The practice of keeping aquariums came about in the late 1800's. They were fairly crude unlike the modern acrylic aquariums of today. Usually these ancient aquariums only had one side that was made of glass, with the other three sides being made of metal or wood.
Lets dive in.
The Evolution Of Acrylic Aquariums
Most ancient aquariums consisted of fish that were native to the region of its owner simply because of availability. Also most old school fish tanks contained only fresh water fish. The reason being that salt water would corrode the metal frame that held the aquarium together.
Aquariums drastically changed in the 1960's with the invention of silicone adhesive. Metal frames became obsolete and more people started to keep salt water fish and invertebrates.
More recently glass tanks have become less frequently used due to the flexibility of acrylic. Literally flexibility! Acrylic aquariums are far more forgiving than their glass counterparts.
If a heavy object strikes a glass tank, it will almost certainly break. The flexibility of an acrylic tank will prevent this catastrophe from happening.
In addition, acrylic offers more flexibility in design than glass. Acrylic aquariums have been made into everything from coffee tables to gum ball machines.
That being said, there is a short downfall to owning acrylic aquariums. They do scratch more easily than glass. When cleaning your aquarium, be careful not to use paper towels and harsh or abrasive chemicals as they can scratch the acrylic surface of the aquarium.
Always use a cleaner specifically labelled safe for acrylic. Use plastic or rubber scrubbers, rather than metal to clean the sides of acrylic aquariums. Be careful not to accidentally pick up a piece of substrate or gravel while cleaning the inside of the tank.
However, if you do happen to scratch acrylic aquariums, all is not lost. The tank can be repaired, unlike glass. There are acrylic repair kits available at specialty pet stores, your local hardware store and of course online.
When purchasing acrylic aquariums, there will be many different options to choose from, at many different price points. Aquarium kits can be purchased at places such as specialty aquatic pet stores, from huge retail chains, or again online.
A fish lover can choose from small cylinder shaped tanks that can double as a coffee table lamp to huge wall sized aquariums.
While there are some basic things that will be included in most kits, such as, a filter, some substrate or coral and sometimes lighting, the acrylic aquariums themselves can vary greatly.
It really doesn't matter where you buy acrylic aquariums, but keep in mind that it is extremely important to buy your fish from a reputable dealer. Don't buy fish that are hovering near the surface, or that are located in a tank with other dead fish. Fish diseases are extremely communicable and you do not want to introduce them to your tank .
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