Water change obsession vs not changing - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 69 (permalink) Old 08-10-2011, 05:15 PM Thread Starter
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Water change obsession vs not changing

I'd like this to be a serious thread where people can discuss why they change their water so much or so little. With some recent topics on shrimp and/or fish dieoffs, this brought me curious as to how much people messing with their water could have an effect.

I read some people who do like a 50% 2 times a week and that seems insane to me, especially with a planted tank. Others do nothing but top off ever.

To me, it goes like this. Fish and other creatures and food create ammonia and other byproducts, filter eats ammonia, makes nitrites, filter eats nitrites and makes nitrates. Plants eat some nitrates, and the rest can be removed with a water change every once in a while.

Some people obsess over the #'s of pH, gH, kH, in order to get an ideal number based off something online and whether or not their fish need it.

I've read many things about the Japanese breeders who breed the shrimp and they never change water, just top off. The crystals seem to like old water and constantly messing with it, the shrimp don't like.

So if anyone wants to chime in on how much and often they change and why, go ahead. I'd like to get people reasoning and experience.

20g platy, , 2 x 10g shrimp, 3 x 20g shrimp, 7.5g shrimp and 1 great dane/mastiff puppy.

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post #2 of 69 (permalink) Old 08-10-2011, 05:39 PM
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Well its all about balance

I'm only keeping a Mini-M and a 20 Gallon at the moment, the Mini-M is high tech and I do EI dosing, and that sort of dictates the 50 percent water change each week.

In my 20 gallon, I can't remember the last time I changed the water. It was probably a bit after Christmas, but I probably wont change it again till around Christmas.

The difference is that the 20 gallon is low-tech, low light, full of Bacopa, Mayaca Fluvalis, Rotala, Alternantherea, a few other stem plants, a ton of cryptocoryne wendtii Green and I mean a TON, and dwarf hydrocotyle. There are so many plants in there stacked ontop of eachother and competing for the little light available.
I dose that tank every few weeks, the nitrates stay really low from all the plants, its super low maintenance - I don't even bother to clean the glass anymore haha.

The plants absorb all sorts of chemicals that you wouldn't want in the water, and they hold them in the leaves and roots. Then they come out as trimmings.

I think the water in my 20 gallon is probably good to drink if I took the fish out for a week.
I'm not going to, but still.
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post #3 of 69 (permalink) Old 08-10-2011, 05:49 PM
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Yea, I think a great deal of people that do mass water changed typically do so in accordance with EI dosing regiments. For me, it just makes things seem cleaner. I have seven tanks and don't use carbon on any of them so water changes ensures that I have no odor from the tanks. I live in a one bedroom loft apartment and no one can ever smell the existence of tanks and I like to think this has to do with my regular water changes. One tank is EI dosing so that gets the 50 percent every week but the others just get around 20.


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post #4 of 69 (permalink) Old 08-10-2011, 05:53 PM
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I vary my water changes. The bigger the fish/tank/bioload, the more and bigger changes I do. My planted discus tank (no CO2) gets 3x50% a week, my 125 gallon pleco tank gets 2x 60+% a week, my 46 bow gets 2x40% a week, my 20 gets 2x25% a week and a 3.5 gallon gets maybe 10% a week.

I don't think big water changes are the answer to everything, and some would argue a big waste of water, but when I have problems, the first thing I do is run a big water change.

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post #5 of 69 (permalink) Old 08-10-2011, 05:57 PM
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The TDS from my tap is over 500ppm, if I just top off I get deposition.
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post #6 of 69 (permalink) Old 08-10-2011, 06:10 PM
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my 125 discus tank gets a water change about every 3 months. if they didnt crap all over everything, i probably wouldnt even do that. plants take care of pretty much everything.


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post #7 of 69 (permalink) Old 08-10-2011, 06:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeToChKn View Post
I'd like this to be a serious thread where people can discuss why they change their water so much or so little. With some recent topics on shrimp and/or fish dieoffs, this brought me curious as to how much people messing with their water could have an effect.

I read some people who do like a 50% 2 times a week and that seems insane to me, especially with a planted tank. Others do nothing but top off ever.

To me, it goes like this. Fish and other creatures and food create ammonia and other byproducts, filter eats ammonia, makes nitrites, filter eats nitrites and makes nitrates. Plants eat some nitrates, and the rest can be removed with a water change every once in a while.

Some people obsess over the #'s of pH, gH, kH, in order to get an ideal number based off something online and whether or not their fish need it.

I've read many things about the Japanese breeders who breed the shrimp and they never change water, just top off. The crystals seem to like old water and constantly messing with it, the shrimp don't like.

So if anyone wants to chime in on how much and often they change and why, go ahead. I'd like to get people reasoning and experience.
So is this about Shrimp......or plants or water changes?

Planted tanks are defined by the rate of growth that the user desires.
The water changes are a vetry simple management tool for HIGHER rates of growth, plants grow just fine at low light and without CO2.

The problem is that some seem to assume and think that their goal happens to be the one everyone else should follow and then try argue it should be all things to all people.

Many folks, ADA included, desire a more rapid rate of growth for gardenign and horticulture than non CO2 offers.

The hobby today would not be where it is at regarding CO2 injection.
No one can argue that is NOT the case.

However a non CO2 method has been used for much longer and requires no water changes basically. Balancing nutrients is simple if you do water changes vs trying to test and dose or that. Most are simply never going to do that, you can do a semi sustainable approach by using less light, good ferts/CO2 and sediment based ferts, then slowly back off the ferts to the water column and then also the water changes.

No reason folks cannot do that either.
again, the problem is folks assume you MUST do water changes with a particularly method, that is not the case. You can and should adjust to suit whatever labor routine you have or desire. There's a few trade offs, but that's why you have different methods for different goals.

Regarding shrimp, then tend to over molt if you do frequent water changes.
They also do best in a non CO2 enriched planted tank without water changes.




Regards,
Tom Barr
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post #8 of 69 (permalink) Old 08-10-2011, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
So is this about Shrimp......or plants or water changes?

Planted tanks are defined by the rate of growth that the user desires.
The water changes are a vetry simple management tool for HIGHER rates of growth, plants grow just fine at low light and without CO2.

The problem is that some seem to assume and think that their goal happens to be the one everyone else should follow and then try argue it should be all things to all people.

Many folks, ADA included, desire a more rapid rate of growth for gardenign and horticulture than non CO2 offers.

The hobby today would not be where it is at regarding CO2 injection.
No one can argue that is NOT the case.

However a non CO2 method has been used for much longer and requires no water changes basically. Balancing nutrients is simple if you do water changes vs trying to test and dose or that. Most are simply never going to do that, you can do a semi sustainable approach by using less light, good ferts/CO2 and sediment based ferts, then slowly back off the ferts to the water column and then also the water changes.

No reason folks cannot do that either.
again, the problem is folks assume you MUST do water changes with a particularly method, that is not the case. You can and should adjust to suit whatever labor routine you have or desire. There's a few trade offs, but that's why you have different methods for different goals.

Regarding shrimp, then tend to over molt if you do frequent water changes.
They also do best in a non CO2 enriched planted tank without water changes.
It was just a general thread because I see so many conflicting reasons on how much people change all the time or little and was just curious as to why, because as you said above, someone said it and then everyone jumps on and thinks their way is right. If its working for you, whatever you are doing, keep it up. One thing is there no absolutes in this hobby and two people can almost identical everything have very different results.

20g platy, , 2 x 10g shrimp, 3 x 20g shrimp, 7.5g shrimp and 1 great dane/mastiff puppy.

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post #9 of 69 (permalink) Old 08-10-2011, 06:52 PM
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Water changes are for the fishes. Overall, I find weekly changes will produce the healthiest fishes.


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post #10 of 69 (permalink) Old 08-10-2011, 07:08 PM
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Water Change Routine

Hello Ge...

I have several 55 G tanks and change 50 percent of the water every three weeks. My filters are small, (HOB Aqua Clear 50s) for the tanks, but all tanks are well planted.

I keep Fancy Guppies and Corydoras and have around 100 to 150 fish per tank. Tanks have been running for several years with no problems and haven't tested the water conditions in so long, I don't recall how.

For me, the keys to a successful tank are lots plants and setting up a workable maintenance schedule and then following it.

B

"Fear not my child, just change the tank water."
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post #11 of 69 (permalink) Old 08-10-2011, 07:08 PM
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this is very interesting. As a relative novice I started with fish only tanks and was spoon fed by a very fish friendly forum who advocated water changes for just about everything.
Traces of ammonia? daily 50% waterchange miss!
cycling a tank with fish in? 2 x 50% waterchanges daily miss!
Using bottled bacteria? stop immediately and start 50% daily waterchanges miss!
overfed the fish today? 50% waterchanges miss and a smack on the hand lol
maintenance? 50% waterchanges weekly miss and dont forget your testtubes !!
On that premis it was what I did for a long time, which is ok with one small setup, but throw 3 or 4 more larger, heavy fishloaded tanks into the mix, plus a demanding child and a social life (remember one of those? ) and it becomes a chore. I was beginning to lose interest and started to find it was no longer enjoyable, but just uphill work.
Moved over to planted tanks, came here and saw that a lot of people dont do nearly as many waterchanges as I was doing, and in fact some threads actually maintain too many large waterchanges can be harmful and deplete your tanks of the good stuff. Im still undecided, and admit to worrying (Unecessaryily maybe) if I live dangerously an omitt that 50% waterchange Often I read a thread and it raises more questions than answers
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post #12 of 69 (permalink) Old 08-10-2011, 08:15 PM
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I change the water in my tanks when I feel like it or I see or have some idea that a water change is needed. I strive to set my tanks up to where they are near self sufficient. All of my tanks are heavily over filtered (my 75g and 46g both have two Rena XP3 filters each) and the normal cleaning of the filters every couple of months gets rid of anything that may have built up along with a couple gallons of water. My tanks are all open as well so they are "topped off" with fresh water at least once a week.
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post #13 of 69 (permalink) Old 08-10-2011, 08:44 PM
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My water changing schedule is based mainly on how much work I want to put into it. I actually got more serious about plants as a tool to reduce my need for water changes! I am coming at the plants from a 'fish first' perspective. When I had a bunch of Rainbows and I fed the heck out of them I would change about 30% once every 7 days or so. Now that I have a lower fish load, healthier plants, CO2 and light dosing I change 30% every 2 weeks or so. Sometimes I do it once a week though. Why do I do it? I don't have a scientific reason why. I just do it because that is the way I have always done it before I started investigating using plants as filters. Plus, I have developed a system whereby water changes are fairly easy.
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post #14 of 69 (permalink) Old 08-10-2011, 09:16 PM
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I often read thinly veiled brags about skipping water changes as though there's some kind of merit badge for it. The notion of creating a "natural balance" is flawed, at best. Why open the door to a host of nutrient related issues that can become increasingly more problematic over time?

Water changes are as easy or as difficult as you make them. I'll never understand how so many folks will invest thousands of dollars/hours into this hobby, but balk so hard at 10 or 20 minutes of work per week.
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post #15 of 69 (permalink) Old 08-10-2011, 11:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeToChKn View Post
It was just a general thread because I see so many conflicting reasons on how much people change all the time or little and was just curious as to why, because as you said above, someone said it and then everyone jumps on and thinks their way is right. If its working for you, whatever you are doing, keep it up. One thing is there no absolutes in this hobby and two people can almost identical everything have very different results.
This sounds nice and all...but we and the newbie learns little from this however.

What are useful? What are the best management practices for particularly goals? For folks not planning on water changes, not trimming(this labor aspect goes right along with the no water changes part, folks that trim often or garden, typically do not mind more labor), basically they are smart enough to admit to being lazy, having kids and not enough time etc........non CO2 is an excellent choice.



Folks that want a little bit more gardening, but not much headache? Well, perhaps a once a month water change etc, Excel dosing etc dosign maybe 1-2x a week.

Next stage might be low light + CO2, in all cases, sediment rich nutrients sources are used, and a little bit of water column ferts. Maybe once a month water change.



Well chosen plants and fish stocking.

Maybe you want a little bit more growth........more light etc:



With less growth RATES, we have less nutrient demand and thus less water changes without any monitoring labor added. So we get the best of both worlds with non CO2 method and no water changes, but less desirable gardening rates unless one is patient.

Now we have a decent model to work with when applying how much labor we'd like to put into a water changes versus our gardening goals. This is far more explanatory than "just do what works......" the person must define their goal first before we can offer them the best solution holistically, you cannot just piece meal off water changes in isolation.

Same for Test kits, they have their place, same for dosing ferts, or adding more/less light, adding CO2 etc. It's a tough argument to make if you try and separate these things from the whole.

Water changes are just a simple easy management tool.

Now you can take the Engineering approach instead of the Biologist view also: make the water changes easy or automated. Then there's no labor associated with this. Timers, float switch and a pump to the drain is all this takes. Hard plumb a refill and a drain to larger tanks(I do this for most all the tank's I set up), or make a simple DIY hang on hose set up that simply drains to the yard/landscaping pants and then refills off the shower or faucet.



I have to clean the filter, and do other things to the aquarium, so while that water is drained/refilled, I'm doing that labor, this is hardly any work at all.

So you figure out ways to be lazier for sure, or as I like to say: smarter and lazier.




Regards,
Tom Barr
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