constructing an aquarium stand

I came up with a plan to construct my 50 gallon freshwater aquarium stand using the 2x4 Basics workbench.

  • The height is 36" high, which is perfect height for the aquarium.  
  • The structure can hold up to 1,000 pounds, which alleviates my concern about holding the weight of the ~590 pound tank (420 lbs water, 50 tank, 80 substrate, 20 misc = 570).  
  • I have the equipment necessary to construct it (a saw and a screwdriver).  I will need Home Depot to cut the plywood / shelves, and the side/front panels.
  • I've built several other pieces of furniture using this same method (front porch bench, back patio chairs and table), so I'm comfortable with how it works.
  • There will be plenty of storage space for the filter and supplies
Photo Showing Structural Support for Location (2nd story bedroom)

Construction Plans
  • Size
    • The tank is 36" L X 15" W X 20" H
    • Build stand for dimensions of 36" x 15"
  • Appearance
    • Stained maple pine siding to use on the sides and front, and leave the back open.
    • Hinged doors on front for access
  • Sound absorbing foam on the back wall (and the sides) internally to absorb pump noise.
  • Use one of the two top shelves to create a top for the tank (27" high at the top) 
  • For center shelf, use 2x4's on all sides, but only 1/2 plywood shelf, to allow for the pump to go on the other side.  Add two 2x4's vertically in the center for added support running from the top to the bottom 2x4's (will need a metal bracket for this)
  • Earthquake strap to wall studs (2 horizontal points)
  • Mount electrical strips inside along the back 2x4's; velcro in place
  • Waterproof shelf liner on all 3 shelves
  • Stain the stand with maple pine polyurethane (3 coats)
  • Center the tank between studs, so that the shelf brackets and earthquake brackets can be screwed into studs [studs are 16" on center, so center the tank on 32", and the shelf brackets at the 32" width point]
  • Running 2x4's on the bottom sides and back for weight distribution off the legs (rather than putting them on-end, which might take too much weight off the legs and make the stand unstable, stack two 2x4's flat, on all four sides, which will provide a cushion if the stand lowers into the floor too far).
Home Depot List
  • Upgraded screws
  • Waterproof shelf liner
  • Maple pine polyurethane
  • 2x4's (9?)
  • Plywood / composite wood .5"-1" for top and 2 shelves
  • Electrical strip (2)
  • Earthquake straps
  • Rubberized floor mat
  • Sound absorbing foam
  • Door panels front (1" tank overlap) (35x19)
  • Wood panels for sides (to overlap bottom of tank by 1") (35x18)
  • Hinges (4)
  • Magnet latch to keep doors closed
  • Door handle (silverish)
  • Metal brackets to prevent aquarium from sliding off sides/front
  • Shelf brackets (15" out from wall) and stud screws
  • 4 metal connecting brackets for the center 2x4's
  1. Cut 2x4's to length (6 of 36" and 6 of 12")
  2. Screw 2x4's into legs per instructions
  3. Add 3 shelves
  4. Add support under the mid-level half-shelf
  5. Sand
  6. Stain 3x
Lessons Learned
  • Some 2x4's are really 1.5 x 3.5
  • Use self-drilling wood screws, they're much easier to screw into wood
  • Making doors is hard
  • If the tank heater makes clicking noises, move the suction cups so they're not touching the heating element part of the heater.
Video Tour


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