Acrylic vs. glass for 125g
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:18 PM   #1
Seedreemer
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Acrylic vs. glass for 125g


We're putting in a 125g or larger in our living room. After dealing with a plumbing leak last week I'm leaning towards acrylic due to its lack of seams. I know I'm being paranoid.

However, I'm concerned about scratching with acrylic.

Does anyone have an acrylic aquarium and could you tell me just how easy it is to scratch? Can I use a mag-float?
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:37 PM   #2
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....However, I'm concerned about scratching with acrylic.

Does anyone have an acrylic aquarium and could you tell me just how easy it is to scratch? Can I use a mag-float?
I've owned several for Reef and Fresh. My current 40 is Acrylic. Acrylic will scratch easier than glass. But, glass isn't immune either. Seldom do you find a used glass tank with out scratches.

It's more a matter of how careful you are willing to be when you work in your tank. If you know you are a clumsy oaf, then do not get acrylic. If you approach the tank maintenance with they inner peace of a Buddhist monk you will not have problems.

Also, unlike reef tanks we tend not to use sharp edged hardscape like live rock.

I don't recommend mag floats for any tank.
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Old 11-19-2012, 03:30 PM   #3
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I don't recommend mag floats for any tank.
This. My mag float put three huge scratches in my 29g after a baby snail got into it. I would just use an algea pad.
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Old 11-19-2012, 05:03 PM   #4
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I just bought a couple if used 55g acrylics for a greenhouse I'll be building next spring. For $30 each I was expecting them to be bad, but that isn't a concern for their intended use. If you saw what those tanks look like, you wouldn't be asking the question.

I know I'm gonna get it from the acrylic tanks folks (deservedly so), but the choice boils down to a list of questions you have to ask yourself, and they really aren't in any order of importance:
1. What sort of aquascaping? As Dogfish noted, there tends to be slightly less use of rocks, but certainly not absent from the FW hobby. So bear in mind that if those rocks "kiss' the viewing panes, you've got a scratch. Glass too if you're really not careful and with certain stone types.
2. Do you have/will have little ones in the house? In a nutshell, acrylic scratches from the outside just as easily.
3. Just what do you plan on putting in it? If you're new to planted tanks or tanks in general and can envision scraping algae often, even a Buddhist Monk will slip.

As for the whole repairability issue, while acrylic can be repaired, it's no fun at all. Deeper gouges will have you cursing a blue streak. Contrary to what most think, glass can be repaired as well (there's a windshield repair product that works really well), but that's no walk in the park either, and a deep gouge will probably turn into a running crack before you get to repair it.

Hopefully others on either side of the discussion can add to the list.
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Old 11-19-2012, 05:37 PM   #5
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.....If you're new to planted tanks or tanks in general and can envision scraping algae often, even a Buddhist Monk will slip.
I don't think I'm the exceptional Acrylic Planted tank owner, I use a white nylon Scrubber each week with my water change maintenance. I don't feel even a complete newbee has to live with Algae scraping IF they are willing to educate themselves and exercise proper maintenance schedules.

Yes even the most Zen like Aquarist can slip and scratch either surface material. However, many of us can go an entire life time feeding ourselves without ramming a fork into our foreheads. Of all the Pros/Cons to this topic....Scratching one's tank is the point that is completely up to the Hobbist.

BTW - I own both and depending on the situation either may be the better choice.
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Old 11-19-2012, 05:51 PM   #6
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I am on my fourth acrylic tank. I prefer them as there is no rim to close off the rectangle so the tank looks more integrated with the room. Acrylic is clearer than glass and looks much better when lights are off than glass too. I flinch when the step stool bumps the acrylic tank but much less than when it hit the glass tank. Acrylic is much lighter as well. The 100 gallon glass tank weighed a lot more than the 180 gallon long acrylic tank.

The only one that was new left here with no scratches but the used tanks were a mess. I polished the inside of the one I have now and was quite surprised that it wasn't that bad to polish. Maybe an hour per grit for a 180 gallon tank then a couple hours for polishing twice?

Acrylic seams will burst. There are plenty of horror stories on the reef forums about poorly made tanks. They can be repaired a bit easier than glass though.

I did scratch my glass tank however. Front and center. Twice. Glass scratches are a bit scary as that is how glass is cut, scratch and break - right?
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Old 11-19-2012, 06:55 PM   #7
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I am on my fourth acrylic tank. I prefer them as there is no rim to close off the rectangle so the tank looks more integrated with the room. Acrylic is clearer than glass and looks much better when lights are off than glass too. I flinch when the step stool bumps the acrylic tank but much less than when it hit the glass tank. Acrylic is much lighter as well. The 100 gallon glass tank weighed a lot more than the 180 gallon long acrylic tank.

The only one that was new left here with no scratches but the used tanks were a mess. I polished the inside of the one I have now and was quite surprised that it wasn't that bad to polish. Maybe an hour per grit for a 180 gallon tank then a couple hours for polishing twice?

Acrylic seams will burst. There are plenty of horror stories on the reef forums about poorly made tanks. They can be repaired a bit easier than glass though.

I did scratch my glass tank however. Front and center. Twice. Glass scratches are a bit scary as that is how glass is cut, scratch and break - right?
For some weight is a huge consideration. When either is full the difference isn't worth fretting over. But try lugging around an empty glass 125G. The difference is astounding and depending on the size of the tank if you can't muster enough help, you're stuck. The 55G's I just picked up possibly weighed in 20-30 lb range each.

A "broken" tank is just a disaster. Repairing and acrylic may very well be easy, but Weldon isn't easy for some to come by, nor learn to use properly. A crack or leak in a glass tank is repairable also, but equally beyond the abilities of most. I've done both and I can only think of foul words to describe either. In a nutshell neither is leak or break-proof.

A "deep" scratch in glass bears a remarkable resemblance to a crack when viewed closely.

For me the single biggest factor that's kept me from ever owning a new acrylic is cost. Compared to glass, the difference can be staggering for some. I fully understand the factors and complexities involved, but I've just never been able to take that big of a leap for a new tank. My wife would've had me in the loony bin years ago instead of still planning for the day.

Hopefully this thread will continue just a bit more, for and against, to help folks decide for themselves.
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Old 11-19-2012, 07:09 PM   #8
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One very big advantage that acrylic carries over glass is that it's just a snap to drill. Just about everyone has a drill either in the workshop or in a closet. A little preparation/reading and the right size hole saw bit and you're good to go with a slow and steady approach.

Glass can certainly be drilled, but diamond hole saws and the tools required may be out of the reach of most, but is certainly something worth looking to having done for you before taking the plunge, or at the very least practicing a bit first.

Also, most glass tanks 55G or bigger have tempered bottoms that just cannot be drilled. Depending on the Mfr. smaller sizes have tempered bottoms too, and there are those unconfirmed stories of the 100% tempered 55G's.
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Old 11-19-2012, 07:54 PM   #9
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Personally having dealt with both if i was to get one new it would be glass.

As far as acrlyc being clearer or showing better color, get low iron or starphire glass and it's a mute point.

Both can bust seams, but really i find glass easier to repair, clean off the old silicone and redo, when an acrylic seem busts it's jagged because it's welded together so the repair becomes a bit more difficult... Not to mention as said above Weld on is a PITA and really price wise your not saving much.

And acrylic still cracks but you see more crazing then cracking granted it would be more resilient than glass when talking terms of impact but glass can withstand a fair amount of abuse itself (thank God)

In terms of weight, your not going to be repositioning a 125 often... So wouldn't worry much.

Just my .02 on the subject!!! And you can make a glass rimless or do euro bracing, acrylics still have to utilize bracing as well which can sometimes limit more so what your able to put in the tank, also seeing any kind of bowing in acrylic is normal.... Freaks me out

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Old 11-19-2012, 08:25 PM   #10
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And you can make a glass rimless or do euro bracing, acrylics still have to utilize bracing as well which can sometimes limit more so what your able to put in the tank, also seeing any kind of bowing in acrylic is normal.... Freaks me out

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This would've taken you past freaking out, lol!:

The folks that invented the Sea-Swirl owned a LFS near where I live. The entire store was acrylic tanks. From 20's up to 125's. The "back room" had 75 longs on simple 2X4 racks and stacked 5 high!! They needed a 12 foot ladder to get to the top row. But the most incredible part was that there was nothing but perimeter support under those tanks. You wouldn't believe how much the bottom panels bowed!!! When they sold the store, the new owners took down the "stack of racks" and sold off the acrylic tanks (I bought 2 of 'em). I was there as they brought the tanks down. The darn things rocked like a child's rocking horse on the floor. I had to wait a couple of weeks for the bottom panel to regain its' proper shape.
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Old 11-20-2012, 02:41 AM   #11
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This would've taken you past freaking out, lol!:

The folks that invented the Sea-Swirl owned a LFS near where I live. The entire store was acrylic tanks. From 20's up to 125's. The "back room" had 75 longs on simple 2X4 racks and stacked 5 high!! They needed a 12 foot ladder to get to the top row. But the most incredible part was that there was nothing but perimeter support under those tanks. You wouldn't believe how much the bottom panels bowed!!! When they sold the store, the new owners took down the "stack of racks" and sold off the acrylic tanks (I bought 2 of 'em). I was there as they brought the tanks down. The darn things rocked like a child's rocking horse on the floor. I had to wait a couple of weeks for the bottom panel to regain its' proper shape.
That right there messes with my sensibilities!!!

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Old 11-20-2012, 11:58 AM   #12
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Thanks everyone. I've been keeping planted tanks for decades so not a noob. Gravel is the only "rock" I'll have. Otherwise just plants and assorted tetras, platies, catfish, and a big black angel, all relocated from the 75 and 40 I had to leave behind when we moved.

I approach very little with a zen attitude so I think I'll go for glass. I'd have an acrylic tank scratched up in no time.
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Old 11-20-2012, 03:44 PM   #13
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....I approach very little with a zen attitude so I think I'll go for glass. I'd have an acrylic tank scratched up in no time.


I think that is a wise, reality based choice.
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Old 11-20-2012, 06:51 PM   #14
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I think that is a wise, reality based choice.
Yep I agree. Save the Zen attitude for the scaping. Also if there are kids, pets, etc around, acrylic bad.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:28 PM   #15
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Yeah glass all the way, acrylic never looks good after 5 or so years of use whereas a glass tank will give you 30+ before needing a reseal.
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