Build help: Large "all in one" Aquarium Rack? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-01-2013, 05:44 AM Thread Starter
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Question Build help: Large "all in one" Aquarium Rack?

I am not entirely inexperienced with power tools and builds but I am not a structural engineer either. I was hoping some of you good folks could help my DH and I come up with a good build for my office/walk-out basement stand.

Here is my less-than-professional Paint picture:


It's extremely basic because we can't agree on how it should be built to hold the weight. I intend to have 10 gallons or 20 gallons at the top and bottom intended for breeding/propagation and two 75 gallon or 80 custom built tanks as show tanks. I think 24" will be the depth. We have a laundry/utility/bathroom room behind this wall which has plugs/plumbing and the ability to access the tanks somewhat from behind. The floor is concrete as it's basement level.

I wanted to leave room to access the tanks from the front and I left enough room to hang lights for the 75s as I enjoy planted freshwater aquariums. My DH gets the spare 75 and stand for his reef tank if we build this so he's excited to get this going

Anyway, I came up with a few ways to build it and so did he but I think he's over-complicating it and he thinks my way requires too many separate cuts... We both want to use wood to build it. We aren't welders

How would you approach this build?

Thank you for your help and kindness!
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-01-2013, 05:55 AM
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Sweet looking sketch. If you aren't 100% worried about the looks but want a solid sturdy shelf, take a look at my [grow] link in my sig. Cinder blocks and 2x6s (I think) work great!


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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-01-2013, 06:16 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks bitFUUL. I did consider that as an option (nice build by the way ^.^ beautiful plants!) since it would be quick and inexpensive. I actually do want it to look a bit more adult and less basement/dorm lol. I'm tired of the mix-and-not-so-matchy quality I have now. I have about 12 aquariums and we spend a lot of time in our office and I would like our hobby to match our lovely home rather than looking like it belongs in a grow house D: no offense =P I'm actually a little envious of your plant collection! I want some! Just not the cinder block.

I just found another possible build option that would match my home's style if I can figure out who sells it. I found this guy's build and I'm curious if I could order a kit like that to work for me. I am very contemporary/modern/industrial so I love the look he has. Just concerned about the weight load....and of course who on earth I can talk to for a kit lol.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-01-2013, 06:45 AM
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Awesomeness, I'm looking forward to seeing your build. A high majority of the people here are on a budget, so I figured you might like the "scraps from my garage" approach.

Good luck and would love to see it when it's done!


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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-01-2013, 06:50 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bitFUUL View Post
Awesomeness, I'm looking forward to seeing your build. A high majority of the people here are on a budget, so I figured you might like the "scraps from my garage" approach.

Good luck and would love to see it when it's done!
Thanks!!

You are quite right about people on a budget! I'm still on a budget too. But I'm also willing to be patient (and a bit stubborn) about having something I want rather than just having something fast and then staring at it upset that I could have saved for another few months and gotten something awesome. I've done that too much.

Though...now I have to convince the husband to wait too lol........
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-01-2013, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Vira View Post

Though...now I have to convince the husband to wait too lol........
Good luck! And from what I've seen on these forums, it's easier to convince a husband than wife.


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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-01-2013, 11:25 AM
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If you have a utility room withna floor drain, be sure to check for level, since the floor will most likely be slightly sloped.

For the rack itself, you mightnwant to check out tedsfishroom.com - he shows how to put together a very stable basic rack out of imple 2x4's that I'm sure you could trim out to your own taste when time and/or budget allow.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-01-2013, 12:14 PM
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I'm in the same boat except I plan on only 20L tanks (up to 8). I have decided to build mine out of 2x4s and then pretty it up later with some type of wall board and trim.
2x4s are fairly inexpensive. Design it so that it will stand up by itself (without any hardware). Then when you put it together (with hardware of course) you will ensure the wood (not the hardware) is supporting the weight.
If you take a look at some of the larger tank stands available, you may be surprised at the small quantity of wood used. My 125 gallon stand (API stand) made me nervous about filling the tank but it is doing just fine.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-01-2013, 04:59 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustAGuy716 View Post
If you have a utility room withna floor drain, be sure to check for level, since the floor will most likely be slightly sloped.

For the rack itself, you mightnwant to check out tedsfishroom.com - he shows how to put together a very stable basic rack out of imple 2x4's that I'm sure you could trim out to your own taste when time and/or budget allow.
The utility doesn't have a drain unfortunately. The floor is also even, I checked for two reasons before. 1) to see if I could use self leveling concrete to resurface the floor and 2) to put our fish tanks in place! Most of them are all currently sitting where we want to build the stand. Thanks for the link!

Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedTankRookie View Post
I'm in the same boat except I plan on only 20L tanks (up to 8). I have decided to build mine out of 2x4s and then pretty it up later with some type of wall board and trim.
2x4s are fairly inexpensive. Design it so that it will stand up by itself (without any hardware). Then when you put it together (with hardware of course) you will ensure the wood (not the hardware) is supporting the weight.
If you take a look at some of the larger tank stands available, you may be surprised at the small quantity of wood used. My 125 gallon stand (API stand) made me nervous about filling the tank but it is doing just fine.
I like your way of thinking about the support. I do design that way but did not think about it quite like that. And you are right about how the stands are built. We have two custom stand and three store-bought stands and they certainly seem to be very lightly built but they hold a lot of weight.

I am now looking into doing aluminum extrusion but I'm waiting for some companies to call me back on prices and searching for used pieces in the mean-time. I found someone else's thread where a member mentioned finding used 80/20 extrusion pieces.

We changed our layout slightly. Here's a new very very basic pic.
I drew it as an idea of using the aluminum extrusions but I think it could work for 2x4s too. I'm unsure of the front to back span and the 4.5' span at the top and whether it will need more support. It's a 24" depth.

Last edited by Vira; 06-01-2013 at 05:01 PM. Reason: double posted quote
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-01-2013, 06:57 PM
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It seems like 2x4's wouldn't be strong enough to hold that amount of water weight, but Im not sure Im not that familiar with their strength capabilities

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Last edited by ApplestoApples; 06-01-2013 at 07:02 PM. Reason: Re-phrasing question
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-01-2013, 07:21 PM
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You could build it strong enough out of 4x4 and 2x4 to hold all those tanks. 2x4's hold up 2 and 3 story houses, why can't it hold up a few tanks?

I'm sure this design would work for your needs on a larger scale (thanks FishBandit via. DIYFK.com)


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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-02-2013, 04:07 PM
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Build help: Large "all in one" Aquarium Rack?

Thank you I didn't think about that.


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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-02-2013, 06:32 PM
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While that is true, you have to consider that fish tanks are "live" loads, not "dead" ones. This changes support structure requirements considerably. Also, consider the footprint of a house, and the footprint of that rack holding those tanks.

I am not a structural engineer, but I stayed at a holiday in express last night.

Actually I was a firefighter for 14 years and also took more than a few building structure courses/code enforcment seminars.

Remember folks, water weighs 8.3lb/gallon. Thats alot of weight for one rack with such a small footprint, even if the entire footprint is solid. My suggestion if any is to overbuild, if you have any doubt whatsoever...overbuild.


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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-02-2013, 11:56 PM
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Tensegrity(crossbeams)
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-04-2013, 11:09 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks!

Thanks, everyone, for the input!
I have gone to several local stores - fish shops and storage facilities - and inspected what they use to hold their aquariums and stock. I also investigated the deflection for the supporting beams and noticed that some of the stores' racks do have stands which are bending under their load but some do not. The ones that do seem to be because the span is too long for the load. So I think the right span will help avoid that problem. All of them have been there for many years, though, and they are all built of wood 2x4s.

I decided against doing the aluminum extrusions - not because I couldn't find any - but because wood is more readily available. 80/20 actually has a whole website for "garage sale" extrusions where you can buy returned or used extrusions and parts to build your project for discounted prices.

We also decided to do a plywood aquarium build and do three 74 gallon custom aquariums. I will be following a local company's guide as well as a friend's build guide for this part.

Here is a rough sketch of my plan! I have been altering it some so it's not exact but it's close. I may make a journal of it. Right now I need to move the aquariums which are currently in the way!
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