HomeAquarium & MaintenanceTips for Cleaning Your Tank and Aquarium Decorations

Tips for Cleaning Your Tank and Aquarium Decorations

If you’re like most fish enthusiasts, you spend a lot of time and money stocking your aquarium with beautiful decorations. But what happens when they get dirty? Aquarium decorations can quickly become covered in algae and other gunk if not cleaned regularly.

In this blog post, National Park Aquarium will show you how to clean aquarium decorations using common household items. We will also provide tips for keeping your aquarium looking its best.

Several methods exist for cleaning your aquarium adornments. We’ll delve into two of the most popular techniques next. Continue on to discover more!

Method 1: Cleaning Aquarium decorations with Vinegar

One of the easiest ways to clean aquarium decorations is to use vinegar. White vinegar is cheap and effective at removing algae and other gunk from your decorations.

best way to clean aquarium decorations
Best way to clean aquarium decorations

You can prepare the following items to get ready for cleaning:

  • White vinegar
  • A clean cloth
  • A soft brush

Instruction: Clean Aquarium Decorations with Vinegar

  1. Remove the decorations from your aquarium and place them in a bowl or sink.
  2. Fill the bowl or sink with water and add enough vinegar to create a 1:1 ratio of water to vinegar.
  3. Soak the decorations in the mixture for 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, use a soft brush to remove any extra gunk or stubborn stains on the decoration after bringing them out of the mixture.
  5. Rinse them off with clean water and dry the decorations with a clean cloth.
  6. Return the decorations to your aquarium.

Method 2: Clean Aquarium decorations with Bleach

If you have really tough stains or algae build-up, you may need to resort to using bleach. This method should only be used as a last resort, as bleach can be harmful to fish if not used properly.

cleaning fish tank decorations
Cleaning fish tank decorations

What you need

  • Plain bleach without additives
  • Water
  • Buckets
  • A powerhead
  • A pair of gloves and a mask
  • An old toothbrush

Instruction: Clean Fish Tank Decorations with Bleach

  1. Put on your protective pieces first, including a chemical-resistant glove and a mask. They will keep the bleach from attacking your skin and respiratory system.
  2. Then, take the decoration out of the aquarium. Should the ornament be too sizable for your sink, a bucket filled with water will suffice for cleaning. Alternatively, the bathtub is always an option.
  3. Fill a bucket with 1 part bleach and 10 parts water to create a diluted bleaching solution. Then, submerge the decoration in the mixture and let it soak for 10 minutes.
  4. After 10 minutes, rinse the decoration off with clean water. In the process, use a soft toothbrush to remove the rest of the algae and dirt stuck in small corners or tiny cracks. This task will be easy since the bleach breaks down the dirt.
  5. Be sure to rinse it thoroughly to remove all traces of bleach. Once the decoration is rinsed, you can put it back in the aquarium.

Method 3: Using Muriatic acid and Baking Soda

tips for cleaning aquarium decorations

If your aquarium decorations, especially rock pieces, are starting to look dull, you can use Muriatic and baking soda to clean them.

Baking soda is a mild abrasive that will help to neutralize the acid when it removes any build-up on your aquarium decorations.

What you need

  • Muriatic acid
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Soft cloth
  • Bucket
  • Dechlorinator (optional)
  • A pair of latex gloves, a face mask, and a pair of protective glasses

Instruction: Clean Aquarium Ornaments with Baking Soda

  1. Make sure to wear all the protective pieces before you start using this acid for the decorations. A pair of protective glasses is required to prevent any accidental splash of the acid from hurting your eyes.
  2. Now, start by removing the decoration from the aquarium.
    2. We want to make a 5% cleaner, so it’s 2 teaspoons of acid for every gallon of water. Depending on the size of your decorations, as you want to submerge everything, you can make the solution in a bucket/sink/or the bathtub.
  3. Then, soak the decoration in the mixture for 20 – 25 minutes, and a tad longer if there are stubborn algae on the stones.
  4. Once you’ve completed 2/3 of the immersion duration, remember to incorporate 3 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda. This step helps counteract the potent acid.
  5. After that, remove the decoration and rinse it off with clean water.
  6. (Optional) You can soak the decorations in the mixture of water and dechlorinator for 20-30 minutes more to neutralize in case of any acid solution left.
  7. Dry the decoration off with a clean cloth, then return the decoration to your aquarium.
From our hands-on knowledge, we vouch for white vinegar as a cleaning solution for aquarium adornments. It’s a trusted approach embraced by many due to its harmlessness to the aquatic inhabitants of your aquarium.

Tips for Cleaning Aquarium Decorations


There are a few things to keep in mind when cleaning aquarium decorations.

  • It is best to clean aquarium decorations with hot water.
  • Be sure to rinse the decoration thoroughly before returning it to the tank.
  • Cleaning frequency will depend on the type of decoration and how often it is used. Heavy use decorations may need to be cleaned weekly, while light use decorations can be cleaned monthly.
  • If you have a lot of decorations, it may be helpful to soak them in a vinegar or baking soda solution overnight. This will help loosen any build-up so that it’s easier to clean off.
  • If you’re using bleach to clean your aquarium decorations, be sure to use a well-ventilated area and rubber gloves. Bleach can be harmful if inhaled or comes into contact with your skin.

Source: Aquarium Show


Cleaning your aquarium decorations is vital to keep your tank looking its best. Over time, decorations can become stained or covered in algae.

By following the tips we’ve provided “how to clean aquarium decorations“, you can keep your aquarium looking its best while ensuring that your fish are healthy and safe. Do you have any questions about cleaning aquarium decorations?

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Further Reading
Kevin Mills, the founder of Nationalparkaquarium.org


-- Founder --

I'm Kevin Mills, the founder of Nationalparkaquarium.org, where I share my deep passion for aquariums and aquatic life. With over 20 years of experience in fishkeeping, covering everything from tending to saltwater and freshwater tanks.

Kathleen Wood


-- Interrogator --

Kathleen Wood, a seasoned marine biologist, possesses a wealth of knowledge and experience in her field. Her research on tropical fish biodiversity spans over three decades, and she has contributed numerous scientific papers on aquatic life.