How to build a canopy for metal halides.

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Articles and How To's' started by 4G1v3N, Nov 9, 2008.

to remove this notice and enjoy 3reef content with less ads. 3reef membership is free.

  1. 4G1v3N

    4G1v3N Spaghetti Worm

    Dec 30, 2006
    San Pedro,CA
    The first step would be to choose your lights if you haven't already, this is important because you want them to sit about 12" off the water surface. You need to find out how tall the lights are, from there you can start to get your measurements. This design is a basic one but allows you to have full access to the to of your tank, and also allows the heat to disperse properly.
    When you are making your measurement's you want to make some sort of a plan to go by. when you are planing this out, you have two option's for your corners. One is butting the wood together, or mitering it (cutting a 45 degree angle in both sides of the wood, giving you a clean corner.) This canopy is 5 pieces total, Front, top, 2 sides, and a back.
    After you figure out your basic layout, you then want to make a material list.

    For this canopy you will need:
    • Wood of choice.(any kind of sanded ply will work)
    • Table saw(skill saw, or hack saw if you got allot of time)
    • Chalk line(if you don't have a table saw)
    • Finish nail gun(hammer works fine too)
    • Finish nails(4d work good)
    • 4 Hinges
    • Gorilla Glue or wood glue.​
    • Drill​
    • Hole saw(I used a four inch)​
    This is a basic list, I also used a nail set, wood putty, and some sandpaper.
    You can also pick paint or stain to fit your color needs.

    When you are measuring out your pieces you want to make sure you have the corners figured out. If you decide to go with butting the corners you should notice that the front is going to be longer than the length of your tank. This is because you want the butt the sides up with the front, that way you have no seems in the front. Here is an example:


    On the front piece you want to add double the thickness of the wood you are using, I also added a 1/4 inch to each side. Example my tank is 72 inches long so my front piece was 74 inches( added 3/4 inch x 2 for thickness of wood, and 1/2 inch for a 1/4 inch overhang on each side.) This will also come into affect on the top piece, because you want to avoid having any seems in sight from the front view of the tank.


    The front and top will be the most difficult to figure out, the sides will the width of your tank and your desired height. I think I made mine a little to high but 12-14 inches high should be good. I made mine 16 inches high and I wish it was a little shorter. As for the back, you can build the front, top, sides, and then measure how long the back needs to be. I chose to leave the back open but have a short piece on the back for support. 6 incheswill be fine for the width.



    Once you have all your pieces cut you will start the assembly!

    On the assembly you want to start with the top piece and one of the side's. I put the top piece on the floor, Then set the side piece in place. MAKE SURE ALL SIDES ARE FLUSH! Once you have that you can run a line of glue along the side and the top piece. Once the glue is on then you want to nail it! Then you can get the front piece in place, again make sure everything is flush, line of glue and nail it. From there you want to do the other side, When you are finished with those you can now measure your back piece. Throw the back on there and your almost done! I also ran a line of glue on the inside seems for extra support. Let the glue cure over night, if you have bar clamps you could throw those on there but not needed. When the glue is cured you can start on the door of the canopy. It helps allot if you have another set of hands to help, but can be done solo.

    Canopy door
    The door can be factored in while making your cuts but I decided to make the canopy first then cut the door after, Either way will work fine. One important part in the door is the length of your lights, you don't want the lights to overhang when the door is open. Example:


    When you get the width of the door make your marks on every side, then with your chalkline make a line from mark to mark. That will be your line to cut on, Then you will have two separate pieces! You can now install the hinges, I used four but depending on the size you could get away with three.
    Now you have a fully functional door! The last step would be to install the feet on the inside. The feet will determine how far down your canopy will sit. I made mine a 1/4 inch below the plastic border. When you get that measurement you can make your marks on the inside of the canopy. The foot doesn't have to be all the way across, it could be as little as 6 inches wide and 1 inch tall. I made mine pretty much all the way across, but realized after it didn't need to be. Now your pretty much done, this is where you would want to use a nail set and some wood putty. make everything clean and add your stain or paint! You can also use a router to make the edges round, add molding, and whatever it takes to match your decor! When you are done with that there is one step left, installing the lights!

    Installing the lights.
    When you install the lights you want to read the manufactures advice for spacing. This will really depend on what type of reflector you choose, for most parabolic reflectors they cover about 24 inches overall or 12 inches on each side.

    That pretty much concludes the canopy, again this is a fairly basic design and is fairly simple with the right tools. Hope this article will save you some money and expand your DIY skills!

    Any questions will gladly be answered, feel free to pm me!