How to Clean Aquarium Glass (Inside and Out)

Keeping your aquarium glass clean makes it so much easier to appreciate your tank’s beauty.

Streaks on the outside of the glass, as well as algae and biofilm on the inside, make things look dingy and block some of the vibrant color from your aquarium.

Crystal clear glass just makes everything in the tank look its best. 

But, you have to be concerned about what you use to clean your aquarium glass because most household cleaners are toxic to fish.

No worries, I’ll go over what to use and how to use it to get your glass super clean so you can better appreciate your gorgeous fish.

How to Clean Aquarium Glass

Let’s go over cleaning the inside and outside of aquarium glass:

Inside Glass

All of these tips are geared towards glass aquariums and are not appropriate for acrylic tanks. For an acrylic tank, I recommend cleaning the inside glass with an Original Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

Even if you’ve got the algae in your tank under control, layers of biofilm can build up and dull how your tank looks.

So many times, I thought my glass wasn’t that bad, but gave it a quick scrape anyway, and was so surprised to see how much better the tank looked afterward. 

You should clean your inside glass right before you do your weekly water changes. That way, algae you scrape off will get sucked up when you drain water out of the tank.

This might seem weird, but it’s much easier to scrape algae while the tank is still full of water, and if at all possible, leave your tank lights on. This will make it much easier to see the algae on the glass so you know where to scrape.

I’ve scraped and scrubbed a lot of different tanks and run across just about every kind of common aquarium algae.

I’ve tried a bunch of different algae scrapers over the years, but there’s really only two that I use on a regular basis.

My absolute favorite is this simple scraper that holds a thin razor blade, the FZONE Scraper Cleaner.

FZONE New Aluminum Magnesium Alloy Scraper Cleaner, Clean Brush with 10 Stainless Steel Blade for Aquarium Fish Plant Reef Tank Glass Cleaning Rotatable Head Extended to 26inch
FZONE New Aluminum Magnesium Alloy Scraper Cleaner, Clean Brush with 10 Stainless Steel Blade for Aquarium Fish Plant Reef Tank Glass Cleaning Rotatable Head Extended to 26inch

    Last update on 2023-01-28 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    This scraper has an adjustable head that lets you set the angle it scrapes along the glass. 

    Sometimes you have to fiddle with it a bit to find the sweet spot that will let you scrape efficiently. But once you get the angle right, this thing will quickly scrape off even really tough green spot algae. 

    The little brush attachment that comes with this scraper isn’t great, so I really don’t use it. But on the plus side, this scraper comes with enough replacement blades to last you until the end of time.

    My other favorite scraper is the FL!PPER Cleaner Float. This magnetic glass cleaner has a scrubby side and a scraper side that is awesome for getting rid of algae.

    The FL!PPER is especially great at getting into tight corners and scraping along the substrate.

    Sale
    FL!PPER Flipper Cleaner Float - 2-in-1 Floating Magnetic Aquarium Glass Cleaner - Fish Tank Cleaner - Scrubber & Scraper Aquarium Cleaning Tools – Floating Fish Tank Cleaner, Standard
    FL!PPER Flipper Cleaner Float - 2-in-1 Floating Magnetic Aquarium Glass Cleaner - Fish Tank Cleaner - Scrubber & Scraper Aquarium Cleaning Tools – Floating Fish Tank Cleaner, Standard

      Last update on 2023-01-28 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

      Outside Glass

      Cleaning your outside glass is really simple. I usually do this as the last step of my water changes.

      I don’t want to spend a bunch of time cleaning the outside glass just to end up dripping all over it with the gravel vacuum.

      Vinegar is the best thing to clean the outside glass with. It’s nontoxic and overspray won’t harm fish.

      I mix up a 50/50 water and white vinegar solution in a clean spray bottle. I lightly spray the outside glass with the solution and wipe it down with paper towels.

      Using a squeegee isn’t absolutely required, but it makes things so much easier. I bought this HIWARE squeegee about a year ago and I love this little thing. It is the perfect size for aquarium glass.

      Sale
      HIWARE All-Purpose Shower Squeegee for Shower Doors, Bathroom, Window and Car Glass - Stainless Steel, 10 Inches
      HIWARE All-Purpose Shower Squeegee for Shower Doors, Bathroom, Window and Car Glass - Stainless Steel, 10 Inches

        Last update on 2023-01-28 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

        How to Clean White Residue on Aquarium Glass 

        Sometimes, you’ll start to notice white residue building up on your aquarium glass.

        This is a residue of calcium that’s left behind when water containing minerals evaporates.

        Don’t worry, it’s totally harmless, it’s just not nice to look at.

        The best way to clean this up is with vinegar. 

        • Outside glass – spray with a 50/50 vinegar solution and let sit for several minutes. Wipe up with paper towels and squeegee for extra shine.
        • Inside glass – drain the tank about halfway. Spray paper towels heavily with 50/50 vinegar mix and wipe over residue. Let vinegar sit for a few minutes and then wipe dry. For really stubborn build up, use a clean, plain scrubbing pad.

        Conclusions

        Keeping your aquarium glass nice and clean really makes your tank more enjoyable.

        It’s a little thing that can have a much bigger impact than you might realize.

        Luckily, cleaning aquarium glass is simple and doesn’t take up a lot of time.

        I hope you find this article helpful.

        I wish you and your fish the very best!

        Katherine Morgan
        Katherine Morgan

        Hey, there! I'm Katherine from Northwest Florida. A nunchuck specialist, I've kept aquariums for over two decades, enjoy experimenting with low-tech planted setups and an avid South American cichlid enthusiast. If You'd like to see more of my tanks, check out my Instagram

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