When you buy an aquarium from the store which is made by the likes of Juwel or Fluval, I recall reading in the instructions it specifies clearly that you shouldn’t put anything in between the aquarium and the stand. When I bought a custom made aquarium they said I needed to put polystyrene tiles in between the tank and the stand.
Admittedly the custom aquarium was much larger and their justification for using a layer of insulation between the two was that it allows for any imperfections in the wood and if you have an uneven floor then it will help level the fish tank out. This does all make sense to me and I did just that.
So why do prefabricated aquariums and stands specify not to use anything in between? To answer this question, there a couple of considerations we must address:
- From a stand manufacturers viewpointTheir reasoning is that it is unnecessary because the stand they are selling you has a perfectly flat surface for the aquarium to set on. If that is the case it isn’t necessary to put anything between the tank and the stand. You may need to put shims between the stand and the floor to get the stand level and straight, but you shouldn’t need to put anything on the surface of a quality built stand.
- From an aquarium manufacturers viewpointThey don’t want you to return the aquarium because it has developed a pressure crack or leak. This can be caused by an uneven surface that the tank is resting on, or if someone attempts to put shims between the tank and the stand causing pressure points.It is easier for them to say to use “nothing” than to explain in detail what to use and why. Especially a stand manufacturer, because then they would be telling the consumer that “just in case there is a defect in your brand new stand you should…..”.
So to summarise, should we use anything in between the tank and the stand? If it is an acrylic tank then maybe, as the load is evenly distributed all the way across the bottom of the aquarium. For most glass tanks that have a perimeter frame, foam tiles won’t do much. For glass aquariums that are rimless, and have no frame, putting a sheet of styrofoam or “polystyrene tiles” will help even out small irregularities in the supporting surface of the stand, but I wouldn’t count on it being of much help for large irregularities. It is better to shim the legs or base of the aquarium stand where it meets the floor. The goal is to have the surface of the stand, that meets the bottom of the aquarium, flat, straight, and level. This is best accomplished by shimming the legs or base of the stand. I would use styrofoam under any acrylic tank or rimless/frameless glass aquarium, just to make sure there are no pressure points on the bottom panel of the tank. A small piece of hard debris under a full aquarium can cause it to fail or leak.
Styrofoam, or polystyrene tiles are relatively inexpensive compared to having to repair or replace an aquarium. If it makes you feel safer or better to use them, do it. They definitely won’t hurt anything.