How to Disinfect a New Fish Aquarium?

When you’ve acquired all the equipment, you may only be a few steps away from officially becoming a fish owner and joining hundreds of those already enjoying the immensely rewarding experience.

Setting up a new fish aquarium is much easier than you might think. And it’s always recommended that you disinfect your new fish aquarium before setting it up.

In this article, I will cover all that you need to know about disinfecting new aquariums.

How to Disinfect New Fish Aquariums

A new fish tank needs to be sanitized to get rid of the bacteria that can harm your fish.

Before you begin to disinfect the aquarium, designate an appropriate spot for it.

The area should be free of drafts and out of direct sunlight. Once you’ve decided where to locate the new aquarium, follow these steps to disinfect the tank:

Empty the Aquarium

The first step to disinfect an aquarium is to empty it completely.

Pull out all the Removable Objects

The first step is to take out all the decorations, rocks, plants, driftwood, etc from the aquarium so that you can easily clean the tank’s bottom; an important part of aquarium sanitization.

You need not worry about objects that are attached to the inside of the tank. Just pull out removable objects.

Remove the Water

To drain the aquarium, dip a bucket into it to remove the water and throw it in your garden or elsewhere. When a small amount of water remains, lift and carry the tank to your garden and tip it over to let the remaining water flow on the grass.

This, however, can be difficult and dangerous if you have a very large tank. The best solution for draining such aquariums is to use a siphon hose.

Clean the Dust from the Tank

Next, soak a paper towel in warm water and squeeze it.

Then, repeatedly wipe the bottom and the sides of the tank until all the debris is removed. Keep changing your paper towels so that they don’t simply spread dirt around the tank.

Sanitize the Aquarium

Now that your aquarium is empty and free of dirt, you’re good to go begin the real sanitization process.

Here are the things you need to do:

Get a Detergent-Free Bleach

Visit a cleaning store or a supermarket to purchase bleach. Many brands promote their bleaches by stating that they’re “mixed with detergent.”

If you come across any such product, move on.

Detergents comprise of chemicals that can prove fatal to your fish. You should be looking for bleach that says “household” or “regular” on its packaging.

Mix Bleach with Water

When you have detergent-free bleach, mix it with water such that the resultant mixture constitutes 10% bleach and 90% water. You can use a 240 ml cup to measure the quantities.

For instance, take one cup of bleach that makes 240ml. Mix it with 9 cups of water that makes 2100 ml. Shake the container vigorously for at least 10 seconds.

Once the liquids are completely dissolved, pour the solution into a spray bottle. It is now ready for use.

Apply the Bleach Solution Spray

Spray the entire tank with the diluted bleach solution. No part of the aquarium surface should be left out.

Even the objects that are attached inside the tank should be thoroughly sanitized using the solution.

The removable objects you took out of the tank should also be covered. Place them on an area that won’t be damaged from bleach such as a concrete surface.

Then apply the bleach solution spray on them. However, the chemicals present in the solution can harm the plants, so avoid spraying the grass.

Wait for 10 Minutes

After applying the bleach solution, leave it on the surfaces for 10 minutes. You may want to use a timer for this. Ten minutes are more than enough to kill any bacteria present on the tank and its objects.

However, do not leave the bleach on them for more than fifteen minutes as its chemicals can cause tank surface erosion.

Since bleach consists of harmful chemicals, do not allow children and pets to come close to the tank or objects when the solution is applied.

Remove the Bleach Solution

The next step is to rinse the tank and all objects to remove the bleach solution from surfaces. To do this, fill the tank with clean water using a hose and empty again in the same way as you did before.

If you don’t have a hose, carry the tank to your bathroom and clean it there. Bleach residue can persist on the surfaces so repeat the same process again.

As far as the removable objects are concerned, simply wash them in clean water and shake them thoroughly.

Then repeat the same process to remove any bleach residue that might have been left behind on the objects.

Allow the Tank to Dry

Bleach is a pretty strong solution. Despite thorough cleaning, some elements can remain on the tank surfaces and objects. There’s nothing you can do to remove them.

However, by allowing the tank to dry in the air can break those bleach particles into harmless bits. 24-hours time should be enough. Keep it at a safe area to dry, away from children and pets.

As for the removable objects, simply keep them next to your tank to dry up.

Refill the Tank

Now that you have cleaned the aquarium, it’s time to set it up.

Position the Removable Items

Once the fish tank and objects dry up, don’t rush to fill the tank with water. Before adding water, place back the removable items into the tank in their correct positions.

It will be difficult if you try to do this after filling the tank with water. Start by placing the rocks on the tank base. Then attach the filters, if any. Next, you can position the decorations such as driftwood in the aquarium.

Remember, the best time to add any object to your aquarium is when it’s empty. However, before adding any new or old object, make sure it is properly sanitized.

Add Water to the Tank

Now is the time to fill your tank with water. Again, you can use a hose to fill the tank. But if you don’t have a hose, don’t carry it to your bathroom this time as it will become difficult to bring it back to its designated place when filled.

Instead, you can use a bucket to add water. There should be a “max” line somewhere near the top of the fish tank. Make sure you don’t fill beyond that limit.

Once the tank is full in water, you can set an ideal temperature on the thermostat that suits your fish.

Add Conditioners to the Aquarium Water

You will now be excited to add your fish to the aquarium. But no, there are some final touches to go. Are you sure that the water you’ve added will not pose any risks for your fish?

You can’t just use any water for aquariums. Most first-timers don’t even give this a thought and end up using tap water. But did you know that the water supplies in most cities contain chemicals such as chlorine, copper, phosphate, etc, that can cause severe harm to your fish?

To prevent this, you can add conditioners such as a de-chlorinator to the aquarium water. You can easily find one at a local pet shop.

Check the instructions given on de-chlorinator packaging to determine the quantity to be added. While most de-chlorinators suggest adding 1 drop for every 8 liters of water, the exact dosage varies from one brand to another.

To be even more cautious, you can consider using distilled water, but then it will still require remineralization to make it more natural. But the best option is to use Reverse Osmosis and Deionized water (RO/DI) water.

Put Fish in the Tank

Once you’re comfortable with the sanitization of the aquarium, including the water quality and its conditions such as the pH level, you can go ahead and put your fish into your new aquarium.

To safely do this, wet the fishnet by dipping it into water. Then, scoop out the fish gently from the temporary fish container and place it into your new aquarium.

Avoid causing sudden movements to the net when it carries the fish, as this can scare the fish.

Well done, you’re now a fish owner.

Closing Thoughts

Setting up a new fish aquarium can both be exciting and fascinating, but to be a responsible fish owner, you need to care enough to ensure safety for your fish.

There are several measures to take to disinfect your new fish aquarium before you put fish in it.

Remember, anything that your fish can come into contact with needs to be sanitized. These include the surfaces of the fish tanks, the removable and irremovable objects or decorations inside the aquarium, and of course, the water itself.

The entire process can be split into three broad phases: empty the tank, sanitize the tank and refill the tank.

While emptying the tank is no rocket science, cleaning and refilling the tank requires vigilance, as whatever you do in these steps will have good or bad implications on the health of your fish.

For instance, the use of the right bleach solution in the sanitization phase and the quality of water in the refilling phase are critical aspects. Yet, nothing is intimidating about the process. Follow the steps discussed above and you’ll do just fine.

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