Is Bleach Safe to Use in an Aquarium?
The answer is yes. When used in the correct concentration, bleach can be used to clean an aquarium. We recommend mainly using bleach when completely cleaning out an aquarium. This may be when you have had a fish pass in this aquarium or it has been in storage for some time. Bleach should be used when boiling is not effective.
Bleach is one of the safest and most effective methods for sanitizing an aquarium before the initial set-up. Many people are afraid to use bleach because they are afraid of its potency but actually it is perfectly safe if used correctly. We use bleach for sanitization because it is one of the most successful 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 yes it is even used to sanitize our water supply.
Bleach has the ability to kill most bacteria and fungi but also the ability to affect fish if not washed away after use. Ensure you thoroughly rinse away bleach after use.
How to Disinfect your Aquarium with Bleach.
- When buying bleach for aquarium cleaning, 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 a typical household bleach (which is already about 5% bleach) mix 9 parts water with 1 part regular bottled bleach.
Note: bleach breaks down fairly quickly so only make small quantities at a time and never store bleach in a bottle previously used with other chemicals.
- Wipe any debris from the aquarium with warm water and a paper towel.
- Spray all surfaces of the aquarium with the 10% solution you have just created. Sanitizing outdoors is also a good option.
- Let the aquarium sit for 10-15 minutes.
Note: 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.
- Rinse your tank thoroughly twice.
- Allow the aquarium to air dry completely. This will help to insure that the bleach solution has broken down into harmless byproducts.
- Once you set up your aquarium, fill the tank with water and use an aquarium water dechlorinator.
Disinfecting Other Aquarium Related Items
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. Just be sure to rinse well and allow everything to air dry completely before putting back in the aquarium.
You can clean any aquarium related items that are glass, non-porous, plastic, gravel or rock. Using bleach on bright coloured plastic plants may fade them.
Note: Metal rusts quickly when exposed to bleach. As mentioned earlier, never allow bleach to sit on the item for more than 10 – 15 minutes.
Important Safety Information
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 view the International Chemical Safety Card before using bleach.
- Do not mix bleach with other chemicals
- Only soak for up to fifteen minutes
- Do not use bleach in a concentrate higher than 10 percent