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Tank Stands; Will it withstand the weight?


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I’m wondering how fish keepers determine if a tank stand will withstand the weight of their tank. Some actual tanks stands amaze me with a thin strip of particle board holding up the sides of a 45 gallon tank but then some furniture that seems very well made says it will hold 120lbs.. I’ve read and listened to several videos where some people have used IKEA furniture, particle board entertainment centers, rack system sections, even glass coffee tables (a friend has had a 40 gallon on a glass coffee table for 4 years & it blows my mind every time I see it).. my husband insists on nothing less sturdy than a solid wood stand reinforced to the 9s with a fully supported top. 
 

I know common sense is probably a huge factor and I think, generally speaking, sturdier is better but I don’t know how practical that is all the time. For example, I’ve seen several “sofa tables” that I’d love in our home to house a tank but how do you know it’s sturdy enough to do so?

 

 

Edited by FreshwaterFacet
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I would try and see if the furniture has a weight limit listed. A gallon of water weighs just over 8 lbs plus the tank itself, substrate, filter, ect. But like you said I think common sense dictates I also believe most furniture is pretty sturdy the more sides it has the sturdier it'll be. I think surface area has alot to do with it spreading the weight out over a surface and not just a single point.

Edited by DannyBWell
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On 7/15/2021 at 12:10 PM, FreshwaterFacet said:

I’ve read and listened to several videos where some people have used IKEA furniture

Been there, done that. With mixed results. I have ~20g plastic box on two IKEA coffee tables (made mostly of cardboard) for about a year now -- no problem so far. On the other hand,  two ~5g glass tanks on IKEA book-shelves-thing (also basically made of cardboard) stood on it for couple of years, then one tank leaked a little, caused the cardboard to swell, and then both tanks leaked catastrophically within two weeks. The fish survived, but the lesson was learned, and these days all glass tanks in my house are on sturdy metal or solid wood stands made for aquariums.

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I've read that the rule is to make the stand be able to take 4 times the weight of your tank filled with water... Just to be sure in case a eartquake or a kid bumping on it.

I always construct my stands with 4x2s. I do not trust at all the compressed wood material commercials stands are made of. They might hold the tank withotu a problem but they don't give me peace of mind.

a 4x2 apparently can hold 1000 pounds vertically, when 8 feet long. Obviously I'm not making an 8' tall stand, so I'm not sure how the capacity if affected when you cut it. But I haven't had any problems, my stands are rock solid, with triple 4x2s at the 4 corners, and doubles on the center of the stand. Pretty sure they can hold several times the weight of the aquarium.

94d806f1e45901c7b4a5865629cf762d.jpg

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On 7/15/2021 at 1:56 AM, HenryC said:

I've read that the rule is to make the stand be able to take 4 times the weight of your tank filled with water... Just to be sure in case a eartquake or a kid bumping on it.

I always construct my stands with 4x2s. I do not trust at all the compressed wood material commercials stands are made of. They might hold the tank withotu a problem but they don't give me peace of mind.

a 4x2 apparently can hold 1000 pounds vertically, when 8 feet long. Obviously I'm not making an 8' tall stand, so I'm not sure how the capacity if affected when you cut it. But I haven't had any problems, my stands are rock solid, with triple 4x2s at the 4 corners, and doubles on the center of the stand. Pretty sure they can hold several times the weight of the aquarium.

94d806f1e45901c7b4a5865629cf762d.jpg

Looks like my stand. They will hold a lot of weight.

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I agree with @Scott P., our stands look just like yours Henry C. When my husband built them, he took it out to the drive way and literally jumped up and down on it.. all 6ft, 220 pounds of him to make sure it had no flex. Haha! 

I like how Scott mentioned to about how much 2x4's can hold considerable weight and then when you add compression of additional boards, that number only increases. I have heard a number similar for him and I totally get his reservations about going for anything less sturdy. 

@Fonske, thank you for your comment on your experience. I think that definitely attests to the reason for going for sturdier pieces of furniture. 

I guess my biggest thing was wanting furniture for tank stands that didn't necessarily look like tank stands.. if that makes sense! 

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On 7/15/2021 at 1:56 AM, HenryC said:

I've read that the rule is to make the stand be able to take 4 times the weight of your tank filled with water... Just to be sure in case a eartquake or a kid bumping on it.

I always construct my stands with 4x2s. I do not trust at all the compressed wood material commercials stands are made of. They might hold the tank withotu a problem but they don't give me peace of mind.

a 4x2 apparently can hold 1000 pounds vertically, when 8 feet long. Obviously I'm not making an 8' tall stand, so I'm not sure how the capacity if affected when you cut it. But I haven't had any problems, my stands are rock solid, with triple 4x2s at the 4 corners, and doubles on the center of the stand. Pretty sure they can hold several times the weight of the aquarium.

94d806f1e45901c7b4a5865629cf762d.jpg

I am a structural engineer, that stand looks to have 16(?) vertical 2x4 members? Wood strength depends on a lot of factors I can't tell from a picture, but...

That being said, compressive strength of a dry pine 2x4, parallel to the grain, for a short column will be in the thousands of pounds. You have 16 of them, so it's definitely going to hold up a fish tank.

You can see, for example, that a structural 4x4 column can hold over 10,000 lb if it is short enough to avoid stability concerns. That should give you an idea of how strong a short 2x4 might be.

image.png.6f18c9ea62839369e2ac1efce13d85ae.png

I suspect the issue with stands is likely flatness, not strength. I am entirely speculating here, but I could see that if the top of a stand were creating significant torsion or other unintended loads on the tank, that could potentially cause seals to fail. But again, I do not design fish tanks, so I really have no idea.

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Thanks @Ozymandias! That is a really good point about flatness. I think that would definitely be a contributing factor to the strength and reliability of a stand. I know typically in the past I have worried more about leveling the stand for purposes of water level. I can absolutely see though how the torsion of a piece impacts the integrity of the piece which also contributes to the stress on the seams/seals of the tank.  

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