DIY Aquarium Stands and Pet Enclosures

Keeping an aquarium is a hobby that many worldwide enjoy greatly. Whether freshwater or saltwater, aquarium enthusiasts have taken the hobby to the next level by building bigger tanks. Hobbyists and companies who install residential and commercial aquariums have been using t-slot for constructing stands and shelving for several years to help achieve these extreme aquarium setups.

It is easy to see why t-slot is an optimal choice for durability and strength for supporting thousands of pounds of water. Beyond its strength and durability, t-slotted aluminum extrusions are corrosion-resistant and modular, so it’s no surprise that it has surpassed other materials such as steel and wood. With t-slot, there are numerous profiles, fasteners, hardware, and accessories for constructing any size of aquarium stand, base, shelving, racks, or cabinets. 

For a long time, steel has been the go-to material for aquarium stands and shelving because it is cheap and strong. Unfortunately, steel comes with several downsides: 

  • It will always need to be welded and bolted for assembly
  • It corrodes quickly and will need to be sanded and painted to prevent rust
  • It is heavy once assembled
  • No modular capabilities 

Wood has also been a chosen material for aquarium stands for decades, primarily so that the aquarium fits the room’s aesthetics. However, wood and particleboard will soften when it becomes wet, increasing its chances of collapsing. For these reasons and more, aluminum t-slot has become a superior building material for aquatic stands, bases, and shelves. 

T-Slot Aluminum Aquarium Stand Benefits 

With t-slot aluminum, aquarium stands and shelving can be customized to suit any space and size. T-slot offers aquarium enthusiasts and aquarium businesses several benefits. 

  • Aluminum t-slot can be machined to very tight tolerances and have shorter lead times
  • Can be shipped in kit form, pre-assembled, or fully assembled
  • Assembly is done with no welding or special tools
  • It comes in a variety of finishes and colors
  • Has an extensive line of accessories
  • Light and easy to move once assembled
  • It can be quickly disassembled and reconfigured if needed

Another benefit to using t-slot is that most companies who offer it can put your information into CAD software and perform load analysis tests on the stand or shelving. This will help ensure the structure’s capabilities before it is ever created and built.

Planning Your T-Slot Aquarium Stand 

Information needed when ordering t-slot aluminum framing for an aquarium stand should include:

  • The type of aquarium: glass or acrylic 
  • Measurements and gallon capacity of aquarium (include any framing)
  • Measurements and gallon capacity of SUMP (if applicable)
  • The stand’s desired measurements 
  • If the stand will need leveling feet
  • Specify the type of water being used

Sketches of the stand are also helpful. Mentioned above, some companies offer free design and quoting software to download and use. Upon entering all the needed information, the software will provide a bill of materials, 3D model, and a tag drawing if you choose to purchase the t-slotted framing for your project.

When building aquarium stands or bases, the most beneficial part of using CAD software will come when determining how much weight the stand can handle. A gallon of freshwater can weigh approximately 8.3 lbs. whereas a gallon of saltwater weighs about 8.6 lbs. So, if you have a 55-gallon aquarium, that means that its weight will be over 450 lbs. for freshwater and over 470lbs for saltwater. With the CAD software, a structural load test can be done with the specific water type to ensure that the t-slot framing system will hold the aquarium.

Other Aquatic Applications and More

No matter the size of the application, t-slot aluminum can provide multiple solutions such as:

  • Bases 
  • Light stands
  • Shelving 
  • Filter rack 
  • Cabinets

Since t-slot has many types of accessories, you can create motorized lids with light mounts, paneled enclosures for growth tanks, or mounting frames for water filtration systems. T-slotted aluminum can also be used for other types of pets. Pet enclosures for parrots, reptiles, and small mammals can be made out of t-slotted aluminum.

T-slotted aluminum framing systems fit various types of panels. When mounted to the framing system, a pet enclosure can be made to house a variety of animals. T-slot panels come in several types from acrylic to expanded wire mesh, polycarbonate, expanded PVC, and more. Other accessories such as door handles and locks can be added for ease of use and security.

For more t-slot aluminum ideas or if you have any questions about how to use t-slot, check out our forum or read an article or two.

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