A beginner's question about water changes

Discussion in 'Freshwater Beginners' started by tyguy7760, Jul 31, 2015.

  1. tyguy7760Fishlore VIPMember

    So just out of curiosity, if I have a relatively low amount of nitrates, and my nitrites and ammonia are 0, is there a point in doing water changes?

    Now I'm not advocating doing less water changes, but other than nitrate reduction, is there a point?

    The reason I'm asking, is I've noticed over the past few months that my nitrates grow really...really slow. I attribute this to having such a large amount of anacharis in my tank. Several studies have shown that anacharis is one of the top nitrate absorbing aquatic plants available. But if the majority of my nitrates are being absorbed by the anacharis, is there another point in doing a water change?

    One point that comes to mind is just to clean the bottom of the tank from old food and fish poo and general junk. But other than that...is there a point?

    Again, I'm not advocating reducing water changes or not doing them at all. Just curious.
  2. el337Fishlore LegendMember

    Interesting... I've also noticed my nitrates took a little dip since I've added a couple of plants. I'm sure it is necessary to clean up the waste at the bottom and bring in some fresh water for your fish. Maybe not as many water changes or maybe 10-15% weekly instead of the aver age 25-30%? I'd like to see some responses to this from people more experienced.

  3. Dom90Fishlore VIPMember

    There is a point to doing water changes besides reducing nitrates. It has to do with your GH and KH. Fish (and plants) use up minerals in your water so over time, your GH and KH will decrease. By doing water changes, you replenish the minerals that are naturally found in your tap water.

    Some of us, like me, have really hard water (KH over 10), and I can get by with a water change every other week. Plus the amount of nitrates my plants eat up make my nitrates increase only about 10-15 ppm every week. Got the idea from KarenLM.

  4. tyguy7760Fishlore VIPMember

    Yeah see my water is like 14 last time i checked. Pretty hard. and I would say that my nitrates on average raise about 5 ppm per week.

    But that is a good point. I guess if you were just not changing your water at all, you could theoretically have a pH crash

  5. Dom90Fishlore VIPMember

    Ok you're probably good for bi-weekly water changes, or even every third week... Just check nitrates and KH/GH for 3 weeks straight and see what works out best for you.
  6. slayer5590Well Known MemberMember

    Also removes the hormones that some fish give off to inhibit the growth of fish of the same species.
  7. el337Fishlore LegendMember

    What are you guys using to test your GH and KH btw? I used to use those test strips in the beginning before realizing they were inaccurate so I just threw them out.
  8. Dom90Fishlore VIPMember

  9. tyguy7760Fishlore VIPMember

  10. delta5Well Known MemberMember

    Like Dom90 said, there are minerals that are used up. Some are used up really fast. I especially notice this in my cichlid tank. It might have been my imagination but after adding cichlid trace in the middle of the week my yellow labs seem to get more active. Plus, imo, GH/KH isn't a reliable test to know if you got the minerals. Just as TDS, imo, is worthless besides testing my rodi water before and after adding in seachem salts.
  11. vivelafishValued MemberMember

    With some species, a water change could simulate "fresh rainfall" in the wild, thus triggering some positive biological responses, such as molting or preparation for breeding.
  12. leftswerveWell Known MemberMember

    That much quicker to "old tank syndrome"
  13. BornThisWayBettasFishlore VIPMember

    I've heard that doing water changes replenish the minerals in the water, I don't know if plants give off enough minerals for that though.
  14. JsigmoWell Known MemberMember

    Which? Doing water changes gives you old tank syndrome (whatever that is), or not doing water changes gives you old tank syndrome?

    I think doing too many water changes gives you old back syndrome. Especially if you have to carry buckets of water up and down stairs! :)

    Our fish and crayfish seem to become more active right after I do a big gravel vacuuming and water change. Maybe it's because they've been hassled extensively and harassed by the vacuuming process. Or maybe they really do like the fresh dose of water.

    I'm tempted to set up a trickle or drip system (whatever it's called) where the water would be constantly replaced at a slow rate. But I would still want to do serious gravel vacuuming periodically.
  15. kidster9700Well Known MemberMember

    You guys keep saying replenish and it's funny because I just bought Replenish to up my GH. So I, too, am wondering, there has to be more to it than that as well. (Again, sucking up the poop from the bottom is still important). If it's to reduce nitrates, which grow slow in planted tanks, and to replenish minerals, which can easily be done with an additive or crushed coral, what is it that we're replacing? I mean, I guess the fish hormones mentioned earlier.
    Although for me I'm using fertilizers so if I don't do water changes I believe I'll get algae growth (I think that's what happens)

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  16. delta5Well Known MemberMember

    IDK if this is good growth, but with using cichlid trace between water changes my alpha male yellow lab has went from the size you find at petsmart to nearly 3.5" in a few months.
  17. SnyperToddValued MemberMember

    I hold an unpopular viewpoint (on this forum anyway) about water changes. While I believe they are important, I also believe their importance is considerably overstated by many members here. My dad is an old-school fishkeeper, he's had tanks since the '60s, and I learned a lot from him. Even when I got my first tank in 1993, we did water changes every 4-6 weeks. We didn't have liquid test kits, but we also didn't have unhealthy, dying fish. I can remember my dad showing me which fish were older than I was. Neither of us have ever dealt with "old tank syndrome." I've had one outbreak of Ich very early on and one outbreak of camallanus worms in 22 years. I don't remember my dad ever having a disease outbreak. We have both moved water changes up to every 2 weeks with thorough gravel vacuuming, but only because we got liquid test kits and this schedule keeps our nitrates under roughly 40ppm. Neither of us have noticed any real changes in fish health or longevity. And this about fish "swimming in their own waste" that I read on here occasionally is just illogical. Yeah, you might see waste on the substrate, but it generally is sucked into a filter or breaks down pretty fast, at least in my tanks. If your beneficial bacteria colony is established, the fish are absolutely not "swimming in their own waste." The ammonia they produce and that which is produced by decaying waste and any uneaten food is quickly broken down. The bottom line is that no matter how often you do water changes (within reason), your tank water is most likely generally cleaner than the fishes natural environment. I'm not saying don't do water changes, I'm saying set a schedule that works for your fish and you. Don't push more important things aside if you don't have time to do water changes every week. This is supposed to be a fun hobby, not a tedious, labor intensive job...
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2015
  18. kidster9700Well Known MemberMember

    I've been keeping fish for quite some time and 4-6 weeks has always been how often I've done water changes. So don't worry, you have company here. Honestly, the first time I've ever had ich was in my 5.5 fry tank and that was about a month ago. I've never even had fun rot (I've had fins nipped but easily fixed those issues by adjusting my stocking). I've never even treated my water with anything besides a conditioner before this year. I'm not going to tell people it's okay to not change your water, but what I do works for me and I have happy, healthy fish. My boyfriend is amazed at how well I can identify an unhappy fish, lol.
    That being said, is my water pristine? No. Are discus a fish that I will ever be able to keep? No. But that's okay! Almost all the fish I ever keep are hardy and easily adjusted to different water parameters. And as far as testing the water, I didn't even bother buying a nitrite test. All I need is nitrate. And ammonia to make sure my tank is cycling when I first set them up or to make sure I didn't mess anything up and set it into a mini cycle haha.
    TL;DR I agree.

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  19. SnyperToddValued MemberMember

    kidster9700 I was editing to clarify while you were replying. :) Like you, I don't keep Discus, I'm too busy for that kind of commitment.

    When I got my first liquid test kit, I found in all of my tanks nitrates hit around 80ppm by the end of my normal water change schedule- nowhere near lethal, but not ideal either. I loaned my test kit to my dad and he found similar numbers. We wanted to keep them lower than that, hence the 2-week interval we've both adopted.
  20. leftswerveWell Known MemberMember

    What? The OP's original question was to the point of DOING water changes. The OP has plants. As has already been discussed trace elements gets used and the water gets old and used up, thus by not doing water changes, and who knows what the frequency should be, you are that much quicker to old tank syndrome. The system just gets used up. Sure, there are some that can reach an equilibrium, but with plants and living organisms in a closed system, that is difficult to achieve without lots of issues.

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