An aquarium in your home can really make a space come alive. It's no wonder that millions of people are tapping into this hobby. Most hobbyists will start with a fishbowl or a small tank. Invariably, however, they will enjoy it so much that they will soon opt for a bigger size.
When purchasing an aquarium, one issue that often comes up is should I get a glass aquarium or an acrylic aquarium. While arguments can be made for each, when purchasing a large aquarium, acrylic is usually the best choice.
1) Acrylic weighs less than glass. In point of fact, glass is more than twice the weight of acrylic. Why is this important? Water is heavy. A large water filled aquarium can weigh thousands of pounds. For instance, a 75 gallon tank will weigh more than 750 pounds. A 300 gallon tank will weigh more than a thousand pounds. If the tank is glass, it'll weight even more. To prevent your floor from sagging and to save yourself from other structural problems, keep the weight of the tank itself in mind when shopping. In addition, you will occasionally find yourself having to relocate your aquarium. Moving a large acrylic aquarium is much easier than moving a large glass fish tank. For both of these reasons, the lighter weight material will serve you well.
2) Acrylic is stronger than glass. Glass is breakable. An inadvertent sharp blow can crack or shatter the glass, resulting in leaks, and possibly thousands of dollars of water damage to your rooms. Although acrylic can crack as well, it takes a lot more force to do so. The countervailing point, however, is that while acrylic is harder to break, it's considerably easier to scratch. You are much more prone to get annoying scratches on your acrylic tank than you are on a glass one.
3) Acrylic is more flexible and can be molded to practically any size and shape that you desire. Especially when considering large tanks, with glass you are pretty much limited to rectangular shapes. The shapes of glass aquariums are constrained by the fact that they are constructed with flat glass panels which are glued together with a sealant. The result is that glass tanks are more likely to have leaks than acrylic ones.
4) Acrylic is easier to drill. If you want to add plumbing to your aquarium for bottom or side filtration, you can easily drill through an acrylic tank using standard tools. While it's true that you can sometimes drill through glass aquariums as well, with glass you have a much greater chance of breaking or cracking the tank. And again, with a smaller tank, the dollar investment may not be a big deal, but when working with large tanks, you're talking hundreds of dollars.
5) Acrylic is better for custom spaces. When shopping for a large aquarium, sometimes you just can't find the perfect aquarium for your home. You may have a large family room or basement area where you want to make a design statement by having the fish tank to cover the entire wall. Well, you can't just buy an aquarium like this off the shelf. If you have the funds, you can have such an aquarium custom made for you. Depending on where you live, you can find companies that will actually send a designer to your home, work with you to develop specs, and build you an aquarium to your exact specifications. In almost all cases, however, those specifications will call for the aquarium being made of acrylic.