Aquarium Glass Cleaners: Flipper versus Mag-Float

There are dozens of different brands of aquarium glass cleaners (and acrylic cleaners) available to aquarists today. Let’s take a side-by-side look at two that tend to be the most popular: the Mag-Float and the Flipper.

Both brands have cleaners available in different sizes. Other than their dimensions, the characteristics from one size to another are the same. Since my tank is a 24g, I’ve tried the nano/small size of each brand.

Flipper vs. Mag-Float
Aquarium Glass Cleaners: Flipper vs. Mag-Float

Let’s see which of these aquarium glass cleaners works best…

First, the Flipper:

Pros:

  • It’s thin.  This is GREAT for getting into spaces where live rock or equipment inside your tank is very close to your glass. There are a few such spots in my tank where the Mag-Float is just to bulky to get into. The Flipper slide through these narrow spots with ease.
  • It comes with a built-in stainless-steel scraper, and the scraper handles moderately tough algae build up with ease
  • With a simple 180° turn of the handle you can quickly and easily ‘flip’ from scrubber to scraper while it’s under water
  • It’s ‘scrubber’ pad is soft enough for use on acrylic as well as glass. So, if you have both glass and acrylic tanks, you can use the same Flipper for both of them
  • Replacement scraper blades are available
  • It has a neutral buoyancy – so, if you lose the magnet attraction between the handle and the scrubber, it will won’t sink like a rock

Cons:

  • Because the scrubbing pad is designed for use on both glass and acrylic, and is there for a bit more ‘gentle’ than the scrubber pad on Mag-Float it may take a few more passes to get slightly stubborn algae off. (Note: I find that simply starting with the scraper then ‘flipping’ to finish with the scrubber negates the need for extra passes with the scrubber.)
  • It does not float, so you do need to guide it up to the waterline to retrieve when your done rather than simply pulling the handle away to break the magnetic attraction and letting it float to the surface on its own
  • It costs more than the Mag-Float – or does it? We’ll see in just a moment…
Flipper aquarium glass cleaners
Flipper aquarium glass cleaner – scraper side

 

Flipper aquarium cleaners - scrubber side
Flipper aquarium cleaner – the top is the scrubber side, the bottom is the handle

Next, the Mag-Float:

Pros:

  • Firm, bristly (if that’s a word…) scrubber pad – cuts through algae easier than the Flipper’s scrubber pad
  • It floats – when your done, simply pull the handle away to break the magnetic attraction and it will float to the water surface
  • It costs less than the Flipper – or does it? See the last bullet under cons…

Cons:

  • It is thicker than the Flipper and doesn’t fit into tight spaces as easily
  • They are glass and acrylic specific – you MUST buy the correct one for you type of tank. And, if you own both acrylic and glass tanks you’ll need to get one for each, and be very careful to never get the two mixed up…
  • The scraper attachment is sold separately. So, while the scrubber itself costs less than an equivalent-sized Flipper, depending on the size, by the time you add in the cost of the scrapper it may actually cost you more.
Mag-Float aquarium glass cleaners
Mag-Float

 

Mag-Float scrubber pad
Mag-Float scrubber pad – the bottom is the scrubber, the top is the handle

So, who you do think is the winner in the shoot-out between these two aquarium glass cleaners?

The Verdict:

If you’d like to try the Flipper, click a size to see more details (and reviews) at Amazon:  Flipper Nano, Standard, or Max.

Or, if you’d like to try the Mag-Float, click on a size to see more details (and reviews) at Amazon: Mag-Float for glass small, medium, or large… Mag-Float for acrylic small, medium, or large.

In my humble opinion, the Flipper wins hands down. The Flipper Nano was about $25 whereas the small Mag-Float would’ve been ~$15 plus another $15 for the scraper attachment. Plus, it is really nice to be able to get every last inch of glass clean – even the two or three narrow spots where my live rock gets close to the glass. The scraper works great. And, if I use the scraper side first, then simply ‘flip’ to the scrubber, it takes care of the algae just as quickly as the Mag-Float.