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Glass Vs Acrylic Aquarium – Which Is Better?


Whether or not you’re a first-time fish proprietor or an skilled hobbyist, shopping for a brand new aquarium can really feel like an enormous (and thrilling!) affair. Sadly, many fish fanatics discover themselves overwhelmed by decisions after they step right into a fish retailer. Having to pick out between glass and acrylic tanks may be daunting!

For those who’ve ever discovered your self on this scenario, know that you just’re not alone in your confusion. Each forms of tanks appear to look the identical, so what’s the distinction? And which one is healthier? On this article, we take a deep dive into the distinction between glass vs. acrylic aquariums.

What Is The Distinction Between Acrylic and Glass Aquariums?

Acrylic and glass are each clear, see-through supplies which can be typically utilized in tank building. On a molecular degree, acrylic is a kind of plastic product of acrylonitrile monomer, whereas glass is a stable made by fusing sand, soda ash, or limestone collectively at very excessive temperatures.

Acrylic tanks have a repute for being lighter, extra malleable, and impact-resistant, whereas glass tanks are prized for being scratch-proof, cheaper, and remaining clear all through their lifespan.

Comparability Desk

Aqueon LED Fish Aquarium Starter Kit

Begins off clear, however will flip yellow over time

Clear all through the length of its lifespan

Poor – Scratches very simply

Good – Very troublesome to scratch

Robust, impact-resistant materials

Sturdy, however extremely breakable materials

Dearer than glass

Extremely malleable and may be formed into curved surfaces

Not malleable – glass tanks are typically angular and geometrical

Begins off clear, however will flip yellow over time

Poor – Scratches very simply

Robust, impact-resistant materials

Dearer than glass

Extremely malleable and may be formed into curved surfaces

Aqueon LED Fish Aquarium Starter Kit

Clear all through the length of its lifespan

Good – Very troublesome to scratch

Sturdy, however extremely breakable materials

Not malleable – glass tanks are typically angular and geometrical

Execs of Glass Fish Tanks 

Scratch Resistant

One key good thing about glass aquariums is their scratch resistance. Glass is significantly extra scratch-proof in comparison with acrylic, which suggests that it’ll face up to the damage and tear of on a regular basis use much more successfully.

This is a crucial high quality, as tank upkeep entails scrubbing tank partitions, transferring tank decor round, and including gravel. You need a tank that allows you to do all the above with out fretting about ugly scratches – tank upkeep is difficult sufficient!

As well as, tanks may also be scratched from the skin. As cautious as all of us attempt to be round our tanks, many people nonetheless sometimes bump or rub in opposition to our tanks. These tiny little mishaps happen as a part of day-to-day life, so we would like a tank that’s just a little extra forgiving and scratch-proof!

Steady and Break up-Proof

Glass is a sturdy materials that may assist an enormous quantity of weight over distances, making them a steady possibility for many setups. It is possible for you to to position a glass tank over most forms of aquarium stands with out worrying about instability.

This high quality is particularly vital should you’re coping with a bigger tank dimension – one with larger quantity of water. Whereas tanks product of acrylic materials could depart you frightened about flexing and splitting seams, glass tanks all however eradicate that threat with their excellent materials sturdiness. 

One other benefit to this split-proof high quality is the truth that you possibly can depart your tank uncovered for simple upkeep, without having to fret about any water stress exerted in opposition to the wall of your tank. Good when you have a taller tank!

Shade Does Not Change

One key good thing about glass over acrylic is that their shade doesn’t change over time. Glass is a robust and chemically inert materials that can retain its clear, colorless, and see-through high quality in the course of its lifespan.

This is a crucial high quality because the purpose of a tank is to mean you can get a transparent and correct view of your fish and thoroughly curated aquascape. Any discoloration on the floor of your tank would break the immersive expertise of your tank, making your painstaking efforts look like a waste.

For that reason, glass is ideal for hobbyists looking for a flawless, crystal-clear show.

Sometimes Cheaper Than Acrylic

costs Reduction Concept . 3d rendered illustration

Have you ever ever puzzled why glass is used within the overwhelming majority of instances? Other than its record of optimistic attributes, one key issue for its reputation is as a result of it’s often cheaper.

This creates an fascinating suggestions loop: Folks go for glass as a result of it’s cheaper, which in flip permits producers to supply tanks in larger portions and reap the fee advantages of large-scale manufacturing. This then causes glass tanks to develop into extra inexpensive, perpetuating this suggestions loop as soon as extra.

Cons of Glass Fish Tanks

Heavier than Acrylic

The primary, and most obvious disadvantage of utilizing glass vs. acrylic aquariums is that the previous is considerably heavier. Glass fish tanks can weigh between 4-10 occasions greater than ones product of acrylic – and that’s earlier than you’ve crammed the tank.

For those who anticipate needing to maneuver your tank sometimes, glass would possibly make this activity harder in comparison with acrylic. Actually, the transportation prices related to transferring glass aquariums would possibly even negate any financial savings you’ve made by choosing the cheaper materials.

Brittle and Breakable

Commonest aquarium glass tends to be fragile, making glass a poor selection should you’re putting a tank the place it is likely to be struck by sharp impression or be tipped over. 

Whereas that is solely a priority with non-tempered glass, tempered glass tends to be much more costly and heavier, negating lots of the advantages that include it. 

Better Diploma of Visible Distortion

Glass has a distinct refractive index in comparison with water, which suggests that it’ll bend rays of sunshine getting into and emanating from the tank. This can trigger the objects in your tank to seem distorted – whether or not it’s showing to be a distinct dimension, form, or distance from the entrance of the tank.

The diploma of visible distortion may also rely on the form of the tank. Most tanks are angular, however should you go for a curved glass tank, you’ll probably must take care of a good larger diploma of visible distortion. Additionally, you will face an analogous downside in case your tank makes use of thicker glass panels.

If visible distortion is a giant concern for you, undoubtedly suppose twice about choosing glass. Nevertheless, do notice that choosing acrylic could not essentially nip this downside within the bud. Except you go for good high quality, well-fabricated acrylic, visible distortion is more likely to stay an issue as nicely.

Restricted Form Decisions

One of many key variations between glass vs. acrylic aquariums is form selection. Glass will not be a versatile materials, which signifies that a typical glass panel can be flat and angular. So, once you go for tanks product of glass, you’re sometimes restricted to squarish, geometrical shapes.

This isn’t an issue within the slightest for many aquariums, however should you’re searching for an aquarium in a nontraditional form, it is likely to be greatest to go for acrylic. 

If you’re useless set on glass, you possibly can go for a curved glass aquarium. Nevertheless, they have an inclination to come back at a hefty price ticket and must be custom-made.

Advantages of Acrylic Tanks

Numerous Form Choices

One factor fish fanatics love about acrylic is that it’s a versatile non-rigid materials. This makes acrylic a superb materials for any aquarium proprietor who’s searching for a extra experimental tank form. 

The enchantment of a non-traditional tank form is obvious. It provides your tank a one-of-a-kind, bespoke look, making for a extra fascinating and interesting characteristic general.

Moreover, getting access to extra form choices signifies that you’ll have the ability to discover the proper tank that matches the décor of your room. Searching for a rounded, cylindrical tank? Or a tank with wavy, curved surfaces? Acrylic is the proper materials for bringing these concepts to life. 

Weight is A lot Lighter than Glass

The obvious good thing about an acrylic fish tank over their glass counterpart is they’re lighter weight. Acrylic fish tanks weigh between 4-10 occasions lower than tanks product of glass, which signifies that transferring these tanks can be so much simpler.

The advantages of a light-weight tank will not be obvious when coping with smaller tanks. Although heavier, a small tank product of glass (akin to a 10-gallon tank, for instance) remains to be pretty simple to maneuver and shift. Nevertheless, the distinction will develop into extra evident as the dimensions of the tank will increase. 

Robust and Influence-Resistant Materials

As a result of acrylic is extra versatile, it additionally has a lot larger impression resistance in comparison with glass. Whereas a really sturdy impression can nonetheless break acrylic, the quantity of power wanted for this to happen is significantly larger in comparison with that required by glass.

This makes acrylic an incredible materials if you’re utilizing this tank in an space with excessive foot site visitors. Acrylic will maintain up in opposition to unintended bumps and collisions, although in fact, we all the time advocate being further cautious round fish tanks!

Minimal Visible Distortion of Gentle

Plants and fish in the aquarium with cloudy water

Acrylic materials is available in a wide range of grades, high quality, and readability, giving fish keepers a larger number of choices on the subject of deciding on tanks with minimal visible distortion.

Hobbyists who’re involved about gentle distortion can go for acrylics which have the identical refractive index as water. This can mean you can acquire an correct view of your setup without having to fret about picture distortion.

Nevertheless, do notice that these acrylic panels are typically thicker to forestall bowing within the center, which is able to add to the fee and weight of your setup. As well as, it is very important choose a good and expert producer to make sure that your tank is freed from fabrication errors.

Cons of Acrylic Tanks

Yellows Over Time

The important thing disadvantage of utilizing an acrylic fish tank is that it’ll flip yellow over time. In comparison with glass, acrylic is a extra chemically reactive materials, which spells bother as this could trigger it to interrupt down when uncovered to UV gentle. That is what causes it to yellow.

Whereas yellowing is an early signal that acrylic has began to interrupt down, you’ll ultimately spot extra extreme indicators of UV injury should you don’t change your tank. Superior UV injury may cause your tank to develop into porous, brittle, and even break.

A light diploma of UV injury is inevitable, however you possibly can scale back these odds by choosing high-quality acrylic. These choices are higher capable of face up to the damage and tear brought on by UV gentle publicity, permitting your tank to last more.

Liable to Scratches

One key con of acrylic is that they’re extremely susceptible to scratches, which may trigger the readability of acrylic aquariums to decrease over time.

This makes them a nasty selection should you want a tank that may face up to a level of tough dealing with – suppose an workplace aquarium, or one positioned in a dentist’s workplace. Acrylic fish tanks positioned in spots with excessive foot site visitors will develop into lined in a haze of scratches very quickly in any respect.

Be that as it might, there are various cheap scratch-fix instruments you should use to fix acrylic scratches in a pinch. You’ll probably discover a fish-safe and aquarium-safe acrylic sharpening equipment at your native fish retailer. Nevertheless, having to do that regularly can really feel like a problem.

Sometimes Extra Costly than Glass

If you’re a hobbyist on a price range, that is one thing you severely wish to think about. Acrylic tanks are often dearer than their glass counterparts, making this materials a poor selection should you’re budget-conscious. 

Even should you handle to discover a tank that’s on the decrease finish of the worth vary, we might advise you to proceed with a wholesome quantity of warning and analysis. Cheaper tanks are typically product of low-quality acrylic, which is able to include a myriad of cons akin to welding, distortion, and being susceptible to UV injury.

The underside line is that this: If price is your main issue, undoubtedly go for a tank made of normal glass. Your pockets will thanks for it, and also you’ll end up with a sturdy, dependable house on your fish.

  • Glass tanks are cheaper than ones product of acrylic, however may cost extra to move as a result of they’re heavier.
  • Acrylic is versatile and non-rigid, making it the proper materials when you have unconventional tank shapes in thoughts.
  • Visible distortion will happen no matter which tank you go for, however acrylic gives hobbyists with a larger vary of high quality. It’s attainable to get an acrylic tank with minimal visible distortion, whereas the identical can’t be mentioned of glass.
  • Acrylic may be very very scratch-prone, which is usually a problem to shine. Glass is so much tougher to scratch.
  • However, acrylic may be very troublesome to interrupt, whereas glass will shatter upon contact with sharp impression.
  • Glass is an inert materials and can keep clear over time. Acrylic will not be chemically steady and can break down when uncovered to UV rays, changing into yellowed and brittle.


So, backside line – which tank is healthier? Properly, it depends upon your private record of priorities. If price, scratch resistance, and the flexibility to remain clear over time issues extra to you, go for glass.

However, acrylic wins factors for being extraordinarily troublesome to interrupt, weighing much less, and offering tons of form choices for people looking for a uniquely formed tank!

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