Fish live for years, and many survive decades, so housing them is not a casual matter. A cheap tank will leak or even break over time, leaving you with a mess and a homeless, lost, or dead pet.
It’s not worth picking up the economy model fish tank unless it’s genuinely well built. How long do fish tanks last?
An acrylic fish tank has a 5 to 15 year average lifespan and a glass fish tank will last 15 to 20 years. The silicone that holds a glass tank together can be replaced to extend the life of the tank. Silicone on your aquarium that is more than 5 years old will last 10 to 15 years. Newer silicone will last 20+ years.
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A high-quality, well-cared-for aquarium can last a lifetime, but most don’t make it that long. In general, there are two main material options when choosing your aquarium.
First, if you choose glass, the silicone that holds the panels together is replaceable over time. Plus, glass is a little harder to scratch. Sadly, glass is also easier to break.
Your second option is acrylic. This durable, clear plastic is far more likely to survive a fall, and it can be molded all as one piece, with no separate panels.
The downside is that acrylic is easier to scratch on the surface, it can crack, and acrylic is subject to photodegradation, which means it slowly breaks down when exposed to light or sunlight.
How Long Do Acrylic Aquariums Last
Acrylic aquariums typically have a working life of up to fifteen years. An acrylic fish tank can be made of panels or cast as one solid piece depending on the style and intended use.
However, these tanks tend to be more expensive than their glass counterparts.
According to Total Plastics International, “Clear cast acrylic sheets have a unique and unmatched balance between clarity, strength, and weight, making it the ideal materials for aquarium manufacturing. Half the weight of glass, more impact resistant, and easier to form and fabricate, cast acrylic is the material of choice for most builders.”
I suggest the GloFish Aquarium Kit Fish Tank from Amazon when you want a nice acrylic tank.
The hidden blue LED lighting and filtration are included, so you can get started as soon as the aquarium reaches your door. Plus, there are five styles to choose from.
- INCLUDES ALL THE ESSENTIALS: This 5 gallon kit includes a seamless, crescent-shaped tank, Tetra Whisper Bio-Bag Filter Cartridge, black canopy with convenient feeding hole and energy-efficient blue LED lighting.
- BLUE LED LIGHTS: Hidden blue LED lights are incorporated into the hood, giving your GloFish fluorescent fish an exciting and uniquely fluorescent look.
- INTERNAL FILTRATION: The filter pulls water from the aquarium and pushes it through the filter cartridge, where the dense, dual-sided mesh catches debris and waste.
- INCLUDES HOOD: Sleek black hood reduces evaporation and helps keep fish from jumping.
- EXPERIENCE THE GLO: GloFish fluorescent fish and products create a complete underwater fluorescent experience.
How Long Do Rimless Aquariums Last
A rimless aquarium isn’t a type of material but rather a stylistic choice. You can get or make both acrylic or glass rimless aquariums.
As a result, the lifespan of your rimless tank depends on the material t’s made from, the quality of the build process, and how well you care for your tank.
If your old rimless tank is leaking or broken, check out the Landen Rimless Low Iron Aquarium Tank from Amazon.
These stunning aquariums are available in ten different sizes to fit any space. The crystal clear glass lets you see everything inside perfectly, and a foam leveling mat keeps the tank even.
- [Rich Landscape Application] Rich landscape design, suitable for all kinds of scenes.
- [Ultra-white Glass] It is 10mm thick heavy-duty glass with high light transmittance and low iron, 91% transparency, bezel-less design, and wide vision brings you an immersive viewing experience.
- [Fish Tank Specification] 7.8" L × 7.8" W × 7.8" H (20cm x 20cm x 20cm); 5 mm thickness.Approx 2gallon
- [Packing, Transportation and Gift] net weight: 9.7lbs packing weight: 10.8lbs; Free EVA material fish tank cushioning pad; Professional packaging, transportation safety is guaranteed.
- [High Quality Manufacturing Standard] Standard right Angle, accurate size, mirror edge grinding, joint glue uniform, smooth feel.
How Long Do Juwel Tanks Last
I cannot accurately gauge how long a Juwel tank will last you. The company is one of the more cost-effective options. Sometimes a lower price means corner-cutting and lower quality, but I don’t know if Juwel does this.
What I do know is that this company offers a two-year warranty on its products.
According to Juwel’s FAQ page on its website, when asked how long the tans last, the response is, “Unfortunately we are not able to make any general statements about an aquarium’s service life, as this depends on a wide range of different factors. However, we do have customers who have been using their aquariums for more than 20 years without any problems.”
How Long Do 55 Gallon Fish Tanks Last
A typical 55 gallon fish tank is made of glass, and glass tanks last up to 20 years. However, there is a way to get more life out of a well-made tank since the glass can last multiple decades.
It’s only the silicone at the corners where the glass plates meet that wears out so quickly. By taking your tank apart and replacing the silicone every ten to twenty years, you can make that big tank last virtually forever.
I recommend the Tetra 55 Gallon Fish Tank from Amazon. Not only is the tank durable, but it comes with everything you need.
This tank is ideal for tetra or whatever else you want to house inside, from LED lights to a net, lid, and thermometer.
- LARGE ENVIRONMENT: Larger environments can house more fish or a greater variety of fish. Maintains water temperature. Essential for tropical fishkeeping
- KIT INCLUDES: one 55 gallon tank, EasyBalance Plus, TetraMin, AquaSafe, 6” fish net, 200W heater, WPF 60 Filter, Stick on digital thermometer, 24” Tetra hinged hood x 2, 2 plant multipacks and a boxwood plant, TetraCare brochure and instruction sheet
- LED LIGHTING: Included lighting adds the natural daylight effect to your aquarium, giving you illuminated viewing of the entire space
- ACTUAL TANK DIMENSIONS: 48.25" L x 12.80" W x 20.90" H
- WEIGHT: This aquarium tank weighs approximately 79 lb by itself. With water, total tank weight can reach 521 lb.
When Should I Replace My Aquarium
Anytime an aquarium springs a leak, you should fix it immediately, but you may not need to replace your aquarium entirely.
If the aquarium is badly broken, then fixing shattered parts isn’t going to work. You may be able to replace a single broken pane, but otherwise, you should always replace a broken tank.
In general, you may want to replace an acrylic tank every fifteen years, but glass tanks should get serviced instead. Sealants, scratches, and even broken glass are all repairable. Rather than wasting a good tank, get it fixed.
How Often Do Fish Tanks Break
Fish tanks do not spontaneously break. It’s a good rule of thumb to replace or service your tank every decade to fifteen years.
However, your tank isn’t going anywhere if you treat it right. Barring accidents, fish tanks are built to last, which is what they will do.
Most fish live their entire lives in one tank unless they outgrow it and need to size up or get rehomed because the original owner can’t keep them any longer.
An improperly built tank will break. When the glass sheets or acrylic are too thin, they may not be able to hold the weight and pressure of the water inside.
However, this is a rare manufacturer defect. Most often, if this happens, especially when it’s shortly after you first fill the tank, then you can have it replaced, but that won’t save your fish, so always buy from reputable companies.
How Long Does Aquarium Silicone Last
The relative longevity of aquarium silicone has changed in the last few years thanks to upgrades in the product and how it’s made.
If the silicone on your aquarium is more than five years old, it’s a slightly different formula. The older silicone will last 10 to 15 years at most, which is still quite impressive.
Alternatively, if you purchased your aquarium more recently, or you’ve had it serviced and resealed, then your silicone is different. The new silicone lasts longer.
In fact, you can anticipate newer silicone will stay in place for 20+ years before you need to replace it again.
An extra 5 years means fewer overall repairs in a lifetime, and it will save you money, so you may want to replace old silicone even if it’s not entirely due for an upgrade yet.
How Long Before Fish Tank Leaks
A properly cared for and well-made fish tank should never leak. That said, accidents can happen. When you first get a new fish tank, it is essential to ensure all the seals will hold before you put any fish inside.
To check the silicone seals, all you need to do is fill your tank. After that, leave it alone for 72 hours. If your tank doesn’t begin to leak in 3 days, then you can be reasonably sure it’s not about to start, and manufacturing defects are unlikely.
Helpful Tips To Know About How Long Fish Tanks Last
When you buy a fish tank, its working life isn’t usually the first thing on your mind. Most people get more invested in how they plan to fill and decorate the new aquarium than they are in its long-term care.
Here are some more helpful tips to know about how long fish tanks last.
- When an acrylic tank starts to fracture and crack, it is called crazing. Fortunately, a crazed tank can often be polished or repaired if you catch the damage before it becomes a terminal issue. Panels are replaceable, and there are ways to smooth out and fill in cracks to prevent them from spreading.
- According to Carville Plastics, “The majority of times you see cracking, and crazing in plastics such as Acrylic, Perspex, Plexiglas (PMMA), Polycarbonate (PC) and Ultem (PEI) is due to lack of the correct heat treatment. These such plastics need careful normalizing and annealing steps throughout the machining, bonding, and polishing process.”
- Acrylic tanks are bad for the environment. While your fish will be just fine, it becomes a large chunk of waste once the tank eventually wears out. Acrylic is recyclable, but it requires specially equipped facilities, so don’t opt for this type of tank if you want to lower your environmental impact.
- Glass fish tanks are also recyclable. Moreover, unlike plastics and acrylic, when glass breaks down, it turns back into silica sand. Plus, it’s easy to recycle using only heat to melt the glass and reform it anew.
As pets go, fish are often long-lived, especially when you take good care of them. To do this, you will need a good, high-quality fish tank.
Proper filters, lights, and heaters are essential, but none of it matters if your tank isn’t made to last. Fortunately, the average fish tank will last years, and with proper repairs it can even last a lifetime for you and your fish.
Remember to replace your silicone or acrylic tanks every few years, and you shouldn’t have to worry about broken aquariums.