considering a large DIY project - need advice! - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-22-2008, 05:10 PM Thread Starter
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considering a large DIY project - need advice!

okay, so I've got a couple of tanks (60g & 33g) set in an (ugly) custom stand coming.

I'm excited about it, but the 60g is a VERY old tank (has been running for at least 15 years, and has been moved at least 3 times not counting the move coming up), so I'm worried it will spring a leak soon, plus, I know I probably won't be happy with it long term.

I'd really like a nice show tank, a planted discus tank actually. I LOVE my 90g, and am really happy with it, however the shape of the 90 (so deep) has draw backs for scaping.

I'm thinking of setting up the above temporarily, and then embarking on building a custom stand for a 110 or 120 long, and making it a feature in the dining room (where the tanks were set to go anyway).

What I'd REALLY love is to build a stand that could hold two large tanks, likely a 110/120 on top and the 60g (mentioned above), along with my little 10g on the bottom.

I figure if I upgrade to a bigger tank, I can then reseal the 60g and rest easy for a few more years.

After much reading, I'm still not sure if my house can support the weight. The room in question is on the 2nd floor. It measures 10' x 11'. The floor joists are 2 x 10 and spaced 14" apart. Subfloor is plywood, I'm guessing 3/4", as the house is 40 years old, and they liked to overdo things back then. The bearing wall consists of 2 2x6 along the top, running over a system of 2x6 columns, spaced 14" apart, and braced midway with 2x6 also. The flooring upstairs is hardwood (oak) - not sure if that has any influence on things.

Here's a pic of the space, to give you an idea what I'm talking about. Please ignore the mess!

a long shot of the room


Before examining how my house is built, I'd hoped to put the tank along that outside wall, where the 10g currently is. However, I now realize that's not wise, since the joists run parallel to the wall. I'll be looking at putting the tanks at the back wall, where the patio doors are (we don't use them except to let in fresh air in the summer). That way, the joists will be perpendicular to the tank and the wall, distributing the load more evenly.

Another option is to place the tank as a divider between the living room and dining room, directly above the bearing wall that runs the length of the house. However, I don't know if that's a great idea. Not sure if that would put too much pressure on the one wall, versus spreading it over the entire floor (theoretically) and all four walls? Also, if I placed the tank there, would it then factor into the load on the living room floor as well as the dining room? The living room is the largest room in the house, and thus has the weakest floor. My son has autism and tends to run in the house a lot, and that's the room where you feel it most. Also, that room has a fair amount of furniture, and is likely to hold the most people at any given time.

Before anyone suggests it, the basement is not an option. My 90g is down there in the den already, and there's nowhere to put another tank setup down there, except the laundry room, and, well, that kind of defeats the purpose of a show tank, lol.

So, it's either fit the dream setup into the space I've picked out, or scrap it.

I am confident that that back wall with the doors would be fine for a 120g on it's own, just not sure if it can handle 180.

thoughts?
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2008, 01:24 AM
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I'd have a contractor or inspector come look at it to be on the safe side. I wouldent want 1,200+ pounds dropping through my floor lol.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2008, 02:43 AM
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A water bed weighs more than what you're thinking about. The weight is spread over a larger area, though. I second the contractor's inspection.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-23-2008, 11:49 PM
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Any three of those locations should be just fine. A house only 40 years old should have been built according to the applicable code (it's the 140 year houses you really need to worry about). As long as you don't put it smack dab in the middle of the room, you should be OK.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-25-2008, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for all the feedback.

I think, for now, I'm going to plan on just a 100-125 show tank, along the back wall. When I get that set up, I'll eventually set up the 60 and 33 in the laundry room and move the 10 down there, and that will be where I keep my QT and breeders.

It's all a bit premature anyway, as I haven't even gotten the 60 & 33 here yet (they're coming from my parents - the 60 comes with a couple geriatric fish). Once I get them here, it'll take a bit of time to get the 60 up to snuff (33 isn't running at the moment), and I won't be ready to upgrade to the 100+ for about six months...
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-25-2008, 05:50 PM
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A contractor? You need an engineer. A contractor is going to walk in and say yea sure, I will put this this and this. He has no idea what you need structurally if at all. Get someone who is actually willing to bank their license on it. For the few hundred bucks it would cost you, you can rest easy.

BTW. No offense to contractors. Nothing would ever get built without them, but when you need a contractor to build somthing, do you hire a engineer? No, you hire a contractor. You need to check something analyzed structurally, you got to an engineer.


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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-05-2008, 02:22 PM
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exterior wall, perpendicular to the joists is your best bet. or interior load bearing wall that has support posts/wall all the way to basement/slab.
middle of house with no load bearing wall below is bad idea. more than likely over time will cause deflection in floor.

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-06-2008, 10:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmccreedy View Post
A contractor? You need an engineer. A contractor is going to walk in and say yea sure, I will put this this and this. He has no idea what you need structurally if at all. Get someone who is actually willing to bank their license on it. For the few hundred bucks it would cost you, you can rest easy.

BTW. No offense to contractors. Nothing would ever get built without them, but when you need a contractor to build somthing, do you hire a engineer? No, you hire a contractor. You need to check something analyzed structurally, you got to an engineer.
I've seen this mentioned before, but nobody has ever explained how one would go about contracting an engineer to do the job. I don't know of any engineers who specialize in calculating the size of an aquarium a floor can handle. Do you just search the yellow pages for a structural engineer? What would one expect to pay?
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-06-2008, 10:11 PM
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Sure they can. I used my guys to do it in my other department and they jumpd to the task. Quite honestly, they weren't that surpised I asked either after I gave them the low down.

Call a local Civil engineering firm and ask if they can asses if the floor you have is strong enough to support your fish tank. I would say a few hundred bucks would suffice for their time. But honestly, isn't it worth it in the long run?? If they give you a song and dance, call someone else.


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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 03:51 AM
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Did you actually call a civil engineer or was this just something your buddies did during their lunch break? A couple hundred bucks seems reasonable for professional services (how much did you pay for your last brake service?) but I have a feeling that getting that kind of rate for guaranteed calculations and liability insurance from a PE is a little optimistic. If you're not getting guaranteed calculations and insurance you might as well ask a contractor. Or use the money instead to buy yourself a few text books.
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-07-2008, 11:39 AM
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I am a PE, just do not specialize in Structural Engineering. So, I just walked down the hall, brought all my stuff to the structural guy and had him crunch the numbers. However, for you, they would probably need to come to the house and survye the conditions. So, when you solicite them, ask them for calculations!

They may "blind you" with alot of disclaimers and such on the final calculations sheets, but if you are very concerned over the quality you receive, please feel free to PM me and we can discuss any of your concerns.

Remember, you are the client. If you don't like the service you get, then say so. This is a structural condition you are tring to have determined...this is no laughing or joking matter. If you take it seriously, they will too! If they don't, then tell them so. You are paying for a professional service. In accordance with their license, they are obligated to provide you that service in a professional manner.


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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-08-2008, 07:30 PM
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Yes, while contractors are not engineers most contractors I have ever met can read. Although most can't tell time cause they always show up late to the job-sites. And if you can read then looking up a table(s) for a given species of wood to determine its load bearing characteristics is not complicated. If your contractor does not own a reference book I'd get another contractor.

IMHO two things to consider here, namely live load and dead load. What ever you decide be sure to design the system so that foot traffic in and around the tank(s) does not transfer to the tank and it inhabitants. If poorly executed every time someone walks by vibrations could bee transfered to the tank startling the inhabitants.

Good luck.
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