Clear Mesh Aquarium Tops

One problem that many people have with keeping reef aquarium fish is that the fish sometimes jump out of the aquarium.  Glass tops can prevent this but get dirty reducing the light into the aquarium.  Egg crate can be used but it blocks light as well.  A good solution is to make a clear mesh top made out of clear mesh plastic netting and aluminum window screen frames. Follow the instructions below in order to make your own clear mesh tops. The clear mesh netting is fairly durable and looks nice.


Materials Required

Aluminum Window Screen Frame-Your local hardware store should carry this.
Clear Mesh Netting-You can order this from me.
Extra Window screen frame corners-Local Hardware Store

Tools Required

Hack saw and miter box
Metal Window Screen Roller
Rubber Mallet (Can help install plastic corners)
Wire Cutters(Useful for cutting plastic corners)

To Begin

The first thing to do once you have the materials is to measure the size of opening of the aquarium and determine if you need any notch outs. I would go with not more than 2 notch outs unless you have no other choice.  The notch outs slightly weaken the assembled frames.  You will then want to begin cutting the aluminum window screen framing.  Remember you need to account in your measurements the plastic screen corners which are typically 3/4”.  I have found that pieces cut less than one inch are difficult to work with.  The plastic corners insert into the framing by 1.25”.  Unless the aluminum framing is longer than 2.5” you will have to cut the plastic corner in order to assemble.  Using a miter box helps keep all the cuts straight.

All the pieces cutout for the clear mesh top for my 30 cube.  The notch outs are for the return lines. Now you are ready to assembly the plastic corners.

 Plastic corners to assemble frame.
It may be necessary to cut the plastic corners for notch areas.
 Inserting the plastic corners can take a good amount of force to do so.  It is easiest to push it together by pressing it against a hard surface.  A rubber mallet can also be used to tap it together.
Here is the completed frame assembly ready for the clear mesh screen netting.
 Remove the rubber splines from aluminum frame.  It is easily removed with a small screw driver.
Cut the clear mesh material so that it covers the aluminum frame and overhangs by 2-3”.
Next insert the splines back into the frame.  This can be done by you hand.  Try and keep the material straight.  I start in one corner and work out from there.  I follow up with the roller to make sure the spline is sitting all the way down.  Do not try and tighten the material too much as you can damage the mesh or wrap the clear mesh top.
Here is the clear mesh top with the mesh installed.  Next cut the excess material off with scissors.  I leave the clear mesh in the notch out areas.  The only thing I do is cut a slit in the mesh.  It is left there to help cover the area between the top and whatever you are notching around.

Here is the completed top.

Here is the completed clear mesh top installed on the aquarium.  It covers the aquarium nicely and provides a nice clean look.