For years, I’ve only used glass tanks for my fish.
But a few years ago I made the leap to get my first acrylic tank – a big, beautiful Seaclear acrylic aquarium with a vivid blue background.
I admit it – I was skeptical at first. After all, I’d never tried it before.
I love it and feel it was money well spent.
I was excited that it was acrylic, because it was going to go in my garage, where year-round temperature extremes made me question using glass. Sure enough, this one has not disappointed.
In fact, I’ve grown so fond of acrylic tanks that I recently got a second one to go in my room as my main goldfish display tank.
I couldn’t be more pleased!
This tank makes a gorgeous display tank that everyone compliments.
Here’s everything I used for the setup:
- Seaclear 29 gallon fish tank (link)
- 1 large Anubias congensis (link)
- 2 medium Anubias barteri (link)
- 3 petite Anubias (link)
- Caribsea Supernaturals sand, Crystal River color (link)
- Caitec metal stand painted white (link)
- 9 box overhead wet-dry filter (link)
- 320-400 GPH submersible pump (link)
- Nitrate reducing filter biomedia (link)
- Nicrew LED full-spectrum aquarium light (link)
- DC Fix static cling frosted window film backing (link)
For the hardscape, I used locally found – and carefully cleaned – quartz rock.
As of the time I’m writing this post, I have just one 7 inch long calico Veiltail goldfish in here. So far she hasn’t been welcoming to any roommates. Yes indeed, she is a spoiled little fish and seems to like having the place all to herself.
Overall she seems to really like her home (she especially loves picking through the sand 🙂 )
(Note: since taking the photo I’ve moved the light behind the filter instead to better backlight the tank and reduce algae growth in the filter.)
Seaclear’s line of acrylic aquariums comes in a variety of sizes:
The bigger ones can be trickier to find (and pricey).
In my research into acrylic tanks, I’ve made a few observations. There are actually some major benefits that they have over glass ones.
Advantages of acrylic over glass:
- Leak protection – Glass aquariums are sealed with silicone, which can leak with time. Acrylic tanks are melted into a solid structure, resulting in safer seams.
- No metal frame – In my opinion, this is a major aesthetic advantage.
- Up to 20 times stronger – The durability of acrylic is pretty astounding. It can withstand considerable rough handling without cracking (unlike glass) and is far more shatter-resistant. If you have small children or want to place the tank in an area where there is more activity in the home, this is a good choice to prevent damage from being bumped.
- 5 times lighter – Looking for a tank that is easier to lift, or concerned about the additional weight on the floorboards of your house? Acrylic is a good option. It costs less to ship than a glass tank the same size.
- Clearer – This material allows up to 92% of light to get through, making it easier to see your fish’s vibrant colors. Glass distorts light more, causing the final appearance of your tank to look more dull and distorted (especially true of thicker glass). And if you are like me and enjoy taking photos of your tank, it will look that much more stunning!
- More flexible – This material can be shaped in more creative ways, such as a bow-front style or curved edges.
Concerns about going with Acrylic:
- Scratches – While it is true that acrylic does scratch more easily than glass, the good news is most light scratches can be buffed out with a proper pad and cleaning solution. A good polishing kit can be used on the exterior of the surface to minimize these scratches.
- Semi-closed top – Seaclear’s line of acrylic fish tanks have a partial rim around the top edge. While some think working in the tank is more cumbersome, the rim actually protects water from leaking over the edge if it gets bumped. Depending on the exact model you buy, some provision is usually made for equipment such as filters and heaters near the back of the tank on this rim.
- More porous – Acrylic is more porous than glass. This means that chemicals such as medications can leach into the material more. This is probably more of a concern if you are getting a used aquarium. It is worth noting that the silicone used to hold the glass together is also porous too (many a glass tank has been donated or thrown away due to stained silicone). If you get a used glass tank and feel confident in your craftsman abilities, there is the option to completely redo the silicone by scraping it out with a razor blade and sealing it afresh.
- Bottom support – Acrylic tanks need to be fully supported underneath to prevent the bottom from sagging. (Incidentally, it is a good thing that acrylic has the ability to bend as that is why it is so resilient.) So if you choose to use a frame-style stand underneath, you will need to use some kind of a platform in between the bottom and the stand (such as plywood). Otherwise, you could end up with your tank giving in. If you choose to ignore this advice and put your tank on a stand that isn’t completely supported underneath, you do so at the peril of your own fish (and house!).
- Yellowing – Some concerned fishkeepers have found that their tanks have yellowed over the years, something glass won’t ever do. It has to do with the rays of UV affecting it with time with older tanks. The good news is this is less of a problem with newer ones and shouldn’t be affected by light.
Having used both for several years now, I’m not going to say I don’t like glass anymore. I still have glass tanks and use them in various ways. But my Seaclear tanks sure do give them a run for their money.
What do you think? Let me know your thoughts when you leave your comment below!