Growing up, I’ve always had a fish bowl with a couple of goldfish. It’s a good way to relax and unwind, while watching them swim around. I just moved into a new house and as a housewarming gift to myself, I just bought myself a 100 gallon aquarium.
So, can you put a large aquarium in a manufactured home? You CAN put a large aquarium in a manufactured home. But you need to take into account the age of the home and where in the home you plan to locate the aquarium.
Can Your Home Handle Heavy Items?
Many people wonder about the limitations of their manufactured homes. For example, if the walls and floors are just made of wooden slabs, then what loads can they bear? This is very relevant when people are considering installing heavy items (i.e. piano, treadmill, etc).
For example, this can give pause to thought to people installing heavy TVs, work equipment etc. It is very responsible to be thinking in such terms, but in most cases, there are no problems.
As eluded to earlier, these manufactured homes often match concrete houses for strength and stability. Nevertheless, in many cases, the questions remain. In this comprehensive article, we will tackle one such query. Is it okay to put a large aquarium in a manufactured home?
Why, a LARGE Aquarium?
Firstly, let’s consider the advantages of installing a large aquarium in your home. Obviously, this can be a stunning feature for any room. This could be a real point of interest and is bound to provoke questions from any visitors. In fact, it is very likely to impress your neighbors and incite some jealousy.
Besides, a large aquarium can be a very attractive and aesthetically pleasing feature, especially if you fill it with fish. This can bring a lot of vivid color and motion to any room.
This can equally be a beguiling feature, especially if fitted with mood lighting. Imagine relaxing to a glowing reef tank in the black of night. It is not hard to see why this attracts people.
Large Vs Small Aquariums
There are a lot of advantages to installing a large tank over a small one. The amount of fish and the variety of species you can have is related to the tank size. For example, in a large 150-gallon tank you could have hundreds of fish. These could come from many different families and species. This is known as a community tank, and it is much sought after.
You could also invest in other aquatic creatures like shrimp, and lots of ornaments. In such large tanks many people like to set up reef tanks. These are very attractive aquatic set-ups which recreate a natural coral reef.
This brings a lot of variety and bio-activity to your house. A larger tank contains more dissolved oxygen, which allows more species to flourish. It also means you can keep larger species that might be stunted in a smaller tank.
But What About The Structural Issues?
Consider for example a 150-gallon tank. The weight of water in this tank is almost 700 kg.
When you include the weight of the glass and the reinforcement, (plus the fish), your tank could weigh almost a ton. That’s a lot of weight for a wooden structure to bear. Can you be confidant that a prefabricated, wooden framed house can bear that much weight?
Well, with certain limitations, yes. Most manufactured houses are made to similar design codes that fixed structure conform too. The loads they can bear are therefore similar.
Follow These Guidelines…..
If you do plan on installing a very large aquarium in your house, there are some simple guidelines you should follow.
Stay On The Ground Floor
Firstly, you should only place the aquarium on the ground floor. In this case the supports should be stronger. Also, the consequences of collapse are less drastic.
In addition, you might consider bracing the floor from beneath, to give some extra support. This should stiffen the floor. This can be done by building a slab of blocks to touch the floor from below. This will prevent any major displacements.
Also, make sure that your tank is placed over several floor joists. The joists are the point of the structure that can bear the most weight, without sagging. You should carefully consider the geometry of your tank. For two tanks of the same volume, it is better to fit a wider tank than a narrow one.
This will place less pressure on the floor, as the weight will be distributed over a wider area. This might not always be convenient, but it should be taken into account.
The best placement for a tank is against an external wall, or above a load-bearing wall. These walls are usually thicker than internal walls, and therefore more capable of carrying the load.
Additional Home Preparations
With this in mind there are a few things you should considering doing to prepare your home for a large aquarium.
For example, you should consult the design drawings to determine where the joists or floor supports are. This is usually clear, and might be visible by looking underneath the base of the home.
You might might be able to determine the position of the joists by careful tapping or the drilling of a few small pilot holes.
If it is not clear then you should consult a specialist engineer. Accurately determining the position of the joists is absolutely crucial to correctly installing a large aquarium.
Once you have done this you should mark the position with a marker for future reference. You will also need to clear this area before you get down to the real work of installing the aquarium.
What Kind Of Aquarium Should You Get?
Many people also worry about what kind of materials they should use to install a large aquarium. In general, if you are purchasing a ready-made aquarium, then that material will be suitable. You just need to make sure that any material you use in combination are compatible.
This may include glues or sealants. If you are constructing and designing your own aquarium then you have some more flexibility. In this case it is best to use a material that is light enough to not add extra load, but still stiff and strong enough to restrain the weight of water.
Usually plexiglass or acrylic is a good choice. You may want to stiffen and support this design with structural steel brackets and fasteners.
Should You Use A Stand Or Place The Aquarium Directly On The Floor?
In most circumstances you will not want to install the tank directly on the floor of your house. It is better to spread the load over as wide an area as possible, possibly by installing a stand.
This reduces the pressure on your floor and minimizes the risk due to rot or other defects. Plus, a stand allows you to adjust the height of the aquarium for maximum viewing pleasure.
And One More Thing…..
One other thing that owners of aquariums need to consider is that they require quite a lot of services. For example, you need a steady supply of electricity to run the pump and filtration system, and any installed lights will need power too.
This is something that aquarium owners overlook. If possible you should work this into your plan at the design stage.
This means you should position your tank close to a power outlet or possibly multiple power outlets. Not only is this more convenient, but it also gets rid of the unsightly power cables running from a power outlet to your tank.
Some fish are very sensitive to slight changes in temperature, and will get ill even before humans start to notice a temperature drop. If this is the case then you should ensure your manufactured house is very well insulated. If you cannot guarantee that, then you should install a strong, thermostatically controlled heater to ensure your aquarium remains at the right temperature. This should be the case regardless of the outside weather conditions.
What About Older Homes?
Most modern prefabricated houses are made to strict design codes and with best practice. However, there is no guarantee that older homes were made to the same standard. Also, their strength may have deteriorated over the years. This may be due to mild rot or general wear and tear. In this case you should have a structural engineer pay a visit before starting to install any heavy equipment.
Max Pressure Rating
Also, if you are still concerned about the ability of your house to hold the load, you have options. You should consult the manufacturer and ask them what the max pressure rating for your house is. This is the number of pounds per square foot your floors can safely withstand.
The average for manufactured homes is about 40 pounds per square foot. If you know the weight and dimensions of your aquarium, you can easily see whether it is within the limit. This is a simple and sure-fire way to give you peace of mind.
Manufactured homes have a great deal of inherent advantages over traditional brick and mortar dwellings. They are generally more affordable and made to a reproducible, high-quality, due to their mode of construction.
What’s more they are very convenient and can be installed on site in a matter of hours or days. Compare this to a year long build!
Also, if you want to move location and bring your house with you, they are readily transportable. Now you know that, as well as having all these perks, manufactured homes can also take similar loads as standard houses, including loads from aquariums.
Most manufactured homes can house a large aquarium, if you follow sound engineering guidelines. As always, if in doubt, consult a structural engineer.