Cleaning acrylic aquariums can be a nightmare if you don’t use the correct “acrylic safe” scrubber pads on the inside and soft cloths and proper polishes on the outside. Utilizing products that are specifically made for acrylic tanks can make all the difference. When maintaining an acrylic tank, it is inevitable that scratches are going to occur. The trick is to minimize any scratching and to make those that do happen not be a permanent eye sore. By using products that are designed for acrylic aquariums, hobbyists can fear less about scratches and enjoy their tank more.
When it comes to cleaning the algae off of the inside of the aquarium, use acrylic safe scrubbing pads. Make sure that you don’t let your scrubber pad get too worn or thin. We all tend to start pressing harder when the pad wears thin which in turn can start leaving small scratches. Always have replacement pads available amongst your aquarium supplies. Read labels on the scrubber pad packaging to make sure that the choice you make is absolutely safe for acrylic. Also, there are plastic “blades” that are acrylic safe if you have some tough areas or calcareous algaes in reefs that are stubborn. Use these plastic “blades” sparingly as they tend to scratch if they chip or break during cleaning. These plastic scrapers should always be kept flush against the inside of the tank to avoid pressing to hard on an angle and scratching. Though many aquarists like using the magnet cleaners, they will not only scratch the inside but can also scratch the outside if you’re not careful. It doesn’t take but a grain of sand to cause real damage to acrylic. And with the force that some of these cleaning magnets can exert on the tank wall any thing that gets trapped between the magnet and the acrylic tends to make deep scratches. Every scratch now will be a spot that has to be scrubbed more often later as the algae grows in it.
Other items that can scratch the inside while cleaning acrylic aquariums includes scrubbing along the bottom near the substrate or even hitting the sides with a gravel vacuum. Decorations and rocks can cause deep scratches so always take care when removing or positioning these items. Be cautious along the bottom of the front and sides when cleaning algae. Scratches can be avoided by gently moving the sand, gravel or crushed coral aside. Proceed with care so that nothing gets trapped between the scrubber pad and the tank wall.
On the outside of the aquarium, it’s imperative that you don’t use any abrasives sponges or pot scrubbers, or commercial cleaners like Windex or any other ammonia based products. These products can scratch and cause crazing to the surface. It is best to use water or acrylic polish like Brillianize or Novus or something similar and a soft cloth. There are some high grade paper towels that will work but don’t use the cheap ones that feel like sandpaper. You’ll regret it.
If, and when, scratches do occur while cleaning acrylic aquariums, purchase an acrylic scratch removal kit. Local pet stores or fish stores should carry these kits. If not, they can be obtained online. Most of these scratch removal kits consist of varying grades of abrasive cloths from 1500 to 12000 grits along with a finishing polish and a soft cloth. Scratches on the inside can be removed using the abrasive cloths but don’t ever use the liquid polish on the inside. On exterior scratches use the abrasive cloths and liquid polish to clear up any blemishes. This article is intended to help avoid costly mistakes when cleaning your acrylic aquarium and to repair any such mistakes as easily and painlessly as possible.