Aquarium glass – what you should know

Aquarium glass types and glass thickness

If you want to buy an aquarium or build an aquarium, the first thing you usually have to do is choose the type of glass and of course the question: How thick does the aquarium glass have to be? Don’t worry, we explain everything, one by one.

Float glass or white glass?

Now you not only have to decide whether to choose an aquarium made of plastic or glass, you also have to acquire expertise in different types of glass. Don’t panic, the differences are quickly explained. White glass is a slightly more expensive float glass.

Float glass

The float glass available on the market is not translucent at short wavelength ranges such as UV radiation. The stronger the aquarium glass is, the more you can see a green tint in sunlight. This becomes very visible at the edges of the aquarium. A lot of wind is blowing around this topic, but nevertheless it should be said that the right place to set up the aquarium is a place with as little daylight as possible. That means you run your aquarium with artificial light, so you won’t notice much of the green cast either. If the corners of the aquarium are exposed, you can play it safe by choosing white glass. By the way, the outdated term crystal mirror glass still appears in some places, this is nothing else than float glass, so don’t let it unsettle you.

The thicker you choose float glass, the more you will notice the green tint. The reason for this is the quartz sand containing iron oxide. When sunlight hits a glass, for example, all colour components such as blue, yellow and red are absorbed and filtered out. Only the green remains. With normal float glass, the iron oxide content is around 800 ppm [parts per million]

White glass

White glass is a high-quality float glass. This white glass has a reduced content of iron oxide. This means that it is particularly lightfast and transparent in the entire spectral range. This eliminates the optical blemish green cast. During the glass melting process, the iron oxide content is reduced to below 200 parts per million due to raw materials low in iron oxide. I think that the use of white glass is not necessary, but if you have the necessary change for the extra price, you can of course choose the perfect glass.

Which glass is better?

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As already described, this is about light fastness, i.e. colour neutrality and transparency. The clear winner without a green cast is the white glass. In terms of price, the standard float glass is the winner. There is no difference between the glass types in terms of durability.

Optiwhite, Ultra Clear and Diamond

The terms mentioned are not independent types of glass, but brands of glass manufacturers. There are many other names of glass manufacturers around the globe. What they all have in common is that they are all float glass. Everyone can choose his aquarium glass freely but I would choose either a German or European glass. The quality of glass in Europe is subject to strict quality standards and the quality and stability is very good. So I see no reason to ship glass once around the globe to choose a well-known brand name.

Glass thickness for the aquarium

How thick must the aquarium glass be?

In order that the aquarium construction or the new acquisition does not end in a disaster, you should pay attention to the correct glass thickness. Due to the large amount of water the tank is under tension and the pressure is very high. Therefore it is absolutely necessary to use the right glass thickness. Often very cheap aquariums or aquariums from the DIY store are a few millimeters thinner than it would be good. Surely you can turn a blind eye to this, but you should not give up security because of a few Euros. If you have been running a too thin aquarium for a long time, please leave a comment with your experiences.

Let’s get to the hard facts after long stories – the technical info. Float glass is normally available in glass thicknesses from 2-19 mm. The dimensions given show the thickness of the side windows. The base plate should be thicker. If you simply take the bottom pane one size thicker, it will fit.

There are two types, one with cross bracing and one without cross bracing. The bracing is for extra safety. Aquarium constructions with bracing are called four-sided storage, with no bracing you talk about three-sided storage. If you convert an entire house into an aquarium, you will of course need thicker glass than 19 mm. Here the same glass is used, which is glued in several layers. This is how the term laminated glass is created.

Calculate glass thickness aquarium

Glass thickness mm Support on four sides
Height cmWidth:40 cm50 cm60 cm70 cm80 cm90 cm100 cm110 cm120 cm130 cm140 cm150 cm160 cm170 cm180 cm190 cm200 cm
Glass thickness mm Support on three sides
Height cmWidth:40 cm50 cm60 cm70 cm80 cm90 cm100 cm110 cm120 cm130 cm140 cm150 cm160 cm170 cm180 cm190 cm200 cm

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