Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Contra Costa CA
Why not ask these questions in the forums where more people will see them? I think the forums for each state see less traffic than the 'regular' forums.
Anyway, water changes...
Here are some tips developed for non-planted tanks, or heavily stocked tanks. They are still quite valid for planted tanks, too.
Do enough water changes (frequency and volume) to keep the NO3 under 40 ppm if you are keeping relatively durable fish. Half that (20 ppm max) if you are keeping delicate fish.
Make sure the new water matches the TDS, GH, temperature, KH and pH of the water the fish are used to.
These parameters are written in order of importance.
ie: the TDS and GH ought to match within 10%.
The temperature and KH can vary a bit, and the pH can be quite far off, as long as the mineral levels are pretty close.
Use the water drained from the tank to clean the filter.
Do not do a heavy cleaning on the tank AND the filter in one go. Give the microorganisms a chance to recover, do such heavy cleanings a week or two apart.