How to Decide Between Glass & Acrylic Aquariums

How to Decide Between Glass & Acrylic Aquariums

How to Decide Between Glass & Acrylic Aquariums

Since the dawn of aquarium time, the debate on glass aquariums versus acrylic aquariums remains a hot topic. Actually, the great acrylic vs. glass debate only started in the 1970s.  Didn’t know? Learn more about the pros and cons of glass and acrylic aquariums below.



Fish keeping as a hobby has been around since ancient Roman times when royalty kept their fish in tubs carved out of marble. Glass was developed around 50AD and was used as the primary material to build modernized aquariums. The hobby gained popularity across the globe from the early to late 1800s. Glass remained the primary aquarium material until the 1970s when acrylic became mass produced. Subsequently, the great debate of glass aquariums vs. acrylic aquariums was born.

Glass vs. Acrylic Aquariums

Although there are pros and cons to each, there are die-hard fans for both sides. Does it really matter? In our opinion, yes. Be informed so you can choose what suits your needs best.


Glass & Acrylic Aquariums


Glass is really rigid and heavy making it difficult to move. So it’s ideal for smaller tanks instead of larger ones. It’s very scratch resistant, so it’s easy to clean and makes great tanks for beginners. Although it’s hard to scratch glass, it’s important to remember there’s no way to buff out them out. There are a few different types of glass you can use for aquariums. To learn about other kinds of glass, check out the informative glass comparison video below.


The most common aquarium glass is made with iron which creates the bluish-green tint visible at seams. New Starfire glass is manufactured with limited iron making the color much clearer. All glass has some level of iron in it because it holds the materials of the glass together. We think glass provides the clearest view of your inhabitants, but it does have some serious distortion. Glass is brittle, so it’s hard to build aquariums in different shapes other than rectangular and square. However, glass aquariums are very affordable in comparison to acrylic tanks.


Acrylic is a durable, lightweight plastic ideal for larger aquariums. They are easier to move because they are so lightweight, but acrylic is very easily scratched making it very difficult to clean. Getting a piece of debris or gravel stuck in your sponge while your cleaning and scraping the sides of the tank is a common cleaning disaster for acrylic aquariums. Fortunately, you can buff out the scratches with some careful planning and buffing. Edges are held together by a bonding process that makes the seams stronger than seams in glass aquariums.  It’s easier to mold acrylic into nontraditional shapes if you’re looking for something a little less square. Acrylic also gets some brownie points for being easier to drill for bulk-head fittings. One of the major cons is acrylic is extremely expensive in comparison to glass aquariums.

Glass and Acrylic Comparison


The great debate of glass vs. acrylic aquariums may never end because both have their strengths and weaknesses. For beginners and smaller tanks, we recommend glass aquariums because of their affordability and scratch resistance. For larger, more advanced aquariums, we recommend using acrylic because it’s lightweight and easier to repair than glass.


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At Parrott Aquatic, we realize there’s no debate on “Which one is better?” but rather a question of “Which one works best for you?” If you’re thinking about upgrading your current aquarium, installing a new aquarium, or repairing your old aquarium, give the Pros at Parrott Aquatic a call. We can answer all your questions and help you choose the best material to suit your needs.


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