When I disinfect a tank, this is the process I follow. I usually do it outside with a hose, as it's messy and takes a while.
You will need:
- unscented pure bleach (no added scents or soaps as this will kill your fish)
- pure white vinegar, large bottle (5L)
- 3 buckets (for decorations, plants and substrate)
- clean rags and scrubbies (don't use the ones with soap embedded! Plastic dollar store scrubbies are good for this)
- spare tanks or rubbermaids for the fish to live in temporarily
Disinfection Instructions: Tank
- Remove all fish from tank and place in another tank or clean, unused Rubbermaid with a filter and air stone running. Make sure that there's a lid to keep any jumpers in!
- Remove ALL decorations, plants, and substrate from the tank. Place in separate buckets.
- Scrub empty tank thoroughly with a clean scrubby or rag using a solution of 1 part pure, unscented bleach to 10 parts hot water. DO NOT EVER USE SOAP OR DETERGENT OF ANY KIND!!!!!!
- Rinse and refill tank with clean water, add 1 cup bleach for each 20 gallons. Let tank stand, filled with bleach-y water, for at least an hour.
- Rinse tank thoroughly, at least 4-5 times, wipe it out with a clean rag soaked in pure white vinegar (use lots) and rinse again with clean water.
- Refill with water and add a big (triple) dose of a strong dechlorinator like Prime. Let stand for 1+ hours.
- Empty tank and rinse with clean water, allow to air dry.
- Rinse your filter media, and remove any carbon if you haven't done so. It's a good idea to have a cycled backup filter if possible, as doing this can cause you to have a cycle bump and ammonia spike.
Disinfection Instructions: Decorations
- Scrub all surface crud off decorations with a clean scrubby (NO SOAP!) and plain water.
- Fill decorations bucket with 1 part pure unscented bleach to 20 parts water; allow to soak at least 1 hour.
- Rinse decorations VERY thoroughly with clean water and white vinegar, at least 4-5 times. There should be no bleach smell.
- Refill bucket with water and add a big (triple) dose of a strong dechlorinator like Prime. Let stand for 1+ hours.
- Remove decorations and and rinse with clean water, allow to air dry.
Disinfection Instructions: Substrate
- Place substrate in its own bucket outside. Stick a running hose into the bucket, dump in a cup of bleach and stir. Let the hose run and overflow the bucket to remove dirt, stirring occasionally. Rinse for at least 15-30 minutes, more is better. The water should be running clear and there should be no smell of bleach at all.
- Rinse one final time with dechlorinator added to rinse water before replacing in tank.
Disinfection Instructions: Plants
- Place plants in their own bucket. Plants can be very sensitive to bleach, so what I would do is rinse ONLY the leaves quickly with the 1 part bleach to 20 parts water solution, and then rinse again several times in clean, dechlorinated water.