When building an aquarium, one of the first decisions you make is whether to build it out of glass or acrylic. Both will hold water and both are clear. After that, there are many differences.
Shapes: Glass is difficult to bend and shape. Curved glass also bends light and can distort the appearance of your fish. Shaping acrylic is less expensive and distortions are far less noticeable.
Durability: The surfaces of acrylic aquariums are easily scratched and over time, the acrylic yellows. Glass is harder to scratch and doesn’t yellow with age. Acrylic, though, has an advantage over glass: Acrylic is much more resistant to impact and does not easily chip.
Weight: Glass can weigh up to 10 times the weight of acrylic.
Cost of materials: Glass is less expensive for smaller aquariums, under about 200 gallons. Acrylic is generally less expensive on larger aquariums over 200 gallons.
Workability: You can cut acrylic to size with a table saw and “weld” the pieces together by gluing them in place. And it’s easy to drill acrylic for outlets and over flows.
For glass, you need a glass-cutter. Although it’s not hard to do, you do need some experience using this tool. You attach glass pieces using silicon, which has as 24 curing time. Also, drilling glass requires a special drill bit and one mistake can ruin your tank.
Conclusion: If you want a square or rectangle tank that looks good and will outlast you, glass is the way to go. If you’ve worked with glass before and are building a smaller tank, then glass is a likely choice for the project.
If you want an unusual shape for your fish tank, though, acrylic is the way to go. And while it doesn’t have the durability of glass, beginner builders may find this material far more appealing to work with.
Thanks for stopping by and good luck with your DIY project.