How to Clean & Sanitize Your Saltwater Aquarium Pumps & Equipment with Citric Acid
Aquarium pumps and other submerged pieces of gear can quickly become covered with coralline algae, calcareous precipitate, biofilm, and a variety of encrusting organisms while in the aquarium. While the build-up is not immediately a threat, over time the compounding layer will start to have negative effects, specifically on your pumps.
Best-case scenario, the pump becomes clogged, slows down, and won't operate at full capacity. Worst case, the pump seizes, the impeller gets damaged, or the motor burns out. Not to mention it just looks terrible and can distract from the beauty of your aquarium.
This is not something you can prevent from happening and regular cleaning is just a necessary part of maintenance to keep your pumps and other equipment in working order. In fact, keeping your equipment clean is the best way to extend the life of that gear and prevent untimely failures.
Now wouldn't it be cool if you could just remove your pumps and other dirty aquarium gear and drop it into a magical cleaning solution that will dissolve and dislodge all that grime making it extremely easy to wipe down and rinse clean?
"It's like a cheat code for your aquarium." - Thomas Burton
Citric Acid is the answer and can be a real lifesaver when it comes time to soak and clean your aquarium gear. When mixed with RO/DI water, the citric acid crystals create an acidic solution that is safe and incredibly effective at dissolving calcareous build-up and coralline algae which is otherwise quite difficult to remove. It also makes quick works of any algae and encrusting organisms so you can easily wipe things clean using a bristle brush or rag.
How to Use Bulk Reef Supply Citric Acid
1. You want an appropriately sized container and enough solution to fully submerge the intended equipment. Dissolve citric acid into the appropriate amount of fresh RO/DI water based on how much solution you will need.*
- 4 tablespoons of citric acid per 1 quart of RO/DI water
- 3/4 cup of citric acid per 1 gallon of RO/DI water
*A 32oz container of BRS Citric Acid will mix up to 5 gallons of cleaning solution
2. Remove dirty equipment from your aquarium. Drop your pump and other gear (algae scrapers, feeding clips, probe holders, etc.) into the solution. You can take the pump apart and soak all of the pieces individually or just take the easy road and turn the pump ON while it is soaking. The movement of the pump helps to clean all the moving parts and the water flow tends to help dislodge debris. Soak the gear for a minimum of 2 hours. If the equipment is really dirty, it is safe to soak for up to 24 hours which actually makes it much easier to thoroughly remove everything.
3. After a long soak, you can use a bristle brush to scrub any stubborn areas but for the most part, the surfaces of your equipment will be easy to wipe clean.
4. Dispose of the dirty solution then thoroughly rinse your equipment of any residual cleaning solution and place it back into your aquarium. It should be noted that citric acid is very acidic and not safe for use in your aquarium which is exactly why a thorough rinse is important.