How to Safely Clean Your Acrylic Aquarium

Acrylic Aquariums Require a Gentle Touch to Prevent Scratches

Large well-lit acrylic aquarium in wooden cabinet with fish

A little TLC goes a long way in avoiding scratches that can mar the view in your aquarium.

There’s a lot to love about owning an acrylic aquarium. For one thing, acrylic is stronger and more flexible than glass, so it doesn’t shatter or leak easily. It also weighs less than glass, which makes it simpler to pick up and move around. And, of course, you can’t beat that crystal-clear view!

But with all those benefits comes a drawback. Unfortunately, acrylic aquariums are very easy to scratch, which can make cleaning them a nerve-wracking experience. However, it doesn’t have to be that way!

Follow these tips for a safe and scratch-free acrylic tank cleaning!

Get Rid of Sand and Debris First

Nothing threatens the walls of your acrylic aquarium quite like a grain of sand. One tiny particle caught between your scrub pad and the wall can cause considerable damage.

To prevent this, remove all sand and debris from the tank walls before you start cleaning. And be careful not to stir up any particles when polishing near the bottom of the tank.

Use Products Made for Acrylic

Unlike glass fish tanks, acrylic aquariums are very particular when it comes the tools used to clean them. Ordinary sponges and paper towels are too rough for the soft material. Likewise, regular household cleaners, such as Windex, will leave scuff marks. So, what’s an acrylic aquarist to do?

For safe cleaning, choose products specifically designed for acrylic. Use a soft cotton or microfiber cloth and plastic scraper to give the walls the delicate touch they need.

There are also plenty of acrylic-safe liquid polishes on the market that will make the outside of your tank shine.

Even when using products labeled for use with acrylic, try any new product on a small, inconspicuous area first.

Blue and yellow fish swims in clear Plexiglass aquarium with a variety of plants, rocks, and shells.

Products made for cleaning acrylic—rather than common household cleaners—are recommended to avoid scratching the tank’s walls.

Go Easy on the Scrubbing

Wiping down the walls of your acrylic aquarium is a delicate process, so don’t scrub too hard if you come across a tough spot. Adding pressure risks causing a scratch or scuff mark.

Try a plastic scraper to remove tough caked-on algae. Don’t scrape at an angle with the wall, however, which could scuff the tank. Always place your scraper flush against the wall and gently rub the spot away to avoid scratches. In some cases, a razor blade may be needed, but handle it carefully!

You Can Buff Out Scratches

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, you’ll probably cause a scratch at some point. Don’t panic!

There are plenty of products out there you can use to buff out scratches. Whatever product you choose, be sure to read the instructions carefully. Keep in mind that fish are delicate and exposing them to cleaning products will likely kill them. So, be sure to thoroughly rinse out your aquarium before putting the fish back in.

We Can Help with Your Acrylic Aquarium

Getting advice from an expert can make cleaning your acrylic aquarium a snap. At Living Art Aquatics in Crystal Lake, IL, we have the products and services you need to get the job done right. Give us a call at (847) 737-5151.

Editor’s note: This blog was originally published on Jan. 23, 2018, and was updated on June 24, 2019.

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