History of Fish Tank Materials
While keeping fish for both food and pleasure has been an interest documented starting more than 4,000 years ago, keeping fish in aquariums is a much more recent development. Supposedly Madame Dubarry, a mistress to King Louis XV in France, invented the fish bowl sometime in the mid-1700s. In 1805, Robert Warrington was credited with developing the first sustainable glass aquarium.
Now that you know the basic history behind the different types of fish tanks you will be better equipped to make a comparison and contrast of the various options. We'll first cover the positive aspects of acrylic tanks. There are many reasons that people prefer acrylic over glass to house their fish – when compared to glass tanks, acrylic tanks are:
- Easier to cut holes into to accommodate plumbing
- Better able to provide better views because of curved front corners
- Available in many interesting molded shapes
- Better able to provide insulation
In terms of weight, acrylic tanks beat glass tanks hands-down. Acrylic tanks are about half the weight of their glass counterparts. For example, a 20-gallon acrylic tank weighs about 17 pounds, which is about half the weight that a glass tank the same size would weigh.
Although Acrylic tanks have a lot going for them, there's always a flip side! The four largest cons regarding acrylic tanks (versus glass) involve:
- Higher cost
- Greater tendency to scratch
- Chance of changing appearance over time
- Need for increased support
Probably the biggest con that an acrylic tank will have to newcomers to the fish keeping business is cost. Acrylic aquariums will usually cost more than glass tanks for the same size. For example, your basic 20-gallon acrylic aquarium will run $130 to $140. A basic 20-gallon glass aquarium will run approximately $50. That's a big difference! You might find good deals on smaller tanks or bowls that are acrylic but overall, acrylic tanks will cost you two to three times the price that a glass tank will cost you.
In addition to thinking about what materials you want your aquarium to be made from you also need to think about the size for your tank. When you go to buy your aquarium, you'll need to consider first your living space and the room you have for an aquarium. Most experts will tell you to get the largest aquarium for which you have space and that you can afford. At a minimum, you should go with a 10-gallon tank for a fresh water tank and 20 to 40-gallon tank for a marine aquarium. Contrary to popular belief, larger aquariums are actually easier to maintain than smaller tanks because the higher water volume gives you a higher margin for error. If you make a mistake with water chemistry in a large tank there is more water available to dilute the problem materials so it won’t have as significant an effect on your tank inhabitants as a similar mistake would have in a small tank. Acrylic tanks are available in a wide variety of sizes including the following::
Usually, you'll find acrylic tanks in the following sizes: 10, 20, 25, 29, 55, 75, and 90 gallons. When you pick out your acrylic tank, consider that wider and longer are usually better than taller given the same volume because they provide more surface area (which promotes oxygen exchange - good for your fish). There are, however, exceptions to this rule. For example, angelfish do better in tanks that are taller than they are wide because most of their size is vertical rather than horizontal – they need extra vertical space to accommodate their tall fins.
Most Recent Forum Discussions
- setting up tank - By vostric, (0 replies)
I have a 20G tank, with a nice open space in the middle of my Eco-Complete substrate, I have my heater and filtration in, I ...
- Brown algae on plants - By billy_corycat, (1 replies)
What can I do about brown algae on my plants? What causes this? And will it kill my plants?
- Black friday sales? - By billy_corycat, (0 replies)
Is there anything aquarium related that usually goes on sale for Black Friday? I'm wondering if there's anything I could save money on - this ...