How To Clean Aquarium Decorations (Cleaning made easy)

Aside from your fish, one thing that brings your aquarium to life is the theme you go for, whether it is a beach theme, underwater shipwreck theme, or SpongeBob bikini bottom theme. Decorations bring this theme to life in your aquarium.

Your decorations also make your aquarium more adaptable for your fish by providing your fish with somewhere to play, hide and build their territory. As good as they can be, they are sometimes neglected when it comes to being cleaned.

How To Clean Aquarium Decorations

You are probably likely to remember changing your aquarium water, but do you know when and how to clean aquarium decorations? If you have never thought about it, you wouldn’t be judged.  

The most important thing is that you take the necessary step toward learning how to wash and care for your aquarium decorations. This is what this article is here to help you with.

Let’s begin.

Do you Know Why you Should Clean Your Aquarium Decoration? 

If you don’t or you are not sure of your answer, here are plenty of details to help you answer this question. First, know that your aquarium is your fish home, just like where you live is probably home for you. 

Your fish play, eat and pass out waste there. Over time these many activities build-up dirt in your aquarium. Just as you wouldn’t like a messy home, your fish do not like a messed-up aquarium. 

Hence the first reason to clean your aquarium decoration is to get rid of dirt.

Other reasons include;

  • To improve the aquarium aesthetic.
  • To avoid water contamination can affect your fish.
  • To provide a healthy environment for your fish.
  • To get rid of dead plants, fish waste, and other debris.  
  • To enjoy your aquarium decoration last long.

Therefore, keeping your aquarium decoration is very important and should be taken seriously and cleaned regularly.

How To Clean Aquarium Decorations

Here you will be guided on how to quickly and safely wash your aquarium decoration by getting the dirt completely out and ensuring that they can be returned safely without worsening the condition of your aquarium.

However, before you start cleaning your aquarium decorations, you have to prepare but with what?

1. Preparing How to Clean Aquarium Decorations

Before you dive into cleaning your aquarium, what are the things you need to have prepared? Let’s take a look at them.

  • Use clean water to wash your hands and arms

Washing your hands and arms with lukewarm water is the first thing you must do before dipping your hands into your aquarium. Please do this without using soap. 

Washing your hand would get rid of bacteria and other germs in your hand that can get passed to your fish. Remember not to use soap to wash your hands.

  • Carefully turn off or remove your aquarium Filter, Heater, and other equipment

The next thing you should do is turn off the filter, pumps, heater, and any other equipment that should be removed or turned off. Ensure all electric devices like light decorations are unplugged to ensure maximum safety.

  • Place live plants in a corner in your aquarium

If you use live plants in your aquarium, taking them out might not be the best option. Instead, move them to a corner in your aquarium. Live plants are self-cleaning, so you do not need to worry about cleaning them.

Just move them to a side so that you can reach for your aquarium decorations. If they need to be changed, this could be an excellent opportunity to do so.

We can now move to the next level if you have gotten all these done.

2. Clean Your Aquarium Decorations Without Bleach

If you would prefer to clean your aquarium decoration without bleach or you regularly clean it anyway, here is a great step to follow.

  • Carefully remove all aquarium decorations

Your aquarium decoration should be handled with care, as some of them can be delicate. While doing this, you have to be mindful of the well-being of your fish. Some fish do not like a drastic change in their environment which can be caused by removing all the decoration at once.

So, what you do is, remove at least one-third of the decoration, wash them, and replace them before removing the next set. Do this until you have all the decorations cleaned. Note that your fish and plants don’t have to be removed while cleaning.

  • Use hot water to clean your aquarium decorations

Pour boiled water into a large enough bowl that can take all your aquarium decoration. Put the decorations into the bowl of hot water. 

Soak it for 10 minutes, this would kill most of the algae, after which you can use your brush to clean them. Ensure that you use the proper temperature so that the plastic decoration wouldn’t melt and get ruined

  • Use a soft brush to clean off algae

The next step is to gently scrub off the Algae on your aquarium decoration using a brush. Toothbrushes are a great option and can be used to safely scrub your aquarium decoration without causing any real damage. Once you are done brushing, rinse it under running water.

3. Clean Aquarium Decorations with Bleach

Suppose you know it has been a long while since you cleaned your aquarium decoration. In that case, stubborn dirt might have stuck to your decoration and would require more than hot water and a brush to get it clean. 

If that is the case, you need to use bleach to get that shiny clean look. Don’t know what to do? Here is how to go about it.

  • Prepare a bleach solution and dip your aquarium decorations into it

Before you start, ensure you are wearing protective gear, and you are in a well-ventilated room. Then mix four teaspoons of bleach in two gallons of water. 

You will have made a 5% bleach solution perfect for cleaning your aquarium decoration. The next thing to do is, dip the aquarium decorations into the bleach solution and leave them there for five minutes. Then take them out.

  •  Scrub off stubborn algae from your aquarium decoration

Once you are done with the first step, take a toothbrush and scrub the dirt and algae off your aquarium decoration. Rinse it properly for 2 to 3 minutes to remove all the bleach from your decoration.

  • Soak your aquarium decoration in De-Chlorinated water

Don’t be in a hurry to return the decoration back to your aquarium. You have to be sure that all the bleach has been removed from the decoration since bleach is a chemical product that can badly harm your fish.

Hence the importance of this step. Get De-Chlorinated water by pouring a chlorine-removing agent into a large bowl of water that can take all your aquarium decorations. Leave it soaked for 30 minutes, that should be enough time to get any residual bleach out.

Do not use bleach to clean your gravel and rocks, they can absorb bleach and harm your fish. If you are skeptical of using bleach because of its chemical properties, ensure you regularly clean your aquarium decoration to avoid stubborn dirt

4. Clean Your Aquarium Substrate

Your aquarium substrate is part of your aquarium decoration. The substrate is placed at the aquarium’s bottom upon which other decorations are built. They should be clean, too, and this is how to go about it

  • Clean your aquarium sand

If you use sand as your aquarium substrate, you would have to clean it no matter how unlikely you might think. Use a vacuum cleaner that works and removes dirt and debris.

  • Use a vacuum for your aquarium gravel

Get a gravel vacuum cleaner to remove all the rotten food, dead plant, and fish waste that might be on the surface of the gravel or hiding between the pebbles.

5. Trim Live Plants

If you have live plants, give them a new look by trimming them to remove dead leaves. Trimming them also makes them look neat and well placed. After you are done with this, you can now move them back to their original position.

6. Place your decoration back into Your Aquarium

Now that you are done cleaning, you can carefully return your aquarium decorations back to their positions. If you like, you can give your aquarium a new look by rearranging the decoration but be careful not to spook your fish.


Cleaning your aquarium should be done regularly, at least once a month, because it is easier to clean your decorations then, unlike if you leave them without cleaning for many months.

Aside from using hot water and bleach, you can also use vinegar. Simply pour the vinegar into a bucket of water, soak your aquarium decorations overnight and rinse with clean water.

New aquarium decorations should also be washed before use; leave them in hot water for 20 minutes to kill off the germs and clean them.

Cleaning your aquarium decoration isn’t too challenging if you have the necessary tools and follow the instructions here. Always remember that the well-being of your fish should be taken seriously.

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