Fish & Aquarium Supplies: Glass/Acrylic Care, Cleaning

These glass canopies reduce evaporation and prevent fish from jumping out of the aquarium
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Knowing how to refurbish an all glass aquarium is a good skill for any fish enthusiast to have. Have you ever found an old aquarium tucked away in a relative's garage or attic or found a really good deal on one at a garage sale or on Craigslist? If you're like me, you surely have. It's relatively easy to make these old aquariums like new and watertight with a little bit of effort.
H202 is the perfect solution for sterilising fish tanks, the pipe work, the glass and plastic of your aquarium.
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So, the solution is to use a lens hood. When pressed against the face of the aquarium tank, a lens hood will form a cone of reflection free darkness. Score! Well... almost. The problem is that a hard lens hood that’s made of either plastic or in some cases, metal, will still have some issues. They can scratch the front of the tank’s glass or acrylic surface. As photographers, we need to tread lightly and not ruin the experience for the next visitor. Additionally, many lenses now come with scalloped hoods that would still let in light. And don't even get me started on the fact that most modern public aquariums have "upgraded" to curved-face tanks. These curved faced tanks can even gather reflections from around corners! Here is where the rubber meets the road... err... fish tank. By using a simple generic rubber lens hood, you can create a completely reflection-free cone of darkness. how to: DIY sliding aquarium glass fish tank lids/tops     - YouTube
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Photo provided by FlickrGlass Aquariums - Buy Glass Fish Tanks Online - My Pet Store and More
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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. Watch more How to Take Care of an Aquarium videos:

To clean dirty fish tank glass. Well, we have the glass inside the aquarium and outside the aquarium.

Let's start with outside the aquarium. You want to use something that's not going to be toxic to the fish. If you're going to use Windex or some kind of spray cleaner please don't spray it directly on the tank. Even the slightest bit of molecules will find their way into the aquarium and could potentially kill some of the bacteria and harm the fish. So spray it on a towel or paper towel ten to 12 feet away from the aquarium, and then bring it to the aquarium and clean the glass with that.

I prefer using just regular warm water. For glass, newspaper works really well. It'll take that film, that salty film, off the aquarium. I've used newspapers for years to clean glass. It'll leave your fingers a little bit black, but it does really, really well at cleaning glass.

I wouldn't use it on acrylic because it'll scratch the acrylic. If you have acrylic or plexiglass you want to use a very soft terry cloth towel and a cleaner that's made to be used for acrylic. You don't want to use anything that's ammonia based as it'll burn and stain the acrylic.

So, to clean the dirty aquarium glass, the outside like fingerprints and stuff, just use regular water on a paper towel or a household towel. That usually cleans the outside of the aquarium just fine.

If you have hard water stains, like if you have hard water from keeping African cichlids and the water has dribbled down the side of the tank and it leaves that white crystal stuff, you could just dissolve the hard minerals in water. Just take some really wet towels and try to pat the aquarium, and keep doing that until you dissolve some of those minerals. There are also hard water stain removers. They sell them at fish stores just for this purpose. They're called Lime Away.

And on the inside of the aquarium if it's dirty you want to clean it. It's probably algae. You want to use a regular algae brush either handheld or on a stick and just get right in there. Or, use a magnet one on the outside and one on the inside, an aquarium magnet, and clean the algae that way.

And that's really the only dirt that you should find in the aquarium. You're not going to find detritus or waste settling on a viewing panel. It's going to be algae, so don't be afraid of it. If you wake up one day and your tank has a nice brown film on it don't get scared. We get calls to the fish store and our service company, oh my God, the water's brown, what is this, is the tank sick. No. It's just normal algae that's growing, diatom algae. So you just want to get in there and clean it out and not be afraid of it.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.Purchase a tube of aquarium-safe silicone gel. Many types of silicone have chemicals that are harmful to fish and other marine life. The gel should be clear, and free of any anti-mold additives. Place the silicone gel tube inside the caulk gun. Start inside the tank, and apply a thin layer of the gel to the crack. Wet a finger and smooth it down so that it fully seals the area. Do the same on the outside of the glass.