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Old 09-26-2010, 01:34 AM   #1
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Acrylic vs Glass

Hey guys; I was looking at tanks today and found a few used tanks that caught my eye. At one of the places that sells used tanks I found they sell a lot of tanks a dollar per gallon; this resulted in me finding a 75 glass for $75, a 150 glass for $150 dollars, a 75 Acrylic for $75 dollars, and a 150 gallon Acrylic for $ 150 dollars.

I was a little surprised to see acrylic tanks for so cheap, but can kind of see why they were being sold as such, as they had a decent amount of scratches on the two Acrylic tanks. The 150 Acrylic is also not the ideal 150 for me, as it isn't quite the six foot long and is a little taller, I would guess it was probably four and five foot long, so still as long or longer than the 75.

I am now sitting here wondering, how hard are scratches to get out of Acrylic? I have heard that you can get scratches out of Acrylic tanks as opposed to glass tanks, but how difficult is it? Would it be worth it to buy the scratched up Acrylic 75 or 150, or should I go with the newer, non-scratched glass?

Any thoughts?

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Old 09-26-2010, 07:59 AM   #2
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I would never use an acrylic tank, neither would my cousin who does professional aquairum maintenance. He told me about one customer of his who bought a 180 and had to buy another one a week later because some little kid relative of his scratched the entire thing up with a Mag Float that got some sand stuck in it. If you buy acrylic simply get used to scratches.

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Old 09-26-2010, 11:11 AM   #3
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Well why did the kid have access to the Mag Float, given the known risk of scratching acrylic tanks? When my friends' kids come over here, I hide all the Mag Floats. Sand trapped in between the magnets can just as easily scratch glass (I've done that one with no help from any kiddos, lol). At any rate, they make kits to buff out scratches and I doubt if a complete tank replacement was really necessary.

GouramiGuru, there are two big drawbacks IMO to acrylic tanks. Ease of scratching, obviously, is one of them. Also, many of the tanks, as you have seen with the 150, are built with different dimensions than their glass counterparts, so if they don't come with a stand you may need to build one. The benefits to acrylic IMO would be that, first of all, the seams are chemically bonded so much less risk of leakage than glass. Second, they are much more lightweight, flexible, and stronger than glass.

HN1 and I recently picked up an acrylic system shop tank. It looks pretty scratched up when empty, but often times you'll find that the scratches are MUCH less noticeable when the tank is full. You've found great prices on all those tanks, there are benefits and drawbacks to each, so IMO you really can't go wrong here!
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Old 09-26-2010, 11:24 AM   #4
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I consider myself an expert in the realm of removing scratches from acrylic. I sanded the entire interior front of this tank

Tank Journal - 225 SW FOWLR, Possible future reef

and I can tell you exactly how to do it and exactly how not to do it. The scratches on that tank were made by a Mag Float, and were very deep. I bought one of those kits, and I would get one, but only for the anti-static stuff you put on afterwards. You can buy wet/dry sandpaper at a woodworking specialty store cheap and you get more, and you don't need anything finer than about 1500 or 2000 (so you don't need 8000). Once you get the bigger scratches out, then you change over to using a drill and a buffing wheel and a liquid polish, I can tell you exactly what I used. The buffer/polish might actually take out many of the larger-looking scratches, so if that does the trick you won't have to sand at all and you could get the whole tank done in a day easily.
My tanks: 120 Reef w/L2 Algae Scrubber, 60 Reef Pond w/floating Algae Scrubber, 40 Breeder Reef w/L2 UAS Tester Algae Scrubber
I maintain: 144 SW Reef w/L2 Algae Scrubber | 200 SW Reef w/L4 Algae Scrubber
Special knowledge: Algae Scrubbers, Acrylic Fabrication
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Old 09-26-2010, 12:52 PM   #5
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Thanks everybody so much for your feedback! I have read about Acrylic tanks being used over the years, but this is my first adventure in buying a bigger tank, so all of the information is very, very helpful at this point .

Something I have also kind of been wondering about; as much as the 150 is a steal and an amazing tank for very little, it will be a little cheaper and a lot easier for me to obtain the 75, so even though normally I would want to jump all over the 150, the 75 is very appealing to me for this reason.

The 150 has a stand that fits its dimensions also for 150, so it would total out to 300 dollars without a filter or glass lids. For the 75 gallon they only have a 200 dollar stand, so it would be 275 without a filter or lid.

However, at PetsMart they have a stand for slightly cheaper, around $140 I believe, so I could knab the stand and aquarium for $210, and only need a lid and a filter. The stand, however, is in a box, and says it will hold aquariums up to 80 gallons, so I am a little more weary of this option, yet slightly excited by it because this way I could get the 75, stand, and potentially a filter for the price that the 150 gallon and the stand without a filter. Is this a good idea, or no?

Also...lids...where the heck do I get these things from? And how much?
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Old 09-26-2010, 01:16 PM   #6
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Are you going for FW or SW? Are you doing a pre-drilled tank or not?

IMO, if going SW then your best bet is pre-drilled as it makes it easier for a sump. If these tanks aren't pre-drilled then I *THINK (*could be way off here) that drilling an acrylic tank would be easier if going that route.

Just something else to think about
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Old 09-26-2010, 01:56 PM   #7
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Just the bare essentials between the two: Acrylic offers better clarity, durability, insulates, machinable, and is much lighter. The three drawbacks are price, availability, and it scratches easily compared to glass (glass does scratch!!!). Acrylic scratches can be buffed out quite easily and without removing any livestock, but as long as you aren't a bull in a china shop you shouldn't have too much of a concern.

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acrylic, glass

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