For years, I’ve only used glass tanks for my fish.
But a few years ago I made the leap to get my first acrylic tank – a big, beautiful SeaClear acrylic aquarium with a vivid blue background.
I admit it – I was skeptical at first. After all, I’d never tried it before.
I love it and feel it was money well spent.
In fact, I’ve grown so fond of them that I recently got a second one to be my main goldfish display tank (pictured above).
I couldn’t be more pleased!
This show tank makes a gorgeous display tank that everyone compliments.
Table of contents
SeaClear’s line of acrylic aquarium combos comes in a variety of sizes:
- 15 gallon hexagon
- 20 gallon hexagon
- 20 gallon rectangular
- 26 gallon flat-back hexagon
- 29 gallon rectangular
- 30 gallon rectangular
- 40 gallon
- 46 gallon bowfront
- 50 gallon
Bigger tank sizes than these can be trickier to find (and pricey).
Now I LOVE this:
The elegant curved corners at the front afford a totally seamless design.
The manufacturer of the SeaClear aquarium line offers 3 styles to choose from for the back – clear, solid black or solid cobalt blue (the black and blue styles are built-in).
Having both the clear and blue, I can say there are distinct advantages to both.
A solid blue or black back fish tank can really help hide unsightly hanging wires, cords, hang-on-back filters and tubes very well, making it very practical to conceal equipment.
These colors also really makes the fish “pop.”
… I have to say the clear acrylic just looks fantastic and so classy.
For what it’s worth, many professional aquascapers prefer to leave the background clear (provided they conceal their equipment well).
Clear acrylic also gives you the flexibility to put a background on the back of the acrylic tank if you like, which can be changed out as you wish over time. So in that sense it’s less “permanent.”
Regardless of which solution you choose, you can always go with the natural look of a realistic faux stone background like this one (it goes inside over the acrylic backing).
One nice thing about acrylic?
It can come in more creative shapes than regular glass tanks.
The SeaClear acrylic aquarium combo is available in the traditional rectangular shape, and also come in two more styles – hexagon and bowfront.
(Also note that the 15 and 20 gallon hexagon style is especially suitable for smaller spaces as it takes up less horizontal room.)
This lets you pick the shape of fish tank that best suits your own preference and living space.
A Little More About My SeaClear Fish Tank
Everything I used for the setup:
- Substrate: 1/2″ layer of Caribsea crushed coral topped with 1 1/2″ Caribsea “Crystal River” sand
- Plants: 6x 11″ Amazon Swords (link)
- Lighting: Nicrew LED (link)
- Hardscape: Locally found quartz stone
- Supplements: Seachem Excel (link), Seachem Flourish root tabs (link). I also use Phosguard for brown algae (link).
- Filtration: Penn Plax 29 undergravel filter (link) lined with aquarium polyfiber (link) (read how I set it up with sand and the benefits of that here)
The standard light fixture that came with my tank was not my cup of tea at all, so I tossed it and replaced it with the slim-profile Nicrew light instead which is much better for growing plants.
For my aquarium’s hardscape, I used locally found – and carefully cleaned – quartz rock.
(This sturdy acrylic tank supports the use of just about any amount of rock.)
As of the time I’m writing this post, I have just one 7 inch long calico Veiltail goldfish in my SeaClear acrylic aquarium.
So far she hasn’t been welcoming to any roommates. Yes indeed, she is a spoiled little fish and seems to like having the place all to herself.
Overall she seems to really like her home (she especially loves picking through the sand)
(Note: since taking the photo I’ve moved the light behind the filter instead to better backlight the tank and reduce algae growth in the filter.)
You can check out my post here for more tips on setting up a goldfish tank.
In my research into acrylic tanks, I’ve made a few observations. There are actually some major benefits that they have over glass ones.
Advantages of acrylic over glass:
- Leak protection – Glass fish tanks are sealed with silicone, which can leak with time. Acrylic tanks are melted into a solid structure, resulting in safer seams.
- No metal frame – In my opinion, this is a major aesthetic advantage to any tank.
- Up to 20 times stronger – The durability of acrylic is pretty astounding. It can withstand considerable rough handling without cracking (unlike glass) and is far more shatter-resistant. If you have small children or want to place the tank in an area where there is more activity in the home, this is a good choice to prevent damage from being bumped. (Some reviewers have also pointed out that if you live in an earthquake-prone area, glass is a no-no.)
- 5 times lighter – Looking for a tank that is easier to lift, or concerned about the additional weight on the floorboards of your house? Acrylic is a good option. It costs less to ship than a glass tank the same size.
- Clearer – This material allows up to 92% of light to get through, making it easier to see your fish’s vibrant colors. Glass distorts light more, causing the final appearance of your tank to look more dull and distorted (especially true of thicker glass). And if you are like me and enjoy taking photos of your tank, it will look that much more stunning!
- More flexible – Acrylic is a material can be shaped in more creative ways, such as a bow-front style or curved edges.
- Easier to drill – If you want to plumb a sump filter below the tank, acrylic allows you to drill through it – and then silicone a flat piece of acrylic (from inside the tank) over it if you change your mind later.
- Holds temperatures better – The insulation capabilities of acrylic surpass those of glass, helping keep the temperature of the aquarium more stable.
Concerns about going with Acrylic:
- Scratches – While it is true that acrylic does scratch more easily than glass, the good news is most light scratches can be buffed out with a proper pad and cleaning solution. A good polishing kit can be used on the exterior of the surface to minimize these scratches. I’ve used the Novus Plastic Polish kit for my tank which helps the surface to look like new again (you will want to be sure to rinse it well if using it on the inside area).
- Semi-closed top – SeaClear’s line of acrylic fish tanks have a partial rim around the top edge. While some think working in the tank is more cumbersome, the rim actually protects water from leaking over the edge if it gets bumped. Depending on the exact tank model you buy, some provision is usually made for equipment such as filters and heaters near the back of the tank on this rim. Personally, I have found the lip to be nice for resting my arm on while cleaning or pruning plants.
- More porous – Acrylic is more porous than glass. This means that chemicals such as medications can leach into the material more. This is probably more of a concern if you are getting a used aquarium. It is worth noting that the silicone used to hold the glass together is also porous too (many a glass tank has been donated or thrown away due to stained silicone). If you get a used glass tank and feel confident in your craftsman abilities, there is the option to completely redo the silicone by scraping it out with a razor blade and sealing it afresh. So if you want to treat with medications, it might be a good idea to use a hospital tank that’s not as important.
- Bottom support – Acrylic tanks need to be fully supported underneath to prevent the bottom from sagging. (Incidentally, it is a good thing that acrylic has the ability to bend as that is why it is so resilient.) So if you choose to use a frame-style stand underneath the tank, you may need to use some kind of a platform in between the bottom and the stand (such as plywood). Otherwise, you could end up with your tank giving in. If you choose to ignore this advice and put your tank on a stand that isn’t completely supported underneath, you do so at the peril of your own fish (and house!).
- Yellowing – Some concerned fishkeepers have found that their tanks have yellowed over the years, something glass won’t ever do. It has to do with the rays of UV affecting it with time with older tanks. The good news is this was more of an issue with older, less-stable forms of acrylic and is less of a problem with newer ones which shouldn’t be affected by light.
Related Post: Acrylic Vs. Glass Aquariums
Having used both styles of tanks for several years now, I’m not going to say I don’t like glass anymore.
I still have glass tanks and use them in various ways.
But my SeaClear tanks sure do give them a run for their money.