How To Disinfect An Aquarium? 5 Proven & Effective Methods

Last Updated on April 10, 2022 by Guillermina

Wondering how to disinfect an aquarium? Stay with us and find out.

Keeping your aquarium tank clean is essential to keep your aquatic pets happy and healthy. Over time, nitrates and metabolites accumulate which can eventually affect the appearance of your tank and the well-being of your pets.

Although almost all hobbyists buy filters to help keep the water clean, even the best versions are sometimes not enough to keep everything in perfect condition. Accordingly, safely sterilizing is one of the most important steps you need to take. Keep reading and learn how to disinfect an aquarium.

How To Disinfect An Aquarium?

Considering the reasons for disinfection (parasites, fungal, bacterial infections, various diseases, or first time setting up a tank) there are quite a few methods you can use.

Read more about how to disinfect an aquarium below.

Method No. 1 Bleach

 Can you clean an aquarium with bleach?

As for the type, it is proposed to use generic household bleach, with a 5-6.5% concentration of sodium hypochlorite. The use of a gel type is not recommended. Ideally, it should be poured out of its container like water does. For this purpose, use a 10% bleach solution; by mixing 1 part bleach with 9 parts water in a ratio of 1: 9.

Depending on the amount of equipment you want to disinfect, as well as the size of the tank, make sure you have enough solution to do a good job.

If you want to know how to disinfect an aquarium using bleach, the procedure looks like this:

  • Get a spray bottle and fill it with bleach solution. Then, thoroughly spray the interior and exterior parts of your aquarium tank.
  • Leave on, but no longer than 15 minutes.
  • Rinse the tank with clean water, do not skip this step, otherwise, you can cause great damage to your pets as well as living plants.
  • Allow to air dry for the next 24 hours.
  • Finally, fill your aquarium tank with water. Don’t forget to add a water conditioner to remove chlorine/chloramine residue.
  • Continue as usual with setting up your fish tank.

Method No. 2 Vinegar

 Does vinegar disinfect aquariums?

The second most popular method of disinfecting an aquarium is vinegar. Aquarists usually use a 1: 1 vinegar solution, mixing clean water and regular vinegar. In case limescale builds up in your tank or if you have particularly hard water, feel free to try using a 2: 1 vinegar solution (2 parts vinegar to 1 part water).

If you want to know how to disinfect an aquarium using vinegar, the procedure looks like this:

  • Take a spray bottle, fill it with vinegar solution and spray the container liberally.
  • Leave the solution to work; this can take from 10 minutes to several hours. It is completely natural and will not harm your underwater world.
  • Don’t forget to soak all your aquarium equipment too, in no less than 10 minutes.
  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
  • Leave to air dry for the next 24 hours.
  • Refill the aquarium tank with water, and add a water conditioner before reintroducing your pets.

Now, a few sentences about less popular methods of disinfecting the aquarium.

Method No. 3 Benzalkonium Chloride

Benzalkonium chloride works by dissolving the fatty outer layer of bacteria cells which ultimately results in easier and more efficient sterilization of the tank. It is recommended to use it in a 1% concentrated solution.

Method No. 4 Potassium Permanganate

If you are wondering how to disinfect an aquarium to get rid of parasitic infestation, we recommend potassium permanganate treatment. It works through oxidation while destroying most cells. At the end of the disinfection process, the water turns pink or brown. As for the ratio, the solution is made by combining 2mg of KMnO4 with 4 cups of water.

Method No. 5 Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide is slightly more expensive than regular bleach, however, it is much safer because after 24 hours it breaks down into water and oxygen, while eliminating the risk of residual contamination.

For all those who are wondering how to disinfect an aquarium using Hydrogen Peroxide, it is recommended to use it in a 3% concentrated solution.

In Conclusion

Keeping your tank clean is the key to the healthy growth and development of your aquarium pets and plants. You have seen that sterilization can be done with some basic solutions that most of you probably already have in your household.

The most important thing is to make sure that the disinfectant solutions are in the right concentrations. Also, don’t forget to wash everything thoroughly with clean water and let it air dry.

 How do I disinfect my aquarium with salt?

That would be it, now you know how to disinfect an aquarium.

Do you have your own methods of disinfection and cleaning? Share them with us in the section below.

Take a look at this article as well.


How Do You Disinfect A Used Fish Tank?

If you want to disinfect a used aquarium tank, you can do so using one of the following methods:

- Hydrogen Peroxide

- Bleach

- Potassium permanganate

- Vinegar

- Benzalkonium chloride

Does Vinegar Disinfect Aquariums?

That's right, you can use vinegar to disinfect your aquarium tank, as well as filter, heater, and all decorations. It is recommended to use a 1: 1 vinegar/water solution.

Can You Clean An Aquarium With Bleach?

The answer is yes, bleach can be used to clean aquariums. It is known to have the ability to kill most bacteria and fungi, however, keep in mind that it also has the ability to affect fish if not washed away after use. Depending on the bleach concentration, you will determine the ratio. For example, if you use a 10% bleach solution, you should mix 1 part bleach with 9 parts water in a ratio of 1: 9.

How Do I Disinfect My Aquarium With Salt?

Salt is one of the most natural methods of disinfecting aquariums, and it has a number of positive influences. It is cheap, natural, and doesn’t harm the beneficial bacteria in your tank.

It is recommended to make a solution by contacting 4 cups of salt with water. Just 15 minutes of soaking should effectively kill all organisms it comes in contact with.