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StarterTank > New Tank Set Up > Tank Hardware > Article

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Glass vs. Acrylic

There are two types of aquarium to choose from: glass and acrylic. Both are readily available in stores. They appear very much alike but each has its own advantages and drawbacks.

The look. Glass aquarium provides a classic rectangular look with its straight panels and sharp corners held together by sealant. The material required to build a glass tank is thicker than that of an acrylic tank, yielding a more noticeable barrier between the object and viewer. The advantages. Glass will maintain clarity over time and cannot be scratched easily during routine maintenance. Due to its rigidity, the aquarium can be kept on a stand with an open or incomplete top. In addition, glass tanks are usually cheaper than the acrylic ones because glass is easier to ship. The drawbacks. The common design is limited to rectangular and hexagonal shapes. This is because when glass is curved, it has a tendency to alter the appearance of objects inside the tank. Glass is heavier to handle and can be cracked or shattered upon serious impact. It has a different index of refraction than water which means the appearance of the object is distorted to some degree.

The look. Acrylic aquarium gives a modern and casual look with its smooth panels and rounded corners. Acrylic can easily be molded and shaped into any form. Therefore, acrylic tanks come in all shapes and sizes, from the traditional rectangular box to triangular corner unit. The advantages. Acrylic is 17-times stronger yet lighter than glass, and the tank can easily be moved if empty. When acrylic is bended, it has less of a tendency to distort objects than glass. It also has nearly the same index of refraction as water. As a result, object in an acrylic tank appears truer to its original color and size. The drawbacks. Acrylic can be scratched easily. Though polishing kits are available, it maybe toxic to fishes and animals living inside the tank. Most acrylic will yellow with age due to chemical reaction, especially if the tank kept under a full spectrum light or direct sunlight. Next...

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