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Tank vs. Vat: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 2, 2023
A tank is a large receptacle or storage chamber, often for liquids; a vat is a large tank or tub used for chemical processes or fermenting.

Key Differences

A tank is commonly associated with both military armored vehicles and large storage containers, while a vat is specifically a large vessel used for processes like fermenting or chemical reactions.
Tanks are versatile in function, seen in diverse contexts from fish tanks to fuel tanks, indicating a wide range of sizes and uses, whereas vats are typically found in industrial settings, breweries, or dye works, suggesting large-scale liquid processing.
The word tank often implies a container designed for storage or being part of a system, like a septic tank or a water tank, whereas a vat implies an active role in a manufacturing or production process, such as holding chemicals for treatment.
While tanks can be found in both military and civilian environments, with uses varying greatly in complexity and design, vats are usually more specialized and often relate to the culinary, chemical, or textile industries.
In practical use, tanks are constructed to hold and sometimes transport liquids or gases under varying conditions of temperature and pressure, while vats are designed to support processes like soaking, aging, or treating, often in a static location.

Comparison Chart


Storage container for liquids/gases
Large container for industrial processes

Typical Use

Storage, military, transport
Fermenting, reacting, treating


Ranges from mobile to stationary
Usually stationary

Industry Association

Military, water storage, aquariums
Brewing, winemaking, dyeing

Size Variance

From small to extremely large
Generally very large

Tank and Vat Definitions


To fail completely, especially in performance or business.
His performance really tanked last night.


A vessel in which substances are treated with heat, enzymes, or a solvent.
The vat was used to hold the milk for cheese production.


A large container for storing liquid or gas.
The facility has a huge water tank.


A large basin used in various industrial processes.
Workers cleaned the vat after the completion of the batch.


A heavily armored combat vehicle.
The tank rolled across the battlefield.


A large container used for mixing or storing liquids, especially in industry.
The brewery has several new vats for fermentation.


A unit of measure for volumes of liquid cargo.
The tanker can hold 200,000 metric tanks of oil.


A tub for holding dye or chemicals in a factory.
The vat contained the dye used for coloring fabrics.


A container for aquatic animals.
They added a new coral to the fish tank.


A container for holding liquids in bulk during manufacturing.
The vats in the winery were filled with this year's harvest.


A large, often metallic container for holding or storing liquids or gases.


A large vessel, such as a tub, cistern, or barrel, used to hold or store liquids.


The amount that this container can hold
Buy a tank of gas.


Can tanks be used to transport liquids?

Yes, certain tanks are designed for transporting liquids.

What is a vat used for?

A vat is used for industrial processes like fermentation or chemical treatments.

Do vats come in different sizes?

While vats are usually large, they can vary in size based on their use.

Can a tank be mobile?

Some tanks, like military tanks, are mobile, while storage tanks are stationary.

Is a vat typically found in homes?

No, vats are generally used in industrial or commercial settings.

Is a vat used in beer making?

Yes, vats are commonly used in brewing beer.

Are vats pressurized?

Vats are typically not pressurized like some storage tanks.

Can a tank be used for storage?

Yes, tanks are often used for storing various liquids.

Do vats need to be airtight?

Some processes require vats to be airtight, while others do not.

What is a tank?

A tank is a large container for holding liquids or a military armored vehicle.

Are tanks always large?

Tanks vary in size from small aquariums to huge storage tanks.

Can you grow fish in a vat?

Technically yes, but vats are not typically designed for aquaculture like tanks.

Are tanks safe for fish?

Aquarium tanks are specifically designed to be safe habitats for fish.

How are tanks cleaned?

Tanks are cleaned depending on their use, with some requiring professional cleaning services.

Do tanks have specific shapes?

Tanks can be cylindrical, rectangular, or other shapes depending on their use.

How are vats cleaned?

Vats are usually cleaned following industry-specific protocols, often involving large machinery.

Are vats only for liquids?

Vats are primarily for liquids but can also hold solids for treatment.

Can a tank have a mixer?

Yes, some storage tanks have mixers for the contents.

What industries use tanks?

Tanks are used in many industries, including water treatment, oil, and aquariums.

What industries use vats?

Vats are used in industries like winemaking, beer brewing, and textiles.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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