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Is Bleach Safe For Aquarium Use?



Broach the subject of using bleach to clean an aquarium, and a heated discussion about safety is sure to follow. Is bleach safe or not? The answer is yes, when used in proper concentrations bleach is safe for aquarium use.

For those who gasp in disbelief at that statement, here's another fact you should know; bleach is the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) approved method to sanitize drinking water following disasters. Yes, many thousands of people have partaken of bleach treated water and did not die in agony afterward.

Having said that, I must add that when used in the wrong concentration, or if combined with other chemicals, bleach can be hazardous. So which is it - is using bleach safe or not? If you follow the rules, bleach is safe to clean your aquarium, equipment, and even plants.

Bleach Safety
There are a couple of critical rules to be aware of when using bleach. Follow them, and you don't have to worry about harming yourself or your fish.

  • Don't mix bleach with any other chemicals. That includes soap, aquarium chemicals, or other cleaning products. Use only bleach and plain water, period.
  • Don't use bleach in concentrations higher than ten percent.
  • Don't soak anything in bleach for longer than fifteen minutes.
How to Bleach
Prepare a ten percent bleach solution by mixing nine parts water with one part bleach in a clean bucket or container (example: mix 9 cups water with 1 cup bleach). Submerge the aquarium items in the solution and soak for ten to fifteen minutes. If cleaning an aquarium, simply fill the aquarium with the ten percent bleach solution.

Following the soak, drain off the bleach solution, rinse the container, and refill it with clear water. Place the items in the clear water and allow to soak for another fifteen minutes in the water. Rinse well with clear water and allow to air dry.

What To Bleach
You can safely clean most non-porous items in your aquarium with bleach. That includes:
  • Aquarium (either glass or Plexiglas)
  • Non-porous aquarium equipment and parts, such as filter hoses
  • Plastic plants (bleach is fantastic for killing off algae on artificial plants)
  • Gravel and rocks
Avoid using bleach on silk plants and brightly colored gravel or decorations, as it will fade them. Also, avoid wood and other porous items that can soak up and retain the bleach.

Mineral Deposits (aka: lime)
If the primary cleaning problem is white crusty mineral deposits, don't even bother hauling out the bleach. Instead get out the vinegar – it works great! Either way, who needs expensive cleaning products, when all you need is already in your kitchen cabinet?

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