Going Green: Glass vs. Acrylic Aquariums Going Green: Glass vs. Acrylic Aquariums

Acrylic aquariums or glass aquariums? It’s a tough question and one that beginners to aquariums have to puzzle out. Is there really much difference between them? There is definitely some difference. It’s a matter of figuring out the advantages and disadvantages between them and what might be better for you.


The vast majority of aquariums are made of glass. It’s always been the standard material for aquariums. Acrylic aquariums are more recent and much rarer, although you will encounter them. Both do offer their advantages.


If you have an aquarium you want to be able to see the fish inside it. That’s going to be much easier with glass, where the clarity is so much greater. As long as you keep the glass clean there will be no problem. With acrylic it’s not quite as simple. Acrylic aquariums can prove harder to clean and the visibility isn’t as high and fades over time. Eventually the water will seem cloudy when viewed through acrylic, even when it’s not.


It might be surprising, but glass aquariums are cheaper than acrylic aquariums. In part this is because glass is a cheaper material, but also because glass aquariums are simply more prevalent.


Glass is far more rigid than acrylic, and it also weighs more. If you have a 55-gallon glass aquarium it will need two people to life it when empty. Acrylic aquariums of the same size can easily be moved by one person. The fact the acrylic is much more pliable means that that acrylic aquariums are available in a wide variety of shapes, which can add a great deal to the décor of a room. It’s also worth noting that, unlike glass, acrylic won’t shatter. Even if dropped they probably won’t break.

On the downside, the seams in acrylic aquariums are much weaker than in glass aquariums. That leaves them prone to breaking. Not only will that cause a huge mess, but it can also leave you with a tank of dead fish. Glass is far more reliable in this instance.


The most obvious difference between glass aquariums and acrylic aquariums is in the way they can be scratched. It’s extremely difficult to scratch glass (in fact, diamonds are one of the few substances that will do that). That helps keep the glass clearer. With acrylic, on the other hand, it’s remarkably easy to scratch the surface. There is equipment to remove the scratches, but in general terms they’re hard to remove properly, leaving the surface far less clear.


Ultimately the choice between glass aquariums and acrylic aquariums is a matter of preference. If you’re careful and don’t scratch the acrylic it can be a good material, especially if you want an aquarium with a different shape. If you’re more of a traditionalist then glass aquariums might be the better option for you. Both require regular maintenance, which is good not only for the tank but also to keep the fish healthy.

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