Choosing the right aquarium stand or fish tank cabinet is crucial for the safety of your setup, your fish, and your home!
In this guide, we review some of the best aquarium stands that are currently on the market, including some excellent non-tip fish tank stands. Also, we explain how to choose the perfect aquarium stand for your needs, and more.
So, let’s dive right in!
Quick Comparisons of the 5 Best Aquarium Stands
|Coralife BioCube Stand||View Product|
|Imagitarium Brooklyn Tank Stand||View Product|
|Aquatic Aquarium Stand||View Product|
|Fluval Accent Aquarium Stand||View Product|
|Aquatic Aquarium Stand||View Product|
What Is An Aquarium Stand?
An aquarium stand is simply a piece of furniture on which you place your fish tank. You can choose from a simple, metal frame design or go for a full cabinet, whichever you prefer.
What’s Your Preferred Style?
An important consideration when choosing an aquarium stand is what style of stand you want. Generally, you can choose something basic and functional or go for a stand that has a little more elaborate detail.
If you have a small tank or you just want something to hold a breeding tank or quarantine aquarium, a basic aquarium stand might do the job. Aquarium stands are basically four-legged pieces of furniture.
Although stands are the cheapest option, they don’t have integral storage space, and all the cabling that’s associated with heaters, filtration systems, etc. is on display underneath the tank. So, unless you can live with that, you might want to stretch your budget to a cabinet instead.
If you have a large tank or you want something that looks good in your home, an aquarium cabinet is going to be the best option for you. Cabinets provide storage space for items such as sumps and external canister filters, as well as concealing all the wiring that’s associated with your fish tank equipment.
Cabinets are also much safer than stands, as they tend to be more stable and are less likely to tip over.
Get The Look!
If you want to achieve a super-stylish look, shop around for a stand that coordinates well with your tank. So, if you have a tank with a matte black trim, choose a stand that’s made with the same finish.
I once saw a tank that had been set up with a monochrome theme. The tank trim and cabinet were black, the gravel was white, the silk planting was black and white, black pebbles and glass beads adorned the substrate, and even the fish community contained black and white angelfish, albino Corydoras, black mollies, and silver and black platys! Crazy, I know, but it worked!
Some tank stands come with a raised lip around the edges. So, is that lip structurally necessary, and does it make the tank safer?
Well, the lip is there purely to add a finishing touch to the cabinet, hiding the sealant and disguising some of the substrates. Given the weight of a full fish tank, a lip is not going to prevent the tank from sliding off; it’s really just there for decoration and to make sure that the tank is properly aligned on the stand.
Open Bottom Or Not?
If you have a glass tank with a rim, your aquarium stand doesn’t really need to have a base. Glass tanks are pretty strong, and a rim helps to stabilize the glass panels. However, if you have an acrylic tank, you do need a stand that has a bottom panel to support the aquarium.
To avoid placing stress on the glass panels, the tank must sit completely flat and level on the stand. Before setting your aquarium on the stand, make sure that there are no tiny bits of gravel or dust on the base. It’s a good idea to clean the stand base before you put your tank on it, and most manufacturers do recommend that you sit your aquarium on Styrofoam to reduce the risk of stress cracks developing.
On The Level
Wherever you decide to put your aquarium and stand, you must first check that the flooring is completely level.
If the floor underneath the tank slopes, there’s a very real danger that the whole setup could tip over. Also, carpet is a much less stable surface than wood or laminate, so it’s sensible to set the stand on a piece of plywood that’s cut to fit.
So, before you fill the aquarium with the substrate, water, etc., use a spirit level to check that it is sitting completely level. If the tank isn’t level, uneven pressure is placed on the panels, which could cause stress cracks to develop and may split the sealant.
Before we talk more about aquarium stands, I must warn you against the perils of using regular household furniture for your fish tank.
Regular cupboards, tables, and desks are not built or designed to take the considerable weight of a fish tank. Often, home furniture is not made from robust materials, especially MDF bedroom furniture. I remember when I had my very first aquarium, I put it on a particle board chest of drawers in my bedroom. Over time, the top of the unit began to sag, and it was purely down to luck (and an overstuffed top drawer) that the whole thing didn’t collapse, fish tank, and all!
So, always use a good quality, purpose-built aquarium stand to hold your fish tank, unless you have a very small betta tank that may be safe on a solid wood desktop.
Types Of Aquarium Stands
There are several types of aquarium stands to choose from:
Brand Name Aquarium Stands
You’ll find brand name aquarium stands for sale in most good fish stores, pet shops, and online. These stands are typically made from particleboard and MDF, and many are made very cheaply to appeal to the beginner hobbyist as an entry-level piece of equipment.
Although brand name stands do offer great value, you need to know that these cheaper stands don’t suit large freshwater tanks or saltwater aquariums in the long-term. That’s because, if you place an external sump inside the stand, the degree of humidity that’s produced can cause the material to warp. Spills present a similar problem.
Once the stand is warped, you can’t fix the damage, and the structure and strength of the stand will be compromised. For those reasons, I wouldn’t recommend a cheap, standard aquarium stand for large tanks and marine setups.
High-end Brand Aquarium Stands
At the opposite end of the price bracket, you’ll find brand name aquarium stands that are made by high-end manufacturers who specialize in building cabinets and stands for the hobbyist.
These stands are usually included in all-in-one fish tank setups, where you buy the aquarium and cabinet or stand as one unit. You can find some beautiful examples of solid oak cabinets that are built to hold your fish tank, have integral cupboard space, and can even double as TV stands and wine racks! Metal frame stands are also available if you like the idea of a framework adorned with elaborate, wrought iron effect curlicues and the like.
You can also choose from cabinets that are built from plywood or laminate, which are slightly cheaper than solid wood but can be just as effective to look at and are stronger and more robust than the cheap chain store equivalents.
Custom Build Aquarium Stands
Many of the top-end manufacturers will build you an aquarium cabinet specifically to suit your needs.
For example, if you want a solid wood cabinet with multiple shelves and extra cupboard space that will safely accommodate your 200-gallon aquarium as well as your DVD player, you can have that. However, like most designer products, a custom-built aquarium stand will set you back much more cash than most other options.
That said, if you want a tall, black cube pedestal stand to fit your tank, a custom build is most likely the best way to go.
DIY Aquarium Stands
If you’re good at carpentry, you might fancy building your own aquarium stand. Most DIY stands are built from wood and take the form of a framework, rather than a cabinet. The basic design principle entails building two box frames that are connected by four legs. The frame legs are created using several lengths of 2 x 4 or 2 x 6 for strength, and the remainder of the stand is seated in plywood for strength and aesthetics.
The bottom of the stand is in direct contact with the floor, which bears the weight of the tank. If you want to, you can cover the stand with plywood and add doors, flooring, etc. as required. To complete the aquarium stand, paint it inside and out using marine varnish and an oil-based primer to waterproof the wood.
Benefits Of Using An Aquarium Stand
Although you could keep your fish tank on the floor, there are several benefits to using an aquarium stand:
- Creates a feature and focal point for your room
- Keeps your tank safe from damage
- Provides a place to store tank maintenance supplies, fish food, etc.
- Screens cabling from view
- Enables access for maintenance, feeding, etc.
Placing your fish tank on a proper stand also means that you get a great view of your pets, which you’ll miss out on if the aquarium is on the floor.
Factors In Choosing An Aquarium Stand
So, what factors do you need to look for when choosing an aquarium stand?
Type Of Material
Aquarium stands are made from several different types of material, and that can affect how the stand performs, as well as cost and aesthetics.
MDF And Particleboard
MDF or particleboard is the cheapest type of material that’s used to make aquarium stands and cabinets. Most imported and chain store tank stands are made from that material and offer a very affordable solution to those on a limited budget.
Unfortunately, these stands are generally unsuitable for large tanks or marines because the humidity from the sump can cause the material to warp. If you’re a competent woodworker, you may be able to seal and paint the material to protect the stand from water damage. However, we recommend that you buy the best quality aquarium cabinet or stand that you can afford for the safety and longevity of the setup.
Better quality brands generally use plywood to build their tank stands and cabinets, and it’s also the best bet if you’re planning on building your own stand.
Although it’s more costly than MDF, plywood is considerably stronger and is far less susceptible to water damage. You can choose from different finishes, ranging from pine and oak to plain black or white. If you build your own stand, you can stain and seal plywood in the color and finish of your choice.
Top-of-the-range tank cabinets are made from solid natural wood, typically pine or oak. These are stunning pieces of furniture that make an impressive addition to your home, especially with a stunningly aquascaped, integrated fish tank. Solidly constructed and professionally finished, solid wood aquarium stands are right at the top of the price range, but they’re built to last and come in many variations to suit all purposes and tastes.
If you have a very large aquarium, a metal stand is probably a good cost-effective option for you. Metal stands offer very strong support for your tank, as well as providing easy access to your sump, other equipment, and associated cabling.
Metal stands are usually made from aluminum or stainless steel. Aluminum is especially popular in many countries as it’s very lightweight and easy to work with if you’re attempting a custom build. The main downside of aluminum is that it tends to be expensive.
If you choose an enclosed cabinet rather than an open-frame stand for your fish tank, storage is an important consideration.
Most aquarium cabinets have cupboard space and limited shelving underneath them where you can keep equipment such as extra pumps, a sump, external canister filter, cabling, etc. Cabinets usually have large doors that screen all your kit and holes in the backboard for wiring, keeping everything neat and tidy. There’s often space to keep fish food, medication, spare filter cartridges, and other sundries, too.
When you’re searching for a cabinet for your aquarium, make a list of everything that you want to keep in there to be sure that all your kit will fit comfortably.
If you have a very large sump, make sure that you can remove it easily for maintenance. That’s especially important if you buy a cabinet with an open-top. Dropping the sump in from above is all very well, but it’s not great if you discover subsequently that the unit won’t fit through the cabinet doors!
Generally, an aquarium stand is open at the top. That’s fine if you have a glass tank, but you must support the base of the aquarium if it’s made of acrylic. If you buy a rimless aquarium, I recommend that you buy a self-leveling mat or using Styrofoam tiles to prevent the stand from creating pressure points in the glass. In fact, most aquarium stand manufacturers supply everything you need for a rimless or acrylic tank and the point of purchase.
When you choose an aquarium stand, remember that the height of the unit will dictate your viewing experience. So, consider whether you are intending to view the tank from a seated or standing position.
Most standard fish tank stands are designed for seated viewing and are generally 30 inches high or smaller. However, many higher-end stands and all-in-one designs are taller, usually measuring from 30 to 36 inches in height. Some stands come with adjustable feet, enabling you to raise or lower the tank to suit your viewing experience.
Location And Available Space
There’s no point in buying an aquarium stand for your 65-gallon tank if it doesn’t fit in the space where you want to put your setup. So, measure the location carefully before you buy the cabinet or stand, and remember that you’ll need space to accommodate wall sockets behind the unit.
Ease Of Setup
If you’re a dab hand at assembling flatpack furniture, putting an aquarium stand together should be a breeze for you! However, if you’re new to such activities or you’re likely to want to relocate your tank in the future, it’s better to look for a stand that’s easy to set up. For example, some aquarium stands come with metal-to-metal fittings that can be more challenging to assemble than wooden screws.
That being said, I once ordered a pedestal stand for a hexagonal fish tank, which arrived flat-packed. Now, I’m not a DIYer, but the manufacturer’s instructions that came with the unit were very clear; I did manage to set up the stand relatively easily, and it didn’t collapse!
Tank Size and Shape
If you’re buying a non-specific aquarium cabinet, you need to make sure that it’s fit for purpose and will comfortably and safely carry your fish tank.
If you have a very large, heavy fish tank, it will need to be supported by a durable, strong cabinet or stand that matches the gallon capacity of the aquarium. Some stands are specifically built to carry rectangular tanks, whereas others are more suitable for bow-shaped aquariums.
Finally, you need to decide what look you want your aquarium stand to have. As mentioned, stands and cabinets come in a variety of finishes and colors from natural wood-effect to black ash and white gloss. Of course, if you go for a custom build or take the DIY route, you can choose the perfect finish to match your interior décor system.
If you want a breeder tank or a hospital tank, the look of the setup is not as important as it is for your main display aquarium. In that case, a plain metal stand would most likely do the job.
How To Clean And Care For An Aquarium Stand
As well as maintaining and caring for your aquarium, you’ll need to look after the cabinet, too, as part of your weekly tank cleaning routine.
Metal stands are pretty straightforward to clean, depending on their intricacy. A plain steel or aluminum aquarium stand just requires a weekly wipe over with a damp cloth to remove dust and water stains.
MDF, Particleboard, And Plywood Stands
Most MDF, particleboard, and plywood aquarium stands have shelves inside that will need wiping over to get rid of dust and drip marks. Use a damp cloth for that job, and be sure to remove any traces of moisture afterward with a dry cloth.
The outside of the cabinet can be dusted and cleaned with furniture polish to add shine. Don’t spray the polish directly onto the cabinet, though; spray the cloth and then wipe the unit down, taking care not to get polish anywhere near the aquarium water.
Solid Wood Stands
Solid wood aquarium cabinets should be cared for as you would do any kind of wooden furniture. Although the unit will be treated and varnished, you must wipe away any water splashes or drips immediately so that the wood doesn’t stain.
Dust the cabinet inside and out, and apply a wood treatment product every couple of weeks to keep the wood from drying out and keep it looking good. Again, be sure to keep any polishes well away from the water and your fish.
Top 5 Best Aquarium Stand Reviews
Now that you know all about aquarium stands and what to look out for when you’re choosing one let’s take a look at our five favorites.
1. Coralife BioCube Stand
- Aquariums from 29 to 32 gallons
- 21.5 x 20.5 x 29.5 inches
The Coralife Biocube aquarium stand is extremely smart and nicely designed with a modern look that will complement any interior home decoration scheme. The matte black finish is unobtrusive and leaves your aquarium and its occupants as the stars of the show.
The stand has double doors that open right out to allow easy access to any equipment or supplies that you may want to store inside the unit on the handy shelf. Cut-out holes at the rear of the unit enable you to pass electrical wiring through to access power outlets behind the stand.
The stand is crafted using high-quality, water-resistant materials, and it’s super-easy to assemble and set up. You can use this stand with both freshwater and saltwater tanks.
2. Imagitarium Brooklyn Metal Tank Stand
- Aquariums of 40 gallons
- Various sizes
For those hobbyists who want a minimalist, no-fuss look to their aquarium stand, Imagitarium’s Brooklyn metal tank stand could be the perfect solution.
Solidly constructed from durable solid steel, this tank stand is certainly built to last and is designed to safely carry aquariums of up to 40 gallons. Although the stand is open and doesn’t have any form of shelving, so all your cables will be on display, and the smart black finish does make the stand unobtrusive if you did decide to use it for your main display tank.
The height of the stand is easily altered thanks to the unit’s adjustable feet.
3. Aquatic Fundamentals Upright Aquarium Stand
- Aquariums of 30, 38, 45 gallons
- Various sizes
Aquatic Fundamentals have produced this strong, durable aquarium stand that offers excellent value for money and is a very high-quality product.
The stand is built from moisture-resistant material and, rather than wooden fixings, features metal-to-metal cam locking fittings. Assembly is pretty straightforward, and the product comes with very detailed instructions, so it’s ideal for those with limited experience of flatpack construction.
The sturdy fiberboard that’s used to create the stand is coated in water-resistant black that prevents warping, as well as giving the stand a modern, smart look that won’t detract from your aquarium. The stand has a solid top too, providing superb support for your whole tank, not just the corners, which is crucial if you have an acrylic aquarium.
4. Fluval Accent Aquarium Stand – 29 Gallon
- Aquariums of 29 gallons
- 6.2 x 15.5 x 37.8 inches
If you have a Fluval 29-gallon fish tank, the Fluval Accent aquarium cabinet is perfect for you! The smart black, unfussy design looks good in any home, regardless of whether your decoration style is modern or traditional.
The cabinet-style stand has ample storage space, including two integral shelves that will comfortably take all your aquarium kit, fish food, and other sundries. The back panel has a custom cutout that’s designed specially to take the cabling associated with the Fluval Accent aquarium’s Simpletech system.
You’ll find this stand very easy to put together, and you can be confident that it’s strong enough to safely carry your aquarium.
5. Aquatic Fundamentals Black Bowfront Aquarium Stand
- Aquariums of 72 gallons
- 16.2 x 27 x 28 inches
Bow-front fish tanks give you a beautiful panoramic view of your setup and its occupants, although their shape can make it tricky to find a suitable stand. Fortunately, Aquatic Fundamentals has you covered with its specially designed aquarium stand that’s constructed specially for bow-front tanks.7
The stand is made from extra-dense fiberboard that resists moisture and humidity while retaining its shape. The unit has a smart, black powder-coating finish that works very well with most interior décor schemes. The stand is easy to put together and has metal-to-metal locking fittings, ensuring longevity and a stable, secure build that won’t let you down.
If you have a fish tank, the safest place to display it is on a specially-built aquarium stand. Never put your aquarium on a piece of regular household furniture, as that won’t be strong enough to bear the weight of a tank full of water and could potentially collapse.
We hope that you enjoyed our guide to choosing an aquarium stand and found the product reviews helpful. Our favorite stand of those that we reviewed for you is the Coralife Biocube.
This unfussy, understated aquarium stand takes tanks from 29 to 32 gallons, and the neat design means that the unit will fit comfortably into most homes. We love the modern matte black finish of the stand that looks great but doesn’t distract the viewer from the fish tank itself. There’s plenty of easy-to-access storage via the cabinet’s double doors, and cut-away holes at the rear of the stand are the perfect size to accommodate all your electrical cables.
There’s no need to worry about humidity or splashes, as the stand is built from water-resistant materials, making it ideal for use with both marine and freshwater aquariums.