Building Stands for School Reef Tank

PistachioSkyBird

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Hello! I am looking in to building a stand for a 300 gallon reef tank for a school. I am looking to save money by building it with the help of a master welder who has donated his time to help build other school projects. I am new to the reef hobby and am not sure what exactly I need to watch out for with building the stand. I know that it needs to be level and obviously support the immense weight of the water. I am planning on using stainless steel 90s that are between 4 to 6 inches wide. I think I will be able to get some of the ones that they normally use as roof supports for large buildings. What are other things that I need to take in to account?

When I talked to the local fish store they warned me that I only get a 30 day warranty instead of a 3 year warranty if I put the tanks on stands that are not from the same company. Is that worth it?

They will be sitting on a tile floor that has concrete underneath. Are there any suggestions for how to make the feet? Something adjustable would make it easier to level but I don't know if it will be strong enough. Is there something I can do to help protect the tile floor?

There will be 3 other tanks that are installed at the same time. Here is a proposed design for the tanks and the stands. The saltwater tank is the one closest to the camera (and the one that has the sump underneath).
Screenshot 2022-09-16 071706.png
 
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Dave_1972

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I would consider going mild steel and having it powder coated rather than using stainless. Stainless is going to have it's own requirements for welding - your master welder can handle it I'm sure but you might run the idea of simply having it powder coated past them. Find a local to do the powder coat and maybe they cut you a break on price since it is for the school.

As for leveling - your master welder should be able to produce a level stand - if the floor is unlevel maybe you could simply do steel shims under specific legs to level it. Protecting the tile - I would think load distribution is your best bet there - but that much weight - even distributed - I'd be concerned about the tile. I've installed my fair share of tile and one void in the tile cement in the wrong spot and it will crack. It may even be more likely to crack depending upon the type of tile. So rather than thinking of protecting the tile- I'd think in terms of what to do if it cracks.

If it were my own home - I'd cut the tile, remove it to get down to the concrete, seal the concrete, then do a nice looking edge where the tile was cut. But I'm guessing the school wouldn't be okay with that - so I'd just make sure I had spare tile that matches what is installed now in case it needs to be repaired two years down the road.
 
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I would consider going mild steel and having it powder coated rather than using stainless. Stainless is going to have it's own requirements for welding - your master welder can handle it I'm sure but you might run the idea of simply having it powder coated past them. Find a local to do the powder coat and maybe they cut you a break on price since it is for the school.

As for leveling - your master welder should be able to produce a level stand - if the floor is unlevel maybe you could simply do steel shims under specific legs to level it. Protecting the tile - I would think load distribution is your best bet there - but that much weight - even distributed - I'd be concerned about the tile. I've installed my fair share of tile and one void in the tile cement in the wrong spot and it will crack. It may even be more likely to crack depending upon the type of tile. So rather than thinking of protecting the tile- I'd think in terms of what to do if it cracks.

If it were my own home - I'd cut the tile, remove it to get down to the concrete, seal the concrete, then do a nice looking edge where the tile was cut. But I'm guessing the school wouldn't be okay with that - so I'd just make sure I had spare tile that matches what is installed now in case it needs to be repaired two years down the road.
Thank you! A few other people have mentioned the powder coating option. I will definitely look in to it.

I wasn't sure if there was something special about leveling the stand. It seemed like everyone I talked to implied that it was harder than just making sure it was level.

I don't think that they will allow me to cut in to the tile. There are already several places through out the school where the tile has cracked but it hasn't started coming away from the floor. I image they have some way of making sure that it stays down.

These fish tanks will also be replacing existing tanks. The old tanks that are beginning to leak and their wood stands are not holding up well. This is why we are looking at replacing them. The floor underneath the old tanks may already be cracked so it may not be an issue. I guess we will find out when we start removing the old tanks.
 
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PistachioSkyBird

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As an engineer, I don’t like seeing angle iron used as the upper rails of a stand because the axis of the geometry causes them to twist under load. If possible, a box profile would be my recommendation with vent holes to keep it from corroding from the inside out.
That is a good point. The tanks will be 8 ft long so there will be a good length that could twist. I will definitely look in to finding something that is square rather than the 90s. With the square rods that means that the tanks will be sitting on top, rather having the 90s come up over the edge. Do you think that the same adhesive used to hold metal stands to granite tops would hold the tanks on to the stands well enough? They will be along the wall in the main hall way of the school.
 

TangerineSpeedo

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Don’t worry about holding the tanks to the stands, at 3000 Lbs plus, it is not going anywhere. Also using stainless sounds good in theory, but only high grade stainless is really rust resistant and that will also harder to weld and have less flex. You have to tig weld it and make a jig and the cost factor can get out of hand pretty fast. You can also purchase adjustable feet that will support the weight from Mcmaster-carr, just get with you welder before hand so he can get the right size material to weld them in. I am pretty sure that 14-16 gauge mild box steel should work fine depending on your box size availability. You can look up the size/span/ defection in the engineer's handbook. but your welder should have a good idea. Then just powdercoat it. I would skip the vent holes. Where you live, the humidity in the summers compounded with a sump in the base may have the vent holes doing the exact opposite of their intent. Also if these are going to be framed tanks, which in a school setting I would recommend, the tanks can sit right on the stands. If you are going rimless you will have to use a high density foam board or styrene in between the tank and the stand. Actually since this is a school, it should be acrylic. You will also have to use some sort of board.
 
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