If you’re looking to pick up a new tank, an acrylic fish tank is something you’re probably considering.
And for good reason.
Acrylic fish tanks offer a handful of significant benefits that can give you peace of mind when it comes to your tank. No matter if you’re a seasoned fish keeper or a brand new hobbyist, there’s probably an acrylic aquarium tank that makes sense for you.
Table of Contents
- The Advantages Of Acrylic Fish Tanks
- The Downsides
- The Best Acrylic Fish Tanks
- Some Other Strong Options
The Advantages Of Acrylic Fish Tanks
There are a number of benefits and advantages to using an acrylic fish tank. In fact, acrylic fish tanks are now considered the cream of the crop when it comes to getting a high-quality tank that will last a long time.
There are a few main reasons for this:
The first is strength. Acrylic is extremely strong, especially when compared to glass. The reason for this it’s mostly because of the way it’s constructed.
All sides of the tank are attached at a chemical level which means there really are no weak points. When you compare this to glass tanks it becomes obvious why this is such a massive advantage.
Glass tanks are simply attached and held togetherWith an adhesive. This means that if the adhesive gets weaker over time, so will your tank.
This also means that acrylic aquarium tanks tend to be much nicer to look at when compared to glass. The fact that the corners and joints are seamlessly attached without any other materials in the way makes for a much nicer viewing experience.
Another major advantage that acrylic fish tanks provide is weight. Acrylic is very light which makes moving the tank around in your home or setting it up for the first time is way easier.
If you’re someone who has multiple tanks or is going through the process of needing to re-organize the location aquariums in your home then you know firsthand how awkward that process can be. Lighter tanks lead to a safer move for your equipment and yourself.
There are countless horror stories out there about people who have broken their tanks or injured themselves by trying to move a hefty glass tank. Every single one of those people wishes they had gone with an acrylic fish tank instead.
The overall viewing experience and material clarity is nicer with acrylic as well. You will never see any tint or discoloration with Acrylic.
We’re talking crystal clear.
Well made modern acrylic aquariums stay clear pretty much forever. This means that as your tank ages you can still expect a great viewing experience.
A lot of tank owners who transition from glass to acrylic are blown away when they notice the difference. Over time they got used to a slight tint and it began to look normal. Then when they see how colorful and vibrant their aquatic life looks in an acrylic tank the vow to never go back.
If you’ve ever been to a famous public aquarium and we’re blown away at how sharp and detailed the fish looked, that’s because of two things: great water quality and an acrylic tank.
Lastly, if you go with an acrylic fish tank you’ll be able to more accurately maintain water temperature. This is due to the insulative nature of the material. This will allow you to have more confidence in the stability of your tank and it’s ability to support the aquatic life inside it.
While we’ve given a pretty glowing review of acrylic fish tanks as a whole so far, there are a few downsides that you’ll need to be aware of.
The first and most obvious downside to going with an acrylic fish tank is the price. All of those advantages we listed earlier come would’ve cost, and if you have a small budget or are just starting out then it might simply be too much money to justify the purchase.
Not only is the material more expensive but the delivery cost is often super high as well. This often surprises potential buyers who didn’t factor this in when crunching the numbers on their budget.
The cause of this high delivery cost is scratch-protection. Acrylic fish tanks can be prone to scratches, and manufacturers go to great lengths to make sure that a scratch doesn’t occur during transport.
Like we mentioned above, acrylic aquariums are scratch magnets when compared to glass. This isn’t a deal-breaker for most owners since the pros outweigh the cons, but it is something to be aware of.
There’s nothing more upsetting than spending a lot of money on a brand new tank only to have it get scratched by a minor bump. Over time if you accumulate enough scratches the visual appeal and clarity of your tank will diminish and you’ll need to do something about it.
Fortunately, it is possible to refinish an acrylic fish tank. This is one of the main reasons why a lot of owners aren’t that worried about the scratch-factor. If your tank gets enough scratches on it that it’s starting to get in the way of your ability to clearly see the fish inside, you just pay to have it refinished.
Yes, this is another expense you’ll have to consider (especially if you’re a clutz or live in a house with kids). However, most people don’t take the leap to acrylic if they’re worried about the price.
The Best Acrylic Fish Tanks
This buyer guide on the best acrylic fish tanks is a little different than a lot of the other ones we’ve created. The reason for this is that there’s one tank making company that does a fantastic job.
And that company is SeaClear.
SeaClear has been making some awesome acrylic aquariums for years now, and they have a very impressive track record. We’ve heard from tons of people who love their products, and our experience has been fantastic as well.
On the other hand, there aren’t many other non-custom acrylic manufacturers that impress us. The acrylic fish tank space is mostly a world focused on custom-builds (and there are some amazing ones out there). This means for those interested in buying a standard kit your options are pretty slim.
That’s why this buyer guide on the best acrylic fish tanks is formatted a bit differently. Instead of a massive list featuring different manufacturers, we’ll highlight our favorite acrylic SeaClear products which should be all you need to get started. We’ll also throw in a couple of additional recommendations from some other high-quality kit makers.
Here we go!
- Durable and clear
- Comes with reflectors and electrical light fixtures
- No metal frame keeps the design nice and clean
If you’re looking for a 15 gallon acrylic fish tank then the SeaClear is a fantastic option for you. It comes with reflectors and electrical light fixtures in the kit so it will be easy for you to quickly put the tank to use.
The hexagon design offers a unique look, especially in such a small tank. You can easily view your fish and aquatic life from any angle with this tank. It’s compact and durable and can function as a starter kit or an aquarium to compliment any room.
The acrylic material choice really compliments the hexagon design. All of the corners are seamless and don’t distract your eyes when you’re trying to view the aquatic life (unlike some glass tanks).
There isn’t a metal frame anywhere on the kit which also adds to the aesthetic appeal. That plus the low-weight factor means that this will be easy to reposition if you decide that you want to move the tank at some point. 15 gallon tanks are very move-friendly.
You can house freshwater and saltwater fish in this aquarium with no problems and you’ll still have some options for customizing your setup if you choose to do so. We’ve heard nothing but great reviews from people who own this acrylic aquarium, and we highly suggest that you give it a shot if the size fits what you’re looking for.
- Comes with fixtures and reflectors
- The acrylic makes for a great viewing experience even through the corners
- Easy to move
- It doesn’t come with a filter
- Finding a good-looking location for a small hexagon tank is harder than you think
- 17 times stronger than glass and only half the weight
- Includes reflectors and light fixtures
- Second to none clarity view optimal viewing
This is another fantastic acrylic fish tank choice from SeaClear. For some reason, we’ve found that a lot of people seem to prefer the 15 gallon option when they go for a smaller kit buy, but this tank really impressed us as well.
It’s extremely durable, easy on the eyes, and comes with the same staple light fixture and reflector combo that all SeaClear acrylic fish tank kits offer. The extra five gallons give you a little more flexibility with what fish you want to include in your tank, and for saltwater reefers especially that’s very welcome.
It doesn’t come with a filter so you will need to pick one of those up on your own. This isn’t a huge deal and given the affordability of such a high-quality acrylic aquarium we don’t think it should be a dealbreaker for anyone. Most of the feedback we’ve seen echoes this hunch.
The holes that are in the tank are necessary for feeding your fish and adding any additional gear you need for your tank setup. A lot of other reviews have complained about the fixed lid, but we didn’t think it was that big of a deal. This is a small tank and therefor you’re working with smaller gear. A fixed lid on larger aquarium kits can be more of a pain to deal with.
- It ships with reflectors and fixtures just like all the other SeaClear kit options
- The footprint makes this tank easy to put anywhere
- The extra five gallons opens up your saltwater fish options considerably
- Some customers dislike the fixed lid setup
- Includes 24 inch light fixture
- More impact resistant and less prone to chipping or cracking than glass
- Safe for Salt or Freshwater
This mid-size option is a great acrylic fish tank that seems to be flying off the shelves. We personally know three people who own this kit and have nothing but good things to say about it.
When it comes to the features of this acrylic fish tank you can basically consider it the big brother to the 20 gallon option. With this size, you’re starting to approach territory where you need to think about making space. Smaller tanks don’t have this issue as much.
It sticks with the same fixed-top design that the other SeaClear acrylic aquariums offer. If you’re not a fan of that you’re going to have to deal with it unfortunately. The upside of this is that you can rest a little easier knowing the chance that one of your fish can jump out is very, very low.
There has been some confusion online about the color options and what that pertains to. With this acrylic fish tank kit, you only have the option to customize the color of the back wall. The main body of the unit has one fixed colorway.
- Great mid-sized option if you’re looking for a 30 gallon tank
- The light fixture can house a very large bulb
- There have been some reported issues with the light fixture being a little flimsy
- It’s a little tricky to reach inside the tank due to the fixed hood
- Clearer and stronger than glass
- Impact resistant and less prone to chipping
- Easy to move and set up
This is probably one of the best, but most under-appreciated, acrylic fish tank kits out there. It seems like a lot of people who are thinking larger than 30 gallons make the jump right to 50 (and we can’t blame them).
However, that doesn’t mean that this 40 gallon acrylic fish tank isn’t worth the purchase. In fact, we think it offers some of the best value for your money!
The most impressive thing about acrylic is that even as the size of the fish tank gets larger, it stays durable. Like hammer-resistant durable.
If you’re someone who is thinking about going with an acrylic fish tank that isn’t bite-sized we definitely recommend the 40 gallon model. If you do the math on your space and think that 50 is a little large you have a great option that’s just a little bit smaller.
- Very good value buy for an acrylic aquarium
- Nice “in-between” size that can still fit in a wide range of places
- If you’re looking for a large acrylic fish tank this probably isn’t big enough for you
- The fixed lid continues to be an annoyance the larger you go
- Extremely clear for optimal viewing
- Comes with 24 inch light fixtures
- Stronger and less prone to chipping than glass
Last but not least we have the 50 gallon SeaClear acrylic fish tank. This rounds out our top to bottom product line review and this is probably the most popular of the bunch.
For starters, it’s an incredible buy when it comes to the cost. If you’re someone who is looking for a tank that can house a decent amount of fish, but doesn’t want to go through the hassle of getting a custom build, this is your solution.
You get a 24 inch light fixture and reflector that will be more than enough for the tank size. It’s incredibly strong (of course) so you don’t have to worry about babying it as well.
When you start to approach 50 gallon territory things can begin to get complex. Fortunately, this acrylic aquarium takes a lot of the guesswork out of things by giving you a kit that simply does the job.
- Great price for what you get
- No drop off in build quality
- Light fixture size is more than enough to get the job done
- The fixture can be a little fragile (aka weak in some units)
Some Other Strong Options
Just because we’re huge fans of SeaClear, it doesn’t mean there aren’t great acrylic fish tank options from other brands. There aren’t a ton of quality offerings that aren’t custom builds, but here are a couple we’re a fan of.
- Includes a hood, heater, filter, food, and more
- Blue LED light adds a unique aesthetic
- Lightweight but durable acrylic body
There’s something about the packaging and brand name of this acrylic aquarium kit that seems to throw people off.
We kind of get it. It looks sort of childish when you look at the box.
But this tank kit packs a punch. It comes loaded with pretty much everything you need to get started.
We’re talking heaters, LED hoods, LED light sticks, plants, and fish food. They really don’t mess around!
The lighting really makes the fish and plants stand out. And if you pick up some GloFish for this tank you’ll be mesmerized by the light show!
It’s also a very low-maintenance tank. The equipment it comes with are quiet and efficient which is not very common in the kit world.
The biggest downside is that you don’t have many options when it comes to the kind of fish you can keep in this tank. GloFish and bettas are pretty much your pool of options. If you’re someone who is looking to start maintaining a more complex aquatic ecosystem, this is probably not the tank for you.
- Solid build quality (tank and parts)
- The LEDs make the fish look amazing
- Not a lot of viable fish options
- Energy efficient hidden LEDs illuminate your aquarium
- The Mechanical filter pulls water from the aquarium and pushes it through the filter cartridge
- Kit uses ultra activated carbon for superior removal of odors and discoloration
This is a fun little acrylic fish tank that offers a unique design and solid build quality. At 5 gallons you’re not going to be keeping anything massive, but it makes a nice low maintenance tank to complement a desk or room.
Unlike some of the other kits we’ve covered this tank does come with a mechanical filter, so you won’t need to run out to the store and pick one up.
One of our favorite features the Tetra Crescent offers is the discrete LEDs. They’re tucked away to provide a nice effect and are very energy efficient.
This is an affordable tank that can be a fantastic introduction to fishkeeping, while still offering the solid build quality and durability that acrylic aquarium tanks are known for.
- The hidden LEDs are fantastic
- Tank design is a fun alternative to the rectangular and hexagonal tanks we see so often
- Very low ceiling in terms of the amount of aquatic life you can keep in this tank