Knowing how to clean a bearded dragon tank is an essential skill as keeping a clean tank helps to promote good health as it prevents the growth of pathogens within the tank.
Cleaning the enclosure is simple and straightforward. Spot clean daily and perform a thorough cleaning once or twice a month. This cleaning requires disinfecting the entire enclosure.
Spot cleaning includes removing any unwanted debris in the enclosure. This limits the buildup of bacteria. Deep cleaning is done monthly and involves thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the entire enclosure. You can even go as far as steam cleaning the tank if you have a steam cleaner.
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How To Clean A Bearded Dragon Tank
Here are a few things you need to clean a bearded dragon’s tank.
- Cleaning solution – Cleaners I recommend include Zoo Med Wipeout Reptile Terrarium Cleaner and Flukers Super Scrub Brush with Organic Cleaner
- Clean rag, brush, or sponge
- Substrates such as Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding, Zoo Med Hermit Soil Coconut Fiber Brick, Zoo Med Repti Bark, and Pure Play Sand
Optional Things Needed
- A pair of gloves such as the VGO reusable gloves
- A steam cleaner such as BISSELL SteamShot Deluxe
- Deodorizers such as the Arm & Hammer Solid Gel Deodorizer or the Dynamic Element Reptile Tank Odor Eliminator Spray.
I recommend using a bleach solution. Create this solution by mixing 1 part 5% bleach and 30 parts water. That means that for a gallon of water, you should mix in half a cup of bleach. One gallon is 3.8 liters and half a cup is 120 ml.
In lieu of bleach solution, you can also use distilled white vinegar solution. With vinegar, you need to add less water. For this mix, it should be 1 part vinegar and 1 part water.
Other types of cleaning solutions to consider include plant-friendly tank cleaners such as Zoo Med Wipeout Reptile Terrarium Cleaner or a reptile terrarium cleaner such as Flukers Super Scrub Brush with Organic Cleaner.
If you are cleaning the plant on a lawn, then I recommend the plant-friendly cleaner as this won’t have an adverse effect on the lawn. The organic reptile terrarium cleaner is also safe for lawns.
Cleaners to avoid include household cleaners. These sometimes leave a harmful chemical residue that is difficult to wash out.
Clean Rag, Brush, or Sponge
Any rag or sponge will do as far as it is clean. The Flukers Super Scrub Brush with Organic Cleaner comes with a brush that can be used to clean the enclosure. This sponge, rag, or brush can also be used to clean the objects within the enclosure.
A scrub brush is good at removing dirt stuck on the tank. Examples of these include derided poop or dirt glued to the tank’s surface.
Microfiber cleaning cloths provide an advantage over other cleaning cloths as they are non-abrasive and won’t leave scratches. They also clean very well.
Pair of gloves
If you are using bleach to clean the enclosure it is advisable to wear a pair of cleaning gloves. I like the VGO reusable gloves.
Change the substrate in the enclosure about once a month after each cleaning. Some substrates such as reptile carpets can be cleaned and reused. Clean the reptile carpet with the cleaning solution. If you are performing a deep cleaning once a month, the substrate would be dirty by the time you need to clean it.
Some substrates I recommend for the enclosure include cypress shavings such as Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding, coco fiber such as Zoo Med Hermit Soil Coconut Fiber Brick, and bark mixes such as Zoo Med Repti Bark.
If you decide to go with sand, I recommend sterilizing the sand to kill any harmful microbe. You can also go with already sterilized sand that contains no fertilizer or pesticide. I recommend the Pure Play Sand.
Cleaning the Enclosure
Remove the Beardie and the Tank’s Content
Once you decide to clean the enclosure, find a box to keep the beardie in for the time being. This can be another enclosure or a cardboard box. The box should be large enough to comfortably store the reptile. The walls should be tall enough to prevent the occupant from escaping.
You must note the positions of all the tank’s content. After cleaning, you need to place the objects back into the same positions. You need to do this so as to not stress the reptile. You don’t want the reptile to think that it is in a new enclosure.
Once you know the beardie is safe, clear out the enclosure. Remove the substrate. If the substrate is reusable, such as reusable carpet you should disinfect it as well. Throw out all non-reusable substrates such as coco fiber, bark mix, and other organic substrates.
Other objects such as hides, hammocks, rocks, and logs should be disinfected as well.
You would want to clean the tank in a bathtub or even on the lawn. I do not recommend cleaning the tank in the kitchen as reptiles carry salmonella. You do not want to infect any foodstuff or cooking utensils with this bacteria. Ingesting salmonella can lead to salmonella infection which can be deadly to young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.
Scrub, Clean, and Rinse The Tank and Its Content
With the aid of a clean cloth or sponge, thoroughly clean the entire with the cleaning solution. Since dirt and debris seem to build up in the corners, ensure you give them extra attention. The cleaning solution should kill all the microorganisms within the enclosure.
Clean every inch of the enclosure.
After cleaning the enclosure, wait for about 10 minutes before rinsing it off. During these 10 minutes, you can clean the content of the tank. You should wipe down the rocks, plastic plants, logs, hides, and even the heater.
Use clean drinkable water to rinse the tank and its content. Make sure you get rid of the bleach or vinegar scent on the tank and its contents. After thoroughly rinsing the tank, wipe it down with a separate clean cloth. Wipe down the outside and the inside.
Return the Tank and Its Content
As mentioned earlier, you should return the tank and its content to the same position as before. Place fresh substrate into the enclosure as well. If the tank is heavy, it is advisable to have someone help you carry the tank.
Once done, you can return the beardie to its home.
Spot Clean Every Day
Spot cleaning involves removing debris from the tank. This debris includes leftover food, excrement, and shed skin. Remove any material that shouldn’t be there. Since the beardie can poop in several spots, you should look around the tank.
For young beardies, a paper towel is an accepted substrate. If you are using a paper towel, replace it every day. The paper towel makes it easy to clean the enclosure for the baby.
Do this spot cleaning every day. It should take a few seconds to a couple of minutes to do each day.
Other Cleaning Methods to Consider
Using a Steam Cleaner
If you have a steam cleaner you can use it to clean the enclosure. The heat to apply to the enclosure should be between 250 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit or 121 to 149 degrees Celsius. This should be hot enough to kill all microbes.
Boil Rocks and Ceramic Hides/Decorations
The issue with cleaning rocks and ceramic objects is that they are porous. The cleaning solution is unable to penetrate to kill all microbes and even mites. Boil the rocks and ceramics for about 30 minutes in hot water.
Use Deodorizers to Remove Bad Smells
You can use pet-safe deodorizers to remove bad smells from the enclosure. This may be necessary if the enclosure seems bad.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does my bearded dragon smell bad and what can I do to remove the bad smell?
The main reason for a bad-smelling reptile is an unclean tank. Leftover food, dead insects, urates, and other excrement all contribute to the bad smell.
These objects lead to bacterial growth. These bacteria feed on unremoved organic debris and cause the smell. Spot cleaning and proper cleaning should get rid of the smell.
Another cause of the bad smell is the substrate. Substrates such as sand can trap debris which can cause a bad smell. It is necessary to change the substrate within the enclosure regularly. I also advise against the use of sand because the sand easily absorbs waste such as excrement. When wet, sand encourages the growth of bacteria. Spot-cleaning sand can be tough.
If you keep the enclosure clean but the beardie still smells bad, then you need to consider bathing it daily or once every two days.
Another option is to use deodorizers to remove bad smells. Be sure to get one that is pet safe such as the Arm & Hammer Solid Gel Deodorizer or the Dynamic Element Reptile Tank Odor Eliminator Spray.
How often should I clean the enclosure?
Spot cleaning should be done daily. Deep cleaning should be done every 2 to 4 weeks. Some advise that you deep clean the enclosure every week. If you can, you should. But the maximum time you should allow to elapse between deep cleaning is a month. Deep cleaning includes cleaning the entire enclosure with pet-safe disinfectants such as — and replacing the substrate. If you use reptile carpet, then you can just clean it and put it back.
Daily cleaning includes cleaning the water and food bowls, changing the drinking water, removing leftover food, and removing excrement such as urate and droppings.
What types of cleaning solutions are safe?
The cleaning solutions mentioned in this article are safe to use. These include bleach solution, white vinegar solution, and other cleaners including reptile terrarium cleaners such as Flukers Super Scrub Brush with Organic Cleaner and plant-friendly tank cleaners such as Zoo Med Wipeout Reptile Terrarium Cleaner.
Although most dish soaps can be used and are safe, they generally leave a soapy smell even after rinsing. Some soaps aren’t safe for cleaning a reptile’s enclosure. If you are unsure about the cleaning solution to use, go with the ones recommended.
Knowing how to clean a bearded dragon tank is a must for a pet owner. Once you acquire a bearded dragon then you have no choice but to clean the enclosure regularly. No need to worry as cleaning the tank is easy.
A simple cleaning routine ensures that your beardie is healthy by preventing the growth of bacteria and other microbes that cause common illnesses and ailments. Cleaning includes daily spot cleaning and monthly deep cleaning.
Daily spot cleaning involves cleaning the water and food dishes, changing the drinking water, and removing leftover food and droppings.
Deep cleaning includes removing all of the tank’s content, cleaning the tank with pet-safe cleaning solutions, cleaning the tank’s contents, and replacing the substrates. You can also use deodorizers to remove bad smells. I recommend pet-safe deodorizers.
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