If you are a true aquarium hobbyist, chances are you want to have more than one fish tank in your home. While you likely have a tank in the area you spend the most time in, such as on the main floor in the family room, you may also want to have one upstairs in your bedroom to observe just before you go to sleep at night. How big of a fish tank can you have upstairs? Well, I have the answer for you:
Aquariums with less than 60 gallons of water can be placed almost anywhere in your home, even on a second floor. If you have a strong structural foundation and no defects in the framing, you can likely put up to a 125-gallon tank upstairs with no problems! Anything larger such as a 200- or 300-gallon tank should never be placed on an upper level without extra bracing or reinforcing the floor first.
Now that you know you can safely place a 60-gallon fish tank on an upper floor level, let’s explore this topic further and in more detail below. I’ll discuss which aquarium size is best for an upstairs, why aquariums in bedrooms are a good idea and how much weight, in general, a second floor can hold. I’ll also explain how to reinforce an upper level floor to support a large aquarium over 125 gallons.
And now, if you’re reading to learn more, then let’s get to it!
Can You Put a Fish Tank on a Second Floor?
Yes, you can put a fish tank on a second floor. A tank as large as 125 gallons can even be placed upstairs, provided you have the proper stand to support the weight as well as a structurally-sound floor with no framing defects.
I wouldn’t recommend putting a tank larger than 125 gallons on an upper level without reinforcing the floor first. If you have any doubt regarding the floor’s structural integrity, consider placing the aquarium next to a load-bearing wall for added support.
One place I wouldn’t put an aquarium upstairs is up against a pony wall that has a bit of play in it (if you try to move the wall). A pony wall is a short wall typically 4’ or slightly shorter. They can be found at the tops of stairs and other locations where it was important to bring the wall down to open up a room for more light or to just have a larger area visible.
Open concept floor plans are all the rage nowadays, even in the upstairs of a home. I have a pony wall on my 2nd floor of my two-storey home and it’ll move slightly when I tug on it. I would be nervous to sit a 125-gallon tank up against it.
Even though it’s the wall slightly moving and not the floor, it still makes me nervous. Better to be safe than sorry.
Can I Put a 55-Gallon Fish Tank on the Second Floor?
You can easily put a 55-gallon fish tank on a second floor. In fact, any tank up to and including a 60-gallon capacity should be fine in almost any room and on almost ever level of your home. If you’re concerned at all about you upstairs floor’s strength or integrity, place the aquarium across the beams rather than between them.
Is it Good to have an Aquarium in a Bedroom?
There are many reasons why having an aquarium upstairs in a bedroom is a good idea. Observing fish in their aquatic environment is not only entertaining but also relaxing. The soothing sound of the water, the gentle ‘hum’ of the filter, the ambient glow of the blue or ‘night’ light, and (of course) the graceful movements of the swimming fish can all help induce sleep.
Those who are into ‘feng shui’ would disagree. They would say that the active flow of the water element can weaken the calming energy you want in your bedroom and that it can also negatively affect your own personal energy by making you feel more preoccupied.
For more information on this, please refer to my previous article entitled: Is it Okay to Have a Fish Tank in Your Bedroom?
How Much Weight Can a Second Floor Hold?
Regarding how much weight a second floor can hold, most homes have a concentrated load limit of 300 pounds. The ‘safety factor’ is usually between 1.5 and 2.0 – meaning that if your floor can support 1000 pounds of weight per se, then it could theoretically ‘fail’ or crumble under 1500 or 2000 pounds of load.
Keeping in mind the amount of furniture you have, how many bathrooms are included, etc., you should easily be able to keep a 60- to 100-gallon aquarium on an upper level. If you want to keep a tank that’s over 100-gallons, then you should consider reinforcing the floor, just to be safe.
Can a Floor Collapse with Too Much Weight?
Yes, it’s definitely possible for a floor to collapse under too much weight. Therefore, it’s imperative that you place heavier items, such as aquariums, over floor joists instead of between them. Where the floor meets the wall is also generally stronger so consider placing your aquarium against a load-bearing wall.
Can My Floor Support a 125-Gallon Aquarium?
For most homes, an upstairs floor can usually support a 125-gallon fish tank with ease, provided it sits on a strong wooden or metal stand and is situated perpendicular to the joists. Placing it up against a load-bearing wall is also recommended. By doing this helps alleviate any need to reinforce the floor.
What Can I Do to Prep My Upstairs Floor for an Aquarium?
It’s very important to ensure the floor is level in all directions where you want to place your tank. Even if you have a small 10-gallon tank, it doesn’t take much of an angle to cause you problems with keeping the aquarium stable. Just think about all the weight pressing against one side of the tank for probably years. It could cause a crack or even worse, it could tip over if bumped into by accident.
If you are placing the tank against a wall and on top of carpet, be aware that there is a nail strip around the perimeter of the carpet so it can be attached to the floor. The nail strip will cause your tank to lean forward.
The best thing you can do in this situation is place the tank away from the wall at least 5” to 6” so it’s not sitting on the strip.
If your floor is not carpeted but you still want to do something to ensure everything will go well with your tank set-up upstairs, then consider placing a piece of ½” or thicker plywood under the tank.
Assuming you are placing the tank across the floor joists and not parallel. Regardless, even if you were going parallel if you set plywood down, you’d still have more strength and stability in the placement of the tank. I still recommend you situate the tank across joists and not parallel however, I understand it’s not something that can be done 100% of the time.
As far as the plywood is concerned, just cut it the same size or slightly larger than the bottom of the base of the tank. Adjust where it sits once the base is on top. Once there is water in the tank, you won’t be moving it.
Another option to strengthen the floor is to add bracing between the joists. If you have access to the underside of the floor, typically in homes with a t-bar ceiling, you can screw or nail in backing under where the tank would sit.
I would use 2×6 lumber and nail or screw it, whichever works best for you. If you’re not aware, backing spans the distance between two pieces of lumber (in this case joists) to strengthen said lumber.
If you have enough to add backing on 1 or 2 more sets of joists beyond where the tank will sit, you’re providing that much more strength for the floor.
To conclude, you can place up to a 60-gallon aquarium pretty much anywhere in your home, even on a second level, without worry. If the foundation is strong and your floor has no flaws in the framing, it’s possible to put up to a 125-gallon tank upstairs. Anything larger, such as a 200- or even 300-gallon tank, should always be placed on a reinforced floor. The safety of your home depends on it!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article and found it to be helpful. Thanks for reading and good luck with your future aquarium endeavours!