How To Clean Aquarium Plants (Plastic, Silk & Live)

Last Updated on 2023-08-30

Aquatic plants are a fantastic accessory for any fish tank. Beginner fish keepers often acquire them because of the lively and scenic effect they provide on the aquarium. However, seasoned aquarists are aware of the many additional benefits that come with having real aquarium plants.

If you take good care of the plants in your aquarium, they will do wonders for the water quality by acting as a natural biofilter and adding oxygen to the tank’s contents. However, you should be aware that every new plant you add to your tank may be harboring diseases (viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites) that could cause serious problems in such a closed environment.

Let’s examine how to clean live aquarium plants before putting them in your planted tank and how to preserve their lush greenery.

Why Do My Aquarium Plants Look Dirty?

If the plants in your aquarium look dusty, fret not because that is a common occurrence. In almost every case, dusty-looking aquarium leaves are caused by a dirty tank or a form of algae. There are a few reasons why your plants might start looking dirty, and luckily, there are also a few easy solutions. Read on to see if either of these descriptions fits your tank problems.

Build-Up of Algae

Algae thrive in warm, sunny conditions, and they can quickly take over an aquarium if left unchecked. To combat algae growth, try trimming back your plants and keeping them in a shady spot. You can also try using an algae-control product.

Build-Up of Sediment on the Leaves

This is usually caused by water that is high in minerals or chemicals. To remove sediment, simply wipe the leaves with a soft cloth or brush. If you’re still having trouble getting your plants clean, you can always ask your local fish store for advice.

How To Clean Plastic Aquarium Plants

Artificial plants, often known as plastic aquarium plant decorations, are available in a wide range of colors, sizes, and shapes to meet any aquarium owner’s aesthetic tastes. There is a possibility that some would appear unrealistically vivid and plastic, while others will appear much more natural. The majority of aquarium keepers include a few plastic plants in their setup to offer cover for fish and beneficial microorganisms. These plants also add a little color.

Plastic plants have the advantages of being cheap, easily accessible, and readily available at most pet supply stores. Plastic aquarium plants are easier to clean than real ones. Look at the steps listed below!

Remove Plastic Plants From the Tank

Take out all the plastic plants you want to clean. It is easier to do this when the water level is low enough to let you pull the plants out of the substrate during a water change. Alternatively, you can use a net to lift the plant high enough so that you can reach it with your hand and remove it.

Rinse Them With Lukewarm Water

When you’re done with the plants, give them a quick washing in some lukewarm tap water. To thoroughly soak the plants, place them under the faucet and swish them around in the water. Besides the algae, the debris should start to detach from the plants and wash away.

Soak Plastic Plants in a Bucket

After you’ve finished cleaning the plants, fill a bucket with a mixture of cooled boiled water (60%) and room temperature tap water (40%). Applying API aquarium-safe cleaning spray or another non-harmful cleaning chemical to the plant’s surface is recommended. Add 1 teaspoon of pure apple cider vinegar for every 5 liters of water. Put the plant cuttings in the bucket and fill it with water. Let them sit for 20 minutes. The debris or algae will soften and be easier to remove. If you don’t want to risk exposing your residents to any residue, boiling water will do the trick.

Scrub Using a Toothbrush

Grab a used toothbrush or an aquarium scrub brush like the Marina cleaning brush or the Marina brush kit. Get started washing the leaves, stems, and bottom to get rid of dirt and algae.

Wash Plastic Plants

The dirty water should be dumped out of the bucket and replaced with fresh, cold water. To get rid of any leftover cleaning solution, lightly run your fingertips over the plant’s surface. Allow the plants to soak for 10 minutes after they have been washed.

Rinse and Dry

The plants should be given a good rinsing under cold water for several minutes, after which they should be dried in the sun for 20 to 30 minutes on a clean towel or surface. Use a clean towel to dry the plants thoroughly.

Put the Plants Back in the Tank

Please let your plants dry thoroughly before reintroducing them to the tank. This is a good way to keep mold and mildew at bay.

To maintain their finest appearance and optimal health in the aquarium, plastic aquarium plants require regular cleaning. The good news is that following the instructions laid out here won’t take more than a few minutes to finish.

How To Disinfect Aquarium Plants

Adding new species to an aquarium requires careful thought and consideration. In order to prevent the introduction of a disease that could wipe out the aquarium’s inhabitants, you must ensure that the new species poses no threat to the ecosystem. To ensure the health and happiness of your fish, you should know how to disinfect aquarium plants before adding them.

Learn how to properly quarantine and sterilize new aquarium plants by reading this post. Let’s start!

You Should Give the Aquarium Plants a Quick Rinse

The container where the plants will be submerged must be filled with water. Then shake the container to help rinse the plant and remove any dead leaves that may have remained unpruned. You can clean delicate aquarium plants by running cool water over them. Feel free to rinse the plants multiple times, after which you can discard the water and set them aside.

Draw a Bath

Wearing gloves is a must at this stage because you will be handling bleach. One cup of bleach per twenty cups of water. Before you put the bleach in the bucket of water, make sure it is not scented and doesn’t have any extra chemicals in it. The next step is to combine the bleach and water.


A second container is required at this stage. You should dechlorinate it by adding water to it. After that, place your plant into the bleach solution and make sure it is completely submerged. Each plant in an aquarium will have a unique soaking time, ranging from 90 to 150 seconds.

Wash and Remove the Chlorine

Aquarium plants should be removed from the mixture and rinsed in the sink once the timer goes off. To get rid of any remaining bleach, give the plants a quick rinse for one minute. You should dechlorinate the water before putting your aquarium plants in it. Take about three minutes to soak your aquarium plants in it.


Now, the bleaching process is finished. However, if you suspect snail eggs are hiding in your houseplants, it’s best to keep them out of the aquarium. It’s important to make sure no snail eggs are left behind, so you should let them stay outside the aquarium for at least two weeks.

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How To Clean Algae Off Aquarium Plants

All aquariums look amazing when they are brand new, but like any other living space, aquariums age and lose their luster. While it’s easy to take out and wash aquarium ornaments like rocks and statues, it’s a lot trickier to clean aquarium plants without harming them. It’s not easy to get plastic plants back to looking as good as new, and it’s even more challenging to get a live plant clean. If you want your plants, real or plastic, to look their best, follow these steps.

Clean Up Any Loose Debris

Start by using your finger to gently wipe away any loose debris from the living plants. The algae can be removed from the leaves by simply rubbing or brushing them. The aquarium’s plants need not be removed for this procedure. It is possible that the algae can be harvested from the living plants in this phase alone.

Use an Algae Pad as a Scrub

If you still notice algae on the plants after the initial phase, you’re dealing with tenacious algae. Take out the plants and scrub the tank down with an algae pad. Avoid vigorous scrubbing, as it will kill the plants. Using soap or other chemicals could kill all the fish in the aquarium, so this should be safe. In this step, the algae will be washed away from the aquarium plants that are still alive.

Put on Some Bleach

The tougher the algae, the more challenging it is to destroy. Bleach should be used if the previous method fails. The use of this strategy is usually a last resort. To get rid of the algae that won’t leave your plants alone, use 10% bleach.

It is best to clean live plants with a 5% bleaching solution. Mix one cup of bleach with 19 cups of water in a large mixing bowl. Allow three to four minutes for the affected plants to soak. Then, use your thumb to lightly brush away any lingering algae.

Use a bleaching agent with a 10% chlorine concentration to kill the algae on your fake plants. Combine one part bleach with nine parts water in a bowl and stir until completely blended. Give the plants a five- to ten-minute bath in the solution. Take out the plants and gently scrub away any remaining algae with an algae pad.

Rinse and Move Them

After the algae are gone from the aquarium, soak the live plants in water that has been treated to prevent further growth. A half-hour after that, you can put the plants back in the aquarium. Take these steps, and you can safely remove algae from live aquarium plants. The next step is to take precautions against any problems that may arise.

How To Clean Aquarium Plants With Vinegar

You read that right; there’s more than one approach to keeping aquarium plants healthy. The type of plant and the sort of dirt you wish to get rid of will determine the purifying method you choose. If you have aquarium plants, you can use vinegar to clean them and get rid of mineral deposits.

Vinegar can be used as a natural plant cleaning, and here are the procedures to take:

  1. Put one cup of white vinegar into a gallon of clean water to make a vinegar dip for living plants. Be sure to use a clean container when preparing the soak, and stay away from buckets previously used for cleaning purposes.
  1. For this purpose, standard white vinegar with roughly 5% to 9% acetic acid is recommended. After combining the water and vinegar, give the mixture a good swirl to get a smooth consistency.
  1. Next, set a timer for five minutes and drop your chosen live aquarium plant into the vinegar soak. Take care to immerse the plant completely in the soak solution.
  1. Carefully remove the plant from the soaking solution and transfer it to a container of fresh water once the timer has run out. Keep an eye out for any traces of algae or dirt on the plant’s leaves. Leaves with any trace of algae should be rubbed with your finger and thumb to remove the slime.
  1. You should probably limit the soaking duration to two or three minutes if the live plant you’re cleaning is a delicate kind. In addition, after soaking in vinegar, never use anything abrasive to get rid of any lingering algae on living plants. It’s a worry that your actions might hurt the plant.

Vinegar is effective on its own, therefore, you shouldn’t combine it with other cleaning products to get rid of germs. Vinegar has powerful disinfecting capabilities, but mixing it with another cleaner might cause toxic fumes to be released.

How To Clean Live Aquarium Plants

Cleaning live plants is a high-risk task because the plants could die in the process. Cleaning the fish tank and its plants will be less of a hassle if you keep up with routine maintenance. Cleaning dirt and calcium deposits need a clean spray bottle or cleaning pads.

But if there’s a lot of algae on your plants, you’ll need to do more than just rinse them with water from the tap. Depending on the severity of the dirt, you might need to resort to the use of boiling water, bleach, vinegar, or specialized scrubbers. Just follow these steps:

Boiling Water

  • Remove the water from the burner after it has boiled and place it in a clean container.
  • Now, while the water is still warm, put in the artificial aquarium plants and wait at least ten minutes.
  • The majority of the algae can be removed by simply washing it away with water, but the rest can be removed with the use of an algae scrub.
  • You need to let the plants cool off fully before putting them back in the tank.

A Bleach Solution

  • To make a 10% bleach solution, simply mix one part bleach solution with nine parts water.
  • Aquatic plants should only be submerged in the solution for a maximum of 15 minutes.
  • When you’re done using them, give them a quick rinse in clean water and a scrub if they need it. To avoid harming the aquarium plants, bleach should never be combined with any other chemicals.

Soak in Vinegar

  • Put half a cup of white vinegar and half a gallon of distilled water in a clean spray container and shake well. The amount of vinegar and distilled water used can be adjusted up or down depending on the volume of plants that need to be treated.
  • Apply the solution with a spray bottle, and then remove the calcium deposits with a damp towel.
  • After that, wash it all down with fresh water.

Scrubbing Tools

  • Cleaning the aquarium and its plant inhabitants is a breeze with the wide variety of scrubbers available.
  • You can use anything from a bottle scrubber to a toothbrush for this task.
  • Any tool used for scrubbing that has had previous contact with chemicals should be avoided. These compounds are harmful to fish and can degrade the ideal water conditions needed by plants and fish.

How To Clean Silk Aquarium Plants

You should clean your silk aquarium plants on a regular basis. Even though silk plants look fantastic and bring a lot of variety to your tank, they may also be a breeding ground for bacteria and other tank pests.

Silk plant maintenance is an integral part of keeping your aquarium healthy and free of bacteria.

Here are some things you’ll need:

  • A bucket
  • Old toothbrushes
  • Gentle fabric
  • White vinegar
  • Water

You just need to follow a few easy steps:

  • Take the plant out of the tank.
  • Soak it in a mix of one part white vinegar to two parts lukewarm water.
  • Please wait 30 minutes before touching the plant again.
  • You can clean the plant using a sponge. The leaves and the stem need to be covered thoroughly. Use an old toothbrush to help scrub away any buildup of algae or other debris from the plant’s surface.
  • Return the plant to the aquarium after giving it a good rinsing with fresh water.

How To Bleach Dip Aquarium Plants

Plants in an aquarium create a more balanced, thriving, and pleasant environment. However, they may introduce unwanted pathogens, parasites, fungi, germs, or pollutants into the ecosystem, which is never a good thing.

Aquarium plants with contaminants are more common than you might think. Therefore, it is essential to always sterilize the plant before placing it in the aquarium. Although there are a variety of options for sanitization, we will focus on the most common procedure, which is bleach dipping.

There are a few key procedures involved in the bleach dipping process.

  • You will need to use:
  • Unscented Bleach
  • Disposable gloves
  • Two different storage containers
  • Dechlorinator

1. Removal by Hand and Initial Preparation

As soon as you get your new plants, inspect them carefully for snails and other pests, and get rid of them if you find any. Any leaves that appear to be algae-covered or melting during shipment should be removed.

2. Washing the Plants

Put the plants in a container full of water. Do a good, hard shake. More delicate plants would benefit more from a quick rinse in cool running water. Do this as many times as you desire. Then, empty everything out of the container and wash it.

3. Draw the Bath

This is the risky portion, so please use caution and use gloves. The rule of thumb is to dilute bleach with water at a ratio of 1 to 20. (1:20 ratio). Be sure the bleach is odorless and contains no other chemicals before using it. Blend chlorine bleach with water.

4. Dip

Make sure the plants are totally covered by the bleach solution, and then add them to the container. Soaking times must be adjusted for different plants. Don’t submerge plants with thin leaves or delicate stems for more than 90 seconds at a time. For at least 2 minutes, soak plants that are considered average in the bleach solution. The toughest plants can be dipped for more than 2 minutes.

5. Rinse & Dechlorinate

The plants should be washed for at least a minute before being put into the water and dechlorinator mixture. For best results, soak your plants in the dechlorinator for at least a few minutes.

Before planting, it’s a good idea to give the plants some time to become used to their temporary home in a container or tank. In order to prevent any unwanted guests from entering your aquarium, you should quarantine your plants for two to three weeks. It really is a matter of taste! If you’d like, you can now place your sterile plant cuttings in your aquarium.

How To Sterilize Aquarium Plants

If you’re looking to sterilize your aquarium plants, there are a few methods you can use at home. Potassium permanganate, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, and aquarium or kosher salt are all effective sterilizers.

Potassium Permanganate

One popular method is to soak the plants in a solution of potassium permanganate. Simply soak the plants in a solution of one gram of potassium permanganate per liter of water for 10-15 minutes. This will kill off any harmful bacteria or parasites that may be lurking on the leaves or stems.


Although this is a bit more harsh on the plants and should only be used as a last resort. Soak the plants in a bleach solution for up to 2 minutes, then rinse them thoroughly with clean dechlorinated water before adding them to your tank.

Hydrogen Peroxide

It can be used by soaking the plants in a solution of one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide per gallon of water for not more than 5 minutes. You can treat the plant with a water conditioner to make absolutely certain that all traces of the chemical have been removed, or you can simply remove the plant and clean it completely with dechlorinated water.

Aquarium or Kosher Salt

Formulate a salt solution of 1 cup of aquarium salt per 1 gallon of water.

For about 15 to 20 seconds, submerge the plant’s roots in the fluid.

Do not soak the roots in saline water because doing so would kill the plant.

After 20 seconds, give the plant a thorough rinsing with dechlorinated water.

Whichever method you choose, make sure to rinse the plants thoroughly before adding them to your aquarium.

How To Remove Snail Eggs From Aquarium Plants

Snail eggs in an aquarium are more likely to be found on the plants. Luckily, there are a few different ways to get rid of them!

Get Rid of Them Manually

Removing snail eggs from aquarium plants by hand is one of the easiest ways to do so. If you notice any snails or snail eggs, remove them immediately.

Soak in Bleach

You may not think so, but dipping your plants in bleach can be a great way to kill snail eggs. To avoid killing the plant, dilute bleach with water (1 part bleach to 19 parts water).

You should soak the plants for two or three minutes after you’ve thoroughly mixed the solution. Take them out of the water after they’ve soaked for a while and give them a good cleaning. The last step is to soak them for 5 minutes in a container of treated water before reintroducing them to your tank.

Aquarium Salt

You can use aquarium salt instead of bleach to get rid of snail eggs if you don’t want to use bleach. Put one cup of aquarium salt into each gallon of water. Next, swish your plants around in the water, being careful not to submerge the roots. Once you’re satisfied that there’s no trace of salt left on the plants, give them a final rinse in dechlorinated water before putting them back in the tank.

Lessen The Amount Of Food In The Tank

This won’t remove snail eggs from your plant, but it will lower snail population and egg laying. In order to prevent snails from feasting on leftovers, feed your fish only once per day going forward. If you do detect leftovers in the tank, remove them right at once.

Make sure to quarantine your plants

When adding new plants to your tank, be sure to put them in quarantine first. Snail eggs can be removed by running them under cold water and then picking out any snails you see. Then, isolate them for four weeks, checking the plants and tank for snails and removing them.

Toss in an Assasin Snail

Last but not least, if you want to cut down on the number of snails in your tank and the number of eggs being laid on your plants, you can introduce an assassin snail.

How To Clean Algae Off Fake Aquarium Plants

Artificial aquarium plants look fantastic when first installed in the tank, but after a few weeks or months in the tank, they become clouded with brown and green algae and need to be cleaned to restore their pristine appearance.

  • Take out the decorations from your aquarium
  • Put in a clean sink without soap.
  • It’s best to get an aquarium sponge and use it to remove the algae buildup.
  • Scrub tight regions with a little soft brush (like a toothbrush).
  • Do a thorough rinsing.
  • Put back the ornaments in the fish tank.

Algae can sometimes become so hard that they resist even the most vigorous wiping. These decorations can be cleaned with a solution of basic bleach.  Put 4 gallons of clean water and 2 ounces of bleach into a 5 gallon bucket that can be used to store food.

  • To keep the water moving, a powerhead should be used.
  • Bleach can fade carpets and clothes, so dress accordingly.
  • Put aquarium decorations in the tub. The amount of time needed to dissolve algae depends on how dirty the decorations are.
  • Since prolonged exposure to water can cause discoloration, it’s important to remove the decorations from the tub as soon as possible after use.
  • If they look clean after 30 minutes, examine them again and give them a good rinsing in clean water. If they aren’t clean after an hour and a half, give it some more time.
  • If there is still dirt or algae stuck in the decorations after cleaning, you can remove it with a toothbrush.
  • Hang them up to dry for a few days, preferably in the sun.

How To Clean Aquarium Plants With Hydrogen Peroxide

Clean tough aquarium plants with a hydrogen peroxide solution, as you would with bleach. In the case of delicate live plants like moss balls and carpet plants, it can be fatal. Hydrogen peroxide is safe for most aquarium plants, but too much exposure can kill some of them. To be safe, don’t let the plants’ roots sit in the solution.

Hydrogen peroxide can be safely used to clean live aquarium plants by following these steps:

  • Combine one gallon of water and one teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide in a clean container.
  • Sanitize a fresh live plant by dipping it into the solution for 30 seconds, or let it soak for 5 minutes if you’re trying to remove algae or parasites.
  • Rub off any leftover algae patches and give the plant a thorough rinse with clean water. A 5-minute soak in hydrogen peroxide ought to make them simple to remove.

Hydrogen peroxide, like any other oxidizing substance, can harm a plant if it’s allowed to soak for too long. There is no need to avoid using this disinfectant around the house because of any residue concerns. Within a day, hydrogen peroxide breaks down into water and oxygen.


How To Prevent Algae Formation In Your Aquarium?

Regular water changes are the best defense against algae growth. Reduce nutrient levels by 10–15 percent weekly by replacing 10–15 percent of the aquarium’s water. This will eliminate aquarium nitrate, a plant fertilizer.

Which Scrubber To Use For Cleaning Plastic Aquarium Plants?

Aquarium plastic plants and ornaments can be cleaned using home scrubbers. Cleaning tools include bottle scrubbers, toilet scrubbers, and toothbrushes. You must not utilize a tool that has been in contact with chemicals.


There are many ways that aquarium plants can get dirty. Don’t worry if your plants are covered in algae or need to be cleaned. As long as you know the appropriate methods, cleaning them is a breeze. However, it is best to get into the routine of either quarantining live aquarium plants or sanitizing them before you put them in your fish tanks. Preventing a disease or parasite outbreak in a fish tank is far easier than treating one.

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