Glass Or Acrylic. Which Is Better for Your Custom Aquarium?

Congratulations on your decision to create your very own beautiful custom aquarium! Keeping fish in a freshwater or saltwater aquarium is a great pastime that is richly rewarding. Once you have decided where you will put your new slice of the underwater world, you’ll need to decide whether to use glass or acrylic for your new custom aquarium. Although both materials work well, there are some important differences. Here are some facts to help you make up your mind:

It’s a Custom Aquarium, Not a Scratching Post!

Both glass and acrylic react very differently to scratches. Glass is a hard material that is very difficult to scratch. To scratch glass, you need a relatively hard material and a considerable amount of pressure. A piece of rock or aquarium gravel usually will not leave a scratch if you accidentally rub one up against the glass.

On the other hand, acrylic has a tendency to scratch more easily. Anyone who moves or unloads acrylic aquariums must take care not to scratch the tank. Sometimes, just brushing against an acrylic tank with a handbag or jewelry can cause a scratch. Since you can scratch acrylic rather easily, fish keepers must take care to use acrylic-safe algae scrubbers when cleaning an acrylic tank. Also, make sure you do not accidentally pick up any pieces of aquarium gravel in the scrub pad while you are using it.

Although acrylic aquariums scratch more easily than glass aquariums, you can easily remove most scratches in acrylic by buffing them out. Scratches in glass are much more difficult to remove, and may require a replacement glass panel. Fishkeepers can purchase an acrylic polishing kit in most fish stores. You can use these kits to remove scratches on the outside of the tank. You should not use these polishes on the inside of your tank, as they may leave a toxic residue that could make your custom aquarium unsafe for fish. However, if you are careful when cleaning, you should not get any scratches on the inside of your tank.

Passing the Strength Test

One major advantage that acrylic holds over glass is the fact that it is much lighter and much stronger than a piece of glass of the same dimensions. Especially for larger custom aquariums, acrylic materials save more than half the weight of glass while maintaining the same or better strength and structural integrity. This also means that an acrylic tank will cause less stress on the structure that is supporting it than a glass tank will.

A Shattering Effect You Don’t Want for Your Custom Aquarium!

Another big advantage in using acrylic over class is its ability to withstand heavy impacts. Glass shatters if you hit it hard enough. It takes quite a bit of force to break a glass tank. However, the force required is still far less than what it takes to break an acrylic tank. Acrylic is much more durable and less prone to cracking and breaking than glass is.

Great for Any Shape

Because acrylic is a plastic, you can mold it into almost any shape imaginable. It is far easier to build a curved or rounded custom aquarium with acrylic than glass. Since glass is relatively rigid and brittle, it’s a lot easier to create glass aquariums that are rectangular in shape. It is possible to have curved glass to use with your custom aquarium. However, curved glass tends to be more expensive than flat panels. Curved glass also has more of a tendency to distort light coming into or out of your aquarium. This can make fish on the other side of your custom aquarium appear larger or smaller than they actually are.

They Call it Mellow Yellow

One inherent flaw with acrylic is its inability to withstand ultraviolet light. Over time, exposure to UV light will cause an acrylic tank to yellow, and the material will eventually become brittle. Even acrylic materials that are UV resistant will eventually yellow over time. In the long run, there are no chemicals that can help acrylic stand up to UV light as long as glass can. This process accelerates as you add more UV lights, or the closer your custom aquarium is to a window.

Ask a Custom Aquarium Expert

Both glass and acrylic aquariums have pluses and minuses. The right material for your custom aquarium depends on the design of your aquarium system.

If you’re planning on building a custom aquarium it pays to speak with a custom aquarium design expert. Harold Weiner and his team at Aquatech Aquarium Service have been helping aquarium owners in the Los Angeles area for over 25 years. Whether you need help with a custom aquarium of your very own, aquarium or koi pond maintenance, or just some fish supplies, Aquatech Aquarium Service always has the answer.

Custom Aquarium Design

Wall mounted bubble aquarium designThe world of custom aquarium design has exploded with the development of heavy duty acrylic panels.  Durable acrylic can be shaped with greater variety than glass. Where at one time, a custom aquarium needed to be made of heavy glass; flat, modern acrylic can almost always be molded to just about any
design.

Considerations For a Custom Aquarium

Once the site of the custom aquarium has been evaluated by a professional designer, the actual designing can begin. When you are going to the expense of having a custom aquarium built, you need to make sure the setting will support the weight of the tank. You also need to assure that there is sufficient available power to supply the maintenance equipment. Whether for a business space or for a highlight in a residence, a specially designed aquarium can add a unique touch to the environment.

Cylindrical aquarium as the body of a desk.Popular Design Options

One popular design is a large cylinder aquarium. A cylindrical tank allows viewers to circle round the aquarium to get a full view of the habitat. It’s well suited for open areas like a lobby, or as a supporting structure. Both the diameter and height of the cylinder can be made to your specifications.

Another possibility with acrylic materials are arches through large standing tanks. Such designs allow viewers to have a tunnel-like experience of the inhabitants of the aquarium. Smaller arches can be used in constructing tanks with less volume, to create hollows in the shape of the aquarium.

For those with a sense of humor, a globe tank can become an attractive feature in any interior. It can give a new spin to the phrase “living in a goldfish bowl.” A large globe filled with beautiful tropical fish can become quite the conversation piece for any office waiting room or home family space.

Aquariums As Space Dividers

If you want to create a dazzling space divider, a unique aquarium would be the right choice. A carefully planned aquatic habitat can be an attractive way of creating separate space units. Both sides of it will have a view of the fish as they swim. A carefully designed aquarium will become a soothing presence in the newly divided space.

Expert Aquarium Design

Many options are available when it comes to having an aquarium custom designed for your particular space. Stretch your imagination and discuss the possibilities of your custom aquarium design with a professional – here at Aquatech Aquarium Service, we have over 20 years of experience and can help you design the perfect aquarium for any environment.  The ideal tank awaits you.