The Wonders of Vinegar for Aquarium Cleaning

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  1. Bill Hurley says:

    I also use white vinegar sprayed on some newspaper to clean the outside glass of my tank it leaves the glass shiny and streak free

  2. Jeff Kurtz says:

    Ah, excellent suggestion, Bill! I’ll have to try that one myself!


  3. Jim says:

    Muratic acid is where it’s at. And it’s about the same price by me. Plus it’s so strong, just dilute and the gallon goes WAY farther than vinegar ever could.
    Wear gloves and eye protection and rinse well

  4. Jeff Kurtz says:

    Thanks for sharing this alternative, Jim! The safety tip is appreciated, as well!

  5. Joshua says:

    I’ve seen a couple of posts recently (one on Mr. Saltwater Tank TV, no plug intended) that mentioned vinegar could, if used full strength and / or soaked too long, remove the molybdenum coating on the magnets in the impellers of pumps, making them run much noisier. The Saltwater Tank TV guy used this as a way to try to sell the viewer on Hydor’s Magi-Klean, but I was hoping you could come up with another suggestion, maybe a vinegar water ratio that is safe? Does anyone have similar experiences with muriatic acid? I would think being stronger it would be even more problematic… (as an aside, Jeff I am a longtime reader of TFH and have enjoyed many of your articles — keep up the good work!)

  6. Jeff Kurtz says:

    Thanks so much for your kind comment and continued support of TFH, Joshua!

    I’ve never run into any problems using full-strength vinegar to clean pumps, though I tend to soak them for relatively short periods (an hour or so during water changes, etc.). For longer periods (e.g., overnight), you might want to cut that to a 50/50 vinegar/water mix just to be on the safe side.

    If you keep your pumps relatively free of coralline buildup by cleaning them fairly frequently, you might be able to get by using even more dilute vinegar and soaking them for shorter periods.

    I’ve never used muriatic acid for this purpose myself (too much of a nervous Nelly), so I can’t respond to that intelligently. Maybe Jim or another salty out there can check in with the correct dilution rate?

  7. Jim says:

    I Have used Muriatic acid on pumps/power heads at a very dilute “capfull or two” in a gallon of water and ran the pumps. I DO NOT recommend this, as a little splash in the face is absolutely painful. Yep, I did that. Scientific experiment- Failed !
    That pump was whistling clean when I was done. In just a minute, for fear of hurting my pump, all internals were cleaned up. .I had bought a mother load of used reefer equipment and vinegar would have taken me weeks to clean my new prizes. Sudden thoughts of my grandpa teaching me how to scrub/winterize the algae/muck off the boat as a child. Muriatic acid cuts dried calcium chunky bits off everything,in fractions of the time vinegar would have even began to work. Once again, DILUTION is the solution. 1/4 cup in a gallon for tuff stuff or mild stuff should do the trick. Absolutely Full Strength can and WILL melt some plastics. Yep, did that also.
    For the cheapskate in me, Muriatic acid works great and I like a little danger . Hah.
    Vinegar is great also.

  8. Chris Aldrich says:

    You’re living life on the edge, Jim! 🙂

    Thanks for taking the time to tell us about your experiences with muriatic acid. While I’m a big fan of vinegar, I have had my interest piqued by muriatic acid before. Maybe I’ll have to give it a whirl one of these days…

  9. Greg says:

    I use hydrogen peroxide to clean the glass. Removes salt, salt creep, and whatever else is on the glass or top of the tank

  10. Jeff Kurtz says:

    Thanks for sharing, Greg!

  11. jay says:

    Yeah I have run into vinegar eating away the outside of the magnet. I love vinegar for cleaning tanks but you have to be extremely careful. It can also break down the silicone. I would always dilute it in water. I don’t have an exact ratio though.

    I also wanted to say that I have run into build up on the top frame of my aquariums and I usually leave a paper towel soaked in vinegar over the spot for a couple days and it helps break it down. Good luck everyone! 🙂

  12. Your article is very useful. It’s really helpful and informative.

  13. Carolyn says:

    Is this safe to use in glass aquariums? I’m told it will melt anything except plastic.

  14. Alex says:

    There’s no problem with using it on glass aquariums

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