dirty aquarium that needs an algae scraper

Best Algae Scrapers and Glass Cleaners: Buyer’s Guide

Are you looking for the best algae scrapers and glass cleaners for your aquarium? Or perhaps looking for an upgrade from the current one you have?

If so, you’ve come to the right place. In this buyer’s guide, we’ll show you what to look for when shopping for these products and recommend some of our favorites. In fact, our favorite algae scraper is the FL!PPER Flipper Cleaner Float – 2-in-1 Floating Magnetic Aquarium Glass Cleaner. So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced aquarium owner, read on to find out more.

Best Algae Scrapers:

What is the Best Algae Scraper?

Our favorite algae scraper is the FL!PPER Flipper Cleaner Float – 2-in-1 Floating Magnetic Aquarium Glass Cleaner. It is the only two in one option on the list and gives you both a magnetic scraper and a blade. Its innovative design helps you store both together, so this cleaning tool doesn’t take up a ton of space. And it’s good for tight nooks and crannies in your tank.

Types of Glass Cleaners and Algae Removers

Algae scrapers come in two varieties: magnetic style or scrapers.

The best choice for you will depend on your tank setup. One type might work better for your tank’s specific requirements and shape than the other.

Magnetic Type

The newest tool in the aquarium cleaning world is the magnetic algae scraper. Its technology is improving all the time, and it’s becoming a must-have gadget for a lot of aquarium owners.

Magnetic algae scrubber on aquarium wall

The cleaner uses two separate magnetic parts. The rough side is used for scrubbing and placed on the algae-occupied aquarium glass. The smooth side is smooth is placed on the outside of the tank and helps guide the rough side. Because the magnets have opposite charges and are attracted to one another, you can move the scrubber by moving the smooth magnet on the outside of the tank.

Scrapers and Blades

If you want the classic tool for cleaning algae, scrapers and blades are your best bet. They’re straightforward to use. You simply slide the scraper up and down the inner glass. You will scrape off the algae with enough pressure.

Although these tools are more labor-intensive than the magnetic options, you will have more granular control over your movement, making them a better option for tanks with more difficult-to-reach places.

Glass and Acrylic Aquariums Need Different Tools

Acrylic aquariums are lighter than glass aquariums which is great if you want to move them around the house. However, they’re also a lot easier to scratch than glass aquariums. Algae scrapers that use a blade could easily damage an acrylic aquarium.

If you have an acrylic aquarium, we recommend investing in a tool that is specifically made to avoid scraping it. There are lots of options available specifically for acrylic tanks. Some tools also work for both glass and acrylic if you need the flexibility. You’ve got options so make sure you’re paying attention during the selection process.

How to Choose an Algae Scraper

When choosing an algae scraper, you need to select the option that is best for your tank, taking into consideration both its material and size. Both factors will impact what is the best choice for you.

Tank Material

Acrylic and glass tanks often require different types of algae scrapers and scrubber pads. Some tools are made for acrylic tanks, while others are designed to work with glass, and some can handle both types of tanks.

With glass tanks, the algae scrubber pad is typically made of a rougher material that would quickly scrape an acrylic tank. If you’re using a scraper, it will often be made of metal.

For acrylic tanks, the scrubber material is much softer, which reduces any scratching potential. If you’re using a scraper, it will often be made of plastic.

Tank Size

If you have a big 100-gallon plus tank, don’t get a little scraper. It will take forever to clean. Similarly, if you have a 10-gallon tank, don’t buy something that was meant for a 100-gallon tank. It will be bulky and difficult to use. The moral of the story here – get a scraper that matches your tank size.

One important consideration for the magnetized scrubbers – the thickness of the walls of the aquarium is important. Thicker walls require stronger magnets in order to attract one another through the glass. If your magnets aren’t strong enough, the scrubber might attach securely but it won’t be strong enough to remove any algae build-up.

Another consideration for bigger tanks – make sure you’re getting long-handled tools unless you like wet hands and arms!

Do You Need an Algae Scraper?

The simple answer. No, you don’t technically need an algae scraper. You can add fast-growing plants like pothos to your tank set-up to stave off nitrates and choke out nutrient supplies if you want.

The more complicated answer. You will want an algae scraper if you want to be able to quickly clean your aquarium and keep your glass or acrylic walls looking clean. It is a regular part of our aquarium maintenance.

There is almost always a thin layer of algae on the aquarium glass. It can be hard to see with the naked eye but when you scrape it off, you will be able to notice the difference.

Getting an algae scraper won’t break the bank so once you have a few extra funds, we highly recommend one.

Best Algae Scrapers for your Aquarium

FL!PPER Flipper Cleaner Float – 2-in-1 Floating Magnetic Aquarium Glass Cleaner

This is a popular choice among aquarists and comes with an innovative flipping magnetic scraper. One side of the magnet has a scrubbing surface for cleaning the glass. This element is good for cleaning large flat areas. To access the blade, detach the outside part, turn it 180°, and align it with the inner scrubber. This will reveal the scraping blades (both a metal and hard plastic version).

If you have a glass tank, you can use the metal blade. If you have an acrylic tank, choose the plastic blade. The Flipper is for use on glass tanks up to 1/2″ thickness and 30-150 gallons in volume.

Features:

  • Works in fresh or saltwater tanks
  • Patented design gives you both magnetic scrubber and blade

Pros:

  • Flexibility in cleaning approach (scrubber or blade)
  • Easily handles precision cleaning along the substrate line and near corners

Cons:

  • Must use scraper blade slowly, takes a long time to clean large areas
  • Blade can cut the silicone corners of the tank

Gulfstream Tropical AGU130A Mag-Float Acrylic Aquarium Cleaner

The Magfloat is a classic magnetic algae scraper that comes in a rectangular or square form. It is a classic scrubber and doesn’t combine with a built-in blade like the Flipper.

The Mag-Float is a great scraper for big open areas. It gets the job done quickly and efficiently. Another nice feature is that the cleaning magnet floats, making it simple to get if it separates from the outside magnet while cleaning.

However, it struggles with precision areas, like near the corners or substrate. Also, make sure you get the right size because the magnets are quite powerful so it can be hard to move the magnets if they’re too strong for the glass width of your tank.

Features:

  • Cleaning magnet floats if detached

Pros:

  • Magnetic scrubber is good at cleaning large areas

Cons:

  • No scraper blade
  • Difficult to use in tight spaces

Neptonion Magnetic Aquarium Algae Scraper

This scraper option has a comfortable handle for when you’re deep cleaning your tank and it is taking some time and effort. It also has a large scrubbing pad for cleaning good chunks of surface area at a time.

However, the magnet is not as strong as the Mag-Float, meaning it struggled a bit with certain patches of hard, green algae. Like the Mag-Float, it also struggles in tight corners.

Features:

  • Ergonomic handle design
  • Large scrubbing pad surface area

Pros:

  • Comfortable handle design makes it easier to clean for extended periods of time
  • Good for softer algae

Cons:

  • Not effective for hard algae spots. Takes multiple passes to clean

hygger Carbon Fiber 6 in 1 Aquarium Cleaning Tool Kit 

We liked this cleaning kit. Our main complaint is that some of the attachments aren’t super useful but that seems reasonable, given the kit comes with six options.

Positives about this kit include:

  • The main handle is adjustable from 23-34 inches
  • It is easy swap out different attachments

It comes with two sponge attachments, one designed for flat surfaces and one designed for tight corners. The flat sponge works well on soft algae but struggles with green spot algae.

It also has a sand and gravel rake attachment. This could theoretically be used to scoop out small items on the floor of the tank, or smooth the substrate.

It also has a metal blade attachment for glass tanks. It works well on both hard and soft algae spots but can be difficult to angle properly.

This kit also includes a net for scooping out any remaining floating algae after cleaning the glass.

Features:

  • Adjustable handle with 6 different attachment options
  • Main handle is adjustable from 23-34 inches

Pros: 

  • Metal blade attachment good for difficult, hard algae
  • Net attachment to scoop up any remaining, floating algae
  • Handle is long enough to clean up to 2.65 ft depth tank

Cons: 

  • Non-adjustable angle on the metal blade

Fzone New Aluminum Magnesium Alloy Scraper Cleaner

If you’re looking for a super simple scraper option, this could be a good choice. The Fzone uses thin razor blades that are excellent at scraping off both soft and hard algae. Additionally, It comes with a small brush attachment that’s good for getting into tight corners. A lot of options on this list do one thing (general scraping or scraping corners) well, so it is nice to have one option that does both.

The handle can flex between 26 inches long and 9 inches long. It is a sturdy little thing and can also be deconstructed for easy storage.

The most important feature of this set is that you can adjust the angle of the scraper head. This is critical when you’re trying to reach all of the nooks and crannies of your tank.

This option comes with 10 replacement blades, which means you can put it to use for a very long time.

Features:

  • Handle can flex between 9 and 26 inches
  • Comes with 10 replacement blades

Pros:

  • Excellent at removing both soft and hard algae
  • Adjustable blade head makes it easy to reach difficult spots

Cons:

  • Doesn’t work in acrylic tanks

Aqueon Aquarium Cleaning Magnets Glass/Acrylic, Medium

This option works well on both acrylic and glass tanks. The cleaning magnet is bottom-weighted, so if it breaks away from the outer magnet during the cleaning process, it will sink to the bottom of the tank, making it easy to retrieve. However, the magnets are pretty strong so this connection break only happens rarely.

If you ever need to replace the cleaning pads, they’re easy to replace, meaning your tool stays ready to scrape algae always. This option removes algae efficiently from your tank and won’t scratch your walls.

Features:

  • Weighted cleaning magnet sinks if disconnected
  • Suitable for both glass and acrylic tanks

Pros:

  • Removes algae easily from glass and acrylic
  • Easy to install replacement scrubber pads

Cons:

  • Magnets can make sounds on the glass that scare the fish (due to magnet strength)

Best Algae Scrapers: FAQS

Are magnetic algae scrapers worth it?

In our opinion, algae scrapers are worth it. They make your cleaning process more efficient and can take off both soft and hard types of algae. When thinking through a potential scraper, make sure it has the ability to reach hard-to-reach areas of your tank.

How do you get hard green algae off aquarium glass?

If you’ve got hard green algae on your aquarium glass, a combination of scraping the algae off, changing the water, and siphoning off any remaining floating algae is going to be important. For really challenging algae, metal blades are typically the best option for removal. Some aquarists find benefits from UV sterilizers for keeping algae under control.

Best Algae Scrapers: Conclusion

If you’re looking for a way to keep your aquarium clean, algae scrubbers are an important part of your toolkit. Magnetic scrubbers are great because they don’t require any chemicals and can remove pesky algae without damaging items like coral or rocks. However, some people prefer blades that allow them to more easily control how much algae is removed. Whatever your preference, this guide has covered everything from the best options in stores today to which type will work best with different tank types. Now it’s up to you! Which one do you think would suit your needs? Let us know in the comments below!

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