Acrylic vs Glass Aquarium – Comparison, Ratings, FAQs & More

It’s difficult not to agree with us when we say that making the choice between an acrylic or glass aquarium can be daunting. 

This is why we decided to delve deep into the pros and cons of both these materials and what purposes they fulfill when they’re used to build aquariums. 

In today’s post, we’ll help you judge what type of aquarium is best suited for your needs and how you can observe the material used in these aquariums to make an informed decision.

Glass Aquariums

Key Features
Here's what you get:
  • Cost: They are usually easier to make and are sold at a cheaper rate.
  • Scracthing: They are usually resistant to scratches.
  • Clarity: Not as clear but maintains its clarity over time.
  • Weight: Heavy and difficult to handle.
  • Shape versatility: Limited; Normally only come in rectangular shapes.
Overview

Acrylic Aquariums

Key Features
Here's what you get:
  • Cost: They are gruelling to make and can cost a lot.
  • Scratching: Their walls can normally scratch quite easily.
  • Clarity: Clearer than glass but tends to wither and yellow over time.
  • Weight: Lightweight and easily movable.
  • Shape versatility: Versatile and come in a number of attractive shapes.
Overview

Now, let’s take a deeper look into the top products of both the glass and acrylic aquarium varieties.

Hagen HG Fluval Flex Glass Aquarium Review - Sturdy and Beautiful

When you think of a product made from glass, you normally think of it being delicate or fragile. The Hagen HG Fluval Flex Glass Aquarium, however, is the exact opposite. It’s built from high-quality glass that is scratch-resistant and is made to last you a long time.

It has a hidden compartment that houses its built-in filter. The filter is hidden from sight in order to prevent any visual noise so you don’t have to worry about hiding it with plants or ornaments. Not to mention, the filter works extremely quietly and is super effective in all three types of filtration (biological, mechanical and chemical). 

The front of the aquarium is a special curved glass which makes for great viewing of your fish. It gives the illusion that your aquarium is huge and you can observe your fish and their brilliant colors in great detail. 

Features of Hagen HG Fluval Flex Glass Aquarium – Acrylic vs Glass aquarium 

  1. 15 gallons in size
  2. 3-stage filtration process
  3. Curved glass front for optimal viewing
  4. Powerful LED lights
  5. Easy to remove top cover for feeding
  • Cords and filter completely hidden from sight
  • Filter is easy to clean
  • Filter is extremely silent
  • Convenient lid for easy water changes
  • Easy to set up
  • Top hood is slightly flimsy 
  • Plastic back is prone to scratches

Benefits of Hagen HG Fluval Flex Glass Aquarium

As mentioned above, the curved glass front makes for optimal viewing of your fish. It will enable you to monitor your fish properly so, not only are you able to observe their beauty, you can also check for any signs of illness. 

It’s made from a high-quality glass that is resistant to scratches and is built specifically to prevent any leaks over the course of a long period of time. Since it’s a glass aquarium, it also won’t wither or yellow over time. You can expect it to stay crystal clear for many years. 

Since it’s made of glass which is cheaper to manufacture, the aquarium’s price point isn’t even that high even though it comes with a great set of premium features. 

The hidden compartment at the back not only hides the built-in filter, it also has additional space where you can place other equipment that you may buy separately for the aquarium such as an air pump or a heater.

What Do the Customers Think?

We dug deep into the reviews while we were testing this product in order to gain more perspective into what other people’s experiences with this product have been like. 

Almost every customer is impressed with its compact, sleek design. Not to mention the lighting which has a number of settings that one can choose to their liking. Most people like to leave the lights on with the setting that cycles through all of the colors of the lights slowly. 

Another thing where this product stands out with the customers is the fact that it’s so small in size. People can’t help but mention how it doesn’t take up a lot of space and fits perfectly in their small home or apartment to become the central focus of it. This coupled with its bright, radiant lights provide a unique aesthetic which makes it beautiful to look at. 

Built-in filters in aquariums kits are usually of sub-par quality. However, customers that bought this product couldn’t help but mention not only how effective the filter is but also how quiet it is. It does its job perfectly without disturbing you or your fish. The small currents it creates inside the aquarium is just enough to stimulate movement in your fish but not strong enough that it would disturb them or stress them out.

Bottomline

If you’re looking for a beautiful aquarium with lots of features and a sturdy build quality, this is the one for you. It has an abundance of high-quality built-in equipment and comes at a very reasonable price.


SeaClear Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set Review - Crystal Clear and Lightweight

Even though acrylic aquariums have a bad reputation for getting scratched quite easily and withering over time, the SeaClear Acrylic Aquarium is made from high-quality materials which are scratch and impact-resistant. 

We were very impressed by how clear it was. It’s much clearer than its glass counterparts and you’ll have a great time viewing your fish in all their glory with the clarity that this tank provides.

Since it’s an acrylic aquarium, of course it’s lightweight. This made it extremely easy to handle and place properly in its decided location. 

The built-in light fixture provides a place for you to insert any bulb or light that you deem fit for your fish.

Features of SeaClear Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set

  1. Comes in sizes ranging from 20 gallons to 50 gallons
  2. Comes in different shapes such as rectangular and hexagonal
  3. Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater environments
  4. Comes with a reflector
  5. Built-in light fixture
  • Lightweight
  • Much clearer than glass
  • Easy to set up
  • Easy to maintain
  • Durable
  • Doesn’t come with built-in lights
  • Light fixture is flimsy

Benefits of SeaClear Acrylic Aquarium Combo Set

As mentioned above, this product is extremely lightweight which means you won’t have any trouble placing it in your home when you first buy it. It also makes it very convenient to relocate. 

Since it’s made of acrylic, the product is available in a number of different shapes and sizes which gives it some more novelty and visual appeal. For example, having a hexagonal aquarium in your home will bring a unique charm to it. 

Acrylic aquariums are notorious for being flimsy and frail but this product has proven to us to be quite durable. The acrylic it’s made from is impact-resistant in order to prevent any leaks or cracks down the line. 

Another thing that is a benefit to this product and most other acrylic aquariums is the fact that they are a lot less likely to leak. Glass fish tanks are usually sealed with silicone and can leak with time while acrylic structures are melted into a seamless shape which are less prone to leaking.

If you want to make modifications to it through drilling in order to make space for additional equipment, this product will be much easier to experiment on in terms of drilling than a glass aquarium.

What Do the Customers Think?

We were very impressed by this product but we wanted to see what other people’s experiences have been like with it. We delved deep into the product reviews while researching this product and its in-and-outs and this is what we found.

Many customers are blown away by its build quality. We feel that when people hear the word ‘acrylic’, they expect something that will be flimsy and weak. This product, however, has won over the hearts of almost every customer that has bought it with its sturdy build quality and scratch-resistant material. 

A lot of people love its minimal, sleek design. There are no big bulky edges. All the walls are held together seamlessly and there are no borders so you are able to get a full view of your fish. Many people feel this gives the aquarium a very bold, minimalist aesthetic which works to its advantage.

A number of people have also reported how it is much easier to maintain water conditions in this product when compared to products made of glass. Water temperature, for example, is a factor that stays much more stable and consistent in this product as opposed to in a glass aquarium where it constantly has to be monitored and adjusted.

Bottomline

If you’re looking for a lightweight product that provides crystal clear viewing of your fish, this product is perfect for you. It has an elegant design and is built to last.

acrylic vs glass aquarium

Buyers’ Guide

What are some things I should keep in mind when buying a glass aquarium?

Of course, there are all the normal things you should be thinking about when buying a glass aquarium as you do with any aquarium such as its size, its price, what other equipment it comes with, etc. But there are some certain factors that should also be in your head specifically pertaining to the fact that you are buying a fish tank made of glass. 

Firstly, you need to carefully observe the seams that hold together the individual walls of the glass aquarium. Keep in mind that these are the points that cause leaking in glass aquariums. You need to be wary of this and ensure that the glass aquarium you’re getting is properly built so it won’t have any leaks. 

Another thing you should have in mind is the fact that glass is a material that is not made for novel shapes when it comes to aquariums. We strongly recommend that if you’re getting a glass aquarium, you should get one that’s either cubic or rectangular in shape. Any other shaped aquarium that’s made of glass is a no-no as it might be structurally compromised and not as durable.

How thick should my glass aquarium be? 

You need to strike a balance when it comes to the thickness of glass aquariums because while you do want it to be sturdy and for it to be able to withstand the pressure of the water inside the tank, if you get one that’s too thick, it would become too heavy and bulky. 

Usually, a thickness of about ⅛ inches works well for aquariums up to 20 gallons. 

How do I check for leaks in my glass aquarium?

To check for leaks in a glass aquarium, first set it up on a flat, regular surface that won’t get damaged by any leaking water. Usually a garage, patio or outside yard can work just fine. 

Once you’ve decided on a location, fill the tank about one-fourth of the way up with regular tap water. Let this sit for 24 hours and then come back and check for leaks.

If it hasn’t leaked, add more water to it until the tank is half filled. Let this sit for a further 24 hours and then come back and check for leaks. 

If it still hasn’t leaked, add even more water till three-fourths of the fish tank is filled with water. Now, let this sit for another 24 hours and then come back and check for leaks. 

Again, if the tank hasn’t leaked, fill it all the way up and then wait another 24 hours. If your tank still hasn’t leaked any water, this means it is safe for setting up.

How do I clean my glass aquarium?

You can easily perform regular cleaning of your glass aquarium using paper and regular towels. Simply wiping the walls with paper and regular towels helps keep the aquarium glass clear and free from mild algae. 

If you need to remove tough algae, you might want to invest in a scraper that’s usually sold at pet stores. Use the scraper to remove the algae built up on your aquarium walls and let it fall to the bottom of your fish tank. Then you can use a gravel vacuum to suck up all the algae, dirt and debris stuck within your substrate.

How to prevent algae buildup in a glass aquarium?

Algae breakouts usually occur due to a sudden shift in a certain condition or conditions. More often than not, this condition is the lighting. If you’re shining lights on your aquarium that are either too bright or if you’re scheduling these lights to be turned off and on in an erratic fashion, this could easily lead to an algae breakout within your aquarium. We recommend you research how much light the plants and fish within your aquarium need and then schedule the lights appropriately. 

Also, make sure that your aquarium is not sitting at a location where it is in contact with direct sunlight. Sunlight is an irregular factor that is not within your control and could cause algae buildup in your fish tank. 

What are some things I should keep in mind when buying an Acrylic aquarium?

When looking at acrylic aquariums, you should have a couple of things in mind. 

Acrylic material is very prone to scratches which is why it is important that whatever acrylic aquarium you get, it’s built from high-quality acrylic that has measures in place to prevent it from scratching easily. Also, you should look for an aquarium that uses high-quality acrylic that stays clear for a long period of time and has a tendency to prevent withering or yellowing over time.

You can go for novel shapes when it comes to acrylic aquariums as they can handle that type of structure without compromising on their sturdiness. 

How thick should my Acrylic aquarium be?

The thickness of the acrylic is usually determined by the dimensions of the aquarium, mainly the height. If your aquarium is less than a foot in height, usually a thickness of about 0.25 inches is appropriate.

Is Acrylic and Plexiglass the same thing? 

Acrylic and Plexiglass are often used interchangeably but we must stress that there are subtle differences. While Plexiglass is a trade or brand name, there is a difference in the way Plexiglass is manufactured when compared with acrylic.

What should i do about scratches on my Acrylic aquarium?

Firstly, you have to determine whether the scratches are on the outside or on the inside of your aquarium. 

If they are on the inside, you’ll have to take some protective measures to make sure you don’t contaminate your tank water with the buffing residue. Drain some of the water from the aquarium so the water level is now a few inches below the scratches so you have room to work with. Place a sheet of plastic foil on top of the water surface and use tape to secure it there. This will give you a surface that will catch the buffing residue and prevent it from mixing into the water.

Acrylic surfaces are easier to scratch but it’s also easier to remove these scratches as compared to glass. To remove the scratches in an acrylic aquarium, you’ll need some wet sandpaper and a solution called NOVUS. You can find this solution easily at a furniture store or online. 

For moderate scratches, we suggest that you start with 400 grit sandpaper and then move gradually to 800, 1000 and then, 2000. Once you’re done with the 2000 grit sandpaper, you’ll notice a haze on the spot made from all the micro-scratches from the sandpaper. Pour some of the NOVUS solution on a small piece of cloth and wipe the spot down until it becomes completely transparent as it originally was.

It’s important while rubbing with sandpaper that you don’t make the acrylic too hot as this will cause it to melt. You can prevent this by having a small bowl of water next to you and occasionally wiping down the surface during the sanding process.

Can an Acrylic aquarium leak?

No. The only way you can make an acrylic aquarium leak is by breaking it through some sort of blunt impact. Glass aquariums consist of individual walls that are held together by silicone. This is where the leaks usually occur in glass aquariums. Acrylic aquariums, however, are one seamless structure which is why it eliminates this problem entirely. 

Final Verdict

Looking at these two types of aquariums, it is clear that they are built for two different mindsets. Glass aquariums are more old-school and barebones whereas acrylic aquariums offer a more novel approach that leads to more aesthetic results. 

In the end, we have to give the crown to the Hagen HG Fluval Flex Glass Aquarium. Its premium build quality with all its built-in features make it the complete package for both beginner and advanced fish-keepers. 

This brings us to the end of our post for Acrylic vs Glass aquariums. 

Let us know in the comments what type of aquarium you’re using.

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