Remove Scratches From Aquarium

How To Remove Scratches From Aquarium Glass

It is frustratingly easy to scratch acrylic and glass aquariums. There is nothing that ruins the aesthetic of a perfectly curated aquarium like a scratch in the glass. If you accidentally scratched your aquarium while cleaning it or moving it, do not worry! There is a way to fix it! 

Thankfully, it is possible to restore scratched aquarium glass. This article explains the methods you can use to remove scratches from aquarium glass, and discusses the precautions you should take to avoid the problem in the future. 

Can You Remove Scratches From A Glass Or Acrylic Aquarium?

Aquarium tanks are generally made from one of two materials – glass or acrylic

Acrylic aquariums are pricier than glass ones, but unfortunately, they are more prone to getting scratched. Glass aquariums are heavier, but they are a bit more durable in terms of their scratch resistance. 

It doesn’t matter if your aquarium is made from glass or acrylic because it is possible to remove light, and even moderate, scratches from both these materials. 

Luckily, it is quite easy to remove scratches from acrylic aquariums. It is a bit more challenging to get rid of scratches on aquarium glass, but it is possible! Keep reading to find out how. 

What Is The Best Method To Remove Scratches From Aquarium Glass?

The best way to remove light to moderate scratches from a glass or acrylic aquarium is to buff the scratches out using toothpaste that contains sodium bicarbonate or cerium oxide paste. Deeper scratches can be removed from glass aquariums using liquid glass resin. 

To assess how severe the scratch is and decide which method to try first, run your fingernail over the scratch. 

If the scratch doesn’t catch on your nail, it is a light one, and you can probably buff it out using toothpaste. If the scratch catches on your nail, it’s a moderate to deep scratch. 

Moderate scratches are a little more challenging to get rid of. You need to use an abrasive substance like cerium oxide and a hand drill with a buffing wheel. 

Sadly, it’s not always possible to buff out very deep scratches from an acrylic tank. However, you can fill deep scratches in a glass aquarium using liquid glass resin. 

Preparation For Restoring Aquarium Glass 

Before you begin work on restoring your aquarium glass, you must empty the tank and clean it thoroughly. Remove all the fish, plants, substrate, the pump, heater, and decorations.

Use an aquarium glass cleaner and a soft microfiber cloth to wash the inside and outside of the tank. Dry the aquarium glass after you wash it.

It does not matter where the scratch is. You must always start with a 100% clean surface. If even a single grain of sand gets in the way while you are buffing the glass, it can scratch the aquarium terribly. 

How To Buff Out Light Scratches From Aquarium Glass

To fix a couple of minor scratches on aquarium glass (or acrylic), gather the following supplies:

  • Toothpaste – use one that is for teeth whitening. It should contain sodium bicarbonate so that it is gently abrasive. 
  • Cotton swabs
  • Water in a spray bottle
How to Remove Scratches From Aquarium

Follow the steps below to buff out the scratches:

  1. Apply a small quantity of toothpaste to the cotton swab and rub it onto the scratch. 
  2. Spray a little water onto the toothpaste so that it is not as sticky.
  3. Applying firm pressure, polish the glass using circular motions. 
  4. Rinse off the toothpaste and check on the scratch. 
  5. If the scratch is gone, thoroughly clean the tank again using aquarium cleaner and a microfiber cloth. 
  6. If you can still see the scratch, you will need to try the next method. 

How To Fix Moderate Scratches On Aquarium Glass

Anything more than a light surface scratch is a little more challenging to fix. You will need to gather the following tools and supplies:

  • Cerium oxide powder – you can buy it online or from your local hardware store
  • Handheld electric drill
  • Buffing wheel 
  • Water in a spray bottle

Carefully follow these steps to fix the scratched aquarium glass:

  1. Combine 1-part cerium oxide and 2-parts water to create a liquid paste that will be your polishing compound. 
  2. Attach the buffing wheel to the drill.
  3. Smear some of the polishing compound onto the buffing wheel and the scratches. 
  4. Switch the drill onto its lowest setting.
  5. Apply gentle but even pressure to the drill as you use it to buff the aquarium glass. Do not press down on the drill too hard because this can thin the small area of glass, causing visual distortion and a weak point in the glass panel. 
  6. To prevent the glass or acrylic from overheating and breaking, spray water onto the area you are working on frequently. 
  7. Be careful of buffing more than you have to. Keep a close eye on the scratch. Stop buffing as soon as you see the scratch disappear. 
  8. Rinse off the polishing compound and wash the tank thoroughly with aquarium cleaner and a microfiber cloth.

How To Remove Deep Scratches From Aquarium Glass

Gather the following supplies and equipment to fix deep scratches in a glass aquarium:

  • Liquid glass resin 
  • Syringe
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swab
  • Cerium oxide powder
  • Handheld electric drill
  • Buffing wheel
  • Water in a spray bottle

Follow these steps closely to fill in the deep scratches and restore your glass aquarium:

  1. Wipe the scratched area with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. This will remove any oily residue so that the resin adheres to the glass properly. 
  2. Fill the syringe with liquid glass resin. 
  3. Squirt a tiny amount of the resin to fill in the scratches. Use as little resin as possible!
  4. Wait 24 hours to give the resin ample time to dry and cure. 
  5. Make a polishing compound using cerium oxide and water (described above).
  6. Use the drill and buffing wheel to polish off the excess resin. Apply firm, even pressure, until the resin is buffed down to the same level as the glass. 
  7. When the scratch and all the excess resin are gone, thoroughly clean the tank using aquarium cleaner and a microfiber cloth. 

What To Do When You Can’t Remove A Scratch

Unfortunately, some scratches are just too deep to buff out or fill in. But you might not need to buy a whole new aquarium!

You have a few options to stop the unattractive scratches from ruining the look of your aquarium:

  • Make the scratches more difficult to see by moving the position of the aquarium light. 
  • If the scratch is on the front viewing panel, turn the tank around 180 degrees so that the scratched side is the back panel.
  • Cover a scratched back panel with black vinyl. This will change the look of your aquarium, but it will do wonders to hide the scratches.
  • Algae often grows in deep scratches, making them even more visible. Magnetic algae cleaning pads can be used to clean the scratches and make them less noticeable. 
  • Replace the scratched panel of the aquarium. 
  • Get a professional glass repair service to fix the scratches. 
Remove Scratches From Aquarium Glass

How To Prevent Scratching Your Aquarium Glass

Minor scratches on an aquarium tank are somewhat unavoidable, but there are things you can do to prevent any deep scratches from ruining your aquascape:

  • Only use aquarium cleaners and polishes that are safe for glass and acrylic.
  • Use soft cotton or microfiber cloths to clean and dry your aquarium. 
  • Avoid scrubbing the aquarium glass too vigorously. 
  • Instead of scrubbing or scraping off mineral deposits and algae, use vinegar 
  • When siphoning the tank substrate, do not stir up the sand and gravel too much. 
  • Clean your tank frequently so that there is never a build-up of dirt that you need to scrub or scrape off. 


Whether your aquarium is made of glass or acrylic, there are several ways to remove scratches from aquarium glass. How you remove scratches depends on the size of the scratch and the material of your aquarium, but the process typically involves either buffing, or filling the scratches. If you can’t remove a scratch, try one of our methods for minimizing it’s appearance rather than replacing the tank altogether. Hopefully these tips will help you love your aquarium again!

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