Aquarium plants play an important role in your tank. They give the fish a place to hide and feel safe. Having fish that feel insecure may lead to aggressiveness or fish that jump out of the tank due to an inability to keep their balance.
However, one thing you need to be careful with when you have aquarium plants is cleaning them. The reason for this is because they are mostly plastic and can get dirty easily.
Plastic plants are low-maintenance decorations that can help give your aquarium an amazing look. But, these plants require cleaning because algae often form on them. If neglected for too long, this algae can cause irritation to the fish or kill them.
No worries, in this article, you will learn how to clean aquarium plastic plants like a pro! Are you ready? Let’s begin.
Table of Contents
How To Clean Plastic Plants
Plastic plants can be a great option in an aquarium. They last longer than live plants, and they require less maintenance. However, just like with real plants, plastic plants will eventually start to look shabby, and you may be worried that they're dying.
However, there are ways to freshen them up. Here are some methods that you can try out when you are ready. We will be using a bleach solution. Why bleach? Bleach breaks down organic material, so it can easily remove algae, dirt, and debris from plastic plants.
What you will need;
- A container and lid.
Step One: Remove The Plastic Plants From The Aquarium
This should be done very carefully without harming the fish in the process. Remove all the plastic plants you want to clean. If you have a lot of plastic plants you might also want to sort out some you won’t be needing again.
Throw away any dead-looking plastic plants and retain only the ones that you know you can revive.
Step Two: Put The Plants Inside The Container
For the next step, you need to place the plastic plants inside the container, make sure you have a lid for the container. While the plastic plants are laying inside, add some water to the container.
Coldwater is okay, but I would suggest using hot water as it works better and faster than cold water. You can stop putting hot water inside the container when it is about half full.
Step Three: Add Bleach To The Container
Based on the amount of water you are using, you should add a little amount of bleach. Using too much bleach might destroy the color of your plastic plants. 10% of bleach should be just enough. Do not add anything more.
Intuition plays a vital role here, just like how the Africans add salt to their meals without having an actual measurement. The main thing to keep in mind here is that too much would destroy the plastic plants and just the right amount would completely clean the plastic plants.
After adding bleach to the container, allow the mixture to sit for about 5-7 minutes.
Step Four: Cover The Lid & Shake
At this point, you have hot water alongside the plastic plants with a little amount of bleach, all inside one container. The next thing you want to do is cover the lid and give it a really good shake.
After a couple of shakes, you can pause for a minute and take off the lid, you will notice a significant change in the color of the water, this means that the process is working.
Cover the lid and shake for about 5-10 minutes. The process can be tiring, but it is definitely worth it.
Step Five: Remove The Plastic Plants From The Water & Rinse Container
Now you have to get rid of the bleach water, simply remove the plants from the container then pour out the bleach water. Add hot water to the container and give it a proper rinse to ensure that the bleach water is completely out of the container.
Step Six: Add Hot Water To The Container Alongside The Plastic Plants
Feel free to use another container if you have more, if you don’t you can use the same container. The idea here is to completely rinse off the bleach from the plants so it doesn’t harm the fish in the aquarium.
Add fresh hot water to the container, place the plastic plants back in, cover the lid and shake again for about 5 minutes.
Step Seven: Use Your Nose
After rinsing the plastic plants, you have to use your nose to smell the plastic plants, if you smell bleach, that means you have to rinse again. In my case, I had to rinse up to 4 times before completely getting rid of the bleach smell.
If you notice any bleach smell, pour out the old water, add new water with the plants, cover the lid and shake again. Repeat this process until the smell is completely gone.
Step Eight: Allow The Plastic Plants To Dry
For the final step, you need to allow the plastic plants to dry. We do not want the slightest trace of bleach inside the aquarium water for the sake of the fish, allowing the plastic plants to dry would ensure that bleach doesn’t get into the tank.
If you live in areas with direct sunlight, feel free to air the plastic plants outside under direct sunlight. If you live in a cold area, just keep the plants indoors on a tray and they would eventually dry off.
How To Clean New Plastic Plants
When you're new to keeping fish, it's tempting to run out and buy some plastic plants for your aquarium. I mean, the plants look neat, and it's easy to just throw some into your tank and then forget about them. But plastic plants are bad for your fish, so you'll want to clean them before putting them in your tank.
It's tempting to just stick the plants in your tank and let them sit there. But over time, the plants will build up toxins and bacteria. This can make your fish sick, and the toxins can even kill them. Here’s an extra guide on how to clean new plastic plants before inserting them inside your aquarium.
1. Unpack The Plants
If the plastic plants come in a bag or case from the manufacturer, you will want to unpack it first and probably give it a few minutes to air out. If your product doesn’t come sealed then feel free to move on to the next step.
2. Boil Water
As a fish lover, I do not leave any stone unturned, every precautionary measure must be taken if I want my fish to live longer. The next step involves boiling water. You can use tap water, rainwater, or well water.
After the water boils, put the water in a bucket or bowl large enough to contain the plastic plants you bought.
Note: Be extra careful while dealing with hot water, if you are younger, ask an adult for help.
3. Insert The Plastic Plant
For the next step, you are required to place the plants inside the container for 6-10 minutes, this should kill any foreign body that might be harmful to your fish. Note that we aren’t certain if the plastic plant contains a harmful substance, we are just being extra careful. Besides, doing this doesn’t hurt the plastic plant in any way.
4. Remove The Plastic Plant
Now, you need to remove the plastic plant from the hot water, remember you have to be careful when dealing with hot water. After removing the plastic plant, allow it to dry for a while.
When the plants have completely cooled down, you can insert them into the aquarium.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you clean aquarium plants with vinegar?
All you need to do is prepare a vinegar solution, and soak the plastic plants, this would make the algae or dirt easy to remove. Remember you can only clean aquarium plants with vinegar after you have prepared the right amount of vinegar solution. The wrong amount might harm your fish.
Do live plants keep aquariums clean?
Using live plants over plastic plants has its advantages, one of which is fighting the growth of algae thus keeping your aquarium clean. However, most people prefer using plastic aquarium plants because they do not deteriorate easily, and they have various beautiful designs to choose from.
Is vinegar harmful to fish?
Vinegar can quickly change the pH of the aquarium water. If you want to clean a fish tank using vinegar, I would suggest removing the fish from the water. Any sudden changes to the water can cause your fish to become stressed and this might even be enough to kill your fish. Vinegar is a great cleaning tool, however, you will need to use it safely.
Do plastic plants clean aquarium water?
No, only live plants would help you achieve this. However, I do not think this is something you should be worried about, the cleaning done by live plants is very obvious, you can always clean aquarium plants by yourself and leave your fish tank looking as good as new every time.
That’s a wrap, I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it for you. Remember to always care for your aquarium and your fish.
In case you missed, below are some other important articles for you;