Acrylic vs Glass Aquariums: Which is Better? and How to Make it?

Whether you’re buying your first aquarium or you’re upgrading to a new tank,

one of the first decisions you need to make is whether you want an acrylic or glass aquarium tank.

While acrylic and glass will do an equally good job of holding water and protecting your fish,

each offers unique advantages and disadvantages, Here’s what you should know.

Glass Aquariums

Most aquariums are made of glass for one reason:

Glass is cheaper to produce than acrylic, especially if you’re getting a smaller tank.

Advantages of Glass Tank Aquariums:

  • Harder to scratch
  • Cheaper and easily available
  • Available in industry-standard sizes
  • Easier to clean
  • Ridged panels
  • Won’t turn yellow and brittle overtime
  • Non-porous hence doesn’t allow chemicals to pass or absorb
  • Visible distortion is less
  • We can engineer glass flaws

Disadvantages of Glass Tank Aquariums:

  • Comparatively heavy
  • Less limited shapes
  • Difficult Fabrication
  • Won’t hold temperature
  • Non Repairable once damaged
  • Fragile (chips and cracks easily)
  • We cannot engineer acrylic flaws

Despite the benefits, there are drawbacks to buying a glass aquarium.

Acrylic is usually lighter than Glass , which means it’s a hassle to move and transport

Glass won’t hold temperature while acrylic tanks do, which is a concern for tropical fish like guppies.

These are not repairable once scratched and they are highly prone to scratches due to mishandling.

Glass material chips and cracks very easily and are not fixable in most cases and requires full replacement.

Acrylic is also slightly clearer as compared to glass.

Acrylic Aquariums

While acrylic tanks aren’t as easy to find, the higher cost may be worth it.

Acrylic is much lighter than glass and even acrylic large tanks are easy to move.

If you’re getting a tank larger than 20 gallons, the lighter material is a big advantage.

Advantages of acrylic tank Aquariums:

  • Very clear in texture
  • Lightweight
  • Less limited shapes
  • Easy to drill for fittings
  • Easy to repair, polish, or refinish
  • Less likely of damage from impact
  • Easy to fabricate
  • Acrylic is easy to mold, hence available in a huge array of shapes.

Disadvantages of Acrylic tank Aquariums:

  • Prone to fabrication flaws
  • Turns yellow over time
  • Porous hence absorbs chemicals
  • Visual distortion is higher
  • Costly as compared to glass

Unfortunately, acrylic is very easy to scratch so you will need to be careful when you clean your tank.

Acrylic is so prone to scratching that even the packing material used by manufacturers can cause scratches.

You will need to use only acrylic-safe scrubbers and avoid picking up pieces of gravel when you clean your tank.

Not all acrylic tanks are made in industry-standard sizes, either,

so you need to pay attention to what you’re buying or you may have trouble finding lights and lids that will fit.

Acrylic will also yellow over time and become brittle. While it is resistant to UV light, it isn’t resistant.

The closer your acrylic tank is to a window or the more UV lighting you have, the faster your tank will wear out.

Acrylic can also have greater visual distortion as compared to a glass tank.

This is related to the quality of the acrylic that’s used and the fact that acrylic is very flexible and prone to bowing, which contributes to distortion over time.

You may also like to read How do you set up a breeding tank for guppies?

Making an Acrylic Aquarium DIY Complete Guide

An acrylic aquarium is symbol of beauty inside the home or leisure area.

Now most of the modern aquarium are made of high quality acrylics and they are indeed stunning to watch.

Making such acrylic aquarium is bit tricky but a enjoyable DIY (do it yourself) task.

So building an acrylic aquarium is easier and can fulfill your dream to of neat planted, reef, or freshwater aquarium that lasts for a very long time.

Also, you can earn a handsome amount by selling professionally finished acrylic aquariums.

  • Basic Steps for Creating the Acrylic Tank
  • Custom Cutting Acrylic
  • Preparing the Edges Gluing Acrylic Sheets
  • Repairing Acrylic Aquarium Leaks
  • Polishing Acrylic Sheets

One of the satisfying activity you do in aquarium and fish keeping hobby is building an aquarium of your own.

At first this seems like very tedious work to many but from my experience it is truly easy and creative do it yourself task.

Also you can earn money selling build acrylic aquariums because they are in good demand in the market.

In this video I will walk you through making an acrylic aquarium, I got small acrylic sheets with low thickness so I am making small acrylic aquarium and use it as a quarantine tank but

the same methods apply to build larger acrylic aquarium as well. So follow along this video and you may find something new.

To be clear building acrylic aquarium is bit costlier than making glass aquarium but you can make many acrylic aquariums once you have the desired materials with you.

Also if you make aquarium in more spacious place like the workshop or garage then it will help you make it much faster.

All required tools and materials are provided in the video description for you to purchase

For making an acrylic aquarium you will need following:

I recommend Acrylic Sheets of thickness 10mm and more.

If you are making aquarium of 70 gallon or more use 15 mm or more thicker acrylic sheet.

Then you need Acrylic glue use Weldon 4 or Weldon 3 types available in market.

Glues are costly but they can be used for making many Acrylic aquariums from a bottle.

Also Buy a Weldon 16 Glue which comes in handy if your aquarium gets a leak after construction.

Next you will need about 4 to 5 clamps to hold the edges together. and A Map gas torch for flame polishing

If you are cutting the acrylic sheet yourself and not buying custom cut sheet from shop then you may need following tools

An Acrylic cutting saw tooth with more sharp teeth or Jigsaw or the Circular saw.

Acrylic edge scrapper and Sanding Paper 30 grit, 60 grit and 120 grit

You can use the cutting saw or jig saw or circular saw to cut the acrylic sheet to desired dimensions.

You must be careful about the side acrylic sheets for the aquarium as told earlier for the glass aquarium.

The edges of cut out acrylic sheet needs to be polished using router or buffing wheel which we usually don’t have,

In that case you can use sanding paper starting from lower grit to higher grit that is 30 grit to 120 grit.

Once you notice that edges to be glued are devoid and flat leveled you can start gluing the acrylic sheets.

The Weldon 4 or 3 glue used here is watery and sets within 1 minute there is a table on the glue which states that.

Now as compared to it weld on 16 allows you to readjust the sheets like in case of a silicone gluing.

Now if you are using Weldon-4 or Weldon-3 I will tell how to take the glue and pour in the hypo applicator.

Open and pour the liquid water glue into the hypo applicator and fill up to less than one half of the hypo applicator.

Don’t pour extra liquid as extra one can spill on the acrylic sheet and leave white patches, making it to look dirty.

You can clean them as well using plastic cleaning and polishing solution like Novus 1,2 and 3.

Once, you pour the recommended amount close the lid of the glue tightly and store in some cool place for later use.

To start gluing the surfaces first take the bottom sheet and lay it flat on the table or surface you are working on.

Put side sheet on the edge surface of bottom sheet, also use clamp to hold the arrangement in place.

Now take the hypo applicator and squeeze some air out of it and invert the applicator to allow air passage.

Place the needle close to contacting edges of the sheets and gently press the applicator to release the glue between the contacting surfaces.

When you see a uniform wetting through the acrylic sheet edges, run along the edge squeezing the liquid glue.

Now after 1 to 3 minute the edges are glued so before that you can arrange the edge and sheet, however its takes 24 to 48 hours to reach max strength

Items used in construction:

To buy the products for making a professional finish acrylic aquarium check links below:

IPS Weld-On 3 Acrylic Glue-Cement : http://amzn.to/2g3BrAG

SCIGRIP 16 Acrylic Cement : http://amzn.to/2g5aeOf

NOVUS 3 Set Plastic Polish : http://amzn.to/2kIY1DU

Fine Edge Scraper : http://amzn.to/2yiNIM7

Circular Saw Blade : http://amzn.to/2xBk59K

Quick Grip Clamps : http://amzn.to/2kI6zLh

Jigsaw Cutting Tool : http://amzn.to/2wQ683i

Map Refillable Gas Torch : http://amzn.to/2gzddz9

Palm Sander : http://amzn.to/2gxFVAb

Credits Sinto Joseph for the easy guide
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