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Acrylic or Glass: Which Tank is Best for Me?

Date Published - 10th September 2015 - Published by - iQuatics Ltd

Acrylic or Glass: Which Tank is Best for Me?
You might have read the title of this blog wondering what’s going on; asking if us guys at iQuatics have lost our proverbial bio-pearls, and trying to work out just why we’d be talking about the benefits of glass vs. acrylic tanks to an army of dedicated reefers. The truth ishowever, that some of our users might be looking to replace or add to an existing collection, they might even be new to the aquarium game altogether, in which case this kind of advice is exactly what they’re looking for. That’s why we’ve decided to weigh in on the age-old debate, and try to settle the question once and for all of which is better: acrylic or glass?

Up To Scratch
There are all sorts of factors upon which to base our decision, but ultimately they come down to one of two things; durability and aesthetic quality. As a naturally hardwearing material, glass aquariums overall are much more scratch resistant than acrylic ones; in fact you’d need a sharp or jagged object and a reasonable amount of force to even make a mark on one. Acrylic panels, on the other hand, are extremely vulnerable to scratches and marks; rogue pieces of jewellery and even some materials can mark acrylic tanks, which, naturally, also makes cleaning and general aquarium maintenance somewhat of an issue. It’s also worth noting that whilst glass does require periodic cleaning, it will never be subject to the subtle discoloration that affects acrylic aquariums over time. Okay then; 1-0 to glass so far…
A Weighting Game
All of this durability, however, comes at quite a hefty price; some glass tanks in fact weigh as much as ten times that of their acrylic counterparts, encouraging many to opt for the latter over the former. That being said, it’s worth noting that these measurements don’t take into account everything that’s actually inside the tank (you know; the water, the fish, all the important bits) that actually account for the majority of your aquarium’s overall weight. Taking this into consideration, it’s integral that you choose sturdy base on which to situate your aquarium, regardless of what material it’s made from. Moving on, we’ll call this section a draw, so it’s still 1-0 as we shift into the final third of the game.
Cracking Down
Of course we’ve yet to mention that which strikes fear into the very bones of us aquarium enthusiasts, the threat that keeps us awake at night, and the risk that makes spring cleaning a precarious, suspense-filled activity. We’re talking, of course, about the risk of your aquarium wall cracking. We don’t have to emphasise that the consequences of such an incident could result in a hefty bill for some new flooring, a complete decimation of the aquarium itself, and a frosty nod in the hallway from your neighbours downstairs. As it turns out, for all their extra weight and scratch-resistance, glass tanks are much easier to crack than their acrylic competitors. This is down in the large part to the natural fragility of glass, and its inability to absorb force in a flexible manner. Cards on the table, then, an acrylic tank is much less likely to crack and shatter.
And the Winner is…
Well, neither unfortunately (sorry about that). At the end of the day, choosing a between a glass tank and an acrylic aquarium is by-and-large a matter of personal preference and situation. Do you have the time, care and appropriate aquarium maintenance equipment to look after an acrylic tank properly? If not, then perhaps go for a glass one. On the other hand, do you live in a house where pets and children run rampant, constantly setting your teeth on edge? Best to stick with the safe bet; go acrylic. Whatever you decide, let us know using our Live Chat function, and share your preferences on our social media page.

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