How to Make Shelves for Hamster Aquariums

Written by steve brachmann
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How to Make Shelves for Hamster Aquariums
Hamster shelves do not have to be large to support your pet. (Remmi image by Sergio Martín Guerrero from

Building your own hamster aquarium not only makes a personal environment for your pet, it gives you a compelling glasswork project. Building a glass shelf or two will make the enclosure a little more interesting for your hamster and give it more space to roam. You'll also create more space to hold hamster toys and other fixtures.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 1/4-inch glass pane
  • Glass cutter
  • T-square or rafter angle square
  • Grindstone
  • Work gloves
  • Small level
  • Masking tape
  • X-Acto knife
  • Silicone aquarium sealant
  • Wood shavings

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  1. 1

    Measure the dimensions of your hamster aquarium if you do not already know them. This will tell you the largest a shelf can be. Design shelves that you'll secure to at least two sides of your hamster aquarium for increased stability. Triangular shelves are a good idea, because they don't take up much room and are easier to install in corners than rectangular shelves.

  2. 2

    Use a glass cutter to cut your 1/4-inch glass pane to the right dimensions. Place a T-square on the glass if you're making a rectangular shelf, or a rafter angle square if you're making a triangular shelf. Line up the square so that you can make a clean, straight cut to the precise dimensions you want. If you're unsure about your calculations, it's better to err toward a smaller shelf than a larger one that won't fit in the aquarium.

  3. 3

    Put on work gloves and break the glass along the cut. Grab the glass on each side of the cut and bend it slowly until the glass breaks. Smooth down any rough edges by working the glass against a grindstone.

  4. 4

    Have an assistant hold a level against the interior wall of the hamster aquarium where you want to install the shelf. Mark off a level line by laying a strip of masking tape across the aquarium along each wall to which the shelf will be secured. Use an X-acto knife to cut a notch into any silicone strips that hold the aquarium's glass sides together so that the glass shelf can square up to the corners.

  5. 5

    Seal the shelf to the aquarium. Apply rubbing alcohol to the glass if your silicone aquarium sealant requires it. Apply a thin bead of sealant to the glass along each 1/4-inch side that will secure to the hamster aquarium walls. Hold the shelf against the side of the hamster aquarium for at least five minutes. Use the masking tape guidelines and notch cuts in the corners to line up the shelf properly.

  6. 6

    Add wood shavings to the shelf to create a comfortable environment for your hamster. Provide equipment that your hamster can use as a ramp to get from the aquarium floor to the shelf. You can find these pieces at most pet stores.

Tips and warnings

  • Add a lip to the shelf if you want it to hold more wood shavings. Cut a piece of glass about 1/4 inch thick to the length of the side that will receive the lip. Apply silicone aquarium sealant to secure the lip to the shelf.
  • If the aquarium's lid is a screen or other mesh material, do not place the shelf so close to the top that your hamster can chew through the material and escape. Alternatively, replace the lid with glass or a similar material that the hamster cannot chew through.

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