Terrible Advice Tuesdays: How to Avoid Using A Structural Engineer


Terrible Advice Tuesdays: If you’re not sure if your floor will hold the weight of your tank, setup your tank first then see if the floor sags. If it does, then you’ll know how much to support the floor.

The rest of the story: There are two big problems (and countless others) wrong with this advice.

The first big problem is what if the floor fails once you setup your tank? Then you’ve got a huge mess on your hands, a really expensive repair job and hopefully along the way no one (or fish) got injured or killed.

The second big problem is that any support for the floor needs to be applied before the load (i.e. your tank) is placed on the floor. Ideally the support would be put in place before even the empty tank and stand is set in place.

When in doubt about if your floor will support the tank, call a structural engineer and have them give you a professional opinion. Waiting until there is a problem is the wrong approach.

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Comments for this article (6)

  • Bill Bush says:

    When we were putting in our 110 with 40 gallon sump and stand 60″longx24″ wide I used 3 2×10 with plywood nailed between them and made something similar to headers and used those as support columns I made 6 of them two for each end and two in the middle with the same set up laying across the top of them for support in the basement so the whole tank is supported. Yes it is over kill but the cost of replacement of the floor tank and other things plus the huge inconvenience of having to clean up a huge mess like that just isn’t worth it to me plus if we decide to go with a larger tank say a 1,000 gallon it will hold with out any further modification.

  • Darcy says:

    With regard to structural doubt, I would suggest following the same advice Mark gives for protein skimmers, go plus one. You will never regret doing a little extra as far as structure goes for the safety of your tank, your home and your family. Structural sagging may not be initially apparent and can develop over time with a consistent static load. Fixing it later is a much bigger job even if you avoid the catastrophe. If in doubt, you could start by referring to your local building codes. It should give you a guideline to the minimum load requirement of your floor. If your house is older you can be assured that the load your floor can sustain is even less. That will give you a starting point and some information when you consult an engineer on what to do. If you have doubt, it’s probably for good reason.

  • Todd says:

    Am I the only one that thought “Engineer Goby” when they first read the title?

  • Jack says:

    Good advise Mark. Same holds true for electric, get a pro involved. I have a licensed electrician installing 2 quad gfci outlets with a dedicated circuit today for tank at my new home. By the way, move on the 120 was complete success (as of 3 days). Good advise on moving and leaving a tank too Mark. Thanks for what you do for the hobby.
    Jack Destin, Fl.

  • Andrew says:

    Hey Todd…………..you are definatly not the only one. I am lucky and my
    90 gallon is on the 1st floor as you walk into my house. But if I were to go the other route I would use professional contractors. And good idea Jack on the licensed electricans, as if I tried something like that the fire dept would respond, and not to look at my beautiful aquarium

  • dave says:

    mark how about some updates on the new tank build. looking forward to it.

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