As with anything else, there are choices you’ll be faced with when picking out an aquarium. Do you want an acrylic aquarium or one made of glass? Each one of them have their advantages as well as their drawbacks.
The first thing you will notice is that an acrylic aquarium is more costly than a glass aquarium. This isn’t because the materials used are cheaper but stems from the packing materials and extra care required transporting an acrylic aquarium. While it is difficult to break or crack one of these tanks they scratch very easily and require special packing and handling in transit as well as loading and unloading.
How easy it is to scratch an acrylic aquarium?
About as easy as it is to pop a balloon! Someone bumping against the side can scratch it with a button on their clothing or accidentally scratch it if their jewelry brushes against it.
However, there are polishing kits available to remove or cover up scratches but because of their ingredients they can’t be used on the inside of the acrylic where your fish live.
Also, believe it or not, your watery residents can actually mar the inside of your acrylic aquarium by flicking gravel against it. If you have snails to help clean the sides, their shells can scratch it, as can claws or sharp fins! Glass tanks are difficult to scratch unless it is a purposeful effort.
On the other hand, glass is fairly easy to crack or break while acrylic is tougher. However, glass is very rigid and does a good job of holding water without having its integrity compromised.
Acrylic tends to bow from the weight of the water if there is not adequate support on both the top and bottom of the tank. Remember, water weighs 8 pounds per gallon and even in a 20 gallon tank you have 160 pounds of water pushing against the sides and bottom of the tank. And acrylic tank tends to bow or split seams without the proper support.
Acrylic has the advantage of offering more aesthetically pleasing shapes than glass. There are round, oval, square, rectangular and hexagonal tanks in acrylic. It’s difficult and expensive to shape glass into anything other than squares or rectangles.
On the other hand, you’ll enjoy your fish more in an acrylic aquarium because light is not distorted as it is with glass. Light has to pass through air, glass and water before it reflects off an object in the tank, heading back to be reflected again off the glass. This is why fish do not appear to be their true size or distance from the glass. An acrylic tank bends the light only once or twice, giving you a more realistic view of your pets.
The view is probably what is most important to you, however. Although distorted, you will get more clarity over time from a glass aquarium. Acrylic will gradually yellow over time, especially if in the path of direct sunlight for even a few minutes a day.