How to Make a Cheap Terrarium

Need a larger home for your reptiles? Here is a way to create a larger terrarium with two inexpensive, ten-gallon tanks, two sheets of acrylic and a bit of hardware. You can create a terrarium for about $70 USD, minus the inside decoration.


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    Start with two 2 ten gallon tanks (20"x12"x10"). These are inexpensive and should cost around $10 at discount stores.
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    Take the front off both tanks. To do this, use a knife to work the top and bottom rims off. Then, cut off the front panel (the 20" side}. Now you are left with only three sides of the glass rectangle.
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    Next take a sharp knife and strip the aquarium sealant that was holding the front in place. Place the knife at an angle away from you and push away from you with the blade to the glass. This will take the sealant off. You will need a tube of aquarium sealant
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    Purchase a piece of acrylic 1/8" thick in a 19.5"x 4.5" rectangle. Most places that sell acrylic can cut it for you at a moderate cost. This is to hold a bit of water at the bottom for humidity. Also you will need 2 18"x9.5" sheets of acrylic.
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    Get 4 hinges 1.5" (two per side for stability), 2 handles (purchased or improvised; try a shell, a marble. etc.), and any lock or latch you like.
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    Ventilate the area well or move outdoors before proceeding with the sealant in the next step.
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    Unite the two tanks and adhere them temporarily with tape on the outside. Use the aquarium sealant to glue the inside and let dry for 24 hours. After it is dry, use the knife to remove excess sealant and create a smooth surface.
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    Place the 19.5"x 4.5" acrylic at the bottom, leaving about a 1" margin from the edge. Glue with aquarium sealant and let dry. Place a hinge 5" from the top and one 5" from the bottom at each side.
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    After another 24 hours have passed, and the bottom is securely in place, glue one of the two acrylic sheets (18"x9.5") to each side (two hinges per sheet). These are the doors.
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    Place the handles on the doors and let everything stand for another 10-12 hours. (This is because since water is going on the bottom the sealant must dry for a full 24 hours.)
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    After it is dry, clean it up with water and paper towels and decorate. Depending on your animals, you might use clay pellets and orchid bark as a substrate. Add plants, rocks, and perches as desired.


  • Use crazy glue to adhere the hinges to the tank and/or sealant for the doors.
  • Use a heating pad for warmth for your lizards, since the heat lamp does not work really well through glass. If you use a heat lamp consider taking off one of the 10" sides also (this would be the top) to allow use of lamp
  • Make sure your reptile can live comfortably in a 20 gallon (75.7 L) space. If not, adjust measurements to fit your needs
  • Be very careful when cutting the glass. It can be very sharp and can crack with too much pressure.


  • Glass can be sharp when tank is taken apart.
  • Use sealant outside to avoid inhaling fumes.
  • Use of knife only by an adult.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 (20"x10"x12") tanks.
  • 1 tube of aquarium sealant.
  • 1 (1/8" strip of acrylic 19.5"x4.5").
  • 4 (1.5" hinges).
  • 2 (Handles).
  • 2 (18"x9.5" sheets of acrylic).
  • 1 (Locking mechanism)

Article Info

Categories: Aquariums