How to Clean An African Fat-Tailed Gecko’s Tank (Complete Guide)

African fat-tailed geckos essentially require minimal tank maintenance if you try to keep the tank clean, dry, and odor free at all times. The cleaning process can be straightforward if you have the right cleaning tools and follow the right steps.

Should you wish to keep your gecko happy and healthy, be prepared to take notes on this guide on all about cleaning an African fat-tailed gecko’s tank.

General video on how to clean a gecko tank.

This video is for leopard gecko owners, but is suitable for your fat tailed gecko as well. For more in depth advice about how to clean specifically an African fat tailed gecko tank, read the rest of this article below.

How Often Should You Clean The Tank?

African fat-tailed geckos, like most pets, need a clean environment to thrive. It’s recommendedfor the tank to be spot cleaned daily to keep it from getting too dirty. This process won’t take too much of your time as you may just be removing their feces and taking out uneaten dead food (such as crickets).

On the other hand, you should also deep clean the tank once a month. This process may require some more time as you’d have to take everything out, replace the substrate, and scrub and disinfect the tank and all the items in it. This is to ensure the removal of bacteria that can harm your gecko.

When Is the Best Time To Deep Clean?

This is something that you should consider but oftentimes get overlooked – It’s more ideal to deep clean the tank during the daytime than late at night. Sure, it can be hard if you’re away at work or have some other plans during the day, however, you need to try to dedicate some time to carry out this deep-cleaning process.

This is important because you’d want your gecko to be returning to a warm enclosure at least an hour before their basking lights are turned off at night. Achieving a clean, dry, and odor free tank may take some time so ideally, your gecko should be put back inside its home when the basking lights are already set to their optimal setting.

What Should You Use to Clean The Tank With?

These are some of the items that you’d need to clean your gecko’s tank:

  • Back-up container – a clean environment for your gecko to be placed in during the time you’d spend cleaning the tank. You can use any kind of sealable plastic container with some air holes punched into it for ventilation.
  • Brushes, q-tips, toothpicks, and razor blades – to clean the corners and crevices, as well as to remove hardened materials in the tank or on decorations.
  • Paper towels and sponges – to wipe and disinfect the tank and items.
  • Sand sifter – to remove feces and other debris from the substrate.
  • Rubber gloves – to protect yourself from bacteria such as Salmonella.
  • Soap, cleaning solutions, and disinfectants  – you may use a diluted bleach solution, a vinegar solution, store-bought disinfectants or boiling water to clean, rinse, and disinfect.
  • Small bucket – to be filled with water or cleaning solutions.

Can You Use Vinegar Or Bleach?

Yes, you may use a diluted bleach solution and a mild vinegar solution when deep cleaning your gecko’s tank and decorations as they are helpful in killing viruses and bacteria.

To make a diluted bleach solution, you just need to mix sixteen parts of water and one part of bleach then stir the mixture thoroughly. The same goes with making a vinegar solution, just add one part of vinegar to nine parts of water then stir the mixture thoroughly.

However, you should always practice caution when using these solutions as geckos, like most animals, are sensitive to toxic fumes. Be sure to remove your gecko away from these chemicals and rinse off the solution completely before putting it back into its tank.

How Do You Clean The Tank?

Below are some steps on how to spot-clean your gecko’s tank:

  • Put your gloves on. Geckos can carry many bacteria and their food may also carry diseases too. So, it’s best to protect yourself by wearing disposable gloves.
  • Look at the corners. Usually, your gecko will pick one particular spot in the tank to defecate. If you can spot this earlier, that will make your job a lot easier.
  • Use paper towels. When you see waste such as feces or uneaten food, just simply use some paper towels to take them out.
  • Wash your hand thoroughly. Use soap and warm water, making sure to scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds before rinsing off.

Below are some steps on how to deep-clean your gecko’s tank:

  • Put your gloves on.
  • Move your gecko to a temporary container.
  • Avoid cross-contamination. Never use sinks or tubs that are used by humans personally for bathing or food preparation as this may result in a bacterial transfer.
  • Remove everything from the tank. This includes decorations, bedding, and substrate.
  • Use soap and water first to clean everything. Scrub down the tanks with warm soapy water – you can use dishwashing detergent. Rinse it out thoroughly to remove the soap suds and repeat the process for the other items from the tank. This process will help to clean any organic debris such as feces or food.
  • Dry everything thoroughly. Use paper towels to wipe and dry off the tank and all the other items. This is to ensure that you won’t over dilute the disinfectants.
  • Disinfect the tank and items. You can use store-bought disinfectants, or your homemade bleach or vinegar solutions. You may leave it on the surfaces for up to 30 seconds or so before rinsing them off thoroughly.
  • Rinse everything thoroughly. Once the disinfectant has sat on the tank and items for the required amount of time, use clean water to rinse off everything thoroughly.
  • Dry everything thoroughly. You need to repeat this step by drying the tanks and items off using paper towels and continuing to let them sit out to air dry completely.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly.

How Often Should You Clean The Feces?

Your gecko’s feces should be cleaned up daily. Try to remove the feces as soon as you notice them or at least every night before you go to sleep or every morning when you wake up. Never allow waste to build up as these geckos are particularly susceptible to getting a disease called Cryptosporidiosis (caused by a parasite that lives in soil and water).

How Often Should You Clean the Food And Water Dishes?

Scrub the bowls with disinfectant or soap at least once a week and change the water whenever it gets soiled. Although geckos don’t necessarily require a bath, they might soak themselves in the water dish from time to time. So, when giving your gecko access to fresh and clean drinking water, be sure to choose a bowl that is shallow enough to keep them from drowning.

Why Do You Need To Replace The Substrate?

You need to replace the substrate when deep cleaning to avoid your gecko from contracting harmful bacteria from their discarded feces and food wastes.

You can just simply dump the substrate into the trash and replace it with a new batch. If you’re just spot cleaning, just remove any feces and food wastes, then add more substrate if needed.

Generally, the loose substrate (such as a sandy soil mix) should be fully replaced every 3-4 months whereas the paper substrate (such as newspaper) should be changed every 2-3 days.


Chris is a reptile enthusiast, breeder, and blogger from the Milwaukee, WI area. After breeding hundreds of bearded dragons to supply local pet stores and owning many other types of reptiles, he is now focused on sharing knowledge to help owners properly care for their little reptiles friends.

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