The fourth factor is the corners and seams on the aquarium. Acrylic aquarium are glued together, and this can be done invisibly in the corners so that your view of your tank is uninterrupted. Glass aquariums are always constructed with silicon sealant, and this generally comes in black or translucent options. Translucent is the most invisible when the tank is first built, but silicon as a habit of absorbing fish treatments (which are often very dark blue or green), and as such they take on a coloured appearance once a treatment has been used. The alternative is black – although this will stand out more at the beginning, it will stay as it was constructed and will not fade or discolour. Therefore black is often considered the better option for an aquarium by many of our clients.
Practicality should also be considered when choosing. If you would like to have pipework going through the base or the sides of the tank, this is possible with both materials. With glass, you need to specify at the time of construction where you would like the holes, as it is safer to drill these holes prior to the tank being assembled. As acrylic tank can be drilled at any time, and so additions of pipework to the tank are easy to add at any time. Acrylic aquariums are also much lighter than glass, so manoeuvering them is easier when installing. In reality, we think weight is a very small factor to consider!
The last question, and most frightening of all is ‘do they ever leak?’ We would be lying if we said no, as we have known tanks made from both materials leak, but in very different ways. We have known acrylic tanks actually explode under the pressure years after installation, and drain the entire contents in seconds!! We have never known a glass tank fail in this manner, but we have experienced silicon bonds stretch and start to leak water out, albeit very slowly. None of these options is ideal, but out of the two, glass gives you more time to deal with the repair.
As with any situation, the quality of the initial aquarium construction plays a major part in this, and so we would recommend always using a high quality manufacturer.
Although we are not biased one way or another (we use both!), we prefer glass where practical, due to the lack of scratching – for us this is the biggest negative issue we experience with acrylic, and makes it very difficult to maintain in the longer term.
We are sure that the above article has been helpful to you in deciding which material you should use for your new aquarium, and if this has raised any more questions you would like answered, then please do get in touch and we will be happy to help.