How to Drill a Hole in a Glass Aquarium

drilling an aquarium

What’s going on Salt Nation!? Jeff Hesketh here and I recently received an email from an individual named Dylan, who’s looking to get into the hobby and he asked a great question about setting up a saltwater aquarium and alternatives to the need of drill a hole in a glass aquarium.


Hi sorry to bother you, I just a had few questions for you. Right now I have a 90 gallon aquarium with cichlids in it. Now my plan is to keep some cichlids in my 55 gallon and turn my 90 into a salt water tank. The 90 gallon tank is glass so I was wondering if I have other good options besides drilling the tank? I’m nervous to drill a glass tank. Is a 90 gallon tank big enough? I guess I was jist kind of curious to maybe your opinion or your advice on the best and most cost efficient way to turn my 90 gallon tank into a saltwater tank. If you could email me back any pointers it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!!


First of all Dylan thanks for visiting MHR and dropping me and line. I was a cichlid guy for many years before getting into saltwater aquariums and I gotta say I’m so happy I made the move and I’m sure you will be too.

If your interested in leaning more about setting up a saltwater aquarium follow the link where you will find a pile for great articles I’ve written on the subject. On the subject of how to avoid drilling an aquarium for plumbing I’m going to share some ways to do that but I’m also going to share how easy it is to drill aquarium glass as well.

How to Drill a Hole in a Glass Aquarium Video

How to Drill a Hole in a Glass Aquarium

Drilling an aquarium is something that can make new hobbyist nervous. Even if you see it demonstrated, you might not think you can do it, but sure you its easy to do and can be done fairly quickly. The video above is the first time I ever drilled a glass aquarium and It came out very well in my opinion.

When drilling wood, you tend to push the drill and bit down hard is how the hole is made. This isn’t the case with glass. A glass hole drill bit is made of diamond particles fused to the metal scratch their way through and wear through the pane gradually. Using too much pressure to push down on the bit will result in the hole chipping out or worse, ruining the tank by cracking it.

If you have never drilling aquarium glass before, you may want to get some scrap glass at roughly the same thickness as what your tank is in order to practice.

Tools Needed For Drilling a Glass Aquarium

Here’s a quick list of tools you will need to drill a glass aquarium.

  • Drill
  • Diamond Hole Drill Bit
  • Plumbers Putty
  • Water source
  • Aquarium

Alternatives to Drilling Glass Aquarium

When I first got into the hobby I was a little gun shy with the idea of drilling a hole in an aquarium so I would do anything to avoid it. I’ve built elaborate DIY overflows, I’ve used water bridges and pumps to move water, but nothing is as affective or as safe as a drilled in overflow. When I walked into 40 gallons of water on the floor I knew I needed to get past my Fear of drill a hole in a glass aquarium. There is hope, as well as many options available for the drill shy hobbyist.

Reef ready aquarium: Reef ready aquariums are by far the best option for avoiding the need to drill a hole in a glass aquarium. These aquariums come with a built in overflow with no need for modifications to the aquarium. but if you don’t have the money to go out and buy a new aquarium this isn’t going to help you very much.

DIY Overflows: I have made a few overflows in my time and DIY overflows are easy to make and all of the parts will be available at your local hardware store. One of the biggest draw backs to DIY overflows is building them in a way where they are self priming and can cope with power outages. If your handy DIY overflows are a valuable option.

Hang on Overflows: A built in overflow is the most efficient method of draining aquarium water to a filter. If your aquarium does not have built-in overflow, a brand such as CPR Continuous Siphon Overflows/Prefilters are the best means for getting water from an aquarium to a filter system without expensive modifications and climate the need to drill a hole in a glass aquarium to install an overflow.

How to Drill a Hole in a Glass Aquarium conclusion

I hope this article was helpful and you find success with drilling glass aquariums . If you have any questions feel free to send me an email.

I would like to invite you to subscribe to my newsletter, it’s a great way to stay up to date on newly added content to Mad Hatter’s Reef as well as exclusive content that you can not find here on the blog.

I Appreciate You!

I just wanted to wrap things up by saying that I’m here for you. I want you to succeed as you begin with your saltwater aquarium efforts. Feel free to contact me. I will do my best to respond to your emails and answer any questions you my have about getting started with your saltwater aquarium.

Thank you so much for your support and I would love for you to drop me a line on my Facebook Page. I look forward to meeting you.

P.S. If you found this page helpful, please hit the like button below.

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