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Typically you want to water change before thing in your tank looks gross, so if you can see a problem with your eyes you're behind the ball.

In conventional fish keeping you can use math to figure out the WC schedule that matches your nitrate accumulation rate, but most of us do much larger (50%+) weekly changes to remove organics and to reset our fertilizer and nitrate removal is not the main reason. In natural planted/Walstad tanks they often change water very infrequently, but you have to be all in on that method to get it to work. In my shrimp tank I do 20% every 5 days. So lots of schedules are possible, but consistency is a virtue. Once you figure out a plan that works, stick to it.
 

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I'd say yes and no...

The yes - You want to get a scheduled routine for your water changes. How often and how much you change, will depend on how stocked your and how heavily planted your particular tank is. Change something a bit and watch it for a week.

The no -There's a lot to be said for observing your fish tank everyday. Consider it a backup for when things change or seem out of the ordianary. Some sort of maintenance usually needs to be done and looking or a sick fish, cloudy water, plant leaves looking off (yelllow, pin holes, etc.) are indicators a water change may be needed, or meds, change ferts, etc.. As an example I don't do water changes weekly on my 2 55s or the 75. I do on my 20 gallon because it has a boatload of messy female guppies and not enough plants in there to suck up all the nitrates.

tldr: A lot depends on on your tank and particular situation. Smaller tanks usually mean less room for mistakes. Make small changes and keep an eye on things.
 

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I do weekly changes on my planted tanks, much less on my turtle tank/ tub and goldfish tank- but I can usually tell when there's something wrong just by observing. I've had most of these set ups and livestock for a very long time. I, honestly, wouldn't rely on a tank visual to give it away but if you test your water before you do a water change and find that your parameters are perfectly fine you can skip the water change. What you're talking about sounds like a walstad set up to me. It can be a bit intense in the beginning, but yes, you can have a tank that all you have to do is top off (for the most part).
 

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Yes, it is entirely possible not to change your water unless you are me. If you are me, you get Nitrate over 100 ppm and TDS over 500 ppm. Everybody else should be fine not changing their water. The Walstadt method works. She wrote a good book about it. I think GDA on the plants and on the front of the tank is a good sign it's time to change the water.
 

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Yes, it is entirely possible not to change your water unless you are me. If you are me, you get Nitrate over 100 ppm and TDS over 500 ppm. Everybody else should be fine not changing their water. The Walstadt method works. She wrote a good book about it. I think GDA on the plants and on the front of the tank is a good sign it's time to change the water.
😅 I said for the most part for a reason. I'd give it a good 70/30 split. More likely than not it works, but sometimes it just won't. I'm sorry for your frustrations!!
 

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Check out Dr Kevin Novak's plenum on Youtube. He says the plenum eliminates Nitrate. I would love to see this for myself but I don't have the time or the tank to spare.
 

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Check out Dr Kevin Novak's plenum on Youtube. He says the plenum eliminates Nitrate. I would love to see this for myself but I don't have the time or the tank to spare.
Plenums were big for a few years back in late 90's on reef tanks. I had one on a 240 gallon tank and yes, they worked, I had no Nitrates. But they ended up a fad; you could achieve the same thing without it if you had the right critters in the substrate.

But that' s a reef tank, on a planted tank you want Nitrates to feed your plants.

Sent from my SM-A205U using Tapatalk
 

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😅 I said for the most part for a reason. I'd give it a good 70/30 split. More likely than not it works, but sometimes it just won't. I'm sorry for your frustrations!!
Pretty much.

Yes, it is entirely possible not to change your water unless you are me. If you are me, you get Nitrate over 100 ppm and TDS over 500 ppm. Everybody else should be fine not changing their water. The Walstadt method works. She wrote a good book about it. I think GDA on the plants and on the front of the tank is a good sign it's time to change the water.
My Nitrate ppm is usually around 0-20. That's why I don't do water changes that often.
 

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If you can see through the tank and its fronting a white wall...you will see the water tint over time. From no tint and just drinking water clear to a pale tan tint as time goes by and then..into urine color really. Goldfish can take that last...but pretty much better not to go that long!
For a Betta in a 5 gallon once a week is too much for you?..well,I guess with feeding just right and not fatty fish foods I think you could go a month with a good filter and some hardy plants to help. Anubias would be good for a Betta tank and stretched water changes. Plenty of other plants will do also.
 

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I mean, there's ammonia alert, which is good for contacting things that are immediately wrong. But unless you want to get fancy (read: $$$), I don't think they sell in tank nitrate testers.

IMO, plenums are kinda eh. Just get the DSB since most of the people are keeping planted tanks anyways. There was an awesome article on freshwater DSB formation on wetwebmedia back in the early 2000s I believe.

If you're really adverse to doing water changes, I guess you could keep some sort of indicator species which very obviously changes colors in bad water conditions. Rummynose tetras are popular for this, but those are cardinal sized, and as we've discussed, not a viable option for you.

The alternative would be to do something like buy duckweed, and regularly remove large portions of it during the water changes. Duckweed hasn't completely covered the tank yet? Probably can skip a water change that week. Duckweed has covered the tank? Time to take out half or so, and do a water change while you're at it. But we're talking about a ridiculously fast growing plant. TBH, hydrilla (which is illegal, so don't do it) would probably serve the same function. The downside of this, is that you have to really monitor your tank. So you can't just do the water change every week, but it might be every 1.5 weeks or so.

As for me...I just do a 10 gallon water change onthe 20L every week. It's more than 50% WC, but it gets the job done.
 

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Well,the answer to that is..why wait until things go bad? I get you..but to be on top of what's going on in your aquarium is good advice. Now,even Co-op put out a vid of a 220 gallon he hadn't changed water in months. Most of the room in the aquarium was Water Wisteria and like 3 or 4 Angelfish. Like your lone Betta. Everything and every setup is up to you.
 

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I would say yes, and I know you're supposed to "keep up with water changes every week," but I don't want to do water changes when my Nitrate is at 0.
So...I know nitrate gets the most hyped up, but I’d encourage you to think of water more than nitrate. Not only does doing a WC reduce nitrate, but it also reduces phosphate and other fish metabolites that don’t really get any attention. Conversely, a WC will increase the amount of minerals that your tank consumes, such as calcium or potassium.
 

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If ammonia is 0 then you do not need to change water. Yes some people prefer to have lower nitrates, phosphates etc but that is just a preference.

I have a heavily stocked tank with discus, tetras, corys, puffers etc. feeding twice a day, high light and co2. Tank is about 8 months old with established plants and DSB and 30% water changed every 3 weeks with no issues.

Try to get the tank to balance just like nature - where incidentally it does not rain every week.

But no it's not possible to tell if you need a water change just by looking at the water.
 
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