Acrylic Drilled or Glass Over the top?


New member
Alright guys, i'm about to start gather equipment for my nano tank, and i'm trying to decide what to go with. I am looking at either 15 or 20g clear for life acrylic tank so I can drill the back easily for the drain and returns, or just a standard 15 or 20g AGA from petco and use over the top piping for the drain and returns.

Just wanted to hear people's opinions. It's going to be in my bedroom, so I want it to look clean. it's going to have a sump in the cabinent. i will be making a hood for it either way, so the pipes would be hidden if it's over the top, but I'm just not sure... glass would be easier on maintenance and cheaper, but acrylic has the cool factor.

let me know what you think! i've already got the PC lighting (2x65W), return pump (Mag 3), pvc, and locline stuff. figure i'd pick up a remora for the skimmer.

i personally dont think there is a cool factor at all with acrylic. I have seen too many acrylic tanks that are so horribly scratched that you can barely see anything through it.

I'd say your best bet is to go with glass. its easy to clean and maintain and will look as good 5 years from now as it does today.

Get yourself one of those internal overflow boxes if you are going to sump it. then you get surface skimming and a sump. one guy even modded his and put a durso standpipe in. super sweet.
you can DIY one out of acrylic. not too difficult. you basically just create a compartment inside your tank to house pumps, heaters and whatnot. all while skimming the surface as well.
I say go with the glass tank. I've just started my 20 gal glass nano and purchased an external overflow box for it. Glass is much more cost effective and way easier to clean than acrylic.
I like glass. It's much more forgiving with a magnet cleaner.

Also, I cannot stress how easy it is to drill glass. All you need is a dremel, and a tile cutting bit, like this one...


I've used this bit on three different tanks, with no problems. Once you drill your first hole, you'll be a pro.

is that what you are referring to for an external add on overflow? i don't want to make a wall inside or anything... the space i have will fit a 20g no problem, but that's already narrow enough, and i'm going to sump it anyway, i just needed a way to get water down to the bottom. i was hoping to just be able to drill the 3 holes. 1 drain in the middle, and the 2 returns. certainly for the returns i think it'd be feasible, but the intake would have to be so close to the edge, i'd worry about it cracking.
ran over my edit time... could i have the drain below the water line? i'm worried about the external overflow losing it's siphon and then overflowing the tank.

| |
| o o | <- returns
| |
| o | <- drain
| |
| |

would that be an ok setup for the placement of my drain/returns? just an approxmiation of course. i think i'll have enough surface agitation that i'm not worried about surface slime building up.

or if there is another way to do this, i'm open to suggestions.

edit, my cool little diagram didnt' work. but you should get the idea.
that's true for the returns... do you have surface problems with that setup?

i was also concerned about drilling that close to an edge.
Hey Agu, what kind of light are you using in your refugium? That's a neat little setup you got. What is that top off thing you have in a small bottle water container? Did you make that yourself?
This particular one is a 20G AGA. I drilled it two inches from the top, and two inches from the side. I then used a PVC elbow, and reducer with slots cut in it. You could also use an elbow, with a strainer, and turn the elbow to adjust the water level.


You would have to drill right on the edge to have a problem.

HTH. Does that mean, "hope this helps"????
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=6919599#post6919599 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by Charlie97L
hth - hope that/this helps(ed)

Cool. That's what I thought. :thumbsup:
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=6918114#post6918114 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by djrecklessk
Hey Agu, what kind of light are you using in your refugium? That's a neat little setup you got. What is that top off thing you have in a small bottle water container? Did you make that yourself?

Thanks :D

The light is a desk lamp I gutted for a reflctor and socket. I use a 26w curly PC thats a daylight bulb, supposedly 6500k. It's good enough to grow corals but a bit yellow.

Here's a link to the kalk dripper,

Kalk Dripper
acrylic seems to have a bad rep.I have had and have glass
and acrylic tanks. I like acrylic for display tanks. no corner seams,no greenish cast color wise and acrylic is very very clear no distoriton of the inside. given the right care and maint. you will get 10 or 15 years from a acrylic tank( mine is 14 years old) scratches just sand and polish them out. bio in the back. rec,show,deep,tall,bow,hex,ect. order shape you want. If you can find someone with an acrylic tank in your aera its worth checking out. G.F.I. dbr