Standard water changes
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Old 04-02-2013, 03:35 PM   #1
NewPlanter2013
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Standard water changes


Hi,
I hear talk about doing 20% water changes in a aquarium weekly. I understand the main purpose is to keep ammonia, nitrite and nitrate in check. I tested this thought with two aquariums, one fully heavily planted 20g with 30 neon tetras and one no plants just decorations with the same amount of fish. After two weeks I tested the levels...planted tank 0 ammo, 0 nitrite, 5 nitrate. Tank 2 no plants trace of ammo, nitrite and nitrate. If it is the plants keeping it in check, do we really need water changes as often? I have heard from other hobbyist of planted tanks that only do water changes maybe every 2-3 months if the nitrate levels go above 50. Both of my test tanks are now about 3 months old... planted tank, no water changes, great levels even looks good. Tank 2 no plants, ok levels, water changes needed every 10-14 days. If it's the plants keeping it in check why do water changes?
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Old 04-02-2013, 03:42 PM   #2
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It's more than just the ammonia. nitrate, nitrite. It's the salts that are left behind when water evaporates and you refill. Unless it's distilled or RO of course. Without getting too deep there are also other things the fish and plants and bacteria use that needs to be replenished. Water changes can also prompt certain fish to breed. I use to start doing w/c every day when I was trying to induce spawning. I remember a book I was reading when I first started about a guy who was doing w/c weekly on his rearing tanks. Unknown to him his wife had been doing daily changes on a few of them. He couldn't figure out why some of his fish were growing faster. Until finally his other half told him what she had been doing.
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Old 04-02-2013, 03:46 PM   #3
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Lots of people only do monthly (sometimes even longer) water changes with no issues. I personally still do weekly changes just as a precaution. Also, I believe that there are dissolved minerals present in most tap water that can be used by plants.
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Old 04-02-2013, 04:32 PM   #4
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Also, I believe that there are dissolved minerals present in most tap water that can be used by plants.
This is true - also, for those of us without CO2, the plants to benefit from a large water change that exposes the bulk of the plant to the air.

I change the water in my 20 weekly - mostly because I have mopani wood, which still stains the water after months. It also gives me a good chance to give the plants some air and to corral and squish a ton of snails.

I rarely change the water in my tetra tank, because it's so overgrown with hornwort that my numbers are always great. I do top it off every couple of weeks and then do a change once every 1-2 months.

For tanks that tend to grow a ton of algae on the glass (my convict tank and to a lesser extent, my betta tank) I scrub the sides down weekly and then to a 50% change to clear up the water. The tanks don't NEED these water changes, but they make them look better, which is kind of the point of most aquariums.
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Old 04-02-2013, 04:35 PM   #5
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Good experiment!

It comes down to what works best for a given situation. Try bigger, smaller, less and more frequent through the history of a given set up and if you are very observant you may figure out what works best for you, the tank and the water you are dealing with. I have pretty decent water with moderate GH and KH and the tank loses very little water to evaporation but the tank has been set a while and it seems to do best with huge frequent water changes. If I didn't have a way to make those changes easy on myself - and I am right about it doing better with this type of change schedule - then I might be fighting hard to keep plants growing, algae at bay, all fussed about yellow water and possibly surface scum. So try other schedules and watch. It isn't just about the ammonia and such, watch the water, fish and plants too.
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Old 04-02-2013, 04:40 PM   #6
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Default Water Changes

Hello New...

A tank with water and fish in it, is just an "unflushed toilet", so plants or no plants, the toxic water has to be removed. The more water you change and the more often you change it, the healthier the fish will be because the nitrogen levels stay very low.

I'm a water change fanatic. I change half the water in my tank every week, so there's no time for the wastes the fish produce to build up to a harmful level before I change half the water again.

Just remove and replace half the water every week and you don't have to test the chemistry, you'll know it's always stable.

It's as simple as that.

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Old 04-02-2013, 04:44 PM   #7
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As mentioned already, there are a lot of things in the water besides the Nitrogen Cycle products. Minerals, TDS (Total Dissolved Solids), Salts, byproducts. If you only top off the water, the concentration of these compounds will build up over time (since evaporation only removes pure water and nothing in the water).

We can test for some of these compounds relatively inexpensively using gH and kH test kits. Other compounds we cannot test for so easily. We do regular water changes to minimize the build up. Deeper water changes will remove even more compounds.
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Old 04-02-2013, 05:13 PM   #8
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in my case, I do partial WC once in 2 days (1gal), or 20% weekely, or 30% in every two weeks. For percaution...
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Old 04-02-2013, 06:02 PM   #9
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Thank you to all for your quick an informative replies. It has broadened my understanding about the water chemistry. Thanks again.....I guess tank two is well overdue for a water change.
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Old 04-02-2013, 07:38 PM   #10
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One other thing about water changes. You can use it to your advantage if you're trying to get them to spawn. You can go for a week or two and not change any water. Don't add any either. it simulates the dry season. Then start doing 10% every day. That simulates the rainy season. It has helped to get some tough fish to spawn.

For your normal W/Cs you could just change a gallon or two out every day after you feed. Does great for the fish. Now I just need to follow my own advice.
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Old 04-02-2013, 10:24 PM   #11
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A good all purpose method/advice is to simply start off doign frequent large water changes, say 50% 2x a week.
Then reduce this slowly over time and observe any effects.
Say down to 20%.

Then go back up to 1x a week, 50-60%, then reduce down slowly over the next 6-8 weeks to 20%.

Then go to once every 2 weeks, 50-60%, then reduce and watch.

Finally after about 1 month, doing 50-60% is good.
Tannins, yellow water, dirt and mulm dust all over, trimming, uprooting plants cleaning filters etc, all good reasons to do a water change.

The above have nothing to do with nutrient management.
There are many good reasons to do large frequent water changes.

If you have some serious aversion to water changes, this is likely not a good hobby for you

If so, then consider a non CO2 approach. Use less light, avoid CO2 and faster growing stem plants etc. You can still do it, but do not expected a highly groomed tank or many species. There's some large trade offs. You can also top off and test and try and do replacement dosing, a royal PITA. and you will spend more time and $ testing, which people do not do as much as the habit of doing a quick simple water change. You can also automate water changes, you cannot automated testing and replacement dosing.
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Old 04-03-2013, 12:01 AM   #12
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....If you have some serious aversion to water changes, this is likely not a good hobby for you ...


My usual protocol was 1st of month 25% with RO, then 25% each week with Tap water. Pre-filters rinsed out weekly, Bio filter rinsed monthly. Rinses done with tank water.

Back around Thanksgiving my heater went out. I was under-employed and kept putting off buying a new heater. To maintain safe temps I started to do a 5% W/C 2Xs a day. I noticed better growth, less algae. So I continued and kept putting the heater purchase. I'm still on that program and my tank looks the best it ever has. I and still doing my 25% weeklies too.

On the surface that seems like a lot of work but 5% on a 40 is only 2 gallons of water.

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Old 04-03-2013, 03:07 AM   #13
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Lower temps will reduce growth, independent of CO2/ferts, species etc.

Heater is the largest single cost for energy on any tropical aquarium.
I switched two tanks over this spring to no heater tanks.
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Old 04-03-2013, 12:54 PM   #14
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....I switched two tanks over this spring to no heater tanks.
From April to late October I've not had the heater plugged in. We don't even close all our widow until November. Most years we don't turn on the furnace until Thanksgiving. Winter the house is 65 so It was a bit of a challenge on the temps.

I try keep the tanks around 72 degrees, I keep low light plants and I'm real happy with the low growth rate.
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Old 04-03-2013, 01:06 PM   #15
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That's nothing Dogfish. I didn't turn the heat on until January.
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