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Old 04-15-2006, 01:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Post a BIG question about BIG aquariums

I am assessing the urge to graduate up to a larger tank than I have ever kept, only having had aquariums of 30 gal. and less.

Here's the deal:
Do I need to worry about where I place an aquarium of, say, 65 gal.? I am a little worried about the floor in my house. How large does a tank have to be before it starts posing some structural problems for one's home?

I'd really appreciate any feedback.

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Old 04-15-2006, 08:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Will this tank be on the bottom floor? If so there's not much need to worry about the weight. I think houses are built on a concrete foundation, but if that's not the case for you..I'm frankly not sure. But your tank should be about less than 1000 lbs filled with substrate and water...probably not extremely overbearing to the house. But don't take my word for it.

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Old 04-16-2006, 07:07 AM   #3 (permalink)
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If you have a house built on a concrete pad then you're good to go, but in other cases checking a couple things out can help set your mind at ease.

The general recomendation is to have tanks larger than 55g across as many joists as possible and near a load bearing wall. The closer to direct vertical support the better and the more structural elements you have supporting the tank the better.

So, I would stick my nose into the crawl space or basement to see how the supporting joists run.
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Old 04-16-2006, 07:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I believe it depends also on the house, in addition to what has already been said. If you have one of those new houses that are thrown up in 2 months, are composed primarily of drywall, 2 by 4s, and of course have cheap vinyl siding, I say no. If you have an older, more well constructed house, you may be safe. If it makes you feel better, install a few jacks under your crawlspace or basement. You know those cool telescoping thingies you see at Lowe's. I don't really know what they are called.
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Old 04-16-2006, 08:43 PM   #5 (permalink)
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100 gallons of water weighs about 800 pounds. Four somewhat above average sized men weigh the same. Do you worry about having a party in your house because four men might stand close together and chat all night?

Moving loads on a house are more serious than non-moving loads. When the four guys mentioned above hear some good rhythmic music and start bouncing a bit on their feet as they chat, they place a much more serious load on the house than the 100 gallons of water does.

800 pounds of water is nothing to sneeze at, but it is also nothing to fear. In my opinion common sense dictates that the weight of that water be spread out over as much area as practical, and not concentrated on 4 little 2 inch square pads, but beyond that I don't see much cause for concern.
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Old 04-17-2006, 05:48 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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But the four above average sized guys don't usually spend the next two years in that same spot. Fatigue comes into play if I'm not mistaken. The difference between calculating for "live load" and "dead load" (although we hope you don't have four above average sized dead guys stacked in the corner for the next two years either!) Just something I've run across in web-surfing.

Here is an excellent article on the issue:

http://www.cichlid-forum.com/article...ium_weight.php
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Old 04-17-2006, 06:09 AM   #7 (permalink)
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As a pet store owner I sold more than a few 55 gallon aquariums and never had anyone report any problems regarding support issues. The only extra step ever taken was to spread the weight a bit under the feet of the metal stands.
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Old 04-17-2006, 06:18 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Fatigue stresses don't work like that. Failure from fatigue occurs in materials subjected to rapid, cyclical, repetitive loads over a long period of time. Good examples would be moving parts in machinery, airplanes subjected to continuous pressurization, depressurization, and turbulence, and structures subjected to large wind loads. There will be no problem at all with a static load of about 800 lbs or so for the vast majority of houses. Keeping the tank next to a wall and centered over the floor joists is good advice. People usually only run into trouble when they get in the 150-200 gallon range and use substandard flooring. Even then, it would be very unusual for the floor to fail completely. It usually just sags, which can result in an uneven tank, or worse, a split seam which leads to a little flood.

BTW, most new houses are engineered to accept loads well in excess of most older houses. Just because the structural elements look smaller doesn't mean that they hold less. I've seen many older houses in New England, for example, that look like they used pretty big wooden beams, but in reality they weren't designed very well. Many of these places are experiencing significant warping of the floors, necessitating basement jacks, reinforcement, etc.

Don't forget to take the weight of the tank and substrate into consideration. Big tanks are HEAVY.
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Old 04-17-2006, 06:56 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Sorry, it was shear failure I was thinking about (in the afore-mentioned article,) not fatigue. One reason why I generally try not to rely on my memory .
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Old 04-17-2006, 04:56 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Probably the best advice if you are worried about load capacity is to have an engineer or building inspector come take a look at the floor. True structural analysis is a bit beyond what can be properly discussed in a hobby-based forum.

Not to be a total PITA, but time-dependent change in materials subject to load isn't shear either. More properly it would be defined as creep or plastic flow. Wood can do this to some extent but it's also an issue with glass, plastics, and other polymers.

For aquariums smaller than 100 gallons or so common sense is probably good enough for almost any application. A tank of this size would weigh about 1000-1200 lbs with rocks, tank, stand, water, lights, fish & cheesy decorations. This would be the equivalent of 6-8 normal-sized people or 3-4 New Age Americans. If you live in an older house with a bit of moisture or termite damage it's probably a bad idea to put this tank in the middle of a large room. If you put it up against a load-bearing wall you're probably OK.

Get a couple of your friends together and have them jump up and down - seriously. If the floor moves at all put the tank somewhere else. You would be wise to put the stand over floor joists if possible. If you live in earthquake country then all bets are off - even on a concrete floor you risk enough movement to crack a pane or break a seal somewhere.

The referenced article above is well-written. The nuances about what a home is supposed to support vs. what it actually will support isn't worth messing around with for the average person. If in doubt, err on the side of safety.

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