DIY - Plywood / EPMD Pondliner Tank
Custom built plywood tanks work great for housing your turtles if you do not intend to
"show" them. The following is brief "how to" overview of my plywood breeding tanks; the
same general plans were followed for both 90 gallon and 150 gallon tanks. I chose the
internal braces because of the limited space in the turtle room. For anything over 150
gallons I would utilize an external frame to handle the outward pressure of the water.
90 Gallon Tank Materials:
2" Fine Thread Drywall screws
1 gallon Seal Krete Epoxy-Seal
Titebond III wood glue
4' x 8' 3/4" Plywood (2 sheets) - enough for two tanks
2" x 4" x 8' interior stud (2)
45 mil EPDM (10' x 10') - enough for two tanks
1" x 3" x 8' pine board (2) - for top trim
1" x 2" x 4' treated lumber strip - for the tension bar
4" angle bracket (4) - for top trim
DIY Project - Plywood Tank
(1 sheet) 4' x 8' 3/4" exterior grade Plywood
(2) 2" x 4" x 8' stud
End pieces (2): 22.5" wide x 18.0" tall
Side pieces (2):48.0" wide x 18.0" tall
Bottom piece (1): 24.0" wide x 48.0" long
Internal braces are cut from a standard 2" x 4" x 8'
Inside vertical corners (2): 18.0" long pieces
- cut diagonally in half lengthwise for a total of four
Inside base braces:
short side (1): 22.5" long piece - cut diagonally in half
lengthwise for a total of two short braces
long side (1): 48.0" long piece - cut diagonally in half
lengthwise for a total of two long braces
Stand the two End pieces and the two Side pieces up on the Bottom piece just as the tank would look after assembly. Run a
bead of glue down the outer edge of the End piece and then screw together the edge using six 2" fine drywall screws
approximately four inches apart. Quickly repeat for the remaining three corners.
Flip the tank over on its top edge, lift off the bottom and run a bead of glue around the bottom edge. Replace the bottom and
using the 2" fine drywall screws (three inches apart) attach the base to the sides.
After the walls and base have been assembled it is time to install the internal braces.
For this part you will want to do a dry run with all internal braces in place prior to any
gluing or screws.
Measure the inside base lengths and trim the base braces to fit and miter the corners.
Next place the base braces in place and set the vertical braces into each corner (on
top of the base braces). Using a pencil mark the angle where you will need to trim so
that the vertical brace can slide down behind the base braces.
Once all pieces have been laid into place, remove and apply a generous amount of glue
to all surfaces that will be touching. Wipe away any extra glue with a damp rag.
From the outside sink more 2" drywall screws into the corner and base braces from the
sides and bottom approximately four inches apart. Allow the glue to cure for at least
24 hours before moving the tank.
Once the glue has dried it is time to apply the epoxy. I coated the
entire tank (top, bottom, inside, and out) with two coats of epoxy
paint. I waited 24 to 48 hours between coats for drying as it is easier
to see the missed areas or those that were a bit thinner.
Once the epoxy paint has cured you can lay the liner. Work the liner
around until all the wrinkles are out and each of the corners have been
tucked and folded. Once the liner is in place and you have a three to
six inch overhang, anchor the top of the liner with crown staples. Once
the liner is secure you can add a top trim piece.
Don't forget to add a tension strap or bar across the center of the tank to avoid bowing of the
walls and possible structural failure!
DIY - Nesting Box / Estivation Box
The plans below are for the boxes that fit both the 90 and 150 plywood tanks. My
primary goal with a nesting box is to provide both surface area and depth in
addition to ease of checking for eggs. The minimum recommended depth for most
turtles is about 8 inches (20 cm). The picture at right should give you an idea of
the surface area a 30 gallon tote offers. Many turtles will also utilize these boxes as
estivation areas. You can add fake or potted plants, mulch, rotting logs, etc. for
added security; just remember that most of it will end up in the tank or the filter.
Nesting Box Materials:
(1) 30 gallon Sterilite storage tote - for
150 gallon plywood tank
(1) 18 gallon Sterilite storage tote - for
90 gallon plywood tank
(2) 18" x 7.5" slider foundation vents
1" drywall screws
1" x 1/2" scrap wood for interior braces
2" x 4" stud scrap - cut two 6" long
pieces for handle braces
Step 1: Attach the 2" x 4" x 6"
pieces of wood beneath the
handles using two drywall
screws. Set the tote into the
tank to ensure it fits.
Step 2: Attach interior braces
to the tote. Be sure only to drill
screws into braces above the
water line or you will flood the
Step 3: Ramp -Attach the two
foundation vents together using
Step 4: Slide the ramp into
groves and anchor it into interior
braces using two screws on
each side. Be sure to check the
slope of the ramp so it reaches
the water easily. Anchor the
face of the ramp to the bottom
of the opening using three
screws to close the gap
between the nesting box and
Step 5: Place entire nesting box
into tank to make sure it fits
and that the ramp will reach the
Step 6: Fill box with nesting
material; personally I prefer a
1:1 mixture of sand to peat
moss to retain moisture. Not all
species of turtles like nesting in
sand. Research the individual
needs of your species.
Opening: 15" wide x 5.0" tall
Side notches (2): 3/16" wide x 1.0" tall
Interior braces (2) - measure from the
bottom of the tote to the top of the opening
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