End of Year Cleanup

At the end of the TIC season, it is important to clean your aquarium set-up in order to ensure a successful next year. If you take a few minutes to make sure everything is clean, your equipment will have a much longer life. Here are a few pointers for cleaning the various components of your chilled aquarium set-up:

Aquarium Tank

  1. Empty the tank almost all the way, by your usual method--many people like to use the electric pump to do this work.  Then turn off the electrical pumps, chillers, filters, etc.

  2. Finish emptying the tank, disconnect tubing.

  3. Using a solution of 1 part Chlorine bleach (Clorox) and 100 parts water, wipe down the interior and exterior of the tank. A soft sponge (dedicated to this use only) can be used to scrub hard to remove scale and algae growth.

  4. You can use the 1:100 bleach solution for cleaning out the tubing (clean tubes using long brushes you can buy at any pet shop).

  5. Rinse anything cleaned with the bleach solution thoroughly with fresh tap water.  Let everything air-dry completely, preferably in bright sunlight.

  6. If you have any pebbles or gravel in the tank, they should be removed, washed, and dried by laying out on a cloth or towel in the sun or a ventilated area.  They can also be sterilized with the Clorox solution, but they also MUST be completely dried.

Aquarium Chiller

Drop-in style chiller (Glacier)

Using bleach solution and a dedicated sponge, you can wipe off the stainless steel Freon tubing.

For hard-to-remove plaque, a small PLASTIC scrub brush can be used. NEVER USE A WIRE BRUSH ON THESE TUBES.

Remove dust and lint from the fins of the coolant tubing (those black thin metal slats on the side of the chiller). This can be accomplished using a small vacuum cleaner, dusting cloth or soft bristle plastic dust brush. Your chiller will run more efficiently if you clean the lint and dust from this side of it.

Flow-through style chiller (Arctica Titanium, AquaChill, Via Aqua, Polar Bear)

Rinse pre-filter sponge on pump thoroughly with water, and let air-dry.

Tip chiller and drain.  Using pump or faucet hose, flush chiller with clean tap water in each outlet, to ensure any dirt is washed out of the cooling tank.  Then tip further to ensure it is fully drained.

Remove dust and lint from all vents on the chiller, using a small vacuum cleaner, dusting cloth, or soft bristle plastic dust brush


Take apart your filter and scrub out the plastic parts with your 1:100 bleach solution. Thoroughly rinse out all filter cartridges (filter sponges, charcoal, etc.) with regular water, and dry them in the sun or a well ventilated area. For most filters, it is suggested that you buy new filter cartridges of charcoal and sponges for the following year. You can re-use bacterial growth media--such as clay pieces--that you rinsed out.  Thoroughly air-dry entire filter apparatus.

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