Zap-Cal is an aquarium equipment cleaner and de-scaler from Crystal Clear Aquatics. In the aquarium world this type of chemical cleaning work is normally performed using some form of strong acid, the strongest of which being sulfuric acid which is highly corrosive and creates tons of toxic fumes requiring the acid-bath to be performed outdoors or in really well ventilated areas.
Unlike other solutions for de-scaling aquarium equipment suffering from heavy calcium buildup, Zap-Cal is not an acid but a much less toxic solution that has its roots in a formula developed by the U.S. navy for removing biofouling organisms from the hulls of ships and such. One of the strengths of Zap-Cal is the speed with which it removes lime deposits so we took a couple of our most heavily crustified salt water mixing pumps and put Crystal Clear Aquatics’ Zap-Cal to the test.
At $15 to $20 per 16oz bottle, Zap-Cal is considerably more expensive than muriatic/sulfuric acid and it’s not a concentration, you use Zap-Cal straight up and a single bottle is likely to be usable for only one sitting, even if you can clean a handful of devices and parts during that time. Where Zap-Cal excels is in its non-toxicity and speed, being able to use Zap-Cal indoors, safely, also means that this is a much safer aquarium cleaning alternative than the highly dangerous acid solutions.
We’ve used milder acid solutions like Hydor’s Magi Klean and while it works, you still have to take the pump apart and do the final cleaning by hand, not really an issue if you’ve got the time or are in the mood to do some assembly/disassembly. However the real beauty of Zap-Cal is in how thoroughly every little bit of fouling was removed, with not so much as a residue to be removed by hand when the cleaning was finished. [Crystal Clear Aquatics]