Aquarium Stands: What Size Should I Get?

“I will go back to the great sweet mother,
Mother and lover of men, the sea.”

— Algernon Charles Swinburne (‘The Triumph of Time’)


All life on Earth ultimately rose from the sea. Is it any wonder, then, that people have always felt mysteriously drawn back to the ocean—or indeed to any fair to middling size body of water—as if a child back into the loving arms of its mother? Whether lounging beside a crystalline lake, on the banks of a flowing river, or at the wave-lapped ocean’s edge, humans always seem to feel most at peace. If we could, many of us would prefer not just to live near such soul-cleansing waters, but to live in them. As air-breathers, unfortunately, that is simply not possible. What is possible, however, is to invite a small part of that watery world into our homes—in the form of an aquarium.

James Shirley Hibberd freshwater aquarium illustration
Glass freshwater aquarium of the 1850s containing Vallisneria spiralis, goldfish, roach, and minnow (illustration from James Shirley Hibberd’s The Book of the Aquarium and Water Cabinet, London, 1856) (Source)
Ever since the modern aquarium hobby craze began in Victorian England in the mid-1800s, people have been fascinated with the idea of sharing their above-sea-level living space with selected “denizens of the deep” housed comfortably in a water-filled vivarium.

And in the present day, there is no lack of commercial options as to the size and type of aquarium and mechanical accoutrements to go with it that one may purchase to accomplish that end—not to mention what kind of animals to stock it with.

Faced with such a dizzying array of choices, it is no wonder that the first question that pops into the heads of some prospective hobbyists is: “What size aquarium stand should I get?”

That is the wrong question.

The obvious answer, of course, is: “Well, how big is your fish tank?” But even before answering that question, the hobbyist should ponder a host of preliminary questions they should answer first, including:

  • How much money do you have to spare?
    This is not a cheap hobby. The cost of a quality tank, sturdy aquarium stand, fish food, cleaning supplies, medicine and supplements, and of course the fish themselves can add up to a pretty penny. Moreover, saltwater marine setups are significantly more expensive than freshwater ones. Scale your hobby to your budget.
  • How much time do you have?
    Budgeting your free time is also an important consideration. We’re not talking fish bowls or nano-tanks here, but honest-to-goodness aquaria! Think of your aquarium as a mini-ecosystem. Unlike the ocean itself, however, it will not take care of itself. You need to do that. Aside from the initial setup and periodic feeding of your fish, any size aquarium—from small to medium to large—requires constant, careful monitoring, cleaning, and maintenance on a regular basis. (Note this small irony, however: a large aquarium generally requires less maintenance than a small one, since the sheer volume of water it contains contributes to its ability to remain chemically stable and thus healthier for your fish.)
  • Where will the aquarium go?
    Intimately related to the “size” question is the “location” question. A very wide tank simply isn’t going to fit against a narrow expanse of wall. If it’s too deep, it will jut out too far and become a constant obstacle as you walk past (risking disastrous results if you crash into it while rushing out the door). It needs to be near a suitable power outlet (for electric filtration, lights, etc.), but out of direct sunlight. The area where the tank is situated can’t be too hot or too cold, since extremes of temperature (as well as abrupt temperature changes) can stress your fish. Nor should it be too close to sources of loud noise, such as music speakers or a television set: sound travels well through water, and that too will disturb the fish. Also, make sure to reserve some space for fish food and maintenance supplies and equipment. Lastly, picking just the right, permanent spot for your aquarium is vitally important for just this reason alone: once it is set up and running, the last thing you want to do is dismantle it and move it somewhere else!
  • How much will it weigh?
    Water is heavy—over 8 pounds per gallon! Can your floor support the combined weight of the tank plus dozens (if not hundreds) of gallons of water? The cubic dimensions (width × depth × height) of the empty aquarium determine the maximum amount of water it can contain. This page of aquarium calculators will help you figure out how many gallons of water are contained in a given tank size and shape.

Ultimately, the two most important questions that budding aquarists should first ask themselves are: What kind of fish do you want to keep, and how many? Which is just another way of saying: big fish or small fish? Small fish that grow into big fish, or ones that stay small? Predatory fish or purely ornamental ones? Fish that like to live solo, or ones that prefer to school? Saltwater or freshwater—or brackish? Low maintenance or high? And on and on and on.

There is an abundance of information available at aquarium stores, in libraries, and on the Web to help you answer these and other questions, which will finally help you decide what kind of aquarium tank setup to invest in. Only then can you finally answer the first question asked at the beginning of this blog: What size aquarium stand should you get?

At FramingTech we offer six different standard aquarium stand models (though custom sizes are also available). Our T-slot extruded aluminum aquarium stands provide significant advantages over other types in that they are:

  • Extremely strong and stable
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to assemble
  • Resistant to corrosion, especially from salt water

If you are ready to make the leap into the rewarding pastime of keeping an aquarium, the information below will help you calculate the amount of water (in gallons) in a given tank size (in inches, measured by width, depth, and height); along with the corresponding weight of that water and the appropriate size aquarium stand to hold the tank. Each description also includes a video showing what is possible to achieve with each size range of tank. (Note: all gallon measurements and weights are approximate.)

Behold the art of the possible….

24″ × 24″ × 24″ Aquarium

T-slot Aluminum Aquarium Stand, 24x24x36
24x24x36 aquarium stand

Volume: 55 gals • Weight: 560 lbs

Fits on 24″ × 24″ × 36″ FramingTech aquarium stand

This small aluminum aquarium stand features our 45 series aluminum extrusion attached together with corner cubes and is built to support up to a 60-gallon tank. The benefit of this simple design is that no extra machining is required.

The corner cubes come with self-threading screws that simply drive into the ends of the joining extrusion, creating a very strong and “square” frame. The leveling feet mount into pre-drilled holes, and can hold up to 900 lbs each.


36″ × 24″ × 30″ Aquarium

T-slot Aluminum Aquarium Stand, 36x24x36
36x24x36 aquarium stand

Volume: 105 gals • Weight: 1,081 lbs

Fits on 36″ × 24″ × 36″ FramingTech aquarium stand

This modest-sized aluminum aquarium stand features T-slots on all faces of the extrusion (great for mounting panels) with a clear anodized finish and matching silver hardware. The kit also features leveling feet and end caps to hide any exposed ends.


48″ × 24″ × 36″ Aquarium

T-slot Aluminum Aquarium Stand, 48x24x36
48x24x36 aquarium stand

Volume: 170 gals • Weight: 1,759 lbs

Fits on 48″ × 24″ × 36″ FramingTech aquarium stand

This medium-sized aluminum aquarium stand features T-slots on all faces of the extrusion (great for mounting panels) with a clear anodized finish and matching silver hardware. The kit also features leveling feet and end caps to hide any exposed ends.


60″ × 24″ × 42″ Aquarium

T-slot Aluminum Aquarium Stand, 60x24x36
60x24x36 aquarium stand

Volume: 245 gals • Weight: 2,634 lbs

Fits on 60″ × 24″ × 36″ FramingTech aquarium stand

This large aluminum aquarium stand features T-slots on all faces of the extrusion (great for mounting panels) with a clear anodized finish and matching silver hardware.  The kit also features leveling feet and end caps to hide any exposed ends.


72″ × 24″ × 48″Aquarium

T-slot Aluminum Aquarium Stand, 72x24x36
72x24x36 aquarium stand

Volume: 340 gals • Weight: 3,576 lbs

Fits on 72″ × 24″ × 36″ FramingTech aquarium stand

This extra-large aluminum aquarium stand features T-slots on all faces of the extrusion (great for mounting panels) with a clear anodized finish and matching silver hardware. The kit also features leveling feet and end caps to hide any exposed ends.


96″ × 36″ × 48″Aquarium

T-slot Aluminum Aquarium Stand, 96x36x36
96x36x36 aquarium stand

Volume: 685 gals • Weight: 6,887 lbs

Fits on 96″ × 36″ × 36″ FramingTech aquarium stand

This super-sized aluminum aquarium stand features T-slots on all faces of the extrusion (great for mounting panels) with a clear anodized finish and matching silver hardware. The kit also features leveling feet and end caps to hide any exposed ends.


Do you like any of these designs but need it sized differently? If so, please contact us today! We can easily modify any dimension, or tailor any design to your specific needs.

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