How To Clean Aquarium Glass & Prevent It From Getting Dirty

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Cleaning your aquarium glass is pretty easy, as long as the stains aren’t too severe. However, it does require some expertise and the proper method. So, how should you clean your aquarium glass, and how can you keep it clean?

To clean your aquarium glass, you can use a vinegar mix, a glass scraper, and/or an aquarium magnet. You can also use non-toxic cleaning products. Avoid letting your aquarium glass get dirty by changing the water regularly, limiting exposure to light, and removing excess nutrients. 

If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to admire your beautiful fish through sparkling-clean glass. Let’s take a closer look at the best methods for cleaning your aquarium glass as well as some key tips to prevent it from getting dirty in the first place. 

How to Clean Aquarium Glass 

Clean aquarium glass

One of the most effective ways to clean your aquarium glass is to clean it manually with a vinegar mix, scrapers, or an aquarium magnet. You can also use non-toxic glass cleaners or introduce algae-eating species to reduce algal growth. 

However, you may need to use automatic cleaners to remove white residue from your fish tank in some cases.

Let’s discuss these methods in detail: 

Cleaning the Inside of Your Aquarium Glass

You can use an abrasive sponge, a scraper, or an aquarium magnet (all on Amazon) to clean the inside of your aquarium glass. You don’t need to take your fish out of the tank as long as you aren’t removing much of the water in the process. 

You should avoid using any toxic chemicals while cleaning your glass as they may contaminate the water and threaten the lives of your pet fish. 

However, if your fish tank has harder stains or unusual algal growth, you’ll need to shift your pet fish to a holding tank and use more effective cleaning methods like vinegar.

Cleaning the Outside of the Tank

You can clean the outside of your aquarium glass using non-toxic glass cleaners like Better Life Glass Cleaner (on Amazon), which will help you remove water stains and retain the glass’s shine without making it fade. 

You can also make glass cleaner at home by mixing clean water, white vinegar, essential oils, and citrus products. 

Here’s how you can use these products effectively: 

  1. Wet the glass: Sprinkle some water on the glass to prevent scratches on the surface. You can also apply natural oils to the glass to wet it.
  1. Spray a non-toxic glass cleaner: Spray the glass cleaner over the stained area. Let it sit for about 10-20 minutes to reach the stains.
  1. Rub it with a clean rag or cloth: Gently rub the glass to avoid scratching it and use a colorless cloth to prevent your glass from catching any color.
  1. Clean it with water: Clean the glass with water and rub it with a dry cloth to remove moisture. Inspect it to check that the stains are thoroughly gone. 

How to Clean the Aquarium By Hand

While chemical mixtures can help keep the aquarium water clean, they aren’t as effective at removing tough stains and algae. To remove these stains, you’ll need to clean the aquarium by hand.

A vinegar mix is one of the most effective ways to clean your aquarium glass. You can also use a scraper if the stains are especially tough. An aquarium cleaner or aquarium magnet are also effective options if you don’t want to put your hands inside the tank. 

Let’s discuss each of them in more detail: 

Use a Vinegar Mix

Vinegar contains high acidic content that can be powerful enough to take alkaline deposits off your fish glass. With this method, you’ll need to relocate your pet fish to another holding glass to protect them from the pH change. 

Here’s how to use vinegar to clean aquarium glass: 

  1. Drain your aquarium completely and remove any objects or rocks. 
  2. Wear gloves and apply a vinegar-cleaning product on the fish glass. You can also make vinegar cleaner at home by mixing white vinegar, natural oils, and citrus fruits.
  3. Let it sit for 15-25 minutes to soften the residue and use a white rag to gently rub it. 
  4. Rinse clean water over the glass and dry it with a cloth.

Use a Glass Scraper 

A glass scraper can be effective at removing hard stains and dirt residue that sticks onto the glass’s surface. Here’s how you can use it correctly:

  1. You don’t need to drain the aquarium completely when using a glass scraper. 
  2. Gently scrape the walls of your fish tank with a scraper and let the residue and algae sit in the tank’s bottom. 
  3. Use an aquarium vacuum to clean the bottom once the glass is clean. 

Using the right scraper is necessary as some aquarium glass is quite sensitive and can get scratched easily.  

Use an Aquarium Cleaner

You can use an aquarium cleaner if you don’t have vinegar or other disinfectants and detergents at home. Aquarium cleaners are easy-to-use and affordable.

  1. Shift your pet fish to a holding glass before using the aquarium cleaner. 
  2. Drain the water and apply an aquarium cleaner to your glass. You can also wash tank accessories with it. 
  3. Use a clean cloth to gently rub the glass.
  4. Rinse the glass and use a dry cloth to remove any moisture. 

Is Vinegar Safe for Fish?

Vinegar is safe for fish, but you’ll need to dilute it properly. A high vinegar concentration can decrease the water’s pH level and may cause harm to your fish, so it’s best to shift them to a different tank before cleaning with vinegar. 

The recommended vinegar-to-water ratio is 1:1. However, this may vary based on residue stiffness and how stubborn the stains are. You can also mix natural oils and citrus fruits with white vinegar to offset the strong smell.  

Avoid using commercial vinegar as it has more acid and will damage the tank. 

How to Clean the Aquarium Using Algae Eaters

Siamese algae eater fish Crossocheilus siamensis

If you want a hands-off method to remove algal growth inside your fish tank, you’ll need to add algae eaters to the water. These include plants, specific species, and automatic cleaners. 

Plants can be an effective tool for the consumption of carbon dioxide in the water, which is a strong source for algal growth. Plants will also use other nutrients and can reduce algal growth. 

Specific algae-eating organisms can also help you get rid of algae. Some of these include amano shrimp, twig catfish, rosy barb, and flagfish.  

What’s the Best Way to Remove Hard Water Stains?

Using a razor is the best way to remove hard water stains from your fish aquarium. However, you’ll need to be very careful as most aquarium glass is sensitive to sharp blades and may break easily.

You also need to be careful to not damage the silicon glue holding the pieces together.   

If you don’t want to use a blade, try using a glass scraper with a little vinegar to remove the hard water stains. 

What’s the Best Way to Remove Algae Buildup?

An algae scrubber is the best tool to remove algae buildup over your fish tank. These scrubbers have sharp fiber teeth that scratch the algae perfectly off the glass. You’ll also need to use them very carefully to protect the glass from getting scratched. 

You can get these scrubbers easily in aquarium stores. However, if your tank is constantly getting algae buildups, then you’ll have to look at preventive steps. 

How to Prevent Algae Buildup

An algae buildup can damage your aquarium’s water balance and result in bacterial growth. Here are some tips to prevent algal growth on your fish glass: 

  • Remove excess nutrients: Eliminate excess nutrients as algae forms and grows due to excess nutrients in the tank.
  • Reduce lighting: Make sure not to put your fish tank under open sunlight, and dim the room lights to a minimum since lightning can be a strong source for an algal bloom. However, first, check that your fish are ok with less light!
  • Get a self-cleaning tank: Though it’s costly, it’s worth investing in a self-cleaning tank (on Amazon) if you don’t want to deal with constant algae problems. 
  • Periodically change the water: You can also stop algal growth by periodically filling your tank with fresh and distilled water as it’ll drain out excess nutrients and bacteria. 

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