Aquatics Blog

All about Acrylic Aquariums          
The practice of keeping aquariums came about in the late 1800’s.  The pastime of keeping fish was very limited.  Usually these ancient aquariums were built with only one side made of glass with the other three sides being made of metal or wood.  Most aquariums consisted of fish that were native to the region of the aquarist simply because of the availability.  Also most old school fish tanks contained only fresh water fish. The salt water was thought to corrode the metal frame that held the aquarium together therefor not taking a chance with the structure.          
Aquariums made their biggest changes and swing in popularity in the 1960’s with the invention of silicone glue.  Metal frames built with the aquarium were becoming less used and more and more people started to venture into salt water fish and invertebrates.  More recently acrylic aquarium started coming about and began their  rise in popularity.  Acrylic is made of a plastic which assured a much lighter material to make aquariums out of, rather then the glass counterpart.  Acrlyic aquariums do not use a silicone adhesive to combine the joints but instead use a bonding glue that literally fuses and bonds the seams togehter chemically.  These plastic buit aquariums are very flexible and far more for forgiving than there glass counterparts.  If any rock or large object hits a glass tank it will almost certainly break or shatter.  The flexibility of an acrylic tank will hopefully prevent the tank from breaking.  In addition acrylic offers more versitility in design its design option rather than glass.  Acrylic you can bend and form into shapes/curves that you just cant do with glass.  These are not the only advantages in fact most advantages point to an acrylic aquarium besides the scratching aspect.  Acrylic tanks are:        
Easily Machinable           
Can be bent into shapes and curves          
Is physically more optically clear             

That being said  there is a downfall to owning an acrylic aquarium.  They do scratch much easier than glass.  When cleaning your acrylic aquarium be careful not to use abrasive towels and harsh chemicals as they can scratch the acrylic surface of the aquarium.  Always use a cleaner specifically labeled for acrylic and plastic. Use plastic, rubber, or acrylic safe scrubbers rather than metal to clean the algae from the sides of an acrylic tank. When cleaning your acrylic aquarium be careful not to accidentally pick up a piece of substrate or gravel you could mistakenly scratch the inside or outside of the tank.  However if this does happen it is not impossible to get the scratches out.  The tank can be repaired unlike glass.  There are acrylic scratch removal kits such as Novus Acrylic Polishes or PentAir Aquariums Scratch Removal sand paper kit.
Acrylic aquarium can be a great option to purchase if you require a special shape and size.  For our store in particular the availability of acrylic aquarium is a bit harder then glass aquariums.  Acrylic aquariums mostly all need to be special ordered, while standard size glass aquariums can be ordered weekly. 

Whether you choose glass or acrylic make sure you understand the care for each aquarium and make sure to get adequate filtration, lighting, and heaters to have a successful tank.  Landscape your aquarium for the correct habitat you have chosen and most of all have fun and be patient with your hobby.

Acrylic Aquarium Advantages

If youre shopping for aquarium you may be feeling frustrated or confused about whether to get an acrylic aquarium or a glass aquarium. In fact, they each have their strong points, neither is always the right choice. Use these facts to simplify your decision and choose with confidence.  These are the selling point to Acrylic Aquariums.

  • Strength: Acrylic aquariums are 6-17 times stronger than glass aquariums. This gives acrylic aquariums, especially larger ones, a wider safety margin when it comes to the possibility of a tank breaking.
  • Flexible: Acrylic is not rigidit has give. If accidentally bumped into, the chance of an acrylic aquarium breaking is much less than glass. If an acrylic aquarium did break, it would crack slightly, not explode.
  • Clarity: Acrylic allows 92 percent of light to pass while glass allows 70 percent. This means you see more of the true colors of the fish.
  • Insulative: Acrylic is a thermoplastic. It holds heat much better than glass. If you have a power failure, you acrylic aquarium will take much longer to cool down than a glass aquarium.
  • Machinable: Acrylic can be cut, drilled, routed, and machined any way imaginable without loss of strength. Glass loses much strength when drilled.
  • Seamless: Acrylic can be molecularly bondedmelted together. The aquarium is a one-piece unit. You will not have the problems of leaks or seams splitting, which is an inherent problem with glass tanks.
  • Lighter: Acrylic is 48 percent the weight of glass. Two people can carry an eight foot (300 gallon) aquarium, while it would take four to six people to lift the same aquarium made of glass.

Which Is Right for You?
A Fish Only Aquarium or A Reef Aquarium


Fish Only Tank or Reef Is a Key Decision
Before purchasing ANY equipment, you should decide on what type of environment (or set-up) you want – a fish only or a reef tank. Some may argue that a fish only tank is easier to keep, as fishes can withstand a greater degree of pollution and water quality fluctuations. A “reef” tank though slightly more difficult, is much more interesting, and gives one a greater sense of achievement and satisfaction. Many people start off with a fish only tank, only to upgrade to a reef tank later. This invariably results in some equipment having to be replaced, because they did not buy “reef quality” originally. It’s a good idea to buy your equipment with a reef tank in mind, even though you may initially plan to keep only fish.

Is “Fish Only” Easier To Keep Than “Reef”?
The general statement that “a fish only system is easier to keep” (or that “invertebrates are a lot harder to keep”) is very misleading, and totally unfair to novice marine aquarists.

Let me explain:

Keeping “easy” inverts, such as some species of soft corals, cleaner shrimps, featherduster worms, etc. are actually easier than keeping fish. They cause much less pollution, and therefore place less of a bio load on the system, which maker filtration a lot less critical. They don’t get diseases such as “ich”, and many do not need much feeding either. You do need a minimum amount of light in order to keep corals and other photosynthetic animals. Fortunately the easier “low light” softies, such as brown or green Star Polyps (Pachyclavutaria and Briareum spp.), Mushroom corals (Sarcophyton sp.) and Devils Hand or Finger leather corals can be kept under normal fluorescent lights – though you would need quite a few tubes….

The “difficult” part of keeping a reef tank is when you also want lots of fish in it. This just does not work very well, and is not recommended for “newbies”. Rather start off with a “marginal reef” tank, with lots of live rock, a live sand bed substrate (both very important elements of your filtration, as well as being interesting in their own right), some “easy” corals, some tube worms, etc. and only a few reef compatible fish.

Do your research first, though. Learn as much as you can about the different filtration methods, compatibility of livestock, food and feeding, and everything else you can pick up. Then, carefully plan your setup, and GO SLOWLY. In this hobby there is a saying~

In A Reef Aquarium, Only Bad Things Happen Quickly
If you stock your aquarium before it has cycled properly, you will probably kill your animals. If you stock too rapidly, your tank will have another ammonia/nitrite spike, again probably killing your animals. At best, you will have problem algae, and sick fish. Remember that this is a long-term hobby. It is not uncommon for a tank to only stabilize properly after a minimum of 6 months. Your corals can outlive you, and even the most common fish can live quite some time, if you do your bit….

Youll find everything you need in our on-line store or stop into our Renton, Washington store.

Next, follow these Ten Easy Steps to Successful Freshwater Aquarium Installation to get your tank setup and ready for fish.

Setting Up a Marine Aquarium | Cycling A System with Live “Uncured” Rock | Reef Basics


“Cycling” a New System with Uncured Live Rock

Uncured Live Rock is rock that come straight from the ocean source.  The rock is collected and then can take several days to get transported and several weeks or even months before it gets into an aquarium or water again.  Fortunately with several types of “reef rock” or natural created aragonite rock, the practice of getting live rock from the ocean is occurring less and less.  Countries where this live rock was once sourced have put regulations on the amount of rock that can be collected and more and more consumers are switching to eco-friendly rock for their reef tank. 
This article will go over the advantages and disadvantages of getting live rock that is straight from the ocean and allowing that rock to cycle your aquarium.  

Introduce the live rock after the tank has been up about a week, and use it to cycle the tank. Wait at least two months before introducing the first fish.


  • You don’t stress (or kill) any fish, and do not have to add fish that you will have to remove at a later stage.
  • You don’t need to buy fully cured live rock In fact, the cheaper, uncured live rock causes a better cycle, and usually have more diverse life forms in/on them.
  • You can introduce all the rock at once, do your “rockscaping”, and have the tank completely set up when introducing the first fish.
  • You will have amazing growth of whatever comes on the live rock – with no fish to eat them, you will get all kinds of macro algae, feather duster worms, soft polyps, even some corals, growing.
  • You will also enable the “small life”, such as copepods and amphipods, to establish and multiply to such an extent that they should survive being eaten by your fish. Obviously, if you only have 2 or 3 of a species of fish to start off with, and they’re eaten by a fish on the very first day, none will multiply after that.


  • You will have to wait before you introduce any fish.
  • Because the initial bio load was smaller, you will have to add your fish at a much slower tempo to avoid causing another ammonia/nitrite spike.
  • You might have some algae growing on the live rock.
  • This is usually not a problem, though, as you start off with a nutrient poor set-up, which can be easily maintained, as there are no fish to feed. Also, the growing macro algae compete for nutrients, thereby restricting the growth of nuisance algae.
  • The ammonia and nitrite levels will spike to unsafe levels which will cause water cloudiness and possible foul odors.
  • You must wait a longer time to make sure all the live rock gets cured and then can add your starter fish into the system.

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