Large Aquarium Viewing Tank Wall


A new aquarium is being designed and the owner wants a clear, 3 meter high wall for visitors to view the fish. It has been decided that the minimum spacing for the support columns is 2 meters to maximize the viewing surface.

What is known:

  • The water level will be a maximum of 3 m.
  • The vertical beams will be spaced 2 m on center.
  • The length of the wall is not known.
  • The top of the wall is not supported.
  • The beams are mounted through the floor (can assume a fixed joint condition).
  • A factor of safety of 3.0 is required.
  • The I-beam yield stress is 250 MPa.


What I-Beam (S-shape section type only) should be specified to minimize the vertical beam weight and still hold? Use the beams listed in the Structure Shapes appendix.


San Diego Sea World Dolphin Tank

  • Water density is 1 g/cm3.
  • The vertical beam can be considered as a cantilever beam (fixed at base).
  • Find the maximum moment on the beam.
  • Use the section modulus equation
         S = M / σallow
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