Disinfecting Your Aquarium With Bleach

posted in: Aquarium & Fish | 0

Bleach is one of the safest and most effective methods for sanitizing an aquarium before the initial set-up. Many aquarium hobbyists are afraid to use bleach because they are fearful of its potency. Bleach, however, is perfectly safe if used correctly. We use bleach for sanitization because it is one of the most effective chemicals we have for disinfecting. It is commonly used in U.S. hospitals and is recommended by the Center for Disease Control. Bleach, or Sodium hypochlorite (NaClO), is also safe for the environment. It breaks down very quickly, leaving mostly salt and water behind. Because it is a strong disinfectant that breaks down into harmless byproducts rapidly, it can be used to sanitize baby and pet toys, aquariums and is even used to sanitize our water supply.

When buying bleach to clean an aquarium only use regular bleach like Chlorox Regular Bleach or an equivalent. Do not use bleach mixed with detergent. Detergents leave dangerous residue that can be fatal to aquarium fish.

Using typical household bleach (which is already 5% bleach typically), mix 9 parts water with 1 part regular bottled bleach in a container. I like to store it short term in a spray bottle purchased at my local hardware store. Note that bleach does break down fairly quickly so only make small quantities at a time. Never store bleach in a bottle previously used with other chemicals.

Here are six simple steps to disinfecting your aquarium with bleach.

1. Wipe any debris from the aquarium with warm water and a paper towel.

2. Spray all surfaces of the aquarium with the 10% solution you have just created. I like to do this in my bathtub to contain the overspray. Sanitizing outdoors is also a good option.

3. After spraying all the surfaces, let the aquarium sit for 10-15 minutes. Bleach is a corrosive chemical and can cause damage to your aquarium if left too long. Do not allow it to sit for longer than 15 minutes.

4. Rinse thoroughly. When you are done rinsing your tank, rinse again for good measure.

5. Allow the aquarium to air dry completely. This will help to insure that the bleach solution has broken down into harmless byproducts.

6. Once you set up your aquarium, fill the tank with water and dose with a good aquarium water dechlorinator.

Aquarium gravel, decorations, filters, and heaters can also be bleached using the same concentration of water to bleach. You can either spray them or soak them in a bowl depending on what you are cleaning. Be sure to rinse all bleached items very well and allow everything to air dry completely before them putting back in the aquarium. Note that metal rusts quickly when exposed to bleach. As mentioned earlier, never allow bleach to sit on the item for more than 10 – 15 minutes, keeping an especially close eye on metal items.


Bleach can be very dangerous if inhaled or ingested. It can cause moderate to severe damage if it comes in contact with the eyes or skin. It can also cause discoloration or corrosion of some materials. Please review the safety information on the bleach bottle before handling.

Source by Christie Fournier