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Is Vinegar Deadly to Fish?

Does Vinegar Kill Aquarium Fish San Diego, CA

Vinegar is the household name for acetic acid solutions made through the processes of fermentation. The history of vinegar use dates back to Babylonian times, and it was likely discovered by ancient brewers and winemakers. In the Western world, vinegar is traditionally made from grapes. However, it can be made from just about any fruit that contains sugars. We use vinegar for recipes, medicinal purposes, and as a household cleaner. Although most vinegar sold in stores is synthetic, it’s essentially the same as its natural fermented form.

It stands to reason that small amounts of vinegar can be safely used to clean aquariums because it isn’t toxic and is acidic, but not extremely so. Nonetheless, you need to be careful when using it because too much vinegar can be harmful to fish, plants, invertebrates, and even bacteria.

The Problem with Using Too Much Vinegar

If you use vinegar to clean out the inside of a used or dirty tank, make sure to rinse it out completely or you’ll have problems completing the nitrogen cycle, which means the ecosystem won’t be suitable for aquatic species. When a tank is established and you measure the pH of the water, it won’t be perfectly neutral—it will hover just above and below 7. Too many drops of vinegar will turn the potential of hydrogen (pH) too low in the aquarium, thus making it unsuitable for many species. For example, snails and shrimp will suffer greatly in such conditions. Neon tetras can survive lower pH levels, but not for long.

Using Vinegar to Reduce Nitrates in Saltwater Aquariums

The reduction of nitrates in reef tank water can be accomplished by vinegar dosing because it helps by slowly eliminating phosphates. The bottled bacteria solutions you get from shops that sell saltwater aquarium supplies often contain vinegar. The vinegar dosing ratio in this case is as low as just 1 percent for a 25-gallon reef tank, which is just a couple of drops per day. Please do more research on this, as it can bite back at you if you don’t administer this correctly.

Using Vinegar to Clean Aquariums

Vinegar is a great household cleaner. It may not be as powerful as other cleaners that feature a mix of abrasive chemical compounds, but it has the advantage of being non-toxic, and this a characteristic of everything you should be using in your aquarium. The best kind of vinegar to use for cleaning is clear and distilled or white distilled vinegar. Stay away from apple cider and cooking vinegar. Make sure to dilute the vinegar with tap water on a 50/50 ratio. Sticky dirt, algae, and limescale stains can be scrubbed off with vinegar, but you should thoroughly rinse the tank and dry it off before filling it with dechlorinated and conditioned water.

Using Vinegar to Clean Around Koi Ponds

The rocks or concrete that surround garden ponds tend to attract algae growth that can prove difficult to remove. When this happens, you need to soak and scrub the area, but you certainly don’t want to use bleach or soap that can splash on the surface of the pond. Instead, you can use a diluted vinegar and water solution.

If you have any questions about properly caring for your aquarium or pond, reach out to Aquatic Warehouse. You can get all of the crucial supplies you need at our store, whether you need an aquarium dosing pump, nutritious fish food, filtration, testing kits, or any other supplies. We’re located in Kearny Mesa, or you can order what you need on our website. Don’t hesitate to call us at 858-467-9297 if you have any questions.


Contact Information

  • Address: 5466 Complex Street Suite 204
    San Diego, CA 92123
  • Phone: (858) 467-9297
  • Email: sales@aquaticwarehouse.com
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