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Considerations for Building Aquariums with Acrylic Sheet

Considerations for Building Aquariums with Acrylic Sheet

Building an Aquarium takes planning and thought. Whether you decide to construct using Acrylic Sheet of Glass you  will still need to understand all the forces at play once you fill your tank with water. The information below is provided as a guide  by our sheet manufacturers to help you design your tank. However there are no warranties, either expressed or implied, by Industrial Plastics & Paints in offering this information.


Please click on the attachment below for an Excel spreadsheet which will help determine the proper thickness for an aquarium made of ACRYLITE® GP acrylic sheet.

 Click Here for Excel Worksheet mentioned above.


Manufacturers recommend that all acrylic water vessels, including aquariums, should be constructed with Cell Cast Acrylic Sheet. This requirement exists for two reasons:

  1. CAST Acrylic sheet is more capable of withstanding continuous loads than continuously manufactured or extruded sheet.
  2. CAST Acrylic sheet maintains a high level of mechanical strength after water absorption has reached equilibrium.

Cemented joints must withstand the effects of the continuous hydraulic pressure and the high level of water absorption for many years.

Two-part polymerizable cements are recommended for your construction to meet this requirement.

For proper cementing techniques Click Here.


To determine what thickness acrylic sheet should be used, the calculation below can be used assuming the base is uniformly supported.

  • T - thickness of sheet
  • H - height of tank
  • L - length of tank

Required Thickness T (in)=

  • q = maximum water pressure (lbs/in.2) = (0.0361 lbs water/in3)* H (inches)
  • H = aquarium height (inches)
  • α = maximum permissible stress for ACRYLITE GP in an aquarium (750 psi)

β = coefficient from L/H relationship as follows:

L/H 0.25 0.50 0.75 1.00 1.50 2.00 3.00 4.00
 β 0.037 0.120 0.212 0.321 0.523 0.677 0.866 0.940


Note: For L/H ratios not shown, use the β value for the next higher ratio.


  • L = 36 in.
  • H = 15 in.
  • L/H = 2.4 therefore:
  • β = 0.866 (taken from the chart for L/H = 3.0) q = (0.0361 lbs/in3) x (15 in) = 0.542 lbs/in2 T (in)   = 0.375 inches

If a top is cemented on, the recommended thickness in 0.375 inches. With an open top use a safety factor of 1.5, bringing the recommended thickness to 0.563 inches to be used in this size tank.


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