Reef Tanks
  How To Start A Saltwater Aquarium

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  Glass Vs. Acrylic

     One of  your first major decisions is whether or not you are going to chose an aquarium that is made of glass or one that is made of acrylic. There are many advantages and disadvantages to choosing either glass and acrylic, for your aquarium.When choosing a tank, you have to think in the long term, how long do you intend on keeping this tank? Do you plan on moving? How careful are you with things? Are there any small children that will be touching your tank?

 Glass Aquariums

     An aquarium that is made of glass, is much less sucseptible to getting scratched, that an aquarium made out of acrylic. Glass aquariums generally take a good amount of pressure from an object in order to scratch, glass can be scratched by moving rocks, or using a magnet cleaner that gets sand or gravel caught between it and the glass. Glass is a denser material and such is heavier than an acrylic tank. A glass aquarium can often weigh up to 10 times that of an acrylic tank. Glass aquariums run the risk of cracking or shattering, althoug uncommon, this is always a possibility when dealing with glass. The force would have to be rather high, in order to cause such a problem. Light refracts though glass, and with bow front and curved tanks, some things may appear bigger or more difficult to see

     Glass can support a signifigant amount of weight over distnace, and due to this a glass aquarium an be kept on a stand that is open. Regardless or strenght, your aquarium needs to be leveled. Depending on the type of tank that you buy or make, some have are made of tempered glass, which cannot be be drilled, which can pose a problem when you go to install your filtration system. Tempered glass is not as thick as glass that is non-tempered. Glass tends to hold its clarity over time, compared to an old tank the clarity should be very similar. Glass tanks also tend to be easier to ship and less expensive then acrylic tanks.

Acrylic Tanks

     Acrylic is another very widely available type of tank. One major deterint of having an Acrylic tank is that is highly suceptible to scratching. Most times despite all efforts a tank will get scratched by the packaging used to ship it. Acrylic saltwater aquariums can be scratched by people walking by the tank and brushing up on it, or small children touching and trying to see in the tank. The shells of hermit crabs and other inhabitants can scrath the tank as well. When having an acrylic tank, it is very importnt to use acrylic safe magnets and algae scrubbers, it is also imperative to not pick up gravel or sand grains  while cleaning. There is a big product market for acrylic fixes that can be used on scratches on the outside of the tank, and most of them are very affective at removing scratches. I suggest you do your research when buying an acrylic repair kit, some may leave residue on the inside of a tank that could be fatal to your livestock.

    Acrylic tanks are vastly lighter then glass tanks, which makes moving a tank when drained a bit easier, and makes there be less strain on a stand than there would be if you were to have a tank that was made out of glass. Acrylic generally will not shatter unless there is a very sharp impact to it, and any impacts with most likely leave some sort of mark on the acrylic, even if it was not hard enough to have left a mark on a glass aquarium. Acrylic is less likelt then glass to refract light and distort images, this makes acrylic much better of an option if you want a special shaped tank. You can find a lot of different shaped tanks in which are made out of acrylic. Acrylic tanks require stands that cover the complete bottom of the tank, without a stand that covers the entire bottom, a tank may pull away at the seam under the weight of the saltwater in the tank. Acrylic tanks also require support accross the top of the tank, this keeps the tank from bowing apart and splitting at the seams.

     Acrylic tanks do not need to be as thick as glass when supporting the same amount of water. Another benefit to having an acrylic tank is that the tank can be drilled in order to incorporate your overfill / filtration system. Acrylic tank will yellow as they get older if they are kept under a full spectrum of lights or exposed to prolonged period of direct sunlight. Acrylic tanks are historically more expensive than glass tanks, this is mainly due to the cost of shipping and the damage from scratching that occurs. Acrylic tanks are a very good option if you are planning on a tank that is very large such as 500 gallon.

 

 

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