Hi sirs and madams of the fishieforum.
Long story short, I'm about a decade removed from any serious aquarium-keeping. I received for Christmas a 56 gallon aquarium with stand (little marineland combo package - link
). I was in the process of planning out the whole setup, but after cleaning/scraping wayward bits of silicone off the glass/etc, and filling it (was planning to start cycle), I have become more and more irritated at the distortion that the glass causes.
It isn't as though the glass is uneven- it seems from the three sides I can view from that the distortion is uniform throughout. I understand that glass and water and air all have different spectrum/wavelengths/whatever you call it, and so some distortion is to be expected, but this seems a little much. I imagine it is purely a result of the glass thickness.
My girlfriend saved the receipt, so if worse comes to worst, I can go trade it in and pay the difference towards a better set-up, however I am not particularly inclined to do so. I know I would get better clarity and less distortion from acrylic, but I get very nervous about how easily acrylic scratches, and while yes it can be buffed out, what a pain that is, especially if it is scratched on the inside at some point after its filled and up and running.
I have been looking a lot at aquascaping (found a great site that has an annual aquascaping competition and has pictures of nearly a decade's-worth of submissions) and wonder if filling out the aquarium would have any positive, or negative, impact on the distorting effect. These aquariums I see on this other website (would post link but its on my home computer and I don't recall the name) look as though there's zero distortion, but I notice a lot of them have sealed, angular edges, which leads me to believe that they are glass and not acrylic...so...did I just happen to receive a particularly low-quality aquarium, or is this distortion normal for this sort of tank? Should I "get over it" or is it relatively easy and not much more expensive to upgrade (keeping approximately same volume aquarium)? Are there any tricks to minimizing the distortion? Right now the aquarium is actually a little closer than it should be to the wall, but, once I take water out to plant it, I will move it...but...would a background affixed to the glass have any affect on the distortion? Will lighting affect the distortion effect? I plan to upgrade the stock lighting that came with it.
I'm frustrated and want to be told "yeah this is normal, deal with it," or, "if you wanna spend 50 or 100 extra, go get ___________ ".
For bonus points, if anyone can look at that aquarium/dimensions (linked above) and tell me what the least expensive lighting route would be to grow medium-light plants (I'd like to go high light and put some crazy plants in there, but, I don't want to get into Co2
regimens just yet, and so would like to start slow but with good lighting so I can get at least a little more interesting than anubis/wort/etc)? That is, what type of bulb/how many/etc.
Mostly right now I just want some feedback from people regarding what kind of distortion they experience and whether there are things to help minimize its visual impact. I don't have any experience with an aquarium this large (previous max was a 29 gallon) so I'm not sure if I'm expecting too much or if this is a case of needing to spend just a little more for a significant improvement in depth/clarity.
Thanks ahead of time for all responses!