Glass Vs Acrylic Aquarium (Pros And Cons)

Getting a brand new aquarium is significant (and thrilling!) thing, whether you’re a seasoned fish keeper or just starting out. When visiting a fish store, many fish enthusiasts are unfortunately overwhelmed by the sheer number of available options. When choosing a tank, it can be difficult to decide between glass and acrylic.

The two materials, glass and acrylic are often used interchangeably but are not identical in aquariums. There is a wide range of differences among them, including in cost, quality, and weight. Glass is composed of sand, soda, and lime, while acrylic is created from acrylic acid polymers or acrylate polymers (basically, plastic).

Each material has its own advantages due to its unique qualities. To assist you in deciding, we’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of both acrylic and glass aquariums:

Glass Aquarium Overview

Glass is not only very heavy but also very stiff, making it difficult to move. Therefore, it functions best in more compact aquariums as opposed to more wide ones. It is particularly resistant to scratching, which makes it simple to clean and perfect for use in tanks that are intended for beginners. It may be difficult to scratch glass, but it’s crucial to realize that if you do, there’s no way to get the marks removed.

The most popular type of aquarium glass contains iron, which gives it a bluish-green color and makes seams stand out. The new Starfire glass contains substantially less iron, so the color is much more vibrant and clear. Since iron is used to bind the various components of glass together, it is present in all glasses to varying degrees. Glass, in our opinion, offers the least distorted image of your occupants. 

Fish tanks are great home decor and furniture pieces. The upkeep of aquariums has evolved into a popular pastime. As a result, you’ll feel less anxious and more relaxed. In order to lower stress and blood pressure, observing fish tanks has been proven effective by the American Medical Association. People who suffer from panic attacks can also benefit from having one of these at home.

Before going out and buying a brand-new aquarium, it’s crucial to think about the specific species you intend to keep, the space you have available, and the maintenance schedule you can commit to. Here are the pros and cons of glass aquariums, and you should choose the one that works best for you.

Pros Of Glass Aquariums

Cost

The price is the most noticeable difference between glass tanks and acrylic tanks. Glass aquariums, on average, are two to five times less expensive than acrylic tanks of a standard design and volume. Because of this, most hobbyists find that glass tanks are the most cost-effective option.

It’s Resistant to Scratches

It is common knowledge that an aquarium made of glass is very difficult to scratch. Your glass tank will probably retain its attractiveness for a long time, barring any deliberate scratches.

Improved Insulation

You can verify if any glass aquarium is emitting a lot of heat by placing your palms against it; this helps maintain a comfortable temperature in the tank. This contributes to the upkeep of a healthy marine ecosystem.

Hardness

Glass, without a doubt, is one of the hardest materials around. That’s why heating it to such high temperatures is the only way to make it bendable. As a result, a glass aquarium is strong enough to withstand the weight of significantly more water.

Cons Of Glass Aquariums

Weight

Glass, as you may know, has a higher density than acrylic. So, glass tanks are significantly heavier than acrylic tanks. It’s important to remember that a glass aquarium will weigh anywhere from four to ten times as much as an acrylic aquarium of the same dimensions and contents.

Visual Distortion

You probably already know that the index of refraction of water and glass is very different. Consequently, the light is refracted four times as it passes through the glass. Light is distorted whenever it is reflected or bent, and this means that the image will be distorted as well. Because of this, you might not get a good look at the occupants of your aquarium.

Cracks

Sharp impacts can break or crack your glass aquarium, and in extreme cases, it can shatter.

Acrylic Aquarium Overview

Because of its strength and lightweight, acrylic is a popular material for use in bigger aquariums. They’re lightweight and easy to transport, but cleaning acrylic is a nightmare. One common cleaning mishap for acrylic aquariums is getting a piece of trash or pebbles stuck in the sponge when you scrape the sides of the tank.

The good news is that with some strategic rubbing, the scratches can be removed. The bonding procedure used to hold the edges together ensures that the seams are as robust as those found in glass tanks.

Acrylic is more malleable than other materials; thus, it may be shaped into unusual forms. It’s also easier to drill holes in acrylic, which is a plus for installing fixtures in a bulkhead. The key features of each aquarium material come from its individual qualities. If you’re trying to decide whether or not an acrylic aquarium is right for you, consider the following pros and cons below!

Pros Of Acrylic Aquariums

Has a Lighter Weight

You probably already know that acrylic aquariums are widely used for huge exhibitions due to their lightweight. Did you realize that acrylic tanks of similar dimensions weigh roughly half as much as glass aquariums? For this reason, acrylic aquariums, such as those kept on tables, are perfect for homes where weight is a concern.

Easier to Move

When full of water, an acrylic aquarium is still quite light and easy to carry about. Moving them to a new place won’t be a problem because they’re easier to transport than conventional glass tanks.

Strength and Reliability

There is no hiding the fact that glass tanks are typically more scratch-proof than their plastic counterparts. However, unlike glass, acrylic can withstand being dropped without breaking. Because of this, your acrylic aquarium will be less affected by a blow that would break most glass aquariums or fish tanks. You should get an acrylic aquarium instead of a glass one if you have active kids or big pets that could break the glass.

Variety

Acrylic, in case you didn’t know, is a plastic sheet that can bend and twist quite a bit. This allows for the material to be easily shaped into different forms. Acrylic is the material of choice for those who want a curved aquarium or a fish tank of an unusual shape.

Presentation

Note that acrylic has a nearly equal index of refraction to water. Because of this, light traveling through acrylic tanks experiences less bending than light entering or leaving a glass tank. This provides a clearer and more comprehensive view of everything living in the aquarium.

Cons Of Acrylic Aquariums

Scratches

Be aware of the fact that scratches are unavoidable in an acrylic aquarium. The acrylic surface easily scratches. Keep in mind that it will not break if you drop it, but it will be scratched easily. You probably already know that fish and other aquarium occupants, like snails, can scratch the acrylic with their claws and teeth.

Cost

For one thing, the price is a lot more than that of glass tanks. Acrylic tanks are a great investment, but they can be twice as expensive as regular glass tanks because of the materials they are made of. This makes them harder for people on a tight budget to buy.

Prone to Discoloration

Even though these tanks may last longer than glass or plastic, they are not indestructible. Keep an eye out for discoloration or cloudiness caused by UV light. Acrylic tanks lose their clarity over time because UV light breaks down the polymers and bonds that hold them together.

Which Is Best For Beginners?

For those just starting out in the fishkeeping world, it can be difficult to decide which aquarium is right for them. When looking at glass and acrylic aquariums, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of both materials. For the beginner aquarist, glass tanks may seem like the obvious go-to option due to their affordability and availability.

However, acrylic tanks have some distinct advantages that potential owners should consider when making their selection. Acrylic tanks are several times more durable than glass, lighter in weight, and scratch resistant; this last point makes them particularly advantageous if you plan on having more than one animal in your aquarium, as they will not constantly be fighting over territory! Although acrylic tanks can be slightly pricier than their glass counterparts, they also hold heat better and don’t break down as quickly.

Ultimately, it’s up to individual aquarists to decide whether an acrylic or glass tank is right for them, but both can offer beginner hobbyists an enjoyable experience of fishkeeping!

FAQ

Is Acrylic Ok for Aquariums?

Acrylic is the best material for aquariums and fish tanks since it is long-lasting, won’t crack or break, can withstand water, and is as transparent as glass.

Do Acrylic Aquariums Turn Yellow?

One more drawback of acrylic is that it becomes yellow when exposed to sunlight. Many types of plastic are sold with the label “UV Resistant.” The correct term is “resistant,” not “UV proof.” There is currently no acrylic on the market that can withstand UV light.

Do Acrylic Fish Tanks Crack

It’s possible to scratch an acrylic tank, but because of its excellent impact resistance, it won’t shatter or crack. Not only does acrylic not break as aquarium glass does, but the cleanup after a spill is much easier as well.

Do Acrylic Tanks Last Longer than Glass

On average, glass fish tanks tend to last longer than acrylic aquariums. The average lifespan for a glass tank is 10 to 20 years, whereas an acrylic version is somewhere between 5 and 15 years – if they’re properly maintained and under the right physical circumstances, that is.

Do Acrylic Tanks Need a Mat

Having a braced tank eliminates the need for the mat; therefore, no, you should not do that. A mat is optional for a tank with a rim but essential for a tank without one.

Is Acrylic Harder to Scratch than Glass?

The acrylic is far more vulnerable to scratches than the glass. A single speck of sand or a loose rivet on your pants can cause serious damage to a tank if it brushes up against it.

Do Glass Fish Tanks Weigh More than Acrylics

Yes. When compared to an aquarium made of acrylic of the same size, a glass tank can weigh up to ten times as much as its acrylic counterpart.

Conclusion

It’s possible that the age-old dispute over whether glass or acrylic is better for aquariums will never be settled because each material has advantages and disadvantages of its own. Glass aquariums are recommended for beginners and smaller tanks as they are both inexpensive and resistant to scratches. Acrylic, which is lighter and easier to repair than glass, is the material we recommend for larger, more complex aquariums.