How to kill bacteria on a sponge

Discussion in 'Freshwater Fish Disease' started by endlercollector, Jul 6, 2014.

  1. endlercollector

    endlercollectorFishlore VIPMember

    I asked my friend who runs a biology lab at the University if he had heard that you can kill bacteria on a sponge by putting it in a microwave on high, and it turned out that he had not. He rinses out any detritus, soaks them with 70% lab grade ethanol, squeezes them out, and leaves them to dry.

    It is hard, of course, for most people to get that lab grade ethanol (the department chair had to sign off on hubby's request.) In that case, two minutes on high in the microwave will kill most bacteria. Four minutes will kill all of the bacteria, but your sponge might catch fire ;)
  2. FiscCyning

    FiscCyningWell Known MemberMember

    That "might" sounds like a challenge! ;)
  3. fishingdeepValued MemberMember

    Just wash the sponge with tap water, enough said. It is all dead

  4. FiscCyning

    FiscCyningWell Known MemberMember

    I think that would depend on the conditions of the tap water. Some might have enough chlorine to take care of it, but other people have water that is pretty much aquarium safe right out of the tap so it wouldn't kill the bacteria.

    Last edited: Jul 7, 2014
  5. Dolfan

    DolfanFishlore VIPMember

    Rinsing under tap water does not kill all bacteria. It will kill a lot of your beneficial bacteria, but not all. I think the OP was bringing this up in cases where you wanted to kill all the bacteria like if you had a bacterial infection in your tank or some disease was running rampant in your system and you needed to start over with bacteria free stuff.

    Personally I would just use bleach to kill and sanitize anything I needed to. As when you are done you can rinse thoroughly and then soak in water with a triple dose of dechlorinator and rinse some more just to be sure, and you should be good to go.
  6. _Fried_Bettas_

    _Fried_Bettas_Well Known MemberMember

    Most bacteria are so much tougher than that. When I was at the university, in an experiment, we took cultures of various disease causing bacteria including strep and others, and dosed them with various cleaning/disinfecting products such as Lysol and anti-bacterial hand soap. Not only did they not die, but they continued to multiply in the petri dish over several days. The only product that actually killed them was bleach. Ethanol and microwaves were not part of the experiment. But the truth is you clean your hands (of bacteria) much more thoroughly by aggressive rubbing than any of the soaps we normally use.
  7. Ben3721Well Known MemberMember

    Yay a technical thread. I would never use a sponge that may have some chemical residues left on it that could prevent proper bio load... but yeah city tap water is a killer but as said by that other guy it won't kill it all... and if its a sponge like spongbob it should not catch fire as the flash point of the natural sponge is well over the evapration point of water, which microwaves use water and liquids nanovibrations to heat up and if the water evaporates then you can not heat the sponge any further. If its plastic it will melt or even worse. Heating up plastic past 140 (for most) does leave toxic oils on the surface of the plastic and put out gasses that can harm yoi.... heating up plastics can put out some deadly stuff and should be left out of the fish tank... i mean some platics are safe past 200 f but really the boil point of water is much higher and with a microwaves inconsistencies make the risk is too much for a 5-15 dollar sponge in a tank with fish worth much more.
  8. OP

    endlercollectorFishlore VIPMember

    Yes, this is for people like me who have intense cross-contamination situations similar to the lab.

    I use chlorine bleach solutions when there is time, but I don't usually. Lab grade ethanol kills mycobacteria in 15 seconds.
    Tapwater, even with chlorine, serves only to physically remove bacteria. provided that you use a lot of water and scrub or agitate vigorously. The amount of chlorine that you can safely ingest in potable water does not actually kill much of anything. You have to remember that it is water that has already been treated and not being actively treated.

    Moreover, antibacterial soap is more dangerous than helpful as it kills off the bacteria that we may actually need while not getting rid of everything causing the disease, thus creating superbugs.
  9. Ben3721Well Known MemberMember

    Oooohh noo someone brought up the .0001 percent of bacteria that can't be killed and become super germs! Haha we should genetically engineer our BB to be that .0001 percent. It would be kinda cool to be able to.throw an antibacterial drops in our tanks to kill everything bad besides our good bacteria. Kind of like roundup-ready farmer seeds.
  10. fishingdeepValued MemberMember

    Hey @ endercollector ....what are you saying? Please help us out
  11. fishingdeepValued MemberMember

    I don't agree with you, but a nice post. Thanks
  12. OP

    endlercollectorFishlore VIPMember

    The cross-contamination part or the antibacterial soap part?

    I have more intense mycobacterial trauma with my fishtanks than I would wish on my worst enemy. I am working at home on a multi-phase project to breed a clean generation of Endler's livebearers that are the last survivors of a lab population. The rest were euthanized due to an outbreak of multiple mycobacteria. I have adopted some of the procedures used at the lab.

    Actually, there are lab professionals who go ahead and rinse out filter media with regular chlorinated tap water as enough beneficial bacteria remains if you do not rinse too vigorously. I actually use old tank water when rinsing filter media mainly to avoid possible cross-contamination by carrying it too far away from the tank I am working on. In other words, I avoid new bugs by sticking with the old ones :p

    "It does not matter if you use cold or chlorine-treated water! The often repeated notion that this process would kill all the filter organisms is nonsense, because the residual chlorine concentration in drinking water is too low to kill them all."
    - from instructions on how to rinse Poret foam, at  

    Here are links to articles on antibacterial soap problems:
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2014
  13. matsungit

    matsungitWell Known MemberMember

    I use generic glutaraldehyde instead of seachem excel. If I activate it, it becomes a super disinfectant that is also non-corrosive and safe. It can be reused up to 14 days, meaning I can put it in a jar and keep disinfecting stuff in it for up to 14 days. It kills all vegetative forms of bacteria as well as 100% of resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis in 45 minutes. It's also legal to discard it down the drain.
  14. OP

    endlercollectorFishlore VIPMember

    Does it become safe when you pour it down the drain? Legal does not always mean safe :p

    Ethanol evaporates very quickly, which is a major reason to use it. Plus I can't wait for 45 minutes, 15 seconds feel way too long...
  15. matsungit

    matsungitWell Known MemberMember

    If you think about it, it's going to get diluted down there. And even the activated stuff stops working after 14 days. Also, it's biodegradable.

    Here's the EPA re-registration approval of glutaraldehyde use in 2007.
    Warning: It's 68 pages long.

    The Down-The Drain model starts on page 52.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2014
  16. fishingdeepValued MemberMember

    This may sound silly, but why not buy a new sponge .....
  17. OP

    endlercollectorFishlore VIPMember

    That's like saying why are you climbing that mountain when you can just hop on a plane for a good view ;)
  18. fishingdeepValued MemberMember

    Yep, but why climb a mountain that others have already and shared the wisdom? And why not buy a new sponge? I like your post!
  19. OP

    endlercollectorFishlore VIPMember

    I have to confess that I am waiting to read a post from the person who has actually nuked a sponge in a microwave for four minutes. I want to know if it caught fire or not, but no, I won't try it myself just to be the first...

    They have a microwave for demos at the physics department where my husband teaches. He uses it to show students what will happen if you put in a fork or a CD :0
  20. fishingdeepValued MemberMember

    Thanks for the love!

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice