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designing and building with wood channels my creativity and challenges my mind.
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Thursday, February 9, 2012

New Pedestal Stand for the Sera 15 gallon Biotope

my pedestal: 36" tall
front view
The Sera Biotope 60 is a 15 gallon "micro" aquarium-in-a-box, perfect for people needing just a little bit of fish tank in their lives. With its sleek shape and dark gray molded, vented canopy, the Biotope cuts a handsome figure. But the pedestal usually sold alongside the Biotope 60 doesn't live up to the job.  Short and squat, with not a lot of storage space, it could look, and serve the needs of cramped apartment dwellers, a little better.

This project represents my ongoing development in re-thinking common furniture challenges to create a new, more economical designs, while improving on quality and style at the same time. In this case, I achieved the same wholesale price point as the factory stand, but improved on it in many ways:

the factory stand: 28" tall
Like most of my aquarium cabinets, this pedestal is 36" tall, and stands on hidden feet to make the job of leveling easier, and provide an air gap to protect the floor from trapped moisture. The commercial stand is 28" tall.  There's a consensus among hobbyists and professionals that taller cabinets are preferred, so I don't understand the persistence of such low stands from the factories.  Perhaps the low-quality materials used in factory furniture can't support taller designs.

My pedestal is door-less, which saves on costs and allows me to spend money on longer-lasting materials (birch plywood instead of melamine-laminated MDF and particle board). But with three 12" shelves, my pedestal has far more storage space.  And even though there are no doors, the front leg of the pedestal hides shelf contents remarkably well, while giving the whole piece a dynamic look. This is a case of re-thinking the conventional wisdom: I don't think there is a desire among consumers for doors on such a small and narrow aquarium stand.  More important are an elegant look, resistance to tipping, and strength. In this case, my shelves are just a bonus of the design.

I had a Sera canopy to use as a template

There are hidden improvements as well: whereas many commercially available stands (and furniture in general) are stapled together (yes, stapled, with high-power staplers), I used real fasteners to bring it all together: birch dowels, glued into the top and bottom panels and sanded flush. These dowels will never come out; the whole pedestal will last essentially forever, which is not true of the commercial model. To boot, the dowel design is faster to make than a stapled-box design.

My pedestal stand is available at Unique Aquaria & Reptiles in Boston, MA.

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