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Glass Aquariums

Glass Aquariuims – Pros And Cons

Although glass aquariums are the most popular with tropical fish keeping enthusiasts, there are pros and cons with their use.

There are pros and cons for each type aquarium but despite the cons, most freshwater enthusiasts house their fish in glass tanks.

Glass aquariums are constructed in almost any size using either tempered glass, plate glass, or a combination of the two types.

Tempered glass aquariums are super strong and lighter than plate glass aquariums.  Tempered glass does not crack when it breaks, instead for safety, it shatters into many pieces.

Many tropical fish keeping enthusiasts drill through the bottom of their tanks to install custom overflows or sump filtration systems.  Drilling through tempered glass is extremely difficult to accomplish without shattering the glass.

Plate glass is thicker and heavier than tempered glass, and unlike tempered glass, plate glass cracks at the point of impact and does not shatter.   It is also much easier to drill than tempered glass.

Most smaller aquariums are constructed from plate glass for a number of reasons but primarily because it is more economical, more available and clearer than tempered glass.

Some custom made glass aquariums are constructed with tempered glass bottoms and plate glass sides.

When you select a glass aquarium, there will usually be a sticker on the bottom of the tank telling you if it is a plate glass or a tempered glass aquarium.

If you look carefully at the corner of a glass aquarium tank where the plates of glass meet, you will notice a hint of color.  All glass aquariums tend to have a green to bluish tint to them.

There is a relatively new type of glass now being used for aquarium construction called Starphire.  Starphire glass is a low iron glass that provides a clearer view of colors than regular plate glass aquariums.

Starphire glass costs a bit more, but is well worth the additional cost if you are looking for pure color without the color tint.  The view with Starphire glass is almost perfectly clear.

If you are shopping for an odd shaped tank, a glass fish tank may not be for you.

Glass is more difficult to manipulate which is why most glass tanks are rectangular in shape. Octoganal ,  hexagonal and “bow front”  glass tanks are available, but the seams where the glass meet gradually discolor with age.

When you purchase a glass aquarium make sure you purchase a canopy or full hood to control evaporation and help keep the water temperature constant.

Compared to acrylic tanks, glass aquariums tend to lose heat more quickly and are not as well insulated.

Glass Aquariums – Pros

  • Stronger
  • Scratch resistant.  Do not scratch as easy as acrylic tanks
  • Cheaper.  Much less expensive than acrylic tanks
  • More readily  available.  Almost always in stock  in most fish shops

Glass Aquariums – Cons

  • Weight.  Glass tanks weigh much more than acrylic tanks.
  • Limited design and shape.  Glass tanks are mainly rectangular in shape due to the difficulty of manipulation of the glass sheets.
  • Glass tint.  Glass has a blue to green tint in it.
  • Heat Loss.  Glass tanks are not as insulated as acrylic.

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