Acrylic and Glass are the two most common materials used in aquariums today. Which is better? It depends on your situation and preferences. Both tanks have their positive and negative arguments. It is up to you which type of tank you chose. Depending on your situation, you will find one type makes more sense than the other does.
There are several factors one must consider when choosing between acrylic and glass tanks. The first is budget. Acrylic is considerably more expensive than glass. Our local big box store boasts a 40 gallon glass tank with lid at $114.99. A comparable tank set-up in acrylic is twice that price. Because budget is the limiting factor in most aquarium set-ups, this fact may make your decision for you. Glass is more commonly found in home aquariums because it is more affordable.
If cost is not a limiting factor, you then must decide on the most important aspect of your tank from your perspective. How big of an aquarium are you purchasing? Is the aesthetics of the tank more important or is the durability your focus? Where is the tank going to be located? Do you want to purchase the tank locally or have it shipped? These questions will determine the best tank for your situation.
Acrylic tanks are easier to manipulate that glass. They can be drilled without special equipment. They are lighter and easier to move. Acrylic is the best choice if your focus is on aesthetics. Acrylic can be molded into a variety of shapes, so one is not limited to square or rectangle designs. There are various wave options and dome designs that are more affordable in acrylic than glass. Acrylic does not distort when bent in the same manner as glass. Corners can be folded to allow an unobstructed view of the aquarium. . Acrylic is safer when liability is a concern, such as displaying in a public venue, due to the force it takes to crack acrylic tanks. New acrylic is also clearer than glass. With these options, you may find acrylic to be the correct choice for your aquarium.
Glass tanks are built for durability. Although less aesthetically pleasing than acrylic tanks, glass provides a long lasting basic tank. Acrylic tanks scratch extremely easily. They rarely escape shipping without some minor battle scars. One must use dedicated algae removal tools specified for acrylic use. Scratches may be removed with sanding and buffing, but anything brushing against the outside of the tank may cause damage. Although glass will scratch, it takes some force to do so. Glass requires less bracing to prevent bowing from the water weight. Glass can withstand a level base supporting only the frame whereas acrylic tanks require a solid surface base, lending to a more expensive stand. Depending on lighting and water parameters, acrylic will eventually foggy or yellowed, while glass will remain clear for the duration of the tank life.
Whether you chose an acrylic or glass tank depends on a variety of factors. After making some decisions on what is important to you concerning the tank, you will be able to make a confident decision. Either will provide an adequate residence for your finned friends.