Reinforcing a cubby hole

Hi
I have a cubby hole above my fireplace (gas, not woodburning). The cubby is roughly 36" square and is designed to house a television. My TV is too big for the cubby, so I had planned on using this area for a fish tank (we don't use the fireplace). I bought a 40-gallon tank and it fits perfectly. Now however, I'm worried about the weight. Using rough calculations, the water in the tank will weigh about 320lbs. The tank itself probably weighs about 50lbs and I had planned to put about 40 lbs of live rock in this tank. To be safe, I'm estimating that the cubby hole needs to support ~500lbs. I don't think the cubby was designed to support that much weight. Our house was built last year and I've contacted the builder to find out how much this area can hold. He's not sure exactly, but says that the area should hold a 35" TV (average 35" TV weighs about 175lbs).
So my question is--how can I reinforce this cubby hole? Is it in the realm of a weekend-type job? Or would this take major restructuring?
Thanks for any advice!
Jim
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reinforcement of the studs that reach the floor and the connection of the shelf to the studs. -B

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The only way I know of is to start ripping down the dry wall and re-structure the area that way. You may find that you have some issues with the top of the fire box..
Good luck sounds like a great idea.
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That's a heavy TV! 175lbs!
Jim wrote:

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Our 36" set weighs at least that, if not more. It can barely be lifted by two people.

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One concern, and only if you plan on using the fireplace with the tank placed there... Will you accidentally 'cook' the inhabitants?
Rick
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