Which Aquarium is Better – Glass or Acrylic?

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Written By Fun Fish Tanks

I Love my Fishes 

If you are of the bunch of people that have a keen interest in aquariums, then you must have come across the types of aquarium build, glass, and acrylic. It is hard to decide whether what will be best for you, your aquatic friends, and for your home. Well, this discussion about glass or acrylic aquariums has been here for ages and will stay furthermore for several years to come.

Not just you, it is hard for everyone to decide what kind of tank they should go for. It is not that glass is better than the other or vice versa, both of the tank types have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Within this article, you will get a clear explanation of both of these tanks, and a proper scrutinization and comparison between them.

Glass Aquariums

The glass was the earliest material from which aquariums began to be manufactured. The glass panels of these types of aquariums are held together with a silicone sealant.

This sealant is what determines the durability and longevity of glass aquariums as these tend to weaken first, even before the glass itself. Glass aquariums come in various sizes. Glass aquariums are ideal for tank sizes such up to 1000 liters or 260 gallons.

Properties of glass aquariums

It is known that glass comes with iron in it, so glass aquariums tend to have a bluish or greenish tint meaning that their clarity is a bit low. Glass aquariums also have a bit of weight on them.

The fact that they are highly resistant to scratches, it is not that they don’t scratch but getting a scratch on a glass aquarium is less likely to happen. The scratch resistance also makes it easier to clean them.

Glass aquariums may be scratch resistant but they are not durable against impacts, meaning they are likely to get shattered or broken because of impact.

Acrylic Aquariums

Acrylic is made from acrylonitrile, which is a substance that comes from petroleum or coal-based chemicals. Acrylic aquariums have become a very popular choice among aquarists. The acrylic panels of the aquarium are amalgamated together.

Properties of acrylic aquariums

Acrylic aquariums come with a lot of pros. These aquariums are very light and their clarity is top-notch. It doesn’t matter how thick your aquarium is the clarity of the acrylic aquariums won’t even budge because of thickness. They are very strong and are highly impact resistant.

Although they can easily be scratched and prone to scratches. Acrylic can also be easily cut out into any shape giving acrylic aquariums a huge range of shapes and sizes. Their insulation capacity is also higher, meaning they can conduct heat without any trouble.

Comparison of Glass and Acrylic Aquariums

It is near impossible to choose between glass and acrylic aquariums. So, a comparison needs to be done to get a better understanding of the properties of both the aquariums.

Scratch Resistance

This is a primary factor when it comes to aquariums. No aquarist in the world would want to see scratches in their aquariums.

Glass aquariums have the upper hand on this. This also makes it easier to clean as cleaning it will not leave any kind of scratches. They are highly resistant to scratches. Acrylic aquariums are prone to scratches and can easily be scratched by almost anything. Cleaning acrylic tanks is also hard as it might create scratches on them.

Durability

An aquarium should also be able to hold out against any kind of impact and should be an enduring one.

That being said acrylic aquariums are more durable by leaps and bounds than glass ones. The former can withstand impact very effectively and is less likely to break than the latter.

As the panels of acrylic aquariums are jolted together rather than stuck together so not prone to any kind of leakage. Whereas glass aquariums are held together by a silicone sealant, so when this substance wears out leakage will occur. So comparatively acrylic aquariums are more durable than glass aquariums.

Clarity

Every aquarist would want to be able to see their fish with more clarity and their true colors. So, Acrylic aquariums have better clarity than glass aquariums. This is probably because of the presence of iron content in glass which gives it a bluish or greenish tint.

Distortion

In aquariums distortions also play a major in getting a true view of your fish. Distortions basically happen due to the refraction of light. Less refraction occurs in acrylic aquariums compared to glass aquariums. So, this means acrylic aquariums have fewer distortions than glass ones.

Porosity

In terms of the aquarium, porosity means the ability to absorb the chemicals mixed up in the water. In this case, glass aquariums are totally non-porous or they don’t absorb any chemicals. Conversely, acrylic aquariums radiate porosity and can absorb chemicals.

UV Resistant

UV rays affect and damage a lot of things including aquariums. Acrylic aquariums are not UV resistant the sunlight or aquarium lights can turn the acrylic aquariums yellow over time.

Which in turn leads to the weakening of the acrylic aquarium. Whereas glass aquariums are not at all affected by UV rays. But this doesn’t occur in all the acrylic tanks, cheaper ones are more likely to feel the effects of acrylic tanks.

Weight

In terms of weight, acrylic is way lighter than glass aquariums. Glass tends to be a lot heavier than acrylic. So, this makes it convenient to move the acrylic aquariums around with great ease.

The comparisons made above between the glass and acrylic aquariums are most likely the major properties of both of the types of aquariums. Glass aquariums have the upper hand in some spheres and acrylic aquariums have the upper hand in some.

Which one is more expensive?

This is probably the first thought that comes to anyone while choosing between glass or acrylic aquarium. Acrylic aquarium tends to be more costly than glass ones. As glass is more easily available and much cheaper than Acrylic.

For those who are at a budget, Glass Aquarium can be a very budget friendly option at the cost of weight and durability. However, if you wish to spend more money, there is no doubt, Acrylic aquariums can be a great option as well.

Which one is easy to repair?

Both the acrylic and glass aquariums are bound to get damaged by something or the other in course of time. Damages can be scratches, leaking, or shattering.

In the case of glass aquariums, they don’t get scratched too easily as they are highly resistant to scratching. However, they can’t withstand impact and are prone to leakage.

 So, in case of leakage, it is caused by the wearing down of the sealant. It is rather easy to repair this shortcoming, remove the water, scrape off the old sealant completely and clean the leaking area. After that just apply a new sealant and let it dry. If one of the glass panes of your aquarium shatters or gets cracked, you will need to remove the damaged pane and get a new one and attach it with a sealant.

Acrylic aquariums are prone to scratches. It can withstand impact very effectively than glass aquariums, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t break or get damaged.

 Scratches in the acrylic aquariums can be removed by using sandpaper that is compatible in both the condition of wet and dry. If unfortunately, one of the panes of the acrylic aquarium gets damaged, you might as well forget that aquarium. You’ll need to bring a new one for yourself. But the chances of an acrylic tank getting that level of damage is very low.

Which aquarium is better?

One can’t certainly say that a glass aquarium is better than acrylic or vice versa. It depends upon what condition you are buying an aquarium. If you are opting for a smaller tank then it is recommended that you go for a glass aquarium as it will save a lot of bucks, and a smaller glass tank won’t be that heavy.

But if you’re going for a larger tank. Acrylic is advised as it is a lot lighter than the glass ones and easier to move around and will not get damaged that easily.

Acrylic or Glass aquarium? This question is here to stay for very long. As both types have an edge over the other in several properties it all comes down to the personal preference or the conditions of what kind of aquarium you want.

There are criteria in which glass aquariums are better and there are some in which acrylic ones are better. Needless to say, it is very hard to choose between a glass aquarium and an acrylic aquarium.

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