Today's artificial aquarium plants are available in plastic and in silk, and their appearance rivals that of live plants. Artificials offer many benefits, such as being easy to remove and clean. They have no light preferences, do not affect the oxygen levels, and do not create waste or carry parasites. Furthermore, they won't die, outgrow your aquarium or become ugly from the abuse some creatures inevitably inflict upon living plants. However, as with all other aquarium furnishings and equipment, they do occasionally need to be cleaned to remain attractive.
Plastic Plant Care
Rinse the plastic plants under hot, running water to remove excess algae.
Put on your disposable gloves and eye protection. Pour 1 gallon of hot water into a plastic container. Add 1 teaspoon of bleach per gallon. If the plastic plants are very brightly colored, you may need to add another 1/2 teaspoon of bleach.
Submerge the plants in the mild bleach water, and allow them to soak in it for about an hour. Stir them around in the container to see if it looks as if all of the gunk has been dissolved away. Remove them from the solution and rinse them thoroughly under hot, running water.
Put the plastic plants in a separate, clean container, and add enough hot water to cover them. Add chlorine neutralizer according to the instructions on the package.
Allow the plants to soak in the conditioned water for about an hour. Rinse them again under hot, running water, until you can detect no smell or feel of bleach on them. Once the plants have no bleach remaining on them, they are safe to return to the aquarium. If you have any doubts whatsoever, set them on the windowsill and let them dry out for a day or two. If there is any bleach remaining on them, it will evaporate completely.
Add another plecostomus to your aquatic ecosystem if you feel you're getting too much algae accumulation much too quickly.
Silk Plant Care
Rinse the silk plants under hot, running water to remove excess algae.
Pour about 1/2 cup of uniodized salt into a bowl. Add enough lemon juice to form a paste. Neither of these are harmful to aquarium inhabitants.
Use an old toothbrush to scrub the plants with the salt and lemon paste. This easily removes algae and gunk.
Rinse the silk plants thoroughly under hot, running water. Shake the excess water from them. Pat them dry if you like, or simply put them right back into the tank.
Add a new plecostomus to your aquarium if you believe that the algae accumulations are increasing in size or are occurring too frequently.