Daily Auto Water Change - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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Daily Auto Water Change

Hey all, newbie water change question.

My reef tanks always run a daily auto water change system. I use level sensors in my sump and peristaltic pumps all controlled by my aquarium controller to change out minute amounts of pre-mixed saltwater many times per day.
I get the benefits of the water change and no worries about parameter swings with it being such small amounts.
I was thinking of setting up something similar for my first planted tank I'm planning and wondering what would be a goal amount of water to shoot for on a daily basis?
From what I've seen so far, you guys seem to change more water in the planted world than we do in the reef world.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 04:13 PM
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We change more mostly to "reset" fertilizer parameters, and attempt to remove excess organics while providing a stable source of water.

We don't see many tank with daily water changes because we dose up to meet a target ppm of certain nutrients, where it is fairly agreed upon that plants prefer a more stable source of nutrients within certain ppm's.

Now, a lower tech tank with a nutrient rich substrate can likely work with daily water changes. Or you can dose nutrients daily to a target and assume you are removing "x" amount per day.

You'll be working in uncharted territory, or at the most you'll be in minimally charted territory.

Best of luck, hopefully someone else can chime in with more experience than I have.
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 04:31 PM Thread Starter
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We change more mostly to "reset" fertilizer parameters, and attempt to remove excess organics while providing a stable source of water.

We don't see many tank with daily water changes because we dose up to meet a target ppm of certain nutrients, where it is fairly agreed upon that plants prefer a more stable source of nutrients within certain ppm's.

Now, a lower tech tank with a nutrient rich substrate can likely work with daily water changes. Or you can dose nutrients daily to a target and assume you are removing "x" amount per day.

You'll be working in uncharted territory, or at the most you'll be in minimally charted territory.

Best of luck, hopefully someone else can chime in with more experience than I have.
Thanks for reminding me, I should have mentioned I am planning on a more hi-tech tank.
C02 and I already have a doser I can use for ferts. Also planning on ADA AquaSoil or similar.

I think I see what you are saying though. The reef guys will partially use water changes as a way to replenish elements like Alkalinity, Calcium and Magnesium, as well as a host of minor elements.
I never worried about that and just made sure I was running a Calcium Reactor or a dosing system. I feel I have more control this way. Coral (especially hard stony coral) can be VERY sensitive to small changes.

But yeah... the whole fertilizer and minerals thing is something I need to wrap my head around and decide how to approach.
I already have the RO system and storage tanks setup... but then I'd have to add back in the minerals.
So I figure if my replacement RO water is always consistent (minerals added back in), then I'd just have to figure out what ferts are needed and those can be added with the doser, correct?

So if the water changes are really just being used as a way of exporting excess nutrients (fish poo and such) to help keep water clear and algae at a minimum, what then do you think is needed as far as % of water volume?
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 04:39 PM
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I guess a better question would be how hard you're going to drive plant growth and which species you preferably want to keep?
What's your tank size? What's you lighting?

Do you have the ability to perform a single weekly 50-70% water change?

In any sense, you'll want to add CO3, Ca and Mg into your RO water.

CO3 for kH (KHCO3) 1.0 degrees is likely fine.
Ca for gH (CaSO4) 30-40ppm Ca is good.
Mg for gH (MgSO4) 10-15ppm Mg is good.

It should also be noted that you'll be flushing CO2 rich water down the drain, achieving a 1.0 drop in pH may be a little tough without significantly increasing the amount of CO2 you're dissolving in. No idea how consistent that would be either.

How much were you changing per day in your reef?

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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
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Tank is going to be 143 gallons.

My storage tank holds 50g, so if using RO, no I could not change 50% at one time. Nor do I really want to. The biggest reason I personally prefer AWC is for convenience. I don't have a ton of time on weekends so it helps make sure the water changes actually get done. That said... if it would be better to change LARGER amounts at one time, rather than tiny amounts many times, that can probably be arranged. I'd just need to tweak my setup.
But I was planning on using a canister filter, not a sump, which means water would need to be pulled from the display tank.
Tiny amounts wouldn't require shutting down the filter and can be done without me being present.
If I go with the larger amounts, I'll need to actively be involved.

My most current reef tank was 120g and I was changing just a few gallons per day.

If it would help, my controller could adjust timing of the C02. Like dose C02 only in the evenings and change water only during the day, or vice-versa. Or just turn off co2 for a predetermined time before/during/after water changes... that kind of thing.

Lots of details to think about it.
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 05:12 PM
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So a few gallons a day could potentially work, you could likely adjust a dosing regime such as pps-pro and slightly add more than recommended to offset the amount you remove daily. That means buy a good quality TDS reader and monitor the tank that way.

If TDS is dropping over time, dose more, if it's rising you'll have to perform a larger water change occasionally or dose less. WATCH WHAT THE PLANTS ARE TELLING YOU.

CO2 can be fine if you have it come on-off during the "normal" hours -- 2 hours on before lights, and 1 hour before the lights go out, followed by the system changing water throughout the time the lights and CO2 are both off.

Set your dosing pump(s) to dose just before the lights come on.

I think that could work...

Check out PPS-Pro dosing and let us know what you think...
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 05:15 PM
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From my perspective, the reason for medium to large routine partial water changes in FW is to keep pollution and nitrates low. "The solution to pollution is dilution". The added benefit of water changes is to replenish minerals that plants and fish use.
------
In salt water, you have live rock, deep sand, and or refugiums that allow anaerorbic bacteria to thrive that converts nitrates into nitrogen gas, completing the nitrogen cycle. I have a nephew with a SW tank/refugium that he rarely if ever does water changes, merely top offs for evaporation.
Unfortunately, culturing anaerobic bacteria in FW is very difficult.
------
If I was to do a continuous system, I think I'd opt for a drip system of 1gal/hour as 24g/day would seem plenty!
HOWEVER, I can't really see this working well for high tech with increased ferts and CO2 injection.
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 05:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d2creative View Post
Hey all, newbie water change question.

My reef tanks always run a daily auto water change system. I use level sensors in my sump and peristaltic pumps all controlled by my aquarium controller to change out minute amounts of pre-mixed saltwater many times per day.
I get the benefits of the water change and no worries about parameter swings with it being such small amounts.
I was thinking of setting up something similar for my first planted tank I'm planning and wondering what would be a goal amount of water to shoot for on a daily basis?
From what I've seen so far, you guys seem to change more water in the planted world than we do in the reef world.

Thanks!
Its fine to do small daily water changes. Say your target is to change 50% of the water weekly.

Amount Changed Daily Fresh Water Added
0.1 0.100000
0.090000
0.081000
0.072900
0.065610
0.059049
0.053144
0.521703 Total Fresh Water Added
52.170310%

If you change 10% daily you will do the equivalent of a ~50% water change weekly which is suggested for EI dosing.
Are you going to autodose fertilizers as well?
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 06:56 PM Thread Starter
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HOWEVER, I can't really see this working well for high tech with increased ferts and CO2 injection.
Can you explain why? I'm trying to understand.
All i can think of is possibly having to use more of both.

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If you change 10% daily you will do the equivalent of a ~50% water change weekly which is suggested for EI dosing.
Are you going to autodose fertilizers as well?
What is "EI"?
Yes, I have a 4 head dosing pump. Could always add another unit if needed.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 07:18 PM
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Can you explain why? I'm trying to understand.
Plants when driven hard enough "prefer" higher concentration of nutrients. So a large dose after a water change to bring up nutrients into high enough concentrations to feed the plants what they need. Remember, light is driving growth. So more light require more CO2 and nutrients to fulfill the plant's demands. If you're slowly removing nutrients daily, you'll have to dose more to keep them at a high enough level to feed the plant's fast growth, which may by troubling because of the daily water changes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by d2creative View Post
All i can think of is possibly having to use more of both.
If you run 8 hours of light a day, say from noon - 8:00pm, you'll be fine if:

CO2 on @ 10am.
Fertilizer dose @ 11:45am.
Lights on @ 12pm.
CO2 off @ 7pm.
Lights off @ 8pm.
Water change(s) anytime up until CO2 goes on for the next day.

If you can determine how much you are removing per day, your livestock load (NO3 + PO4 production) you can determine your amount needed to maintain a target level.

For example, if your targets are:
25ppm NO3
5ppm PO4
10ppm K

And you know how much your livestock are adding and how much you are removing daily, you know how much fertilizer to dose per day to maintain these target levels. Watch these levels, watch TDS, and perform a formal water change if they start to creep up. If TDS and these levels are lowering, we can safety dose more to meet your target goals.


Quote:
Originally Posted by d2creative View Post
What is "EI"?
Yes, I have a 4 head dosing pump. Could always add another unit if needed.
4 head head pump is all you need.
1 for macro's (NPK)
1 for micro's
1 for Excel / Metricide 14 (if needed / wanted)
1 spare of for a ferrous gluconate or similar product (if needed).

EI stands for Estimative Index -- a dosing regime based around 3 x macro doses and 3 x micro doses per week, on alternating days, with 1 day as a rest / 50% water change day.

I don't think a standard EI regime would work in your case.


Another thought. Dose your RO water with everything so your tank will always be at the exact same level... Exact same theory as your reef only with all plant nutrients instead.

Target your RO water with nutrients, supply that to your tank @ consistent levels, and your levels shouldn't move.
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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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thanks a bunch @Quagulator
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 08:40 PM
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Can you explain why? I'm trying to understand.
All i can think of is possibly having to use more of both.

I wrote that because in a continuous water change system, you would be flushing necessary ferts and CO2 down the drain. (not an issue for low tech)


I think what makes better sense for high tech is to semi-automate a weekly water change, then add the appropriate amount of ferts and CO2 injection remains constant and lower - you save on ferts and CO2.

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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 09:16 PM Thread Starter
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I wrote that because in a continuous water change system, you would be flushing necessary ferts and CO2 down the drain. (not an issue for low tech)


I think what makes better sense for high tech is to semi-automate a weekly water change, then add the appropriate amount of ferts and CO2 injection remains constant and lower - you save on ferts and CO2.
I can appreciate that, thanks.

I'm used to using C02 for my calcium reactors... C02 is cheap so that was never an issue.
Ferts on the other hand... i have no idea yet what that's going to cost me on an annual basis, and how much more I would need with the AWC vs traditional weekly changes.

I'm saving a lot of money on salt though!
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 09:36 PM
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I can appreciate that, thanks.

I'm used to using C02 for my calcium reactors... C02 is cheap so that was never an issue.
Ferts on the other hand... i have no idea yet what that's going to cost me on an annual basis, and how much more I would need with the AWC vs traditional weekly changes.

I'm saving a lot of money on salt though!
KHCO3 - For kH and K
KNO3 - For NO3 and K
KH2PO4 - For PO4 and K
CSM+B or PM Burr740 and buy his custom micro package (I recommend asking Joe for his micro package) For micro's
CaSO4 - For Ca
MgSO4 - For Mg

https://rotalabutterfly.com/nutrient-calculator.php

Play on this calculator to determine amounts needed.

That's all you need for nutrients

CO2 is cheap, you're right. Grab a pH controller (unless your current controller can monitor and control CO2 flow) and a flow meter for CO2 control-ability and you're set
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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 09:46 PM
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To expand on EI dosing a bit...

The theory behind it is you calculate, based on the volume of your tank, what the concentration of a nutrient will be after adding a certain amount of the nutrient. If you never changed the water, the nutrients would accumulate over time. To prevent this a large (usually 50%) water change is done weekly. What makes this awesome is that you never have to measure what the concentrations of nutrients are in the tank. If you know how much you're adding, and you know how much you're removing via water changes, then it's simple to figure out what the absolute maximum concentration of any nutrient can be in your tank.

EI sometimes gets a bad rap as being too much work, but it actually greatly simplifies things because you don't have to agonize over constantly testing your tank and chasing parameters around.

EI would most likely work fine in a tank with frequent small water changes. You just need to know how much you're dosing and what fraction of water is being changed. For example, if you dose 5ppm of nitrate per week, and you change 1/2 the water per week, the levels of nitrate would stabilize at ~10 ppm (assuming no plant uptake or addition by fish). If you dose 5ppm per week and change 1/3 of the water per week, nitrates stabilize at ~15ppm. It doesn't matter if the water is removed in small amounts throughout the week or all at once one time a week.

I can draw up some graphs to illustrate variations in dosing and water change schedule. Profiles of nutrient peaks and lows will be a little different.
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