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What Type of Glass Aquariums Are Best?

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Many people when buying their first aquarium, vacillate back and forth about whether to choose a glass aquarium or an acrylic one. Here are some tips on glass aquariums that may help you to make up your mind.

There are two main features that determine the quality of a glass fish tank - the kind of sealant that was used and the type and thickness of the glass. But, in addition, there are two kinds of glass aquariums. Some tanks are built to house water based creatures such as fish. And those that are meant to hold non-water based entities such as plants, turtles, lizards, and so on. If your intent is to house fish in your aquarium, you need to be sure that your aquarium of interest had it's sides bonded with sealant especially meant to hold water. If not, you could find that your fish tank is subject to leaks.

Primarily, glass aquariums are made of plate glass or tempered glass. Plate glass is very heavy, more than twice the weight of plexiglass which is used in many aquariums. Unlike plexiglass, however, plate glass is very scratch resistant. It's also resistant to discoloration. Tempered glass is a bit rougher and not as smooth, than plate glass. They each break different also. When plate glass breaks, it tends to break into large pieces. When tempered glass breaks, however, it shatters into a lot of pieces. Practically, what this means is that if your plate glass aquarium breaks, you'll only have a crack or hole at the point of the break, and your fish will probably still be safe. Conversely, if your tempered glass aquarium breaks, it is likely that the entire aquarium side will be shattered and you'll lose all your fish.

Glass aquariums do not insulate as well as acrylic tanks. Therefore, depending on the weather conditions in your part of the country, you will probably depend more on your tank thermostat and heater to keep the water in the aquarium at the appropriate temperatures. If you live in a warm weather climate such as Florida or Nevada, this will probably not be an issue.

Since glass tanks are heavier than acrylic tanks, you'll want to be extra careful when choosing an appropriate aquarium stand. It's true that most of the aquarium weight will come from the water itself. But, when determining if the flooring supports are strong enough to safely hold your fish tank, you have to include all weight variables - the weight of the tank, the water, and the stand.

It used to be that if you wanted aquariums that were shaped differently than the normal rectangular shape, you had to purchase an acrylic tank. This is because glass tanks were made from planes of glass, limiting them to rectangular shapes, while acrylic tanks were molded, letting them take the shape of the mold, however irregular it might be. Lately, however, new technology has allowed the creation of glass aquariums with curvy and other unique shapes, rounded corners, and seamless edges. Acrylic tanks still hold the edge in the number of unique shapes that can be created but aquarium glass technology is light years away from where it was only a few years ago.

Jim F. Johnson is webmaster and owner of find more information on all glass fish tanks at his web site.

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