too many water changes. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-24-2008, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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too many water changes.

i think alot of people here who are having problems with their tank are doing way to many water changes, 70%? 50%? i mean, i understand it when there's a disease or some water parameter that's off the charts, but really you should only be doing 25% per week max, and sometimes you dont even have to do it that often if you have a good balance going. but when you're doing 50+% water changes that causes a shock to the system that's been trying to balance itself off. espically if it's small tank, there's not enough water to buffer the effects of the new water. from what i see on the forum people are changing water without knowing exactly what's going on, mystery deaths, water change, more mystery death. hhm? just my opinion from what im observing atm. i have only about 4 years keeping fish and just started a planted tank but i'd like to think i've been pretty sucessful, only time i had fish die was when i moved my tank to a new place and my heater ended up being broken and heated some of them to death. what do you guys think?
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-24-2008, 10:08 PM
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most people do large water changes because they dose using the estimative index dosing method. You can read up on EI methodology here http://www.barrreport.com/estimative...test-kits.html; there are frequent mentions of water changes and their role in keeping things "in balance" when using this kind of fertilizing regime.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-24-2008, 10:46 PM
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Water changes are a large part of keeping a planted tank in good health, in particular "high-tech" tanks. It must be done. The size of the water change should be variable, but certainly an integral part. You must remove organics or you will have severe algae problems over the long term (BGA, hair algae, etc.). I've replicated this issue repeatedly in 'little to no water change' experiments. For lower tech tanks, it's not so much a problem, but water changes should still be done.

Then there's the EI thing. I've been dosing a regimine similar to EI before it was coined EI (it just makes good sense to dose like this), but the problem is people dump ferts into their tank because someone told them so. I've helped countless people correct their blind EI dosing habits for years. Nutrients will build up over time if you're not careful and it will cause problems eventually, usually from a small oversight or accident (CO2 runs out, too much light, etc.). People don't take the next step and learn nutrient uptake rates, how pruning effects uptake, plant mass, etc. Why dose more when you don't have to? While using test kits shouldn't be a daily activity, it can help when done every so often. To completely ignore them isn't a smart thing to do. Prevention is the key here.

Mystery deaths are usually only a mystery to those who lost their fish. Trying to troubleshoot fish illness is very difficult over the internet. There are far too many variables to consider when it comes to mysterious fish deaths. Without going into detail, I am inclined to say that water changes don't cause fish death...not on their own anyway.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-24-2008, 11:03 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColeMan View Post
most people do large water changes because they dose using the estimative index dosing method. You can read up on EI methodology here http://www.barrreport.com/estimative...test-kits.html; there are frequent mentions of water changes and their role in keeping things "in balance" when using this kind of fertilizing regime.
jesus that's a long article. um, i duno about you guys but keeping a planted tank shouldnt be that complicated.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-24-2008, 11:09 PM
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it's not that complicated...the whole EI thing is designed to take the "complicated" part out of dosing. The article's length can be attributed to people wanting to know why they're doing something rather than just following directions. EI methodology is simple, cost-effective, and produces results, hence its popularity.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-24-2008, 11:15 PM
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Water changes do not have to be done...You can have a very healthy aquarium without water changes.

Last edited by Brilliant; 06-25-2008 at 01:37 AM.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-24-2008, 11:27 PM
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I think everyone has their own opinion about water changes.
This is an area that most people neeed to work out on their own, in other words what ends up working for them. My water changes vary from tank to tank. I top off my plant tank with a 15-20%wc about once a month. My african tank is about the same, but my discus tank gets daily wc of 15% with a weekly 50% wc. Why, it works for me. My fish are healthy as are my plants. When I get my discus out of their grow out tank into their final home, will I keep up the daily wc? I don't know yet, I'll wait & see how the fish & plants do. I let my tanks dictate what they need, that way my fish are happier, my plants do better & I'm much happier, because I've got a succesful tank.

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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-24-2008, 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Brilliant View Post
You can have a very healthy aquarium without water changes. Water changes do not have to be done...
Such a general statement. I would agree, water changes do not have to be done on ALL tanks. I would also add that water changes do have to be done on some tanks. Generalized statements don't work in this hobby. There are just too many variables in planted tanks..............amount of light. CO2, no CO2, dry ferts, Excel, liquid ferts, root tabs, water paramerters out of the tap, method of dosing ferts and the list goes on. For example I have read that you shouldn't do water changes on low light, low tech tanks but most will tell you that you should do changes on high light, high tech tanks. The variables determine how much of a change you should do.

I don't believe I am shocking my tank with water changes. My tap water is not that far off from my tank water. I have been doing 30% changes for some time now with no ill affects......no mystery deaths. I have just gone to 50% changes because I just started using the EI method of dosing.

Read some of the work done by Tom Barr who is a professor and has studied and researched planted aquariums for years now. He is the one that came up with the EI dosing method.

Here are some links to look at
http://www.barrreport.com/estimative...test-kits.html

http://www.aquatic-eden.com/2007/03/...hanges-in.html

http://www.csd.net/~cgadd/aqua/art_chlorine.htm

Larry Bugg
Atlanta Area Aquarium Association
North American Discus Association - Vice President
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-25-2008, 12:08 AM
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Quote:
but really you should only be doing 25% per week max
Do you have any science to back that up? I ask because you state it as a fact. From where I sit I continually see people claim they don't need to do as many or change as much and then complain about fish health problems.

But I would never tell someone I know how much water they should change, I only know what I do and what I'm comfortable with.

M a r k
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-25-2008, 01:37 AM
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OK...all fixed...

Water changes do not have to be done...You can have a very healthy aquarium without water changes.

As far as Tom Barr goes...why not ask him instead of reading. I doubt he will suggest mounting your tank on EI's proverbial rails forever. EI is meant to be a starting point to grow wings. EI is highly excessive and 50% weekly water changes are wasteful. Once you learn your tank you can scale back dosing and water changes. The water changes are only meant to reset the nutrient levels...nothing more nothing less.
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-25-2008, 05:33 AM
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Like the other guys said, it all depends on the tank you have and the fish in it. Some people do 100% daily on discus aquariums because they want to breed them, some people do 25% weekly on planted discus aquariums where they are not trying to breed them but they have established plants to assist in taking out nitrates, ammonia, etc. Then there are people with a goldfish bowl who only do a water change when the water is cloudy. Some, you just don't have to do because there are enough plants to soak up the nutrients because of a low bioload with the only water maintenence being a monthly top-off. Basically, it all depends on the type of tank and fish you have. So there is not usually a "too much" or "too little" on water change frequency and percentage.
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-25-2008, 05:39 AM
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Originally Posted by plantbrain View Post
Another thing comes to mind about poor aquarium fish ownership; water changes.

Some have suggested that large frequent water changes are bad for the environment, bad for the wasting or water. Yet they have not considered the usefulness of large frequent WC's for the care of the fish and plants.

Use less water, or provide better conditions for the critters?
Use RO water and waste 90% as brine and use that? Or just tap?

Then what you do with the wastewater is an obvious issue also, mine ends up on the landscape, so that's not wasted water at all.

Critters are happy, plants are happy, easy method and keep the landscape looking decent.

Still, I do not have to own pets at all.
Then I will not abuse them ever.

Should we not allow anyone to own pets? Because the risk of death and abuse are too great and we are too incompetent?

Some have made this argument.

The Enslavement of fish and plants................

Free the fishies! Let my plants grow!

Regards,
Tom Barr
from a thread about poor pet owners, nonetheless.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/ge...tml#post627214

I will add, however, that you can overdo water changes in certain instances...
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-25-2008, 12:28 PM
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I also use my water on my outdoor plants. Pull my python out the front door and water all the containers I have in front of the house.

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Atlanta Area Aquarium Association
North American Discus Association - Vice President
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-25-2008, 04:20 PM
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Here we go again.

If you wanna whine about water changes and I've seen folks talk lots of smack about EI, then you'll need to level the playing field and go after folks in the ADA contest, at least the top winning groups and Amano himself, not to do those same 50% weekly water changes.

Essentially, it's the same thing, adding ferts and then doing water changes to reset things. the only real difference is adding ferts to the sediment + water column vs Water column only. If you do not have ADA aqua soil etc, or a nutrient rich sediment(macros), then EI will work much better than the strict ADA liquid ferts.

If your goal is fewer water changes, then change your method.
Do not expect an ADA tank, extremely high growth rates, extremely high light etc.

Try low light+ CO2, such tanks can go months without water changes.
If you want no water changes at all really, non CO2 will be years even.

It depends on your goal, what results you are hoping for and if you have the patience to do a non CO2 tank. We had no choice in the old days, most everyone did non CO2

Put another way, if you are too lazy to do water changes routinely, it's also very likely you will not prune often either, so you should reduce the rate of growth.

I guess all the breeders that do frequent water changes could likely get away with fewer water changes, but more certainly does not hurt and keep their routines and care very pro active and on top of things?

Rubbish.

You cannot, near as I can tell with CO2 and Excel dosing methods, over do water changes. It's an extremely simple tool any fish keeper can easily use.
Hoses can transport water anywhere in a home without labor, lifting etc, semi automated or fully automated systems can be set up as well.

Reasonable fish loads, reasonable light levels, good basic care = fewer fish deaths, better plant health, less algae.

It's really a trade off how much and many to do, but more will never hurt and can only help. By the time someone gets around to doing a water change, does not take that much more time/energy to do 20% vs 50%.

99% of the Breeders, ADA, myself, commercial operations and dozens of other folks in the know suggest it. Perhaps we are all wrong?
Still, go non CO2 and/or reduce light if that(fewer/less water changes) is the goal.

Some tanks will be able to handle fewer water changes, others will respond better with more. Still, both will do great with larger rather than smaller changes in virtually all cases. I think the WC issue is more human psychology and getting the motivation to do them rather than anything else.

I freely admit I can be lazy about them, so knowing this, I try and account and plan for this by setting up easy to do water changes, semi automated methods, gives me a good excuse to clean and prune without my entire wet arm flalling about or submerging my head. That's a lot easier and cheaper to do than testing and micro management and rules out more unknowns.
You cannot automated testing. But you can reduce the amount of testing or water changes then your potential for errors goes way up, same trade off with reducing water changes.

So both result in partial estimations.

The questions becomes how far can you go without causing real harm to the system and how much error and safety do you want to build into your method?

Should we teeter on the edge or have a nice wide margin of safety?
I'll let you all answer that question.

Regards,
Tom Barr




Regards,
Tom Barr
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 06-25-2008, 10:15 PM
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I do not mean to bash EI. I actually like it and prefer it over anything else I've read about. I used it, learned from it and give credit to it. I think the nutrient ratios are good. I also know you can rewrite the rules, liquid dose it in lower quantities at a greater frequency with less water changes and have great success.

It's not about being lazy...believe me, I've been on the other side of the fence on this debate...I've begun to systematically test all the so called "requirements" of the tank. So far I've found that KH additives are not required and pH crashes are myths...now water changes also seem to be myth with my discus spawning and raising young to free swimming stage after three months without water change. Wild angelfish with three water changes in nine months, not a single loss with great appetite and health. My reply was in reference to the comment that a healthy aquarium required water changes. I care about my fish more then most and am the first to preach about good husbandry. Perhaps my large amounts of evaporation and use of diatom filter have more to do with it but as far as I can see it I am quite far from the edge.

The point about generalizations is a valid one. My scope is contained the home display tank. Breeders, who are over stocking their tanks are required to change water. Along with people growing young discus, water changes are required. I understand where and when water changes are required but coming to realize the world is not flat when it comes to water changes.

The planted tank needs a new world. The EI and El Natural worlds need to blend together. A New Natural tank with TMG dosing, fish waste and co2 is my sweet spot.
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