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Problems with 20 gallon aquarium rack
I am having some trouble with a 20 gallon aquarium rack that I built and I am
looking for some advice.
I built the rack out of 2x4s following this video here:
I used a circular saw for all of the cuts, but a lot of my cuts were not
straight. I am very amateur
when it comes to woodworking and I did not do that great of a job. I tried my
best using a carpenter's square and a miter square to get everything squared up
as I was building it, but I seem to have failed that. The rack came together
fine but when I bought it in the house to test out to see if it was level or
not, it rocked.
<Best to use the level while assembling>
I checked the floor with a level and it was level. The rack is actually going in
the garage so I was planning on putting some leveling feet on it, which I did. I
was able to get it level to the garage floor, which is slightly sloped for
Anyways, after I leveled it, I put an empty 20 gallon tank on the top of the
rack and it rocked.
It seems that the back left corner and the front right corner are too high. As
you can see from the attached picture, the gap created is quite large! I checked
the middle and bottom and both of these have the same problem as the top. I was
scratching my head trying to figure out what I could do to fix this, so I went
and got some plywood cut to fit the rack to turn it into a shelf. After adding
the plywood, the tank still rocks! Why is this?
<The laterals are still not level...>
I am unsure what to do at this point. I see a lot of people using some type of
foam under the tank to help with minor issues, but I feel like the gap is too
big for this.
Is my best bet going to be to take down the corners with either sandpaper, a
wood chisel, or a plane?
<Mmm; no... wedges under the ply that make the plywood itself level is best. If
necessary for smaller gaps, you can put foam between the ply and tank>
I am worried that if I attempt this, I am going to end up taking too much wood
off and end up needing to rebuild the whole rack, which I really don't want to
do. I think I did a decent job for my first attempt at building such a rack, but
obviously not good enough!
What do you recommend in this situation?
<Plastic wedging (you can buy in various sizes at Home Depot, Lowe's....)
Thank you for your time,
<Please write back if this is not clear, complete. Bob Fenner>
tank support... reading
just built a custom built in stand for 120 gallon tank.. its a tight fit
. had tank in empty and there has been some settling. anyway to
shim the tank itself
<... not the tank>
and how much unevenness will 1/4 Styrofoam compensate for.
<... about a sixteenth>
don't know if I have asked the right or enough questions but thanks for
any input. cheers Morgan
and the linked files at top. Bob Fenner>
The best of times the worst of times. Little glass chip and stand
leveling input to share 2/28/17
Hi WWM Crew,
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Sorry to get all
"literary" with you, but it seemed to describe accurately my dilemma. It was the
best of times in that, finally, after four and a half years without a fish tank,
I am ready to get wet again.
The stand was built, the plumbing and sump were worked out in the basement, and
this past Saturday a friend and I moved the stand and tank into the den. I
worked for a couple of evenings on and off getting it perfectly level. I even
learned a couple of neat tricks that I will share below.
The tank is now level and ready to be filled beyond the 2 3/4" that I have
already put in it to level it.
It was the worst of times in that last evening, while I was finishing up the
leveling, I noticed a chip in the front left corner of the tank (see picture).
<I see this>
This tank is a 75 gallon with the overflow offset in the middle of the left half
of the rear of the tank (I think it's an AGA). I got it slightly used four years
ago, and it has been sitting in my basement since then.
When I first got it in the basement, I went over it with a fine tooth comb and
did not see this chip. I'm sure I would have if it had had it then. It must have
happened some time since then. I have also looked over it several more times
since then, but not as carefully. We have been very careful moving it around,
and we didn't bump it into anything any time we
<This is a small "impact" chip, scalloped... IF one had to have one, the better
I've had it filled several times--right after I bought it, to check the stand,
and to check the plumbing/sump. Each time it was filled for several days (once
for a week). The last two fillings were recent (the plumbing check was last
month). I'm virtually certain the chip was there then. I know we didn't bump it
into anything carrying it into the house, and nothing has been bumped into it
since then either. In fact, nothing has been bumped into it at any time (that I
know of). The source of the chip is a mystery.
I have looked over the chip FAQs several times over the years (out of concern
for other tanks for potential sumps/QT's), and looking at the information there,
it is not the nature of the chip that concerns me. It is a "sea shell"
chip with no cracks that is about 1/8" in diameter. It is too shallow
to measure the depth effectively. I tried to take a side-view
picture and you couldn't even see it. What concerns me is where it is.
It is about 2 1/2" to 2 3/4" from the bottom of the tank (measured from
the inside by the depth of the water). It is toward the outside of the glass
panel though (not on the side with the silicon). For this reason, I decided to
seek "professional help" in assessing it.
<I'm not overly concerned re the size, placement>
I don't mind admitting that it makes me nervous. My last marine aquarium was a
55 gallon that the bottom panel burst mysteriously in the night.
Actually it wasn't so mysterious because the stand top was not planar and I
don't think the tank was completely level either (though it was hard to tell
after the fact).
THIS stand is planar with one tiny gap (less than 1/32") on one corner. I have
used 3/4" Styrofoam underneath the tank to solve that problem. The tank is
perfectly level now (with less than three inches of water) and I intend to keep
checking it as I fill it--if I get to fill it, which is what I'm hoping that
your professional eyes can tell me. I think I know the answer, but is this tank
safe to use? Or do I need to save my pennies for another one?
<I would use it>
I also wanted to share a couple of tips that I learned while leveling the tank.
It may be old information to many, but I don't recall reading them anywhere on
WWM. I have read about putting a couple of inches of water in the tank and
measuring the depth to determine whether it is level. What I discovered is that
it is easier to use a yard stick than a tape measure.
Also, I discovered if I put a small piece of painter's tape on the yard stick to
mark where the water depth was when I measured the first corner that it made it
a lot easier to determine whether the other measurements were the same or not.
It was either right at the tape mark or above or below it. I only taped one side
of the markings so I could tell how much
from the other side. Also I discovered that it helped to draw a rectangle
representing the tank from above and write at each corner and in the front and
back middle the depth so I could look at all the measurements at the same time
and decide where the shims needed to go. Hope someone finds this helpful.
<Thank you for sharing>
As always I thank you SO MUCH for making this service available. I have learned
so much over the years from the site and the few email inquiries I have made.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>