I also have both kinds. The metal stands can make it easier to put lots of tanks into a small place because most can hold 2 tanks. The wooden ones look better to me but it is a question of personal preference. Either one will deteriorate over time if allowed to sit wet.
For my larger tanks i use Wooden stands that i built myself from 4x4 wood for uprights, 2x4 bracing, and plywood, for the top that he tank actually sits on, all is treated wood with marine grade plywood. My smaller tanks all set on counter tops ive mounted to frames i made myself, usually 3- 15 gal. breeder tanksper countertop, and my 40 gal breeders are on contertops usually 1 per top. All framework is either treated material. or waterproof, such as the coutertop material. All boght at my local lumber yard and built by me in my fish room. I always use wood because it doesnt rust, and i can make my own for about half of what custom stands cost. All are in my fish room so pretty doesnt mean too much
I have access to square hollow pieces and cutting/welding tools so I go with iron. With a hollow mesh I can store things under the tank. I coated it with rust resistant paint but it still slowly rusts.. Stainless steel would be great.
I've found wood to be more stable, especially on a carpeted floor. I've always wanted to scoot my tanks as close to the wall as possible. Metal stands tend to teeter. Also, if you spill water during water changes, the rug stays damp and will rust the feet, making ugly little rust stains on your carpet.
A metal stand is supposed to be slightly pyramid shaped. It won't teeter at all. If you push, the tank would break or fall over before the stand teeters. I use wood bases to level off any floor imperfections and it's as stable as can be.
I have used both and very much prefer wooden stand to metal ones. That being said I will throw out the disclaimer that I keep only SW tanks. As such a metal stand + Salt + water ='s train wreck sooner or later as rust becomes and issue and it starts to be difficult to keep it looking nice. So I definitely prefer DIY wood stands as I feel they are more sturdy and durable as opposed to the ones you buy in the store.
Jims use of 4 x 4's and 2 x 4's is a very sound practice. When you consider how much weight a stand is going to have to soundly support and then you consider how much money you have invested in your tank, it cant be over engineered! I have had some 20 gallon Nano reefs that easily had over 2K of money invested in live stock and delicate equipment prone to easy breakage. I pretty much follow the guidelines as far as design goes and build them as per...
Type in all the required numbers and the "calculator" will do all of the other work for you. All you have to do is get the material and cut to size and assemble it as per thier directions which are pretty stupid simple.
Instead of nails I use screws through out and copious amounts of Gorilla Glue on all joints and seams. This creates a rock solid stand that wont come apart without some extremely serious abuse.
One of the stands I built supported a 300 gallon tank and the 140 gallon sump/fuge below with strength to spare. I also built the Canopy that went on it and held 4 x 400 watt Halide retro fit kits and 2 x 160 watt VHO Retrofit kits. Only tools I used was a skill saw and a drill.
The tank stand you get when you use that calculator is flawed Imaexpat2. It has you build everything separately and then just screw it to the legs. The end result is that the entire weight of the tank and top shelf is being carried by whatever screws you use for attaching the legs to the top frame. I have built many stands and I even got away with a design like that when I was building to support a 29 gallon tank. Since then I have figured out that to get truly robust support for a large tank, nothing beats the use of a board pinched between the top and bottom frame. By building the top and bottom frame, then wrapping around the outside with something to prevent wracking you set up all the right circumstances to then pinch a solid piece of wood between top and bottom shelf. A 2x2 that can't move is much stronger, as far as vertical support, than even 20 3 inch screws would be. When I build for strength, I try to over engineer as you suggested. I will pull up my build archive and get it posted on the forum here to show what I mean by this.
Huuumm...I just put in the demensions for a 125 gallon tank at 36 inches at stand hieght and I sorta see what you mean. It showed only 6 supports. On a tank that heavy I would sweat a little. I add a few additional pieces to my stands which is why I might not have noticed the point you were making. I do how ever add a few additional pieces when I build one that they dont use. Where the top and bottom frames "wrap" around the legs on the corner, I add a additional 2x4 between the leg and the two frames. This is screwd from the top and bottom as well as from the side into the leg. It resembles using a 4x4 instead of a 2x4 to the leg and will take a lot of compression from top and bottom and not allow the screws in the leg that GARF shows to give way and collapes. Dont know if I am painting enough of a visual there as a pictures worth a thousand words and I havent built a stand lately as I have small tanks, so I have not example to take a pic of and post. I do this on all the stands as I usually cover them in Oak 1 side plywood, stain and put about 4-6 coats of high gloss varnish. By adding the additrional 2x4 at all supports it makes it easier to skin the stands frame in plywood. It also adds a lot of weight capacity to the stand. Maybe in the next night or two a work I will go through all my computers back up disk and see if I have a pic archived on hand to post to show what I am talking about.
I posted a thread of how I build a stand in the DIY section. I do not use especially large timbers for a stand but I no longer rely on the screws to hold any weight. They just keep the stand from moving from side to side while the wood itself is called on to hold the weight. My new stands are much lighter construction than what I built 20 years ago but they are actually stronger because they make good use of the strength of the materials that I am using. Fasteners are intended to keep things from separating from each other, not to hold a lot of weight.
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