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Standing room only...

Posted 09/17/2011 at 06:36 PM by Spaced Cowboy
Tags build

The old tank & stand was sold, clearing the way for the new tank to be built and made ready before the new tank arrived.

It’s an 8’x 2’ x 40” stand, built using a 2x8 box (red & yellow, below) supported by 2x4’s (purple) dropping to a 2x4 box (blue and orange) that rests on the ground. It follows the recipe laid down by [URL=""]RocketEngineer[/URL]. The green pieces aren't load-bearing, they are only there to screw the purple (load-bearing) supports into, and to help make it square.


My tank builders (Glass Cages) recommend a flat solid top to the stand and to cover that top with polystyrene, even though it’s a glass tank. I know conventional wisdom says you don't put polystyrene under a glass tank, but personally [URL=""]I can't see any reason why not[/URL].

In any event, I’ve skinned mine with plywood on the top. I also put a plywood bottom underneath the orange & blue beams, forming a tray into which I’ll put my sump, pump, and electrical components. The bottom tray thus formed will be segmented to trap any spilt water into the two potentially-wet components; that way, even if the sump does somehow overflow, or a pump-seal leak, the stand base (which will be water-proofed) will take the first hit, rather than the hardwood floors in the living-room, and the electrical section won't be affected. A small detail, to be sure, but worth it, I think.

The raw-materials were ordered from the local lumber-yard, and delivered pronto - an auspicious start; a rather large quantity of wood turned up, and work could begin. In fact, I let the wood dry in the garage for a while (a couple of weeks) before starting on the stand.


The cuts weren’t particularly accurate, as delivered, so I had to do some trimming to get the legs to be all the same length. Fortunately they were `over’ rather than `under’, so I could cut them down to size. I also wasn't that concerned about the specific lengths, I was more concerned they were all equal

Starting work, I first built the top box-frame, that the plywood top will rest on - this is made from 2x8’s to minimise the deflection when an 8’ tank of water is resting on it. It will be supported at all four corners, and in the middle of the span. Technically I could have left the middle support out if I'd used a 2x12 or sistered 2x10's, but the design of stand I had in mind called for a center tower anyway, and it makes it easier to put doors in. The overriding concern is that I could get the sump in/out of the stand once everything was in place. After a bit of maths, it seemed the sump could fit, and I was happy.

Clamps are your best-friend here - clamping in both directions (you can just about see them in the picture) really helps get those corners to be at exactly 90° to each other before screwing the beams together.

The lower box-frame. Once the lower frame was put together, it is time to start attaching the screw-strips. Again, clamps are your friend. This time, we’re ensuring the upright is vertical by clamping hard against the two horizontal directions. Combined with the fact that the wood was now dried (having been sitting there for a couple of weeks), this made my legs come out within a fraction of a millimetre of each other when attached to the screw-strips. You can see how I'm preventing the screw-strips from being load-bearing by putting a wooden block underneath when I was attaching them. The point about them not being load-bearing is that the load is then all born by wooden uprights in compression (which is amazingly strong) rather than screws, which would eventually rip out of the uprights and cause a collapse of the stand.


Once all the screw-strips were in place, the legs were attached simply by screwing them in-place (again with clamps to make sure everything is at 90° to each other). This meant I could place the whole thing on its side, maneuver the top part into place over the legs, and screw them into place. I actually stood the stand upright before screwing the top on, so the weight would be distributed as it will be when the tank is on top. Once that was done, the only thing left to do was attach the plywood top, bottom, and back-brace, resulting in a finished stand...


Well, ok, not quite structurally finished - I ran out of screws while building the tank, so I haven’t put the centre-brace uprights in place yet.

Note that the back-brace doesn’t extend all the way down the back of the stand - there are two reasons for this - first that it makes plumbing the return (which will go over-the-back of the tank) easier to install, and secondly, it lets me still have access to the electrical outlets that are behind where the stand will be. The stand will ultimately be faced with plywood on both left and right as well, which ought to give plenty of support to prevent “racking”. There's not going to be any side-door because the room is only 10'6" wide where the 8' stand will be By the time I've added decoration on the side of the stand, I'll only have about 15" on each side - just enough to squeeze in and look down the tank...

I have also put in a couple of transverse braces - on the top of the stand the brace is in the middle of the long side - no reason not be central, but on the bottom box, it's actually slightly offset - that's because the sump (which will be 75 gallons) is 48" long, and I wanted to allow 50" + the offsets of the interior wood support posts to make sure I had some wiggle-room when placing the sump.

So, the guts of the stand now being there, we're ready for the tank to arrive

As a side-note, no-one ever mentions how heavy these things are when you're building them - an 8-feet long by 2-feet wide 2x8 top-box is heavy and unwieldy to maneuver into position - lifting it up and delicately placing it in the perfect position is hard, at least I found it so. It might have helped if there was someone else there, I suppose...
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