As long as you are going to break down your main tank, let me suggest the following procedure which will help removed adsorbed metals, and persistant organic chemicals.
Once you have removed everything from your system (all critters and substrate), but still have the pumps and such hooked up.
First, disconnect the plumbing to the refugium and isolate it from the rest of the system. Do not reconnect it until you have finished the procedure below.
Caution: Be very careful with both the acid and the bleach these are hazardous chemicals. Wear rubber gloves and disposable clothes...
NEVER allow the acid and bleach to mix, if you do, you will generate chlorine gas and this will ruin your whole day - and your lungs.....
Open some windows and make sure the room is well ventilated and then...
Go to your local hardware store and get a gallon of muriatic acid. Fill the tank half way, and then add the gallon of acid to the water. Fill the tank the rest of the way. Turn on the pumps and let the system circulate for a couple of hours. This acid bath will dissolve any adsorbed metals from the system. Then drain the tank of all the acidified water (it is safe to go down the drain). Fill the tank with fresh water and let it circulate for an hour or so, drain again. Fill the tank a third time, and add a gallon or two of bleach. Let it circulate for a couple of hours. This will remove any organic build up. Drain this solution out. Then fill and circulate the tank with fresh water and a super dose of dechlorinator. Drain this again. Dry the inside of the tank. If the tank smells of bleach repeat the last rinse.
At the end of this procedure your tank should be free of any contaminants.
Soaps are not reef aquarium safe, they leave films and dissolve the animal membranes.
Dilute muriatic is perfectly safe in aquaria - and in your coffee pot. It is simply HCl gas dissolved in water. Certainly, it is volatile. That is why I suggested you do the procedure in a well ventilated place.
Frankly, for marine animals it is far safer for the animals in your tank than is anything containing soaps or other surfactants. The procedure I described will not harm silicone, plastics, acrylic or powerheads, and it will remove all mineral and organic contamination from your tank.
Thank you for your help.You learn something new every day.Thanks again.One last ? Doc. Ron if those surfacants were used even soap for that matter if rinsed well enough it could be removed right? I mean it shouldn't bond to the silicone would it?
The memory of soaps linger on. One of the rules of thumb in a marine laboratory where you want to raise delicate animals is that once a piece of glassware is washed with soap, it is discarded. It is simply not worth the trouble to try to clean it.
I generally consider soap in an aquarium to be as lethal and toxic as heavy metals.
In other words, you would have to decontaminate the tank (with the acid-bleach procedure I described) to be sure you removed the soaps.