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How Thick Does Acrylic Need to Be for an Aquarium?

Even though aquariums are thought to be just luxurious decor, there’s a lot of thought that goes behind them. If you’re interested in investing in an acrylic one, there are several characteristics you should be aware of. But how thick does acrylic need to be for an aquarium?

Since aquariums are expensive, this article will focus on how thick acrylic needs to be to ensure you’re getting the best quality for your money. You’ll also learn about the importance of its specific thickness and how to calculate it. Several factors affect this choice, so you’ll be fully informed before purchasing. 

By discovering how to maintain it, you’ll guarantee a longer-lasting aquarium without many repairs. Hence, continue reading to discover how thick of acrylic for aquarium is needed and the reasons behind it!

How Thick Does Acrylic Need to Be for an Aquarium?

Whether you’re considering investing in a professional aquarium or want to extend your hobby, ensuring its quality is essential. 

Since acrylic aquariums are more expensive than glass ones, you should always check their quality before spending money on them. Therefore, you should also know what thickness acrylic for aquarium is required. Simply put, a general rule is to add 0.125 inches for every 6 inches in the aquarium’s height.

Several factors play an important role when deciding how thick of acrylic for aquarium is needed, but two are the most critical:

  • Volume and dimensions
  • Structural integrity

Volume and dimensions

When deciding on the thickness of your acrylic aquarium, you should measure it based on the overall volume. Thus, the bigger your aquarium is, the thicker the acrylic needs to be. You should pay close attention to these requirements so that your aquarium can hold the water pressure.

If you’re planning on a bigger aquarium, you shouldn’t worry about the transparency. It will maintain a clear and undistorted view even if the panel is thicker.

Choosing the ideal aquarium volume is based on a general rule of thumb. You should calculate one gallon per inch of fish if you’re getting fish under three inches

On the other hand, for fish over the three-inch limit, you should apply three gallons. During these calculations, also remember the aquarium decoration you plan on using since they also take up space.

Furthermore, you should measure the space dedicated to this unique decor. Placement is highly important for acrylic aquariums, so take the time to calculate it right. 

Remember not to expose them to direct sunlight or place them on insufficient support because they can easily get damaged.

How to calculate the acrylic sheet thickness

If you’re planning on investing in a customized tank, there’s precise math involved in this calculation. During this process, you should focus on the height and length of the aquarium, the water pressure, and the maximum permissible stress. 

You can check out online acrylic thickness calculators to get precise measurements for your acrylic aquarium.

In general, here are the most common acrylic aquarium heights and the thickness needed:

  • From 0 to 12 inches height – ¼ inch acrylic sheet thickness.
  • From 13 to 19 inches height – ⅜ inch acrylic sheet thickness.
  • From 20 to 25 inches height – ½ inch acrylic sheet thickness.

If you’re building a custom aquarium, you can add another 0.125 inches in thickness for every additional 6 inches in height.

calculate the acrylic sheet thickness
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: Cat Us

Structural integrity

The second element you should consider when deciding on the thickness is the acrylic aquarium’s structural integrity. Even though acrylic plastic is impact resistant, it still sustains damage over time. So, ensure to use the same thickness for the top and bottom as you did for the walls.

If you mismatch the thickness, the aquarium may bow out and cause damage. Since acrylic aquariums have weaker bottoms than glass ones, you should always ensure its gauge isn’t thinner than the walls. 

Furthermore, you can add an integrated top to your aquarium to hold all the pieces together. The main use of solid bottom and top pieces is to ensure the aquarium doesn’t bow out over time and cause unnecessary issues.

Even though acrylic aquariums require a specific thickness, they’re always thinner than glass ones. They can resist water pressure better and are easily drillable. Due to that, you can further customize your aquarium and even build advanced filtration systems, which isn’t possible with glass tanks.

How to Ensure the Safety of Your Acrylic Aquarium

Even though you’ve decided on what thickness acrylic for aquarium is best to use, there are several safety measures you should consider to make it last longer. These include:

  • Assembly process
  • Placement
  • Support
  • Regular maintenance

Assembly process

The acrylic panels should not be glued together when crafting an acrylic aquarium. Instead, they’re welded together with a chemical process. So, ensure there isn’t any glue or silicone on your tank. 

Additionally, the pieces of this type of aquarium aren’t usually parallel or flat, and the parts have to be under constant pressure during the assembly. It’s best to hire a professional service that has experience in the welding process and that uses high-quality materials

You may have solvent bubbles and puddles if it isn’t done properly. 

Placement

As mentioned, placement has an important role in choosing acrylic thickness and ensuring your aquarium is safe. First, you have to choose the ideal spot that’s out of direct sun exposure. Remember that this material is still made of plastic and isn’t UV resistant. So, when exposed to constant ultraviolet lights, it will start developing a yellow tint that messes up the clarity.

Even though acrylic aquariums are compatible with being built within walls, you should always ensure that there’s not much activity around them. This will prevent your aquarium from being damaged and getting scratched up. Even though acrylics have better impact resistance, they are easily scratchable.

Next, you should carefully measure the space. Plan your aquarium according to your desired placement to avoid any difficulties afterward. You can easily calculate how thick the acrylic walls should be with the proper proportions. Don’t overlook this step since it’ll ensure your aquarium is solid and long-lasting. 

Lastly, you can set up the aquarium to connect your plumbing to it easily. This will be beneficial in the long run when you have to change the water and do regular maintenance.

How to Ensure the Safety of Your Acrylic Aquarium
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: FamVeld

Support

The next thing you should consider is providing the necessary support. This is mainly due to the acrylic aquarium’s weak bottom. While glass ones have sturdy bottoms and require only partial support, an acrylic aquarium needs full solid support to avoid a disaster. If a problem occurs, it can put both your fish and property at risk.

Always take the time to plan out a strong support system in detail to prevent any issues. When needed, integrate a top piece to fully bring the aquarium together and better its stability. You don’t want the aquarium to start bowing out and becoming unrecognizable when you can easily prevent it. 

Furthermore, adequate support will help you ensure there’s no damage done to your property. Whether you’re planning on getting the aquarium for personal use or business, remember that wooden flooring can easily get damaged if there’s a leak. 

Regular maintenance

Regular maintenance is a must for any aquarium. You should also know how to take care of it after learning how thick does acrylic need to be for an aquarium? This will further improve the aquarium’s quality and ensure it lasts as long as possible.

Part of the normal maintenance process includes cleaning the aquarium thoroughly. This process includes carefully picking which chemicals are suitable for your acrylic aquarium. 

Since the material’s structure is very porous, it can easily absorb any toxins which can damage its integrity. Regardless of the thickness of the panels, always use compatible cleaning supplies.

You should also pay close attention to the water’s chemical balance to further ensure its safety. This is crucial for your fish and aquarium, so do it regularly. 

Furthermore, you should avoid overstocking your tank, not only with fish but with decorations as well. If you don’t have enough space to clean the aquarium easily, you may damage it during the process. 

Many decorations have rough edges that can scratch the walls when pressed against them. Luckily for you, we offer a scratch removal service.

Once again, the thickness of the acrylic panels won’t prevent this, so it depends highly on you.

Conclusion

How thick does acrylic need to be for an aquarium? After discovering it, ensure you get precise measurements of your tank. This will help you calculate the ideal thickness based on height, length, water pressure, and structural integrity. 

Remember that having a high-quality and safe aquarium ensures there’s no damage done to your fish and the aquarium itself.

If you need help during this process, always contact a professional service that can do the work for you. However, ensure they have long-lasting experience designing customized aquariums with high-quality materials. 

Lastly, regularly maintain your acrylic aquarium to ensure it lasts longer!

Neal Moir

Neal Moir

is the owner at Titan Aquatic Exhibits and brings more than a decade in aquarium and acrylic pool wall manufacturing experience.

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