Creating a screen top to keep your fish from jumping out of the water can be a real lifesaver, literally. Thankfully, building a DIY screen top at home is super easy to do. You don't need any experience or special skills, just a little motivation and the right parts to get the job done. Avoid these mistakes and you can have a professional-looking screen top in no time without the hassle and expense of a custom build.  

1. Not Having One

There is no better way to keep your fish from carpet surfing than a screen top. Wrasses, Gobies, Filefish, Clownfish, pretty much any fish in your tank that swims using fins has the capability of jumping out. Don't wait before it's too late, build it yourself!  

2. Making One Single Large Screen vs Two

Having two smaller screen tops as opposed to one very large one will allow you to move them around much easier during feeding and maintenance.

3. Not Considering Where Your Lights Are Placed

You don't want the seams or frame of your screen top blocking the light going into your aquarium. Plan ahead and take measurements so you can be sure you're building a screen top that won't get in the way of your lighting! 

4. Not Using The Neat Aquatics Feeding Portal

Gone are the days of having to remove your entire screen top to feed your fish. With this Neat Aquatics feeding portal, you can create a porthole to easily feed your fish through the screen. 

5. Not Using Red Sea Cutouts

These Red Sea cutouts are a great way to help customize your top and avoid specific obstacles that may be unique to your aquarium such as cords, hang-on filtration, and auto-feeders. 

6. Not Using Neat Aquatics Rimless Corners

These brackets have a small overhang that allows them to sit directly on the corners of a rimless aquarium so the screen will sit flush inside the rim and not on top.  

7. Not Using Red Sea Rimless Tabs

These are similar to the previously mentioned Neat Aquatics corners but, these are not required to be used only in the corners. These tabs can keep your top suspended from anywhere you position them.

8. Overlooking Black Netting

If your picky about the way your equipment looks, the black-colored netting just might be the right choice for you. It tends to look a bit nicer and your lighting won’t cause the black screen material to glow like it often does with the clear/white netting.

9. Not Considering ¼” or ?”

¼” netting is small enough for 99% of the fish we keep in our tanks but if your the 1% keeping something super tiny, 1/8" netting is available and works just the same. 

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10. Not Considering When To Set On Top vs Rimless Corners

Set on top edges works very well for aquariums with either a hood or euro bracing. They provide an excellent alternative for those who don’t need the top to sit completely flush inside of their tank.

11. Not Using A Heat Gun

Using a heat gun or blow dryer will allow you to remove creases and stretch marks in your netting when building your top.

12. Not Sitting On The Net When Making A Big One

Using your body to hold the netting in place while pushing out to create tension will allow you to roll the spline in with your other hand. This will work much better than trying to get multiple people to hold a side of the netting.

13. Pushing Too Hard With Roller And Cutting Net

Be sure not to push down too hard with the spline roller as doing so can cut the net and you will then need to go and cut a new piece.

14. Not Considering Red Sea’s Frame Being Stronger

Red Sea’s frame is stronger and more heavy-duty than your standard window framing. The stronger frames won’t tend to bow as much which is something you will appreciate when making a large screened top.

15. Accidentally Leaving The Net Off For A Day

When you least expect your fish to jump, they will. Your top should only be removed when doing maintenance and then it should be placed right back on. This means that designing your top to be easily removable is very important.

16. Buying The Frame From Us vs The Hardware Store

You can save yourself money and time by purchasing window framing from your local hardware store. If you still like the convenience of it being shipped to your door then, we are still happy to offer it for you.

17. Not Using A Miter Box With Saw To Cut Frame

A Miter Box will help you cut the framing accurately and straight which is critical for making those 45° cuts and creating true 90° angle corners. 

18. Not Using A Sharp Razor To Cut Edges

A sharp razor will make the project a lot easier as you will want to remove the excess netting in one swipe on each side.

19. Pulling The Screen Net Top Too Tight

Pulling the screen netting too tight will cause your frame to bend and the top will not sit flush. The spline can also pop out if it is put under too much tension.

20. Thinking It Blocks Light

Screen tops block less than 2% of your light which will not have any effect on the performance of your light fixture. Check out this BRStv Investigates video if you don't believe us!