DIY screen lid for aquarium

parski

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Hello!

I'm not sure if this is the right forum but I thought I'd share the DIY lid I made for my aquarium that is going to house my newts in the future. The paludarium will be eastablished in an aquarium, as is common practice I presume, and the lid that came with the aquarium consists of two pieces of glass. This would cause too much condensation to build up on the side panes above water and on top of that I'd have to modify the glass to fit right with my tubing for my canister filter. Not to mention make it escape proof.

I'm sure this is a common issue and since I couldn't find any "window screen kits" in my country I decided to make my own. I thought I'd document the process (roughly) if anyone else finds themselves in my situation.

What I used for this build was the following:
  • 3D printer
  • A piece of wood with the dimensions 21.2 x 8.2 x L where L is at least the circumference of R, the rectangle your lid should cover. I used oak.
  • Wood glue
  • Super glue
  • Mosquito net that will cover R
  • Saw, preferably one that will help you cut at 45 and 90 degree angles
  • Staple gun
  • Scissors
Steps:

1) Make many measurements. My rectangle R is 1440 x 440. My tubing is that of a Fluval 307 canister filter with the supplied hose clamps and I keed them in the far right corner of the aquarium. To make the lid fit snug I will make a special 3D printed corner piece for it.

2) CAD the corners of the lid. Three "normal" corners and one special for the filter hosing. I'm sure you can just glue the wood into one piece but I wanted them super rigid so I wanted the corners clamped in and glued real good.

For the regular corners I made two different corner pieces. First I made these:

1.PNG


They are great for holding the wood in place in right angles when the glue is setting so I printed six, two halves for each corner.

The corners (except the special one) were cut at 45 degree angles like a frame for a painting. Wood glue was applied to the ends and the pieces of wood were affixed in these corner pieces and left to set over night.

In the special corner I made normal 90 degree cuts to fit my special piece. I don't recall how much I sawed off but I made the special piece quite adjustable so there was a large margin of error, it wasn't an exact science. If you want to repeat this build I recommend piecing everything together before applying the adhesive and make more cuts if necessary. The 3D printed pieces make it a breeze to glue everything together at right angles when you're happy with the measurements.

I didn't glue anything into the special piece at first, I only glued the regular corners but I did use the special piece as they were setting so that the lid would retain it's correct shape after the glue had set. Here is the special piece by the way.

2.PNG


It has a top and bottom half to allow the mosquito net to sit on the same level as the wood when everything is assembled. We'll get back to this later but that's why we can't use the glue guide corner pieces in the final build. The left side is the bottom piece.

[Edit]

I just noticed the screenshot is of an older version of the special piece that contains a minor flaw. This flaw was corrected and the updated piece is in the Google Drive link supplied below.


3) Now I had cut to size frame with three corners glued. It was time to paint it black to match my aquarium frame. This step is super optional, the wood looked great as is but we decided to use the spray paint I bought anyway to stick to the plan.

4) Then I stapled the mosquito net to the frame (with the special piece still in place, still not glued, just hanging on for dear life) with as many staples I could where they would not interfere with the corner pieces. This was the most difficult part since I wanted the net to have high tension. Patience is key.

5) Glue the corner pieces in place, clamping the net in the corners. For the regular corners I printed new pieces that were slightly different from the ones I used when the glue was setting. They consisted of a top piece and a bottom piece, just like the special piece above. The bottom piece allows the net to be clamped and glued with the wood inside the corner piece and the top piece just locks it down. It's hard to describe with words but with the pieces in hand it makes a lot more sense.

Here's the bottom piece:

4.PNG


And here's the top piece to clamp it down:

3.PNG


It doesn't structurally keep everything together as well as the pieces I used when gluing but it makes the net sit level across the whole frame with the corner pieces in place.

I used wood glue in the corner pieces where the wood is slotted and on the parts where the halves would touch eachother and/or net I used super glue.

Getting the glue on, the net clamped and the halves snug was quite the challenge but I managed to get it looking pretty good.

Here is the end result:

IMG_1396.jpg


Above the screen is a modded IKEA Floalt light and in the tank a bunch of gross shrimp food I'm using to cycle the aquarium.

IMG_1397.jpg


IMG_1395.jpg


The special corner piece fitting snug with the hosing. Very happy with this.

If you manage to find the same size wood and want to attempt this yourself or just want to look at my 3D models for reference you can download them here:

Aquarium Screen Lid 3D Models

If you have a longer aquarium I recommend adding a piece of wood stretching across the middle because I noticed that when I tightened the net while stapling the long pieces of wood started to arc slightly. This is no issue for me since the gaps are insignificant (as seen in the first photo) but I thought I'd mention it.

Also, if someone wants the original AutoCAD DWG files I'd be happy to provide them if you want to modify them.
 
Last edited:
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