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AQUARIUM TYPES & SIZES

Glass versus Acrylic

Simply put, you can buy an aquarium of almost any size and shape, acrylic or glass, expensive or inexpensive. A good rule of thumb might be to buy an aquarium as large as you have both room for and can afford. Water chemistry is by far the most important aspect of maintaining a marine aquarium. The more water you have in your tank the slower the chemistry will change, therefore the easier it is to maintain. It's like insurance, the larger the volume of water, the more insurance you have.

Shorter and wider tanks are much easier to maintain then tall, thinner tanks. This is due to the fact that the more surface area that you have in relationship to the total volume of water dictates better oxygenation, gas and heat diffusion. Good rule of thumb, the more surface area....the better it is for your aquarium! 

You must also consider both the stand and the location. Water is heavy, almost 7.5 lbs per gallon. A 75 gallon tank with a 3 or 4 inch sand bed plus live rock can easily top out over 650lbs. Make sure that whatever stand or piece of furniture that you plan to use can safely support this load.

Place the tank where it makes best sense for your viewing pleasure but keep in mind that you should keep the tank out of direct sunlight and areas of the home the have large temperature shifts throughout the day. It's also advised to keep the tank in an area of low to medium traffic. Placing the tank in a hallway where the boys (or girls) run through on their way to the TV or computer is not a wise idea.

Glass versus acrylic, both materials make for excellent aquariums. Which should you use?
 
 
GLASS 
ACRYLIC 
Price 
Much less expensive 
More costly due to manufacturing methods 
Shape 
Most often in built in squares and rectangles
Can be molded into almost any shape. Curved or bowed fronts are quite common
Age 
Glass ages well
Some acrylics begin to yellow with age
Stability / Cracking 
Glass cracks or breaks easier than acrylic when struck by something
Acrylic takes much more punishment before breaking BUT will scratch much easier
Scratchability 
Difficult to scratch. Simple razor blades may be used to scrape off algae
Easily scratched. Special tools must be used to clean and scrape acrylic
Weight 
Much heavier than acrylic
 
 
 
 
 

So, which one is right for you? Many beginners start off with glass as it's less expensive and easier maintained. While many more experienced reef keepers eventually move up to acrylic as they want the more customized sizes and shape. Both are great choices.

You have two overriding decisions to make; how big will your tank be and what will it be made of. For most beginners it's recommended that you start off with at least a 30 gallon tank, probably glass to keep your initial costs down. If you choose to upgrade to a larger, more fashionable tank you can then use your 30 gallon as a hospital / quarantine tank.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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