Light Friendly Clear Mesh Screen Cover for Open Top Tanks-Standard/Rimless-w/Pictures

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Articles and How To's' started by acroholic, Oct 18, 2009.

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  1. acroholic

    acroholic Plankton

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    Hi everyone,

    The following is a step by set how-to for making a mesh lid for those of us with open top tanks. I have always liked open top tanks with hanging lights for ease of maintenance and heat dissipation, but of course, the downside is that certain species of fish, wrasses and gobies come to mind, can jump out of the tank because they don't have the safety a canopy provides.

    I own a standard AGA 210 gallon (72” x 24” x 24”) with top trim, and a custom 100 gallon rimless (30” x 30” x 24”). I have several Hawaiian Flame Wrasses in my 210 gallon, and a wrasse and 12 scissor tail gobies in my 100 gallon, and the reason I made my screen cover was for them. I lost a couple scissor tails to carpet surfing

    These clear mesh tops will work for tanks with top trim and tanks that are rimless. I have a set of instructions for placement on rimless tanks as well, located towards the end of this DIY. I know that a mesh top somewhat defeats the aesthetic purpose of a rimless tank, but whether you place one on your tank depends on what fish you have and how likely they are to jump.

    So here is how to do it:

    Step 1. Pictures of my 210 and 100 gallon tanks. You can see the carpet surfing potential there.
    <IMG style="WIDTH: 400px; ; WIDTH: expression(this.width > 400 ? 400 : true)" onmouseover="if(this.width >= 400) {this.style.cursor='pointer';}" onclick="if(this.width >= 400) window.open('http://www.discusdave.com/images/reef1.jpg','Image','toolbar=no, directories=no, status=no, menubar=no, scrollbars=no, resizable=yes');" border=0 src="http://www.discusdave.com/images/reef1.jpg" onload="if(this.width >= 400) {this.alt='Click here to see the orignal image';}">
    <IMG style="WIDTH: 400px; ; WIDTH: expression(this.width > 400 ? 400 : true)" onmouseover="if(this.width >= 400) {this.style.cursor='pointer';}" onclick="if(this.width >= 400) window.open('http://www.discusdave.com/images/reef25.JPG','Image','toolbar=no, directories=no, status=no, menubar=no, scrollbars=no, resizable=yes');" border=0 src="http://www.discusdave.com/images/reef25.JPG" onload="if(this.width >= 400) {this.alt='Click here to see the orignal image';}">

    Step 2. Gather your materials. For anyone that has installed or replaced screening this is a no-brainer. You can source everything at Lowes Home Depot, or any local hardware store You need the appropriate length of 5/16" screen frame, plastic screen corners, plastic screen corner pieces, .140" screening spline, and spline installation tool. Total materials cost to do my 210, except the clear mesh netting, was about $15

    <IMG style="WIDTH: 400px; ; WIDTH: expression(this.width > 400 ? 400 : true)" onmouseover="if(this.width >= 400) {this.style.cursor='pointer';}" onclick="if(this.width >= 400) window.open('http://www.discusdave.com/images/reef3.JPG','Image','toolbar=no, directories=no, status=no, menubar=no, scrollbars=no, resizable=yes');" border=0 src="http://www.discusdave.com/images/reef3.JPG" onload="if(this.width >= 400) {this.alt='Click here to see the orignal image';}">

    You also need to decide what type of netting you will use. I have found that the best type, considering the factors of light blocking and opening size, is a clear ¼” square opening, polypropylene mesh. This is the best choice because it allows light penetration, but the opening is small enough to keep small fish like gobies and small wrasses, in the tank if they jump, and since it is 100% polypropylene, it is reef safe. I had to buy a large roll of the stuff, as it is very hard to find in small quantities.

    <IMG style="WIDTH: 400px; ; WIDTH: expression(this.width > 400 ? 400 : true)" onmouseover="if(this.width >= 400) {this.style.cursor='pointer';}" onclick="if(this.width >= 400) window.open('http://www.discusdave.com/images/reef4.jpg','Image','toolbar=no, directories=no, status=no, menubar=no, scrollbars=no, resizable=yes');" border=0 src="http://www.discusdave.com/images/reef4.jpg" onload="if(this.width >= 400) {this.alt='Click here to see the orignal image';}">

    Step 3. These are the 4 sections of screen channel I cut for each of the openings I made a cover for, and the plastic corner pieces.

    <IMG style="WIDTH: 400px; ; WIDTH: expression(this.width > 400 ? 400 : true)" onmouseover="if(this.width >= 400) {this.style.cursor='pointer';}" onclick="if(this.width >= 400) window.open('http://www.discusdave.com/images/reef5.jpg','Image','toolbar=no, directories=no, status=no, menubar=no, scrollbars=no, resizable=yes');" border=0 src="http://www.discusdave.com/images/reef5.jpg" onload="if(this.width >= 400) {this.alt='Click here to see the orignal image';}">

    Use the instructions on the plastic corner pieces for proper measurements. I used a hacksaw and a miter box. The pieces are simple butt end cuts. The plastic corner pieces are really handy. I determined total length of the inside lip of each section of the 210, then subtracted 1/8" so each cover would go on and off easily.

    Step 4. The corner plastic pieces slide into the channel frame. Nearly idiot proof, as they only go in one way.

    <IMG style="WIDTH: 400px; ; WIDTH: expression(this.width > 400 ? 400 : true)" onmouseover="if(this.width >= 400) {this.style.cursor='pointer';}" onclick="if(this.width >= 400) window.open('http://www.discusdave.com/images/reef6.JPG','Image','toolbar=no, directories=no, status=no, menubar=no, scrollbars=no, resizable=yes');" border=0 src="http://www.discusdave.com/images/reef6.JPG" onload="if(this.width >= 400) {this.alt='Click here to see the orignal image';}">

    <IMG style="WIDTH: 400px; ; WIDTH: expression(this.width > 400 ? 400 : true)" onmouseover="if(this.width >= 400) {this.style.cursor='pointer';}" onclick="if(this.width >= 400) window.open('http://www.discusdave.com/images/reef7.JPG','Image','toolbar=no, directories=no, status=no, menubar=no, scrollbars=no, resizable=yes');" border=0 src="http://www.discusdave.com/images/reef7.JPG" onload="if(this.width >= 400) {this.alt='Click here to see the orignal image';}">

    <IMG style="WIDTH: 400px; ; WIDTH: expression(this.width > 400 ? 400 : true)" onmouseover="if(this.width >= 400) {this.style.cursor='pointer';}" onclick="if(this.width >= 400) window.open('http://www.discusdave.com/images/reef8.jpg','Image','toolbar=no, directories=no, status=no, menubar=no, scrollbars=no, resizable=yes');" border=0 src="http://www.discusdave.com/images/reef8.jpg" onload="if(this.width >= 400) {this.alt='Click here to see the orignal image';}">
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2009
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  3. Matt Rogers

    Matt Rogers Kingfish Staff Member

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    Great article. I am sure many will find this useful. I like how you framed the screen. Nice tank too! 8)
     
  4. steve wright

    steve wright Super Moderator Staff Member

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    cool article and pictures acroholic

    K + for this

    Steve
     
  5. blumoon reefers

    blumoon reefers Millepora

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    k+. I did this with my open top 75 and it works great!! I just never took pictures. Much cleaner look than egg crate and it doesnt diffuse the light as much.
     
  6. bama

    bama Humpback Whale

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    Holy Cow Man!!! We need to see some tank shots of that 210 gal stat!!! You have some insane growth in there..
     
  7. dixiedog

    dixiedog Coral Banded Shrimp

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    I used the mesh material from a shower-scrunchy thing for mine. Hit it with some black Krylon, and presto. Works pretty good, no visible light blockage.



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  9. omgiv

    omgiv Coral Banded Shrimp

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    Thanks for the great idea and pictures. I have been hating how distracting the egg crate is on my tank and have been looking for an alternative. I might give this a try. Thanks again!!!

    Ivy
     
  10. ducktales

    ducktales Spanish Shawl Nudibranch

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    where do i get these mesh material? i got the ones from home depot and they are very fine and blocks a good amount of light.
     
  11. Telgar

    Telgar Snowflake Eel

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    How much extra screening did you end up with? you wouldn't be interesting in selling a piece big enough to cover a standard 90Gal would ya?
    Also, have you had any problems with the screen frame reacting with the saltwater? or did you manage to find all plastic frames?
     
  12. mikejrice

    mikejrice 3reef Affiliate

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    I couldn't focus on the build of this thread. All I could see was teaser shots of a couple amazing tanks. We need more pictures.