Advanced Engineering for Glass Aquariums
Lifetime Aquariums - Safe, Strong, Dependable & Beautiful Glass Aquariums
Superior engineering, materials and fabrication techniques combine to create a custom Lifetime Aquarium with unmatched safety, strength, dependability and cosmetic appeal.
Custom Aquariums - The King of DIY
"Today, we talk to Custom Aquariums. A build to order company that can do as little or as much as you need them too. During my visit to Chicago, this is the company that stood out to me the most and the one I thought most of you would benefit the most from meeting!" — The King of DIY
Whether it is a complete setup you are looking for, or just a few components to complete your DIY setup, we welcome all ideas and input and we can be there to help you complete your setup. At our core, we are basically DIY (do it yourself) hobbyists who started in a small apartment building making our own units one at a time. Now, we are still the same DIY hobbyists, just with a lot more experience and at a bigger scale. We build, stock, and maintain hundreds of aquariums each and every day and understand the needs of not only the high end maintenance accounts, but the average enthusiast trying to build your own custom setup that you can be proud of and call your own.
How Aquariums Are Made
"How an aquarium is made! Today, I give a world exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at how Custom Aquariums builds their fish tanks." — The King of DIY
None of Custom Aquariums' systems are a one size fits all approach. Depending on every unique circumstance, we can build many sizes, shapes, and configurations with our systems to order. When we got done designing, re-designing, testing, and perfecting these systems for our service business, they were simply too good to not share with everyone else, and thus, Custom Aquariums was born as a way to sell our products to other end user customers as well as other service companies outside of our own use. Now, you can have the same high quality, best in class aquarium systems in your own home or office that we use every day in our high end commercial aquarium service business.
Lifetime Aquariums - Cosmetic Appeal
Lifetime Aquariums are engineered to be safe, strong, dependable, and to last a lifetime. A Lifetime Aquarium is designed to be beautiful and keep its cosmetic appeal.
We choose to build all Lifetime Aquariums out of glass so that your aquarium will stay beautiful for a lifetime.
Acrylic will absorb chemicals that can compromise its clarity. Acrylic will also turn yellow as it ages and is very prone to scratching. Acrylic is also flexible, resulting in a bowing out of the panes that cause visual distortion.
Glass does not have these problems and is a lot less expensive than acrylic. So the choice is clear. Clear as glass!
We can build a Lifetime Aquarium with standard clarity glass, or Ultra Clear low iron glass. You can save cost by ordering Ultra Clear glass for the main viewing panels and standard glass for the sides where clarity is not as important.
Every edge of all the glass in a Lifetime Aquarium is precision beveled and polished so that it is perfectly smooth and flat, even the edges you will not see under the aquarium frame. This production step not only makes the aquarium look incredible, but it makes the aquarium stronger by eliminating micro-fractures and providing a consistent surface and joint thickness for the silicone sealant.
The silicone sealant used in a Lifetime Aquarium is five times stronger than the standard clear silicone used by other manufacturers, and will not be discolored by algae or medications over time. The clean, black-framed professional appearance of the aquarium will last a lifetime.
Lifetime Aquariums have stylish black marine-grade anodized aluminum frames that also impart unmatched safety and strength to the aquarium.
The patent-pending frame system has removable braces, which permits large pieces of decoration to be set into the tank before it is filled with water, allowing decoration options that are not possible with molded plastic frames or glued-in glass braces.
This revolutionary frame system permits us to build aquariums of virtually any size.
We can also build beautiful large hexagon and pentagon aquariums that are just as safe, dependable and long-lasting as our rectangular aquariums. And amphibious enclosures that combine the best of aquariums and terrariums.
The cosmetic appeal of a Lifetime Aquarium is just as important as safety, strength, and dependability. When an aquarium lasts a lifetime, it should always look great.
Lifetime Aquariums - Engineering
The Lifetime Aquarium design started as an exercise in solving problems. Serenity Aquarium Services, one of the largest aquarium leasing and maintenance companies in the United States, needed a new aquarium system that would be safe in areas with many people, dependable over weeks between services, and continue to look as good as it did on the day it is installed.
Poorly engineered aquarium filter systems will result in problems that require immediate attention to prevent water damage to property and may pose a risk to people around the aquarium. The challenge presented to us was to engineer a complete aquarium system that eliminated all of those potential problems.
The Custom Aquariums' H2Overflow screen, Siphon Stopper emitter, and Seamless Sump filter system solve all of the operational issues, providing a safe, worry-free filtration system that can operate flawlessly for weeks between services.
The Custom Aquariums engineering team searched the country for the perfect aquarium to pair with the revolutionary filter system, and could not find a manufacturer that could build an aquarium that offers the level of dependability and safety we need. The only way to get the perfect aquarium was to design one ourselves, and the Lifetime Aquarium was born.
Lifetime Aquariums are designed by professional engineers using state-of-the-art 3D computer modeling and rendering techniques. There is no room for guesswork when the goal is a glass box that needs to hold hundreds, even thousands, of gallons of water.
Custom Aquariums has fourteen patents granted or pending on the unique technologies our engineers have developed while inventing the Lifetime Aquarium and filter systems, with even more patent-worthy advancements on the way.
All Lifetime Aquariums are built to order, and each tank’s specifications are reviewed and approved by design engineers before construction can begin. The revolutionary framing system and superior materials make it possible to build a glass aquarium of almost any size and dimension, but there are limits. We will not sell an aquarium that cannot be constructed to be safe and dependable. No exceptions!
An aquarium is only as strong as the glass that it is in it, and quality glass in the correct thickness is essential to ensure the tank will be safe.
Tempered glass may be required, or desired, on some aquariums, and Custom Aquariums can temper any piece of glass after it has been cut, polished and drilled.
Any imperfection in the glass is magnified by the stresses put on it, so precise measurement and cutting are required to ensure that the tank will not have a weak point due to not being perfectly square on every dimension.
Any uneven, unpolished edge has micro-fractures that can grow into cracks and conchoidal fractures. Those slight imperfections compromise the structural integrity of the seal between panes of glass and create a weak point in the tank that may eventually leak or break.
The precise engineering of a Lifetime Aquarium requires that the edges be perfectly smooth and square, so we precision bevel and polish every edge of every pane in a Lifetime Aquarium, even those you cannot see that are hidden under a frame, ensuring a perfectly flat surface that is free of flaws.
The polishing step is essential for the sealing process, ensuring that the silicone has a perfectly flat, clean surface to adhere to.
Precision in measurement, cutting, polishing and sealing is necessary for rimless tanks that will not have the structural support of an upper frame to help contain the fluid pressure pushing against the sides of the aquarium.
The amount of physical stress a joint between two panes of glass can withstand limits the size and shape of a rimless tank. Custom Aquariums' engineers use complicated mathematics to design rimless tanks, taking into consideration all of the factors that strengthen an aquarium.
The result is that Custom Aquariums can build a wider range of rimless sizes and shapes with full confidence that the tank will have the strength and dependability we require.
Larger aquariums need a frame, and the revolutionary, patent-pending framing system on a Lifetime Aquarium is unmatched for strength, dependability, and versatility.
The Lifetime Aquarium frame uses marine-grade anodized aluminum that will not corrode or weaken with age like plastic will.
Some manufacturers do not use a frame at all, choosing instead to use glass glued into the top of the aquarium as the only structural support. These so-calling ‘Euro rim’ braces are only as strong as the silicone seal between the panes of glass and the braces, which is not as strong as it needs to be to ensure that the tank will never leak or fall apart under the pressure of the water in the tank.
Each Lifetime Aquarium frame is precision measured and machined for each tank and held together by hardware that is infinitely stronger than plastic or silicone.
Custom Aquariums manufactures the frame's supporting cross bars with the same precision as the frame. Powerful hardware connects the cross bars to the frame, and that hardware is removable, permitting the installation of large decoration pieces before filling the tank with water.
The Lifetime Aquarium frame system also makes it possible to produce amphibious tanks, which are enclosures with an aquarium on the bottom and vivarium above it. The frame lets Custom Aquariums install sliding doors on the front of an amphibious tank, and glass or perforated aluminum on top, the perfect solution for a display featuring aquatic and arboreal animals.
The engineering that has created Lifetime Aquariums is so advanced that it has enabled us to reinvent hexagon and pentagon aquariums. Most manufacturers have abandoned these beautiful tank shapes in large sizes because their designs failed, resulting in a lot of leaking and broken aquariums.
A Lifetime Aquarium hexagon or pentagon tank is built to be as strong, last as long and to be just as dependable as a rectangular aquarium.
Custom Aquariums bevels and polishes the glass edges in hexagon and pentagon aquariums so that the surfaces between the silicone seals are parallel, flat and very, very strong.
The frame system for a hexagon and pentagon tank has the same materials and hardware as the frame on a rectangular tank, but the top network of supports provides unilateral support across every pressure line in the tank.
Custom Aquariums engineers hexagon and pentagon tanks so well that we can build very large tanks that are just as safe and dependable as any Lifetime Aquarium.
The engineering in a Lifetime Aquarium is so advanced that we are confident in our guarantee that your custom aquarium will last a lifetime.
The best choice for an aquarium with unmatched safety, strength, integrity and cosmetic appeal is a Lifetime Aquarium.
Lifetime Aquariums - Fabrication Techniques
Custom Aquariums' superior engineering and the highest-quality materials set the stage for the safest, strongest and most dependable aquarium available. Superior fabrication techniques that pull them together to make a Lifetime Aquarium.
Your custom aquarium begins when the specifications for your tank are critically reviewed by professional engineers to ensure that the size, shape and material options you want will build an aquarium as safe, strong and dependable as we require all Lifetime Aquariums to be.
The glass for your aquarium is then precision measured and scored by a computer-controlled CNC cutter, which ensures that the aquarium will be perfectly square.
All glass panels pass through an 11-spindle glass polisher that corrects all the imperfections and bevels the cut edges of the glass.
Custom Aquariums polishes all of the edges, even those that are hidden under a frame, because unpolished edges will contain micro-fractures that can jeopardize the integrity of the panel.
We drill all of the filtration holes in a Lifetime Aquarium with an automated machine that eliminates small mistakes that can occur from the hand-drilling of glass. The precision machine drills the hole from both sides of the glass pane, which prevents any cracks or conchoidal fractures around the edge of the hole.
A local company that specializes in tempering thick glass will temper any piece after it has been drilled and polished. Access to custom glass tempering allows Custom Aquariums to provide the tempered option on aquarium panels with holes.
The last step before constructing the aquarium is to thoroughly clean the glass in a six-brush washer that uses deionized reverse osmosis water, leaving a perfectly clean surface for optimal adhesion to the silicone sealant.
From this point until the tank is sealed the glass is never touched by an un-gloved hand, because the oils from human skin can keep the silicone from adhering to the glass as completely as possible.
Custom Aquariums assembles and seals Lifetime Aquariums with a procedure that applies a uniform thickness of 540 psi silicone between the panes of glass. The advanced silicone sealant is five times stronger than the industry standard clear silicone.
The Custom Aquariums system ensures that the bond between the glass panels and the glass and the frames is as strong as it can be. The silicone sealant in a Lifetime Aquarium is just as important to the structural integrity of the aquarium as the glass and frame are.
Custom Aquariums' patent pending anodized aluminum frame system is custom built for each aquarium, ensuring a tight fit and providing the best possible support.
This revolutionary frame technology is precision machined and assembled by hand. We glue the frame to the aquarium with the same advanced silicone sealant which we apply with a generous bead that completely fills any gaps between the glass and frame, eliminating the chance of a leak from under the rim of the aquarium.
Custom Aquariums builds every tank to order with careful attention to detail and superior fabrication techniques. A Lifetime Aquarium is not an off-the-shelf tank that is mass-produced in a production line using the cheapest materials possible. A Lifetime Aquarium is engineered and built to last a lifetime!
Lifetime Aquariums - Materials
Custom Aquariums' secret ingredients to building the safest, strongest and most dependable aquarium are the highest quality materials that go into all of the tanks we build.
The structural integrity of an aquarium is only as strong as the materials it contains. A Lifetime Aquarium is born from superior engineering paired with an unmatched quality of materials.
Custom Aquariums uses high-quality glass with the correct thickness suited to the specific size tank for all Lifetime Aquariums.
Glass has many advantages over acrylic, which scratches easily, will turn yellow over time, absorbs chemicals, is easily damaged during manufacturing and transport, has a higher visual distortion, and costs a LOT more than glass.
The only advantages of acrylic over glass are that is it lighter and can be formed more easily into curved shapes.
The overall weight of an aquarium with water negates any difference in the weight of the material, and the structural integrity of a flat-panel aquarium, especially with the Lifetime Aquarium patent-pending frame system, makes using glass a much safer choice.
Custom Aquariums can build an aquarium with standard clarity or Ultra Clear glass, and you can choose the glass type you want for each side of the tank.
Any glass panel can be tempered, improving its strength and safety. We can even temper the glass after we have drilled all the filtration holes and beveled and polished the edges.
The glass panels are held together by silicone that is five times stronger than the industry standard. This material is more expensive than the thin, clear silicone sealant other manufacturers use, but the cost is negligible compared to the damage caused by a failed seal.
The Lifetime Aquarium patent-pending frame system is a revolutionary advancement in aquarium technology. The frames are marine-grade anodized aluminum; the same material used in structural projects subjected to constant exposure to the ocean.
The anodized aluminum frame is much stronger than a plastic molded frame, and will never rust, chip or corrode. And the frame’s superior engineering and precise manufacturing complete the strongest, most dependable and most versatile aquarium framing system available today.
Silicone sealant adheres to aluminum more strongly than it does to plastic. Combining our extremely strong aluminum frame system with the advanced silicone gives a Lifetime Aquarium an unmatched level of security against the incredible amount of pressure imposed on the seals by water inside a tank.
The quality of the materials going into a Lifetime Aquarium are second to none, and Custom Aquariums will continue to use the best materials available so we can honestly say that a Lifetime Aquarium is the safest, strongest, most dependable, and best-engineered aquarium you can buy.