Jon's 180 Tank build- completed stand

DIY Aquarium Build: Tank Stand Build

By Jon Slomski

If some of  you have been following along to my previous article, I am adding a 180 gallon system to my house.  In the past I had kept my reef in a 55 gallon setup which started to run out of room as of late.  The first step was to beef up the floor so that it could carry the weight of the new tank.  With that now complete, I am starting work on the  stand.  I”ll try to keep adding updates as I go so that you can follow along.

The two primary layouts when setting up a large reef system are an in wall system and a free standing system.  In wall systems are where the aquarium is set into the wall and the guts of the system is either behind that wall in another room or through the floor to a basement.  More traditionally, free standing systems feature a layout where the aquarium sits on a stand with the guts of the system located directly underneath inside the stand.  The primary problem with the stand is most commercial stands do not offer enough space inside the stand to fit all of the devices and filters needed to properly run a reef system.  For this reason a custom DIY stand is almost a requirement to allow room for all of the equipment to run a successful reef system.

Jon Tank Stand Build 1

Tank Stand Layout

I will be focusing on the stand layout today and how to do to build a customer DYI stand for a 180 reef system. The three main considerations when building a custom stand is weight capacity, usable space inside, and aesthetics.  For this stand I wanted to make sure it was able to hold the weight of a 180 gallon tank which I calculated to be at least 1500lbs.  For this amount of  weight, I chose the frame to be constructed primarily out of 4×4’s fastened together with 8” corrosion resistant hex head lag screw.  It took and impact wrench to drive these puppies in.  This may be a little overkill but better safe than sorry. I drilled  ½” notches for the screw head to fit in so it was able to lay flush with the wood.

Most commercial stands sit roughly 32” tall. This really not enough room to fit a sump/refugium , skimmer and extras underneath comfortably. I decided to go 40” tall. This will give me almost an additional 8 cubic ft to work with.   This will allow for a 55 gallon refugium plus will give me an additional 20 inched for a skimmer, ATO reservoir, dosing equipment  and any shelving.

Making The Tank Stand Look Nice

For the exterior of the stand I went with red oak. I used ½’ inch red oak plywood for the sides and ¾” red oak boards for the front face. Oak is a very durable hard wood that can be stained easily to color of choice. I fastened this to the frame with 2.5 inch wood screws where they would be

Jon Tank Stand Build 2

hidden with trim and finishing nail where they would be visible. You can lay any desired plywood for the bottom. I went with 1/8” to save on weight.




I decided to play around with some different stains before adding the trim. This is a little out of order most people would put trim on before staining but I want to goof around to find out what look I wanted to go with. I then added trim of choice and a few final coats of stain. After staining,

Jon Tank Stand Build 3

allow dry for at least 24 hours. Once stain is dry add several layers of water based polyurethane for protection and a finished look. I also applied silicone the inside and top to prevent water from entering the seams.


Finishing Touches

I ordered customer made doors and instead of hinges I will use magnets so I am able to remove the door completely for work underneath.  One other item that I am adding to this build is a ½” foam board that will be placed between the tank and the stand to make it as level as possible and to eliminate any uneven spots.

Jon's 180 Tank build- completed stand

Next up, the tank gets moved into place with a few special touches.