Well, if you’re in look out for a new aquarium for your fish pets or any aquatic pet, you may be wondering whether to go for a glass or an acrylic aquarium. While they make look the same, each type of aquarium has its own set of benefits and disadvantages.
Glass aquariums highly scratch resistant and provide a more better clarity than acrylic aquariums. However, they are bit heavier and can easily break. On the other hand , acrylic aquariums are lightweight and have a higher durability but can scratch easily and can yellow over time . So, these two materials have different pros and cons . It’s important to choose the one that best suits your needs
In this article I will be telling you the differences between glass and acrylic aquariums I will also look into how they are manufactured, the cost of purchasing each type and how to maintain both types.
Glass vs. Acrylic Aquariums
Glass aquariums are more scratch-resistant than acrylic aquariums due to several key factors. Glass is a highly durable and strong material that is resistant to scratches, while acrylic is a type of plastic that is softer and more prone to scratches. How is this even possible? Here’s why?
Firstly, glass is a harder material than acrylic. Glass has a Mohs hardness of 5.5, while acrylic has a Mohs hardness of 3.5. This means that glass is significantly harder than acrylic and more resistant to scratches. When an object comes into contact with the surface of the aquarium, the harder material will resist the scratch and cause less damage. Glass is also more brittle than acrylic, which means that it is less likely to deform or bend when under stress. This reduces the likelihood of scratches forming due to accidental impact.
Secondly, glass has a smoother surface than acrylic. The surface of glass is less porous and more even than acrylic, which makes it less likely to retain small particles that could cause scratches. Acrylic has a slightly rougher surface that can trap small particles, which can cause micro-scratches to form over time. These micro-scratches can build up and become more noticeable, leading to a cloudy or scratched appearance over time.
Thirdly, glass has a lower coefficient of thermal expansion than acrylic. This means that it is less likely to expand or contract with changes in temperature, which reduces the likelihood of cracks forming due to thermal stress while acrylic has a higher coefficient of thermal expansion, which means that it can expand and contract significantly more than glass. This makes it more prone to developing cracks or scratches when exposed to rapid changes in temperature.
Lastly, glass is more resistant to chemical damage than acrylic. Glass is highly resistant to most chemicals and will not react with common cleaning agents, making it easier to maintain and clean. Acrylic, on the other hand, is more susceptible to damage from some chemicals and can become cloudy or scratched if exposed to certain substances. This can make it more difficult to maintain an acrylic aquarium and increase the likelihood of scratches forming over time.
This may come as a surprise to many but yes glass aquariums are more affordable. Glass aquariums are generally cheaper than acrylic aquariums due to several factors. One of the main reasons is the cost of materials. Glass is made from sand, which is a relatively cheap and abundant material. Acrylic, on the other hand, is made from petroleum, which is a more expensive and finite resource. This means that the cost of raw materials for a glass aquarium is generally lower than that of an acrylic aquarium.
Another reason why glass aquariums are cheaper is the manufacturing process. Glass aquariums are typically mass-produced using automated machinery, which reduces the cost of labor and production. On the other hand, acrylic aquariums require more specialized manufacturing processes that involve cutting, shaping, and bonding the material together. This requires more time, expertise, and labor, which increases the overall cost of the aquarium.
Glass aquariums are known to be more brittle compared to acrylic aquariums. The brittleness of glass refers to its tendency to break or shatter when subjected to sudden or excessive force. This can be a concern for aquarium owners, as a broken aquarium can result in a dangerous and costly situation for both the aquarium inhabitants and the surrounding environment.
The brittleness of glass is due to its molecular structure. Glass is a rigid, non-crystalline material that is held together by strong but inflexible bonds between its atoms. This makes it more prone to breaking or shattering when subjected to sudden impacts or stresses.
Acrylic, on the other hand, is a more flexible and resilient material. It is a type of plastic that is made from a polymer called polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). This material has a more flexible molecular structure that can absorb impacts and stresses more effectively than glass. This makes acrylic aquariums less likely to break or shatter when subjected to sudden forces.
In addition, acrylic is more shatter-resistant than glass. If an acrylic aquarium does break, it will crack and chip rather than shatter into sharp pieces like glass. This makes it safer for aquarium inhabitants and easier to clean up in the event of a break.
The clarity of an aquarium is an important factor to consider when choosing between glass and acrylic. Glass aquariums are known for their clarity and transparency. It is a rigid and sturdy material that does not deform or yellow over time. This means that a glass aquarium will maintain its clarity and appearance for longer, without the need for frequent maintenance or replacement. Glass is also less prone to scratches compared to acrylic, which can affect the clarity of the aquarium.
Acrylic aquariums, on the other hand, have some advantages when it comes to clarity. Acrylic is a more flexible material that can be molded into a variety of shapes and sizes, without the need for seams or joints. This means that an acrylic aquarium can provide a larger and more seamless viewing area compared to a glass aquarium.
However, acrylic is more prone to discoloration and scratching compared to glass. Over time, acrylic can become cloudy or yellowed due to exposure to sunlight or cleaning chemicals. It is also more prone to scratches and scuffs, which can affect the clarity and appearance of the aquarium. These issues can be mitigated through regular maintenance and cleaning, but they may still be a concern for some aquarium owners.
Durability is an important factor to consider when choosing between acrylic and glass aquariums. However, acrylic is the winner here. Acrylic aquariums are generally considered to be more durable than glass aquariums. It is also more flexible than glass, which means that it can absorb impacts and stresses more effectively without cracking or breaking.
This makes acrylic aquariums less likely to suffer damage from accidental bumps or drops. While acrylic can be scratched, it can be polished out with relative ease, while glass scratches are usually permanent.
Glass aquariums are generally considered to be less durable compared to acrylic aquariums because they are made from a rigid material that is prone to breaking or shattering when subjected to sudden or excessive force. However, tempered or laminated glass can be used to increase the strength and durability of glass aquariums.
How Long Do Acrylic Aquariums Last?
An acrylic aquarium can last for 10-20 years. You will have to make sure your acrylic water is changed regularly in order to keep the tank healthy and prevent algae growth.
Keep in mind that while acrylic aquariums are durable, they can become cloudy or yellowed over time if exposed to direct sunlight or harsh cleaning chemicals. However, this can be easily fixed by polishing the surface of the acrylic with a special polishing compound designed for acrylic.
With their durability and flexibility, acrylic aquariums are a great choice for anyone looking to create a beautiful and long-lasting aquatic environment.
How to Clean an Aquarium ?
Cleaning both glass and acrylic aquarium is an important part of maintaining a healthy environment for your fish. Here are the steps to clean a glass aquarium:
- Prepare the cleaning solution: Fill a bucket with warm water and add a mild cleaning solution or aquarium-safe cleaner. Avoid using harsh chemicals, soap, or household cleaners, as they can harm your fish.
- Turn off equipment: Turn off all equipment, including the heater, filter, and air pump. Unplug all electrical devices.
- Remove decorations and plants: Take out any decorations or plants that can be removed from the aquarium and set them aside.
- Scrub the glass: Use an algae scraper or pad to scrub the sides of the aquarium. Be gentle to avoid scratching the glass. If there is a lot of algae build-up, you can use a razor blade to carefully scrape it off. Be sure to use a fresh blade to avoid scratches.
- Do not Scratch acrylic aquarium: This is because acrylic will scratch. You can use a soft cloth to clean the inside of an acrylic tank.
- Clean the gravel: Use a gravel vacuum to remove debris from the bottom of the aquarium. Siphon off the dirty water into the bucket.
- Wipe down the inside walls: Use a clean sponge or cloth to wipe down the inside walls of the aquarium. Be sure to rinse the sponge or cloth frequently to avoid spreading dirt and debris around.
- Rinse the aquarium: Use a hose or pitcher to rinse the aquarium thoroughly with fresh water.
- Refill the aquarium: Fill the aquarium with fresh water at the same temperature as the existing water. Add a water conditioner to remove any chlorine or other harmful chemicals.
- Reinstall decorations and plants: Place the decorations and plants back into the aquarium.
- Turn equipment back on: Turn on the heater, filter, and air pump, and check that they are working properly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are acrylic aquariums stronger than glass?
Acrylic aquariums are generally considered to be stronger than glass aquariums. However, tempered or laminated glass can be used to increase the strength and durability of glass aquariums.
Do acrylic tanks last longer than glass?
Acrylic tanks last longer than glass tanks with proper care and maintenance simply because it is shatter-resistant and less prone to scratches and cracks. However, acrylic is more susceptible to discoloration and cloudiness over time, particularly if it is exposed to direct sunlight or harsh cleaning chemicals.
What is cheaper, glass or acrylic for aquariums?
Glass aquariums are generally cheaper than acrylic aquariums, especially for smaller tanks. However, larger glass tanks can be more expensive than acrylic tanks due to the thickness and weight of the glass required to support the volume of water. Acrylic tanks may also require additional equipment, such as supports or bracing, to prevent bowing or warping.
What material is best for a fish tank?
Acrylic is more durable and shatter-resistant than glass, and can provide better clarity and a wider range of shapes and sizes.
So yeah there you have it. Both glass and acrylic aquariums have their own pros and cons but the ultimate choice will definitely depend on your personal preferences and the specific needs of your aquatic pets . As a responsible pet owner my self, I’d recommend you choose the most suitable aquarium that will provide the best environment for your aquatic friends