Can one change out TOO much water? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2005, 05:24 AM Thread Starter
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Can one change out TOO much water?

Usually I get carried away vacuuming the tank on w/c day.
Seems like I just get the right side vacuumed and most of the water is siphoned out. So I refill the tank and do it all over again from the left side.
Can a person remove too much water? Should a person aim to remove only half the water for some reason?

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2005, 05:31 AM
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Hello Barb
That is fine to do that on occasion, I tend to do it once in a awhile also, I just dont make a weekly habit of it, once a month or so I will give a good double H20 change, I like to keep my tanks as clean as possible!

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2005, 05:38 AM
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As long as the new water is similar to tank water with regards to temperature and hardness (and has been properly de-chlored) I don't see much cause for concern. I always add water very slowly... others don't... that's cool
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2005, 05:40 AM
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I would say aim to remove and replace no more than 1/2 the total volume of water at a time.

In my opinion, it is not only possible to remove too much water but also possible to remove too much debris from the gravel. If you are using this much water to siphon then I would guess that you are risking removing too much bacteria at once.

The balance that makes a planted tank work is partly due to the establishment of bacteria that exist partially in the filter, but also in the substrate and water column. You can take a well balanced planted aqarium and overclean it and observe problems developing shortly after.

I do not know if you are siphoning only the topmost layer of substrate or if you are deep cleaning your substrate. When deep cleaning, it is usually recommended to do so in 1/3 or 1/2 sections rather than deep cleaning the entire substrate at once. The reasoning is that there are beneficial bacteria living in the substrate and removing all of them at once denies them time to reestablish themselves in large enough numbers to continue to process your chemical waste without interruption. The interruption could manifest itself in an ammonia spike or other such symptoms of a sudden decrease in your biological filtration.

As far as the water being removed, this is an issue if your new water isn't exactly the same as your old water. Ph, chemical composition, Co2 levels, temperature...all these possible differences are negated or at least lessened if you leave a reasonable amount of your original water in the tank because it issentially "dillutes" the differences and reduces the shock of sudden changes.

IMO, it is not adviseable to routinely remove I would guess more than 75% of your water in a large established tank unless you are draining the tank or removing a serious contaminant or poison.

"Insanity: doing [or asking] the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Last edited by random_alias; 09-19-2005 at 08:46 AM.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2005, 05:40 AM
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I'll often run a fill hose and siphon hose at the same time so that I can continually stir up the water and not have to worry about breaking my filter siphons or having the fish end up dry.

The way I usually do it is to siphon out about 50% then start the fill hose so that it fills faster than the siphon drains. I stop vacuuming/siphoning once the water gets to about 2" from the top. I'd guestimate that I end up doing about an 75-80% water change that way. Oh, and I add Prime to the tank once I start the fill hose.

But like Craig, I don't do this for every water change...maybe once a month or so, or if I end up doing a lot of rearranging and have stirred the substrate around a lot.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2005, 11:37 AM
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Why not just get a siphon with a small dia. hose. Or put a valve on yours to slow down the siphon rate. works for me.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2005, 12:59 PM
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I usually suck out as much mulm as possible, especially along the foreground when I does get tricky since fluorite is even pretty light-weight and gets blown around by my python. I'd say I drain an average of 40g weekly for my 65. I usually watch the draining until it gets to the top of my intake strainer for my filter...then it becomes a headache to re-prime. No issues with fish...just clean water and happy fish/plants.

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2005, 02:48 PM
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Since the bacteria actually live on the gravel and not among the gravel it's hard to vacuum them out. And since we are talking planted tanks here we also have a huge surface area with the plants and wood and such in the tank. Not to mention that the plants will suck up stray ammonia before it gets a chance to build up to measurable levels.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2005, 04:26 PM
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Then why is using mulm from an established tank a recommended method of seeding bacterial colonies? Is this advice incorrect?

Also, why would one need to remove such a large amount of water at once anyway? Is it to compensate for neglecting maintenance?

Agreed that we have a large surface area for bacteria in planted tanks, but bacteria won't grow just because there's room for it. There has to be nutrition. Your bacterial colony won't be larger than it's food source. It still has to be exist as a balance, right?

I'm not saying that people can't change 95% of their water at once without problems, but does that apply to enough people's tanks to make it adviseable?

Maybe I've been plaing it too safe? Really, if I'm wrong let me know why.

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2005, 07:08 PM
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The mulm is more to provide nutrients in a new tank for the plants.
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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2005, 07:14 PM
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I have the water change "device" that (I think?) was on Rex's site that is set to take out about 50-60%. Can't take out anymore than that using it, hooked up to a waterbed motive flow pump. Then, just turn the pump on "fill", throw in the the de-chlor, make sure temp is close, add enema, micros, macro's, and good to go for another couple weeks....


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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-20-2005, 08:03 AM
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I don't know if this is just me, but I was changing to a new aquarium once, and I was also changing the gravel. I added 100% new water, and new gravel. The only think transfered from my old tank to my new, were my fish and my bio-wheel. I didn't think I would have to re-cycle because of my bio-wheel, and I was right. My test didn't detect any ammonia after the move.

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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-20-2005, 05:52 PM
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Too little mulm=> bad, generally new tanks
Too much mulm=> also bad, generally older tanks that dseldom have pruning/uptrooting, substrate goes sour.

Solutions to vacuum once every 1-2 years or uproot and only plant the tops.

Larger water changes than 50% week work great, you can even do daily as long as you add the needed elements back after.
Same is true for Marine and Reef tanks. Cost and work is the other issue

But I doubt you can over change the water as long as things are added back.
If I desire to whip a tank into shape, 2-3x a week water changes(50-90%), high CO2, high nutrients.

Too much work every week though, so 60% or so is nice.

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