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Thread: Looking to Earthquake proof aquarium stand

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    SCAPE Member Just Planted ichthyogeek's Avatar
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    Looking to Earthquake proof aquarium stand

    I'm moving to LA soon-ish (sometime in the next two months), and I'm very, very, very excited to be able to keep aquariums and not have to worry about moving every 3 months because of school. But LA has earthquakes, and I'm just...confused mostly. I don't know what my apartment is going to be like, since I still need to find one, but I'm more worried about tanks falling and stuff.

    I was thinking of making a stand like this one:


    since it's the cheapest option available to me. Original plans had a sump, followed by two tiers of tanks above it with it, draining top down to the bottom sump. But that won't mean squat if an earthquake has the tanks toppling down. Does anybody have specific advice on how I can create/buy cheap stands that are earthquake tolerant for systems like this? I know absolutely nothing about "wall studs" or building my own stand, but if it's cheap, and relatively easy to do, I can manage it. I've tried looking for how to earthquake proof wall mounting (which I think is what I'm supposed to do? By attaching the tank stands to the wall? But so far, I'm not pulling up very useful advice....

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    Moderator Master SCAPER Nick Shades's Avatar
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    A handful of us have had the earth quake disasters, and for most of those, it is because the stand was either not built correctly, or anchored to the walls/studs.

    Your best bet, always, is to anchor the stand itself via its load bearing point to the load bearing studs of a load bearing wall.

    Here in Southern California, an earthquake *will* occasionally cause a structure to become irreparably damaged, but the structures, when built properly, have stood the test of time (and quakes) that they, themselves, will not have an issue unless "the big one comes," which, at that point, won't matter.

    Unfortunately your tank will be the last of your worries at that point.

    Frankly, if you design and build a stand yourself, or at the very least, get a stand built by a manufacturer, as long as it is level, and the ground is level, and the aquarium on it is designed for it to be held on it, it should be more than adequate for the little quakes we get each year.

    Cat blocks, like those in your picture are not recommended over a traditionally built stands by me as a safer alternative. If anything, they are a less expensive *temporary* choice.

    A cat block is designed to be held up in a staggered configuration with cement and rebar.

    By itself, it is not structurally sound, and I would highly recommend *against* it if you were seeking peace of mind.

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    SCAPE Member Just Planted ichthyogeek's Avatar
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    Ah, sigh* I was really hoping that I could get away with the cheapest stand available so I could max out on fish immediately. Oh well. I guess the next steps are to see if I can get away with a prefab stand like the following, that I think (???) can be anchored to the load bearing point in the walls:

    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Muscle-R...5PBB/305553565

    https://www.lowes.com/pd/edsal-Muscl...g-Unit/3529780

    https://www.costco.com/saferacks-gar...100480517.html

    I think that maybe these "muscle racks" might work? If they do, then I have to connect them to a load bearing stud, right? Does that mean that I need to buy some sort of extra material like a hook or something that will connect to the wall? I'd still have to do a cost-benefit analysis to see which is cheaper (a DIY stand or these), or is this another temporary choice?

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    SCAPE Member SCAPEr Barliman's Avatar
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    Bear in mind that, however much your stand is secure, the tank is still separate and, with enough force, will move. An acquaintance had a 60-gallon tank that rocketed off the stand during the Northridge quake and smashed when it hit the living room floor. Thankfully, quakes as strong as that are rare.

    The racks you looked at are all good, but make sure you check to see if your apartment building allows aquaria. You don't want to get it all set up, only to have the landlord tell you to get rid of it. And pay attention to weight, if you're on a second or higher floor, or over a carport. How big are the tanks you have in mind? On a related note, some of those racks stand on four feet, rather than a rim. too much weight and you could press divots into your floor, depending on the material. I considered one myself for a rack of three 20-longs and decided it just wouldn't work in my situation.

    Keep us posted how it goes!

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    Moderator Master SCAPER Nick Shades's Avatar
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    Just about every member here suffering from MTS has at least one Muscle Rack in their home. They are available in several different brands. Gladiator, Muscle Rack, and I saw a new one at WalMart now, as well.

    THey do work quite well, and the way which they are belt allows their locking features to rest inward.


    I'll be perfectly honest -- the main reason so few people are responding to this thread is because Earthquakes aren't really that much of an issue. Earthquakes happen, and when they do, you either lose alot, or you lose almost nothing.

    The one that comes to mind was one of our members, @geektom who had a reef tank in Northridge when the Northridge quake happened in the 90s. He will probably chime in, now that I have tagged him, but he had that tank collapse foward. However, he was at the quake's epicentre.

    Most quakes are only most damaging at their epicentres, and while one might feel them throughout southern california, they will epicentre anywhere along the existing faults.

    What I would recommend more than anything, if it worries you, take a good look at the fault lines on the san andreas at this map: https://usgs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/we...b0aadf88412fcf

    After you click on that link, do a search for "Northridge, CA, US" If you zoom in, you will see that there is an active fault line that passes right through Northridge. Along weith Barliman, and @geektom that makes two people in northridge that had the chaos happen.

    As you zoom out, you'll notice that the color of the fault lines change. Those are relative to particular activity of each fault line.

    You'll also notice that there are whole towns and areas with zero faults passing through them.


    if you can, pick a location to live that is as far away from any of the fault lines, and it will make it the least of your concerns.

    As I said before, we all feel quakes out here, but we just sort of take them for granted.

    I think the biggest deal is that we make sure we do not have anything over our heads when we are sleeping.
    Last edited by Nick Shades; 06-13-2020 at 04:26 PM.

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    SCAPE Member Just Planted ichthyogeek's Avatar
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    Oh good! I'm not sure why the locking features resting inwards is a plus, but it's good to know that I can rely on them!

    Huh. I kind of thought that all of SoCal was just...always at risk of earthquakes no matter where you lived, but I'm glad that I learned this! Thanks for the link to the USGS site, it's very useful! Where I'm trying to move (near Woodland Hills) it seems like there's not a lot of faults and earthquakes there, so that's good. Now I just need to figure out if the "no pets" policy of all the nearby apartments applies to fish...

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    Moderator Master SCAPER Nick Shades's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ichthyogeek View Post
    Oh good! I'm not sure why the locking features resting inwards is a plus, but it's good to know that I can rely on them!

    Huh. I kind of thought that all of SoCal was just...always at risk of earthquakes no matter where you lived, but I'm glad that I learned this! Thanks for the link to the USGS site, it's very useful! Where I'm trying to move (near Woodland Hills) it seems like there's not a lot of faults and earthquakes there, so that's good. Now I just need to figure out if the "no pets" policy of all the nearby apartments applies to fish...
    Essentially what that means is that the tension of the shelves is what keeps the support columns locked together.

    As long as you do not exceed the shelf requirement's payload (maximum weight allowed per shelf), then the heavier the item you put on the shelf actually makes it sturdier.

    You will still want to follow traditional shelving guidelines of safety and keep your heaviest items on the bottom, and your lighter items on the top, but that just means that you can have a 40 breeder on each shelf, or a 40 on the bottom, and then a 20 and a 10 up above, etc.

    Those shelves feel flimsy when there is no weeiht on them, but when you put weight on them, the shelves lock the columns in place, and they don't wiggle, because the columns rest inward, better tightening their own stability.

    I"m kind of a dork when it comes to product builds, etc, so, as most people here know, I often give way more information than is absolutely necessary.

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    SCAPE Member Just Planted ichthyogeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Shades View Post
    Essentially what that means is that the tension of the shelves is what keeps the support columns locked together.

    As long as you do not exceed the shelf requirement's payload (maximum weight allowed per shelf), then the heavier the item you put on the shelf actually makes it sturdier.

    You will still want to follow traditional shelving guidelines of safety and keep your heaviest items on the bottom, and your lighter items on the top, but that just means that you can have a 40 breeder on each shelf, or a 40 on the bottom, and then a 20 and a 10 up above, etc.

    Those shelves feel flimsy when there is no weeiht on them, but when you put weight on them, the shelves lock the columns in place, and they don't wiggle, because the columns rest inward, better tightening their own stability.

    I"m kind of a dork when it comes to product builds, etc, so, as most people here know, I often give way more information than is absolutely necessary.
    no worries about being a dork, I like learning stuff like this! Also, there are shelving guidelines??? I've mostly been playing around with single tank stands, so tank racks are a very very new concept that I haven't had the chance to explore yet. My original plan was to have a 55 gallon sump, and then 4 10 gallons side by side, then 2 20H's, with the 20H's draining down to the 10 gallons, which drained down to the 55 sump, but I don't know if that screws too hard with the shelving guidelines, since none of them should exceed the shelf requirement on the shelf they stand on...right? Mostly I was (am?) worried about the topmost tanks bouncing around too much if an earthquake happened.

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    Moderator Master SCAPER Nick Shades's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ichthyogeek View Post
    no worries about being a dork, I like learning stuff like this! Also, there are shelving guidelines??? I've mostly been playing around with single tank stands, so tank racks are a very very new concept that I haven't had the chance to explore yet. My original plan was to have a 55 gallon sump, and then 4 10 gallons side by side, then 2 20H's, with the 20H's draining down to the 10 gallons, which drained down to the 55 sump, but I don't know if that screws too hard with the shelving guidelines, since none of them should exceed the shelf requirement on the shelf they stand on...right? Mostly I was (am?) worried about the topmost tanks bouncing around too much if an earthquake happened.
    The easiest way that I can help you visualize it is this:

    Imagine a guy who weighs 160 pounds, and is 6 feet tall. Let's say he is very lean, and pretty muscular. He can lift about 60 pounds pretty easily, and if he carries it balanced at his waist, his arms will be tired after a little while, but he will stay balanced, and if someone accidentally pushes him while he is walking with this 60 pounds, it willl certainly hurt, and he will wobble a bit, but he should be able to hold onto it just fine.

    Now, imagine he has that 60 pounds on his shoulders. He can probably walk around for the whole day and after he gets used to it, it is not going to effect him much, except make him tired.

    However, that weight is on his shoulders now, and he is significantly top heavy. (at 220 total weight yield, 1/3 of his total weight yield is now on top and is not distributed evenly -- the bulk of it is quite high). If someone were to give him a firm push (or an earthquake gave him a jumble), he would very likely fall if he didn't immediately lean against a wall or other heavy structure.

    The tank stands work the same way.

    Your idea of having the 55 gallon tank at the bottom is a tremendous idea. I always sump out my tanks with a larger water volume than I have up to (or try to, anyway), and that keeps the base far more solid than anything you put up top. A big impact will hardly effect anything up top if the weight that travels down lower stays heavier than what is up top.

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    SCAPE Member Just Planted ichthyogeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barliman View Post
    Bear in mind that, however much your stand is secure, the tank is still separate and, with enough force, will move. An acquaintance had a 60-gallon tank that rocketed off the stand during the Northridge quake and smashed when it hit the living room floor. Thankfully, quakes as strong as that are rare.

    The racks you looked at are all good, but make sure you check to see if your apartment building allows aquaria. You don't want to get it all set up, only to have the landlord tell you to get rid of it. And pay attention to weight, if you're on a second or higher floor, or over a carport. How big are the tanks you have in mind? On a related note, some of those racks stand on four feet, rather than a rim. too much weight and you could press divots into your floor, depending on the material. I considered one myself for a rack of three 20-longs and decided it just wouldn't work in my situation.

    Keep us posted how it goes!
    I completely missed this, and I'm sorry about that. I detailed it below, but I'm thinking probably two racks (unsure) with the following Top, Middle, Bottom layouts: 2x 20H, 4x 10, 1x 55; 2-3x 10, 1x 20L, 4x 10 (this one's a WIP). Mostly it's for breeding purposes, the first set is for saltwater (pair of banggais, school of mollies on top in macroalgae refugiums, pairs of firefish, gobies, and who knows what in isolated 10's, and a sump; 3 schools of breeding nano fish dependent on water quality paired with various neocaridina morphs, a showy biotope-y tank maybe, and then growout tanks for any fish I breed). It's 100% a priority that the landlords/realtors allow fish tanks, I'm too far gone into the addiction to not have a fish tank, and I already spent 5 years trying to not have fish tanks sooooooo....time to dive deep. And not all at once of course haha.

    Would it be more beneficial if I put the ranks on something cheap like plywood to more evenly distribute the weight and prevent divots?

    Would the

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