The Amazing Way How To Sterilize A Fish Tank

Last Updated on November 9, 2021 by

There are several reasons you may want to know how to sterilize a fish tank.  You came to the best place to find your step-by-step guide on how to sterilize a fish tank and understand the reasons why you may need to do this.

Sterilization refers to the process of completely cleaning all surfaces of your fish tank.  Some people call it disinfecting the tank. 

In order to do this, you have to empty all of your tank’s contents. Once you empty everything, you will use some kind of liquid solution to get rid of all germs that have accumulated on the surface.  There are a few different options for which solution you can use.

But first, let’s understand when you may need to sterilize your tank. 

Why Do I Need To Sterilize My Fish Tank?

There are two main reasons you would need to completely sterilize your tank.  Depending on your reason, you can choose from various techniques of sterilization.  

The first reason is that you want to give your tank a deep clean.  Perhaps you are selling your tank to a new owner and want to make it look nice.   Or maybe you are changing your aquaponics design and want to give it a fresh start.  

I recommend doing a complete sterilization of your tank every so often.  This will help keep the optimum conditions for your fish.  

A second reason is if you have just bought a new fish tank.  To ensure that your fish are entering safe, clean conditions you can disinfect everything first.

The third reason is because you want to sanitize a fish tank after disease.  If there is a sick fish in your tank, you need to sterilize it immediately.  These diseases can enter the water and affect your other fish quickly.  

You have to sterilize the tank walls itself, but also all equipment and decorations in your tank. 

Why Do I Need To Sterilize My Fish Tank

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How To Disinfect A Fish Tank Perfectly

According to Texas A & M University, providing a low stress environment is the best way to keep your fish from getting sick.  Some reasons your fish gets sick is because of dirty water, a PH imbalance, or an overcrowded tank.  Remember, overfeeding your fish will make your tank more dirty.  

Hopefully, you can avoid this issue.  However, if this happens you will need to know how to sterilize a fish tank.

First, start by emptying all the tank contents.  This includes draining all the tank water.  Find a suitable place to keep your healthy fish while you disinfect the fish tank.  

If you don’t have a sick fish you can use a natural solution to sterilize everything.  Mix vinegar and water with a ration of 1:1.  You can use rice vinegar or anything that is widely available and affordable. 

Soak your tank contents in this solution while you scrub the sides and bottom of your tank.  You can let things soak for one whole day before putting it back into your tank.

If you feel you want something a bit more powerful you can alter the vinegar mix to 2 parts vinegar and one part water.  Experiment and create according to your needs.

This method is not suitable if you are cleaning your tank due to a fish disease.  For this issue, you will need to use a stronger chemical like Bleach.

Cleaning Fish Tank With Bleach

When working with bleach be careful to not touch it or breathe it in an enclosed room.  In order to use bleach safely, make sure it is pure bleach and not mixed with other chemicals.  You can check the ingredients on the back of the bottle to be sure.

Once you’ve identified your bleach, make a mix 8:1 Water: Bleach.  This means 8 parts water and one part bleach.  Be sure to not overdo it!  If you make your bleach mix too strong this can end up causing damage to your tank.  

When the mix is made, shake it well.  Then put it into a spray bottle to apply it on your tank walls.  Don’t forget to spray the bottom of your lid and the bottom of the tank.  

Find a separate container to spray all your pumps and other equipment as well.  Try to spray all sides of your equipment. 

Wherever you apply the bleach solution,  let it sit there for between 10 and 15 minutes.  If it sits any longer, it can start to eat away at the tank glass.  Pay attention not to let it stay there too long! 

Next, give your tank a thorough rinsing.  Be sure not to miss a spot, any remaining bleach in the tank can poison your water and kill your fish.  After rinsing, let the tank dry for one whole day.  

To give it an extra disinfection, let it dry in the sun.  The UV rays can further sterilize your glass. 

After the tank has dried for 24 hours, fill the tank with water and let it sit for 3 hours.  Then drain the water out and add fresh water.  Make sure to dechlorinate the new water before putting your fish and plants back in.  

Now you can see how to sterilize a fish tank.  It is not very difficult but takes time and patience.  If you want to do it right it will take a few days to clean everything adequately. 

 Don’t forget to sterilize the equipment that is inside the tank.  If you do forget, you can reintroduce the fish disease back into your tank.   This will then spread through the water and hurt your fish.  

You can use other things like soap and special store-bought spray to disinfect your tank.  We recommend using the cheapest method which would be vinegar or bleach.  Make sure you hit all spots of your tank with your spray.  

Even though it’s a lot of work, your fish will be very happy once entering their new, disease-free ecosystem.  A large part of aquaponics is keeping your tank system healthy.  So it’s worth the effort! 

Please feel free to comment and ask questions below! 

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