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Used Tank Cleaning

Discussion in 'DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Projects' started by sadams, May 24, 2020.

  1. sadams

    sadams Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    Morning all,

    I have a quick question, I recently acquired a used 180 gallon tank which needs some cleaning. I've read White Vinegar is the go to solution for cleaning, mixed in a 9-1 ratio, which would mean i need 20 gallons of vinegar to fill this thing up and soak. My problem is Vinegar appears to be a cleaning/disinfectant and is limited to purchase at stores.

    I do have a 1 gallon container of dry Citric Acid mix as well.

    Would Citric acid work (and do I have enough and/or order more) or should I just start hitting different stores to get my 20 gallons of Vinegar? Comments or thoughts about cleaning this thing would be appreciated!
  2. halmus

    halmus Sardine Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. M.A.S.C Secretary

    I’ve always used vinegar but I understand the limits you’re facing with stores.

    I believe that some people use an acid you can pick up from hardware stores. I don’t want to mention the name or chemical formula because I don’t want to give bad advice. It’s a stronger grade acid and would have safety considerations to account for. That means a smaller amount thinned out would go further.

    Hopefully someone with experience using that product can chime in and give solid advice.
  3. Dr.DiSilicate

    Dr.DiSilicate Kraken Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. B.O.D. Member-at-Large

    The conifer can be used in higher concentrations and sprayed on. You don’t need to come close to filling the tank. I have used full strength vinegar in a spray bottle for that job in the past for the same job. Be sure to run s well after. People do use acid as well which works really well! Be sure to read all the precautions about that before using as it can be dangerous.

    Sent from my iPhone using MASC mobile app
    Breaddog and Cherub like this.
  4. TheRealChrisBrown

    TheRealChrisBrown Marlin Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. B.O.D. Member-at-Large

    What are you dealing with on the used tank? Is it dried on algae, thick coraline, hard water stains, general funk? Costco sells big containers of vinegar, but like you said they are probably restricted to how many you can purchase at a time. On my current 155g bowfront, once I cleaned it all up I noticed a lot of hard water looking stains, I used a powder called Bar Keepers Friend and applied to wet glass and scrubbed. It got rid of some of the residue, but not all. This method was preached by "The King of DIY" on youtube. I've used muriatic acid before as well, but I'd cross that road if you can't find another means. That's a pretty caustic chemical that requires outdoor use and respirator mask with filters. What ever you use, have a hose handy to rinse the crap out of it. Then let it dry out so any residual chemicals can dissipate.

    Think of it like a sliding scale of severity: scrubbing by hand>vinegar>bar keepers friend>muriatic acid....and I'm sure there are more.
  5. sadams

    sadams Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    Thanks all for the responses. I should have also said, it is a glass tank so can withstand some scraping. As to deposits, it varies, some general gunk, some algae, and had one large area with coral growing on the back glass pane. I dropped by Costco yesterday and thought i hit the jack pot as they had 4 or 5, 2 gallon boxes, but learned at checkout they are limiting :) I'll start with spray on vinegar and see how that does and then move onto shopping for more vinegar if necessary. Appreciate the feedback!
  6. jda123

    jda123 Tuna M.A.S.C Club Member

    Vinegar is weak and a waste of my time. Citric acid is more like it. I use Muriatic acid, but I can handle it safely - it is not death in a bottle, but it does need to be handled with caution. IMO, if you cannot handle muriatic acid, then other things in this hobby will vex you too and there are other compounds that you will need to get near that are plenty dangerous too.

    If you get some muriatic, just fill the tank up with water outside on the rocks (it can eat concrete), pour in the right amount while not inhaling any or getting any on your skin. Run a pump in there overnight. In the morning, the gunk will wipe right off. You can just run a hose into the tank and let it overflow to dilute it down... or you can use baking soda.
  7. quackenbush

    quackenbush Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    Muriatic acid, aka hydrocholoric acid. Used to adjust ph downward in pool. Also concrete etching. Takes the rust stains from my metal patio furniture right off the concrete patio. Very strong. I have a nice stain etched into my patio where the bottle tipped over and spilled when I wasn't around. Fumes can be way too much. I use muriatic acid to "boil" old live rock and restore it to new. It works great for that. But it's nasty as hell. See tonga rock pics before and after:

    Next time I will try to recondition old live rock with citric acid to see how that goes. Citric acid is the shit. I prefer that over vinegar now, by a large margin. Great for cleaning pumps and powerheads. I don't think I will ever use vinegar again. Also, I undertand vinegar is hard on rubber gaskets and such, and that citric acid is not.

    I would definetly try citric acid over vinegar. Mix a strong solution for your spray bottle and give it a whirl...

  8. SynDen

    SynDen Kraken Staff Member M.A.S.C Club Member M.A.S.C. B.O.D. M.A.S.C President M.A.S.C Webmaster

    One way to do it, without filling the tank all the way. is to put the solution in a spray bottle and then soak some, cloth towel, paper towels or even newspapers with the solution, then lay the tank on a side and then cover the side with the towels, let it soak and the scrape off. You kind of have to do one side at a time this way, so takes longer but you wont need nearly as much acid solution
  9. SkyShark

    SkyShark Tuna M.A.S.C Club Member

    That’s clever.
  10. CaptainJack

    CaptainJack Copepod M.A.S.C Club Member

    i realize this is a little old but when doing this method, put a layer of plastic wrap over the papertowels so they dont dry out as quickly
    SynDen likes this.
  11. scmountain

    scmountain Amphipod

    +1 to this method. This is how we cleaned our 180, no way was I buying that much vinegar haha. I have never had a problem with vinegar being too weak, but I barely water it down.
  12. Breaddog

    Breaddog Copepod

    Vinegar in high concentrations can ruin a lot of different types of unsealed magnets (like those within pumps/ power heads) I would spray the vinegar and use an algae scrapper/razor/sponge to manually remove the gunk but that’s just personal (and a desire to not buy a metric crap load of vinegar )

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