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FAQs about Stands, Supports for Aquariums: Coatings, Finishes

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Mr. False Crab says: "Make it non-corrosive and non-toxic" or else.

Medium Density Fiberboard stand 7/26/12
<Hello David>
I have a question on Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF).  My 29-gallon aquarium sits on a stand that’s made out of MDF.  Throughout the years water has gotten on the fiberboard, and as a result, there are a few bubbles on the fiberboard.  The bubbles appear swollen, if that makes any sense.
<Yes it does, MDF is resistant to warping/bubbling that occurs over time, caused by moisture.>
Will this compromise the structural integrity of the stand?
<As long as the bubbling is minimal, it should be fine.>
 And how do I refinish the fiberboard?  Can I sand it down and repaint it?
<Yes, sand it down good and put at least two coats of wood sealing primer on and two to three coats of paint.  This will ensure your stand will be moisture resistant for many years.>
Many thanks,
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Hello... forgot bb referral... Stand refinish... principally, and GF sys., moving  11/23/10
Hello there!
I hope all is good with everyone.
I just wanted to send in an update and a couple of questions please (mostly of my progress and for a bit of reassurance. I learn better that way. :)).
Last week I wrote to you about the upgrade from a 20gal. tank to a 55gal. I received great help from Neale and Bob and I've like to send them my gratitude.
Of course Bob sent me a couple of links and along with other reading I'd like to say that I now feel more confident about my project than before (mucho more)!
Here's a quick overview- recently I bought a used 55 gallon set-up for my goldfish who are now, but not for long, in a 20 gallon tank. There are three fish in the planted 20gal. one Ryukin and two Orandas. The new-ish fifty gallon tank is rectangular with unfinished wood stand. Since the tank is nine years old I sanded it down, stained it waited 24 hours, and sprayed 2 bottles of polyurethane (I put the first coat/bottle on and let it sit for two hours and as instructed then I put the second coat on) -did this is the screen room outside.
I waited another 24 hours after that to put to set it up in my room next to the 20gal to make it easier to transfer by buds. I followed all the instructions on the needed dry time, however I still smell some of the stuff (frown).
<This will be about for several more days, no worries>
It smells like a mixture of freshly cut wood, the pages of an open book, and oil from a lamp. Mind you this is my first stain and finish project and I'm pretty proud of myself, but I'm still concerned about my fish. The smell isn't strong, but I notice the difference. Naturally I threw open all the windows and turned on so many fans the roof might fly off, but every time I leave and come back there's that new furniture smell. Will it harm them to some degree????
Will they at most just get "high"??? (0_o)
<Not really>
It's been little less than 24 hours and the trio is eating and swimming beautifully with fins raised. I haven't tested the water in the new tank yet I'm waiting until a day before the transfer to do so to check to give it a chance to settle in with the gravel and new filter.
<Do move a good deal of the "old water" w/ the fish>
There are no leaks however while cleaning the tank I noticed that the silicon in some areas around the trim have more of an opaque white shade than the translucent color in others. The inside bottom of the tank has long hairline scratches from the precious owner who was careless when removing the gravel. I don't know what this will do in the long term. Now that I am noticing all these flaws I am ready to just trash this set up and get a brand new one. I have put in two types to gravel and I'm planning to use gravel from the old tank.
I have a BioWheel 200 on the new tank now and will be adding the two HOB filters from the old tank
to this one.
I'm currently deciding if I should get a canister later on and call it a day or keep the HOB since I've never had problems with them in the 20gal. I have plant lights ready so that the 55gal can be a planted tank also,
however while straightening up the house in preparation for Thanksgiving my dear mother put the hoods that the lights would have gone into outside....it rained that afternoon...Yay mom! So now that the 55gal has nothing covering it and there's that smell is in the room I wanted your opinion about a 25% water change and carbon in the filters when/before I transfer the fish?
<Fine if you want>
The person who adopted Pepper (calico Ryukin with deformed swim bladder... bless him he's a waddler) to me suggested I use a bio-cycled substrate it for the plants and Seachem for food. Your thoughts?
<Unnecessary with the movement of substrate, water, filter/s>
I've been feeding them seaweed, some flakes, and Spirulina flakes, Hikari goldfish pellets and, and little kitchen veggies every now and again. The two Orandas can eat anything and have no buoyancy problems, but the moment Pepper eats something other than the seaweed he flips upside down and hangs out at the surface like a Cirque du Le performer. Can you suggest something that will give him what he needs in nutrients and also not affect him that way?
<Posted on WWM>
May be...gel food w/ Epsom salt? Thank you again for spending the time to read my long e-mail. I read your website a lot and there's so much information sometimes it makes me more worried than necessary, that's why I really do appreciate the time everyone spends e-mailing me back. This gives me a little boost of confidence in knowing that I'm taking the right steps and precautions. (I'm a newb)
I hope you have a blessed day. :)
<Cheers, BobF>

Stand, finishing... reading  1/2/09 Hello. I just finish building my fish tank stand. I want to stain it. What type of stain and coat would you recommend for the stand and also inside the canopy. Or is it just be easy to paint it? Then what type of paint. Thanks a lot. <Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/aqstdfinishes.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: Stand, now canopy finishing  1/2/09 Thanks for info. Also i used wood glue for canopy. Is that ok? <... Yes... I would pilot drill, screw the pieces together additionally (likely you have done this), and coat, seal all per the last citation. BobF>

Re: Stand, coating  1/11/09 So I've decided to use Minwax stain and then Minwax spar urethane on the top of stain and inside canopy. Is that sounds ok? Do I use water based or oil based products? Thanks <Both are fine lines... but I like the oil-based myself... if you have a garage, somewhere you can apply, let the fumes, smell dissipate during drying/curing. Bob Fenner> Re: Stand Thanks, Bob <Welcome Phil>

Paint vs. Powder Coating 3/12/08 I am constructing a structural steel aquarium stand. <A nice way to do a large tank.> I see that commercial steel stands are generally powder coated. I am considering using DuPont Imron paint instead of powder coating. The stand is going to be shipped quite a distance, so the chance of getting the coating/paint scratched or nicked is quite high. <Hmm, the distance has less to do with this than the packing.> Imron is used on boats and is supposedly very hard. Do you have any experience with using Imron on aquarium stands ? What other paint do you suggest? Or is powder coating the best way to go for a commercial aquarium stand? <Regardless of the type of paint (Imron being great), I always opt for the powder coat. It is simply a tough, cost effective and lasting finish. My 2 cents, have fun, Scott V.>

Rusting Tank stand   1/27/07 Hi, <<Hi, Joe. Tom>> The stand on my 120 reef is rusting due to the high moisture level in the room. <<Doesn't sound good, does it?>> Wondering if you have ever heard of a stand failing due to rust and if you have any experience with Rustoleum around an up and running reef? <<Haven't heard of this personally, Joe, but I bet I will if you don't take some action to correct this. Whatever product you use, don't make it an aerosol. (Undoubtedly, you already had that one figured out but I wanted to make it perfectly clear for our readers.) One product that I'm familiar with in an industrial environment is 'Extend' Rust Inhibitor. When brushed onto the metal it appears milky white but dries black. It combines with the oxidized metal to form a protective coating that protects the underlying metal. You might want to use it as a primer and brush a top coat of another paint on for aesthetic purposes. Your preference here. Don't procrastinate on this one, Joe.>> Thanks      Joe Damone <<You're welcome. Tom>>
Re: Rusting Tank stand   1/28/07
Thanks Tom, <<No problem, Joe.>> Have you used Extend around an up and running reef? <<No, Joe, I haven't. I've used it extensively on large air handling units in a high-rise office building. Subject to high humidity loads during the "cooling" season here in Michigan and, obviously, non-toxic to people. In all honesty, though, I don't know of any implications of using it around an operating reef system, pro or con. (I'll transfer my response to Bob and seek his input. Watch the FAQ's... Tom>> <I do think/believe this material is safe once cured. BobF>

Re: Rusting Tank stand   1/28/07
Got it. but my main concern is the fumes not when its cured thanks Joe <I see... I would definitely be doing the application/curing out of doors... in a well-ventilated garage perhaps if the weather were inclement. Bob Fenner> Re: Rusting Tank stand  1/29/07 I guess I am not being clear. I want to do this with the reef tank up and running ON THE STAND Thanks <Sorry... I would NOT do this... I would take the tank down temporarily (yes, a big job) prep./clean the stand, paint it up. allow it to cure... then re-set-up. BobF>

Re: Rusting Tank stand  1/29/07
Bob,        Thanks for your input. Is  the reason you would not do it when the tank is up and running is because of contamination issues? Thanks Joe <Mmm, only partially... Mostly the desire to do a thorough job (need to get off most all the rot/rust) and secondly to avoid fume issues. BobF>

Wood finishing, plumber's tape for threaded connections, painted backgrounds, whew! Hi Guys (a generic term that includes the female members of the crew ;o) <Watch this...> I have searched WWM & couldn't find a relevant answer - hopefully I've not missed! <We'll see... or add to it> Just a quickie re finishing the woodwork for my new 24" cube - I will need some sort of finish on the veneered panels that I have now got for the new tanks cabinet and open topped hood but I am not sure what would be most suitable, I have been looking for some sort of polyurethane varnish type stuff but have so far drawn a blank (maybe its just called something else in the UK?).  The main area for concern will clearly be the hood woodwork as this will be the closest to the (salt) water & thus more chance of particles of finish (or some sort of reaction leading to leaching of nasties) entering the water column (clearly something to be avoided if at all possible (however I believe in planning for the worst - comes from working for the UK government I guess lol!!)) Any pointers to a suitable finish would be more than welcome. <Polyurethanes are fine (durable, non-toxic once cured, attractive), though I am a bigger fan of Varathanes (as you speculate, perhaps a "Yank" (formerly colony) term... These come in different reflectivities (I like the less shiny), and are even more durable> Would you be able to confirm my suspicion that PTFE (plumbers) tape will be fine for sealing my new closed loop system? From what I can gather this should be fine and nicely inert. <Is... though I am a bigger fan (here we go again) of using 100% Silicone (the same material/el used for making glass aquariums... for thread to thread connections... makes a nice flexible joining, and allows for easy unthreading if needed later on... and "makes a seal" rather than allowing salt creep over time. Bob Fenner> Ok just 1 other question ;o) <Oh!> I also need to paint the back (outside obviously) of the tank black to match the weir - I am planning to use enamel paint - Japblack I think the brand is (do you see any problems here?) <Am unfamiliar with this term> - will I be OK just to go ahead and paint this or would I be better running some sandpaper or such over the area to be painted to provide a "key" or rougher surface for the paint to adhere to? <Mmm, I have used latex or water-based in-door wall paint here... sans scratching... to good effect...> Sincere thanks as usual in anticipation Cheers   Chris Got Wood? Gentlemen: My 125G saltwater tank occupies a corner of our den. The tank is encased by maple wood that has lost its luster due to the contact with saltwater. Can you recommend a product that will improve the look of the wood without presenting any caustic problems for the fish? <Yes, my fave: Lemon Oil... really works well, and smells great> The local hardware store had a wood stain and a color stick; however, both products appeared to have toxic properties. Thanks, Mitch <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Re-staining an aquarium stand. Hi Bob,  My wife wants to change the color of the stand my 75 gallon fish only tank is on. It is in the same room as my 55 reef that I have spoke to you about before.  Do you know of a good method or special stain or paint that the vapors would not hurt any of my livestock? I can remove the canopy and stain it at night. The stand is the only issue. I believe the stain would soak in without any sanding. Please advise if you have done anything like this. Thank you as always, Andrew <<I would turn off the "air entraining" devices and any air pumps during the first hour or so of this process... and do the staining on a nice warm day in the AM so you can leave windows, doors open... Then do look into the many low VOC (volatile organic compounds) water-based stains. Bob Fenner>>

To paint or not to paint Hey Bob  I am about to build a stand for my 105 gallon show tank. Heavy duty construction 2x4 and 4x4 framing and solid white oak covering and canopy. The question is : I was wanting to stain it and poly-urethane it. Is this a bad idea considering the possible flare up of fumes later on if the house was to get hot or the canopy was to get hot from the lights. And would salt creep really make it look worse after a while.  I think it would look good just sanded and treated but would look great stained and sealed. Any thoughts on the subject would be appreciated. Kevin Johnson <<I definitely would seal the top/canopy in any case... and polyurethane's are fine, as are Varathanes... and come in less glossy finishes nowadays... And lastly, there are parts for separating hot components from the wood itself... and simply Mylar type products to install inside that serve dual duty as reflectors of light, deflectors of heat... use them. Bob Fenner>>

Finish Used on Wooden Cabinets and Hoods I am building a cabinet and hood for my 29 gal reef tank out of solid oak. <Nice> What sort of finish do you recommend for these items that is non-toxic to the inhabitants of the system? <I am a huge fan of polyurethanes... in whatever choice of "reflectivity" of finish> I was planning on a typical wood stain covered with an epoxy varnish, with just the epoxy varnish (no stain) inside the cabinet where the sump will be located. Do you have any thoughts/suggestions on this topic? <I do... what you have in mind will definitely work... render the wood waterproof, protect it from rotting, be chemically inert. Bob Fenner> 

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