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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have 10 gallon planted tank with a low bioload. My question is my ammonia nitrites and nitrates are 0. I haven't done wc in months and everything seems fine. Should I roll with it. Fish are happy plants look good.
 

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I would say this depends on a lot of factors but especially on what and how much you've been adding for top offs.

Though, I do not think there will be a lot of support for months without water changes.
 

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You forgot to add that you are happy, along with your fish and plants ...and that is the most important thing. There is a good reason to stay where you are, according to the philosophy of: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." However, I suspect that you may find it running off track at some point. If that happens, come back and talk to the community, again.

We would all prefer to send you down the road of 'doing it right', but you may not be interested in the effort. If that is what you really want, let us know and we can all give you advice on what to buy, what to measure, what to dose, etc.

Having zero nitrates (if true - test results can be misleading, especially if using test strips) is usually an indication that fertilizer dosing is needed, but you may be getting just enough, from the fish and topping-off, to keep your particular plants healthy and they consume all that is available.

In your situation and apparent maintenance preferences, I would keep going as you are, until you run into problems. However, I would monitor two simple things: TDS and pH. TDS meters and liquid pH tests are cheap.

Without water changes, the continuous topping-off adds many things to a tank and these accumulate. It can reach a point where fish and plants will struggle. a TDS meter will let you know where you stand overall. If you use the typical TDS meters sold in the US, try to keep TDS below about 600ppm. If you decide to suddenly do a water change, try not to do one that will change the TDS by more than about 10% or 50ppm, whichever is least, at a time, as a sudden change can be a problem for some fish and plants.

As a tank ages, things can change that will cause sudden deaths, not least of these being pH. pH below 4.0 will kill the fish. a friend once kept a tank, much like yours, where he allowed it to go forever with just topping it off and feeding the fish, but wanted to keep it until they finally died and he could get rid of it. His wish came true, after a year or so: his water tested at pH 4.2 when the last one died (not, necessairly, the only cause).
 

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Deanna makes great points. A TDS meter is pretty important tool if you are going the route of top off only, and they are cheap. You can get one on amazon for under 20 dollars. It also depends on what you are topping off with. If you are using tap water then you will be adding dissolved minerals to the tank with every top off and those minerals do not evaporate with the water. So eventually you will have incredibly hard water in the tank which will kill most things. HOWEVER its possible to be in perfect balance if your plants are growing at a rate your minerals are being added and they are absorbing those minerals. Once the plants get too big you trim them and thus remove the minerals from the tank.

BUT this is sort of the holy grail of tank balance and its very difficult to reach by accident. So maybe you are there but there is a 99.9% chance you are not and your tank water is just slowly getting harder and harder with every top off.

I do big water changes once a week because 1) I use fertilizer in my water which contains dozens of compounds we don't have a test kit for, so I want to a big water change to get rid of an excess of those compounds, and 2) I find it works best for me. To this end I use a python water change system to try and make the process the least cumbersome it can be.

Another route to take is to start topping off with RO water, this will eliminate much of the mineral content that can be a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you everyone. I'm new to this forum and you all where so helpful. I will differently make investment in the tds meter. And start making small wc. I have other tanks this is my first with plants and rcs. I regularly do wc changes in other tanks. Just started using the python what a time saver. I do dose with flourish advance once a week. Maybe I would get better results twice a week? I also use liquid co2 is this good idea? I have well water that's on the hard side I don't have access to ro water but thought that was good for shrimp. I'm going to post picture of tank any more input would be well appreciated.

Water Plant Plant community Vertebrate Nature
Water Plant Plant community Vertebrate Nature


I for got to mention my ph is steady 7.3. I have master kit and will us instead of test strips.
 

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Since you wish go deeper into the issues, please provide the following information, much of which can be determined by searching this forum if you don't understand some of the questions:

  • How long has the tank been setup?
  • Light (make & model): ideally, PAR and PUR reading/estimate at the substrate and photoperiod? Search this forum to help with this.
  • CO2 setup (if any) and, if you inject CO2 (pressurized or DIY?), what is the CO2 ppm level, how is it measured and how is it timed with your photoperiod?
  • Current NO3, PO4, GH, KH, pH and TDS readings and which test kits/devices are used for each?
  • What you are dosing (product and quantity), in terms of ppm, and how often? This calculator will help: https://rotalabutterfly.com/
  • Substrate type and how long has it been in place?
  • What hardscape (stones, driftwood, etc.) is being used, if any?
  • What is your filter setup?
  • Cleaning regimen (filter and water change frequency and amount)?
  • Circulation: surface rippling and are all plants gently moving from top to bottom?
  • What is your water source and do you use a water softener?
  • What is your tank size?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
You gave me alot to think about Deanna. Research is in my future. This forum seems to have the answers. I have to start with knowing my water parameters more accurately. And go from there. Also I have a sponge filter, finnix light(on 12 hrs a day set on high), 10 gallon tank, well water no softener, tank has been set up for over a year closer to 11/2 years, one piece driftwood, substrate is eco complete (original when set up tank), new sponge filter 6 months ago haven't cleaned it. Haven't done wc since put filter in. Dose 5mg flourish advance once a week. Hope to hear from you again.
 

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Well, for now, we’ll assume that your light is both sufficient for the plant growth you like and that it is causing no algae issues. This can be addressed further, at any time you think it may be causing problems. If you ever see algae issues or plants with stunted new growth or chalk-like deposits on their leaves (indicating carbon deficiency), first try dialing the light down to 6 hours to see if it helps.

Along these carbon-aspect lines, the carbon supplement (it’s not liquid CO2) you are using works well in certain situations, such as yours, where light is somewhat on the high side, but CO2 is not being injected. It is probably helping you achieve what you have right now. It also inhibits the growth of some types of algae (hair types).

The Eco-Complete is likely supplying the nutrients needed for the plants, but it does start to exhaust these nutrients when you approach the area of two years. Occasional testing of various elements will show likely needs. I’m not sure that the Flourish Advance is doing anything of significant consequence regarding many of the ingredients in it, but it is not hurting. I, personally, have not seen enough evidence that those types of additives work, but that is my opinion. However, the PO4, K, Ca and Mg in it are critical nutrients. Given all of the above, plus your well water, I suspect that you have plenty (probably more than needed) of most nutrients in your tank with the possible exception of nitrogen, which is measured with your nitrate test. Depending upon test results, it may be advisable to abandon the Advance if adjustments are indicated.

So, as you said, and given the current satisfaction with things, I’d just start testing to gain an understanding of your water parameters and for monitoring purposes. My preferences for our hobby-grade test kits are:

NO3: Salifert (saltwater “Profi” version - good precision in the 5-20 ppm range and easy to use) and Sera (good for clear separation between 10 and 25 ppm areas)
PO4: Salifert. Note: above 3ppm, dilute 5:1 with RO or distilled water, then multiply result by 5. API kit is good above 3ppm
K: Salifert Freshwater (good precision up to, at least, 50ppm), JBL is acceptable
GH/KH: Salifert and Sera - API unreliable QC. All can be modified for increased precision: use 5x the water, then divide results by 5.
KH: Sera or API (both modified for increased precision using 5x the water, then divide results by 5)
Ca: API (modified: 50 ml sample water, add 10 drops of reagent #1, each drop of reagent #2 = 2ppm)
Mg: easily derived from the formula: (GH ppm – 2.5 x Ca ppm) / 4.1
Iron: Nutrafin (may be labeled under the Fluval name)
Total ammonia: Salifert
pH and TDS: Pen meters
Never use test strips.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Will definitely invest in more advanced testing equipment. And go from there. Thanks again Deanna
 
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