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How to Polish Acrylic Aquarium?

Polishing an acrylic aquarium is an essential task that aquarium owners need to perform periodically to keep their tanks looking clean and clear. Before starting the cleaning process, you must know how to polish acrylic aquarium and remove all the stains and dirt.

Polishing is a simple process that removes scratches, scuffs, and other imperfections from the acrylic surface, leaving it crystal clear, but you will need extra tips to call it a job well done.

We will discuss the step-by-step process for polishing an acrylic aquarium, including the materials you need and the precautions you should take to ensure your aquarium remains in good condition.

How to Polish Acrylic Aquarium

Acrylic aquariums are popular for fish enthusiasts due to their lightweight, durable, and clear viewing compared to glass ones. Over time, acrylic aquariums may become scratched or hazy, impairing the tank’s clarity and reducing the visibility of your fish and other aquatic animals.

To restore the aquarium to its former clarity, you will need to buff and polish it. Here are the necessary materials and the steps.

Required materials

Before you begin, it’s important to gather the necessary materials. You’ll need the following:

  • Acrylic aquarium polish
  • Soft, lint-free cloths
  • Distilled water
  • 800 and 1200-grit sandpaper
  • Microfiber towel

Required steps

Cleaning

The first step is cleaning the acrylic surface of dirt and fingerprints. We recommend using a lint-free cloth to wipe down the surface of the aquarium with distilled water.

Be sure to remove any stains or grime accumulated on the surface. Any remaining residue can interfere with polishing, so cleaning the surface is an important step.

cleaning acrylic aquariums
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: Varavin88

Polishing

If the aquarium surface has scratches that need to be removed, take 800 or 1200-grit sandpaper. Take the sandpaper and gently run over the scratched area. Initially, it may seem blurry, but don’t worry – it will shine after you apply the polish.

Now it’s time to apply the acrylic aquarium polish. Using a soft, lint-free cloth, apply a small amount of polish to the cloth and gently rub it onto the acrylic surface in a circular motion.

Avoid pressing too hard, as this can scratch the surface. Be sure to cover the entire surface, along with the corners and edges of the tank.

*Please consider the acrylic thickness. Never use rough sandpaper on thin acrylic surfaces because you can damage and break the acrylic wall.

Buffing

After applying the polish, use a clean, dry cloth to buff the surface of the acrylic. Again, use a circular motion to distribute the polish and buff away any excess evenly. 

Continue buffing until the entire surface of the tank is clear and shiny.

Finishing touches

Finally, wipe off the dust around the acrylic surface and run it with a special acrylic cleaning solution. Polishing might give a good shine to acrylic, but it is also a messy process that needs to be well-cleaned after.

2 Additional Polishing Techniques for Acrylic Aquarium

Vapor polishing

Well-informed people about acrylic maintenance and polishing often use the vapor polishing technique.

This process requires using a solvent vapor that flows over the acrylic surfaces and produces a translucent finish. The outcome of this polishing technique depends on how good the initial manufacturing finish of the acrylic object was.

As in all other polishing processes, this one, too, is important to clean the surface of dirt and debris first. A clean acrylic surface will contribute to smoothing all acrylic surface imperfections.

Flame polishing

The flame polishing technique is another commonly used way to remove scratches and surface damage from acrylic. As we can see from the technique’s name, this process requires using a high-temperature flame based on hydrogen.

The flame slightly melts the acrylic, contributing to smoothing and polishing the damaged surface. Even though this seems quite simple and easy, you must have a high level of skills to safely use this polishing technique.

The flame polishing technique is excellent because it can be used on many different-shaped acrylic objects. If done properly, it might give the best finish on the acrylic you can ever imagine!

Tips and Tricks on How to Polish Acrylic Aquarium

  • Never use ammonia-based or abrasive cleaners on acrylic tanks, as they can scratch the surface.
  • If your acrylic tank has deep scratches or gouges, it may be necessary to sand them down before polishing.
  • Avoid using paper towels or rough cloths because they can scratch the surface of the aquarium.
  • Always use distilled water when cleaning the tank, as tap water can contain chemicals that can damage the acrylic.
  • Be sure to clean and polish the tank’s exterior as well, as this can improve the overall appearance of the aquarium.

How to Avoid Acrylic Aquarium Scratches

Acrylic aquariums are susceptible to scratches and can be damaged if not properly cared for. 

Here are some tips to help you avoid scratches on your acrylic aquarium:

Use a soft cloth

Always use a soft, non-abrasive cloth or sponge when cleaning your aquarium. Avoid using abrasive materials such as scrubbers, brushes, or paper towels, as they can cause scratches on the acrylic surface.

Use a soft cloth
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: hedgehog94

Use a proper cleaner

Choose a cleaner that is specifically designed for acrylic aquariums. Please avoid using any cleaner that contains ammonia, alcohol, or abrasive chemicals, as they can cause damage to the acrylic surface.

Protect the bottom

Use a soft substrate, like gravel or sand, to cushion the bottom of the aquarium. This will help prevent inside scratches from rocks or other objects that may be placed in the tank.

Following these tips, you can help protect the aquarium from scratches and keep it looking beautiful for years.

Why Is It Important to Polish Acrylic Aquarium? 

Polishing an acrylic aquarium is important for several reasons:

  • Visibility: Acrylic aquariums can become scratched or scuffed over time, making it difficult to see the aquatic life inside the tank. By polishing the surface of the acrylic, you can remove these imperfections and restore the clarity of the tank.
  • Aesthetics: A polished acrylic aquarium looks much more attractive than a scratched and scuffed one. This is especially important if the aquarium is used as a decorative element in a home, hotel, office, or even to make a commercial appearance.
  • The health of aquatic life: Rough, scratched surfaces can harbor bacteria and other microorganisms that may harm the aquatic life living in the tank. By polishing the acrylic, you can create a smoother surface that is easier to clean and less likely to harbor harmful microorganisms.
  • Durability: Acrylic is a relatively soft material that can be easily scratched or damaged. By polishing the surface of the aquarium, you can help to protect it from further damage and extend its lifespan.

Overall, polishing an acrylic aquarium is important for maintaining its appearance, ensuring the health of aquatic life, and protecting the tank from further damage.

Conclusion

Polishing an acrylic aquarium is a straightforward process that can help maintain the beauty and clarity of the tank. So how to polish acrylic aquarium? To begin, removing debris or dirt from the surface is important by using a soft cloth or microfiber towel. 

Next, apply a polishing compound designed on acrylic surfaces and gently rub it into the scratches using a circular motion.

Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and avoid applying too much pressure to prevent causing further damage to the acrylic. Finally, rinse the tank with clean water. 

With regular maintenance and proper care, your acrylic aquarium can remain crystal clear and provide a stunning display for aquatic pets and plants. 

Happy polishing!

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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