Choosing Between Glass and Acrylic Acquariums

Being new to owning an aquarium, I was not aware that aquariums were made of anything but glass, but acrylic is also an option. There are pros and cons to both that are important to know before choosing between glass and acrylic aquariums.

Glass Pros: Glass is hard to scratch. Tanks are widely available and so are the equipment to go with them such as hoods and covers. They are less expensive than acrylic, and glass can support considerable weight in comparison.

Glass Cons: Glass is much heavier than acrylic. Glass is easier to crack or shatter than acrylic (although significant force is needed) so it’s not ideal for earthquake zones. Rectangles, squares, and bowfront tanks are pretty much your only options. The colors and positions of fish are not as “true,” looking through glass due to the light  refraction, although many aquarists feel this is minor. (Glass does however, maintains its clarity over time better than acrylic.) If it is needed to drill holes in glass tanks, the warranty is immediately voided and the risk of cracking is greater.

Acrylic Pros: Acrylic tanks are lighter than glass and not easily cracked or shattered. Acrylic tanks can be shaped into just about anything, not just rectangular. It is much easier to drill holes in acrylic tanks than glass. Acrylic tanks have better thermal insulation than glass.

Acrylic Cons: Highly scratchable. Acrylic tanks need much more structural support than glass tanks, otherwise bowing can occur. Acrylic tanks sometimes yellow with age and scratches will become more visible with time. Acrylic tanks are generally more expensive than glass.

In the end we decided on a glass tank, but as you can see there are benefits and drawbacks to both. There is no wrong choice. We purchased our 75 gallon glass tank with overflow at Preuss Pets for $199.99.

Choosing Between Glass and Acrylic Acquariums

The dimensions of this tank are 48x18x20. We added the black backing that we also bought at Preuss Pets. We spent $20 on this and it looks great. The reason you do this is to make the colors in your aquarium stand out. The wall behind the aquarium is red and would be unconducive as a viewing background. This is applied by putting soapy water on the back of the aquarium and then peeling the clear coating from the back of the black backing. Then you place the sticky side of the background onto the soapy water and use a credit card to eliminate bubbles and squeeze out all water. A razor blade is used to trim edges of backing flush with the aquarium.

Choosing Between Glass and Acrylic Acquariums

Backing comes in a variety of blues and blacks, as well as printed backgrounds. We chose black because the blue reminds us too much of pet store aquariums. Plus, the black goes better with our home’s decor.

This entry was posted in Picking Equipment and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.