Random Bits of Projects

November 25, 2008

DIY Aquarium Glass Scraper-Use Those Annoying Plastic Cards!

cc-scraper-blueDo you keep getting those plastic, mock credit cards in the mail? Or how about those free membership cards for use at places such as Best Buy or PetSmart? The kind that you have to save and use at checkout to earn points, but just keep piling up as you save one for each store. If you have a fish tank, you can make a glass scraper out of them. Revenge!

I came up with this idea while sipping coffee made from my french press, yogurt was draining in the kitchen, and looking at one of my tanks sitting on one of my DYS aquarium stand. I am starting to live my blog. Uh-oh. It is also amazing how many times I try these projects with too much caffeine in my system.

I use these cards already by hand on my tank (great for getting algae off of the light) but I at the time of this posting, I am fighting something creepy in one of my tanks (long fight, but slowly winning). Because of this, I do not want my arm in there more than I have to have it in there. So a plastic card on a stick! Yay!

(I think sticks are the most useful objects, ever, btw.)


  • 1 plastic card (free!). Around credit card size. I often get these in the mail. But if you are lucky enough to have avoided this, get some at stores that want you to sign up for their free programs that have you use these at checkout for discounts and points. (This is in the states anyway. Do they do this elsewhere?)

You can also use those plastic gift cards that you have spent.

  • 1 dowel stick. Square if possible, but not necessary. Very cheap at home depot, Lowes, or stores similar. Wood dept.
  • 1 serrated knife or something to cut a narrow slit at the end of the stick.
  • Scissors

How to make: (Pictures may be in an odd place. They are not staying where I put them lately.)

cc-scraper-apart1With the serrated knife, cut a slit at the tip of the dowel across the center. It does not have to be very deep. Just enough to secure thecc-scraper-cut-out stick.

Next, cut two slits in the card, lengthwise (see picture). These slits should just be wide enough to allow you to force the stick in place without being too loose. To test, wave the stick around with the card slipped in. If the card does not flop and wiggle with each wave, it is good. Best to cut short slits first, then lengthen the slits a bit at a time until you get it where you want it. Once it is cut, it is cut.

In the middle of the top slit, cut out a square piece for the stick to slide into (see picture). The goal is to have the stick fit into this square area where it will then attach to the card. This prevents side-to-side movement.

That is it! You are ready to scrape the aquarium walls. This is good for any cc-scaper-other-sidebuild up that is not stuck too bad to the glass. Some types of algae for instance need something much more robust to scrape it off. But for light maintenance for little money, this works great.


Cut the card to a point for getting into angles. Cut a half circle out of the card the circumference of your filter intake tubes to get a quick clean on those. Cut a bigger crescent to clean pottery in cichlid tank. Shape it into an “L” to get underneath things. Try making a shovel! Try different shapes for different projects. There are plenty of those cards to be had. The neat thing is that you can use the same stick. Just pop off one card and slip on another.

Word of caution:

The wood dowel is very porous. If you have multiple tanks, I suggest assigning one scraper to each tank. It is difficult to wash the wood and you may pass things you do not want from one tank to another before you realize you have a problem with a tank. Keeping it to one tank and rinsing after use works well. The wood may absorb medication in the tank as well. I have used wood dowel rods for stirring up gravel for years with no problem. Just keep the sticks to the same tank. You can clean the plastic well so pop off the card and slip them onto different sticc-scraper-sidecc-scrapercks.

Also, I have only tried this on glass. Acrylic may scratch. I do not know.

Other uses:

You might find these handy as garden signs to mark rows of plants.

Hmm….that is all I have for now for other uses. 😉

First time to this blog? Check out “Categories” listed in the right-hand column. If you are here for fish related material, click “Fish”. I have things on how to build items, as well as a few profiles of my own critters. I am always adding.

This blog consists of a variety of hobbies that I do. Some are how to do things. Some are reviews. Others show off things I have done. Finally, I also have links to direct you to sites that do well in explaining certain areas of interest. Poke around and peek back to see what else I add or update. I am constantly adding or tweaking.

Thanks for reading!



  1. Hi, Virtuallyamy, or is it just Amy?
    I have been looking for a scraper for my aquarium and the cheapest price is about £6.00. I thought about a credit card but not as deeply as you, this idea is what we in England call a “Blue Peter” idea, That is a childrens T.V. show where they make things out of washing-up liqiud bottles or tubes from inside toilet rolls!!!
    I am going to try your invention and will get back to you with a report.
    Keep thinking, good luck, Frank O

    Comment by Frank ORMESHER — May 6, 2010 @ 5:29 am | Reply

    • Hello! I love learning about “Blue Peter”! Thank you! I bet I would have loved that show as a child, ha!
      I did over think this one. At the time I was reluctant to stick my arm in the tank for which I made this. I have since solved the problem but it was nasty then. Let me know how it works for you! I also hate spending on certain supplies when I can just cobble something together.

      Comment by virtuallyamy — May 6, 2010 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

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