The Right Material for Aquarium Tanks

by Apr 27, 20206 comments

Have you ever wondered what types of glass are used in building our Aquariums, or are there any other materials that we can use? In this article, we will be discussing the right material for aquarium tanks.

Standard Glass

Regular glass is by far the most common material in making aquariums. Glass is actually manufactured by heating ordinary sand silica (silicon dioxide), the primary constituent of sand, to 1700 degrees Celsius. At this temperature, the sand will liquefy. Glass is most often manufactured by the rapid cooling of the molten form after removing the bubbles.

Ordinary glass has a noticeable greenish tint, especially when viewed from the end of the panel. But it is cheap and represents a cost-effective solution for larger tanks.

It is also scratch-resistant – this is advantageous when you have all the tools to keep that glass clean. Be it scrubbing the algae in the glass or using a razor blade (be careful not to touch the silicon seams). You don’t have to worry about the glass being scratched. It will not discolor with age as well.

However, glass is heavy, twice the weight of acrylic of the same size. This could be a serious drawback on huge aquariums. Shape and sizes are limited too.

Standard Glass Panels

Standard Glass Panels

Low Iron Glass

It uses a small amount of iron to eliminate the blue-greenish tint of standard glass, and it cost more. Please see the comparison below between standard glass at the right and low iron glass on the left.

Low Iron Glass and Clear Glass Comparison

Low Iron Glass and Clear Glass Comparison


Acrylic is 50 % lighter than glass of the same dimensions. For large aquariums, a material that offers 50 % weight reduction while retaining strength and integrity is certainly an appealing option.

Acrylic is generally stronger than glass. Additionally, the joints between acrylic panels can be chemically fused. Glass aquariums and their silicon seams cannot match this level of strength.

Acrylic is customizable and can be molded to form any imaginable tank shapes like curved, bow front, octagon, cylindrical tanks, etc. You name it, and it can be molded like that.

However, as I said previously, acrylic is very easy to scratch. This means you are very limited on tools and cleaning materials to clean your acrylic tanks. But these light scratches can be removed by employing a buffing process. Deeper scratches, on both glass and acrylic, are permanent.

Acrylic is expensive, there is no getting around it, and some acrylic types can yellow in time.

Acrylic Tank

Acrylic Tank

Inspect Your Tank

Carefully inspect the craftsmanship, joints, and silicon seams of your newly bought aquarium, if possible, while you are still in the store. Take pictures, and don’t be afraid to point out any flaws that you may find. You can bring a flashlight and magnifying glass to help you with inspecting.

Want to Explore More?

Internal Filters - Types of Planted Aquarium Filters

An internal filter is placed inside the tank and is totally submerged in water from the name itself. They were the first aquarium filters available for home aquariums. But with the dawn of aquascaping, these filters have lost their acclaim, but they still have their uses in planted aquariums.

Fishless Method - How to Cycle a Planted Aquarium

It is called the Fishless Method of Tank Cycling, which is self-explanatory. We will cycle our planted aquariums with no fish. We don’t have to be worried about any of our faunas anymore if they will survive the fish-in cycling we discussed in the previous article.

But where will the Ammonia be coming from (if there are no fish) for the Nitrogen Cycle to start?

Jungle Aquariums

Many of the hobbyists worldwide refer to the Jungle Style separate from either Nature or Dutch styles of aquascaping. We can even consider the Jungle style a sub-type of the Nature style.

The only difference is the wild, untamed look. It is the complete opposite of the Dutch style, more organized, and looks like a conventional tulips garden.

Temperature - The Planted Aquarium Water Parameters

We will not over-complicate this. Temperature is simply just the measure of how much heat is in the water, hot or cold. But too big fluctuating temperatures will have bad effects on your faunas and plants in our planted aquarium.

Hardscape Diorama Style

The Hardscape Diorama Style is still a subset of the Nature Style. The only differences are emphasizing using a lot of hardscapes and building complex nature-like structures such as forests, caves, bonsai trees, canyons, or even fantasy worlds (think Avatar 2009 movie). Building just the structures takes days, weeks, or even a month before even planting.

Closing Remarks

I hope you enjoyed this article. If you have additional questions or want to share your experiences with the materials used in building your aquariums, please leave a comment below.

Next, we will be discussing the many Aquascaping Styles that will unleash your creativity and the artist within you.


  1. Andre

    Hi Lemeul,

    I like the layout fo your background and white text quite a lot. 

    I don’t think one can ever go wrong when you use your passion to assist other people and also in the process earn an income from that. After all, a lot of hard work goes into that, and in most cases, also a lot of money.

    Thank you for sharing. I wish you lots of success with the venture.

    • Lemuel Sacop

      Hello Andre and welcome to my website. Thank you for the appreciation. Please watch out for more articles coming soon.

  2. Sheddy Ovb

    The right material for your acquarium. While constructing an aquarium it’s very important and essential that the right materials are used. I have been longing for my own aquarium for a long time. But haven’t actually been able to achieve it for some various personal reasons. I guess I will just have to start again, with this informational article i know that i am good to will set as a standard for me getting my equipments/materials. Well done

    • Lemuel Sacop

      Thank you Sheddy for the appreciation about my article. Indeed, the right material and also the craftmanship are essentials when we decide to buy our aquarium. Please watch out for more articles coming soon.

  3. evans

    Should you not know, an aquarium is a vivarium of any size having at least one transparent side in which aquatic plants or animals are kept and displayed. Fishkeepers use aquaria to keep fish, invertebrates, amphibians, aquatic reptiles such as turtles, and aquatic plants. They usually add beauty to our homes so people temd to use the best glasses to make it strong and long lasting…

    These materials look.really good so chose the best that suites your design…

    • Lemuel Sacop

      Hello Evans, I agree aquariums, paludariums, terrariums, and ripariums are all vivariums and thank you for sharing your knowledge. I actually discussed all of these in the Paludarium style in my website.


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