Aquarium stands are specially made stands for supporting the extra weight of aquariums. Some aquarium stands are open stands made of cast iron, while others are closed stands made of pressure-treated wood.
Open aquarium stands are the simplest type and are much lighter than wood stands. These stands are normally made for smaller aquariums, up to 40 gallons (152 liters). Open stands are made of cast iron in a simple rectangular shape with four legs and cross-support at the sides and back. There is no top on this type of stand. The aquarium must sit squarely on the rectangular lip. Because of this, these stands are only made for glass aquariums, which only need to be supported along the bottom edges. Acrylic aquariums must have full bottom support.
Closed stands are made of pressure-treated wood. This is very important because wood that is not pressure-treated will rot over time if exposed to moisture.
Closed stands are rectangular, usually with two or more front doors that swing outward. Closed stands not only have a top, but a bottom. The bottom platform is not cut flush with the walls, but extends beyond them a few inches, making a slightly larger footprint for stability. The top extends slightly beyond the walls as well. Inside the stand there is a center support beam at the back, but otherwise the back remains open for convenience. Electrical cords and filter tubing can easily be run out the back without obstruction.
Closed stands are normally made for aquariums 50 gallons (190 liters) and up. Filtration of various types that can sit nicely under the tank, hidden from view in the closed stand. Fish food, water conditioners and other supplies can also be kept here. Closed aquariums stands are suitable for both glass and acrylic aquariums, and custom designed aquariums, like acrylic bow-front tanks, come with their own custom stands.
Setting up an aquarium on a piece of furniture that isn't designed for it is not recommended. Water weighs about 8.5lbs./gallon (3.9k/3.8l). Adding to the water weight is gravel, decorations and the aquarium itself. Glass is also very heavy, while acrylic is about half the weight of glass. One of the smallest aquariums you can buy -- a 10 gallon (38 liter) tank -- when completely set up will weigh about 100 lbs (45 kilograms). A small 30 gallon (113 liter) tank will weigh close to 300 lbs (136 kg)! Furniture is not made to handle this kind of weight and although it may initially hold a tank, it may also become weak and eventually collapse.
If you decide to build your own aquarium stand you will need to research the required design depending on the weight involved. Aquarium stands have specific support and construction requirements. Information can be found on this subject with various opinions as to which designs are best, but it is recommended you over-build for your application, when given a choice.
Pre-owned (or "used") aquarium stands are also an option, readily available in local classifieds. Barring that, store bought aquarium stands are well worth the investment! They will keep your tank stable and you can remain worry-free, and enjoy your fish for years to come!