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A DIY Aquarium Light Canopy

by Tim Gautrey

Important note

This article was reprinted with permissions given by the original article’s author. Bear in mind that information here is "as is" and potential references to "will be added in future" (or similar) might not be done by However, we may update the article later.


Here is a very simple and low-cost lighting canopy suitable for any straight fronted tank. It is designed to use common household materials and takes just a couple of hours to make.

Aquarium lighting canopy drawing


Additional information

The top panel should be split roughly 1/3, 2/3 to make the access flap. You may wish to put a reinforcing batten on the inside front edge of the back section to take the screws for the hinges and similar on the back of the front section. This will give a better fixing for the screws and avoid any sharp points showing through.

I haven't mentioned wire/tubing access into the tank. This is simply a matter of cutting a slot in the back panel large enough for the wires/tubes to slide into as the lid slots onto the tank.

Another refinement for the lights is to use a 300 gramme coffee jar. When you fix the light fitting to the back panel, simply fix it through the lid of the jar, then when you have inserted the bulb, screw the jar over the top. It forms a really good waterproof cover for the lighting. There is no reason why a florescent light cannot be fitted instead, but this has been designed with bottom end cost in mind. If you have the lighting unit, just fit that outside the canopy and run the wires through for the tube ends, get some spring clips and screw them onto the back to hold the tube in place and it's done.

I didn't mention the way the wiring should run either. The best way is to drill holes through the back panel and run the wiring externally from fitting to fitting. It is easier to waterproof and much tidier. The switch can be a surface mounted light switch or an inline toggle switch similar to most table lamps. The latter is easier to fit, since it just runs straight from the first light.

If the canopy is very long, you may need to put some corner blocks along the back-to-top panel joint to ensure that it all stays secure. You may also need a reinforcing batten inside the front panel to avoid any warping.

The design is basic and can be adapted, altered and changed to suit almost any tank. It's up to the individual to work out what is best for their own use.

It is also possible to split the lid in half, making two access panels rather than one, but this is where the job gets more complicated, so that's something you can ask about if you want to make it work that way.

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