The 8 Best Aquarium Products for Correct Cleaning

Think a filter is enough to keep aquariums clean? Think again.

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Our Top Picks

Best Algae Grower: API Algae SCRAPERS and Hand HELD Pads for Acrylic Aquariums

Algae Pad
Algae Pad. PriceGrabber

Is it necessary to purchase algae pads at a pet shop instead of the local department store? Yes! Although the pads may look the same, there may be soap or chemical residue in them from the manufacturing process. Soap or chemical reside can be lethal to aquarium fish.

An algae scrubber is a water filtering device (not to be confused with a scrubber pad used to clean glass) which uses light to grow algae; in this process, undesirable chemicals are removed from the water. Algae scrubbers have allowed saltwater and freshwater aquarium and pond hobbyists the ability to operate their tanks the way that oceans and lakes operate: using natural filtration in the form of primary production.

Best Glass Cleaner: Gulfstream Tropical AGU030SM Mag-Float Glass Aquarium Cleaner

Safe and Easy Aquarium Spray
Safe and Easy Aquarium Spray. PriceGrabber

Tired of sticking your whole arm into the tank to clean the glass? A magnetic glass cleaner is just what you need. Tip: bigger isn't better. Opt for the smaller ones, as they are more maneuverable and don't fall off the glass as readily as the larger variety.

The algae scrubber was invented by Dr. Walter Adey, who beginning in the late 1970s, was Director of the Marine Systems Laboratory at the Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution (Washington DC, USA). His research of various types of algae, especially in their ecological role on coral reefs, gave him insight into how the ocean (in particular a reef) "recycles" nutrients. He designed and built various exhibits ranging in size up to 3000 gallons, and modeled different aquatic ecological systems including a tropical coral reef/lagoon which "after 8 years of closure [to the environment], had its chemical parameters controlled solely by an algal turf scrubber.

Runner-Up, Best Glass Cleaner: Kent Marine Pro-Scraper II

Kent Pro Scraper II

Courtesy of Amazon

Nothing takes algae off glass like a good scraper. A metal razor works well on glass aquariums, while plastic is safest for acrylic tanks.

Dr. Adey built several versions of algae scrubbers for aquariums at the Smithsonian. He called them "Algal Turf Scrubbers", because at the time it was believed that "turf" algae was the best type of algae to grow in a scrubber. He also was granted the first U.S. patent for a dumping-bucket algae scrubber, which described a complex dumping device that poured water onto a horizontal surface, thus simulating waves in a reef environment.

Best Spray Product: Gulfstream Tropical AGU030SM Mag-Float Glass Aquarium Cleaner

Safe and Easy Aquarium Spray
Safe and Easy Aquarium Spray. PriceGrabber

At one time or another, everyone gets that stubborn lime buildup on the light, hood, and lid. Standard cleansers can be hazardous. Use a lime cleaner that is made specifically for aquarium use.

Best Wipes: Doctors Foster & Smith Glass Cleaner

Glass Cleaner
Glass Cleaner. PriceGrabber

The outside of the aquarium requires special cleansers to keep it clean and attractive. Although marketed for reptile cages, these handy wipes are safe and easy to use on your aquarium glass and other external parts.

Best for Gravel: Aqueon Siphon Vacuum Aquarium Gravel Cleaner with Bulb


Your living room carpet isn't the only thing that requires vacuuming. A good siphon makes short work of cleaning the gravel in your aquarium. My personal choice is the python, which attaches to any faucet and eliminates the need for buckets and manual priming.

Best for Nets: Jungle Net Soak Net Cleaner, 1-Gallon

Net Soak
Net Soak. PriceGrabber

Nets are often overlooked when performing aquarium maintenance. Using net soak will prevents transmitting disease, and prolongs the life of your fish nets.

Best for Filter: uxcell 5 Pcs Aquarium Fish Tank Tube Cleanner Brush Filter Pipe Hose

Filter Brush
Filter Brush. PriceGrabber

When cleaning the filter, the right brush is everything. Be sure to have a filter brush on hand to get into those tight spaces.