You’ve got your new aquarium set up, and it looks great, but then you hear someone start to talk about aquarium bracing. But what is aquarium bracing, and is it necessary for you?
Aquarium bracing is a silicone and plastic frame around the top and bottom of an aquarium. The brace is a support beam to protect the glass panels from bowing. Braces are important features needed on larger tanks to stabilize them.
So if you’re looking for a structurally secure fish home, brace yourself because you might need a brace! In the rest of this article, we’ll be breaking down the most common questions about aquarium bracing and tips for brace installation and replacement.
Is bracing necessary for an aquarium?
A traditional, framed aquarium tank always requires bracing. Often, bracing comes built into many of these types of aquarium models. As aquariums have become more popular, manufacturers have opted to make the glass of framed aquariums thinner. With thinner glass comes weaker support which puts more pressure on the silicone framing.
Bracing acts as a support beam for larger tanks. It is a plastic shell often found on the top of a tank that holds onto the sides of the aquarium.
Sometimes you’ll also have an additional brace on the bottom of the tank. Bottom braces are not as common as top braces but do important work to support the tank.
The pressure of the brace against the walls helps to counteract the water pressure against the glass. Without it, the water pressure pushes against the glass and causes it to bow. The bowing weakens the structural integrity of the glass, which could result in the aquarium falling apart.
Does a fish tank need support in the middle?
If you have a larger, framed aquarium, extra support is necessary. Your tank’s manufacturer can help you understand whether or not your aquarium needs additional support or whether it came with the aquarium.
Aquariums need support around their perimeter, including support in the middle.
However, many people recently have started opting to use corner bracing instead of full-frame bracing on top of the tank. Corner bracing has benefits, including making it look more aesthetically pleasing. But it is not as tried and true as using full perimeter support.
Supporting your traditional framed aquarium in the middle is very important to keep it safe. If your tank came with middle support, professionals recommend leaving it in place regardless of the glass’s strength or other braces.
Do rimless tanks require support bracing?
Rimless tanks are relatively new to the home aquarium world. These tanks are completely glass, having no silicone frame. The appeal of these full glass tanks is mostly aesthetic.
However, because the tank does not have a frame, the rimless aquariums are made with thicker, higher-grade glass. Less support is needed because the glass is stronger than a framed aquarium’s glass.
Larger tanks, though, always benefit from extra support, whether frameless or framed. For larger rimless tanks, many choose to add on corner bracing.
What is euro bracing?
Euro bracing goes around the top and bottom of a tank’s front and side panes. Instead of traditional plastic bracing, euro bracing is usually glass strips that run along the sides and top of your aquarium.
Because it is glass, it does not affect the tank’s light as much as plastic bracing. Traditional plastic bracing can often produce shadows inside your tank.
What size aquarium needs a brace?
Any tank larger than 30 gallons should have at least one brace. A 30-gallon tank is a great starting size for beginners, being small enough not to be too much of a hassle but large enough to display a wide variety of fish.
Smaller aquariums, or generic fish bowl-type aquariums, will not need braces. If you are looking for something low maintenance to start your fish hobby endeavor, consider starting with a fish bowl-sized aquarium, then work your way up. The larger the tank, the more support it will need.
While rimless tanks tend to be stronger, a rimless tank that holds up to or over 150 gallons will require some brace.
If you don’t know the gallon capacity of your tank, check out this fish tank volume calculator. To get the gallon or liter capacity, all you will need is the length, height, and depth of your tank in either centimeters or inches.
How do you put a center brace in an aquarium?
If you do not have a brace, or if it is old and starting to deteriorate, it is time to put a center brace onto your aquarium. Here are some simple step-by-step instructions for replacing a center brace on an aquarium:
Step one: Drain your tank
If your tank is full, drain it about 50 percent before working. The reason for draining the tank is to avoid the tank leaking while you work. This step is especially important if you are replacing an old brace.
If you prefer, you can work with an empty tank. Empty tanks are easier to maneuver and less likely to damage your fish or the water properties during work.
Step two: Add silicone to the brace frame
Squeeze silicone inside the new brace frame with center braces attached. Fit the frame onto the top of your tank. Tap along the sides of the frame to ensure the sealant adheres to the tank panels.
It is important to note that if you are replacing an old brace with a new one, you need to remove the old one first. To remove an old brace frame, use a small rotary cutter and a putty knife. Work carefully to avoid hitting the glass or silicone support of the side panels.
Bracing is important for any large fish tank. Glass is often made thinner on fish tanks, making it easier to manufacture and cheaper to sell but less structurally safe. Always add bracing if you want your aquarium to be a long and happy home for your fish.