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Looking for Advice on Building Fishroom Rack

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jergrafs User avatar
Level 2 Member
Level 2 Member

Posts: 44
Location: Apple Valley, MN
Hello,
I have several tanks sitting around that I want to organize and start setting up together on a wooden rack in the corner of my fish room.
I would like to build my own custom rack from 2x4s and make it look really nice. I have plenty of tools.
My preference would be to have this built in a way that is easily expandable. All of this is being built on a carpeted concrete floor in a basement; so, I am not very worried about floor weight capacity.

I am working with a 90 gallon (main display tank). 55 gallon (I am thinking of using this as a refugium/sump), 20 gallon tall (for quarantine and/or backup) and 4x 10 gallon tanks (for quarantine and/or breeding).

Obviously, the rack will need to be able to support the weight of all of this plus water and shelving for supplies and electrical.

Can you provide me with any tips, tricks, lessons learned and/or advice?
I have never built anything like this before. I am very creative and adventurous. But, I have no experience with this.
So, all guidance is appreciated! :)
Check out my current fish list and photos:
https://aquarium.mn/members/profile/jergrafs

Eric N Level 2 Member
Level 2 Member

Posts: 36
Location: Stevens Point, WI

jergrafs User avatar
Level 2 Member
Level 2 Member

Posts: 44
Location: Apple Valley, MN
Eric N wrote:

Thanks Eric!
I'll check this out. Have you built these yourself?
Check out my current fish list and photos:
https://aquarium.mn/members/profile/jergrafs

ROWEBLAST Level 4 Member
Level 4 Member

Posts: 231
Location: Crystal
At the expo next weekend we will have a rotation of people in one room all day talking about their fish rooms and how they were designed/built. That would be a great resource of people to talk with. I'm covering a 30-45 minute slot at some point.
The Farm (20): Otos, rummynose, cory pygmaeus, amano shrimp and a lone GBR
Rolling Rocks (10): Cherry shrimp, BB endlers and 2 baby L262 'salt queens'
Mishmash Jungle(28): SS endlers, penguin tetra, cory sterbai, bn pleco

jergrafs User avatar
Level 2 Member
Level 2 Member

Posts: 44
Location: Apple Valley, MN
ROWEBLAST wrote:
At the expo next weekend we will have a rotation of people in one room all day talking about their fish rooms and how they were designed/built. That would be a great resource of people to talk with. I'm covering a 30-45 minute slot at some point.

Great Advice! I will be there.
I'll come chat.
Check out my current fish list and photos:
https://aquarium.mn/members/profile/jergrafs

Eric N Level 2 Member
Level 2 Member

Posts: 36
Location: Stevens Point, WI
Yes, the stands work great.

jergrafs User avatar
Level 2 Member
Level 2 Member

Posts: 44
Location: Apple Valley, MN
Eric N wrote:
Yes, the stands work great.

Nice!
I like the fact that this design provides more security for holding the weight. It’s a brilliant idea to make a cut-in for the cross beams.

Do you have any pictures of your build?
Check out my current fish list and photos:
https://aquarium.mn/members/profile/jergrafs

Eric N Level 2 Member
Level 2 Member

Posts: 36
Location: Stevens Point, WI
Please pm me your phone number and I should be able to text you some pictures.

jergrafs User avatar
Level 2 Member
Level 2 Member

Posts: 44
Location: Apple Valley, MN
Eric N wrote:
Please pm me your phone number and I should be able to text you some pictures.

Eric,

I just sent you a PM. :)

Thanks.
Check out my current fish list and photos:
https://aquarium.mn/members/profile/jergrafs

Passionfish Level 20 Member
Level 20 Member

Posts: 12130
Location: apple valley, mn
Ted is a smart guy and his video is excellent.

Regarding bracing rack so that it does not fall over, Ted used L brace for racks joined at a right angle to each other. If L bracing two racks is not possible, join the rack to wall studs at two locations.
Ted leaves space to walk behind his tanks. That is helpful but if not possible, leave 6-8" from wall to rack to pass cords, airline, etc.

Dado joints are strongest and will carry almost any weight. I have seen 125 gal tanks on 2x4 with nails that lasted for years. However, I would never build such a stand.
Carriage bolts are rated for load and would transfer the load from crossbeam to leg without issue. Used such a rack carrying 30 gallons per tier for years. I did not build it. For larger tanks, I would use a dado joint as drilling holes into the 2x4 leg for bolts may weaken the leg. Dado is the strongest joint.

If a second tier is planned for space above a 6' long tank, I would use steel rack as Ted showed at the start of his video. A support leg in middle is impossible.
Like a complete unknown

jergrafs User avatar
Level 2 Member
Level 2 Member

Posts: 44
Location: Apple Valley, MN
Passionfish wrote:
Ted is a smart guy and his video is excellent.

Regarding bracing rack so that it does not fall over, Ted used L brace for racks joined at a right angle to each other. If L bracing two racks is not possible, join the rack to wall studs at two locations.
Ted leaves space to walk behind his tanks. That is helpful but if not possible, leave 6-8" from wall to rack to pass cords, airline, etc.

Dado joints are strongest and will carry almost any weight. I have seen 125 gal tanks on 2x4 with nails that lasted for years. However, I would never build such a stand.
Carriage bolts are rated for load and would transfer the load from crossbeam to leg without issue. Used such a rack carrying 30 gallons per tier for years. I did not build it. For larger tanks, I would use a dado joint as drilling holes into the 2x4 leg for bolts may weaken the leg. Dado is the strongest joint.

If a second tier is planned for space above a 6' long tank, I would use steel rack as Ted showed at the start of his video. A support leg in middle is impossible.

Passionfish,
thank you so much for the information! You are consistently helpful and responsive to the forum.
I appreciate that a lot. :)
Check out my current fish list and photos:
https://aquarium.mn/members/profile/jergrafs

btn Level 2 Member
Level 2 Member

Posts: 35
Ted's rack is one of the best I have seen, although I haven't personally built that style. The king of dyi and weldon aquatics, both on youtube, have some pretty in-depth stand build videos, but both of their stands seem to be really overbuilt, increasing cost and weight. I have 3 different racks/stands I have built, each a bit different. The only "mistakes" I have made is have a stand a bit too tight around the size tank I plan to use and not planning to add a tank below.

How many rows do you think you want?

jergrafs User avatar
Level 2 Member
Level 2 Member

Posts: 44
Location: Apple Valley, MN
btn wrote:
Ted's rack is one of the best I have seen, although I haven't personally built that style. The king of dyi and weldon aquatics, both on youtube, have some pretty in-depth stand build videos, but both of their stands seem to be really overbuilt, increasing cost and weight. I have 3 different racks/stands I have built, each a bit different. The only "mistakes" I have made is have a stand a bit too tight around the size tank I plan to use and not planning to add a tank below.

How many rows do you think you want?

Hey BTN,
I’m not sure how many rows I’ll be building. (I “want” all the rows). I still need to take some measurements and draw out my plans. It should be at least three rows high. But, it might be more.

Do you have any suggestions on how many rows work most effectively?
Check out my current fish list and photos:
https://aquarium.mn/members/profile/jergrafs

btn Level 2 Member
Level 2 Member

Posts: 35
I would continue to get advice from others on this forum with much more experience than I have. I would try to plan out what it is you want to be doing with your tanks and the type of fish you are interested in. If you are looking to do lots of breeding and will be needing to regularly get into your tanks, think about how you will want to do that. Do you want to be down on the ground or up on a ladder? All of my stands have a tank almost at floor level, I don't have storage under them, but it keeps the higher levels easy to work with.

jergrafs User avatar
Level 2 Member
Level 2 Member

Posts: 44
Location: Apple Valley, MN
btn wrote:
I would continue to get advice from others on this forum with much more experience than I have. I would try to plan out what it is you want to be doing with your tanks and the type of fish you are interested in. If you are looking to do lots of breeding and will be needing to regularly get into your tanks, think about how you will want to do that. Do you want to be down on the ground or up on a ladder? All of my stands have a tank almost at floor level, I don't have storage under them, but it keeps the higher levels easy to work with.

That's actually really good advice BTN.

I am really tall (6' 4"), so higher heights tend to work better for me. Most things are built for folks much shorter than I am. That tends to cause me to need to contort or bend to do simple things like walk down stairs with low ceilings or do dishes. A great benefit of making something custom for myself, is building it to my own preferences and specifications. I hadn't given that aspect much thought until now. So, I really appreciate the insight! :)
Check out my current fish list and photos:
https://aquarium.mn/members/profile/jergrafs

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