How To Clean An Acrylic Fish Tank

by Aquarium Scoop | Last Updated: October 28, 2022

If you own an acrylic fish tank, it’s important to know how to clean this type of material properly. An acrylic fish tank is effortless to clean since the material is so smooth. You can have your acrylic fish tank sparkling like new in just a few simple steps!

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • How to clean an acrylic fish tank
  • How often should you clean your acrylic fish tank
  • Tips for acrylic tank cleaning

If you have an acrylic fish tank, you know they require special care when cleaning to avoid scratching its soft surface. Acrylic is a clear plastic that is less brittle than glass, making it a popular choice for aquariums. However, it is also more susceptible to scratches and can bow over time. 

Materials Needed to Clean an Acrylic Fish Tank

There are a few things you will need to clean your acrylic fish tank properly:

First, avoid using anything abrasive, as it could scratch the acrylic.

  1. A toothbrush or soft-bristled brush to scrub away any stubborn dirt or algae.
  2. An ammonia-free cleaner specifically for acrylic can be found at your local pet store.
  3. A clean, dry cloth to buff the tank after cleaning.

How To Clean Your Acrylic Fish Tank

Cleaning an acrylic fish tank may seem like a daunting task, but it is actually quite simple! 

  1. Unplug all electrical equipment and remove all water, decor, gravel, and plants from the tank. Remove water with a siphon or a bucket. 
  2. Rinse a sponge or cloth in warm water and use it to wipe down the inside of the tank.
  3. Mix the cleaner with water according to the instructions on the bottle. A mild soap can also be used. Try that first. 
  4. Use the sponge or cloth to apply the cleaner to the inside of the tank.
  5. Scrub the inside of the tank with a toothbrush or other soft-bristled brush.
  6. Rinse the tank thoroughly with warm water.
  7. Use the clean, dry cloth to buff the tank until it is streak-free.
  8. Replace the decor and plants, and plug in the electrical equipment.

Cleaning your acrylic fish tank doesn’t have to be complicated. Following these simple steps, you can keep your tank looking new.

Expert Tip 🧠

True acrylic will not yellow over time. Cheap, small tanks often used for betta fish are sometimes made of polycarbonate, which does yellow over time.

Tips For Cleaning Your Acrylic Tank

  1. Be sure to acclimate your fish before returning them to the clean tank. Slowly add water from the new tank to their holding container. After a few hours, the fish can be released into the tank.
  2. A credit card can be used to remove stubborn gunk on your tank gently.
  3. Clean your tank decorations and decorative plants while doing a full tank clean. No sense in doing it later!
  4. Ramshorn snails are excellent tankmates that do a great job at cleaning acrylic tanks. Just be sure you don’t have a fish species that eat snails!

How Often Should You Clean an Acrylic Fish Tank?

Monthly tank cleanings are recommended but stick to weekly water changes, filter cleanings, and gravel vacuuming. 

It all comes down to the size of your tank, avoiding overfeeding, and maintaining a clean filter. Keeping a clean tank prolongs your fish’s life and reduces algae growth. 

Here are a few things to consider:

The size of your fish tank: A larger fish tank will need to be cleaned less often than a smaller fish tank. The number of fish in your fish tank – The more fish you have, the more waste they produce and the more often you’ll need to clean your fish tank.

The type of fish you have: Some fish produce more waste than others. For example, goldfish produce a lot of waste because they have a high metabolism.

The type of filter you have: A good filter will help to keep your fish tank clean. But, if you have a lot of fish or your fish tank is on the smaller side, you may need to clean it more often.

Expert Tip 🧠

You should clean your acrylic fish tank at least once a month, but weekly water changes, gravel vacuuming, and filter cleanings are recommended.

How to Prevent Scratches on an Acrylic Fish Tank

If you have an acrylic fish tank, there are a few things you can do to prevent scratches:

  1. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or scrubbers inside or outside the tank.
  2. Be careful when handling objects around the tank. Avoid placing anything sharp or abrasive on or near the acrylic.
  3. Be careful when moving the tank. Make sure to lift it from the bottom and support it evenly to avoid stressing the acrylic.
  4. If you get a scratch, you can try to buff it with a soft cloth and a mild cleaner.

What Are the Benefits of Having an Acrylic Fish Tank?

When it comes to owning an aquarium, many different options are available on the market. One option that has become increasingly popular in recent years is an acrylic fish tank.

Acrylic Fish Tank Benefits

An acrylic fish tank is worth considering if you are looking for a new aquarium. These tanks offer several benefits that make them a great option for those looking for a new aquarium.

Acrylic Tanks Are Lighter

Acrylic tanks offer several benefits over their glass counterparts, making them an excellent option for those looking for a new aquarium. One of the most significant benefits of owning an acrylic fish tank is that they are much lighter than glass tanks. This makes them much easier to move around, which can be a big advantage if you ever need to relocate your aquarium. Acrylic tanks are also much clearer than glass tanks, providing your fish with a better view.

More Durable

Acrylic aquariums are an excellent option for fishkeepers because they are lightweight and durable. In addition, acrylic won’t crack or shatter like glass, which makes it an excellent option for kids. 

Retains Heat Better Than Glass

Acrylic retains heat better than glass, reducing the amount of work on your tank heater. If you own an expensive heater and want to prolong its working life, acrylic is a good choice.

Acrylic Fish Tank Drawbacks

Scratches Easily
The main drawback to acrylic tanks is that they scratch easily. However, unlike glass tanks, scratches can be buffed out. Restoring an acrylic tank can be time-consuming, but once glass is scratched there’s nothing you can do.

Acrylic tanks can bow over time from environmental factors (if you keep your tank outside or in a garage) and from holding water long term. Slight bowing is normal, but significant curving is cause for concern and likely a manufacturer’s defect.

Expert Tip 🧠

Acrylic fish tanks offer many benefits over glass tanks, including being lighter, easy to clean, and providing fish with a better view.


What is an Acrylic Aquarium?

An acrylic aquarium is a fish tank made of clear plastic called acrylic. Acrylic is a shatter-resistant alternative to glass often used in aquariums, as it is clearer and doesn’t break easily. Acrylic aquariums come in various shapes and sizes and can be customized to your needs.

Do acrylic aquariums scratch easily?

Yes, but scratches on acrylic aquariums can be buffed out, unlike glass aquariums.