leak if you aren't careful, and of course if you actually manage to smash the front glass you are in for a bad day, but by and large there is no concern about a seam releasing and creating an instantaneous flood. I had a 120-gallon commercially-made tank that just let go like that, and it was the last glass tank over 50 gallons that I ever owned. I've had a couple of very slow, minor leaks in home-made plywood tanks since then, but they were easy to find and repair.