OT - Anyone knows how to clean aquarium rock?

I could not find any info on this on the internet. I wonder if there’s anyone here has experience with it. I am arguing with Hubby over this. He said we should soak it in vineger then rinse it off and put it back in the tank. It’s lava rock and so pourous, with soaking 24 hr in the acid, it’ll kill the fish!

Anyone has any knowledge, info, or lead?


By the way, my new boss is so demanding now I even lost my commuting time for knitting to reading work materials !!! So no more knitting for a while, I hope it’s just a while.

I’m certainly no expert, but I agree that vinegar is not the way to go. What about boiling it?

What is on the rocks? Is it algae?

Regular non- porous rocks can be cleaned in a bleach solution and rinsed thoroughly, I think… My husband is the expert in this and he is asleep.

If you have algae growth you may just have to work on balancing fish and light and water quality. There are fish that are bottom feeders and also will eat the algae; too much light can promote growth of it. Regular water testing is helpful too. In a well balanced environment the rocks shouldn’t get dirty.

But maybe these are rocks you want to put into the tank?? In which case I’m not sure what to recommend other than rinsing them in water really well.

Boil them. I raise salmon eggs in my classroom every year and have to boil the rocks before setting up the aquarium. I haven’t had any eggs die.

I worked at a fish hatchery for years.

There are 2 ways you can do it.

I would not suggest using bleach unless you have a good week or so to let them air dry.

I would boil the rocks to kill any bacteria that might be lerking.

And a good ol scrubber.

We used iodine for disinfecting, if you can find some in a drugstore, you might be better to use that instead of just the boil.

My dad runs 'em through the dishwasher with no soap :slight_smile: works quite well for external cleaning. Don’t know how it would work for a porous rock, but since it’s just water, it’s worth a shot. He runs his fake plants through too- they come out quite clean :slight_smile:

I only have a small fish tank, so my solution may not be practical for you - but I keep a toothbrush especially for cleaning my fishy items and it works well on the rocks after a soak in the water.

My fish (last one unfortunately) does not appreciate clean things though - sulks for hours and won’t speak to me!!!

When I kept aquarium fish I always boiled the rocks to clean them. I don’t think vinegar is a good idea.

Do NOT use bleach, vinegar, or any other chemicals, especially on porous rocks!

The answer depends upon exactly why you are cleaning them.

If this is just normal aquarium maintenance, then a siphon type vacuum is all that is needed. Be sure to leave some of the sediment in the rocks as this provides the bacteria needed to maintain a healthy tank. If the rocks are too clean you could actually unbalance the tank’s ecology and poison the water with too much waste.

If this is cleaning after storage, then boiling is the way to go. Whether you scrub them will depend upon their size. Larger rocks can easily be hand scrubbed with a brush. Obviously this won’t work with gravel.

For gravel, I use a shaker pan (shallow dish pan will work) with a mixture of sand and water. Agitate it back and forth and the sand will scrub the gravel. This can take a while and will give the arms a great workout. LOL

We use a good ole scrubber brush and hot water!

I’m liking the dishwasher thing though–I’ll have to tell dh about it (since he cleans the tank!!)

Mason, I had forgotten this way of cleaning Gravel, it DOES work well
when I had tanks, I had full eco systems, it was SO COOL


First off, what type of aquarium is it, salt or fresh?

I have a 300 gal. saltwater reef tank and many times I have had to wash rock. I have been keeping saltwater tanks for about 10 years now and my dad has owned a fish store for the past 20 years. Saltwater is very touchy, and about the only thing you can use that is safe and effective is actually vinegar, despite what everyone is saying. I know it doesnt sound like it would be the right thing to use, but it is. Call any fish place or pet store and they will tell you the same thing. Give it a deluted bath then scrub it down with a brush that has never touched chemicals or soap. Dont use any type of chemicals or soaps because you wont be able to get the residue off your rock and it could cause your whole tank to crash. And for the love of god, do NOT bleach your rock!!!

I would highly suggest not using the dishwater because when you run your dishwater, not all of the soap gets washed away and it will leave the same soap residue on your rock as it does on your dishes.
You can also use a siphen hose to suck nasties off the rock if you have one.

You can PM if like with questions and I’d be more then happy to help :muah:

This is my 300 gal. mixed reef. I also have a 100 gal. Coral propagation tank that I use to grow out corals in.

If you do use vinager, make sure you rinse it VERY well and set it too dry for at least 24 hours.