10 - 8 inch by 16 inch cement blocks costs = $15.00
7 2x4 wood studs top grade = $28.00
1 - sheet of plywood or particle board $25.00
1 package of 1/2 inch styrofoam panels (Lowes) $5.00
Nails and/or screws $4.00
Total = $73.00
You can eliminate the plywood, thus saving $25.00. This won't weaken the structure too much. But I feel safer with the wood platform. If you modify this plan for tanks larger than 10 gallons I strongly advise using the plywood.
Putting It Together
First you have to figure out where you are going to put your rack. Although this rack is quickly put together and is modular in construction and easy to assemble / dissassemble, you don't want to have to move it after you have the tanks installed. OK so you have that problem solved, you've convinced the rest of the family how easy and cheaply you can build this aquarium rack. And how much simpler it's gonna be since you'll have all your tanks in one small area. Now you can begin the easy constuction. First put together 2 shelf frames as follows:
Notice that the frames dimensions are 15 inches by 93 inches. Although the blocks are sold as 8x16 inches they are actually 7 1/2 by 15 inches. This is done to compensate for the 1/2 inch of mortar that would normally be used on both sides of the blocks.
You may notice that the width of this rack will leave an overhang of 5 inches. I usually split the difference with 2.5 inches on the front and 2.5 inches on the back. The use of the styrofoam greatly helps to distribute the weight of the tanks. The overhang isn't a problem at all.
The 2x4 frames need to be put together very strong, I advise using screws. The plywood (or particle board) tops can be just laid on top, the weight of the tanks will hold it on quite nicely and it will be easier to remove in case you need to dissasemble the rack later. Now you are almost there, this thing goes together very quickly after you have the frames made. Next step is to place 2 stacks of 2 blocks 93 inches apart in the exact place where your rack is going to stand. I advise not placing it too close to the wall to allow for a little room behind the rack for running airline tubing etc. Next step, place your first frame on top of the blocks, then place the first plywood top on the frame. Stack 3 more blocks on top of each side of the frames, place the other frame on top of those blocks. Almost there! Now break open the styrofoam and cut it to fit the tops of the 2 frames. I strongly advise using the styrofoam panels as they will cushion the tanks and protect the plywood underneath. An added benefit is that the styrofoam will insulte the top rack from any heat generated by the lower level lights. And there you have it. A cheap and efficient rack for 14 or even 15 10 gallon tanks. I prefer to use part of the top rack as a work space.
Now that was so cheap to build you can save enough to complete the system. Here's a breakdown of the additional costs of the tanks, lights and filtration.
14 - 10 gallon tanks @ 8.50 each = $119.00
14 - homemade sponge filters @ approximately $2.00 each = 28.00
2 - 6 foot shop lights @ $8.00 each = $16.00
For total of $163.00
Plus the cost of the rack @ $73.00 = $236.00
Here's an example of a real rack made this way. This rack is modified from the diagram by being only 60 inches wide and holding only 8 tanks. The covers are made from drop ceiling light panels available from Lowes or Home Depot type stores. As you can see I have modified my rack a bit and added an extra shelf on top for small killifish and live food cultures.
Yep, I am pretty cheap. It bugs me to no end that I can't use that hollow space in the lower stacked blocks.
Name: kathryn zealand Comments: hello, I really like it, just a thought, you could turn the lower stacked blocks on their side, and access the holes from the side of the rack, think of how much space you would gain!