How to Clean An Acrylic Aquarium (4 Simple Ways)

How to Clean An Acrylic Aquarium

Acrylic aquariums are quite popular nowadays, and all for good reasons. The good thing about acrylic is that it looks exactly like glass from the outside.

There are many advantages to owning acrylic aquariums.

For example, acrylic is stronger and more flexible than glass so one thing is guaranteed – acrylic glass won’t shatter or leak.

Another advantage of acrylic is that it weighs less than glass, which makes it more portable.

While acrylic aquariums are great to keep in the living room because they provide a beautiful view, it is also essential to clean them from time to time.

Since acrylic aquariums are prone to scratching, cleaning them is a little hard, but it is not impossible.

Read more to learn tips on how to clean your acrylic aquariums and to keep them scratch-free.

Ways to Clean Acrylic Aquariums

Cleaning an acrylic aquarium follows the standard procedure of cleaning an aquarium.

This includes cleaning the gravel, the decorations, and the tank walls and removing fish waste.

However, make sure to be extremely careful around the acrylic glass so that you don’t scratch it.

To clean an acrylic fish tank, you will need:

  • Water
  • Plastic polish
  • Soft cloth

Use Water and Cloth

When cleaning an acrylic fish tank, try to use less force than you would if you were cleaning a glass tank.

Always try to avoid products with chemicals, alcohol, and Ammonia, and don’t use abrasive materials.

These materials can easily make the aquarium appear foggy and even leave scratches.

What most fish tank owners fail to realize is that acrylic is more sensitive than glass; therefore, acrylic tanks cannot be cleaned in the same way as glass.

This is why water is the perfect alternative. It doesn’t leave behind marks and will definitely not damage the surface of your acrylic.

Chemicals may tend to fight germs, but they are likely to cause more damage to the surface of your tank, so it is not worth it.

Simply get a clean piece of a soft cloth and make sure it’s wet.

If you don’t want to constantly wet your cloth, you can also take a spray bottle and fill it with clean water so you can keep spraying the surface you need to clean.

Wipe the glass from all sides and make sure not to miss any edges. Remember – don’t wipe too hard, or you might just leave a scratch behind.

When cleaning the tank, turn off the water supply and remove all the fish. This will help you work faster and keep the fish safe.

The water needs to be calm so that grit or sand doesn’t float or get between the cleaning tools and the acrylic tank because that can easily result in scratches.

Even one tiny sand particle can cause a lot of damage, so try to be extra careful. Before wiping vigorously, check if the tank walls are clean.

Make sure no particles are floating on the top when you are washing the bottom of the tank.

When it comes to algae, cleaning with water and a cloth won’t cut it.

Try using a plastic card or a plastic scraper to remove the algae from the edges of the acrylic fish tank.

Do this very gently to prevent your aquarium from getting small scratches on the edges. Also, try to use the scraper in a way that it doesn’t stir up too much sand.

If you are changing the substrate, don’t dump it out because it will definitely leave scratches behind.

Make certain to use a scoop or net to remove the substrate.

Also, be extra careful that the scoop doesn’t touch or even rub against the surface of your acrylic tank – especially with the substrate in it.

This applies when you’re adding new substrate into the tank, too.

A good idea is to put a soft cloth against the glass where you are working so the scoop doesn’t come in direct contact with the acrylic surface.

It is important to choose the right type of cloth when wiping the surface of your acrylic aquarium.

The cloth shouldn’t be too old since old clothes tend to have rougher edges, which can cause small scratches.

A good idea is to pick a microfiber cloth because they are smooth and will not leave any scratches behind.

There are also acrylic-safe liquid polishes that will make your aquarium shine. Before using these polishes on your tank, a good idea is to try them on another surface area first.

Vacuum the Gravel

A vacuum is a safe option to clean the gravel in your aquarium. The best part about using a vacuum is that it’s pretty simple.

hygger Small Gravel Vacuum for Aquarium, Manual 80GPH Aquarium Gravel Cleaner Low Water Level Water Changer Fish Tank Cleaner with Pinch or Grip Run in Seconds Suction Ball Adjustable Length

Simply set it up and go over the gravel.

A vacuum can suck even the smallest material that might be stuck to the gravel, which includes dirt that you might not even spot.

Besides dirt, many other items can be stuck on the gravel or may fall between the gravel.

These include uneaten food, dead plants, and waste. If you don’t clean your gravel regularly, these things can easily make your tank look messy.

When the vacuum is inside the tank, make sure to move your hand slowly. Don’t forget to cover all the areas.

If you move the vacuum too fast, it can hit the sides of your aquarium and scratch it.

It can also move around the gravel and knock it to the side of the tank.

This is why it is recommended to move the vacuum slowly – as long as you’re careful and the vacuum doesn’t touch the edges, your aquarium will be scratch-free.

Use Magnets

A mag float cleaner is basically using two magnets to clean both sides of the glass of your fish tank.

AQQA Aquarium Strong Magnetic Cleaner Brush, Fish Tank Glass Algae Magnet Cleaning Tool Floating Cleaner Scrubber Brush with 2 Detachable Scraper

Here’s how it works: one magnet goes inside the tank, while the other magnet is placed on the surface outside.

You don’t have to do much – just bring the magnets close to each other. The magnets will attract and automatically stick to one another.

This will allow you to easily drag the magnet from the outside and clean the inside, too!

This is a quick and easy way to clean your glass without even touching the inside surface.

The mag float aquarium cleaner is a great tool to remove algae or other waste materials that might be stuck to the acrylic surface.

You can use these magnets to wipe the aquarium, but make sure to clean it with a cloth first.

While these magnets are great, they cannot completely replace the effect of water and a clean cloth.

They are good for a final wipe down after you’re done cleaning the acrylic tank. On days when you don’t have much time, simply use the mag float cleaner.

These magnets are pretty cheap, which means you can easily buy one for your acrylic fish tank and they also contain a soft fiber, which can protect the surface of your acrylic tank from any scratches.

The best part about the mag float cleaner is that they can come in two sizes – medium and large.

You can simply choose one based on how big your tank is. Most aquarium owners prefer the large ones because they tend to cover a greater surface area and clean faster.

Use Magic Erasers

Another tool that can help you clean your acrylic aquarium is the magic eraser.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, Extra Durable Pro Version, Shoe, Bathroom, and Shower Cleaner, Cleaning Pads with Durafoam, 10 Count

This can be used to clean all kinds of surfaces and doesn’t leave behind any scratches.

It is also super simple to use, so you don’t have to worry about putting in too much effort.

All you have to do is put some water on the magic eraser, and it’s activated and ready to use.

Simply use the eraser to wipe all sides and edges of your tank. This will help you remove algae, waste and will give your tank a cleaner look overall.

What Do You Do If Scratching Occurs?

The thing about acrylic fish tanks is that no matter what you do – scratching will occur over time.

But the good thing is that even if your aquarium does get scratches, you can remove them if they’re not too deep.

For this, you will need acrylic buffing and repair kits. All you have to do is follow the instructions on the packaging of these repair kits.

There are some repair kits that you can use while the water is running and there are fish in the aquarium, which means you won’t have to empty the tank again and again.

However, some repair kits have harmful substances that can kill the fish, so make sure to empty the tank before using them.

Also, wash the tank thoroughly before putting the fish in it again.

If the scratch is too deep or if there is more than one scratch, it will be a little harder to get rid of them, but the repair kit will do the job.


Cleaning an acrylic aquarium is hard work, but it is not impossible.

As long as you are careful and follow the instructions above, you will be able to clean your acrylic aquarium without leaving behind any scratches.

Washing your aquarium regularly will keep it in good condition for a long time.

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