No Water Change Aquarium - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 118 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 02:51 PM
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The tank runs on no water changes because the fish are fed a balanced diet that helps them replenish the trace minerals. The mineral content stays steady, because we only top off the tank with distilled or Reverse Osmosis water. This water doesn't add minerals, so there's never a build of these elements. The tank water stays balanced.

M
What about hormones / toxins / pheromones that plants and fish and bacteria produce? Other organic compounds that we cannot test / measure? Water changes will help reduce those. Just because we aren't adding or removing anything to the tank dose not mean there isn't build ups of certain compounds.

I have nothing against a "limited water change" tank, I do have an issue with a 0 maintenance tank. We simply cannot keep "nature" inside a glass box, what we can do is provide artificial necessities for life.

"No Ice? Just Freeze Some Water"


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post #17 of 118 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 03:04 PM
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It's always good to leverage plants (and/or other media) to aid in water purification. Having 'said' that, I don't quite see the 'no water change' mind set. Routine partial water changes are so simple and easy to do and provide the best way to maintain a healthy, 'fresh' water chemistry - like rain in nature.

Abbey has rabbits and their pens need daily cleaning. I have a fenced in yard with a dog and periodically need to pooper scoop the lawn. I have fish and do weekly partial water changes.

"I don't have time". "Buckets are too hard to lift". "I want low maintenance".

To these, I suggest a wall mounted picture of a well planted aquarium! When visitors ask, "This is my low/no maintenance aquarium. All I do is dust once every month or two." <G>

Now that I think of it, all fishkeepers should have a no maintenance aquarium blown up picture of a perfect tank on the wall - no fishroom should be without at least one!!!

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Last edited by AbbeysDad; 05-22-2018 at 01:33 PM. Reason: update
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post #18 of 118 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 03:09 PM
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Seems like a lot to give up to avoid simple water changes. You have this large container blocking a good portion of the tank which becomes a "dead spot" of sorts.

It seems to me these tanks are more about the the emersed plants and keeping a few fish alive in the tank.
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post #19 of 118 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 03:19 PM Thread Starter
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All the "Terraphyte" tank requires to be healthy is a stable water chemistry. This essentially means no traces of ammonia or nitrite and a low level of nitrates, ideally in the 20 to 40 ppm range. The bare roots of the Chinese evergreen house plant maintains clean water conditions by taking in all forms of nitrogen as soon as the fish produce them. A small colony of bacteria takes over the job of nitrogen reduction during the night hours when the house plant rests and I provide a varied food source. This will maintain fish and plants indefinitely. I ran a "Terraphyte" tank for more than three years with no problems and the Fancy Guppies I was breeding at the time, remained healthy and produced healthy fry. The only maintenance I performed was plant maintenance. As the plant grows, you have to remove old, spent leaves just like you would any other house plant. Periodic trimming of the leaves stimulates plant growth.

M

"The fish keeping hobby is very simple. Just change out a lot of water, a lot of the time!"
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post #20 of 118 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 03:21 PM
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ac...

Apologies for not getting back to you sooner! The plant is an Aglaonema or Chinese evergreen. There are two species in the photo. One is a Gemini and the other is called Cutlass.

M
No problem, thanks for the reply! I didn't realize there were multiple species of Chinese evergreen.

I for one would like to see the steps and pictures.
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post #21 of 118 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 03:22 PM
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The amount / length / intensity of many many many threads all defending the immense cons of a no maintenance tank should be clear evidence it is in a niche. I am baffled as to how often people have to defend these setups, when was the last time we had to defend doing a water change?

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post #22 of 118 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 04:49 PM
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The OP is on defensive because of the number and intensity of the "change the water already" posts.

His tank, his fish, his house plant, his religion - I respect that. As long as his dog does not poop in my back yard I'm not going to beat him over the head with a shovel.

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post #23 of 118 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 06:24 PM
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ac...

The tank runs on no water changes because the fish are fed a balanced diet that helps them replenish the trace minerals. The mineral content stays steady, because we only top off the tank with distilled or Reverse Osmosis water. This water doesn't add minerals, so there's never a build of these elements. The tank water stays balanced.

M
It is not that simple. You're underestimating nature.

Your water will turn bad eventually I promise you that.

But keep us updated on your journey. I too was on the quest of the least amount of water changes I could get away with. I pushed my boundaries to once every 2 months. I have heard once a year being done.

Lets see what you get.
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post #24 of 118 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 06:32 PM
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you know for the most part the worst thing would be an accumulation of heavy metals..
most organics should digest out

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post #25 of 118 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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This is simply an interesting and one of many ways one can keep aquatic fish and plants alive and thriving. The book by D Crosby Johnson is really fascinating. He runs a 150 gallon aquarium on this Terraphyte" system he perfected quite a few years ago. I keep similar tanks, but I run mine differently. I've kept the no water change tanks, but when you have several large tanks, you really can't afford the cost of the distilled or RO water needed to keep the tanks full.

It's just a fun and interesting change from the standard means of tank keeping.

M
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"The fish keeping hobby is very simple. Just change out a lot of water, a lot of the time!"
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post #26 of 118 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 08:47 PM Thread Starter
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If you cover the basics needed for good water quality, the tank will run without the need for water changes. For the aquarium to be healthy, you need to convert the waste material the fish produce into a form that the plant can use and have a plant with a root system large enough to take in all forms of nitrogen as soon as the fish produce it. The Aglaonema (Chinese evergreen) is that plant. Others, like pothos, nephthytis, philodendron and some others won't work because the root system is too small. Nitrogen will build up and foul the tank water. You need a constant source of oxygen to the plant roots and to support the bacteria colony when the plant rests at night. Any carbon dioxide produced by the bacteria is lost by agitating the surface water. The fish are fed a balanced diet and replenish the nutrients the plant uses. It's the same as in nature. The streams are maintained by pure water rains and we maintain the tank with pure water in the form of distilled or RO water.

M

"The fish keeping hobby is very simple. Just change out a lot of water, a lot of the time!"
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post #27 of 118 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 10:33 PM
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Into...

If you cover the basics needed for good water quality, the tank will run without the need for water changes. For the aquarium to be healthy, you need to convert the waste material the fish produce into a form that the plant can use and have a plant with a root system large enough to take in all forms of nitrogen as soon as the fish produce it. The Aglaonema (Chinese evergreen) is that plant. Others, like pothos, nephthytis, philodendron and some others won't work because the root system is too small. Nitrogen will build up and foul the tank water. You need a constant source of oxygen to the plant roots and to support the bacteria colony when the plant rests at night. Any carbon dioxide produced by the bacteria is lost by agitating the surface water. The fish are fed a balanced diet and replenish the nutrients the plant uses. It's the same as in nature. The streams are maintained by pure water rains and we maintain the tank with pure water in the form of distilled or RO water.

M
have fun with it and let us know how it does.
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post #28 of 118 (permalink) Old 05-21-2018, 10:40 PM
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Streams in nature are one giant never ending water change. New water is constantly replacing old water, if that is the theory being a no water change tank, we would need to be changing water with a drip system, constantly flushing old water while being replaced by new water.

The streams will eventually feed a lake / pond (which would be a "better" comparison to a glass box) where the plant + fish population : water volume is magnitudes less than in a glass box, diluting harmful compounds to points at which are non-harmful.

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post #29 of 118 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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Hello again TPT...

i'll go into the set up steps right away. There's a photo of the tank on this thread that i posted earlier. So, if you have the pieces, you can look at the photo and see how things go together. But, I'll go through the steps anyway.

M
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post #30 of 118 (permalink) Old 05-22-2018, 10:32 PM Thread Starter
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TPT...

Here are the steps for setting up the tank:

The most difficult part of the setup is cutting a hole in the bottom of the plastic basket. The hole should be close to the size of the root ball on the plant. To get the plant ready, youíll need to rinse all the potting soil from the plant roots. You canít leave any, because the plant roots will die from lack of oxygen. Once the potting soil is gone, decide how large to make the hole in the basket. Put the plant roots in some water until youíre ready to place it in the tank.

The rest of the tank setup is simple. Set up the tank on its stand and make sure the stand is heavy enough to support the 200 or so pounds of water and tank equipment and room on the stand for the light and the air pump. Start with the equipment that goes on the bottom of the tank. Attach the air stone to a length of plastic tubing and positioned it in the middle of the bottom of the tank. Pile rocks on top of the air stone to keep it in place and attached the other end of the tube to one of the outlets on the air pump. Place the heater on the opposite side of the filter. Fill the tank about half full with some tap water treated with the standard water treatment. Seachemís ďSafeĒ is good, but you can use whatever you like, any product that removes chlorine and chloramine and detoxifies ammonia and nitrite.
I had an extra dual sponge filter from one of my established tanks and attached it to one side of the tank and pushed the filter down, so it touched the tank bottom and pushed the suction cups in place. The used filter sponges will instantly cycle the tank. So, thereís no need to cycle it and you can introduce a few small fish. I have fancy Guppies in my 20 G tank. Attach a length of plastic tubing to the filter and to the remaining outlet on the air pump. Fill the tank and youíre ready to put in the house plant. Attach the bamboo sticks to either side of the plastic basket and secure them under the lip on either side by running the twist ties through one of the holes and twist the ties down to secure the sticks. The ties should be evenly spaced on both sides of the basket. Set the basket on top of the tank and taking care not to damage the roots, put the roots through the hole you cut. The basket should be directly above the air stone and rocks. Next, open the bag of lava rock and dump the contents of the bag into a sink and rinse the rocks very well. Take some and position them on the bottom of the plastic basket, and pile them up around the base of the plant and fill the basket to the top. Move the plant a little just to straighten it and the rocks will hold the plant in place. You can place the rest of the lava rock around the bottom of the tank. The lava rock has many holes that will be home to the bacteria colony.

Now, position the light above the plant. Once everything is set up, you can plug it all in to see how it works. The light should be on and above the plant, the sponge filter and the air stone should be bubbling away, with the bubbles going up through the plant roots. Last, set the temperature of the heater to roughly 75 degrees.

As youíve noticed, the tank is open, so there will be some water thatís lost to evaporation. This is why you have a container of distilled water. You must use distilled or Reverse Osmosis water to top off the tank, no tap water. I typically need to top off my tank every day or two.

Review the directions to make sure all is in place. Allow the tank to run for a few days to steady the water chemistry and add a pinch or so of fish flakes every day or two to keep the bacteria fed until you get the fish in the tank. I recommend smaller fish species like Guppies, Danios, Tetras or some other similarly sized fish. Start with just a few, six to eight is good. Add tank decorations if you want.

Please let me know if you have questions. Have fun!

M
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