One of the most common questions asked by a person starting a new fish tank is, “Which is Better, Acrylic or Glass Aquariums?” Most of the standard sized aquariums available at pet stores are made from glass. Glass Aquariums are relatively inexpensive in comparison to Acrylic Aquariums. They are held together by a silicone sealant, which can wear out over time, but can be resealed. Glass Aquariums are less prone to scratch and razor blades can be used to remove difficult coralline algae from the aquarium walls. Some manufacturers make a reef ready aquarium or an aquarium with pre-drilled returns and drain holes. Drilling a glass aquarium yourself is risky business and requires the proper tools. Most hobbyists with aquariums over 55 gallons purchase a reef ready aquarium and plumb it to a Sump. A sump is another aquarium or container stored beneath the display tank where Filters, Pumps, Heaters and other equipment can be stored out of sight. Glass aquariums are also typically limited to eight feet in length.
One advantage of Acrylic Aquariums is their weight. Acrylic Fish Tanks are significantly lighter than Glass Aquariums and are much easier to move from one place to another. Acrylic can also be bent into many different shapes and sizes and is held together through chemical bonds rather than silicone. Although acrylic is generally clearer than glass because most glass has a green tint; it is more likely to scratch. As a result, this can ruin the viewing pane, but thankfully it can be buffed out using an Acrylic Scratch Removal Kit. Acrylic Aquariums are also easier to customize because holes for drains and returns can be drilled yourself with a hole saw.
Some Glass Aquariums are built with low iron or starphire glass. This glass has little or no green tint and is coveted by hobbyists for its scratch resistance properties and clarity. Low iron glass is more expensive than normal glass, so it is typical for a manufacture to install a low iron front viewing pane and then build the rest of the aquarium from standard glass.
Choose an aquarium that best meets your needs. For most aquarists, a standard glass aquarium is perfectly fine. If the aquarium is larger than 55 gallons, consider purchasing a reef ready aquarium for the easy addition of a sump.