How to Build a DIY Fish Tank Stand

How to Build a DIY Fish Tank Stand with Natural Wood

In Early February of this year I bought a 40 gallon breeder fish tank off of a guy on Craigslist for 40 dollars.  This meant either buying or building a stand able to hold a 400+ lb (water at 8 lbs per gallon x 40 + gravel/sand)  aquarium was necessary.  Obviously I elected to build it myself rather than buy it. Luckily for me Matthew was home visiting that weekend so he helped me throughout the entire process.  Here’s how to build a DIY fish tank stand using natural logs for support.

Since my original plan for the tank was to harbor local species inside it I wanted the stand to have a rugged natural style.  To achieve this look we decided to harvest ourselves so Matthew and I went out into the woods on our property behind our house and cut down an oak tree to use as our building material.  We chose the straightest tree we could find and used a radial arm saw to cut it into five 36” legs with leveled tops and bottoms.

Oak Logs
Oak logs ready to be used
oak tree legs, fish tank stand, diy
Rough Cut Fish Tank Stand Oak Legs

Then, using a band saw, we cut down 3 inches into the tops of the legs removing half of the leg and leaving a notch to place the tank in.  Then after lots of careful leveling and even more mistakes we finally had all 5 legs at the same height and were ready to build our box-frame.

Shaping a leg with the band saw
Cutting the notches into the stand legs.

We used a 14’ board cut into several small pieces to create our box frame which would hold the legs together and be the seat of the tank. We used the smaller pieces to connect and strengthen the corners of the box frame, we used a pressurized nail gun and wood glue to ensure that the frame was sturdy.

Box Frame Cuts
Building the box frame

Then came time to attach the box frame to the legs. We decided to use bolts to fasten the two together.  First we drilled pilot holes through the legs and then placed the box frame in the legs and drilled the remaining holes using the initial ones as a guide to make sure they would line up.

DIY fish tank stand, natural logs, oak tree
Setting the box frame on the legs for the DIY Fish Tank Stand

After tightening the nuts on the box frame and legs the stand was functionally ready but the treated wood looked pretty out of place.

DIY Fish Tank Stand Completed
The tank fit perfectly!

Even though looks were never our main concern when building this stand we wanted the stand to reflect our efforts and the treated wood didn’t look very nice. To remedy this we cut off slivers of bark from our remaining pieces of oak and using the nailgun attached them to side of the treated wood, sort of like a very thick wallpaper.

DIY Fish Tank Stand, Natural Wood, Oak Tree
DIY Fish Tank Stand Finished stand with some happy plants.

The one issue with using natural wood for a fish tank stand like this is that the wood is susceptible to cracking as it dries out.  So the best way to make this DIY fish tank stand would be to allow the logs to completely dry first before constructing it.  If you do go ahead and build it, just make sure you check for any large cracks that might weaken the compression strength of the log.

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