Although it can feel like you’re just buying a sturdy piece of furniture for your fish, picking the right aquarium stand actually requires a lot of thought. Before you purchase one, you need to know your tank inside and out so that you can best judge compatibility and weigh up what size, weight and material stand you need to correctly support your aquarium.
Here are all the things you need to keep in mind when browsing fish tank stands:
Types of Aquarium Stand
In general, these are much taller and sleeker than cabinets and tend to offer a little more diversity in terms of style and shape. They’re better for holding smaller tanks and providing them with a bit of height, as they usually don’t have the width or strength to hold larger structures. Occasionally they will incorporate shelf-like storage inside, but this is not always a certified feature.
These are stands which are shaped more like a traditional wooden cabinet, providing a large area with plenty of width and support for large tanks. Crucially, they are usually defined by having cabinet doors and plenty of storage space within for placing fishy food and equipment. Or anything else that needs hiding away!
Things To Consider
The easiest way to get an absolutely great stand or cabinet which is the perfect fit for your aquarium is to simply buy a compatible model designed by the same brand as your tank.
This removes all worries or stresses about whether the stand is a good match or can take the weight of your tank, as it has been specifically designed for your very model!
Fish tank stands come in various different materials, all of which have their pros and cons.
The most common of these are MDF (Particle Board), Plywood or Metal, with the wooden materials the most frequently used in people’s homes.
MDF is the cheapest type of wood and also one of the most standard materials you’ll come across, being used by plenty of brands. Fairly reliable, it’s only negative is that it can be quite absorbing and if you have a saltwater aquarium it can struggle with longevity due to high humidity over time.
A far better material is plywood, which is usually the go-to material for high-quality manufacturers. It’s much less susceptible to water damage and is far stronger than MDF, so provides better durability. They are also often painted, stained and sealed so that their quality-look lasts for a long period of time.
Although they are a lot more expensive, you can also purchase cabinets made of premium woods such as oak, which of course offer the highest quality available.
You may also come across metal stands on occasion, however, these are quite rare and are more often than not specially constructed or DIY stands which provide superior structural strength to a seriously large tank! But unless you’re planning on installing a living room-sized aquarium, they’re not really a necessary purchase.
If your tank is slim and short, you might want to consider purchasing a stand with some height behind it, as this can help give your tank a bit more sophistication and status within the room
However, you don’t want it so tall that it’s impossible for you to easily reach in and adjust settings or drop in some food!
Sometimes cabinets can be in danger of being style over substance and rather than simple access doors they’ll try and wow you with funky sliding doors or pop out draws.
But you really don’t need grabbing a handful of fish pellets to become a complicated process. A cabinet door and a shelf will do!
Ease of Assembly
Unfortunately, fish tank stands rarely arrive at your doorstep fully assembled and ready to go, which means even you DIY phobics are going to have to get your finger out and get building.
If you’re not always comfortable with furniture builds, then you’ll obviously want to look out for either a really simple set-up or perhaps a ready assembled model.
But remember, ready assembled models will be a much more painful and awkward delivery process!
Level & Balanced
Naturally, an aquarium stand can’t do its job properly if it can’t provide a level and balanced support to your tank.
Check that your desired stand is as symmetrical as possible in shape, as it’s imperative its design does not equate to one side of the structure taking all the pressure and weight.
In our opinion, this is an absolute necessity for an aquarium stand. Because if it’s going to take up that much room, why shouldn’t it offer some spacious cupboard space?
A cabinet or shelf within a stand means you won’t end up with stocks of fish food all over the gaff and that everything you need to take care of your fishies is always within arms reach!
For anyone who’s owned an aquarium for a long time, you’ll know the amount of traipsing wires from heaters, pumps, filters and lights is seemingly never-ending.
Although aquariums are meant to be beautiful additions to your home, the number of wires protruding from them can sometimes make your house look like an electrician’s nightmare.
Finding a cabinet which features openings or holes to feed wires through can help you make things look a lot tidier and get a bit of organisation going!
At the end of the day, a fish tank stand is just another piece of furniture in your home and it’s only natural that you’ll want it to match your decor and perhaps even become something of a statement.
There are plenty of shapes, colours and designs out there to help bring style to your home, just make sure you don’t let a stunning aesthetic compromise sturdiness, structure and safety.
How To Pair Different Tank & Cabinet Brands
Look, we get it, not everyone can afford to bulk purchase a fancy fish tank and cabinet set, so it’s understandable that many people opt to mix and match between different aquarium tank and stand brands.
The danger though with plumping for a cabinet not specifically designed for your aquarium is that it might not have the strength and sturdiness needed to support your particular tank model.
Manufacturers are also unable to promise the same warranty guarantees when their product is mixed with random other items, as their compatibility has not been sufficiently tested.
However, even though we don’t recommend it, we know lot’s of you are going to do it anyway.
So here are some things you need to pay special attention too when pairing up two aquarium strangers!
Tank & Stand Sizes
The first, most obvious thing to consider when mixing and matching is how the size of your tank matches up with the size of your desired stand.
You might be tempted to simply look at what litre capacity of branded tanks the stand can hold, but just because a cabinet is compatible with a certain 60L model, it absolutely does not mean it’s going to be the perfect fit for your own 60L tank.
Instead, you need to be more studious here with your research, taking careful notes of the dimensions of your tank and the dimensions of your chosen stand.
If a stand suitably covers the base of your tank, you’re one step closer to finding the cabinet for you… but it’s not the only thing to consider.
Tank & Stand Weights
Now you know your desired stand can efficiently cover the bottom of your tank, don’t think your job is done, as just because a cabinet can accommodate your aquarium, there’s no promise it has the strength to hold it there.
You need to remember that the weight of your aquarium is very different when it’s filled with several gallons of water, which provides some pretty severe force down onto the base of a stand. Then there are things like substrate, plants and ornaments to add in too!
Therefore your stand needs to be packing some serious Kg and this is why a standard piece of furniture or bookcase isn’t going to have anywhere near enough strength to support your fish carrying behemoth!
Tank & Stand Shapes
It’s also incredibly important that your stand provides level support to the areas of the tank that need it.
Some stands have shapes which make them better for circular designed tanks while others require thick, large cabinets that provide support to all four corners of the tank.
It’s important to note that certain tanks also need different kinds of support. As glass won’t buckle from the weight of water, it only needs support around the edges of the structure, hence why they often have spaces underneath for storage.
Acrylic tanks though need full support across their entire base to ensure they don’t ever collapse from the pressure!