How to Clean Aquarium Ornaments

Aquarium ornaments can collect debris over time.

Aquarium ornaments can collect debris over time.

Aquarium ornaments can add color, style and safe hiding places to your tank, but they can collect algae, bacteria and other debris over time. If your tank looks dirty, you may need to clean the decorations in addition to draining the water and cleaning the tank itself.

Remove and clean the ornaments one at a time. Removing them all at once can stress your fish and kick up dust and debris. After you've cleaned the first item, replace it and remove the next item.

Place the ornament in the sink and run hot water over it for two to three minutes. This helps break down any sludge or algae and makes cleaning easier. Use an algae scraper to scrape off any algae or buildup that remains on the ornament.

Mix 5 percent bleach with 95 percent water and pour it on the ornament. Allow the bleach to remain on the ornament for two to three minutes. Then use the toothbrush to scrub the crevices of the ornament and ensure any excess debris is removed.

Rinse the ornament thoroughly for five minutes using cold water.

Add a dechlorinating agent to a bucket of water according to the chemical's package instructions. Place the ornament in the bucket for 20 minutes, then rinse it again. Place it back in the aquarium.

Items you will need

  • Sink
  • Toothbrush
  • Algae scraper
  • Bleach
  • Dechlorinating agent
  • Bucket


  • You should not clean the aquarium ornaments unless they are visibly dirty, the water is cloudy or your fish have been sick. Cleaning them too frequently can upset the chemical balance in your tank's ecosystem.
  • Never use soap to clean aquarium ornaments. Even in small doses, soap can be lethal to fish and plants.

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About the Author

Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.

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