Building a Giant Fish Tank: Step-By-Step Guide

A desktop computer monitor sitting on top of a table

There are different processes involved in fish tank manufacturing, but they all follow a basic tenet. There are two parts: creating a fish tank and filling it with water.

The first part is relatively simple–most fish tanks are made from acrylic or glass that is molded into shape. The process for each type of material may be different, however. In general, the manufacturer pours liquid plastic resin into a mold where it hardens at room temperature to form the fish tank walls.


A vase of flowers on a table

Acrylic fish tanks have been gaining popularity over recent years because they don’t require additional support structures and offer fish keepers an affordable fish tank solution. Acrylic fish tanks are made from sheets of acrylic plastic that are heated, pulled over a mold, and allowed to cool. The process is repeated until the fish tank reaches the appropriate thickness.


Glass fish tanks offer fish keepers a transparent fish tank option at relatively reasonable costs, but glass fish tanks will require additional support structures under the fish tank walls to ensure stability. After it has been formed into sheet form, the manufacturer pulls it over a series of molds meant to create different parts of the fish tank (sides, back panel) before cooling and attaching joints between each panel for added sturdiness. Additional structural support may also be added near this time as well.

One disadvantage with fish tanks made from glass is that fish tank joints are visible, which can be unsightly. Acrylic fish tanks have a cleaner appearance because fish tank joints aren’t visible.

The second part of fish tank manufacturing requires the fish keepers to fill it with water and ensure it’s cleaned periodically. Because fish tanks require such precise measurements for size and material, most manufacturers won’t sell fish tanks to customers until they’ve been filled with water so as not to risk breakage before use. However, stores may use air pumps and other devices to ensure fish tanks don’t crack or break during transport home.

Fish Tank Maintenance: The Fish Tank Cycle  

An aquarium isn’t just a bowl of water–it should contain all the necessary fish tank equipment necessary to ensure fish are kept healthy. The fish tank cycle is made up of five stages: fish-eating fish, pooping fish, dying and decaying fish, eating pooping fish, and eating dead fish.

The first stage starts when the fish keeper purchases his or her new saltwater aquarium or freshwater aquarium. Fish should be added slowly over several weeks (or months) to allow ammonia levels to rise in each new addition’s fish tank. During this process, bacteria will begin growing on surfaces like gravel and rocks where they’ll feed off the ammonia until it dissipates completely. Once this happens, nitrites will form in place of ammonia; once again, bacteria will grow until nitrite levels are no longer present. Lastly, fish waste will accumulate until algae can break down nitrates, which should be completely gone at this point.

The fish tank should cycle within two weeks in a saltwater fish tank or around four to six weeks in a freshwater fish tank. Once it’s cycled, fish keepers should maintain their fish tanks regularly by vacuuming the gravel and cleaning filters while testing water chemistry periodically to ensure all levels are stable.

Subscribe to our monthly Newsletter
Subscribe to our monthly Newsletter