Face it. Cleaning the aquarium is usually last on an aquarium keeper's list of things to do, and any tool that makes the job easier is worth its weight in gold. Here's a list of some of the best, simple and inexpensive gadgets for cleaning aquariums that are designed to help get the job done as easily and quickly as possible.
Why get your hands and arms wet when you don't have to? There are many brands of cleaning magnets to choose from, with Mag-Float being one of the best. Available in versions for use on glass or acrylic, and in four sizes, with the smallest being ideal for a tank as little as one gallon in size. Because each side is magnetized, and floats, if the inside portion gets loose, it is easily recaptured at the surface from the outside. No matter what type you buy, just take the magnet out of the package, stick it on the tank, and clean away. When done, you don't even have to remove it from the aquarium. Park it in a corner, and it's ready for use at any time. Average Price Range: $5.00 to $60.00, but up to $300.00.
Magnets are great for quickly cleaning algae off the inside walls of an aquarium, but they don't clean areas where sealant is present or reach deep into corners very well. For this job an algae cleaning pad is needed. There are lots to choose from, and whether you pick a simple hand-held square or large rectangular pad, or our favorite, one with a long-handle, it's best to buy the type for the material your tank is made of -- glass, or acrylic. Average Price: $2.00 to $10.00.
Although some algae pads are also called scrapers, the kind of cleaning tool that works best to strip away hard to remove algae is a blade style scraper. These tools have metal or plastic blades sharp enough to scrape-off algae, but are designed to be harmless to the touch. Choices include simple hand-held scrapers, short to extra-long handled models, and even deluxe kits packaged with other aquarium maintenance tool attachments included. Average Price: $5.00 to $40.00.
Gravity-fed siphon cleaners are typically used for performing water changes. This tool extracts waste trapped in the substrate and removes it along with the aquarium water at the same time, but leaves the media behind. However, it is not a good idea to use one in an aquarium with a fine substrate material, such as a sand bed, because the media is so light, much of it gets sucked up as well. In this case the siphon cleaning tool can just as efficiently be used to gently skim over the surface of the substrate to suck up any debris that has settled on the bottom. Average Price: $4.00 to $12.00.
At step up from the simple gravity-fed siphoning tools above, all-in-one deluxe kits come with a siphon tube, usually a 25 or 50 foot long hose, and a reversible faucet attachment that is used to drain the water out of the aquarium, and then refill it (for freshwater systems), all without spilling a drop. If 25 or 50 feet of hose is not enough, extra individual lengths of hose can be purchased. Even though you won't refill a saltwater aquarium with fresh tap water, a deluxe kit can save you a lot of time and labor by not having to fill and dump buckets of dirty aquarium water. Just hook the gadget up, and dispense the mess directly down the drain. Average Price: $10.00 to $65.00.