How do I disinfect my fish tank decorations?

disinfect fish tank decoration

Here we are going to talk about disinfecting tank decorations from fish tank.

If you are putting newly bought aquarium decor inside the tank or any decoration for the first time, remember to disinfect it also.  If you don’t, it can alter the water quality and pose threat to your fish health.

To disinfect fish tank decorations follow these steps:

Step 1

Wash your hand before reaching into fish tank. Microorganisms, dirt or grease present in your hand can upset the balance of water chemistry. It is preferable not to use soap for washing hands but if you did use it then rinse your hand thoroughly to remove any soap residues. Soap can be fatal to fish.

Remember not to remove all the tank decorations at once because it will cause disturbance to your fish tank. Fish are extremely susceptible to stress when they experience disturbance in their environment.

Step 2

After taking decorations out one at a time, place them in your sink and run it under hot water for couple of minutes. This will help ease the process of scrubbing algae later. Make sure to keep sink soap free.

Step 3

Next, put the items in food-safe bucket filled with 5 percent bleach solution (95 percent water). To prepare the solution, mix 4 teaspoons plain bleach with no additives per 2 gallons (7.6 L) of water. Don’t use hot water for solution because it can deactivate the bleach.

For safety purpose wear gloves when handling bleach. It causes irritation when it comes in contact with skin.

Leave the decorations for about 10-15 minutes. Time duration is determined by how dirty the decorations are.

Bleach will remove all those built up waste from tank decoration.

Step 4

After that take out the decorations and clean thoroughly for 5 minutes or longer with fresh tap water to remove bleach from it.

If there are any remaining algae or dirt, use toothbrush to gently brush off those stubborn dirt and algae. Remember to use only those toothbrush that are solely used for cleaning tank decorations or you run the risk of contaminating the decorations.

If you feel if it is still not clean enough, you can put it back in the bleach solution. However do not leave it longer than needed because bleach can discolor the decorations.

Step 5

Now transfer the decoration items to a bucket filled with warm water. Make sure to treat warm water with dechlorinator before adding the items into the bucket.

Why you need to add dechlorinator? Because tap water contains chlorine and chlorinates which are toxic to fish. Dechlorinator neutralizes it.

Step 6

Wait for 15-20 minutes before taking it out and rinsing it with clean running water. This will remove any residual bleach.

And now you can put your decorations back to the fish tank. Try your best not to disturb fish when placing the items back into the tank

If you didn’t use dechlorinator as mentioned in Step 5 then you need to air dry the decorations for at least 24 hours to couple of days. This will prevent the risk of accidentally introducing bleach and chlorine in water.

If the items are broken or damaged during the cleaning process, discard them. Don’t re-site it in the fish tank. Edges of broken items can cut or injure your fish.

Cleaning Tank Decorations Tips

When you take out all the decorations for cleaning, it can be stressful for fish because you took away their hiding and resting place. To minimize the stress, disinfect only few of the tank decorations at a time.

Another alternative is to keep two sets of decorations. When you take out decorations for cleaning, replace it with the clean set. Disinfect the dirty decorations with the procedures mentioned above and store it in a insecticide free place. In the next cleaning schedule, replace the decorations from fish tank with this set and repeat the process.

Initially fish can get stress when you change the decorations but they will adapt to it after few times of replacement.

Don’t disinfect fish tank decorations and clean aquarium filter at the same time. Make a different cleaning schedule for it. Cleaning these both at the same time may kill too many good bacteria needed for healthy aquarium ecosystem.

If you find yourself cleaning too many algae off your tank decorations, there may be two possible reasons for it. There are excessive nutrients present in aquarium water and/or your tank is expose to too much light. To limit the algae growth, reduce aquarium light to 8-12 hour per day. Also do not put aquarium close to windows where it can get direct sunlight.

If you routinely clean aquarium decor then you don’t need to use bleach. Simply place the decoration in hot water for 5-10 minutes. After that scrub the items as described in Step 4. Rinse them with tap water and you are done with the cleaning. You don’t need to dry them.

Usage of bleach often invokes discussion among aquarist about the safety of bleach use. Truth is, bleach is absolutely safe for disinfecting aquarium decorations. There are however some important rules to follow.

  • Don’t mix bleach with other chemicals.
  • Don’t make bleach concentration higher than 10 percent.
  • Don’t soak items in bleach solution longer than 15 minutes.
  • Don’t use bleach for wood, coral and other porous items as they can retain bleach.

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Thank you***

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