Leveling my 46 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-17-2010, 07:55 PM Thread Starter
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Leveling my 46

Well I filled up my 46 about and eighth of the way with water and realized it was not level. My tank and stand is on carpet in my bedroom. I never really had this problem with a big tank. I used to have a 20 gallon in the same spot where the 46 now is and it was totally not level too. The right side was always much lower but I left it alone because it was only a 20g. Well now with my 46, I want to do this right and this tank is the same way, lower water level on the right. It's obviously that spot in the room since two tanks in a row show the same results with being not level. Well so far I shoved 4 paint stirrers stacked up under the one side and it had gotten better but still about 1/4 inch off. It was worse than that before the paint stirrers so its getting better. Should I continue adding more under there or use something else cheap under the stand on that side? Also my question in when you use shims, does that cause any stress on the center of the stand? Like since now the one side is elevated up a bit, there is a gap between the stand and floor that goes away of course the more you go away from the shims and towards the other side. Hard to explain but hopefully you get what I mean about that part.

Anyway thanks for any help, I can't wait to get this 46 started but I need help knocking out this problem first.


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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-17-2010, 08:28 PM
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Use plenty of shims. Once you have everything level, you can add a few to the middle si it will have something to rest on.

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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-17-2010, 08:59 PM
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Use plenty of shims. Once you have everything level, you can add a few to the middle si it will have something to rest on.
x2...and if the low side gets to where it needs too many shims, I'd be tempted to cut some spacers of plywood or similar.


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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-18-2010, 01:29 AM
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x2...and if the low side gets to where it needs too many shims, I'd be tempted to cut some spacers of plywood or similar.
What has worked best for me is using pieces of wood veneer, stacked up to the right thickness. Then I measure the thickness to see if I have any scraps of plywood that thick. If not, I just glue the layers of veneer together, then add a spot of glue on top and slide it into place.

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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-18-2010, 01:40 AM Thread Starter
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Will wooden shims work just fine? Like are the paint sticks a good idea? I am not good with making cuts so I am clueless on the spacers. I already have five paint sticks stacked up and I think it would take another 1 or 2 to get it level. So should I just bundle the 6 or 7 sticks together and use that? Is it safe? And then since there are a good amount of shims on that side, there is that space where the stand doesn't touch the floor (you know from the shims lifting it up), what is the easiest way to fill that space? Or do you just leave it? The only wood I have on hand is some 2x2's and a reciprocating saw which I suck at using. I am really bad at this stuff so try to be as detailed as possible please. Thanks


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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-18-2010, 02:08 AM
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Furring strips would work as well if you're getting into 1/2"-3/4" range. Anything like old pieces of trim or whatever would even work. Or similar to what Hoppy suggested, just glue your sticks together if you have nothing else.

For the gap left from the shimmed end of the stand going towards the center, just keep using your paint sticks to shim it up. Maybe every 6" or so until you can't fit 1 paint stick under it.


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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-18-2010, 02:16 AM Thread Starter
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Ok so keep putting in shims in the space where the stand doesn't touch the floor every six inches, got that. The stand doesn't have to be completely flat with the floor i take, just every couple inches? Ok, I have spare furring strips (2x2s), should I cut them into 2x2 squares slices, like slice them along the length of the strip, then place those slices I make every six inches? Or do I have to cut the strips so they are long strips? Make squares (like cutting the strip like a stick of butter if I'm confusing you with my rambling) would be easier.

I just didn't know if the stand needs to be touching a hard surface every bit of the way or it could have some space in between smaller shims, you know?

Thanks for the help, hopefully these are my last questions about this shimming stuff.


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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-18-2010, 02:24 AM
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If you're meaning a crosscut, as in just sawing thin pieces off the end of a 2x2, I wouldn't go that route as the cut pieces are likely to split.
If your only other option is the paint sticks, just stick with those.
Furring strips I was describing are more 1/2"x1 1/2" and meant you could cut long pieces to lay flat.

You can use all the shims you want from the end towards the center. I just suggested 6" as most likely adequate. If you have bookoo paint sticks, put as many as you want in the gaps wherever they will fit evenly.


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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-18-2010, 03:35 PM
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If the problem includes the spongy carpet padding, you may have to fill the tank, check how far out of level it is, drain the tank, add more shims, refill the tank and recheck the level, until it is as good as you want it to be. I can recall doing that once. I would be tempted to cut a piece of 3/4 plywood the size of the bottom of the stand, and put that under the stand to spread the load on the carpet, so it doesn't crush so much. Then shim between that plywood piece and the stand to level it.

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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-18-2010, 04:22 PM
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First, it is critical to get the tank level. If you don't, there will be a lot of stress on the silicone sealer, and long term, the tank will leak.

Since you have a lot of shimming to do, and they seem to be rather thick, I recommend that you got to Home Depot or Lowes and get a bundle of shims. They are about the size of paint stirrer sticks, but they are tapered, with one end being about 1/4" and the other being as thin as possible. They are very inexpensive.

You install this type of shim in pairs one over the other in opposite directions, you can them tap them with a hammer to make the place you want to shim thicker. This lets you make variable thickness shims all around the base of the tank, from almost nothing to almost 1/2" thick. If you need more you can put a scrap of plywood or similar material under the shims.

You will have the ends of the shims sticking out from the base of the tank. Once you get them all correct, you can easily trim them off with a utility knife.

Happy shimming.
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-18-2010, 06:04 PM
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First, it is critical to get the tank level. If you don't, there will be a lot of stress on the silicone sealer, and long term, the tank will leak.
I'm really sorry, but this is simply not true. A tank on an angle has no significant pressure on the side with High water. In fact the higher the angle the LOWER the pressure becomes. If for example you were to fill a tank to the top (which would equal max pressure that could ever be in the tank) and could then increase the angle the pressure on the low side would slowly drop as less and less water remained in the tank as it poured over the side.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-18-2010, 06:18 PM
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I would be tempted to cut a piece of 3/4 plywood the size of the bottom of the stand, and put that under the stand to spread the load on the carpet, so it doesn't crush so much. Then shim between that plywood piece and the stand to level it.
That is exactly what I did with my 75 and it worked very nicely. 'Cept my shims went under the plywood.

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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-18-2010, 06:19 PM
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I'm really sorry, but this is simply not true. A tank on an angle has no significant pressure on the side with High water. In fact the higher the angle the LOWER the pressure becomes. If for example you were to fill a tank to the top (which would equal max pressure that could ever be in the tank) and could then increase the angle the pressure on the low side would slowly drop as less and less water remained in the tank as it poured over the side.
Unsubstantiated facts, and "examples" don't prove something wrong. Provide some solid evidence to back up your assumption. I'm sure that the majority of the people in aquaria subscribe to the "make sure your tank is level" rule.


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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-18-2010, 06:29 PM
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I'm really sorry, but this is simply not true. A tank on an angle has no significant pressure on the side with High water. In fact the higher the angle the LOWER the pressure becomes. If for example you were to fill a tank to the top (which would equal max pressure that could ever be in the tank) and could then increase the angle the pressure on the low side would slowly drop as less and less water remained in the tank as it poured over the side.

Absolutely true - in the absence of gravity....
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-18-2010, 10:04 PM
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Unsubstantiated facts, and "examples" don't prove something wrong. Provide some solid evidence to back up your assumption. I'm sure that the majority of the people in aquaria subscribe to the "make sure your tank is level" rule.

Ok, here you go.

The statement is simply is not true according to the laws of physics. An out-of-level tank is insignificant to damage, crack, and or blow out. If such damage were to occur, it is because of another unrelated reason, a crack or a scratch, or the tank itself is supported unevenly, or some other reason.

The main force is gravity, a force straight down. Put your hand under the tank and start to fill it up; you will feel that force.

At any given level inside the tank, the water pressure is equal to anywhere else in the tank at that level, regardless of the tanks' level. The orientation of the container is not a factor and has no effect. We have no control over balancing water pressure, physics does, and it does it constantly and consistently. The greatest pressure is at the greatest depth, which happens to be one the strongest areas, a corner.

The water pressure is directly affected by atmospheric pressure which is reduced by altitude. At sea level a column of air weighs 14.7 pounds per square inch (14.7 psi / 101.325 kPa) or one atmosphere. A diver at 34 feet (10.3m) experiences a cumulative force of 29.4 psi or two atmospheres, one of air pressure at 14.7 psi, and another of water pressure at 14.7 psi.

Atmospheric pressure exists everywhere including in aquariums, plus the pressure of the water. Roughly that is the other atmosphere experienced by the diver at 34 feet, or 14.7 psi / 34 feet = .43 psi per foot of depth. If your tank is 2 feet deep, the pressure of the water is (.43 psi x 2 feet = .86 psi); less than 1 psi. One pound per square inch (1 psi) is a very slight push of your finger and much less than we apply to the glass when are scouring a bad case of algae. As a comparison, with not great effort I just pushed 20 pounds on the bathroom scale with my index finger, which is not a full square inch; so the psi maybe is 30 psi.

In a tank, in order to have a transfer of weight from downwards to the side, the side would have to be tipped, tilted or rotated downward, (orientation of the container) having gravity (weight) (not pressure) act on it. Before that force became significant, the water would overflow (removing weight from the equation) or the tank would tip over, also removing the weight.


Meaning, the pressure against the side of an aquarium on an angle could never be greater then when it is level and completely full to the top. When on an angle (although not esthetically pleasing) with the water right to the top edge of the low side the presser on that side would be less then the same tank completely level and full of water to the top.

Having a level tank is based purely on the esthetic look and not from any danger of the tank being damaged in any way. The only danger that could result would be if the tank passed 45 degrees as this would cause it to tip over!

The idea that a tank on an angle has more presser on the low side then the tank is built for is a very old myth.

Sorry, nothing personal, but your statement does not hold water.
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