Converting SW to FW- how much scrubbing needed? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2015, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
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Converting SW to FW- how much scrubbing needed?

I have a Biocube that I'm converting to freshwater. As one might expect, the inside is full of algae and the empty shells of little bitty wormy-things. How much scrubbing do I need to do? I can get the bulk of the algae off, but there's a layer of really tough stuff that will not scrub off of the wall, and I'm reluctant to use anything harsher than a paper towel because the wall is acrylic and I don't want it scratched.
If I lay the tank on its side, is there anything I can put on the algae to dissolve it without hurting the acrylic? Maybe vinegar?


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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2015, 12:32 AM
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From the standpoint of the system you are building, it's not going to be that much of an issue. However, all that stuff can sure look ugly. Vinegar is worth a try, and by itself will not hurt acrylic. However, don't scrub too hard, since what you want to remove can scratch scrylic. The good thing is that acrylic can be buffed to remove scratches. The bad side is that it's a lot of careful work to do this.

As a note, some people advocate using much more powerful chemicals than vinegar to remove this sort of material. Personally, I consider them much to dangerous to use and don't recommend them.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2015, 01:23 PM
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I would love to hear if the vinegar works are not. I am always looking at used tanks and when there dirty you can get a better deal. I have used on glass tanks a razor blade but that wouldn't work on acrylic.

Last edited by Clear Water; 10-26-2015 at 02:09 PM. Reason: 1
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2015, 03:58 PM
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I have used on glass tanks a razor blade but that wouldn't work on acrylic.


This is usually my recommendation as well but acrylic calls for something different. They sell specific scrapers for acrylic tanks. Maybe kent marine or some similar brand if I recall what I've seen at the LFS. Could be worth a shot.

Lots of people recommend a cleaner called "bar keepers friend" but i'm not sure if this is too abrasive for acrylic or not.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2015, 04:14 PM
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You could try the 1-2-3 acrylic polishing system on a buffing wheel but I ended up scratching that stuff off with a set of micromesh and repolishing it. I was chicken and only did the worst of it but the tank was unusable as it was. Vinegar didn't work. Mr Clean sponge didn't work - do try it though, amazing product to use on acrylic. Diatomaceous earth didn't work. Baking soda didn't work and scratched a little. I think muriatic acid can work but I don't know if it is suitable for use on acrylic. Use the wrong stuff and the tank is ruined for good you know!


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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2015, 04:43 PM
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There are plastic scrapers made for actylic tanks. Ive heard of others just using plastic cards to scrape off.

As for liquids, there is a slightly stronger (5% vs the normal 3% dilution) white vinegar solutions (heinz cleaner strength?) that should be safe and a bit stronger.
I've heard tremendous positive results using a cheap product called Bar Keepers Friend (oxalic acid) for hard water stains and algae, but I am not 100% sure if it is safe for use on acrylic. I think it should be, but a quick search should give you a more definite answer.

But yep for polishing acrylic, there is cheap sets of 8oz Novus 1-2-3 kits
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2015, 06:12 PM
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Converting SW to FW- how much scrubbing needed?

Vinegar will sure work
Im switching from full blown reef to planted as well.

I filled my tank up with water/vinegar mix, leave for a couple of days and just wipe off
Coralline algae and the tube worms will come off.


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2015, 06:27 PM
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Lay the tank on it's "crusty side" and put a wad of paper towels over the "crust". Soak the towel in white vinegar. The Heinz 5%, if you can find it would be best. Let it sit overnight.

When you pull it off, resist the urge to scrape the crud off immediately. Simply lift the vinegar-soaked towels off and immediately use warm water to wash away as much fine particulate as possible. You may have to do this several times.

Kent makes an acrylic scraper. But whatever you use, you have to be extremely careful. The tiniest grain of dead coralline algae stuck between anything you rub that surface with and the acrylic will leave scrape that will make the Novus polishing step infinitely more difficult.

No matter how careful you are, you'll most likely end up using Novus or some other polishing system to get the scratches or hazing that coralline can leave behind. Use any of them with a light touch. If you use a buffing wheel of any sort, you have to keep it moving across the surface or you'll build up heat, causing the acrylic to develop crazing after it cools off.

At one point, I had two acrylic SW tanks and realized just how tough it can be. Good luck with yours.

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-27-2015, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by bry17nyc View Post
Vinegar will sure work
Im switching from full blown reef to planted as well.

I filled my tank up with water/vinegar mix, leave for a couple of days and just wipe off
Coralline algae and the tube worms will come off.


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This^^^ Get one of the big jugs of cleaning vinegar, it should do the trick.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-27-2015, 10:30 PM
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I just use bleach. Cleaned out my CPR Aquafuge pro sump with it when I got it as it was used for SW and I wanted it for a planted tank. Poured some bleach and filled it with water and let is sit like that for a couple hours, drained half of it and used the rest and a sponge to get all the stuff left on the walls, came right off. Didn't hurt the acrylic one bit.

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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-27-2015, 10:43 PM
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Bleach is one of the best aquarium cleaners, it strips stuff right off, it breaks down in sunlight and dechlorinator breaks it down too, Completely fish-safe.
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