Cleaning Fish Tank with Vinegar in 10 Simple Steps

Nothing may be more satisfying than watching colorful fish in a crystal-clear aquarium. If you have a fish tank with some eye-catching fish, you definitely know how much satisfaction it provides you. However, green spot algae and stubborn stains can ruin your view.

In this case, cleaning fish tank with vinegar can be a useful way to bring the crystal-clean view back. This is a pretty cost-effective method to remove stubborn stains and hard algae from your tank glass, decoration items, plants, heater, and filter.

So, how to clean fish tank with vinegar? To clean your fish tank with vinegar, you need to mix one part vinegar with one part water, meaning that you have to make a solution of water and vinegar in a ratio of 1:1. Dampen a clean sponge into the solution and scrub the entire tank with the sponge until you remove all the calcium deposits and stubborn algae.

Apart from that, you may need to clean your tank without disturbing the fish. In this article, we’re going to talk about all these things, along with replying to some questions that people frequently ask us. So, let’s get down to business!

How to Clean Fish Tank with Vinegar

Cleaning Aquarium

I always use vinegar to clean my fish aquarium, along with plants and decoration items. That’s why I know how to remove all potential bacteria and parasites from the tank. So, here’s how you clean your fish tank with vinegar using some other useful tools and ingredients.


Step – 01: Manage Necessary Tools and Ingredients

First of all, you have to accumulate the necessary pieces of equipment, along with vinegar, water, and salt, to accomplish this DIY project. Let’s see all of them at a glance below.

  • White Vinegar
  • Table Salt
  • Tap Water
  • A couple of clean sponges
  • Hosepipe
  • Razor Blade Scraper
  • Old Toothbrush

You can find these things in any local grocery shop or buy them online at Amazon by clicking on the name of the item you need.


Step – 02: Empty the Tank Completely

Once you have accumulated the tools and ingredients needed for the project, you need to empty the tank. To do this, you have to remove the fish to a separate tank, transfer decorations and plants to a clean bucket, and then empty the aquarium thoroughly.


Step – 03: Wash the Algae and Calcium Deposits Away

Cleaning Fish Tank

When the fish tank is empty, you need to wash all the algae and calcium deposits away from it. For that, you have to dampen a sponge with tap water and wipe the entire tank, both inside and outside of it. Make sure you’re using the sponge gently not to put scratches on the surface.


Step – 04: Apply Some Table Salt to the Tank

After washing the algae and calcium deposits away from the tank, you have to apply some table salt. To do this, take another sponge, dampen it, put some table salt on the sponge, and wipe down the entire tank. Leave the salt for a while but not dry thoroughly.


Step – 05: Remove Any Stubborn Stains

If you have a plastic or acrylic tank, you don’t need to follow this step. However, if you’re cleaning a glass aquarium, you have to scrape off any remaining stubborn stains using a razor blade scraper pretty gently. You need to do it when you were unable to remove hard algae.


Step – 06: Clean the Tank with Vinegar

Once you have applied table salt to the tank, it’s time to add vinegar to clean it. For that, you have to make a water-vinegar solution in a ratio of 1:1. This means you have to mix one part tap water to one part vinegar to make the solution.

Once you have made the solution, you need to pour it onto the same sponge you have used for applying salt. Then, scrub the entire tank with the sponge so that no algae remain on the tank surface, both inside and outside of it.


Step – 07: Rinse the Tank Thoroughly

Cleaning Aquarium

To rinse the entire tank completely, you need to place it in a bathtub or close to a tap. You can also connect a hosepipe to wash the whole aquarium. As soon as you clean the tank, you should let it dry thoroughly.


Step – 08: Clean the Plants

Since your tank is thoroughly clean, you have to clean the plants by removing hard algae. For that, you need to make a water-vinegar in a ratio of 1:1. Dip the plants into the solution to soak for only 5 minutes.

Now, rinse the plants carefully under cold tap water to get rid of vinegar solution and any remaining loosened algae. After that, simply place the plants into the tank position where it was located before cleaning.


Step – 09: Scrub Away Stubborn Stains from the Tank Decorations

Apart from the plants, you may have some decoration items, such as resin ornaments, rocks, and pebbles, inside your aquarium. To scrub away hard stains from these decorations, you have to place them into a bucket containing a water-vinegar solution as per the previous ratio.

Let the decorations soak the water-vinegar solution for around 10 minutes. After that, you have to use an old toothbrush to scrub away any stubborn stains from the decorations. Once you have scrubbed them, rinse them under cold tap water and place them inside the tank.


Step – 10: Rinse Aquarium Covers and Water Filters

Finally, apply the water-vinegar solution to all aquarium peripherals, such as covers, casings, and more in a ratio of 1:1 to disinfect them. In terms of cleaning the filter, make sure you soak all the pieces of the filter separately into the water-vinegar solution.


Some Frequently Asked Questions with Answers:


1. Can I clean an aquarium without removing fish?

Answer: You can clean your aquarium without transferring the fish to another tank. For that, you have to scrape green spot algae on your tank glass by using distilled white vinegar and an aquarium magnet cleaner.

To begin with, put some vinegar on the scrubbing side of the magnet cleaner and gently scrub the glass surface. Without disturbing your fish, keep scrubbing your aquarium until the green spot algae wash away.


2. Can I use white vinegar to clean my fish tank?

White Vinegar

​Answer: You can definitely use white vinegar with water to clean your fish tank or aquarium. Besides, you can clean heater, filter, and decoration items by using white vinegar. You only need to soak them into the water-vinegar solution for a while and then rinse them with fresh water.


3. Is vinegar harmful to fish?

Answer: Even though vinegar contains mild acetic acid, it’s not harmful to fish. Instead, the acid helps break down calcium deposits and green spot algae, usually grown inside fish tanks.


4. Does white vinegar kill algae?

Answer: A solution of white vinegar and water in the ratio of 1:1 can kill the algae.


5. How much vinegar to lower pH?

Answer: Experts recommend that 1 gallon of water be mixed with no more than 1 ml. of vinegar to be added to an area of high water flow. This amount of vinegar will definitely lower the pH level of your tank to around 0.3 pH.


Wrapping Up

Now that you know how to clean a fish tank with vinegar, you can keep your aquarium free from calcium deposits and green spot algae. Your aquarium will be looking excellent. Most importantly, you can reduce the chance of damaging the filtration system of your fish tank.

However, we hope you’ve enjoyed the article and learned a lot about cleaning your fish tank with a water-vinegar solution. If you have any doubts regarding this post’s content, you can leave your valuable comments below in the comment section.


  1. cool me and my sister want 5 neon tetra.

    • Glad to hear that. However, my recommendation will be 6 or more. As the Tetras do well in a school of 6 or more. And the tank size should be no less than 10 gallons.

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