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Old 03-21-2010, 07:54 PM   #1
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55 Gallon Tank and Stand Placement Question

I'm checking options of where to place a 55 gallon tank and solid oak stand and was looking for some advice.

I've read that a tank should be placed so that it is against a weight bearing wall, with the floor joists running perpendicular to the tank. Is that correct?

In my home, all the preferred spots for the tank would have the tank sitting parallel with the floor joists, not perpendicular. Will setting up the tank with that orientation to the floor supports damage my home?

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Old 03-22-2010, 08:58 AM   #2
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I haven't heard about the weight-bearing wall before, but the joist orientation is something to consider. It is preferable to orient the tank perpendicular to the joists so the weight is distributed across several joists. Figure your 55g will weigh about 550lb when full. In the grand scheme of things, that's not a lot of weight. I think you'll be fine with the tank parallel to the joists if the house is built reasonably well.

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Old 03-23-2010, 02:16 AM   #3
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I have a 75 gallon up against an outside wall, with joists running parallel to the tank. This was the only place I could put the tank (and originally I had a 90 gallon there). But I live in an older house (1907) and the joists have all been messed with over time...holes drilled for pipes, chunks cut out to allow shelves to be installed, you name it! I wanted extra support, and I wanted it to run perpendicular to the tank, to "tie" two or three joists together. So I found a 3 foot long piece of steel I-beam at a metal scrap place and placed that under the three joists under the tank, and then supported that with a pole jack. It was a heck of a job getting the I-beam held in place against the joists while screwing the pole jack up against it, but it is surely doing a good job! Since then, I have come to the conclusion that I probably only needed a 4x4 wood beam, or maybe something a little larger. But if I decide to upgrade to 120 gallon tank, I am good to go!
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Old 03-23-2010, 11:15 AM   #4
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Glassbird - My home was built in 1938. It's got 2 x 8 joists, 16" apart, and the joist span is 10'. As as in your home, the joists have been drilled (one hole) to run electric. If I did put the tank on the first floor it would be on one edge of the span, not in the middle of it, but I was still thinking of putting a pole jack as you did beneath the tank, too.

I had been considering putting the tank on the second floor. Putting the tank in front of a window gets the joists perpendicular to the tank stand, putting it in the preferred position in the room has near an exterior wall, but parallel to the joists, and obviously no way to use a pole jack below.

The safest route is probably to leave it in the (unfinished) basement. I bought the tank used. It was made in 1998, the silicone is in good shape, (it could have even been resealed, the silicone looks that good). However, I didn't consider when I bought it that tanks have a finite lifespan, so I am starting to have second thoughts about having a 12 year old tank on the upper floors.
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Old 03-26-2010, 04:29 PM   #5
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Just seal the floor and paint fiberglass over EVERYTHING in one room, be sure to put up plywood in the crevices and doorways...

Screw the tank!!!
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Old 03-26-2010, 05:34 PM   #6
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For a 55 you don't have to worry too much, unless your house is in really bad shape (which yours appears not to be). 550 lbs is roughly the equivalent of 3 decent sized guys sitting cozily on a couch...not something you'd normally worry about.

The 'rule' I've always heard is once you get above 90g, that's when you need to pay attention to the structure under the tank. I have a 55g, and I've had it in three houses, first was a concrete floor, second was along an outside wall parallel to the joists, currently it's along an inside wall and I cannot see which way the joists are going underneath (my guess is perpendicular) but i haven't had any problems (nor do I expect any).
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Old 03-27-2010, 07:32 AM   #7
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newfound77951 - Thanks for passing along your findings.

I found an on-line article written by a structural engineer that goes into a lot of detail about this subject. The conclusion of the article squares with what you've experienced. It reads: "
Aquariums up to 55 gallons can be placed almost anywhere without much worry at all. Many tanks larger than 55 gallons and no more than 125 gallons will be okay, if they are placed in a good structural location and your floor framing is free from significant defects."

I'm sure the article has been referenced on these boards before, but if anyone else reading this thread wants to view the article, here is the link http://www.african-cichlid.com/Structure.htm
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Old 04-02-2010, 09:54 AM   #8
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Water weighs 8.35 pounds per gallon so your 55 gal. will weigh 459 pounds, not including the stand. Not too much for the average floor, provided the weight is widely distributed and not concentrated. A good precaution would be to put a wide sheet of 3/4-inch plywood under the stand to distribute the weight. Unless your floor joists are weak or full of dry rot (a possibility) you should not have much of a problem if the weight is distributed.
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Old 04-02-2010, 12:08 PM   #9
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What originally had me concerned is that the aquarium would be oriented parallel to the joists, as shown in drawing (link below).

The oak stand's footprint on the floor is approximately a 52" x 14" rectangle, so the weight would be spread out over that area vs. concentrated at four corners.


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5 gallon, 55 gallon, stand, tan

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