Why do water changes? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 71 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 02:46 AM Thread Starter
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Why do water changes?

Why do we do water changes?

1. To keep nitrate levels down.
2. To stop fertilizer build-up (especially EI)
3. Possibly, to stop growth-suppressing hormones building up (discus).
4. To prevent the build-up of nasty chemicals.

I don't have any of these problems. I dose almost nothing, the plants suck up more nitrate than the tank produces, and I'm not keeping discus. I use various chemical filtration media, which should be much more effective than the mild dilution brought about by water changes.

The tank is a heavily stocked, well filtered, medium light, Excel setup (see profile).

I currently do 20% weekly, but aqadviser suggests I do quite a bit more (and it's usually right).

Should I? Is there any need to increase my water changes if nitrates remain low? Is there any other reason for changing water that should be added to the above list?
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post #2 of 71 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 02:53 AM
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Why fix something that isn't broken. If you're like me and just can't resist tinkering, then go for it, but I'd say there's no reason to change more water unless you're simply curious to see if there's an effect.
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post #3 of 71 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 03:13 AM
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My ammonia levels go up instead of down when I do a water change. My tap water tests out at 1ppm but it raises my ammonia levels higher than what I think can be explained by that. Its a mystery to me.
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post #4 of 71 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 04:11 AM
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I only do 2 to 3 water changes a year on my planted 29 gallon, unless I'm doing something to the tank to cause mulm to get stirred up. Then I'll do another one for that.

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post #5 of 71 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 05:51 AM
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i do water changes about every 6 -8 weeks about 25% but i top up about 2g every 2 - 3 days. Between the filtration and the plants everything is fine... i dont test for anything but ph and then thats only when i do water changes but my fish are breeding and my plants are growing everything looks happy and healthy so i dont bother doing anything different.

I think farming duckweed in my tank is mostly responsible for removing anything bad from the water and my chooks and duck love the treat every now and then.


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post #6 of 71 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 05:59 AM
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I always look forward to my weekly water changes
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post #7 of 71 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 11:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snafuspyramid View Post
Why do we do water changes?

1. To keep nitrate levels down.
2. To stop fertilizer build-up (especially EI)
3. Possibly, to stop growth-suppressing hormones building up (discus).
4. To prevent the build-up of nasty chemicals.

I don't have any of these problems. I dose almost nothing, the plants suck up more nitrate than the tank produces, and I'm not keeping discus. I use various chemical filtration media, which should be much more effective than the mild dilution brought about by water changes.

The tank is a heavily stocked, well filtered, medium light, Excel setup (see profile).

I currently do 20% weekly, but aqadviser suggests I do quite a bit more (and it's usually right).

Should I? Is there any need to increase my water changes if nitrates remain low? Is there any other reason for changing water that should be added to the above list?
Is seems to me that my plants and fish are doing better (algae is suffering too) with 50% weekly water changes. It removes any buildup of dissolved organic compounds. It also resets the fertilizer level so I don't have to test or measure. It just makes it easier to achieve a tank that has nice growth and minimal algae.


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post #8 of 71 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 12:22 PM
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I'd be happy to not do them. I've never seen a buildup in my mature tank that needed a WC to fix.

I do 50% a week for the fish though. There behavior changes immediately during the refill. They become very energetic. They are always active, occasionally spawning, but when I do a WC they are like kids at the playground.

I assume only oxygen can create that instantaneous effect. I have lots of flow and surface agitation, but clearly there's a difference. So I continue weekly, but don't worry if I miss s week now and then.


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post #9 of 71 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 12:56 PM
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I always look forward to my weekly water changes
Same here. 50% a week has gotten my Corydoras to breed and neons to grow to 1.5+in!

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post #10 of 71 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 04:59 PM
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It is common to do a large water change in an attempt to induce spawning. As noted many species of fish respond very positively to fresh water.
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post #11 of 71 (permalink) Old 12-21-2010, 05:08 PM
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I have tanks both weekly changed and those not touched except for top offs.

What works for you matters.


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post #12 of 71 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 02:48 AM Thread Starter
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I'd be perfectly happy to change 50% of the water every week as well; after all, it's not much more difficult than turning on the hose. Since it's planted, I do minimal vacuuming.

Problem is that I live in Australia. Throwing out 50 gallons of water a week when I don't have to gives me the horrors, I can't help it. I don't have much of a garden.

Thanks for all the responses.

What sort of dissolved organic compounds might I need to worry about building up? Aren't these the type of thing that Purigen will take care of?
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post #13 of 71 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 11:16 AM
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people simply use the answer to keep nitrates down.... that's not the only reason for water changes. there are dozens of organic compounds that are the end results of waste breaking down in our aquariums, nitrates are just one of the easiest to test, so is used by most fish keepers as a way to test for buildup. not nearly as accurate in a heavily planted tank since the plants consume the nitrates, but a lot of the other organic simply sit there.

discus aren't the only fish that use hormones to slow the growth of competition. several other species do as well, just maybe not to as spectacular a level as discus.

larger water changes can help maintain a balance in your water parameters keeping them stable. where smaller water changes just slow the change. depending on influx versus export you wind up with a lowly stacking scale of parameters building untill you get "the crash" (be it appearance of algae, unexplained fish deaths etc). there is no simple explanation why some tanks can seem to go indefinitely on little to no water changes and other seem to require more. Often IMO its merely the cumulation of un-testables when you have several factors, that alone wouldn't be a problem, with less than ample water changes you get a low build up to failure levels.

and there is also inorganic build ups from heavy metals, and other things in water supplies. if your using the same water to top off that your using for water changes you are accumulating even more due to top off only adding and evaporation removing nothing but water so everything that is in your top off water stays. you would be amazed at the trace amounts of such things as petroleums, medications, and other nasties found in municipal water supplies. whikle safe for human consumption at the levels they are found can slowly accumulate over time in a closed environment like our tanks building up to fish fatal levels.

I created a very simple water change table a couple years ago that showed the results of various amounts of water changes on a given parameter, it was amazing that some water changes people were considering sufficient werent lowering or maintaining the overall content of the water they were simply slowing the build up rate, and this is where it grets people in trouble, they see "my nitrates are fine, but my fish are dying, but they have been fine for 7 months" and its simply because it took 7 months for the factors to build to toxic levels.

Unfortunatly when I crashed out my computer I lost all my articles and tables I had created on aquarium husbandry, most of it marine tank related but a lot of the information goes both ways.

just my 2 cents

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post #14 of 71 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
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Unfortunatly when I crashed out my computer I lost all my articles and tables.
At it the truth (machine failures) started using USB external HD's for backups but not before a ton of stuff was corrupted.


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post #15 of 71 (permalink) Old 12-22-2010, 01:35 PM
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Water changes are also helpful to keep levels up. Water with a low kh, decent fish load and no water changes can see kh drop along with ph pretty quick. I'm not sure of the kh down under so this may not apply to you
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