So you want an Aquarium...
The weight of water
So, you binge watched that aquarium show. Saw these beautiful show tanks mostly saltwater that have eccentric designs, ornate fixtures and some of the most colorful fish you could imagine. What could be the harm. I can watch a YouTube video on properly setting up the take with the filtration system and get this done or something similar that I can maintain, and my friends will love it. A stunning piece in your home to be the center of conversation.
What do you do not see on those shows are the homes structure, foundation improvements or assessments? Safeguards that will reduce tank failure, or equipment failure. The other problems that many do not think about is the weight of the water.
Water typically weights 8.34 pounds per gallon. A tank you see on that show typically has two systems. A front show tank and a back of the house tank that typically has the same volume of water. You then need to have another tank that will cure at least 10% of the total volume of water you have in the two tanks.
Let us take a modest 90-gallon show tank for this example. The tank size will be approx. L: 48” W” 18 H: 25”. You are looking at the weight of the tank to be 160 pounds, full of water it will be about 1050. This is before you add the weight of any rocks, or ornamental decorations. The lighting too will all add weight as well as the pumps and such for circulation.
What sort of support structure do you have existing that can hold this level of weight? Oh, you are going to custom build one. That is great that too will add to the load you are putting on that floor area will you be using 4 points of contact or will you be doing a continuous brace support across the footprint of the structure? Once you have thought of all of this have you considered the added load on that floor and the structure that it is in. Can your floor hold and extra 1200 pounds of weight safely?
Let us dive into a structural engineers thoughts and ensure that we know what we are doing. The basic constructs of a home. There are multiple factors and many added weights to consider. The dead load of the floor is everything that will always be there, pipes, joists, ductwork, flooring materials this is approx. 15 Pounds per square foot. There is also the live load which is the furniture, decorations, appliances, people and aquarium. Now these two are not the only thing you need to look at one must use the safety factor which is usually between 1.5-2. So the home is safe with 1000 pounds but could collapse with 1500 pounds of weight.
The other factor is that people walking around for short amounts of time does not put the same pressure on these areas as something stagnant that will sit for potentially years on end. People will get up and move over time even furniture will be moved around and changed. An aquarium will remain stagnant.
SO you have assessed that your floor can hold the water and extra weight. How much damage could 90 gallons of water really cause for damage anyways. Yes water always wins, no matter what you are doing. If you have a slow leak and do not notice from a pipe that runs behind or under the take this can be extremely costly. To put it into perspective Typical appliance leaks on average cost well over $13,467 dollars to correct. Chalk it up to faulty pluming and you are looking at over $17,250 . These figures do not take into account the materials you have in your home. Do you have carpet, laminate, wood floors, tile. What floor is this tank on the first floor or do you have a split level ranch? If there is a finished floor underneath where you place this tank these costs could be much more.
All of this being said did you know there a lot of key ways an aquarium can leak. Here are some of the things that can happen a hose can split or burst off of a fitting, A connector could fail, a skimmer can overflow, drains could get blocked, one of the check valves could fail, a pump could stop working, a siphon could happen, the tank itself could fail. While making water you could forget about the hose running that is filling the container, float valves and sensors could get stuck or just not work. The powerhead could come unattached, algae and salt can build up and change the waters flow. An O-ring just as on a toilet could let go. Did you think of any of this while you were watching that show? They did.
Did you add additional coverage onto your homeowner’s insurance for this new addition to your home? Does it even matter? Water damage is water damage, right?
Wrong water damage caused by a fish tank falls under pets. Since damage to your own home caused by pets is typically not covered by insurance you will be on the hook for this damage on your own. If you live in an apartment even having additional coverage may not be enough.
These statistics are not meant to scare you, but they are meant to get you thinking. We do not imply or suggest that meeting specification requirements alone will ensure you do not have any problems and we do not guarantee that any of the advice on costs of repairs or coverage issues are set in stone. We do advise you talk to professionals in various industries prior to getting too far into the process of setting up a fish tank in your home ensure you are not subjected to surprises. This information is for informational purposes only and each situation is different and must be properly researched.
Statistics for water damage numbers were found on.
Structural information was supplied in part by