Aquarium stands are possibly the most overlooked part of the new aquarium setup. When an aquarium fails, it is most often because the support was not made to hold the concentrated weight of the water in the tank. Too many people believe that because a convenient piece of furniture appears strong that it will properly support the weight of the aquarium substrate, decorations, and water, about ten pounds per gallon.
- How to choose a durable aquarium stand?
- Where to locate an aquarium stand?
- How to assemble an aquarium stand?
- Test the aquarium for any leakages
- How to level the aquarium on the stand?
How to choose a durable aquarium stand?
The stand must be made to support the weight of the tank and contents without warping or twisting in any way. It is not about providing a flat surface under the bottom plate, but that the four corners are solid and immovable. The edges are important areas. If there is any warping or twisting the pressure placed on a glass plate will cause a stress crack and catastrophic failure.
Manufacturers do not require a proper stand to validate the warranty simply because they are greedy. They do so to protect the integrity of the aquarium and prevent the possibility of a major tragedy. Standard furniture simply is not manufactured to be solid enough to hold a filled aquarium for its lifetime. Read the warranty on the aquarium, it is a pretty good bet that a manufactured aquarium stand is specified.
Too many people skip the step of keeping their aquarium on a proper stand. It is not enough to simply place the tank on a flat surface, those too often simply warp or expand when water gets in them, it doesn’t take a lot of change to break a back pane. Even the hardest wood will bend when such weight is put to bear without support to keep from moving. For the sake of your home, don’t ignore the need for an aquarium stand whenever you have an aquarium over 5 gallons.
Manufactured aquarium stands are made of a number of materials, solid wood, metal tubing, wrought iron, MDF (Medium Density Fiber). Some are high-grade furniture, but they all have a single thing in common, they are specifically made to hold the weight of the aquarium without any deformation that could place enough pressure on the glass plates to cause them to break. Many may look flimsier than other types of furniture, but the proper support where it is absolutely required makes all the difference.
Another often overlooked factor in aquarium longevity is where the stand and aquarium are placed. Since water is heavy, the weight will exaggerate floor movement. It is always best to locate a tank near a supporting wall if at all possible. This reduces vibration and movement as much as possible when people move around close to the aquarium. Their weight on an unstable floor can cause a lot of disturbance to the aquarium.
Where to locate an aquarium stand?
Aquarium stand location is vital to the safety of the aquarium and its inhabitants over the long run. Be sure you understand where to locate the stand in a proper place.
There are a number of considerations to understand when placing the stand. Since the load will be quite heavy, it is always best to place the aquarium near a supporting wall. This will help to ensure that local foot traffic around the aquarium will not cause floor vibrations and/or movement of the entire system under normal traffic conditions.
Be aware that the wall itself may radiate either heat or cold depending on the outside conditions and the state of the insulation. In these cases, backing it off the wall a few inches may reduce the influence of the wall radiation on the temperature of the tank – without too many problems from floor movement.
It is also important that the location chosen for the aquarium does not allow direct sunlight to enter the aquarium. Sunlight will cause excessive growth of algae and should never be allowed to get into the tank.
If the sun can get into the back of the tank, that is not difficult to block with an aquarium background. If the sun can enter the sides or the front, you will either have to use a background on the side or eliminate the location and find an alternative one.
The ideal location is away from heating or cooling ducts. The aquarium will be using a heater to maintain a level and even temperature over time.
Heating or cooling ducts can play havoc on the setting and can create variations on the temperature that is unhealthy for the fish. By removing any possible influence of ducts, the aquarium will be much better able to maintain the ideal temperature levels over the life of the tank.
How to assemble an aquarium stand?
Most aquarium stands are shipped knocked down and must be assembled. Although they come in a larger variety of styles, colors, and materials, they all seem to require the ultimate end user to build the unit from the knocked down the package.
Because this is such an important piece of equipment, this is not a place where you should ever consider skipping any steps. Carefully follow the Aquarium stand assembly instructions. Make sure the resulting stand is solid, and sturdy with no movement in any direction when force is applied.
Do not use a piece of furniture that was not designed specifically to withstand the stresses and strains that an aquarium full of water, decorations, and gravel will place in a very concentrated and compact footprint.
It is especially dangerous to place an aquarium on any electrical item. Water and electricity do not mix, so when some water is spilled, the least damage that can be expected would be for the unit to be short-circuited. In the worst-case scenario, it is quite conceivable that a fire could be started. Play it safe, use a stand that is made for the aquarium and the weight it offers.
When you are finished building the stand, it should be sturdy and solid. It should not wobble or shake and should sit solidly on its legs. Adjust the legs, if possible, to make sure the aquarium will sit securely on the support and that the entire set is squarely sitting on the floor.
Another useful piece of advice is to ensure the interface between the fish tank and the stand is level before the tank is placed upon it. It is well worth taking the extra few seconds to test using a proper level. Be sure the stand is not warped or otherwise not a perfectly flat and smooth surface for the outside perimeter of the aquarium bottom.
Test the aquarium for any leakages
Test the aquarium to be sure the unit has been correctly manufactured and does not leak right from the start.
Once you are assured the tank is solid, it should be placed on the stand to ensure that it sits correctly and is a solid mating between the aquarium glass and the aquarium stand. Most aquariums are made properly and rarely leak.
However, it never hurts to make a small test before putting the aquarium on the stand.
As an old-timer, when the tank can fit in the bathtub, I put the new unit in there and fill with lukewarm water at least halfway to full and wait for at least an hour to ensure the level remains the same.
To be absolutely sure, I mark the outside with a washable marker at the level that I have filled it to. Assuming the tank is allowed to sit between an hour and twenty-four hours, there will be no appreciable evaporation.
If the water drops from the mark, you know that there has been some water leakage. If this ever happens, it was very wise to test the aquarium before the tank was located in its final position.
Once you have been convinced there is no leak after the test, then the tank needs to be emptied and placed on the previously situated stand.
Once the aquarium is on the stand, the pair should become a single unit. There should be no place for the aquarium to move on the stand. It should match the stand and not move on it at all.
All four corners should be solidly supported. There may be a little settling along the edges as the weight of water forces the tank against the stand supporting edges, but this should be minimal. The important support is at the four corners, not a flat surface underneath the aquarium.
How to level the aquarium on the stand?
Level the aquarium to ensure that the top of the water in the aquarium is not slanted or otherwise off-center when the aquarium has been properly filled.
This is the first time that a level should be used, before the water or any other materials have been added. The tank is as light as it ever will be, so adding shims to under the stand is easiest at this point in the process.
If the aquarium is way out of level, consider moving the entire set-up to another location that offers a level foundation to set the unit up properly.
Check that the dry aquarium is level at the top and along the sides (plumb). You need to ensure that the unit is level in both of these planes to ensure there is no slope from front to back or from side to side.
Use wood or plastic shims under the aquarium stand legs if the angle is slight, or in extreme cases, the slope is too much to shim, move the tank and stand to a place where the floor is not warped or can sag enough to cause problems in the future.
The tank normally has some type of frame where the water is kept slightly above to cut off the top of the water. It should be level when filled to prevent sloping, either laterally from front to back.
If the floor is not level, you will identify it at this point.
If the problem is minimal, you should be able to shim it to true level. If the problem is great, you would probably be best to move the tank to an alternate location with a more level foundation.
Remember this is the stage where you ensure that the framing of the living picture you will create is a picture of perfection. This is the process that ensures the top of the water is entirely behind the frame of the aquarium so it is very important to level the aquarium properly.