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How to Clean Acrylic Aquarium

Acrylic aquariums could be a beautiful addition to any space, and keeping them clean is important. Cleaning the aquarium can be challenging, and you might wonder how to clean acrylic aquarium correctly. But with the right tools and techniques, it should be easy.

Not cleaning and maintaining these large aquariums could build up algae and debris, harming the aquatic life and the place’s reputation and image. So, if you want to learn how to do it, keep reading!

How to Clean Acrylic Aquarium

The best way to clean an acrylic aquarium may be to use a dedicated aquarium-safe cleaner like an acrylic-safe algae scrubber. It’s recommended not to use vinegar, bleach, ammonia, or alcohol-based cleaners because they could damage the acrylic or harm the aquatic life.

When cleaning an aquarium, you should start with removing debris or waste. Then you could use an acrylic-safe cleaner and a soft brush or cloth and gently scrub the inside of the aquarium. Nonetheless, be careful not to scratch the surface of the aquarium.

Regularly cleaning the aquarium should continue making it a perfect home for aquatic pets.

The necessary tools

  • A clean and soft sponge or microfiber cloth
  • A bucket for water
  • A gravel vacuum or siphon hose for removing debris
  • An algae scraper or magnetic cleaner for cleaning the glass and surfaces
  • An aquarium-safe solution 

Things to avoid for cleaning acrylic aquarium

  • Vinegar
  • Bleach
  • Ammonia
  • Soarse sponges 
  • Alcohol or alcohol-based cleaners
  • Tap water
  • Hot or cold water
  • Soap 

Using vinegar, bleach, or ammonia-based cleaners could harm aquatic life. Sponges or scrubbers could scratch the surface of the acrylic and create tiny places that could trap bacteria and debris. 

Alcohol or alcohol-based cleaners are also not recommended because they might damage the acrylic and leave some traces that could be toxic.

Tap water could have chlorine or other chemicals that could harm aquatic life. Hot or cold water could also harm living creatures. Additionally, soaps shouldn’t be used as well because they could create an unhealthy environment.

How to Clean the Inside of an Acrylic Aquarium
Source: / Photo Contributor: Sergiy Akhundov


How to Clean the Inside of an Acrylic Aquarium

After some time, the inside of the aquarium could get dirty and covered with algae, harming the aquatic life inside. 

Here is how to clean it on the inside.

Preparing the aquarium

To avoid damage or electrical problems, turn off all equipment, including the filters, pumps, and heaters, before cleaning the inside. 

Next, remove any large debris or uneaten food using a fish net. This should keep the debris from being trapped in the cleaning tools and causing more problems.

Using a plastic scraper 

One way to clean the aquarium is with a plastic scraper. They should have a long handle and a brush on the end, which should be used to remove algae or other buildup inside the aquarium.

The scraper should be placed at the top of the aquarium and then pressed against the surface. Move gently down the side of the aquarium, using a back-and-forth movement to remove any algae or buildup. Be careful not to press too hard or scrape too aggressively. It could cause scratches.

Afterward, you could use a sponge or a cloth to wipe any remains. You should rinse the cloth sponge in a bucket of clean water so you don’t spread debris around the aquarium.

Using a sponge

Using a sponge or a cloth might be the best way to clean an acrylic aquarium. A sponge or a cloth could be used instead of a scraper if the buildup on the inside of the aquarium is not very serious. 

To use a sponge or a cloth, wet it in a bucket of water before using it. Wipe the inside of the aquarium gently back and forth while being careful not to press too hard or to rub too aggressively.

To avoid spreading debris or algae, rinse the sponge or cloth often in clean water.

Using a sponge
Source: / Photo Contributor: Varavin88

Using a magnet

Another effective way to clean the inside is a magnetic algae scraper. You could clean the inside of the aquarium with these magnets without reaching your hand into the water. 

Attach one magnet to the outside of the aquarium and the other to the inside, and move the outer magnet across the surface. The inner magnet should move with it and scrape off any algae or buildup on the inside of the aquarium.

It’s important to use a magnetic algae scraper appropriate for the thickness of the glass of your aquarium. Using a magnet that may be too strong could damage the acrylic surface.

Using gravel vacuum

Besides wiping down the sides of the aquarium, cleaning the substrate or gravel is necessary. Gravel could store bacteria and other potentially toxic things that could harm the creatures.

So, to clean the substrate or gravel, use a gravel vacuum. A tool that could take water from the aquarium while also collecting dirt from the substrate. Move the vacuum slowly through the substrate and allow it to suck up any waste. 

How to Clean the Outside

Here are some ways how to clean acrylic aquarium on the outside.

Using a sponge or a cloth

A soft sponge or microfiber cloth might be the best way to clean an acrylic aquarium. Before using a sponge or cloth:

  1. Wet it in a bucket of water and wring out any excess water.
  2. Gently wipe the outside of the aquarium in a back-and-forth motion.
  3. Be careful not to press too hard or rub too aggressively.
  4. Rinse the sponge or cloth in a bucket of clean water to prevent dirt from spreading around the aquarium.
How to Clean the Outside
Source: / Photo Contributor: hedgehog94

Using a cleaner

If the outside of the acrylic aquarium is very dirty or stained, a cleaner designed specifically for use on acrylic surfaces may be necessary. Many acrylic cleaning products are available, from sprays to wipes and gels.

First, read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to use a cleaner. Apply the cleaner to a soft cloth or sponge, then gently wipe the outside of the aquarium in a back-and-forth motion. Applying too much pressure or rubbing too hard could cause damage to the acrylic surface.

Cleaning the aquarium stand

Cleaning the stand is just as important as cleaning the aquarium itself. A dirty or dusty stand might detract from the aquarium’s overall appearance. To clean the stand, use a soft cloth and a mild cleaner. Wipe the stand’s surface gently while carefully not applying too much pressure or rubbing too aggressively. 

Cleaning a Very Large Aquarium

Cleaning a large aquarium could be a big challenge, especially when reaching every corner from the outside is too big. In these cases, a person may need to go inside the aquarium to clean it properly.

This task should be carefully planned while having safety precautions in mind to ensure both the person and the creatures will be safe. 

What to Do to Prevent Scratches 

Acrylic could be more prone to scratches compared to glass. Preventing scratches on acrylic aquariums is important to keep their aesthetic appearance.

Here are some things you could do to avoid scratches on acrylic aquariums:

Avoid using abrasive materials

Using abrasive materials such as brushes and rough sponges is one of the main causes of scratches on acrylic aquariums. 

Handle with care

Even with the correct cleaning tools, you should avoid excessive scrubbing when cleaning the aquarium. Applying too much pressure or scrubbing too hard could cause scratches or gouges on the material’s surface. Instead, use a gentle touch and let the cleaning solution do the work.

Use a dedicated scrubber

If the surface of your aquarium has a lot of buildup, consider using a dedicated scrubber designed specifically for acrylic surfaces. These scrubbers are made with soft materials that shouldn’t scratch the surface. However, use the scrubber carefully and avoid applying too much pressure.

How Often Should Acrylic Aquariums Be Cleaned?

Acrylic aquariums, like any other, require regular cleaning to maintain the health of their aquatic life. The frequency of cleaning could depend on several factors. Some of them could be the number and type of fish, the amount of food being given, and the aquarium size.

Generally, cleaning the acrylic aquarium every one to two weeks is recommended to prevent the buildup of bacteria and algae.

One thing worth noting is that every aquarium is different, and the cleaning frequency may need to be adjusted accordingly. To determine if the aquarium needs cleaning, you should monitor its condition and the behavior of fish and other aquatic animals. 

  • If the water is cloudy or has a bad odor, it’s time for a thorough cleaning.
  • If the fish appear sluggish or have unusual behaviors, it could indicate poor water quality, indicating the need for cleaning and maintenance.

In addition to regular cleaning, maintaining the filters in the aquarium is important. Filters, over time, could become clogged and less efficient. Depending on the type of filter, the filter may need to be cleaned or replaced occasionally. 

Checking and replacing any worn-out filter helps maintain the water quality and extend the aquarium’s life. Cleaning the filter intake and output tubes could guarantee the water flows properly.


Learning how to clean acrylic aquarium can be easy if done correctly. By following the steps provided, you should be able to keep your aquarium clean and well-maintained. It is important to remember that regular cleaning is important for the health of the fish and other living things. 

Ignoring these tasks could harm the living things and the overall look of the aquarium. You should find time and put effort into cleaning and maintaining your aquarium to ensure it stays in good condition to your place for many years

Neal Moir

Neal Moir

is the owner at Titan Aquatic Exhibits and brings more than a decade in aquarium and acrylic pool wall manufacturing experience.

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