The Best Ways to Earthquake Proof an Aquarium

Fish are at risk in an earthquake.
Fish are at risk in an earthquake. (Image: fish tank image by Tammy Mobley from

Living in an earthquake zone means that tremors can happen anytime. Even outside of such zones it is possible to experience events that can cause an aquarium to plummet to the floor, such as strong winds that come with hurricanes and tornadoes. Even a mild quake can knock things over, including aquariums, unless they are solidly secured in such a way that they are unlikely to fall. While a large earthquake could still send the aquarium crashing, the chances of it staying in place are much better if you take some precautions.


To protect fish in the event of an earthquake, avoid having heavy rocks or other decorations stacked up in such a way that they could easily fall during moderate shaking. Heavy items can crush fish if they fall on them. Such objects might also hit the sides of the tank, causing cracks or holes that will result in disaster even if the tank doesn’t fall.

Secure the Stand

One of the most important ways to earthquake proof an aquarium is to secure the stand, since if the stand begins to rock too much the aquarium is almost certain to fall. Bolt the stand to the wall, ensuring it is bolted to the studs and not the hollow part of the wall. The best way to do this is to use angle brackets that attach to both the stand and the wall. Screws and bolts must be large enough be effective, but the exact size will depend on the size of the aquarium and the stand. Many experts recommend also using angle brackets to bolt the aquarium stand to the floor.


In areas that are at high risk for earthquakes, the California Department of Food and Agriculture recommends placing aquariums on the floor instead of on stands or shelving. This can be a very effective means of reducing the likelihood that the aquarium will tip or fall during a quake. Tall aquariums are especially suited to such a measure, but it makes any aquarium setup less vulnerable to tipping and swaying.

Stand Type

A secure stand is an important part of earthquake-proofing an aquarium, but bolting down an ordinary flat-topped stand is of little value in a quake of any size. As the stand rocks, the aquarium will end up sliding in the opposite direction, and ultimately it will crash to the floor. A stand with a high lip all the way around can prevent this. Ensure the lip has some strength to it and is not merely decorative.

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