How Long Do Fish Tanks Last?

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If you’re on your way to purchasing the first fish tank, several aspects might interest you. These include the tank’s size, construction, and durability, with the latter often being a determining factor for most people.

Today, we will discuss which type of fish tank is the most durable. Fish tanks are either glass or acrylic, and each of them comes with specific pros and cons.

Let’s see what to expect from each of them.

Acrylic or Glass Aquarium – Which Lasts Longer?

On average, the glass aquarium will outlast the acrylic one by several years. This, of course, depends on the tank’s construction and maintenance after purchase. It’s also worth noting that glass tanks are heavier than their acrylic counterparts, so you should take that into account when deciding the tank to get.

Most people see the fish tank as a once-in-a-lifetime investment. In this sense, it’s natural that their main concern is the tank’s durability. If the tank’s durability and longevity are your primary concerns, get a glass tank.

With proper care, it will outlast any acrylic product out there.

How Long Do Glass Tanks Last?

Apparently, there’s no consensus on the matter. As I’ve already mentioned, the lifespan of the glass tank will depend on a variety of factors. Some people have had their glass tanks for 5 years before noticing various problems, while others kept them for more than 20 or even 25 years.

These include the tank’s material, the sealant, its maintenance along the way, potential accidents weakening its structure, and even its placement and UV lighting. Realistically speaking, your glass tank should last around 15 – 20 years, so long as it consists of quality materials.

With proper maintenance, a high-end glass tank may last more than 25 years.

How Long Do Acrylic Tanks Last?

Acrylic tanks will underperform compared to glass tanks. An average acrylic tank will probably not last more than 7-10 years. There are several factors influencing the lifespan of an acrylic tank, including the manufacturing process and maintenance.

Most acrylic tanks have factory problems, especially if you’re getting them from unreliable sources. Poor manufacturing can cause problems with the panels and lead to residual stress during the molding process.

As a result, the panels may lose their structural integrity. This doesn’t mean that all acrylic tanks are garbage. You can find some really good products that may even outlast some subpar glass tanks. It all depends on where you’re getting them from and how reliable the seller is.

Glass Aquariums – Pros and Cons

If you’ve decided to purchase a glass tank, you must first be aware of its pluses and minuses. Knowing what to expect in this sense will allow you to make a more informed decision that you are unlikely to regret later.

Here are the defining pros and cons of glass and acrylic tanks:

– Glass Tank Pros

  • More affordable – This is a major plus, especially for novice fish keepers getting their first tank. You will probably have a lot of expenditures to worry about, including the fish, the tank equipment, the installation, etc. Saving money on the tank itself is a factor worth considering.
  • Scratch-resistant – This is another noteworthy asset. Glass tanks are more resilient to scratching, which is ideal if you aim to mount the tank in a more populated room.
  • Ensures a clearer view – Glass panels don’t distort vision and won’t turn yellow with time. These are common problems with acrylic tanks that could turn people off. Glass tanks are more reliable in this sense, providing the viewer with a clearer view of the aquatic habitat.
  • A non-porous design – Porous tank panels will lead to poor tank hygiene. Think of the construction of a tooth. The tooth has enamel, making its surface shiny, hard, and slippery, protecting it against bacteria and various chemicals that could erode it. The tooth’s root, however, doesn’t have enamel, but it’s porous instead. If the gum did not cover it, the root would host bacterial cultures that could adhere to its surface. That’s what tartar is. The tank functions pretty much the same, with its non-porous panels being impervious to chemicals and the accumulation of bacterial cultures.
  • Repairable – The tank’s sealing can erode with time or due to mechanical or chemical accidents. The good news is that the damages are repairable compared to acrylic tanks.

– Glass Tanks Cons

  • Can be very heavy – Glass tanks can sometimes be extremely heavy, making it difficult to transport and handle them. The problem is exacerbated when talking about 55+ gallon tanks that may be very difficult to transport or move around the house.
  • Limited range of designs – Glass is less prone to mechanical manipulation, resulting in less flexibility when it comes to shapes and styles. This can deprive glass tanks of the visual diversity that comes with acrylic products.

Acrylic Tank Pros and Cons

Now, let’s see what are the advantages and disadvantages of getting an acrylic fish tank:

– Acrylic Tanks Pros

  • Lightweight – Acrylic tanks are way lighter than their glass counterparts, allowing you to transport and move them throughout the house easier. This can be an excellent asset if you plan to relocate the tank into a different room or even a different home.
  • Provides more diversity – Acrylic is easier to manipulate into different forms compared to glass. This can lead to interesting ideas for various shapes that glass tanks can’t provide.
  • Higher resistance to impact – Accidents can happen and, when they do, you will be grateful you’ve chosen an acrylic tank. As you may know, glass doesn’t do well in cases of high-force impacts; acrylic does.

– Acrylic Tanks Cons

  • More expensive – This may come as a surprise, but acrylic tanks are more expensive. It must have to do with the manufacturing process.
  • More prone to design flaws – This is usually a result of the acrylic’s flexible nature, making it more susceptible to design flaws. These are usually minor inconveniences, but some can turn into serious structural problems.
  • Porous design – We’ve already discussed this in the glass tank session. Acrylic is porous, which means it is more susceptible to bacterial accumulation. Its porous nature is also responsible for the tank panels turning yellow over time.
  • Distorts the view – Acrylic panels will deform the view due to their internal composition. The material tends to be more flexible and comes with internal imperfections that will distort the light passing through. This will alter the view of the aquatic habitat, which can prove annoying at times.
  • More difficult to repair – Acrylic tanks are more difficult to repair in case of damaged seals.

How To Make Your Aquarium Last Longer?

You will naturally want to preserve the tank as much as possible, at which point you have several aspects to consider:

  • Getting the tank from a reliable source – I suggest purchasing the tank from reputed producers only. This will act as an extra warranty of the product’s quality, ensuring a longer lifespan.
  • Consider the tank’s placement – You want to place your aquarium preferably in a more secluded area that’s less prone to accidents. You would be astounded at how many such accidents happen due to poor tank placement. Most of these are minor, only resulting in scratches. Over time, however, the cumulative effect of all these minor accidents can disrupt the tank’s aesthetic effect.
  • Don’t do repairs yourself – If possible, don’t repair the tank yourself in case of structural problems. By doing so, you risk making the situation worse. Unless it’s something minor, I recommend contacting a professional to ensure quality work with minimal fallout.
  • Regular cleaningKeeping your tank in pristine condition is also a must for prolonging its lifespan. However, don’t clean the tank with any alcohol-based substances or corrosive substances not to damage the sealant.

How Long Do Juwel Tanks Last?

Juwel tanks are leading products on the market, with the company seemingly producing some of the most resilient aquariums available. With proper care and maintenance, a Juwel aquarium should last at least 20 years and counting.

If you’re interested in finding more about their tank services, decorations, warranties, and other accessories, check the company’s website. They produce everything aquarium-related, including filters, automatic feeders, adjustable heaters, cleaners, etc.

Conclusion

Overall, glass tanks are more resilient and reliable in the long run but are also heavier and less impervious to impact. On the other hand, acrylic tanks come in more shapes and are impervious to high-impact accidents but lack the clarity of the former.

What you choose ultimately rests on you. I would recommend a high-end glass tank from a reputed company that specializes in top-notch aquariums. Your tank can last for a lifetime with proper maintenance and care.

avatar I’m Fabian, aquarium fish breeder and founder of this website. I’ve been keeping fish, since I was a kid. On this blog, I share a lot of information about the aquarium hobby and various fish species that I like. Please leave a comment if you have any question.

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Questions and Answers

Hi Fabian, just passing a reported awareness about glass vs acrylic tanks, from an aged Aquarium hobbyist of many years.
When an older glass tank begins to leak for whatever reason, it a slow noticeable process, usually giving time to save livestock, been there, pentagon shaped tank! An older acrylic tank reportedly may and usually bursts open violently, without signs of leakage. Two trusted suppliers and long time tank suppliers who sell both types of tanks have mentioned and experienced this consideration. I have not, and tend to pass up those stylish acrylic tanks. Preferring an easily cleaned, and maintained to sparkling clear glass tanks with square 90 degree mated corners. Best to you, Richly Rewarded

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