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29 Gallon DIY Stand and Hood

This project was largely inspired by a post from Tom Barr on the Aquabotanic message board about a stand he made out of medium-density fiberboard (MDF).  I'm not as handy as most when it comes to power tools and wood working, but I'm very pleased with the final results of this project and would encourage others to try it.

stand1 stand2 stand3 stand4

Stand Construction

Both and stand and hood are made out of medium density fiberboard.  Wear a dust-mask when working with MDF; it creates a fine power of sawdust and resin so I would work in an area with good ventilation and a place where getting everything covered with a fine powder isn't a problem.

I was unable to get AutoCad to generate decent JPEG images so instead the drawings where exported to a PDF file: 29gallonstand.pdf.  All cuts and measurements can be found in this file.  I used 4 2'x4' pieces of MDF for the whole project, which leaves quite a bit leftover.  A 4'x8' would have made more sense, but I could not transport this back home.


To anchor the stand together, I used 2  2" Stanley corner braces wherever a butt joint was formed.  The nice part of MDF is that there is no grain and it has equal strength in all directions (isotropic).  The purpose of the corner braces is not to support the weight of the tank; their role is to keep the top from moving parallel to the bottom and creating a trapezoid out of the design.  Tom used braces that ran the whole length of the butt joint, I could not locate these, but I feel what I've done is probably good enough.

The door was mounted on two hinges with a magnetic catch to keep it shut.  The stand, hood, and back wall of the aquarium were painted with Painter's Touch Rust-Oleum indoor-outdoor black paint.  The indoor-outdoor paint is somewhat water resistant and despite using a glass cover on the tank, I thought it might help a little.

Hood Construction

The hood is a folding design and houses two 55W Bright Kits obtained from AH Supply.  With one light mounted in each half of the hood, it's possible to flip the front half up, open the glass cover and still have enough light from the other 55W bulb to aquascape.  The hood fits over the top trim on the tank and is held in place by four supports which rest on the top frame.

This design is not well suited for an "open-top" design.  I believe the MDF would be difficult to completely waterproof, and my ballasts are mounted in the hood (they are not water-proof).  If it was necessary to water-proof the MDF, I would use a two-part marine epoxy which can be found at a home improvement store or obtained from a boating supply company and I would mount the ballasts in the stand.

The dimensions and plan for the hood are described in 29gallonhood.pdf.  The 1" gap between the first top piece and front piece is intentional and necessary for allowing heat from the fixture to escape.  At first I tried using 1" corner braces to hold the design together, but later found that wood screws were easier, although they don't look as clean.