Glass Vs. Acrylic, What Aquarium Is Really Best?

When making a decision to purchase an aquarium one of the first options that comes to mind is, should i stick with traditional glass or venture into the cutting edge acrylic fish tank.

There are two materials that aquariums typically built from and a number of advantages and disadvantages to both. Whether it's your first tank or your twentieth their is no clear cut way to choose one.

One large determining factor involved in deciding the material of the aquarium depends on the size and shape of the aquarium that will meet the needs of your desired livestock and your home.

Glass is significantly more heavy than acrylic. Even a small glass aquarium is quite heavy and when you start looking at tanks that are 55 gallons or more they are generally impossible to move with one person. Acrylic tanks on the other hand are quite light. If you intend to get a very large aquarium this factor alone might be enough to make your decision, a 150 gallon glass aquarium will take a whole team of movers whereas two average guys could move an acrylic tank of the same size.

The shape is also very important. Theoretically any shape is possible with both glass and acrylic but in practice that isn't true. Acrylic can be bent in any strange shape imaginable whereas glass is very difficult to bend in convex or concave shapes while maintaining strength so glass tanks come in far less interesting shapes than acrylic, however all the typical shapes are available in both glass and acrylic.

An acrylic tank is 10 or 15 times more durable than a glass aquarium is. Glass is still extremely strong and should last decades with no problems. I have however heard horror stories on aquarium forums about people coming home to find their 300 gallon reef tank worth 30 thousand dollars all over their basement floor. If you choose most often to air on the side of caution acrylic might be the right material for you.

Acrylic has a better view ability quality than standard glass but this is only noticeable to a very keen eye. There is also the availability of Starfire glass that can be added to the front panel of your aquarium that will give it an even clearer view than an acrylic tank.

If for any reason in the future you wish to drill the tank; for a sump or for any other reason, this is very difficult (although not impossible) with a glass tank and a cinch with acrylic.

There are also many advantages to having a glass tank rather than an acrylic one. Acrylic scratches very easily. Typical cleaning utensils such as razor blades, scrapers, and algae magnets are out of the question. You will need to show the utmost care when adding or moving gravel or decor as not to graze your tank walls.

It is possible to purchase products that will buff out light scratches in the acrylic but they are costly and require your aquarium be completely empty and dry.

Another very considerable difference between glass and acrylic aquariums is price. This is also a factor that may flat out make the decision for many people. Glass is simply cheaper, how much cheaper depends on the size of the tank in question. Glass can be up to or even more than half the price for small tanks. You should look into this because with larger more standard shape aquariums the prices start to even out.