Aquarium purchased? Check. Substrate, filtration, and lighting bought? Check. Stocking list planned out for the next few months? Check.
But a durable stand that will fit all your plumbing needs while keeping electrical cords organized and concealed? Maybe not so much.
There’s a lot more to aquarium stands than you might think. Of course, you want it to hold up your tank, but you also need to consider size for filtration, extension cords, and accessories.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about picking out stands for your saltwater or freshwater tanks and some options that might be right for you.
What makes a good aquarium stand?
A good aquarium stand will be one that holds more than the weight of the tank, offers plenty of space for plumbing and accessories, is easy to access, and is an appropriate height.
Fish tank stands can be as expensive and elaborate or as simple as you would like. Many hobbyists place their aquariums on a piece of furniture they already own while others sketch detailed blueprints for a one-of-a-kind cabinet-style stand.
Stand possibilities are nearly as endless as the many types of aquarium ecosystems you can create in your own home!
Types of Material
Material is important to consider when buying an aquarium stand. Some materials work better for saltwater aquariums while others can be used for all setups.
Here are a few differences between the most popular materials used and the most available aquariums stands:
MDF, also known as medium-density fibreboard is made of very small, densely-packed wood fibers that create a clean edge on the sides.
Particleboard is different and is made from many larger pieces of wood and has the tendency to chip over time. The edges are usually not as smooth.
Both particleboard and MDF will deteriorate when exposed to moisture even if professionally sealed. This can become a problem with under-the-tank filtration and even make water changes more challenging and time-consuming. Because of this, many hobbyists question its durability and shy away from it completely.
However, because particleboard/MDF is so inexpensive and widely available, many fish tank cabinets use it as a base anyway.
Plywood is the most common material for aquarium stands to be made out of and can offer a large assortment of designs and colors.
Plywood is made up of many layers of wood glued together to create one sheet of strong, durable wood; these layers can be made from most woods, offering different levels of strength and appearance, and can easily be used for DIY aquarium stand building.
Steel, stainless steel, and aluminum are some of the most expensive aquarium stand options available but considered to be the best materials to use when building or purchasing a stand.
Many high-end stands are braced with stainless steel or aluminum and then customized for cabinetry and shelving. Steel and stainless steel do have the ability to rust over time, so it’s important to make sure that all metal is sealed and powder coated before use.
Aluminum is arguably the best metal to use for any durable aquarium system due to its lightweight and strong properties. However, the trade-off is that these metal stands are very expensive and often need to be custom-built.
How much weight can an aquarium stand hold?
There is no sure way to tell if your aquarium stand will hold up to the weight of your tank. You can prepare for the weight by using good materials and knowing an estimate of how much your tank will weigh in the end, but knowing the longevity and durability of the construction is harder to gauge.
If building a stand, one of the best ways you can prepare is by using materials that are rated for more than the potential weight of the aquarium; if buying an aquarium stand, it would be more than worthwhile paying a little extra to buy from a reputable brand that has a breakdown of the materials used without having to guess.
Next, you can test the strength of the stand. You can do this by sitting on it (if you are a weight close to the potential weight of your aquarium) and check for any squeaks or shakes.
If you have space, you can also fill up the aquarium and leave it to sit for a few days, preferably in an area that is easy to clean up; while leaving your aquarium to sit, it might also be a good idea to check if it’s watertight and ready for fish.
If you ever have any doubts about your aquarium stand, do not use it. Either buy a new stand or make adjustments to enforce what you have.
Can your aquarium hang over the edge of the stand?
No, your aquarium should never hang over the edge of the stand. Stands and aquariums are mathematically designed to support each other in the most important areas.
The overhang will either cause the stand to fail to hit these points and may even hit other points that could cause stress in the aquarium or stand material.
If completely necessary and only for temporary purposes, most aquariums should be able to withstand some overhang in the length (side-to-side) of the tank. The overhang in the width (front to back) will not work and will almost certainly crack a glass tank.
If you find yourself with a slightly undersized stand, you may also create a temporary level with reasonably thick plywood and place the fish tank on top.
Best aquarium stands for saltwater and freshwater aquariums
Now that you’ve picked the type of material for your aquarium stand, what are some of the practical or stylistic choices you need to make?
You will want to think about providing yourself with ample storage space, size, color, finish, and of course, price. Here, we have listed four of the best aquarium stands available for some of the most common tank sizes.
Imagitarium Newport Wooden Tank Stand – for 20 Gallon Aquariums, 24.75 in
The Imagitarium Newport Wooden Tank Stand is a perfect choice for beginners on a tight budget and a small tank. There is plenty of storage space on the two lower shelves, and the minimal design fits in most areas of the home.
This aquarium stand is 24.75 L x 12.75 W x 30.25 H inches (62.87 L x 32.39 W x 76.84 H cm) and rated for 180 lbs (81.65 kg) or 20 gallons (75.71 L). However, long 20 gallon tanks exceed the length of the stand and a tall tank will fit better.
There are some concerns about the sturdiness of this black wood stand though, as many hobbyists have found it wobbles and needs to be secured to the wall. Because of this, the Imagitarium Newport Wooden Tank Stand works best for tanks under 15 gallons (56.7 L).
It should also be noted that the manufactured wood used is not straight black or waterproof and scratches easily; hobbyists have found that splashes of aquarium water have made the material warp and peel so it’s important to clean up spills as quickly as possible.
While assembly is easy, the exact reliability of the stand is questionable for tanks closer to the weight capacity. But for the price, it’s one of the best options for smaller tanks.
What we like:
- Quick and easy assembly with minimal black design
- Multiple storage shelves
- Inexpensive and reliable for smaller tanks
What could be better:
- Wobbly design limits weight capacity
- Color intensity is not fully black and the material can be easily scratched
- The manufactured wood is not waterproof and can peel/warp with water damage
Aquatic Fundamentals Aquarium Stand With Storage, Made in the USA
Aquatic Fundamentals Aquarium Stands With Storage come in several options to accommodate a wide range of fish tank sizes:
- 29 gallon – 31.37 L x 13.12 W x 28.28 H inches (79.68 L x 33.32 W x 71.83 H cm) – 29/37 gallons, 370 lbs (109.8/140.1 L, 167.8 kg)
- 30 gallon – 37.7 L x 13.2 W x 28.28 H inches (95.76 L x 33.53 W x 71.83 H cm) – 30/45 gallons, 450 lbs (113.6/170.3 L, 204.1 kg)
- 50 gallon – 37.37 L x 19.37 W x 28.25 H inches (94.92 L x 49.20 W x 71.76 H cm) – 50/65 gallons, 650 lbs (189.3/246.1 L, 294.8 kg)
- 55 gallon – 49.37 L x 13.12 W x 28.25 H inches (125.40 L x 33.32 W x 71.76 H cm) – 55 gallons, 550 lbs (208.2 L, 249.5 kg)
- 75 gallon – 49. 37 L x 19. 37 W x 28. 25 H inches (125.40 L x 49.20 W x 71.76 H cm) – 75/90 gallons, 900 lbs (283.9/340.7 L, 408.2 kg)
These aquarium stands are made from composite wood with a black finish. Depending on the size chosen, it will have one or two cabinet doors that open to a spacious area for sumps and other filtration.
The back of the stand is open for electrical plugs and plumbing with only one column going down the middle. Shelving is not installed so storing miscellaneous foods and chemicals can be difficult.
These stands are decent for tanks that are smaller than what the capacity states. They are still made from cheap wood that scratches easily, and it’s better to have room for extra weight if need be. There are some predrilled holes that don’t match up with assembly, but mainly on the interior and out of sight.
What we like:
- Multiple sizes and styles for most traditional aquarium displays
- Sleek black finish coated for some water resistance
- Open back for electrical cords and plumbing
What could be better:
- Narrow cabinet and no shelving
- Does best when used with aquariums under the weight capacity
Imagitarium Brooklyn Metal Tank Stand – for 40 Gallon Tanks
The Imagitarium Brooklyn Metal Tank Stand provides an industrial metal frame design while giving your tank more support than necessary. These solid steel stands measure 36.5 L x 18.5 W x 29.5 H inches (92.7 L x 47.0 W x 74.9 H cm) and can accommodate slightly smaller or larger tanks than the recommended capacity.
This aquarium stand is simple with a sleek black finish. However, most hobbyists find that the material is easily scratched and usually comes with scratches out of the box. Assembly is easy, though leveling the tank can be difficult and there may be some unwanted gaps between pieces.
Many hobbyists would also like a lipped edge for extra security, though this 40-gallon aquarium stand fits most traditional breeder tanks perfectly.
Otherwise, this Imagitarium stand may be used as a foundation for a full cabinet build that supports aquariums between 37-42 gallons (140.1-159.0 L). It may also be helpful to install adjustable shelves underneath for storing equipment and supplies.
What we like:
- Sleek and durable steel construction that can accommodate a few tank sizes
- Easy to customize for further storage and design
- Easy assembly
What could be better:
- Black finish easily scratches and can come scratched as new
- Some gaps between pieces when fully assembled
- Leveling system difficult to get right
Waterbox Aquariums: Aquarium Cabinets
If you’re looking for top-of-the-line stands, then Waterbox Aquariums: Aquarium Cabinets will give you the look, the security, and the storage. However, be prepared to spend a decent amount of your budget!
These tank stands come in a few options, PW1818, PW2418, PW2420, PW2424, PW3620, PW4820, all coming in a black, white, or oak finish. Each stand allows 30.78 inches (78.2 cm) of inside height.
Here are the specifications for each model:
PW1818 – 17.71 L x 17.71 W x 35.43 H inches (44.98 L x 44.98 W x 89.99 H cm)
PW2418 – 23.62 L x 17.71 W x 35.43 H inches (59.99 L x 44.98 W x 89.99 H cm)
PW2420 – 23.62 L x 19.69 W x 35.43 H inches (59.99 L x 50.05 W x 89.99 H cm)
PW2424 – 23.62 L x 23.62 W x 35.43 H inches (59.99 L x 59.99 W x 89.99 H cm)
PW3620 – 35.43 L x 19.69 W x 35.43 H inches (89.99 L x 50.05 W x 89.99 H cm)
PW4820 – 47.24 L x 19.69 W x 35.43 H inches (119.99 L x 50.05 W x 89.99 H cm)
Waterbox cabinets are built with strong plywood and a laminated finish for stability and a professional water-resistant seal. They have soft-close doors and push-open mechanics to ensure that the cabinet doors never get slammed shut, preventing shaking and damage to the aquarium.
To top it all off, these stands have a grand total of 25 leveling feet for long-lasting stability.
What we like:
- Multiple size options for the perfect fit for your aquarium
- Durable plywood construction and laminate finish of choice
- Soft-close, leveling, and push-open mechanics
What could be better:
- Leveling system cannot be used on carpet
- Very expensive
How to clean your aquarium stand
Now that you’ve chosen a stand, it’s important to know how to keep it as structurally-sound as possible! This is especially true if you’ve decided to go with a cheaper material, like particleboard/MDF.
The first step to keeping your aquarium stand clean and supportive is by keeping it dry, which is easier said than done. More well-made stands will have a sealant that helps keep the wood from getting swollen and warping, but even then, it’s possible for the water to make its way in.
Make sure to use towels when performing tank maintenance. Check that under-the-tank filtration isn’t leaking or causing excess moisture; if you have a cheaper stand, it may be worthwhile picking up a moisture-resistant sealant for your setup.
If you have saltwater tanks, it’s possible that salt creep could start to run down the inside or outside of the stand. As much salt as possible should be removed with a dry rag at first. You may then moisten the rag with water to get the remaining residue off.
Always make sure to dry the places you have cleaned and to never use soap or chemicals!
Picking an aquarium stand is arguably more important than picking out the tank itself! Not only can a stand serve as a fashionable piece of furniture, but it will also give additional storage for equipment, hide electrical cords and filtration, and keep your tank at eye-level for the best viewing experience.
There are a few things you need to consider before going to get your aquarium stand, like material, durability, accessibility, and price range, but a good stand will keep your fish tank supported and tidy for years on end.
If you have any questions about aquarium stands, how to arrange the equipment under your tank, or have had experience building your own aquarium stand from scratch, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!