leveling a 125 gallon tank

mcordelia

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Hi Everyone,

finally got the 125 set up and leak tested, and though it was level on the stand empty, uneven compression in the carpet showed the ugly reality. I have a ton of pictures and a video below since I can't have you guys show up in my living room and take a look, but here's some description first:

Dimensions of tank: 72″ L x 18″ W x 21″ H (these are from google, I didn't measure mine since ballpark only matters for this post)

The stand is particle board (I know, it was part of a kit and this is what is within budget), and is form-fitting to the bottom of the aquarium. The top of the stand is a solid board, as opposed to just the edges. Construction-wise, the bottom of the stand is built on a rectangle that sits on the ground, and has vertical bracing distributing the weight.

The tank sits on carpeting, which is laid on a concrete slab. No crawlspace or basement underneath. The room the tank is in is an addition to the original house, and structurally is a step down from the level of the floor in the main house (there is a basement under the rest of the house). The wall the tank is against is structural (originally designed as an exterior wall).

To give the overall picture, here is a picture of the tank in its permanent location.

1611247019910.png


I have color coded the corners in the pictures following for easier comprehension. The front left corner (yellow) is the lowest, and the right rear corner (green) is the highest. This has the unfortunate end result of twist or torque on the bottom pane, since it is not a uniform unlevelness.

First, a video of the tank overall when filled is at this link:
The playroom is on the other side of the wall, yes its a mess.

and here are specific shots. I tried my best with the tape measure (inches on left, cm on right), but I realize that perspective can alter exactly what comes through in the pictures, especially since I didn't want to dunk my phone in the tank :D

1611247929285.png


1611248161050.png



The following images are a clockwise rotation around the tank, starting with the yellow-red (left when standing in the room) edge, then red-green (back) edge, then green-blue (right), then blue-yellow (front) edge.

1611248278015.png


1611248332010.png


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1611248482653.png


1611248523799.png



Here are my specific questions/concerns:

1) skew/torque: In my opinion, this is the worst type of situation, since excess force is also being distributed along the bottom pane in this case. The tank is now empty, and I would like to avoid too many fill/empty cycles before it is actually level.

2) where is this problem arising from? From what I understand, carpet is installed by folding the edge part under itself, at least along certain walls, but I'm not sure how the carpet has been installed in this room. There is a gap between both walls and the stand, so I would assume/hope that that would not be a major contributing factor. There are no obvious bulges anywhere, so I'm not sure if the unevenness arises from the carpet, the pad, something having been left under one of the layers, or unevenness in the slab itself. It is also possible that the stand contributes to the non-levelness, but I don't know since the tank and stand were placed simultaneously, and I did not have an opportunity to test the stand for levelness before the tank was placed on top.

3) how to fix? Because the stand is particle board, I am not sure how much shimming it can take before it itself fractures. Should I get a large plywood board and shim that underneath the stand? How the heck am I going to accomplish that? (We had help lifting it into the house, but I am not much help to hubby in these kinds of "strength" endeavours).

4) should I also get a thin aquarium mat between the top of the stand and the bottom of the tank? because it is a braced tank, I can't put styrofoam underneath it out of a concern that over time it will begin to press UP against the bottom glass after it has indented enough, but what about a rubber mat? would it make any difference?

I appreciate and welcome any analysis, advice, and experiential anecdotes on this topic. Let me know if you would like additional video or pictures. Thank you!!!

@Naterjm @WhistlingBadger @itiwhetu @Colin_T @magical trevor @Stan510 @clambert122
 
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mrsjoannh13

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Okay so this is the educated guess from my husband who is pretty knowledgeable about construction. He thinks that the back of your tank is higher because it is sitting on a carpet tack strip. So when carpet is laid there is a slim strip of wood with tacks sticking up that keeps the carpet down around the edges of the room. If that's the case you'd need to pull the stand and tank forward another inch or two in order to get it off the carpet tack strip.
 

eatyourpeas

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No construction expert here, and you have tagged the right people on your post. My understanding of carpet installation is that they glue a wood strip with inverted nails in order to affix the carpet to the floor. That may explain the difference in height tilting the tank forward.
 

eatyourpeas

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Okay so this is the educated guess from my husband who is pretty knowledgeable about construction. He thinks that the back of your tank is higher because it is sitting on a carpet tack strip. So when carpet is laid there is a slim strip of wood with tacks sticking up that keeps the carpet down around the edges of the room. If that's the case you'd need to pull the stand and tank forward another inch or two in order to get it off the carpet tack strip.
Haha, pushed the post button at about the same time :)
 
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mcordelia

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Thanks @mrsjoannh13 and @eatyourpeas ! I definitely considered the tack strip, and I actually observed what we had in other rooms when we converted to hardwood. On our stairs, which we left as carpet, I can feel the tack strip underfoot when I push with my foot by the edge of the wall, but I can't feel a tack strip in this room. However, I'm not sure if that is because a) the installation is different where it's on a slab, or b) the pad is just thicker because it's on a cold slab. The tank is 3-4'' (I seem to have misplaced my tape measure at the moment) from the wall, so if tack strip is normally used for slab installation (install was probably originally done in the 70's based on the age of the house and the other stuff we tore up in other rooms, though I think the carpet itself has been replaced since), then this could be worth a try.

This would definitely be the easiest solution to the problem, minus the part where I then have to figure out how to keep kiddos from pushing their way in between the wall and the tank....
 

eatyourpeas

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This would definitely be the easiest solution to the problem, minus the part where I then have to figure out how to keep kiddos from pushing their way in between the wall and the tank....
Ahh, good luck with that! Maybe a very heavy plant pot? Our son managed to wedge himself between a wall and a closet door when he was little, and he survived and is now 20, but there was no heavy parting of the waters involved. ;)

I hope it ends up being that trivial a solution.
 
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mcordelia

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I just briefly discussed this with hubby, and he was thinking shimming the tank to make up for the existence of any tack strips in the rear would be preferable from the "kids in small spaces" as well as the aesthetic perspective. I'm not sure if that's feasible with this stand though?
 
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WhistlingBadger

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Yeah, this is a very common problem, and I think it is because of the tack strip. I was going to suggest moving the tank out a bit, then read @eatyourpeas' nightmare scenario so I won't suggest that. :lol: If it were me, I would get a piece of 1/4" lathe the same length as the tank stand and put it, maybe even attach it, under the front of the stand. That might be a terrible idea, but it's what I would do.
 

Naterjm

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@mcordelia How long is your longest level? I have a few things I would suggest trying out before I got writing out solutions.

i don’t have that time right now anyways, but I can toss in a few ideas later tonight...
 
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mcordelia

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My longest level is about 6ft long. Awesome, thanks for putting some thought into this! I am in no hurry :)
 

Naterjm

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First things first, anyone else reading this, if you don’t have at least a 4ft level, get one. The longer the level, the more accurate the reading. Definitely want a 6ft level if you have a 6ft tank. Worth the investment.

Now that we have the PSA out of the way, onto leveling your tank.

I suspect you may have the backside of the tank stand sitting on the tack strip as others have suggested.

But we’re going to check for sure. You will need your husband for this one. The two of you are going to find how level the floor is off of the wall that your tank is up against. Start by butting the level up to the wall, or trim on the yellow corner, on the other side of that air return. Both of you are going to put one knee on either side of that level, as close to the end of that level as possible. Then lean over and take note of where the bubble is. It’s going to say it’s high at the wall. But we are trying to determine how high, and judging by your measurements, it’s pretty significant.

After you’ve taken note of where your bubble is, do the same thing but bring the level about 8” off the wall. This should give you the ability to compress the carpet over six feet, but 6-7” away from the tack strip that might be holding the back side of the stand up.

If the Bubble is in the exact same spot as it was before, it’s the slope of the concrete. If the bubble is closer to the middle, that means the level was sitting up when it was closer to the wall and you should assume the stand is probably sitting on the strip and that is the next thing we need to address.

the reason I’m suggesting this, is because you mentioned it was an addition, and the floor is concrete, a step down from the main level. Sometimes when they build these slabs on the outside of the house, there is a floor drain. And if there is a floor drain, it’s usually somewhere in the centre of the floor, and all the concrete will be poured and slopes to that drain, to prevent water pooling and sitting on the concrete.

this makes sense that the very least you have sloping floors, because if your floors were otherwise level (edit: and the stand was sitting up on a tack strip) the water level you’re measuring would be high at the back of the tank, and low at the front of the tank, in equal proportion side to side.

Here we have a situation where the water is high at the back right, still high but lower and then back left, still yet lower at the right front and lowest at the left front.
(If I read all your info right).

that suggests to me that the floor is sloping in to the center of the room, either by design or settling of the backfill when they poured concrete and the concrete is sagging in the middle.

I’m not particularly tech savvy, and I swear it just took me 25 minutes to explain something poorly that I could explain properly in about 3 minutes in person.

So I’ll end on these notes:

if you understood my ramblings and can give me some ideas as to what you’re dealing with, that will help me help you. If not I can draw up sketches to better explain myself.

another question would be is do you rent or own the house, because that will impact what advice I can give you.

125g is a lot of weight to put in a tank that is twisting and torquing, but I will also add that same stress is being put on the stand and is especially hard of particle board, so I wouldn’t suggest filling the tank again until you have solid footing. I would even suggest shimming it level in the meantime it it’s not level while empty anymore, just because I don’t trust it as far as I can throw it.
 
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magical trevor

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Seen I was tagged after reading through the responses I would say you have been given enough advice. I did have issues with the carpet gripper rod as it's called here in UK. once I figured out the rod was knocking my tank off plumb when I moved into the house when setting up. I carefully prised back the carpet removed the length of gripper along the wall.

Worked out roughly where the 6 feet on my tank stand would sit and installed some steel plates along the lengths across some of the floor joists as I'am unfortunately not blessed with a nice solid concrete floor. Sadly just heavy duty chip board floor boards.

I then cut the gripper rod into sections leaving a gap where the back feet of the tank stand would fit so I could have it as close to the wall as possible.

Smashing big tank btw. Very jealous.
 

itiwhetu

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I would love to have my 5 cents worth but will just confuse things. So thank you for linking me in but I will let the experts handle this thread.
 

Naterjm

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Seen I was tagged after reading through the responses I would say you have been given enough advice. I did have issues with the carpet gripper rod as it's called here in UK. once I figured out the rod was knocking my tank off plumb when I moved into the house when setting up. I carefully prised back the carpet removed the length of gripper along the wall.

Worked out roughly where the 6 feet on my tank stand would sit and installed some steel plates along the lengths across some of the floor joists as I'am unfortunately not blessed with a nice solid concrete floor. Sadly just heavy duty chip board floor boards.

I then cut the gripper rod into sections leaving a gap where the back feet of the tank stand would fit so I could have it as close to the wall as possible.

Smashing big tank btw. Very jealous.

Thanks for sharing, some of your tips would be part of my eventual advice. But I still need more information from the OP.

as far as your chip board floors, we use them here, on very cheap builds. They’re awful, I hate them. Even today I picked up a box of nails and got a splinter about a 1/4” long underneath my finger nail. There’s a reason they use that for torture, it sucks so much.

In Canada we call it OSB, oriented strand board, but it’s a terrible material to build with.
 

magical trevor

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Thanks for sharing, some of your tips would be part of my eventual advice. But I still need more information from the OP.

as far as your chip board floors, we use them here, on very cheap builds. They’re awful, I hate them. Even today I picked up a box of nails and got a splinter about a 1/4” long underneath my finger nail. There’s a reason they use that for torture, it sucks so much.

In Canada we call it OSB, oriented strand board, but it’s a terrible material to build with.
Just UK pre 2000 builds here unfortunately. I totally agree it's absolute garbage material. Would much prefer a nice hardwood floor but costly. Now I think house builders here have changed how there built concrete floors etc especially flats after that horrible grenfell tower tragedy.
 
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