What's the best way to sanitize aquarium supplies?

I’m about to start breeding some bettas, and given how suspectible the fry are to diseases, I’d like to sanitize my aquarium supplies before mating the bettas. I know that glass won’t absorb a diluted bleach solution, but what about aquarium plants and plastic hosing? Will they absorb any bleach or chemicals? If so, can it be rinsed off, and what’s the best way to sanitize those? Also, is there any way to sanitize a sponge or filter cartridge safely, or am I going overboard?

Don’t use soap. You’ll never get it all off.

I’ve always had good luck using a 50/50 bleach/water scrub and then a couple real hot water rinses. You might consider washing & soaking your plastic in it and then running it through the dish washer with no detergent. Any residual bleach will be diluted to almost nothing when you add water. I also use water from the kitchen purifier and then add some Start Right to condition the aquarium. I’ve started 4 tanks this way and never had a fatality (well, as a result of starting the tank). So it’s clean enough for a starter tank. Should be OK for babies.

Thanks for the tips!

And remember not use Jetdry[sup]tm[/sup] or its ilk in the dishwasher.

Or better yet, skip the dishwasher altogether. The heat is often to high for many plastics, and in any case, simply rising well and letting the items dry is good enough, where bleach is concerned. It’s used extensively as a sanitizing agent in the food service industry because it’s nontoxic after drying. A 50-50 solution is far stronger than you actually need, however. Two tablespoons of powdered bleach per gallon of water or about 1/2 cup of liquid bleach solution (such as Clorox, et al) per gallon of water is more than adequate for sanitizing.

You can never be too sure when babies are involved. :smiley:

You do age tap water you add to your aquarium, don’t you?

Same applies to use of chlorine as a disinfectant.
Use a few grains of sodium thiosulphate, Photographer’s Hypo when you refill the tank, and then let it set for a few days before reintroducing the fish.

Aslo sea salt is a good scrubbing agent to take algae off the glass and other surfaces. A residual trace will do no harm.

Full strength is not necessary; bleach’s effectiveness peaks at 1:14, or at least that’s what a biologist told me once. And it’s always worked for me.

Do NOT use the dishwasher: there will of course be soap residue.

Use the bleach, rinse well, then rinse with a dechlorinator solution, as suggested by the last poster, then rinse once more.

Do NOT leave it in the water for a few days. Having removed the chlorine, you’d be inviting bacterial activity.

Just rinse, and use.

I owned an aquarium maintenance company for eight years, and I regularly bleached, rinsed, and returned equipment to an established aquarium immediately.

Bottom line, it’s not that complicated: bleach and rinse.

As long as you make sure that the various water parameters are okay for your fish before introducing them to the tank, it doesn’t really matter what you use to clean it. You could use full strength bleach, as long as you later use enough dechlorinating water conditioner afterward.

And you do realize that if you clean the entire tank with bleach, all of the beneficial bacteria ( the kind that helps eliminate the fish waste ) will also be killed, and you will need to give the tank a few weeks to restabilize. I don’t really see any fish breeding in a brand new tank.

I think I’m more confused than I was before… :frowning:

Okay, if this is okay with you… I think this is what I’ll go with… note that almost everything I"m using is brand new, since I only use 1 gallon plastic tanks to house the bettas and not much else. I did have successful freshwater community tanks when I was in high school, though…

(1) Douse everything in a 1:14 bleach:water solution and rinse it off very well with hot water, not dishwater or anything like that.

(2) Set aside a separate water container, age it overnight (as my tap water has some sediments which should settle to the bottom…)

(3) Siphon water into tank, prepare tank with:

-Novaqua & Amquel
-Aquarium salt
-a little Methylene Blue (to prevent fungus)

(3) Wait one additional night to age the water further, then start pimping the bettas.

How’s that sound?

Water doesn’t “age.” You can do all this pretty immediately, as long as the temperature is OK.

At the very least, there are sediments in my tap water. If I don’t age then siphon it, it settles down to orangish fuzz/dust at the bottom of my tanks which can’t be healthy.

I have a freshwater tank and I have always “aged” my water if I’m using it from tap rather than bottled water. I have always done this because of the chlorine in the tap water. I figured let it sit overnight would dissipate this (or so I was led to believe).

Does this theory ahem hold water? = )

You’re kinda right, lissener, in that water doesn’t age in the same way that booze or cheeze or other products that experience change do by just being around. And perhaps age isn’t the right word. What *does * happen when aquarium water sits is that junk can settle out–most notably chlorine and other crap that you get from municipal water. Also, if you have some “used” aquarium water, you can seed the new tank with good bacteria that will crank up the biosphere, so to speak: the bugs are in place to handle amonia, rotting food & fish poo.

There are numerous products that will go a long way in getting this done for you–stuff that precipitates municipal additives out of the water and other junk which I lovingly refer to as fishy prozac–basically a chill pill for the fish to reduce stress caused by new water, new temperature, a shaky ride from the fish store to their new home, new and unfamiliar faces, unexpected wads of human semen tossed into the wter, etc.

With care, all the aging (or conditioning if you prefer) can be done effectively in a couple hours, with the hardest part coming down to temperature. But for sanitizing, nothing beats


Minerals in water are fine for most fish. Not if you’re breeding Discus, but Bettas should be fine.

If you don’t dechlorinate chlorinated tap water, after sitting for a while the chlorine–which is very unstable in water–forms bubbles of chlorine gas and escapes the water. If you dechlorinate, there’s no reason to let it sit.

It’s my understanding that chlorine bleach reaches its peak of effectiveness at 1:14; any stronger is just overkill, wasteful, and of course that much harder to rinse.

FWIW, Bettas have been known to breed in water buffalo footprints. Temperature is VASTLY more important than water quality.

I’ve always just filled a bucket with water and added a few cups of bleach. I let it soak overnight then rinse the stuff and let that sit in clean water overnight.

Let it drip dry and you’re good to go.

Bleach will have an effect on some of those sponge filters, but it never effected the paperish fan filters.

Another fishkeeper checking in.

When sanitizing aquarium equipment I also use bleach mixed with water (no idea what ratio though) in a spray bottle. Afterwards I just rinse everything thoroughly, fill up the tank, get everything running, add some dechlor and let it all sit for a few days.

When doing water changes I add the water directly using dechlor. I have a device that fills my tank directly from the tap; I just adjust the tap water temperature until it matches the tank water temperature.