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Old 04-07-2013, 05:47 PM   #1
Jstdv8
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When to water change


So I'm helping my dad set up a freshwater low tech planted tank.
I'm a saltwater guy so bear with me.
My main question is when do you know when to perform a water change.
He's reading a book from Diana walstead and wants to do her very low maintenance approach. Diana seems to approve of only doing water changes every 6 months or so.
I paged through the ow tech tanks tat everyone showed off gt through about 18 of the 65 pages and noticed many people doing monthly water changes, soe doing weekly and some doing no water changes at all.

So my question is, when do you do a water change?
Does the water change in the walstead tank just happen when the water turns yellow from pruning greens in the water?
How is hers different from those who are doing weekly water changes?

It sees like in the walstead tank that eventually the nitrates would become high enough to kill fish.

In saltwater tanks detritus buildup would get ridiculous without water changes, how do you combat that in fw?

Thanks,
Justin
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Old 04-07-2013, 06:32 PM   #2
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In the Walstad method, high plant mass controls nitrates. Water changes are to control excesses of things like boron. Plants need them, but fish food supplies more than the plants need. Test kits for nitrate and kh will probably tell you when it's time to refresh your water.
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Old 04-07-2013, 07:45 PM   #3
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I'd say if it's his first venture, just set up a regular WC schedule with a fixed percentage of the water changed each time. For example, once every 2 weeks, change 20%. That would work just fine for a low tech tank, and still be relatively quick to maintain.
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Old 04-07-2013, 07:52 PM   #4
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I'm a former reef addict. I now have a 75g planted. I have 100+ small fish and have only changed 9g in the six months or so that I've had the tank. Never had an algae outbreak. The trick is to plant heavy from the beginning, and heavy filtration. I think I started with a plant per gallon not counting floating plants.

It was a weird paradigm shift to go from reef to fw planted.
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:47 AM   #5
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I do about 20% once a week. There are no signs that the tank needs it, it is just part of my routine maintenance, and it takes so little time.
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Old 04-08-2013, 06:37 AM   #6
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Much of the reason he's picked the walstead method is she's got him convinced that you only have to do a wc once every 6 months or so. He hates water changes like dogs hate cats.
I'm just skeptical that this can actually work without the nitrates running up so high they kill the fish.
I don't do wc very often on my sw tank due to my turf scrubber, which is kinda the same thing. However, it sounds like a walstead tank s very slow growing so you wouldn't harvest the plants often enough to export the nutrients out fbthe tank.
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Old 04-08-2013, 07:56 AM   #7
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So I don't know how experienced your dad is with fish but new fishkeepers typically want a lot of fish. A few fish in a tank just wont suffice, and from what I know of the walstad method, you should only have a few fish. I would recommend at the very least a 50% water change every 2 weeks. I do 50% every week just to keep everyone as healthy as possible. Does he have a syphon hose that hooks to the sink? It's $20-$30 and it makes a water change super easy. With planted tanks you don't vacuum the gravel so you are only taking out water and replacing it. I just stick the tube in and let it do it's thing. When it gets to 50% I turn it off real quick, switch it to fill and turn both nozzles on full blast which happens to give a good temp for me.

Water changes are a little simpler with freshwater.
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Old 04-08-2013, 03:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calmia22 View Post
So I don't know how experienced your dad is with fish but new fishkeepers typically want a lot of fish. A few fish in a tank just wont suffice, and from what I know of the walstad method, you should only have a few fish. I would recommend at the very least a 50% water change every 2 weeks. I do 50% every week just to keep everyone as healthy as possible. Does he have a syphon hose that hooks to the sink? It's $20-$30 and it makes a water change super easy. With planted tanks you don't vacuum the gravel so you are only taking out water and replacing it. I just stick the tube in and let it do it's thing. When it gets to 50% I turn it off real quick, switch it to fill and turn both nozzles on full blast which happens to give a good temp for me.

Water changes are a little simpler with freshwater.
Do you re-add water directly from the tap or per-dechlorinate/age it in buckets?
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Old 04-08-2013, 04:26 PM   #9
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There are lots of things that can help reduce (or eliminate) the need for water changes---low bioload, excellent filtration, lean feeding, high plant mass, topping off with RO water (to counter affects of evaporation) and the use of riparium planting (plants that grow with their root system in the tank but their stems and leaves above the waterline).

Without the need to do deep gravel vacs, water changes are so much simpler that even in the tanks where I could get away without any wc, I still include them in the rotation most weeks. Doing all 14 of my tanks (pico up to my 37g) only takes me 45 minutes start to finish.
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Old 04-08-2013, 04:56 PM   #10
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I had a planted shrimp tank where I didn't do water changes:


I explain in detail the method here:

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=183530

And this is Tom Barr's point of view I the topic:

http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php?t=11691
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Old 04-09-2013, 02:51 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calmia22 View Post
So I don't know how experienced your dad is with fish but new fishkeepers typically want a lot of fish. A few fish in a tank just wont suffice, and from what I know of the walstad method, you should only have a few fish. I would recommend at the very least a 50% water change every 2 weeks. I do 50% every week just to keep everyone as healthy as possible. Does he have a syphon hose that hooks to the sink? It's $20-$30 and it makes a water change super easy. With planted tanks you don't vacuum the gravel so you are only taking out water and replacing it. I just stick the tube in and let it do it's thing. When it gets to 50% I turn it off real quick, switch it to fill and turn both nozzles on full blast which happens to give a good temp for me.

Water changes are a little simpler with freshwater.
He has all the stuff, even has a mechanical vacume system. And a flex hose that goes directly to the tank. His water changes are as easy as they get. He just doesn't want to do them. And according to him walstead doesn't want you to do water changes since the stuff that grows the plants is in the water and replacing with fresh water eliminates the plant food.
I see where he's coming from, but I'm skeptical of the results.
He is eliminating quite a few fish to make use of this method.
It's a 75 g with 4x t-8 bulbs 4'
Canister filter, magnum 350. And that's about it.
He will have about 30 small fish in the tank and 1 normal sized angel.
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:30 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shift View Post
Do you re-add water directly from the tap or per-dechlorinate/age it in buckets?
If you use a product such as Seachem Prime, you can add the water directly from the tap.

To make things even easier you can purchase a product like the Python hose or similar knockoff/cheaper versions. You connect the three-way valve to your faucet and turn the water on. The running water from the faucet siphons the water from your tank so you can use that to vacuum and drain the water. Next you simply add Prime, close the valve and the water flows from the faucet into the tank through the same hose. The added benefit if you use a kitchen or bathroom faucet is you can adjust the water temperature during the winter.

Using this method I can do a normal water change (30%-40%) in my 55 gallon in less than 30 minutes without lifting a bucket. While it is filling I typically just grab a beer and wait
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Old 04-09-2013, 11:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pejerrey View Post
I had a planted shrimp tank where I didn't do water changes:


I explain in detail the method here:

http://www.plantedtank.net/forums/sh...d.php?t=183530

And this is Tom Barr's point of view I the topic:

http://www.barrreport.com/showthread.php?t=11691

Wow, that's quite the write up.
Something that stuck out to me, is i thought it was always a bad idea to have surface agitation if you are doing CO2 because it dissipates it faster?
This doesn't apply in my dad's case since he's going low tech, but just curious.
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Old 04-10-2013, 04:48 AM   #14
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Good to see another reefer on here! I also have both reef and planted tanks. Everyone will say they do it differently. People on both sides of the fence will claim high % weekly water changes are the way, whereas others will go months or a year between water changes. Just depends on your stock level, substrate nutrient level, and dosing habits.

I have a mineralized topsoil, heavily fortified substrate, medium light, non co2 tank. I do get a bit of algae, and heavy driftwood tannins. So I make sure to do a 25-50% water change on my planted tank every Tuesday. Medium plant load, heavily over filtered. No substrate vaccum. I let detritus build up as much as possible. That feeds the roots

On the reef I dose alot and run reactors, so I just do a 10% change and sand vac every two weeks
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Old 04-10-2013, 05:50 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jstdv8 View Post
Wow, that's quite the write up.
Something that stuck out to me, is i thought it was always a bad idea to have surface agitation if you are doing CO2 because it dissipates it faster?
This doesn't apply in my dad's case since he's going low tech, but just curious.
Higher temperature, Splashing or airstone are a problem, not a ripple in colder water.

Thanks for reading.
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