When it comes to aquariums, you want the best.
You want a tank that’s going to last, with a glass that won’t break when you move it or set it down too hard. You want a tank that looks good and isn’t going to turn your fish green. And most importantly, you want a tank that’s strong enough to hold up under pressure.
When you are opting to get an aquarium made or even buy one, you need to consider the type of glass that is used in its construction. Glass tanks come in many different varieties, each with its own unique features and benefits.
This article will discuss the various types of glass that are used to make aquariums, (including tempered glass, acrylic glass, annealed glass, Low-iron glass, anti-reflective Schott glass & Penn-Plax) compare them help you make the best choice.
Types Of Glasses [Aquarium Context]
Tempered glass , also known as toughened glass, is a type of processed glass. It is stronger, tougher, and more resistant to breaking under pressure than regular glass.
Tempered glass is made by heating normal glass until it becomes molten, then quickly cooling it down by rapidly quenching it in water or oil.
This rapid cooling process causes the outer surface of the glass to become very hard—so hard that it’s almost impossible for it to break unless a specific effort is made.
To describe it better, tempered glass is made by heating and cooling glass at a specific temperature and rate (usually between 700°F–1,100°F).
When tempered glass breaks, the outer surface shatters into thousands of irregularly shaped cubes while the inner layers remain intact.
This makes it less likely that you’ll be cut by sharp shards if the aquarium ever breaks.
Low Iron Glass
Have you ever wondered why the glass in your aquarium is called “low iron”? It’s because this type of glass has a lower concentration of iron than normal glass. That’s why it’s called Crystal Prince!
With its silica base, low-iron glass is made from one of the strongest substances on earth. It has all the benefits of normal glass without any of the drawbacks.
Low-iron glass removes the green tint that other types of aquarium glass can have, so now you can add colorful fish and plants without worrying about how they’ll look in your new tank!
Low iron glass is a special type of glass that has a coating on the inside. This coating prevents the heat from entering.
When a piece of Low Iron Glass breaks, it doesn’t shatter or splinter. Instead, it breaks into rectangular pieces that are easy to clean up and dispose of—so even if something happens while you’re cleaning or doing other maintenance of your aquarium, there’s no risk of injury.
The strength of low iron glass is the same as normal glass, so it’s weaker than tempered glass. However, it is clearer than tempered glass.
Anti Reflective Schott Glass
Schott is a German brand that has been making glass since the middle of the 19th century. What’s more, they make anti reflective glass, which prevents glare and makes your aquarium look better.
Anti-reflective Schott glass for aquariums is coated on both sides with a special coating that prevents reflection, glare, and/or condensation from forming on the outside of the glass.
This helps keep light from shining back into your tank at all angles, which keeps algae from growing as quickly or easily as it normally would in other tanks without this kind of coating.
Schott’s anti-reflective glass is one of the most durable kinds available for aquariums. It won’t scratch or break when you’re cleaning it and it won’t cloud up over time like other types of glass can.
This means that your tank will always have a clear look to it. The anti-reflective coating also helps prevent algae growth on the surface of your aquarium, making maintenance easier!
It also has high impact resistance and can be used for all types of aquariums, including saltwater and freshwater.
Anti Reflective Tempered Glass
How would you like a combination of the strength of tempered glass and the anti reflective qualities? That’s what anti-reflective tempered glass is.
It is designed to resist scratches and other damage, while also allowing for optimal visibility into the aquarium. However, Schott does not seem to manufacture this type of glass.
Nevertheless they are available. I think i made my decision here, but lets still look at the remaining types of glasses.
Penn-Plax is a brand again. It is a high-quality, break-resistant, crystal clear polycarbonate. The glass is extremely strong and durable, so it won’t crack or break easily.
It’s also scratch-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about your fish destroying the tank and making a mess of everything.
The only downside is that polycarbonate tanks are not as clear as other types of aquariums and they tend to distort light more than other materials do.
Another aspect that requires consideration is that Penn-Plax does not declare the exact specifications of this glass and neither does it offer customization.
However, if you are planning to buy a readymade aquarium, this may be a good option. Do check for product warranty though!
Annealed glass is made from flat glass that undergoes a cooling treatment. It is used in a lot of places, from windows to doors and even shower screens.
Annealed glass is not as strong as tempered glass. It is also more prone to breakage than tempered glass.
When it breaks, the breakage pattern is different from tempered glass. This means that it may not be safe for people who are close by when it breaks. So that’s that!
Acrylic is a material that has many uses, but it is particularly well-known for being used in aquariums. Acrylic is not technically glass, but rather a form of plastic.
The reason that acrylic is often used in aquariums is because it can be molded into any shape and thickness desired.
This means that aquariums can be made to look exactly like their owners want them to look, which makes the aquarium more appealing and easier for owners to maintain.
Another reason its is so popular is because it is extremely light weight and has more impact resistance than plain glass.
Acrylic can be made clear or cloudy depending on how much plasticizer has been added when it was being made.
Clear acrylic is great because you can see through the sides of your aquarium without distortion from air bubbles or scratches in the surface of your tank.
Difference Between Tempered Glass & Acrylic
Tempered glass is cheap but heavy. It can only be cut into limited shapes. However it is very strong, scratch resistant and has high impact resistance. Tempered glass is not amenable to drilling and is non-porous.
In the event of breakage, it is irreparable. However, due to its strength, it is highly durable. An mild level of distortion is possible with tempered glass.
A major advantage in the modern times, is it is recyclable material and the broken glass can be reused for various purposes.
In the case of acrylic, its slightly more expensive than tempered glass. It is light in weight. It is not as strong as tempered glass but it is flexible and can be cut to different shapes.
The impact resistances is lesser and so also the durability. It is also easily amenable to scratches. However, it allows drilling and there is no distortion which makes visibility better.
In terms of reuse, it is non-ecofriendly and not reusable.
Fish Tank Thickness Guide
When it comes to thickness, a good rule of thumb is that the more expensive the glass, the thicker it will be—and thicker glass means better durability in terms of withstanding the water pressure.
Tempered glasses are stronger than regular glass and can support more weight. They’re also less likely to break if they fall or are dropped. If you’ve ever worked in construction, you might have heard of tempered glass; this is what they use for windows on skyscrapers!
Acrylic is cheaper than tempered glass but not as strong. It is often found in aquariums because it’s easy to work with and inexpensive.
The Thickness will vary depending on the size of your aquarium. It will have to be calculated on a case to case basis.
So do keep this in mind!
Which Is The Best Choice For Your Aquarium
Finally, it boils down to three choices:
- Anti-reflective tempered glass
Tempered glass is stronger than regular glass, so it’s less likely to break.
But what about reflections? That’s the problem with regular tempered glass. That’s why anti-reflective tempered glass is a great option for aquariums.
Not only does this combination of strength, clarity, and anti-reflection make our tanks safer and more enjoyable for both you and your fish, but it also helps reduce glare from outside light sources.
At the same time, if you want a customized aquarium and need to drill in a few holes, then acrylic is a better choice.
If you are looking for a regular ready made aquarium, Penn-Plax is not a bad choice.
So let your requirements make the choice and it will be a sensible one.
Although glass is a great material for aquariums, it does require some care and attention. The following are some precautions to keep in mind when cleaning your glass fish tank:
Do not use abrasive cleaners. Abrasive cleaners can scratch the glass and make it cloudy, which will affect light transmission through the aquarium and make it harder for your fish to see their food. If you must use an abrasive cleaner on your fish tank, do so very sparingly.
Avoid using soap or detergents with ammonia in them on your aquarium as they may damage sealants used by manufacturers when they produce these products.
Keep the aquarium in a place with less footfall and in a place where you find it comfortable to handle it. Do remember to ensure adequate space to reach out to the back and keep a microfiber cloth handy.
Now that we have covered all the different types of glass and their uses, you know your choices. If you are planning on building one yourself then it is important to do your research before you start or even buy the materials. In any which way, this article has narrowed down the options and its just a matter of listing your requirements before you decide.