How to Clean Fish Tank Decorations?

Maintaining a clean aquarium is essential for the health and well-being of your fish. Aquarium enthusiasts take great pride in the aesthetic appeal of their tank, including the decorations and display, besides the fish. The size of your aquarium only limits the extent of your decorating options. However, adding ornaments and decorations to your tank will inevitably require cleaning from time to time. Objects that remain submerged in the water for an extended period can become dirty, calcified, discolored, and unhygienic, potentially harming your delicate aquarium fish.

Regularly cleaning your aquarium decorations is crucial to maintaining water quality in your tank. Establishing a consistent cleaning schedule for the tank and its accessories is important. Doing so can ensure that your water and decorations remain optimally clean and your fish are not put at risk. Following are some tips and best practices to help you clean your tank and its decorations.

Step by Step: Clean Fish Tank Decorations

Remove decorations from the tank:

The first step is to remove decorations from the tank. Before reaching into the tank, wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap to remove any bacteria or contaminants that could harm your fish. Then, rinse your hands thoroughly to ensure that there is no soap residue left on your hands, as it can be toxic to fish. Then, start removing decorations. Remember to remove them one at a time to prevent upsetting the delicate balance of helpful bacteria that live on them and keep your fish healthy. Removing all the decorations at once can be stressful for your fish.

Move plants to the corner:

Live plants are beneficial for aquariums as they function as a natural filter, helping to improve the overall health of the aquatic environment. If you have live plants in your aquarium, there is no need to remove them when cleaning the tank decorations. Simply move the plants to one corner of the tank to make room for cleaning the other ornaments. This way, you can keep your live plants clean without causing them any harm. Moreover, if you want to change the appearance of your aquarium, you can replace your old live plants with new ones.

Vacuum Grovel:

Over time, the gravel may become covered in algae and become dirty. You can use a special gravel vacuum device to freshen it up. The vacuum works by sucking up water and gravel when you insert it into the tank. As the gravel is being sucked into the tube, the pressure will clean it by tumbling it. After being cleaned, the gravel will then fall back into the tank. While cleaning the decorations, you will also remove some dirty water from the tank. Then replace it with fresh, dechlorinated water when you’re done cleaning to maintain the health of your aquatic pets.

Soak the decorations in the water:

Boil water in a large pot to hold one or two decorations at a time. Use regular tap water without any additional ingredients like soap or chlorine. Once the water has reached boiling point, remove it from heat and place the decorations in the pot. Let them soak for about 20 minutes, killing most of the algae and making them easier to clean. The decorations you choose to soak should be able to withstand the temperature of the boiling water. If they cannot and start to melt or fall apart, it is best to dispose of them and purchase new decorations.

Scrub the decorations:

Take a designated toothbrush for your aquarium and give the decorations a thorough scrub. Try to use a toothbrush specifically designated for cleaning your aquarium and not used for other cleaning purposes to avoid contamination. The bristles of the brush should easily remove any remaining algae. If the decorations appear clean after brushing, they can be returned to the tank.

Place the decoration in the beach solution:

As an optional step in the cleaning process, you may clean the decorations with a bleach solution to ensure that all algae are removed. The solution should mix 5% bleach and 95% water. Once the decorations have been soaked in the bleach solution, let them sit for approximately 5 minutes. After this, they should be thoroughly cleaned of any remaining algae. When working with bleach, use it in a well-ventilated area, as the fumes can be dangerous. If you experience eye irritation or burning due to the fumes, it’s a sign that there isn’t enough ventilation or that you’re using too much bleach. Wearing rubber gloves is also advisable when working with bleach, as it can irritate or dry out your skin.

Rinse the decoration:

After scrubbing each decoration with the designated toothbrush, rinse the decorations under cool water for a minute or two. It will help remove any leftover bleach, ensuring that the decorations are safe for your aquatic pets. It’s not necessary to dry the decorations after rinsing them. Place them back in the tank. Your aquarium should now be refreshed and ready for your aquatic friends to enjoy.

Things to keep in mind:

It’s important to keep the following considerations in mind when you are cleaning the fish tank decorations:

  • Use a designated toothbrush for your aquarium to avoid contamination.
  • Rinse the decorations thoroughly after cleaning with a bleach solution to remove any residual bleach.
  • Avoid using hot water when cleaning with bleach, as hot water can deactivate the bleach.
  • Wear gloves when you are using bleach to protect your skin from irritation.
  • Never bleach aquarium gravel or rocks, as they may absorb the bleach and harm the health of your aquarium.
  • Make sure to clean in a well-ventilated area, as the fumes from the bleach can be dangerous.
  • Do not dry the decorations after rinsing, as it’s unnecessary.
  • Avoid using tap water or chemicals as they could harm the fish.


Cleaning fish tank decorations is important in maintaining a healthy and attractive aquarium. You can either use a special gravel vacuum or boil the decorations in water to kill most of the algae. If necessary, you can also clean the decorations with a bleach solution, but it’s important to use the correct solution and rinse the decorations thoroughly with cool water after cleaning. Finally, scrub the decorations with a designated toothbrush and rinse them under cool water to remove any remaining bleach.