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Starting a Planted Tank

Plant Nutrients 101

Phophates in the Planted Tank

Activated Carbon

Fertilizer & the Planted Aquarium

CO2 & the Planted Tank

Algae Control

Safety Around the Aquarium

Cleaning Aquarium Glass

Mysterious Fish Deaths Explained!

Aquarium Photography

New Tank Syndrome

Choosing an Aquatic Heater

Tips for Beginning Fishkeepers

Salt in the Aquarium

Outdoor Patio Tubbing

Malaysian Trumpet Snails



Clean Aquarium Glass Safely

Sooner or later, all aquariums need to be cleaned.  Is there anything you need to know about cleaning them safely? 

Well, actually, yes!

Cleaning the inside of the glass is easy enough.  Buildup of algae and nondescript “crud” can be removed with a scraper.  Such scrapers are manufactured and sold specifically for aquarium care.  The buildup is sent into the water column, where the filter will suck it in and remove it from the water. 

Do you have to purchase an expensive (and flimsy!) scraper made for aquariums?  Well, no.  Actually, you can find perfectly adequate scrapers in the housewares department of your local Big Box store, where they are sold as “toilet brushes.”  You can find nice toilet brushes with scrubbing pads on the ends, and they are very cheap to purchase.  When you purchase it brand new, a toilet brush is perfectly clean and safe, and does an excellent job of reaching down into the aquarium to scrub the glass.  But be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that this brush is DEDICATED to your aquarium, and do NOT use this brush for any other purpose.  You cannot use it to scrub the toilet, or the sink, or the kitchen floor, or it will become contaminated with harsh chemical cleaning agents that can then damage the aquarium.  Put this brush under your aquarium, safely tucked away, where it won’t get used for any other purpose.

What about the outside of the aquarium?  Calcium deposits build up on the glass, causing unsightly white streaks to run down the side of the glass.  What can you use that will quickly strip these deposits off?  If you said “commercial window glass cleaner,” STOP!  Most commercial window glass cleaners contain ammonia, and it can kill fish, even if just a slight amount of the spray enters the water.  Never use a window glass cleaner containing ammonia around an aquarium. 

What can you use to safely clean the glass?  Vinegar.  There are a rare few commercial window glass cleaners made out of vinegar that do not contain ammonia, but they can be difficult to find and are costly.  But why not make your own?  You can make an excellent window glass cleaner from ½ cup of ordinary white vinegar dissolved in ½ gallon of distilled water.  You can purchase clean, brand new spray bottles in the Big Box store, and you can add your home-made window cleaner to the brand new spray bottle.  Mark this bottle for aquarium cleaning purposes, and your fish will be perfectly safe.

Well, wait a minute… you don’t have to confine use of your home-made spray to the aquarium.  Actually, you’ll discover that your homemade glass cleaner works very nicely on all glass surfaces, including windows and mirrors.  Once you use this homemade cleaner, you probably won’t want to buy expensive commercial glass cleaners again. 

Last, how about those unsightly white deposits that accumulate on the cover of the aquarium, or on the black plastic trim?  Well, your homemade vinegar glass cleaner works there as well, only you don’t want to spray it directly on the aquarium surfaces above the water.  Instead, spray a little on a clean cloth and use that to wipe down the top of the aquarium.  It will remove those white hard water deposits on the aquarium, restoring the cover to a like-new appearance. 

Even if a couple of drops of your homemade vinegar spray should enter the water column, it won’t be toxic to your fish, and it won’t upset your water balance.  Natural buffers in your water will very quickly neutralize the acetic acid in the vinegar, and no harm will come from it. 

Keeping your aquarium clean and sparkling is easy and safe.  And now you know how to do it without investing wads of money in expensive aquarium cleaning supplies. 


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