Tips Creating a DIY ADA Stand
Written by Kristoffer Willerslev Jørgensen   

Just like when building a house or any solid construction you need a good foundation. A aquarium setup is no different. It requires a strong stand to support the tank and to keep all the equipment hidden. When we chose a stand we usually first consider size, cost and then lastly we consider the appearance of our stand.   We do not have wide selection of stands to choose from though. It could be due to the high price tag,  availability or simply the significant other not wanting us spending the money. So what are we to do?


We must attempt a do-it-yourself project to make our stand resemble what we want our whole setup to look like. Stands  which do not match our tanks and light fixtures do not offer a very complete aesthetic feel. As we design the stand, we must try to match it to our tank setup and house décor.

My aquarium setup included a 60x30x36cm rimless OptiWhite tank and aluminum T5 pendent. All kept minimalistic and somewhat anonymous so they do not draw attention away from my aquascape. So if you plan on having the same minimalist style like the one we know from the ADA range of equipment, I hope this article can help you reach your goal.

Remember, a stand is the foundation of the whole setup. The big surface has a tendency to draw attention and can negatively impact your aquascape. Avoid bright colors and strong contrast to the walls and floor. Your aquascape  should be the primary focus;  not the stand, the tank or any other piece of equipment.

I prefer the minimalistic look and a light grey color that matches the wood and white walls of my apartment.

Using Laminate

I was lucky to find some drawings which were based on the ADA design. I used these as a starting point for my stand. Instead of painting the stand, I then decided to cover it with laminate to avoid the tremendous amount of work it would take to get the large surfaces of the stand painted evenly. I had never worked with laminate and the drawings did not take this into account.

Laminate is hard and has a strong surface with a nice finish. It is found in numerous colors and finishes, and can be chosen to match your taste.

I got in touch with a very nice guy that worked at a laminate workshop. He told me shortly how to work with it and also supplied me with laminate in return for some glassware for CO2.

I cannot stress out how important forums are when you need help with your DIY stand project. Ask before you buy or do anything. Get it all planned and ask around if someone can help you with materials or just good advice. Any DIY project should not end out to be more expensive or giving a result that you are not satisfied with.

I had my father-in-law  supply and cut the wood I needed.  This made the parts of the stand (wood and laminate)  almost free. All I needed was to assemble it, make some holes for wires and hoses, cover it with laminate, trim it and done… Sounds easy?  It was!



Stand Assembly1. Stand Assembly

Assemble the pieces of wood with dowels, glue and screws. The inside is covered with plastic foil which saves a lot of work and gives me a good surface for the inside.

When you assemble the stand, bear in mind how the stand will be stressed by the weight it will hold. You need to select the right type of  wood. A stand in this size can be made in 16mm (Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF fiberboard).  This wood is very easy to cut and has a lot of strength.

Glue2. Work as the Glue to Dries

When connecting the pieces together, use a water based glue with a short drying time at approximately 1 hour. Not only will this allow you to apply and spread the glue evenly before it begins to dry, it also dries fast enough where you can  route the edges soon after.

I recommend save timing by working on different sides of the stand at once.  You can route the laminate at one place, while another piece is drying.

Router3. Use  a Router

A router using a bit with a bearing is a necessity for trimming the laminate nicely. It’s very fast and easy to use.  Cover the area with masking tape to avoid marks and use a firm steady hand.  It is essential that you take your time to avoid any mistakes.


Details4. Detailed Areas

Use a jigsaw and the router with a straight bit to make the detail holes for the hoses. The inside edge can also be covered with laminate to complete the look  of your aquarium stand




I highly recommend anyone to try to build their own stand if they have the right tools and can get the materials very cheap.  In the end, you  may have created something better than anything seen at a store.


DIY Stand