There are a lot of fabulous wood stands out there. A few I really like are described here. Most decent stands cost quite a bit of money.

The goals of my stand

I wanted to use the simplest tools to construct the stand. This is in large part because I am not a big DIY person. I make software for a living, not cabinets. I wanted more space than is typically available in this size stand. And, I wanted to save a chunk of money.

So I used some of my 3D rendering skills and did some designs. After a few drafts I came up with this:

The frameStand-Frame

For the frame I used all 4×4 wood. The program I use allows for load simulation and the 2×4 model showed more stress than I would prefer. In addition, I wondered if the cross support beams (the top pieces of wood in the image) would be better resting on top of the longer beams. This is contrary to most designs I’ve seen. To me, this meant force coming from above would be better supported. The downside is there are “gaps” between those beams. I’ll show how I deal with that in a minute.

The SkinStand-Top-Side-Floor

This image adds the back, the left side and the top plywood. The back and left side are 3/4 inch plywood. The back only goes up to the bottom cross beams making matching holes that you see on the front also exist on the back. These holes will allow all the cords and tubes that need to get up and into the tank. The top is actually two 3/4 inch plywood pieces layered together. My general contractor suggested I use this design but add the second piece of plywood on top. In stress tests, this virtually eliminated all stress points from the gaps.

It should be noted that my stress simulations are at least twice the weight that this stand will actually have to support. Unfortunately, the program does not simulate wood. I had to pick a material that is “similar.”

In context with tanksStand-Render-With-Tanks

The image shows the design. The top tank is half inch glass with an internal dimension of 48x24x24 (120 gallons). The tank below is intended to be a sump and has internal dimensions of 48x12x16 (40 gallons). I’m not sure what sump I will pick, but I wanted room for one that I build myself of that size.

In order to fit that size tank and sump, I had to expand the stand slightly in both length and width to fit a sump that could be as wide as 50 inches. In addition, I wanted the option to have a sump that is 18 inches deep. This is why one of my original designs was scrapped.

Earlier designs

When I started this project, I looked at lots of DIY plans and google images. As I mentioned above, I placed my top supports so they rest on the long beams. Very few do this and I am wondering why. Here is one of these plans.Stand-Alternate-Frame

To me, this seems inherently weaker. Those 5 top beams will be supported primarily by the capability of the screws holding them to the front and back beams (or whatever attachment is used). This does provide plenty of lateral support.

All the above plans have the vertical beams touching the ground instead of the lower wood frame. The reason for this is it allowed for greater depth while using 4×4 wood and keeping construction simple. I could also install bins on the doors to hold light weight things like nets, food, towels… etc. I have 3.5 inches before we hit equipment of any type.

Is this thing structurally sound for aquariums?

My contractor says it’s structurally sound to hold that much weight easily. But just holding the weight is not a tank. I assume a tank is more sensitive to surfaces warping. It is intended to hold 120 gallon tank that could easily reach 1500-1600 pounds as well as a 40 gallon sump. Will this work?