How to STERILIZE USED DECORATIONS? - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-27-2015, 05:27 AM Thread Starter
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How to STERILIZE USED DECORATIONS?

I bought x5 5 gallon buckets full of used aquarium cichlid stone caves and want to clean/sterilize them just in case before I use them in my tanks.

I've read some recommendations on possible soaking solutions (bleach or hydrogen peroxide), but just thought I'd ask again to be more sure.

They are just cichlid stones/caves made out of ceramic. Those ones you see that are shaped and painted to look like real rocks.

Just want to make sure I sterilize well enough to kill any potential disease, but in the safest way possible. Is white vinegar able to sterilize? I do have a lot of Seachem Safe (powder form of Prime) so I can dechlorinate the bleach before using the caves. Not sure how long h2o2 can be exposed to light before it evaporates too much. I will be soaking the caves in the 5 5gallon buckets.

So looking for methods and ratios.
Thanks!
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-27-2015, 08:08 AM
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Bleach is the surest way to ensure everything is sterilized.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-27-2015, 09:25 AM
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+one^
50/50 bleach and water, and let dry completely before using.
Ohhh! and don't get none on your clothes or carpet.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-27-2015, 09:49 AM Thread Starter
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I read a couple other threads and everyone says different bleach:water ratios lol so I am not sure which one to go with.

Ratios I have heard people mention are
5% bleach, 95% water
1 cup bleach to a 5gallon bucket
1 part bleach, 9 parts water
1 part bleach NINETEEN parts water (mentioned very little bleach is needed)

and two sites mentioned to final rinse using 3x or 4x dechlorinator (amount of normally need per amount of tap water) to neutralize any possible remaining chlorine

So as you see I was trying to find a more accurate ratio I should use.
I didn't want to over do it (is that even possible when sanitizing?) on the bleach or under do it.

Also is there a certain amount of time I should let them soak? I have heard some mention only 3-5 minutes, some say 4-5 hours, 24 hrs?
Just really unsure what is the correct way to do this without causing any harm to the fish or decorations (I hear soaking too long in solution can discolor things, they are painted to look like real rocks and I don't want to mess up that look, maybe Bleach isn't the best option for this?)
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-27-2015, 10:54 AM
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If you soak the item(s) overnight and let dry completely, then only residual will be sodium chloride (salt) which is easily rinsed off non porous item's.
One cup of bleach to 5 gal of water would work.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-27-2015, 10:56 AM
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I've been using about 1 cup of bleach in a 5 g bucket. It only takes a few hours at most. Seems to work fine.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-27-2015, 01:16 PM
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I make homebrew and used 2oz bleach to 5 gallons water. I usually used a good 6 oz though...never had a contaminated batch. You could go up to 1 cup bleach per 5 gallon bucket, Just make sure to rinse well!
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-27-2015, 03:45 PM
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I believe most of the diseases associated with the aquarium hobby wont survive out of water very long. So chances are if the stones are dry then they're safe to use. Couldnt hurt to clean them any way you see fit though. The exact formula of bleach to water probably isnt all too important. Little bit of bleach to a lot more water should be fine. I do not think vinegar will do much insofar as a disinfectant but it'll help clean. If you end up using bleach just make sure you rinse very well afterwards and maybe let the decorations dry completely again before adding to your tank.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-27-2015, 03:54 PM
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Thinking of how the chlorine works can help on deciding how much to use. The chlorine reacts with organics. Like bugs, bacteria, oils, or just plain old dirt. When you want to clean a white shirt, you add just a small amount of bleach as it will remove the grease in the collar but you don't want it to eat the shirt! So the same idea has to work when we clean stuff for the tank. If the item is rock, there is no need to worry about how much is used. Just use plenty. But if you are doing sponge filters or deco items that may be harmed by the bleach, it makes sense to use less. Drinking water is an area where we want to kill some bacteria but not all so we add something like 1/2 teaspoon in 50 gallons.
Rocks- just use plenty like a cup in ten gallons?
Wood- Use less and expect it to change the wood color for a time but it comes back.
Painted décor- Use lots less as it may remove the colors in the paint.
To kill snail eggs on plants-- Very much less and far shorter time as it can kill the plants.
Part of the reason for no firm amounts is that it depends on how much dirt, etc. there is on the item. For how to remove the chlorine? Let it dry and it blows away. Rinsing first will speed the process.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-27-2015, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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Just to remention, the caves are made out of ceramic, but are shaped and painted to look like real rocks (they are the Underwater Galleries Cichlid Stones).

Heh, still a little hesitant with the varying information (ratio, amount of time) on what to do and I don't want to discolor the caves and make them not look real/white.

Anyone have info/suggestions about going the Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) route to disinfect? Any dangers out if damaging the caves?
I would be sure to rinse very thoroughly with any method I decide to do. But I assume H202 would evaporate with drying and light exposure just as safely as airing out bleach.

The caves were dry, but did have a smell to them (probably just tank water smell dryed in). I know probably any aquatic disease would be dead from it drying, but you never know, just wanted to be on the safe side.
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-27-2015, 04:55 PM
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With painted ceramic, I might go with a mix like 2 tablespoons of bleach in ten gallons of water. This is a stronger mix than drinking water by a fair amount but less than might be used in a load of clothes.
My thinking is that you are not likely to be dealing with anything needing real power to kill if the items are currently dry long enough to kill snail eggs, etc. If you might have snails still alive, a stronger mix might be needed to cut through the shells.

But I do congratulate you for wanting to be safe. I always treat any used equipment I get as I once bought a tank and found they had oil cans stored in them! I clean my plate before I eat even when it might be clean, so I do much the same for my fish. It just cuts the number of wild card problems that might show up later.

Since bleach is so cheap and effective, I just never look further as there is no cheaper, easier, safer way to get the job done. Just cheap $1-2 bleach from the store as long as it has no smells ,etc. added that might throw in things we don't need. Vinegar is a light acid and does some cleaning but it is made by fermenting so I suspect it doesn't do much for killing bacteria as bacteria is what does the process.
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