Head to Head Comparison Between Glass vs Acrylic Aquarium

You want to buy a large fish tank but it may be that you do not have much idea regarding the matter.

Beginners, especially, often face this common dilemma as to whether buy a glass aquarium or an acrylic aquarium.

There are pros and cons for both glass and acrylic aquariums but it mostly depends on the owner’s preference. Let us take look at some key factors.

differences between glass and acrylic aquariums

First of All Cost - Glass vs Acrylic Aquarium

The first thing that a buyer acknowledges is the price of an aquarium. For some people, price plays the biggest role. When it comes to price, glass aquariums are cheaper than Acrylic Aquariums.

Although we know that acrylic materials are usually cheaper than glass, the fact is that glass aquariums are very popular and well known and hence, they are produced on a large scale, making them cheaper in comparison.

Nevertheless, when it comes to large-scale aquariums (e.g. 150 to 200 gallons), acrylic aquariums are more convenient, considering the transportation and manufacturing costs.

Glass vs Acrylic Aquarium Maintenance To-do

Since it is your beloved fishes that are living in the aquarium, maintenance is a very important factor. In this case, glass aquariums are easier to maintain.

Herein, the fact that glass aquariums are easy to clean and does not get scratches easily while being washed makes them more convenient than acrylic aquariums.

Acrylic aquariums are not that easy to clean since cleaning an acrylic aquarium requires an acrylic safe algae scrubber so there are high chances of the aquarium getting scratches because of its non-rigid materials.

Some acrylic aquariums are made from porous materials. Water may not pass through these aquariums but they do consume water.

A lot of chemicals and germs might be present in these aquariums as well, which means nothing but bad news for the fishes living inside them, especially if they are not cleaned and maintained properly.

Weight Factor for Glass vs Acrylic Aquarium

If we are talking about large aquariums, the difference in weight might not come as a surprise.

Though, the numbers might surprise you because a glass aquarium can be almost 5-10 times heavier than an acrylic aquarium, even when both are of the same size.

Moreover, a strong enough support system is needed to support the weight of a large glass aquarium.

Even though a glass aquarium can hold water effectively, acrylic aquariums are more convenient when it comes to large-scale aquariums.

Shapes To Choose

Glass aquariums usually do not provide many options in terms of shape.

The brittle nature and the rigid components of glass make it really hard to manufacture glass aquariums of different shapes.

These aquariums usually come in square and rectangular shapes. On the other hand, acrylic aquariums can be molded and made into any shape, which makes it more attractive to customers.

Even if glass aquariums of different shapes were available, they would cost more, making acrylic aquariums more affordable in terms of shape.

Impact Resistance

Glass aquariums might be rigid but they are extremely vulnerable whereas acrylic aquariums offer a more impact resistance. Even if the glass aquarium is scratch-resistant, it will not be easy to transport.

One careless move can break the whole aquarium or worse, crack it, costing you and your fish dearly.

On the other hand, an acrylic aquarium might get scratched but it will not break that easily. This fact ensures the safety of the fish and gives acrylic aquarium an extra edge.

Visibility of Glass vs Acrylic Aquarium

As time passes, the light that passes through the body of an acrylic aquarium reduces the visibility by turning it yellow.

To be more specific, the UV light from the sun damages the components of an acrylic aquarium and turns it yellow.

Moreover, if an acrylic aquarium gets scratched, it gets hard to appreciate the beauty of what is inside the aquarium. The scratches become more visible than the beauty of the fishes.

Glass aquariums do not have this specific problem. No matter how bright the sun shines, the glass aquarium provides a natural outlook throughout the whole time.

However, a glass aquarium does have one problem, which is that it bends the light, barring the natural view. Apart from that, glass aquariums are preferable for owners who wish to enjoy a decent view.

Working Flexibility

If you love modifying aquariums according to your own taste, acrylic aquariums are a better option for you. Due to its non-flexibility, a glass aquarium is not easy to modify.

An Acrylic aquarium, on the other hand, is easy to conduct experiments on. Since it is not that brittle, you can easily drill holes into it or adjust the aquarium to your own preferences.

Glass vs Acrylic Aquarium Mobility Feature

When it comes to weight and vulnerability, acrylic aquariums are convenient to move or to transport than glass aquariums are.

Although glass aquariums are more durable and scratch-resistant, they cannot be moved around easily.

Large-scale glass aquariums can be so heavy that the transportation cost and the trouble might make acrylic aquariums seem far cheaper and more convenient in comparison.

Glass vs Acrylic Aquarium Strength

In order for a glass aquarium to support a good amount of water, the thickness of the glass of the aquarium needs to be proportionate to the amount of water.

This, in some cases, increases the cost way too much.

At the same time, the same does not apply for an acrylic aquarium. The acrylic aquarium does not need to be thick to support the same amount of water. Also, you can drill a hole in an acrylic aquarium to maintain overflow.

Glass vs Acrylic Aquarium Refraction of Light 

The index of refraction of glass is different from water. So, whenever light passes through glass, goes into the water, makes contact with the fish and returns to our eyes, the light is refracted several times, distorting the original view.

On a different note, acrylic and water have almost the same index of refraction. So in this case, light does not refract that many times, providing a comparatively natural view of the fishes inside the aquarium.

If you want to enjoy the view of your fishes flowing around freely in a large aquarium, you will undoubtedly prefer an acrylic aquarium.

Glass vs Acrylic Aquarium Conclusion

There you have it; all the pros and cons neatly wrote out. Now that you know how both the materials affect the way you use an aquarium, it comes down to your personal choice.

However, if you do not want a custom shaped aquarium, glass aquariums are the way to go. If it is taken care of properly, its lifespan will probably exceed yours!

Would you go for glass aquarium or an acrylic aquarium? Share your thoughts with us.

Read our reviews of turtle tank filter if you ever plan to buy one. Also read our detailed guide on how to remember port and starbord.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *