You might have decided it is time for your little one to learn some responsibility and get a pet that they can look after. There are few pets less high maintenance than a hardy species of fish. You purchase the big fish tank to home your newest family member, and now just comes the decision of where to put it.
If you are like most Americans, there is a good chance that you have some IKEA furniture in your home. You might consider using an IKEA bookshelf or table for your fish’s new home, but you’re wary about its ability to hold the weight of the tank. I have outlined everything you should consider if you want to put a fish tank on a piece of IKEA furniture.
Small tanks should not be problematic if the IKEA furniture feels sturdy. Ideally, compare the weight of the filled tank to the furniture’s load-bearing capacity. IKEA furniture is made from materials that are weaker and more vulnerable to water damage. It also has more joins, which are weak points.
IKEA Furniture Is Generally Not Very Strong
Part of IKEA’S appeal is that it is affordable and easy to assemble. Unfortunately, as a result most IKEA furniture is not that strong—it is often made with cheaper materials that are lighter and less dense than more expensive, higher quality materials. This makes them weaker.
The ease with which you can put together a piece of furniture may indicate that the furniture is not strongly constructed. For instance, a table that requires only one screw to attach the top to the legs may not be the sturdiest or be able to hold a lot of weight.
Fish tanks can get very heavy, depending on their size, so you need to be aware of just what your furniture can handle.
Most Common Material
IKEA furniture is so common in the average household because there is something to suit every budget. IKEA is able to get away with charging lower prices because they make use of cheaper materials that won’t cost them a lot upfront.
A lot of IKEA furniture is likely made of very affordable particleboard and fiberboard. Particleboard is very light as it is comprised of wood shavings, sawdust, and wood chips that have been adhered together. Fiberboard is similar to this, although it is made from slightly larger pieces of wood, which may make it more sturdy than particleboard.
In short, you will quickly notice that your fiberboard table cannot hold the weight of your 5-gallon fish tank.
Self Assembly Means More Joins
You are probably no stranger to the long instruction manuals and multiple mini packets of screws and sticks that come when you purchase a piece of furniture from IKEA.
When furniture is manufactured for you in a factory or warehouse, special tools and equipment are used to join pieces together seamlessly. IKEA furniture is made to be assembled with more rudimentary tools and techniques.
Additionally, with traditional furniture, some pieces are left whole, whereas a similar piece in an IKEA furniture kit would be split into different parts to make flat-packing easier. This increases the number of joins.
These joins are always going to be weak points. So, you need to be careful about how much weight you place on them.
Some Pieces Are Made From Wood
Don’t worry; not every piece of IKEA furniture that is available for purchase is made from these flimsier materials. Some pieces are actually made from wood, such as Oak, Birch, and even Pine.
These products are obviously not going to be as affordable as the other products, as their raw materials do cost a lot more. Despite the cost, you can rest assured that, provided they were constructed well, products made from solid wood will be a lot stronger.
There should be no issue—in terms of weight-bearing capacity—with placing your fish tank on a table or shelf made from solid wood, as this material is unlikely to buckle or bend easily.
Find the Furniture’s Load Capacity
In order to truly know whether your specific piece of furniture can hold the weight of the fish tank, you will need to find out the furniture’s precise load capacity.
There seems to be no system when it comes to reporting the load capacity of an IKEA item, but here are the 4 best ways to try:
1. Look at the Product Details Online
One way that you can access this information is by looking at the details of your specific product online. You will simply go to IKEA’s website and type in your specific item into the search bar.
Once the right product has appeared, click on it and scroll down to where you find “Product Details”.
Select this heading to find a description of your product, and scroll to the bottom where you should find the Maximum Load that the furniture can handle.
Here is an example of a product for which the load capacity is listed under the product details.
2. Check the Measurements Online
Another way you can find out how much weight your piece of furniture can carry is to look under the Measurements tab.
Following the same process as above (searching for your product on the IKEA website and scrolling all the way down) and find the “Measurements” heading.
You will be able to see the exact dimensions of your particular product, as well as its maximum load capacity (if it is listed here).
Here is an example of a product for which the load capacity is listed under the measurements.
If you find yourself struggling to navigate IKEA’s website or there is simply no information provided for your exact product, then you may have to contact IKEA.
You can either telephone your local store to ask for the load capacity of the item or email the head office and ask the question.
IKEA employees may not know off-hand if you simply approach them in the store, so you may need to give them a chance to do some research and contact employees who will know the answer.
Look at the Assembly Instructions
Alternatively, you can also take a look at the assembly instructions of the product to find out how much weight it is capable of holding.
The instructions might not explicitly specify the load capacity but they may preclude use for heavy items, such as in this sideboard.
You can find these instructions physically in the box that your furniture came in, which you would have used to assemble your product. However, if you bought the product a while ago and have since gotten rid of the box and manual, then you can simply access it online.
Go to the IKEA website, search for your desired product and select it. Scroll down until you see ‘Product Details’ and click on it.
A pop-up menu should appear and you will need to click on “Assembly and Documents”. You will then be able to download and print the instructions for your item.
Calculating Tank Weight from Volume
Okay, great—now that you know how to determine how much weight your particular piece of furniture can handle, you now need to figure out just how heavy your fish tank will be once it has been filled with water.
You should be able to find out the volume of water your tank can hold by simply looking at its packaging. This is a great resource for converting water volume into weight.
So, for example, if the tank says it holds up to 5 liters of water, then you know it has a weight of 5 kg or 2.2 lbs.
Make sure to weigh your actual tank without water in it as well and add it to the weight of the water so that you can ensure you do not exceed the furniture’s maximum load capacity.
Small Tanks Are Less of an Issue
You may be in the clear if you only a have a small fish tank. Smaller tanks themselves are less heavy and can hold much less water. Therefore, if you were to put one of these tanks on IKEA furniture, there should not be any issue.
It might be in your best interest to still find out the maximum load capacity for your furniture anyway, to just be on the safe side.
Consider the Possible Water Damage
The thing about fish tanks is they hold water—the literal bane of furniture’s existence. Obviously, fish tanks are supposed to be water-tight but some can fail and cause a lot of water damage to your furniture.
Maybe you accidentally crack it while walking past with your broom or mop. If it is a very old fish tank, it may also crack and have leaks.
Others might not fail, but the furniture can be exposed to water in other ways. For instance, when you are opening the tank to feed the fish, you may splash water on the surface around it when lifting the lid off. Cleaning a fish tank requires hard work, and in the process you may cause some water to fall on the furniture.
The nature of IKEA materials means that they are more porous. This means that water easily penetrates past the surface of the wood and sits inside the material. Swelling and rot will occur, further weakening the structure.