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Aquarium Glass Cleaning - The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
May 10, 2023
Aquarists worldwide want crystal-clear aquarium glass that gives the viewer an unobstructed view of the underwater scenery and the lively activity behind the aquarium glass. Those who have been in the hobby for a while have assumably tried several tools and procedures to keep the aquarium glass clean. You've probably had negative and positive experiences, and over time you've found good practices and tools to keep your glass clean. Green Aqua team members also have expertise in aquarium glass cleaning and want to share their experiences so you and your aquarium can benefit. For this reason, we've compiled our recommendations and helpful tips for you in this article.
Things You Should Pay Special Attention To When Cleaning Aquarium Glass
Right at the beginning of this article, we would like to point out a few critical things that, if not taken to heart, can cause problems and possibly even have harmful consequences.
- If the aquarium is in operating mode with living creatures, no chemical or toxic cleaning agents should ever come to use in the aquarium.
- Do not use old household sponges or other cleaning tools that have come into contact with chemical cleaning substances. Please only use tools for aquarium cleaning that are exclusively intended for this purpose! All for the benefit of the living creatures in your aquarium.
- Cleaning the aquarium glass inside should ideally always be done with a water change. This procedure allows the debris loosened from the aquarium glass to be vacuumed off directly. In case of heavy soiling, this procedure is advisable.
- When cleaning, always ensure that there are no substrate particles between the cleaning tool and the glass! Sand or fine gravel, in particular, can cause permanent optical damage in the form of scratches.
Aquarium Glass Cleaning Tools
Below we have listed the products regularly used by our maintenance crew and many of our customers for aquarium glass cleaning. You will also find information about the intended use of each tool.
Algae Scraper – All deposits can be removed from the aquarium pane effortlessly with an algae scraper. Its sharp stainless-steel blade can even make firmly attached lime deposits disappear. Advantageous is that the blade of many models can be used on both sides. If one side is worn out, turn it around and move on. Algae scrapers are available in many different designs and shapes. We recommend models whose handle is long enough that the hands do not get wet during use. In aquascaping, an algae scraper belongs to the absolute essential equipment, as it works very effectively. However, in order not to cause any damage by the sharp blade, a few things should be taken into consideration.
- To avoid scratches on the glass, it is better to do it only in one direction, from the water surface down to the substrate. Once there, set it off the glass, place the algae scraper back on top, and continue until the entire glass has been cleaned. If the algae scraper is also used from the bottom to the top, there is a risk that substrate particles - as mentioned before - will get between the glass and the scraper, causing damage.
- The algae scraper should not be used in the aquarium corners, as the silicone bonding could be damaged. Therefore, the best practice is to keep a small safety distance of about 0.5cm from the corners. For corner cleaning, we have another tool that is yet to come.
- When handling the algae Scraper, be careful not to get into contact with the sharp blade. Therefore, it is also highly advisable to keep the algae scraper out of the reach of children.
Magnetic Aquarium Glass Cleaner – A magnetic cleaner consists of an outer and an inner part. The inner part is equipped with a cleaning surface. For cleaning, simply attach the parts of the magnetic cleaner to the aquarium glass according to function from the inside and opposite from the outside. A magnetic cleaner works most effectively when it is moved along the aquarium glass in a circular motion. After cleaning, the outer part can be pulled off, and the counterpart in the aquarium floats to the surface for convenient removal. If you have an aquarium where the glass surfaces inside have enough distance from the hardscape, then this tool can serve you well. When buying, consider the correct version because aquarium glass cleaners have installed magnets of different strengths to cope with varying glass thicknesses.
Sponge – In this category, there are many options, ranging from ordinary household sponges to those made specifically for aquarium use. You can easily remove even the most stubborn algae and deposits if you have a suitable sponge. We have found the Dennerle Clenator sponge to be very effective for the most stubborn algae. This one is a double-sided soft sponge, with one side consisting of fine stainless steel wool, efficiently removing stubborn debris without scratching the glass. Scratches is an appropriate keyword for the Green Aqua cleaning sponge, as this is particularly effective in removing algae from scratches. Made of melamine foam, this cleaning sponge can also be used on particularly delicate acrylic aquariums without leaving marks. If you use household sponges for cleaning, ensure they are suitable for glass cleaning and do not contain detergents.
Cleaning Glove – The JBL Proscape cleaning glove was specially developed for aquarium cleaning and is a practical multitasking helper. With this glove, you can effortlessly clean glass surfaces and aquarium corners, silicone seams, hardscape surfaces, and even the leaves of aquarium plants with a robust leaf structure like Anubias. Even the eggs of many snail species that adhere to surfaces can be effortlessly removed with the JBL Proscape Cleaning Glove - a genuinely innovative tool with "joker qualities" for aquarium cleaning.
Soft Brush – A soft brush is not only suitable for removing light dirt from hardscape surfaces but also very good for cleaning the aquarium corners. This way, the dirt in these areas can be removed without damaging the silicone bonding in the corners. Our maintenance team cleans the corners of our gallery aquariums with the 'Green Aqua Brush for maintenance'. This brush has the advantage of having angled brush heads, which makes it much easier to use when cleaning. A standard toothbrush with soft bristles is not quite as convenient, but it also gets the job done.
Microfiber Cloth – With it, you can clean the outer surfaces of the aquarium glass and edges wonderfully and shine streak-free. In addition, microfiber cloth does not lint compared to paper towels and is more durable and thus more ecologically sustainable. We offer the 'Dennerle Microfiber Cloth' in the Green Aqua shop. Any other microfiber cloth should be able to serve this purpose just as well, of course.
Hardship Cases And A Few Tips
Sometimes deposits are formed that cannot be removed from the aquarium glass as easily as usual. However, it must be said that such stubborn deposits can be prevented in their formation. With regular cleaning during the aquarium maintenance routine, you can do something preventive. However, if it should happen, the following tips will help you to get rid of the deposits:
Calcium Residues – If residues and dirt on glass, filters, and heaters cannot be removed with the usual agents, Tetratec Easy Wipes can help. These are harmless to all living aquarium inhabitants and can be safely used on glass and plastic surfaces.
If it comes to dismantling an aquarium, lemon can work wonders. The citric acid can soften and loosen any residue adhering to the glass, making residue-free removal a breeze. Cut the lemon half and rub the cut surface on the affected areas. Lemon application is recommended only for drained aquariums without living organisms!
Ugly Appearing Substrate Level – Many have experienced that light-colored sand or gravel looks radiant, especially in the early stages of an aquarium. Typically, however, there are places where a light-colored substrate becomes visibly discolored, right where the substrate comes into contact with the aquarium glass. This scenario can be the case after only a few months. Simply use an old plastic credit card or similar to clean the glass at the substrate level and remove the debris and discolored and visible substrate. To do this, place the flexible plastic card at an angle to the glass and carefully slide it between the aquarium glass and substrate. A positive side effect of this action is that the discolored substrate is mixed with substrate particles behind it that still look fresh. The result is a substrate layer that looks almost new from the front.
Sponge Use During Algae Blooms – In algae phases, where the panes are also affected, it is best to use inexpensive household sponges for single use. Especially if you have several aquariums, this is advisable because if you use the same sponge in another aquarium, it is a carrier for algae. This is considered a purely preventive measure because it is not guaranteed that using the same sponge will lead to algae growth in the other aquarium.
It is advisable to divide the household sponge into several pieces. This is more economical and highly recommended, especially for nano aquariums with smaller glass surfaces.
Eheim Rapid Cleaner – The Eheim Rapid Cleaner is probably mainly used as an algae scraper by its owners. But it can do much more. For the Rapid Cleaner, there are additional attachments like the fish net, a round brush and different cleaning sponges. A super practical multitool for all who love combos.
Oase Aquarium Glass Cleaner – There is an alternative for those who do not want to use an algae scraper because of the sharp blades. The aquarium glass cleaner from Oase is made entirely of plastic and has NO sharp stainless-steel blade. This fact makes the Oase algae scraper pretty safe to use. However, it also has a shortcoming in return. If the plastic edge is damaged, it cannot be replaced.
Do you have any questions about aquarium glass cleaning?
Don't hesitate and just contact our friendly customer service. We will be delighted to help you with any other issue related to the aquarium hobby.