How to clean a glass fish tank with mineral build-up

Updated March 23, 2017

Owning a glass aquarium can be a great joy as well as a great responsibility. Glass aquariums can often suffer from hard mineral build-up, which makes the glass look cloudy and frosted. Keeping the glass clean requires maintenance, but is not a difficult task. With just a few ingredients and elbow grease, your tank glass can look clean and new.

Empty your fish tank, making sure to secure your fish safely in another container. The more frequently you clean your fish tank, the easier the task of removing build-up will be. Once-a-week cleaning will ensure that the build-up is not too thick to remove. Clean your aquarium as you normally would, using only natural products that do not contain chemicals that may harm your fish.

Wet your abrasive cloth until it is completely saturated with lemon juice. You can use plain white vinegar instead. Use the cloth to scrub at the sides of the tank. For any areas where the build-up is particularly hard, you can use a scrubbing brush to clean the area.

Rinse thoroughly. While both lemon juice and vinegar are natural products, you do not want too much to be in the water when your fish return. Make sure to thoroughly rinse your tank to get rid of the remnants of lemon juice or vinegar.

Soak parts of the aquarium in lemon juice. Any removable parts that have build-up can be placed into a bucket or sink of lemon juice (again, vinegar also would be appropriate). Depending on how hard the mineral build-up is, you can soak the items for up to 30 minutes.

Rinse all parts thoroughly. Just as you did with the tank, you will want to make sure that you rinse all the aquarium parts in water. Replace the items in the aquarium. Refill your aquarium and return your fish.

Things You'll Need

  • Cloth (abrasive)
  • Lemon juice (or plain white vinegar)
  • Scrubbing brush
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About the Author

Melanie Fleury has been writing professionally since 1995. She has written for various educational websites such as and is the educational consultant at the Knowledge Tree Center for Education. She enjoys creating curriculum for children with various learning styles. Fleury holds a master's degree in education specializing in early childhood from Ashwood University.