Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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kritas 10-14-2008 02:49 AM

Aquarium stands
Hey guys, me again...

I was wondering, what type of wood is the best for holding aquariums. When I ask this question, I need strength to obviously be a big issue... But also, I need to know what types of wood will NOT puff up when they come in contact with water (freshwater, not many woods can withstand saltwater).

Tyyrlym 10-14-2008 07:20 AM

It's going to depend on the size of the tank you're talking about largely. However I'd advise a trip to the LFS. Take a look at the stands they sell for their larger tanks, 75+ gallons. It's plywood and not even particularly thick plywood.

Personally a stand for a 30 gallon or less tank I have no trouble building it from 1/2" plywood. Seal it well or place a cloth under the tank.

winnydapoo 10-14-2008 06:31 PM

I am building one at the moment. The frame is made of 70mm x 35mm pine, with recessed joints screwed and glued. The shell, base and top surfaces will be made of MDF, either 12mm or 16mm.

If you didn't want a cupboard at the bottom then you could just make the frame with a top on it.

MDF is not friendly with water, but you can either cover it with plastic or seal it using various different paint on sealants that you can pick up at bunnings. the types of stuff I am talking about are used for sealing bathroom gyprock and damp courses in houses.

As long as you have a frame, if your aquarium leaks and weakens the wood platform it is on it won't have much of an affect because the frame is the load bearer. In any case if you have a leak I am guessing a soggy bit of wood is the least of your problems hehe.

kritas 10-14-2008 08:00 PM

The tank is an 80 Gallon, 4 foot*1.5 foot Footprint (sorry winnydapoo, got to speak in american terms since they dont use our metric system).
Pine sounds good winny, but how much will it end up costing me to build a pine stand? That is, if I bought the pine and the materials from bunnings? I want the stand to be about 3 feet(90cm) high.
Also, you said something about MDF? no clue what that stands for. Also, can you reccommend a sealant you brush the pine off with once the stand is finished?
I think I might just end up making it myself... Just got to get into my dad's tools without him realising haha

winnydapoo 10-14-2008 08:40 PM

If you are only making a frame and not a cupboard type stand, you should easily be able to make it for 100 dollars or less. Just ask the guys at bunnings to recommend a sealant for the pine, there are plenty of options. You could just use varnish if you want a high gloss finish on the pine. Make sure you try to get wood with minimal knots and a nice straight grain as it will be structurally stronger, but no need to be too fussy.

if you're going to build one with cupboards below, you'll probably end up doubling that cost because the wood you use for panels is more expensive than the pine you use for the frame. If you have access to a trailer, buy the panelling in big sheets (like 2.4m x 1.2m) and you'll save a bucket load of cash.

MDF is a type of man made fibre board like chipboard, only with a smoother finish and it is heavier. Basically a step up from chipboard but not as tolerant of wet conditions as ply. Ply is more expensive and will have a fairly crap finish relative to the man made boards. Most of the stuff in pet shops here is laminate, whish is just a covered man made fibre board.

At a length of about 1200mm I'd say you'd need a minimum of 3 vertical supports along the front and back of the stand (inclusing the ends), they will bear the brunt of the load. The difference in strength between a cabinet and just a frame is massive, a mate of mine in the building industry reckons a strength increase of up to 40 times can be achieved by adding supporting panel to a frame, but I have no idea how accurate that is so don't quote me :)

Edit: Forgot to mention that standard widths for panelling here are 600, 900 and 1200 mm, so sticking to a height at or below 900mm will save you cost.

kritas 10-15-2008 07:28 AM

I went to bunnings, just before it closed, spent about an hour there, got a lot of bunnings staff questioning me what the hell I was doing haha. Anyway I digress...

I looked around until surely enough, I came across some pine, that was actually called "stuctural pine". It had corrugations running lengthwise, not sure if thats a stuctural feature but anyway... I chose 90mm*35mm, as it was cheap at $2.20 a metre, and for the total lenth of 13 metres I figured it was going to take, it works around to a mere $28.60...

Can you point me in the right direction in which screws and connectors I'll need to put the frame together? I'm sorry if that sounds stupid, but I don't want the frame falling apart and shattering my tank...

You were right about the MDF, it's gonna end up costing me $84... and the sealant $38...

At the end of the day though, altogether, it's costing me under $150 to make, which

I am extremely happy with...
Thanks alot guys

winnydapoo 10-15-2008 04:08 PM

Yeah the MDF is usually the killer. What size sheets were you looking at for that cost?

The structural pine is basically the stuff used to make house frames so it should be plenty strong enough.

For glue I've been using Selley's Liquid Nails (I use the fast grab stuff), you can get that in the paint section. you'll need that regardless of how you do the joins.

Depending on how you intend to do the joints where the horizontals meet the uprights, the type of screw you need would vary. if you aren't planning on doing any chiselled/routed joints at all, you'd need some pretty big bolts designed for taking heavy loads. Assuming your 80 gallons is US gallons, you're looking at just over 300kg of weght when it's full.

If you can take the time and do chisselled or routed joints, you'll probably only need screws because then the structure will bear most of the load, instead of the screws.

Have a think about how you'll do the joins first :) Would be worth looking at one in your lfs to see how it is done as well.

On another note, how tall are you? at a height of 900mm for your stand, your tank will be pretty high up, especially if you are going to build a hood for it as well.

kritas 10-18-2008 05:51 PM

MDF was pretty cheap, buying pine would quadriple my cost quite easily, so im happy with MDF...

Would you be able to draw me a simple diagram on how to cut the joints to fit into each other? I'd probably end up stuffing it up...

I wont be making a hood for the tank, im hanging a light on top...

BTW i'm just under 178cm

kritas 10-18-2008 06:53 PM

Also, to add to my last message...

How would 10mm thick plasterboard hold up? just for the side panels and back... for the front ill just put a curtain there..........
And for the top and bottom ill probably end up using pine sheets for strength...

winnydapoo 10-19-2008 05:45 AM

I would probably advise against using plasterboard for the sides, because it won't handle any moisture at all.

I will try to get a photo of how I joined my frame and post/send it :)

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