Aquarium Setup • Level Tank

New to the world of cichlids? For discussion on how to set up new tanks, including placement, filtration, substrates, water, etc. No stocking discussions here.

Moderators: triscuit, fmueller

Level Tank

Postby algae eater » Mon Oct 27, 2008 5:11 pm

I have a 55 gal (4 foot long). It is not level on the floor. The water is about an inch higher on one end than the other. A couple years ago when I emptied it, I attempted to level it but didn't get it right. Do any of you make an effort to level your tanks or is it not that big a deal?
algae eater
 
Joined: Tue Jul 29, 2008 1:27 pm
Location: Houston, Texas

Share On:

Share on Facebook Facebook Share on Twitter Twitter

Postby 748johnd » Mon Oct 27, 2008 7:59 pm

I always make sure my tanks are level. You risk having a flood. One inch is an awful lot to be off level. So far you have been lucky nothing has happened. A while back one of the forum members had a 55g that wasn't level front to back and the front glass blew out suddenly.
User avatar
748johnd
 
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2007 10:02 am
Location: Rochester, NY

Postby prov356 » Mon Oct 27, 2008 8:05 pm

One inch in four feet is a big deal. I'd level it. Doesn't have to be perfect. That is an awful lot to have to
take up though. You may want to find someone that can help you out. I wouldn't suggest trying this
with little wooden shims. You might do better to have someone make some pieces that'll fit under
the length of the stand.
prov356
 
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 8:09 am
Location: North Royalton, Ohio

Postby ercnan » Mon Oct 27, 2008 11:53 pm

Drain it, level it, ASAP
Use the plastic frame as a guide, and get "door shims" from the local home improvement store to drive under the stand.
If it has fish in it, drain it to the minimum the fish need for a bit.
Use masking tape on either end, and front to back and mark a "water" line with a tape measure from the bottom trim up.
Drive the shims under it until it's a close to perfect as you can get.
Go a little at a time though, you don't want to "torque" a corner.
If it's on carpet, you may have to do this more than once, as the carpet will crush more on refill, and the floor could possibly flex if it's not concrete.
"Perfect" is nice but an inch in four feet is a bunch of risk for glass panels held together by silicone and a little plastic.
My 125 in within a 32'nd of an inch both front to back, and end to end.
125G Mixed
My Fish
User avatar
ercnan
 
Joined: Sun Aug 13, 2006 6:44 pm
Location: A Land Far, Far, Away.

Postby boredatwork » Tue Oct 28, 2008 5:21 pm

This is a technicality but I think its an important point. A level is perhaps one of the most useless tools known to man. The concept of making something level can also be just as useless.

There is an important distinction that should be made between a flat surface and a "level" surface. This distinction is very ambiguous when dealing with fish tanks because wood, glass, plastic, are only as level or as flat as we make them. However, water will always level and flatten itself out.

To illustrate let's look at four cases:

1. Water shows tank is level, stand surface is flat
2. Water shows tank is not level, stand surface is not flat
3. Water shows tank is not level, stand surface is not flat
4. Water shows tank is level, stand surface is not flat.

Hopefully that shows why a distinction between flat and level is important. The danger to a tank does not come from being off level (this is a little less true in glass tanks) but from not being on a flat surface. The tank is designed to hold the force of the weight of the water in the tank and the orientation of that force is not significant. The point about the twisting of the glass is debatable and I will not make up psuedo-scientific terms as so many do. But conceptually I think we could instead make a more general statement that if a tank is not equally supported along its base that is a dangerous situation. I think most people would agree to this point.

I would not be that concerned about an off level tank but I would be concerned about a tank on a non-flat surface. The reason I said that this point is a technicality, and probably useless, is that how do you tell which is the cause of the problem? So probably in all cases its safest to assume that it needs to be fixed. In this case I would fix it if just only for aesthetic and practical reasons. But for cases that are less extreme I always recommend contacting the tank manufacturer. They tend to know more than the average person, myself included, about the requirements of a safe tank. Especially when they provide any kind of warranty.
boredatwork
 
Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:11 pm
Location: Sunnyvale, CA

Postby ercnan » Tue Oct 28, 2008 8:22 pm

boredatwork wrote:This is a technicality but I think its an important point. A level is perhaps one of the most useless tools known to man. The concept of making something level can also be just as useless.

There is an important distinction that should be made between a flat surface and a "level" surface. This distinction is very ambiguous when dealing with fish tanks because wood, glass, plastic, are only as level or as flat as we make them. However, water will always level and flatten itself out.

To illustrate let's look at four cases:

1. Water shows tank is level, stand surface is flat
2. Water shows tank is not level, stand surface is not flat
3. Water shows tank is not level, stand surface is not flat
4. Water shows tank is level, stand surface is not flat.

Hopefully that shows why a distinction between flat and level is important. The danger to a tank does not come from being off level (this is a little less true in glass tanks) but from not being on a flat surface. The tank is designed to hold the force of the weight of the water in the tank and the orientation of that force is not significant. The point about the twisting of the glass is debatable and I will not make up psuedo-scientific terms as so many do. But conceptually I think we could instead make a more general statement that if a tank is not equally supported along its base that is a dangerous situation. I think most people would agree to this point.

I would not be that concerned about an off level tank but I would be concerned about a tank on a non-flat surface. The reason I said that this point is a technicality, and probably useless, is that how do you tell which is the cause of the problem? So probably in all cases its safest to assume that it needs to be fixed. In this case I would fix it if just only for aesthetic and practical reasons. But for cases that are less extreme I always recommend contacting the tank manufacturer. They tend to know more than the average person, myself included, about the requirements of a safe tank. Especially when they provide any kind of warranty.


Point taken on the "non-flat" surface. Tends to induce "pressure points" the same as unsupported rock work inside (one or a few particular points bearing the weight load more than the whole itself).
I mention the term "level" as a term most will understand, I don't mention using a level.
I "level" my tanks based on the lower and upper trim(yes, subject to quality control and manufacturing processes), or a measured marked line on the glass itself on some point.
I also make sure the surface that supports the tank is flat, be it a perimeter frame, or full length. Belt sanders do a wonderful job here for wooden stands
I do this with a common "feeler gauge" used for gapping spark plugs.

Even with a perfectly "flat" surface, if it's not "level" relative to the water volume, it will be stressed on the down side for the exact reason you state. Water will level itself in the confines of a box, no matter if the box is planer and/or plumb.
Stresses will occur at every point that's not the same throughout .
A perfectly flat tank support that's 1/16" of an inch low on one end or side, WILL exert more force on the joint in that particular area, be it linear or torsional.

A volume of water (or most liquids for that matter) is, and always will be(as long as gravity is around), the best determination of "level" over an expanse.
That expanse being "flat" is yet another story as far as pressure and potential weakness are concerned.
Water does not care if the surface is flat, it only cares that there is sufficient confines to level itself via gravity. If not, it simply floods over the low point, or breaks through.

The "orientation of that force" is indeed significant, else why would an earthquake torque a 6 foot tank torsionaly enough as to cause a leak?
It will always put more pressure on the highest point in an "unflat"? scenario.
But conversely will always do the same thing to the lowest point in an "unlevel"? scenario.
Unflat, and unlevel, is a toss up between the lesser of two evils.

BTW, your #'s 2 and 3 are the same, I see no distinction between them.
125G Mixed
My Fish
User avatar
ercnan
 
Joined: Sun Aug 13, 2006 6:44 pm
Location: A Land Far, Far, Away.

Postby prov356 » Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:55 pm

But for cases that are less extreme I always recommend contacting the tank manufacturer. They
tend to know more than the average person, myself included, about the requirements of a safe tank.
Especially when they provide any kind of warranty.


I did one time and they said that a tank really only needs support on the four corners unless it's
particularly long, then some kind of support along the long edge is recommended as well. When you
place it on the stand, it shouldn't wobble from corner to corner. So, support all along it's base isn't
necessary. That thinking is what started the 'foam under the tank' idea that hobbyists came up with.
You won't find tank manufacturers recommending that.

I also recommend leveling tanks for aesthetic reasons only. I doubt that a stand could be so out of
level that it would blow out a tank seam.

Hopefully that shows why a distinction between flat and level is important.


Not really, you lost me. :) But that's ok.
prov356
 
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2006 8:09 am
Location: North Royalton, Ohio

Postby cichlids&baseball » Wed Oct 29, 2008 1:10 am

makes perfect sense to me, as was said before, a tank needs not be "level" only flat. to put an uneven amount of pressure on different panes of glass would need for there to be torque in the setup.
cichlids&baseball
 
Joined: Fri Dec 28, 2007 11:46 am
Location: Sacramento, CA

Postby iceblue » Wed Oct 29, 2008 2:33 am

I definitely agree a flat surface for a tank is very important but you can't discount having the stand level also. An out of level stand may or may not be flat at the top. Discrepancies between two diagonal corners or any 3 legs together will twist the flatness out of the top. If your going to level for flatness you may as well level the entire stand.

Please remember that most of our aquariums on stands are top heavy. Not the best of engineering for a structure. Perhaps this is not so important for side to side level on a long tank but is for front to back. That's a lot of potential energy already leaning in one direction. In Ercan's earthquake example that lean could be the difference between the tank falling over on the short side or evening itself out in both directions in relation to the earthquakes radiant movement.

Maybe a 1/4" lean isn't bad, so a 1/2" might not be so bad either, Maybe an inch wouldn't be pushing it............... If it has to lean, lean towards a level and flat topped stand. :)
"Pour you a beer, Mr. Peterson?"
"Alright, but stop me at one........make that one-thirty."
User avatar
iceblue
 
Joined: Mon Apr 26, 2004 9:57 pm
Location: las vegas, nv.

Postby Notrevo » Wed Oct 29, 2008 2:31 pm

My tank is also off...it is acrylic...there is a difference of about 1/4" to 1/2" left to right. I am thinking about trying to level it but have not started the process as yet. Are there physics experts out there that can calculate the difference in the pressure exerted in a situation like this? As someone else in this thread indicated that tank is designed to hold X amount of water and said water will exert X amount of pressure against all sides and bottom of the aquarium when all is level (front to back, left to right). The Tenecor folks advise that the stand is designed to hold 150% of the weight for the tank it is built to accomodate. I am not sure if the tank has those same specifications or tolerances built in...but I am curious if there is anyway to calculate the difference in the pressure. Yeah, I know, bottom line is level the darn tank :)
Tenecor 8' x 4'

6 Neets

***Non-cichlids***

2 Rafael Cats
Notrevo
 
Joined: Mon May 02, 2005 4:33 pm
Location: Newburgh, NY

Postby boredatwork » Wed Oct 29, 2008 5:52 pm

ercnan wrote:
boredatwork wrote:To illustrate let's look at four cases:

1. Water shows tank is level, stand surface is flat
2. Water shows tank is not level, stand surface is not flat
3. Water shows tank is not level, stand surface is not flat
4. Water shows tank is level, stand surface is not flat.



BTW, your #'s 2 and 3 are the same, I see no distinction between them.


Haha. I am impressed. I always had the feeling no one read much of what I wrote. Good ole' copy paste skills gone wrong. Its not much of an illustration if its wrong. Let's try it again.

To illustrate let's look at four cases:

1. Water shows tank is level, stand surface is flat
2. Water shows tank is not level, stand surface is not flat
3. Water shows tank is not level, stand surface is flat
4. Water shows tank is level, stand surface is not flat.


Reading over it again I must say it really is a silly point only because there is no way to check that once the tank is on the stand that the surface is flat on every point supporting the tank.

I still always recommend contacting the manufacturer. You can certainly make an argument that leveling out a stand can be worse than not doing anything at all. Of course taking all factors into consideration.
boredatwork
 
Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:11 pm
Location: Sunnyvale, CA

Postby boredatwork » Wed Oct 29, 2008 5:57 pm

Notrevo wrote:My tank is also off...it is acrylic...there is a difference of about 1/4" to 1/2" left to right. I am thinking about trying to level it but have not started the process as yet. Are there physics experts out there that can calculate the difference in the pressure exerted in a situation like this? As someone else in this thread indicated that tank is designed to hold X amount of water and said water will exert X amount of pressure against all sides and bottom of the aquarium when all is level (front to back, left to right). The Tenecor folks advise that the stand is designed to hold 150% of the weight for the tank it is built to accomodate. I am not sure if the tank has those same specifications or tolerances built in...but I am curious if there is anyway to calculate the difference in the pressure. Yeah, I know, bottom line is level the darn tank :)


I would ask them about the effects on the tank not the stand. I have an acrylic tank from Tru-Vu and they practically laughed at me when I asked about it being level. They could not understand why I was so concerned about it and after they explained it to me it made sense. But you will see a lot of different opinions regarding that very subject.

Personally I would not take of the answers made here seriously. Everyone thinks they are a physics expert and unless you are a physics expert how would you verify what was suggestsed. The real expert on tanks, in your case, is Tenecor. Especially if they tank is under warranty, because then there is financial interest for both parties to make sure everything is setup correctly.
boredatwork
 
Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:11 pm
Location: Sunnyvale, CA

Postby iceblue » Wed Oct 29, 2008 6:21 pm

Notrevo, I copied this from the Tenecore waranty page. Read the last line carefully.

"IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR Tenecor AQUARIUM OWNERS
Do not use any product that contains ammonia, alcohol, or abrasives such as Windex, Comet, Ajax, or
other commercial cleaners when cleaning the acrylic surface of your Tenecor Aquarium. Also, protect
your aquarium from chemical fumes, including paint, varnish, etc. Use of such cleaners, or exposure to
chemical fumes, will cause the acrylic to gradually lose its clarity. In addition, do not use coarse sponges
or pads to clean the aquarium. A soft cloth and water or a polish made specifically for acrylic should be
used for cleaning. Polishing cloths and cleaning agents are available from Tenecor. See the attached
order form.
Use of a perimeter support stand, even temporarily, will void the warranty. The aquarium bottom must be
fully supported on a flat level surface at all times."

Just being flat is not the only requirement for proper set-up.
"Pour you a beer, Mr. Peterson?"
"Alright, but stop me at one........make that one-thirty."
User avatar
iceblue
 
Joined: Mon Apr 26, 2004 9:57 pm
Location: las vegas, nv.

Postby Cruiser » Wed Oct 29, 2008 11:20 pm

boredatwork wrote:Personally I would not take of the answers made here seriously. Everyone thinks they are a physics expert and unless you are a physics expert how would you verify what was suggestsed. The real expert on tanks, in your case, is Tenecor. Especially if they tank is under warranty, because then there is financial interest for both parties to make sure everything is setup correctly.

It doesn't take a physics expert to see that there is more water at one side of the tank than the other. More water means more weight. More weight on the same area means higher pressure. Concentrated pressure causes problems. If you poke a piece of paper with your finger, it's easier to poke a hole in it than pushing on that same paper with a coffee can. There's also a large difference between silicone seams on a glass tank and acrylic welded seams.

Just because it's the internet doesn't mean people replying to these topics don't know what they're talking about. ercnan nailed all the relevant points rather well.

cichlids&baseball wrote:to put an uneven amount of pressure on different panes of glass would need for there to be torque in the setup.

Torque has nothing to do with it. Torque is a twisting force, not pressure. If you had a non-flat surface with the tank on it (it wobbles) and then filled it with water to the point that it doesn't wobble, you then have torque (a twisting force is acting on the tank to force it flat against the surface). On a non-level tank you're shifting water from one point of the tank to another and actually putting water *above* the glass so it's now pushing both outward and downward instead of just outward. There is no torque in a non-level tank on a flat surface, only lateral (side to side) and gravitational forces.

If the tank is out of level in 2 directions (say back left corner is 1" higher than front right) you now have a higher pressure on the right side of the front panel than on the left. You also have a higher pressure on the front right seam than you would normally because you've shifted more water on to that seam than normal. Yes the pressures involved in a normal 55 gallon tank aren't significant enough to be concerned about but will definitely become a problem in larger tanks whether people like it or not.

Notrevo wrote:...but I am curious if there is anyway to calculate the difference in the pressure.

There is. You have to use an integral to sum the forces across the surface of the tank wall. Assuming I did the math right, there's 346.6 lbs of pressure on the front pane of glass on a 48w x 20h x 13d tank (55g). There's 33.8 lbs of pressure along the bottom inch of that front pane which works out to .7 lbs/in^2 (think 1 inch square in the bottom right corner). That assumes a level tank though. When the tank it out of level it gets a little more complicated because you're dealing with a weird trapezoid instead of a rectangle but it can be done. Scaling that up to a level 210g tank (I just picked a big one on the Aqueon/All-glass site), the pressure in that bottom right 1 inch square becomes 8 lbs/in^2. Tank is only 4 times larger but the pressure near that seam just went up by a factor of 11. Add to that the weight of whatever water got tilted on to a side of the tank and you have to start worrying about splitting the seams as the silicone ages (or new if it's enough pressure). You could figure out exactly how far you'd have to push the tank before a seam splits if you knew how many lbs/in^2 is took to break the silicone loose.
Cruiser
 
Joined: Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Nebraska, USA

Postby boredatwork » Thu Oct 30, 2008 5:34 pm

Cruiser wrote:It doesn't take a physics expert to see that there is more water at one side of the tank than the other. More water means more weight. More weight on the same area means higher pressure. Concentrated pressure causes problems. If you poke a piece of paper with your finger, it's easier to poke a hole in it than pushing on that same paper with a coffee can. There's also a large difference between silicone seams on a glass tank and acrylic welded seams.


Apparently it does. Its not worth an argument but the logic and physics behind most of your arguments are flawed. But thats not even my point - I don't care about that and its not whats important because someone else will disagree for yet another reason. This argument has been debated many times and I really don't want to see that rehashed here for the following reasons...

Cruiser wrote:Just because it's the internet doesn't mean people replying to these topics don't know what they're talking about.


By the same argument you can state the opposite. "Just because its the internet doesn't mean people replying to these topics DO know what they're talking about." Perhaps it is true that sometimes they do, but this very topic is a good example of threads that go nowhere. One person says "up" another says "down" then someone else says "red". If we were talking about which fish looks best knock yourself out, but when its about the safety of a tank and the financial investment in said tank I am suggesting that a discussion forum on the internet should not be the final say in how you decide to proceed. We can throw out as many numbers are we want, that doesn't mean they are right - even if we think they are. We all like to think we are experts on certain topics but that doesn't qualify any of use to be so.

The important thing is that in reference to the OP it seems everyone agrees the stand should be fixed. The most important thing is that iceblue posted the requirements of the tank manufacturer stating that the tank must be on a flat and level surface. Thats all that matters - if for no other reason than to not void the warranty!
boredatwork
 
Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:11 pm
Location: Sunnyvale, CA

Next

Return to Aquarium Setup

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests