Weekly 50% water change too much? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-23-2005, 05:55 AM Thread Starter
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Weekly 50% water change too much?

Ok, I have to ask you all this --

I have a 50 gallon. Weekly, I might drain close to 40% of the water. I've heard some even drain 50%.

I did a water change last weekend and bought 10 Dwarf Praecox from a local LFS the next day. Every day since then, I've had one Dwarf die -- not sure if a bad batch, disease, who knows.... that's for another thread... the remaining seem to be strong, but who knows.

Anyway, I called the LFS. The fellow has been very helpful and has offered to replace a couple of the deceased. He asked me about my tank and asked how frequently I change the water. I said maybe 40-50% a week. He said that was far too much (I told him I have a planted tank) and that was possibly the reason the fish were dying -- that 50% is too much and it can disturb the biological filter, ph, and temperature. He said I should change only 20% every week or every other week.

Tank is a couple months old. Cycled. My ammonia and Nitrite readings have always been zero. I was under the impression most of you change water once a week and at least 30%? No? I haven't subjected the fish to a water change since I bought them, and yet they have still died, so I am not sure water changes are the reason for the deaths....
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-23-2005, 06:19 AM
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I have heard that certain species of fish don't like big water changes. Yes a 50% water change can cause a swing in Ph, and if you are not good at feeling the temp, I suppose it could swing as well, but I don't think it would harm a healthy fish. I can guage it, so that my temp only changes 1 degree with a 50% change. As far as disturbing the bio-filter, that is common misconception. I have heard it many times, yet I have done 75-80% changes with no disruption to the bio filtration. Remember the bacteria are on all surfaces of the aquarium, not floating around in the water. Cleaning your glass is probably worse for the bio filtration than a large water change.

You said you just bought the fish, I doubt it is the water change that is killing them.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-23-2005, 06:22 AM
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I Change about 30-40 percent a week, never really been a problem.

I don't know of what fish you have, but some would take a bad shock from a large temperature variation (just make sure your water replacement is close to the current temp of the water). Even still....

I'd start looking into your fish that are dying, and check their specific needs as well as any info you can find on-line from other owners about them. Maybe other trace elements are to high in your tank? GH to high?

All just random guesses... good luck!

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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-23-2005, 07:46 AM
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If you're using Tom Barr's estimative index, then you're already talking about 50% WC on a weekly basis to reset the levels (many are doing so).

Sounds like quite a bit, but it's really not excessive. I was doing 30% WC daily for awhile with no adverse effects on any of the fish. As long as the water isn't too different from what's in the tank (pH and temperature), you're fine.

Discus keepers also change quite a bit of water on a weekly basis (often times, daily)...

I would look at other causes.

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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-23-2005, 04:10 PM
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If you are adding fertilizer every (few) days to your high-light tank, large weekly water changes are a good idea. If it's a low-light tank with slower growth and just a little nutrient boost here and there smaller water changes, like 20% weekly, sound good too.

Tap water contains Chlorine or Chloramine. Both are poisonous to fish, and in your area they might add lots of it and you need to add some sort of neutralizer when changing water, like Prime.

But if you do this, and the temperature and pH don't change abruptly, I wouldn't think water changes are the reason for the demise of your Rainbows. I think the LFS fellow is quick to c.h.a. and look for something to blame. I noticed that after water changes, fish seem to be more active and playful (or could it be my presence? )


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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-23-2005, 05:04 PM
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I too doubt very much that water changes are the cause of the fishes demise. Once the fish have acclimated to thier new surroundings a water change only seems to make them happier. I would refrain from doing large water changes on the first week after thier introduction just simply to allow them to recover from stress due to thier transportation ordeal. But after that I'd look elsewhere for answers.

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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-23-2005, 07:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasserpest
If you are adding fertilizer every (few) days to your high-light tank, large weekly water changes are a good idea. If it's a low-light tank with slower growth and just a little nutrient boost here and there smaller water changes, like 20% weekly, sound good too.

Tap water contains Chlorine or Chloramine. Both are poisonous to fish, and in your area they might add lots of it and you need to add some sort of neutralizer when changing water, like Prime.

But if you do this, and the temperature and pH don't change abruptly, I wouldn't think water changes are the reason for the demise of your Rainbows. I think the LFS fellow is quick to c.h.a. and look for something to blame. I noticed that after water changes, fish seem to be more active and playful (or could it be my presence? )

I notice that too...and a lot of mine spawn too (at least the white clouds do). I think I read somewhere that adding water a tad bit cooler can trigger spawning to simulate a "rainy season"

Re-boot!
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-23-2005, 08:04 PM
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I will join the camp that says that the deaths are from something other than WC. Fully planted tanks are different.

Hover ever I have never had luck with Praecox in particular and it seems like I am not alone. In any case, your best course of action is to first set up a quarantine tank. The benefits are cheaper to medicate, easier to find dead/sick fish, and less risk of killing everything in the bigger tanks. Are the fish in your tank worth >$50?

If you want to do large changes (which are not really a bad idea) you might want to set up a water ageing system.

Moved to Tucson.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-23-2005, 11:12 PM
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I am going the other way to the others. I feel when i do a WC (50%) my fish do not become more active, they go the other way and i end up losing a couple fish, especially raspboras and tetras. I dont know what it is, i do everything right, age my water for at least a week, heat it to the same temp,water dechlorinator etc etc. My bio filter has never suffered from the water changes, i test nitrate,nitrite,ammonia every 1-2 days and other than nitrates which i add, the others have no reading. So i am assuming that my water here is just really really bad. In our house we have 3 fish tanks. Mine (high light planted), and two others over stocked, under filtered with no WC's ever conducted. Guess who's fish live????? Thats right, the 2 tanks that never get WC's or looked after properly. And mine is the exact same if i dont do any WC's. If i dont touch my tank for weeks on end other than feeding, all the fish survive no worries, soon as i start doing regular maintenance, fish start to die. So there is something in the water here that needs long periods of sitting to get rid of it. I thought maybe high chlorine/chloramine, so started using more dechlorinator than reccommended by the company, made no difference.

Im still on my 50% a week WC's, and currently lose 1-2 fish a week (always tetras or raspboras) oh and live bearers, they hate my tanks as well. But Otto's,SAE's,Bettas, they are fine. So im thinking of trying smaller water changes more frequently, so 20% every couple of days, or just top my tank water up when it evaporates away. Cause i know the 50% WC isnt doing me any justice, i do more work on my tanks than anyone in the family, and i look like the bad aquariast cause my fish die first ( i have great plants tho )

So yeah, dont rule your bad water being the cause of the fish deaths. If only we all could afford RO units

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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2005, 01:58 AM Thread Starter
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These were all informative responses to my question.

A few things stuck out to me:

Wasserpest, I tend to agree with your statement about the salesperson at the LFS. I am not dissing the LFS or the salesclerk. Their willingness to replace a few of the fish later this week after things stabilize in my tank is appreciated. I'm not a regular at the LFS, so they are not familiar with my fish keeping habits and/or experience. More than likely, as I talked to the salesclerk over the phone, he heard me say "50-40% weekly water change" and bingo, latched onto that as the reason for the fish deaths. I agree the % of water changed is not to blame for the deaths.

Rather, I attribute the problem to a few other reasons. Since purchasing my 50g, I've switched from a siphon/bucket water change routine, to using the Python. I love the ease of use of the Python, but I think the last time I used the Python I was a little bit careless with matching the tap water temp to tank water temp -- a few degrees too cold. I believe this triggered what now seems to be visible ick. I believe the ick, although not visible earlier in the week, has been widdling away at my Praecox population. FYI, I do add a chemical to the tank prior to refilling to eliminate Chlorine or Chloramine from the water I will be adding. And yes, the pH of the tap water (7.6) is also higher than my tank water (6.8ph), but these seem to average out when the water mixes at water change. In the future, I will recheck the tap water temp prior to refilling my tank AND I will slow down the FLOW RATE of my python's return so as to slowly mix the two pH levels of tap and tank.

BlueRam, the biggest handicap in my fishkeeping right now is the lack of a quarantine tank. I can see how people stand by them and I will most certainly set one up when I move on to a bigger apartment. As an aside, I'd be curious to hear what problems you have had with Praecox. Lovely fish, but agreed they can be tempermental when it comes to health.

As far as the ick goes, I'm fine tuning a treatment regiment with that (Quick Cure) and Melafix to soothe. So, we'll see how that goes.
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2005, 02:12 AM
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When you add water from the Python to the aquarium, I am assuming you are using water from the hot water heater.

Not to start a panic, but you should be aware of the tremendous amount of crud that builds up in a hot water heater. Some of that crud could be finding it's way into your tap water. I found out about this when i heard the famous fish breeder Rosario La Corte speak about a mysterious rash of fish deaths. He managed to trace it back to the accumulation of stuff in his hot water heater. I am not saying this is your cause, but it could be a reason.

Do you ever service the hot water heater? Drain it out a bit and see what you get!

Mike

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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2005, 02:52 AM Thread Starter
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momotaro,

excellent point about water heaters, which is why I try to avoid using the hot tap. Unfortunately, the normal tap in January -- even out here in California -- is a bit too frigid and I do wind up easing a little bit of the hot tap into the mix.

My practice with tap, whether it be hot or cold, is to let it run a bit to avoid using water that has been sitting in the pipes. Still, I can only imagine what's in the heater.

Thankfully, I've been doing this for years, but have never experienced the rash of deaths as I have this week. None of died today, but it's still a few hours until midnight. Let's see what happens. Hehe.
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2005, 05:37 AM
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There are some good suggestions here, but has no one given thought to how the fish were originally acclimated to the tank or the history of these fish prior to purchase? motifone: what is your acclimation procedure? Also how long did the LFS have these fish before you purchased them? Did they just get them in, in which case they may have not had time to recover fully before you bought them and acclimated them in your tank. Also wouldn't be bad to know the water parameters at the LFS and how they compare to your tank. If these parameters differ much this could also be problematic if the fish were not acclimated long enough.

I don't think water changes are the problem. I've changed 50% of the water weekly in my planted tank for over a year now and have never had a problem. I think people that are against large water changes give it a bad wrap because they neglect to do it regularly and as a result a large water change (in their case) causes such a large change in Nitrate levels and such that the fish die.
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2005, 06:44 AM Thread Starter
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magicmagni

good questions.

I was told by the LFS owner that Praecox can sometime "shock" easily. I tend to believe him, considering my experiences with this batch and reading the comments of a few other folks.

I acclimated the Praecox over the course of an hour. Yes, there were 10 fish in one big bag, but I got the fish home quickly, opened the bag, and floated it for about 10-15 mintues to acclimate temp. Over the next 30-45 minutes I gradually added small cups of tank water to the bag. Prior to adding any tank water to the bag, I took a ph reading of the LFS water, which was about 6.6-6.7. My tank water is about 6.8, so no big pH leaps really. Once acclimated, I poured the fish into a bucket, netted the fish one by one, and placed them in the tank -- so as not to put any of the LFS water into my tank. I told the salesclerk about my acclimation procedure and he said something else I tend to disagree with -- "you should only take about 15-20 minutes to acclimate the fish, otherwise the collection of fish can raise the pH in the bag". Well, for fish that supposedly "shock", 15-20 minutes seems hasty. And I was slowly adding tank water, so I didn't suffocate the fish, poison them with trapped pH, etc.

I think my acclimation procedure is/was pretty spot on, but I did make some crucial mistakes which, looking back, probably led to this problem and I take the blame for:

1) No, I didn't ask how long the fish had been at the shop. A couple did come from a display tank and I know they've been there at least a month, but the others I can't vouch for. The salesclerk said he took 8 home and they have been fine. Still, a mistake.

2) I had cleaned the tank a little earlier the day I bought them. I broke my own rule: don't buy any fish the same day of a cleaning. Why did I break my rule? Well, I was due to receive a shipment of plants possibly the very next morning and I knew I wanted to trade in my 4 Angelfish (no longer wanted them) to the LFS before the new plants came, rather than chase the speedy Angels around the newly planted tank. So, I caught the Angels, brought them to the LFS and he offered $8 credit. My mistake was not asking if I could spend the credit at a later date, which I'm sure I could have. Instead, I assumed I needed to spend the credit immediately and so I bought a school of Praecox (a fish I wanted to soon buy anyway).

3) I picked up 3 Rummynose that same day from another LFS to add to my existing school of 4. Those had been at the LFS a while, that I know. But all 3 of those have since died, too.

I'll admit to these mistakes. I won't repeat them and I hope others can learn from them. The ick breakout, which is now visible, is the most likely culprit of the deaths. Plus, maybe the fish were weak. Nevertheless, I thought it odd to blame the 50% water changes, hence this thread.

For now, I'll just let the tank stabilize, medicate the ick, dose a bit of Melafix, and wait a while before purchasing any new fish. I don't think a school of 10 Praecox is unreasonable for a 50g. Hopefully, I can try to build the school again at a later date.

I think I may actually make it one day without a death. We shall see...

steve
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 01-24-2005, 07:14 AM
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How does the biomass of the 13 new fish compare to the 4 angels you removed? New plants mean at least a minor disturbance of the sustrate. While an established tank can take either in stride and a firmly established tank can handle both without stuttering, is it possible you've had a small ammonia spike and the fish you're losing are the most sensitive? Also, newer fish are more vulnerable since they've already been through the stress of moving and acclimating.

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