Glass Vs Acrylic Fish Tanks. Which One Should You Buy?

When you are looking for a fish tank, the first choice you need to make, is whether you want glass or acrylic.  Acrylic tanks are more expensive than glass tanks, but they do last longer. Glass is more affordable, but it probably will not last as long. If you are not sure what to choose, check out our glass vs acrylic comparison below to decide what is best for you.

Scratch Resistance

Glass tanks are more scratch resistant than acrylic tanks. To scratch a glass tank you would need to use something hard with a good deal of force. On the contrary, acrylic tanks can scratch easily. With an acrylic tank, a cleaning pad that has sand or gravel on it, can scratch and blemish your tank walls.

Acrylic tanks may even get scratched during shipping from the manufacture to the store. Acrylic is much more delicate than glass. With an acrylic tank, you need to be careful about the types of cleaning solutions and products you use. Make sure all products are safe for acrylic surfaces.

If you do damage your acrylic tank, the good news is, they are easy to clean and repair. Kits to repair and polish acrylic aquariums are readily available. Never use any abrasive chemicals in an attempt to repair your tank.


The dense nature of glass means that acrylic tanks are much lighter, glass tanks are generally 4 to 10 times heavier than acrylic. If you plan on having to move your tank frequently, you might be better off with an acrylic tank.

An acrylic tank will put less stress on whatever is supporting it. Even though acrylic tanks are lighter, the water and aquarium decorations will add weight. Still, there is no doubt that moving an empty acrylic tank is easier than moving a glass tank.


Since glass is weaker than acrylic, it is more prone to breaks and cracks. If something crashes into the tank with force, it can crack or even worse, break. In most cases, a crack can make the whole tank useless. A leaking tank can damage any electronics stored under the tank as well.

On the other hand, you need much more force to break or crack acrylic. While light impact will not break an acrylic tank, it will probably scratch it.

Flexibility and Distortion

Since glass is dense and rigid, trying to create non-rectangular tanks is very difficult. Thus, buying a non-rectangular tank, is expensive.  Since glass has a different index of refraction than water, light gets bent four times when passing through the tank. This means the image that gets reflected back is distorted. So colors, position and size will not be as true.

Acrylic has nearly the same index of refraction as water. This means, when you look at the fish in an acrylic tank, light has only been bent once or twice. This makes the fish look true to their actual size and color.


As stated above, acrylic tanks cost more and are easier to scratch, but they don’t chip, crack and break like glass tanks. Glass tanks are more resistant to scratching but are heavier and have more distortion than acrylic.

You need to carefully weigh the pros and cons when comparing glass and acrylic tanks. While both tanks can create a beautiful aquarium, your own needs should help you decide between glass vs acrylic aquariums.

Regardless of which construction you choose, be sure you create the best possible environment for you fish to help them thrive. Tanks require regular cleaning, proper filtration and water testing. Fish and other aquatic creatures need proper nutrition and a healthy habitat. With some planning and research, your new aquarium can add beauty and tranquility to your life.

This is a collaborative guest post. The ideas and views expressed are not necessarily those of Mommy Ramblings.

1 Comment

Filed under Home & Garden, Pets

One Response to Glass Vs Acrylic Fish Tanks. Which One Should You Buy?

  1. Thank you for this great post!

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