« back to Do-It-Yourself | Home »
    Building an Aquarium Canopy I.


    FAQ - Read the frequently asked questions about "Canopy and Lighting".

This is a DIY plan how to built the relative cheap canopy with the light system for any tank you want. The wood laths were bought in bauMax. First, I made the frame from the 3.8 x 2 cm laths which were screwed together. The front and back lath dimensions were equal to the lenght of the tank (85 cm + 2 mm for dilatation). Between the front and back laths the side laths were screwed. The side laths dimensions were equal to the deep of the tank plus 2 cm front lath and 2 cm back lath width (41cm + 2cm + 2cm + 2 mm for dilatation) (Pic. 1 and Pic. 2). The best way to get the accurate dimensions is to measure and mark the dimensions directly on the top of the tank because the laths dimensions listed in the store are not correct. The extra 2 mm is added in order the canopy will not fit on the tank too closely. After the tank is filled with water, the glasses are a little bit blowing and there could be a problem when the canopy being fitted or lately removed (as I had that experience with my previous canopy which was done accurately by the tank dimension). The basic framework is now done. I recommend also to glue the frame together with wood glue like Ponal. The canopy will rest on the tank sides using this frame.

Pic. 1 - The framework Pic. 2 - The framework Pic. 3 - The framework with outer laths Pic. 4 - The framework with an outer laths

The next step is to prepare the outer part of the canopy. We need the slim laths about 0.8 – 1 cm. The slimmest the plywood, the better the design. I used the 1 cm lath. The laths should overaly the water level after the canopy will be sitting on the tank so their dimensions must be adapted individually. In my case it is equal to 6 cm, the frame lath height (3.8 cm) + the distance of water level from the upper edge of the tank. The water level is usually determined by the horizontal glass braces glued a few centimeters under the top of the tank. The ends of all outer parts should be cut at a 45° angle to get the aesthetic design (Pic. 3 and Pic. 4). Glue the slim laths on the frame with wood glue with no screws to be decorative. Anyway, the outer laths can be screwed from the inner side of the frame for a better stabilization (Pic. 3). The upper edge of the outer laths should be aligned with the upper edge of the frame. The corners should also be matched perfectly. Fix the glued parts with the carpenter clamp. The body of the canopy is ready and should rest on the tank sides using the inner frame and overlaping the outside of the tank four sides.

Then I drilled the hole through the back side of the canopy (Pic. 5) for a wiring. Think first how many wires you need then drill the appropriate hole. If you propose to use a small in-built fan to decrease the higher temperature during the summer drill also the hole(s) through the back side for a fan connectors. The top of the back lath should be wheeled (about 2 mm, Pic. 6 and Pic. 7), as there should fit the piano hinge which will join the cover board with the body of the canopy.

Pic. 5 - Drilling the hole Pic. 6 - The cut-out for a filter hose Pic. 7 - The cut-out for a filter hose Pic. 8 - The cut-out for a filter hose
If you like to use the external canister filter do small cuts for an intake and output hoses. I recommend to do these cut-outs even you are not using the external filters at the moment. It is much more difficult to cut them in the future. Anyway, the gaps will never obstruct as they are on the canopy back side. The cuts should be done at least about 2 cm from the sides (Pic. 6, Pic. 7 and Pic. 8). Don’t drill the holes for the hoses as the canopy can’t be removed without the disconnecting the filter hoses.
Once the glue is dry, abrase the canopy body with a smooth emery and the canopy is ready to paint. I painted it with the black opaque Balakryl. This paint need not be diluted and is a weatherproof. It can be diluted with water so the brush can be well washed after the work. The paint is not malodorous so you can paint everywhere you want. Paint the canopy thoroughly to prevent the wood from the humidity. My previous canopy was painted with the glossy black paint Alkyton. It is a good paint but stinks and isn’t water dilutable.

When the paint is completely dry you can attach two cover boards. I used the black laminated MDF boards 1.6 cm thick. Their lenght should be the same like the lenght of the canopy. Both boards are the same dimensions (Pic. 9). If you are thinking of the fans you should drill the hole for it through the back cover board (Pic. 10). I used a small Titan CPU fans (5 x 5 cm) with cooler. The cooler can be easily removed from the fan. The fans can be connected to the AC adaptor and both will even run on 6 V. The hole were covered with a plastic grids which also protect the fans (Pic. 11 and Pic. 12).
Pic. 9 - The cover boards Pic. 10 - The holes for a fans Pic. 11 - The plastic grids Pic. 12 - The plastic grid

Now the lid can be completed. The back cover board is attached to the canopy with piano hint embedded to the back wheeled lath (Pic. 13, Pic. 14 and Pic. 15).
Pic. 13 - The canopy with the back cover board Pic. 14 - Canopy - back view Pic. 15 - Canopy - back view

Then the front cover board is attached to the back cover board with the piano hinge. It allows to open only the front half of the lid when feeding the fishes (Pic. 16 and Pic. 17) or the full access to the tank when the whole lid is open (Pic. 18 and Pic. 19). You will never need to remove the canopy even while doing the major changes in the tank. The canopy is ready.

Pic. 16 - The canopy Pic. 17 - The canopy Pic. 18 - The canopy Pic. 18 - The canopy

DISCLAIMER: By building this DIY project you agree not to hold the author responsible for any injury or bodily harm you may cause to yourself or others. Read all safety instructions pertaining to equipment prior to use.

Copyright © 2003 - 2017 Robert Toman




Description of my aquariums, breeding history, photos and everything that happened in each tank during the time.


Tips and tricks for doing a various tools and equipment for fish keeping. Here, you will find an inspiration for your own attempts to simplify the fish keeping.


My own experience with African cichlids breeding. A detailed description of fish keeping and breeding with special things I found during the years of fish keeping.



My own photos anf videos of fish kept in my tanks.

Didn't you find your language? Write me, I will add it here!
Cichlidworld on FacebookCichlidworld on TwitterCichlidworld YouTube
Cichlidworld RSS
Search only Cichlidworld.eu