03-09-2009, 10:16 PM
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While I am an aquarium newbie, I can help out with this question.
Wood is highly resistant to compression with the grain standing in a veritcal position.
As long as the wood remains standing completely veritcal, the stress on the wood is not nearly substantial enough to compress and/or shatter it. The only time wood becomes frail is when it is trying to support weight with the grain in a horizontal position. So basically grain up and down = strong. Grain side to side = weak.
The only way that the stand will fail is if the wood doesn't remain completely vertical.
Also, on the rotting topic. When I was a kid the house I grew up in had a severe leaking problem in the basement. The bottom half of a main support column rotted out and continued to hold the portion of the house like that until it was replaced about 3 years after it had begun to rot. If you notice it rotting, then you can replace it in a week, two or maybe a month. It would take severe neglegence to allow a wooden stand to degrade to a point where it would break.