The beauty of fish keeping comes in all different shapes and sizes, but this also means the cost of equipment can vary widely. And when working on a shoestring budget, some of the items can seem not too necessary.
People’s preferences differ as well.
So, the million-dollar question is “Do you need a fish tank stand!"…
And if so, “Can a TV stand hold a fish tank?".
Well, depending on the size and weight of your fish tank, you might not need to buy a new piece of furniture in the name of a fish tank stand. Small aquariums that are less than 20 gallons can sit on an existing low-priced cabinet that’s strong enough to support the weight.
A sturdy TV stand will also hold your small fish tank, but most designs are not stable enough for aquariums larger than 10-gallons, because while its true TV stands have more style to choose from, tanks weight much more than TVs.
If you really must place your fish tank on a TV stand, I suggest you get a solid, one-piece stand made of hardwood like oak, and make sure you adjust the weight of your tank accordingly.
A softwood stand will most likely give in under pressure, while a two-piece unit will result in a ‘disaster’ if any of the joined pieces or spots bend.
If you get a solid oak TV stand or iron, steel, and any other sturdy metal, you might be able to put up to a 55-gallon on there. But if you can’t, then you will have to resort back to traditional fish tank stands.
Do You Need A Fish Tank Stand For A 10-Gallon?
I’ve already mentioned it easier to use other alternatives to hold smaller fish tanks in your home, so a new stand is not always necessary for a 10-gallon fish tank.
Your aquarium will be ok in any solid-stand or furniture that has the appropriate measurement and can handle the weight of the 10-gallon. Just make sure the base has four legs and is in a condition good enough to hold the tank level.
On average, a 10-gallon fish tank weight anywhere from 82 to 110 pounds depending on what you place in it, so make sure whatever piece of furniture you choose to put your aquarium on can handle that much weight.
In my experience, a sturdy TV stand, dresser, bookshelf, and cabinet in good condition can hold a small tank like a 10-gallon.
Please note that water will gradually reduce the integrity of your stand or base and it’s, therefore, advisable to stay ahead of such damage just to be safe.
How Much Weight Can A Fish Tank Hold
Now that we’ve determined what a TV stand can hold, and alternative solutions for your 10-gallon display, another thing that is quite important to know is how much a traditional fish stand can hold, as this is what informs the size appropriate for your tank.
On average, fish tanks weight between eight (8) and 10 pounds per gallon of water, meaning a 55-gallon stand should be able to hold a weight 550 pounds or more.
But the weight varies between setups, for that reason, allow me to shift your focus on to the weight difference in aquarium setup.
To give this some perspective, one 55-gallon does not necessarily have to be the same weight as another setup of the same dimensions.
Usually, aquarium weights vary depending on the material used to make the tank and the weight of equipment and decor place inside or on the tank.
For instance, some fish tanks have lids, while others don’t. Obviously, the covered tank will weigh more.
The first thing that will determine how heavy or light your fish tank will be is the material it made from. Generally, glass tanks weigh almost as much as heavy acrylic setups.
Interestingly, glass tanks are also more prone to breakages (a topic I’ve in more detail here) than acrylic aquariums.
The second thing to consider is what you intend on putting in your fish tank. From experience, aquarium owners keeping fish like African cichlids tend to have heaver tanks because of all the rock scaping they have to do.
Moreover, a bare bottom fish tank will way much lesser than an aquascaped setup with a substrate, plants, decor and even 3-D backgrounds.
Full Bottom And Even Support
Apart from the weight of your tank, the material used will also dictate what stand you need and how big a load to put on it. Conventionally, acrylic tanks are lighter but need full bottom support, while glass units are heavier but do not exactly need as much support.
So, avoid a common mistake that new fish keepers make by trying to set up their tanks on furniture around the house, while you might get away with it when you have a small tank, bigger tanks are not as forgiving.
Does An Aquarium Need To Be Level
Another safety factor to consider when choosing a fish tank stand is even-support.
The tank should remain level at all time so that the weight of the water does not strain the glass or acrylic walls and cause them to leak or even break.
So, make sure your tank is level and no portion of overhangs the stand.
3 Frequently Asked Questions
In this last part, I’ll give straight answers to a few of the questions I’ve come across quite often regarding fish tank stands.
Will A Coffee Table Hold A Fish Tank?
I would advise against using furniture (including coffee tables) not designed for an aquarium for anything bigger than 20 gallons. Moreover, if your coffee table cannot hold a couple of people, it’s probably not suitable for any size tank.
That said, if you decide to go for a coffee table fish stand, solid wood, not pressed or made of a board of any kind, would work best. Plus avoid oval or round tables for obvious reasons.
Your coffee table needs to be standing on four legs and be waterproofed as well. As such steer clear of tables standing on a single leg then a spread-out foundation.
Another thing your table will need is center supports or better reinforcement along the legs in such a way it can hold up areas with more weight.
Lastly, while the material might be sturdy enough for your tank’s weight, you would also need the edges of the coffee table and fish tank to line up in such a way the weight is supported through the legs, rather than placed right in the middle and risk bowing.
Can A Fish Tank Overhang The Stand?
Honestly, No, your fish tank should not overhang the stand. In case this happens as it sometimes does, having it stick out the long way (length) isn’t as bad as having it exceed the short-way (width).
The area that overhangs is also better when less than more because it will create a tinier cantilever force on the stand. If the strain on the base is too much, try to reinforce it or build a new one.
In my experience, 2 inches the short way is the maximum a fish tank can overhang a stand without too much strain, any more than that can be catastrophic. Plus this is only possible with small aquariums, bigger setups have a much slimmer margin of error.
What Can You Use For A Fish Tank Stand?
There are several alternatives to an aquarium stand, including dressers, cabinets, coffee table, TV stand, bookshelves, and much more. But all these options are only feasible if you have a small fish tank, with bigger setups, your safest bet is the good-old-stand.
As I mentioned before, only a 20-gallon or less will safely sit on anything less than a stand.
And speaking of fish tank stand, below are four (4) approaches (according to the spruce pets) you can take depending on the size, shape, budget, and the aesthetics you want.
- Use an existing or low-priced cabinet that’s strong enough to support your aquarium.
- Purchase a dedicated aquarium stand at the price that’s right for you.
- Have a custom stand designed and built for your space.
- Build your own stand.