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I've done my fair share of letting tanks go and I can say that it depends on a lot of factors. The water used, substrate used, plants used, CO2, fertilizers,lighting, feeding and on and on. If you follow any of those guys on Youtube touting their "No water change, no ferts, no problems" tanks you will see that they actually follow a very strict protocol to get to that level. Mostly in substrate setup, not only in type but in depth. That and they rarely add water column ferts, just substrate.

You can also do a search on this forum. There are actually quite a few that run low to no water change tanks. Searching for Walstad will bring up a bunch of stuff.

Just keep in mind that nitrates are not the only thing that dictate when to do a water change. You have to account for dissolved organics/mulm, among other things. Water changes make things a lot easier with not only adding back but in removing the accumulated mulm and organics that can build up.

I have a betta bowl (shown below) that sits at 5 ppm nitrates no matter how long I let it sit and I won't let it go longer than 4 weeks. I don't look at the betta to determine that though. I look at the plants because the plants, and their growth, are the key to maintaining a healthy environment for your fish.

For comparison, right now I have a 40gal, 20gal, and a 10gal all are being changed atleast 20% weekly, the 10 and 20 are at 50-60%. Of course I do add a ton of fertilizer to those tanks. :laugh2:

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