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15 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I keep seeing a bunch of different information through my searches about how much water you should change and how frequently.

I'm a new tank owner with a 10 gal planted tank with shrimp and a couple oto catfish. I plan on adding a few more fish soon though.

The information that I'm really looking for is:
  • How much water should I change?
  • How frequently should I change it? (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly)
  • Do I need to wipe down the glass or decorations since I have algae eating fish?
  • Do I need to vac clean the gravel? (I've seen yes and no)
  • Do I need to change the filter cartridge monthly?
  • Should I rinse the pump once a month as well?

5,934 Posts
The site that I'll give yu a link to has had much criticizm. It will let you know how
many of each kind of fish you put into it, that will be suitable for your sized tank.
It will give you the recommended number and size of water changes.
With most fish, the compatibility suggestions are fairly good. I think some are
overly cautious, but if right, what will you do/w those fish if they don't mix well and
you have no other tank to put them in ?
Need I say that many people have never heard of it, make up there own guidelines,
and never have a problem except maybe where compatibility is concerned ?
Then also, a tank that has a healthy amount of growing plants and a low amount of
fish needs no water change theoretically, but those plants won't gow well without
some amount of fertilization(fish waste does, but is low in a couple of needed nutrients)
and a smallamount of ferts wil be used up by the plants, but more than won't and will build up so that means you need that water change anyway to lower these.
You could get 400 answers to that vacuum question but most with lots of plants don't.
But holding a vacuum line close to the bottom to suck up some of what accumilates there is common I think.
Actually the glass, rocks etc are part of your bio-filter. Most clean at least the front and sides of it but don't clean filter and everything else at the same time.
And don't clean the bio-media except in extreme cases. The filter pad or sponge yes.
But that is supposed to keep the bio-media free of gunk. And when you do, clean the pad etc in the water you took out of the tank, not under the faucet.
Let me give that link before I write a book.

Premium Member
538 Posts
When keeping shrimp you don't want to change more than 20 to 25% of the water at one time. You're better off doing small water changes than doing say one 50% change per week.
I do 50% changes on my fish tanks and 20% water changes on my shrimp tanks once a week.
My tanks are very heavily planted and I rarely if ever vaccuum the sand or gravel subtrates I have. I clean the filters in my canisters once a month. I clean the sponge filters in the 10 and 20 gallon shrimp tanks I have once a week.
Buy a TDS meter and also monitor nitrates in your tank. When the TDS and nitrates start climbing that will give you a good indication of when a water change is required.

15 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
it depends on how much fish you add. with the load you've got now you could get away with no water changes and just top offs.

of course, we also need to know what sort of planted tank. high tech w/ ferts added, low tech dirted, etc
right now we have an amazon sword, java fern, moneywort, and an a. reineckii. and we are pretty low tech with our tank. We dont have much going as we are just starting out.

We want to get more plants, not quite sure what right now, something with more ground cover and floating ones.

We were thinking about adding a snail and 3-4 fish (not trying to over populate).

We had a problem with some staghorn algae so more of our plants got cut back, they were small in the first place now just smaller.

11,721 Posts
How much water should I change?
Enough to keep the nitrates under 20 ppm.
How frequently should I change it? (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly) Enough to keep the nitrates under 20 ppm.
More frequent, smaller water changes are probably better. But if the new water matches the water in the tank (GH, KH, TDS) then larger water changes are OK.
Do I need to wipe down the glass or decorations since I have algae eating fish?
I keep the front glass clean, and allow algae to grow on the back and sides for these fish. Some algae grows that they do not eat, so I clean those decorations as needed.
Do I need to vac clean the gravel? (I've seen yes and no)
If you have plant roots in the gravel then do not disturb the roots. Perhaps just skim the gravel, barely disturbing the top layer. Just enough to pick up the largest waste.
Do I need to change the filter cartridge monthly?
NO! Buy a filter with reusable materials, such as the Aquaclear. Rinse and reuse the sponge for years. Activated carbon can be added, but is not needed all the time. I have some I have not used for years. I keep it in case of emergency. It is good to remove medications, and mysterious thing that end up in the tanks (Thanks, kids!)
Rinse the cartridge you have in water removed from the tank for a water change as often as needed to keep the filter free flowing. When it slows, clean the cartridge. When the cartridge (the floss) is falling apart, then replace it.
Should I rinse the pump once a month as well?
Pump? If you are using a power head then clean it as needed to keep it running smoothly. If this is another question about the filter, then you can take the whole filter apart once in a while. Should not need it very often, though. (I have some filters I have never taken all the way apart- just cleaning the media, and I have had those filters for almost 20 years) If you hear a rattle that suggests a snail or rock is in there you will probably have to take it partially apart to get the snail or rock out. Take this opportunity to rinse out the inside with used aquarium water.
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