The best aquarium stands for saltwater aquariums are made of solid wood, usually oak or pine. A sturdy wooden frame constructed with mortise and tenon joints and reinforced with glue is the best foundation for a large saltwater aquarium.
Screws or nails are not used as they will corrode over time.
Marine grade plywood is used as the base where the tank will sit on, with an all-important styrofoam sheet between the tank’s glass base and the plywood. Because of the tremendous weight of a glass tank filled with saltwater, even a grain of sand caught between the glass base and the plywood will cause the glass to crack. The styrofoam sheet cushions the tank and compensates for any uneveness in the plywood base.
Chengai Wood Aquarium Stands
If you live in South East Asia, chengai is an extremely hard wood that is readily available. And custom built chengai aquarium stands are very common in this part of the world.
The strength and durability of chengai, sometimes referred to as ‘ironwood’, surpasses even oak.
Aquarium Stands To Avoid
When choosing an aquarium stand for your saltwater aquarium, avoid ones made out of chipboard. Chipboard is made up of wood chips held together with a binder resin. Chipboard is a cheaper substitute for solid wood and aquarium stands made out of this material are meant for freshwater aquaria. Chipboard aquarium stands are usually covered in formica or maybe even a thin veneer of wood, giving the impression of solid wood. Buyer beware!
As mentioned on our page on Ready-Made Aquariums, chipboard will warp and sag under the weight of a saltwater aquarium, causing potential problems like cracking of the aquarium glass. Or worse.
Cheaper though it may be, a chipboard aquarium stand will not give the saltwater aquarist the same peace of mind as a sturdy, solid wood aquarium stand.
Metal Aquarium Stands For Saltwater Aquariums?
Because saltwater is highly corrosive, metal aquarium stands should not be used. Metal stands are meant for freshwater and have no place in the saltwater aquarium hobby. Even stainless steel is no match for the corrosive nature of saltwater and salt spray, and will rust in a matter of months.
Only aluminum has enough resistance to corrosion and may be used in saltwater environments. Red Sea MAX plug-and-play aquariums use a cleverly designed interlocking aluminum frame inside of their wooden cabinets.
Custom-built Aquarium Stands — Who Should You Get To Build Yours?
Custom-built, solid wood aquarium stands are a requirement for tanks larger than 30 gallons.
Most reputable Local Fish Stores (LFS) provide turnkey solutions, supplying tanks, aquarium stands, lights and other equipment. But if you bought your tank elsewhere, you could give them your tank size specifications and they in turn will commission an experienced carpenter to build the stand for you. And always ask to take a look at other setups done by the LFS you are dealing with, to get an idea of the quality of their work.
More about Saltwater Aquarium Setups: