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DIY hands-free mirror on the cheap

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#1 raev



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Posted 01 July 2010 - 03:44 PM

I've been using a cosmetic case mirror with my bettas, to give them a little work out, and for photos. Its tough when I'm trying to shoot, and there's no one else around to give me a hand with the mirror. I've seen those floating mirrors that go inside the tank, but I don't want to drop the $10+ dollars on something I know I can make, and I don't like that it would be floating around in there for my guys to bump into.

So I rigged up a small, simple mirror that hangs on the outside of the tank by suction cup. All in all it cost me under $10, and I can make 5 with the supplies I bought. I think it can be done for under $5 easily, I didn't try at all to shop around for cheaper supplies. It's really really simple, in fact I'm sure someone here has done something at least similar, but I thought I'd post my version. The pictures are pretty self-explanatory, but just in case, here's a step-by-step of what I did.

What you need:

1) Small, lightweight mirrors - mine are from Hobby Lobby, came in a 5 pack for $1.99, are larger than a standard cosmetic case mirror

2) Wire - I get mine at Home Depot, it's a spool of steel wire and comes in different gauges. 18 gauge is easy to work with but big enough to support the mirrors. I also used a very thin jewelry wire to make the hanging loop and to tie the wires together, because it's easier to work with. But this isn't necessary - the steel 18 gauge will work also.

3) Small pliars, preferably needlenose - The kind I have has a wire cutter built in. I think most do. If yours don't you will need something to cut the wire.

4) Suction cups - I got these in a 24 pack at Hobby Lobby for $2.99, and they come with a metal hook for hanging. I'm sure you can get individual suction cups elsewhere, maybe you have one laying around from an old/broken thermometer? Any kind of clip rigged to the side of your tank can work. Just don't let metal ends touch the water.

5) Flat surface to work on, and maybe gloves if you're nervous about sharp wire points or broken glass. Also, a ruler might help, though I didn't use one.

This is a very simple, non-messy process, but you do need to be careful about breaking the glass.

First step is to measure the diameter of your mirror, either with a ruler, or just a piece of your wire. Measure out about 1/4 inch extra on either end of the length of wire, and then cut the piece. You will do this twice, and end up with 2 pieces that are about 1/2 inch longer than the diameter of your mirror.

Using your needle nose pliars, bend each end of the wire into a little U shape, taking into account how thick your mirror is. Make the Us a little wider than your mirror is thick, so you can slide the mirror into this little bracket you are making. Once each end is bent, slide the mirror in, and then GENTLY squeeze the Us a bit to tighten the grip on the mirror. Rather than tightening the Us with the mirror in the bracket, you may want to estimate, take the mirror out, make your adjustment, and then slip the mirror back into the bracket.

You will do this last step twice, placing the wires in a t shape across the back of your mirror.

For this next step, I used the jewelry wire. I cut a short length of the wire and used it to secure the two crossed pieces of wire across the back of the mirror, sort of tying a knot around the place where they met.

Then, I laced a second short piece of jewelry wire through one of the Us supporting the mirror, and made a circular loop. Making the jewelry wire into a U shape, I twisted the ends together, then folded them to the side. It doesn't have to be perfect, just so long as it supports the mirror.

All that's left is to stick your suction cup on the OUTSIDE of your tank, and then gently hang the mirror on the hook, facing in toward your betta. Now, you can leave him to his patrolling and flaring, and watch/photograph with ease. Better than TV!

Pics of the finished product:

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Front, showing the little U brackets

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Back, I took this before I wrapped the brackets together with jewelry wire. It would knot around the point where the two wires cross, making them stable.

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The hanging loop. You don't have to include a stray hair like I did ;p

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The suction cup, on the front of Boaz's tank.

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The finished product, hanging on the back of Felix's 2.5gal tank.

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Felix's first reaction. He actually spent a good bit of time flaring at just the suction cup. I could've saved myself some time and money...

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The whole view of the tank. It's pretty unobtrusive, saves space if you don't have shelf room to put a standing mirror next to the tank.

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It helps to put a tshirt on your cat.

Hopefully this description was helpful - please let me know if I need to clarify anything!
  • RandomWiktor, LouisaMaeBrown and Ju Ni like this

#2 LouisaMaeBrown


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Posted 01 July 2010 - 04:21 PM

That's a really cool idea! Good job! :)

#3 kelly528


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Posted 01 July 2010 - 07:42 PM

Good idea! I've never seen something like that before, be it jerry-rigged or commercially available. Thanks for sharing :)

#4 RandomWiktor


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Posted 04 July 2010 - 08:45 AM

Cool beans, thanks for sharing!

#5 Curegirl80


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Posted 04 July 2010 - 08:15 PM

Haha pretty neat! :)

#6 majerah


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Posted 10 July 2010 - 10:59 AM

Well what a great idea!Ive even got the cat to put a shirt on,to make it work better!

#7 khmaikid90



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Posted 30 August 2010 - 10:31 PM

I am going to try this seems like a good idea

#8 RobertTheFish


    Hi, my name's Hal, and I'm a betta addict.

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 04:24 PM

I'm using this. THANKS!

#9 glasshaven



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Posted 25 September 2011 - 07:50 AM

great idea :)

#10 sarahberry


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Posted 26 September 2011 - 08:28 AM

awesome! and I'm glad the cat got involved, too!

Bitsy's flaring mirror is just one of those stick-on rear-view mirrors you get for cars to add extra angles, or diminish blind spots, or whatever people use them for. Here at work, most people use them to keep an eye out for managers and people popping up behind them. :D I pulled off the stick-on part, and tape it to the side of the tank when it's feisty time. :)

#11 VelvetDragon


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Posted 27 September 2011 - 01:16 PM

Even though I don't have a Betta splendens at the moment, I put a tshirt on my cat, and found it helps EVERYTHING work better.

#12 TopRharley



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Posted 01 December 2011 - 12:54 PM

That is way more inventive than what I did. I like your idea far better.

I purchased one of those hanging mirrors for birds. I took the bell off and just use the clip to hang the mirror for 30 mins a day. Only a dollar at Petco.

Bird mirror

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