You’ll need a place for the fish if you plan to keep them inside. Aquariums were traditionally made of glass, but over the past 50 years, acrylic has surpassed glass as the most often used material for fish tanks. The benefits and drawbacks of utilizing acrylic aquariums are discussed in this article.
Due to its ease of fabrication and lightweight, acrylic is frequently used by manufacturers and amateurs. To be able to cut and maneuver thick sheets of glass, a relatively significant investment in tools, equipment, and engineering is required. Not the advantages the material itself gives to the finished product, but rather this is the primary factor driving the majority of custom aquarium producers to utilize acrylic.
What are Acrylic Aquariums?
Acrylic is a strong, lightweight plastic that works well for bigger aquariums. Because they are so light, they are simpler to transport, but it gets scratched and is therefore quite difficult to clean.
A common cleaning bummer for acrylic aquariums is getting a piece of trash or gravel stuck in your sponge while you clean and scrape the sides of the tank. Fortunately, with some careful planning and rubbing, you can remove the scratches. A bonding procedure that holds the edges together makes the seams more durable than those in glass tanks.
If you want something a little less square, acrylic is simpler to form into non-conventional shapes. Furthermore, acrylic receives the advantage of being simpler to drill for bulkhead fittings. Acrylic aquariums are significantly more expensive than glass aquariums, which is one of their biggest drawbacks.
Advantages of Acrylic Aquariums
1. Crack Resistant
Acrylic tanks also have the critical advantage of being substantially more crack-resistant than glass. Some well-known manufacturers even assert that their containers are 17 times more durable than typical glass containers.
A glass tank could never hope to withstand bumps and drops as well as an acrylic tank will. This is related to how much simpler it is to cut acrylic tanks than glass ones.
You’ll need specialized tools to cut through a glass tank if you wish to modify it to accept piping. Acrylic tanks are more customizable, which is why aquarium hobbyists who construct their own sump systems favor them.
2. Better Insulation
If you keep tropical fish, acrylic tanks have better insulation than glass tanks. It might not matter if you maintain cold-water fish, but if you keep tropical fish, you should probably consider this.
Because acrylic aquariums may hold heat 20% better than glass tanks, your aquarium heater may not need to operate as vigorously in an acrylic tank as it would in a glass tank of the same size.
This could not be a major benefit because reef tanks are not required to have insulation (and have more difficulty keeping tanks cool).
3. More Shapes
Acrylic can be sculpted into more interesting shapes than glass because of this. Acrylic tanks are available in a wide range of configurations in addition to the typical rectangular shape, including hexagons, pentagons, bullets (tanks that are square on one side and curved on the other, simulating the shape of a pistol bullet), columns, spherical spheres, and many more.
Some acrylic tanks have curved or bent front corners that give the tank’s front perspective a striking appearance. There are many different sizes of glass tanks, some of which are higher than they are long, but compared to acrylic, there are significantly fewer design alternatives.
Acrylic tanks are simpler to transport and cause fewer hernias than glass tanks. If you choose acrylic, you might be able to have a larger tank if your aquarium is upstairs.
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Disadvantages of Acrylic Fish Tanks
Unfortunately, due to the way the material is twisted during manufacturing, acrylic tanks have a little bit of optical distortion. They are often created from a single, enormous piece of heated, bent acrylic; this technique results in an exceptional seamless appearance. You can easily watch your fish from practically any angle thanks to these transparent corners.
The expense of an acrylic tank is likely to be the largest drawback for beginners in the fishkeeping industry. For tanks of the same size, acrylic aquariums often cost more than glass tanks.
A 20-gallon acrylic aquarium, for instance, costs between $130 and $140. An inexpensive 20-gallon glass aquarium costs around $50. What a significant change! In general, acrylic tanks cost two to three times as much as glass tanks, however, you may find fantastic prices on smaller tanks or bowls made of acrylic.
3. Becomes Yellow and Brittle Over Time
Acrylic also naturally yellows with time and is unable to withstand UV rays. Many plastic products on the market make claim to be “UV Resistant.” It is really resistant to UV rays, not UV-proof. No acrylic is UV-resistant. There is no additive that can make plastic or acrylic withstand UV radiation for as long as glass over the long term. The elements will eventually damage it. Imagine a dated, fading billboard.
Most likely, UV-resistant vinyl was used to print that billboard. Although it may have been delayed for five years as opposed to six months, ultimately it will deteriorate and become fragile.
An acrylic aquarium will become yellow, become brittle, and potentially shatter and fail when UV radiation from the sun or aquarium lighting causes it to begin to degrade. This process will be hastened the more UV lamps you put on your tank or the nearer a window it is.
4. Weaker than Glass
Tanks made of acrylic need further assistance. Acrylic tanks will bow under the weight of the water and require support even though they are physically stronger than glass blow for blow.
Acrylic tanks are frequently enclosed in support platforms, which adds additional stability. Your access within the tank may be hampered by the top bracing. Glass tanks won’t bow under pressure, therefore they don’t require additional support. The price difference between acrylic and glass aquariums may be influenced by the requirement for additional support.
4. Can get Scratched Easily
Aquariums made of acrylic are quite prone to scratches. Use caution when cleaning, such as when using abrasive algae pads, to prevent leaving scratches or stains. Pay special attention while changing or installing aquarium ornaments since shifting gravel around can potentially harm the surface. There are effective scratch removal products available online or at your neighborhood pet store that can take rid of the majority of minor imperfections brought on by negligence.
The Bottom Line On Acrylic Aquariums
You may choose whether to choose an acrylic aquarium or a glass tank now that you are aware of the fundamentals of acrylic aquariums, including their advantages and disadvantages. A glass tank can be the preferable choice if stability and durability are issues for you, or if money is a factor. However, acrylic is the best option if you want something that won’t break or if you want a certain form.