Frequency of water changes

Nourhanateout22

hello! it has been 3 weeks and my 5 gallon tank has officially cycled! I know that sounds like a short time but I really believe that this heat wave sped it up.

My question is how often should i do water changes? My petsmart manager who is knowledgeable about fish told me 50% water change every 3-4 days. What is your opinion?

My last water change was on 9/16/20 and my levels have remained stable since.

As of 9/20/20 my readings are below

Ph, 7.4 ppm
Amonia, 0 ppm
Nitrite, 0 ppm
Nitrate, 5 ppm

Thank you again
 

AquaticQueen

Figure out your nitrates and do whatever consistently keeps them at a safe level.
 
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Nourhanateout22

Figure out your nitrates and do whatever keeps the nitrates below 20.
My nitrates are at 5 ppm so I should wait for the water change?
 
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SM1199

Well, that depends. What do you have stocked? What are you planning to stock? Will it be planted? How heavily?
My petsmart manager who is knowledgeable about fish told me 50% water change every 3-4 days.
Personally, that seems a little excessive to me, but if you plan on having a big bioload for your small tank then that might be helpful.

I like using nitrates as a guide as well. Sure, you can wait for your water change right now. Also, 20 isn't a steadfast rule, it could be 10, it could be 40... Depends on what your plan is. Personally I rarely do any water changes on my lightly stocked, heavily planted 10 gallon tank and the nitrates are always below 10. I still do the very occasional water change (like, once every couple months) to replenish minerals.

Just remember that if your tank is not stocked at all right now, then you need to keep dosing ammonia to retain your cycle until you do stock.
 
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kallililly1973

Congrats! Are you planning on adding just a betta or do you have a different stocking idea? We personally do 50-75% WC's every 5-7 days regardless of the parameters. We have had great success with keeping everyone happy n healthy with that routine.
 
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Nourhanateout22

Well, that depends. What do you have stocked? What are you planning to stock? Will it be planted? How heavily?

Personally, that seems a little excessive to me, but if you plan on having a big bioload for your small tank then that might be helpful.

I like using nitrates as a guide as well. Sure, you can wait for your water change right now. Also, 20 isn't a steadfast rule, it could be 10, it could be 40... Depends on what your plan is. Personally I rarely do any water changes on my lightly stocked, heavily planted 10 gallon tank and the nitrates are always below 10. I still do the very occasional water change (like, once every couple months) to replenish minerals.

Just remember that if your tank is not stocked at all right now, then you need to keep dosing ammonia to retain your cycle until you do stock.
Thank you, my tank is stocked right now with one betta and a few javeferns, annubias, and moss ball
I thought every 3-4 days was excessive too

Congrats! Are you planning on adding just a betta or do you have a different stocking idea? We personally do 50-75% WC's every 5-7 days regardless of the parameters. We have had great success with keeping everyone happy n healthy with that routine.
Okay perfect! Do you have a 5 gallon as well?? I do 50% water changes and I have a betta, javaferns, annubias, and moss ball. I think ill do every 5-7 days too I know for bigger tanks I jave seen people do once a month but since this a small tank it does require more frequent water changes
 
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kallililly1973

Okay perfect! Do you have a 5 gallon as well?? I do 50% water changes and I have a betta, javaferns, annubias, and moss ball. I think ill do every 5-7 days too I know for bigger tanks I jave seen people do once a month but since this a small tank it does require more frequent water changes
We have 7 tanks a 55,29,20,10, 8.8 and 2 -5.5 gallon tanks and they always get at least a 50-75% WC weekly. IMO and IME doing that alone will help avoid any issues with any inhabitants, weather its just a betta and snails or a full tank of community fish .
 
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Fisch

Congrats! Are you planning on adding just a betta or do you have a different stocking idea? We personally do 50-75% WC's every 5-7 days regardless of the parameters. We have had great success with keeping everyone happy n healthy with that routine.
Agreed!!! Water changes are not only to get the Nitrates out, but also remove other pollutants from the water. It is an ever repeating story that pristine water conditions == regular Water Changes keep diseases at bay. Percentage would depend on your stocking.
Doing it regularly becomes a routine, and prevents the danger that we may forget.

I thought every 3-4 days was excessive too
I disagree, specifically Bettas are susceptible to fin rot if thecwater is less than pristine. If you look through this forum you will see it again and again that less than pristine water conditions are the main cause for Betta disease, starting with fin rot.
 
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Nourhanateout22

I disagree, specifically Bettas are susceptible to fin rot if thecwater is less than pristine. If you look through this forum you will see it again and again that less than pristine water conditions are the main cause for Betta disease, starting with fin rot.
So you agree every 3-4 days? Sorry I'm a beginner here who just cycled tank and would like to know for sure how often is good
 
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Fisch

I am a beginner as well, but I learned the hard way that Betta health can go down the tubes very fast and it is heartbreaking to see these beautiful fish suffer. Then we tend to torture them by tossing the medication cabinet at them as we do not really know what's wrong.
I believe the 3-4 day WC is a good start and see how he is doing. Good luck and a happy start into fish keeping
 
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tuggerlake26

You're going to get a wide range of answers on the forum.

On my standard tanks I do a 20% change once a week, and on my discus tank I do 15% every few days.

50% every 3-4 days seems like a lot to me if you have a regular bio load. If you have a lot of fish, maybe. There are times people clean too much at once (large water change, vacuum gravel, clean all filter materials, etc.) and that's where you can get in trouble and mess with the colonies of bacteria. However, if you're not doing all of that at once you're okay.
 
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FoldedCheese

I also have a 5 gallon stocked with plants and a betta. I do a 50% WC every week and it keeps my nitrates around 5 ppm. IMO if the tank is cycled there's no need to wait for nitrates to increase, just keep a consistent schedule and test your water every once and a while.

Edit: I forgot to mention, if you don't have a gravel vacuum I'd suggest purchasing one for WCs.
 
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Fisch

You're going to get a wide range of answers on the forum.

On my standard tanks I do a 20% change once a week, and on my discus tank I do 15% every few days.

50% every 3-4 days seems like a lot to me if you have a regular bio load. If you have a lot of fish, maybe. There are times people clean too much at once (large water change, vacuum gravel, clean all filter materials, etc.) and that's where you can get in trouble and mess with the colonies of bacteria. However, if you're not doing all of that at once you're okay.
What I learned is that Bettas require a bit more. Those fins are super-super sensitive, get torn easily and rot away in a heart beat.
I would never ever get a long finned Betta again, but as I have one I take on the responsibility to give him the best life he can get. As mentioned above, the three parameters are not the only things to watch. At the end it is a very personal devision what we do. But reading these help calls for sick Bettas over and over and over, we have the option to prevent this.
 
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Nourhanateout22

I also have a 5 gallon stocked with plants and a betta. I do a 50% WC every week and it keeps my nitrates around 5 ppm. IMO if the tank is cycled there's no need to wait for nitrates to increase, just keep a consistent schedule and test your water every once and a while.

Edit: I forgot to mention, if you don't have a gravel vacuum I'd suggest purchasing one for WCs.
I have a gravel vaccum which connects to sink. I don't want to lose my colony of bacteria by doing water changes too often. I will monitor water levels and do once a week. I don't want to risk loosing the colony of bacteria doing it every 3-4 days
 
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FoldedCheese

I have a gravel vaccum which connects to sink. I don't want to lose my colony of bacteria by doing water changes too often. I will monitor water levels and do once a week. I don't want to risk loosing the colony of bacteria doing it every 3-4 days

I'm jealous, I have one I have to pump by hand lol.

Don't worry you won't lose your colony of BB by doing weekly WCs. The majority do not live in the water column they live in the filter. Just make sure you have tons of media in your filter and don't use the replacement cartridges that you're "supposed" to change every month.
 
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Nourhanateout22

I'm jealous, I have one I have to pump by hand lol.

Don't worry you won't lose your colony of BB by doing weekly WCs. The majority do not live in the water column they live in the filter. Just make sure you have tons of media in your filter and don't use the replacement cartridges that you're "supposed" to change every month.
I have a sponge that my petsmart manager told me to never take out. I also have a cartridge that you replace monthly. I have not taken it out yet cause cause I don't want to loose good bacteria. I googled it and they said replace only half filter cartridge each month and keep the other half until the next month then replace that half with a new one if that makes sense.

I just want to be postive about how often to do water changes (either every 3-4 days or 5-7 days) and also be sure im not loosing any good bacteria through filter media changes. And i thought cycling a tank is hard, i got through that stage i can get through this one. I really appreciate your help guys
 
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Fisch

I have a gravel vaccum which connects to sink. I don't want to lose my colony of bacteria by doing water changes too often. I will monitor water levels and do once a week. I don't want to risk loosing the colony of bacteria doing it every 3-4 days
Bacteria is not mainly in the water column, so if you once a week vacuum half of your gravel surface, and otherwise just take the water from the column, the risk to destroy your bacteria colony is pretty safe.
 
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Nourhanateout22

Bacteria is not mainly in the water column, so if you once a week vacuum half of your gravel surface, and otherwise just take the water from the column, the risk to destroy your bacteria colony is pretty safe.
Do you mean vaccum half my gravel? Like you mean don't siphon all the way down to bottom?
 
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skar

So you agree every 3-4 days? Sorry I'm a beginner here who just cycled tank and would like to know for sure how often is good

That is actually good advice.
3-4 days is once to twice a week.

Personally when I have some free time I change out water in the tank.
Equal to be about twice a week.

I also find that you don't need to stress out about water quality and testing.
Just change water and enjoy the show.
 
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FoldedCheese

I have a sponge that my petsmart manager told me to never take out. I also have a cartridge that you replace monthly. I have not taken it out yet cause cause I don't want to loose good bacteria. I googled it and they said replace only half filter cartridge each month and keep the other half until the next month then replace that half with a new one if that makes sense.

I just want to be postive about how often to do water changes (either every 3-4 days or 5-7 days) and also be sure im not loosing any good bacteria through filter media changes. And i thought cycling a tank is hard, i got through that stage i can get through this one. I really appreciate your help guys

Wait, so do you have a HOB filter? You shouldn't be replacing cartridges at all, it's a marketing technique to get people to buy more replacement carts. Here's a link to the thread about how to switch from carts to diy media if you're interested: Diy Media Guide For Top Fin Silenstream, Aquaclear And Other Hob Filters | 385506 | Filters and Filtration

By adding different types of media to your filter you're increasing the surface area for BB to grow on which will protect your cycle better than anything. You also don't have to replace any of it until it's falling apart, simply rinse in old tank water once a month.

You'll get a different answer from everyone, but I'd say at the absolute minimum you need to do at least 1 50%WC per week.
 
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Nourhanateout22

Wait, so do you have a HOB filter? You shouldn't be replacing cartridges at all, it's a marketing technique to get people to buy more replacement carts. Here's a link to the thread about how to switch from carts to diy media if you're interested: Diy Media Guide For Top Fin Silenstream, Aquaclear And Other Hob Filters | 385506 | Filters and Filtration

By adding different types of media to your filter you're increasing the surface area for BB to grow on which will protect your cycle better than anything. You also don't have to replace any of it until it's falling apart, simply rinse in old tank water once a month.

You'll get a different answer from everyone, but I'd say at the absolute minimum you need to do at least 1 50%WC per week.
It's an integrated filter. The image is below, is does not say if it's hob. I have carbon filter cartridge (replaces monthly, which I have not replaced yet) and I also have small piece of filter sponge.
 

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FoldedCheese

It's an integrated filter. The image is below, is does not say if it's hob. I have carbon filter cartridge (replaces monthly, which I have not replaced yet) and I also have small piece of filter sponge.

Oooooh it's one of those. I don't see why you couldn't put your own media in there if you wanted to. I also have a small topfin HOB that used to have those cartridges "to be replaced monthy" in it before I replaced it with more permanent media.
 
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John58ford

Everyone has what they prefer, I'm on the change based on parameters side of the fence but it takes a long time for a tank to truly settle in. The planting of a tank is crucial (to my methodology), if it's unplanted just stick to %50+ weekly.


For a planted tank, I would start monitoring it thoroughly with a full test kit+gh and kh testing as a minimum. The first 3 months do solid gravel vacuuming weekly at 50% right after testing whether it needs it or not, you will get used to your equipment and technique during this time. After 3 months (probably during the third) you will notice the waste is more broken down and you may even suspend some detritus worms or other small critters that are just barely visible while you work in the tank. How they get in there I couldn't tell you, but they will, and they are your friends. At this point you can play with increasing your planting and spacing out your changes as required. Every water source, planting, feeding, stocking, lighting, and fertilizing (if you do that) combination will be different as far as requirements.

One thing I personally am hard about is changing at least 50% of my water during each water change, after considering dilution. The reason 50+% is as others have said, "it's not just the nitrates" and to remove any build up over time you have to go in a net gain. If you remove less than 50% percent of your water, you will still be gaining impurities with each change. The rate at which you gain them will be diminishing but will be above your weekly threshold and can be substantial. If you remove more than 50% you are on a winning track with the battle against impurities. If you run a perfect balance, 50% works.

what I mean by dilution is that if you change your water 20% at a time (drain-fill-drain-fill-etc) to avoid breaking plants or causing tank aggression, it will take about 4 cycles of drain and fill to get down to 50% of the actual water changed. I do have a tank I have to do this on and although it takes more water to get to the goal it is worth it but requires thought.

(Boring math wall)
100-(100x.2)=80% contamination
80-(80x.2)=64% contamination
64-(64x.2)=51.2% contamination
51.2-(54x.2)= 40.96% contamination

If your tank is building less than 9% contamination between water changes, stop here. If the above example was a 10 gallon, it would mean we changed (diluted the tank with) 8 gallons (2 gallons at a time) of fresh water to accomplish an actual 6 gallon water change.

Boring math about why I always go 50+%:
10ppm garbage weekly buildup with 40% changes.
Weekly:
1.) 0+10ppm-(10x.4)=6
2.) 6+10ppm-(16x.4)=9.6
3.) 9.6+10ppm-(19.6x.4)=11.6
(The rate on this is diminishing, at a 10 ppm gain weekly it tops out at ~15ppm after w/c with a 20ppm gain it will run near 30ppm after change, thanks for the chart AvalancheDave )

The garbage continues growing each water change until a threshold is met (stuff could die). Again the thing to remember here, plants may drink up most of your accumulated nitrate, but "it's not just the nitrates". Let's take one example, fish keeper had chlorinated/chloramine water and uses dechlorinator or uses a fertilizer containing sodium. Sodium is added to the tank each week at water change or top off but sodium is not tested for, after many weeks of net gain of sodium cardinal tetras start to die off, then the rasbora, then the snails. There's no obvious changes or illnesses but now the shrimp are breeding and everything else died as we went from soft water to brackish. This could happen with many different impurities but that's one example. You could also lose nutrients that are in your water at an inverse rate. 40% WC would drop your hardness about 1.5 degrees after 13 weeks and keep it down there.

I change more than 50% (after dilution). If nothing else I would love for you to join my club. At 50+ WC weekly you never end up with more than your weeks accumulation total unless you were to want to store some up on your own schedule. You are also going to stay closer to tap and lose less nutrient overall as the parameters will stay closer to your tap on both sides, impurities added, and nutrients used. It is possible in most situations to eventually end up adequately planted, healthy fish, and no chemical additives, it does take monitoring and some may though.

I do my changing based on a target minimum of nitrate calculated post water change based on a 50-60%(varies by tank) average total change after dilution. My plants don't do well below 20ppm and my fish species are all good up to 40-80 so when I hit 40 or darker I go for it. In one heavily planted tank, I change based on kh dropping below a target. Your plants will likely be different than mine based on our source water, lighting etc so you will have to find what works for you. I just recommend you give it that first 3 months on a weekly schedule while getting used to monitoring with a test kit before you get too tricky with the math, that will let your plants melt and adjust to your water as well.
 
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Nourhanateout22

Everyone has what they prefer, I'm on the change based on parameters side of the fence but it takes a long time for a tank to truly settle in. The planting of a tank is crucial (to my methodology), if it's unplanted just stick to %50+ weekly.


For a planted tank, I would start monitoring it thoroughly with a full test kit+gh and kh testing as a minimum. The first 3 months do solid gravel vacuuming weekly at 50% right after testing whether it needs it or not, you will get used to your equipment and technique during this time. After 3 months (probably during the third) you will notice the waste is more broken down and you may even suspend some detritus worms or other small critters that are just barely visible while you work in the tank. How they get in there I couldn't tell you, but they will, and they are your friends. At this point you can play with increasing your planting and spacing out your changes as required. Every water source, planting, feeding, stocking, lighting, and fertilizing (if you do that) combination will be different as far as requirements.

One thing I personally am hard about is changing at least 50% of my water during each water change, after considering dilution. The reason 50+% is as others have said, "it's not just the nitrates" and to remove any build up over time you have to go in a net gain. If you remove 40 percent of your water, you will still be gaining 10% impurities with each change. If you remove 60% you are on a winning track with the battle against impurities. If you run a perfect balance, 50% works.

what I mean by dilution is that if you change your water 20% at a time (drain-fill-drain-fill-etc) to avoid breaking plants or causing tank aggression, it will take about 4 cycles of drain and fill to get down to 50% of the actual water changed. I do have a tank I have to do this on and although it takes more water to get to the goal it is worth it but requires thought.

(Boring math wall)
100-(100x.2)=80% contamination
80-(80x.2)=64% contamination
64-(64x.2)=51.2% contamination
51.2-(54x.2)= 40.96% contamination

If your tank is building less than 9% contamination between water changes, stop here. If the above example was a 10 gallon, it would mean we changed (diluted the tank with) 8 gallons (2 gallons at a time) of fresh water to accomplish an actual 6 gallon water change.

Boring math about why I always go 50+%:
10ppm garbage weekly buildup with 40% changes.
Weekly:
1.) 0+10ppm-(10x.4)=6
2.) 6+10ppm-(16x.4)=9.6
3.) 9.6+10ppm-(19.6x.4)=11.6

The garbage continues growing each water change until a threshold is met (stuff dies). Again the thing to remember here, plants may drink up most of your accumulated nitrate, but "it's not just the nitrates". Let's take one example, fish keeper had chlorinated/chloramine water and uses dechlorinator or uses a fertilizer containing sodium. Sodium is added to the tank each week at water change or top off but sodium is not tested for, after many weeks of net gain of sodium cardinal tetras start to die off, then the rasbora, then the snails. There's no obvious changes or illnesses but now the shrimp are breeding and everything else died as we went from soft water to brackish. This could happen with many different impurities but that's one example.

I change more than 50% (after dilution). If nothing else I would love for you to join my club.

I do my changing based on a target minimum of nitrate calculated post water change based on a 50-60%(varies by tank) average total change after dilution. My plants don't do well below 20ppm and my fish species are all good up to 40-80 so when I hit 40 or darker I go for it. Your plants will likely be different than mine based on our source water, lighting etc so you will have to find what works for you. I just recommend you give it that first 3 months on a weekly schedule while getting used to monitoring with a test kit before you get too tricky with the math, that will let your plants melt and adjust to your water as well.
This was very helpful information, o apologize, some of it is a little confusing because I'm a first time fish owner. My 5 gallon tank has been cycling for 3 weeks. Amonia is 0, nitrite is 0, and nitrate is 5. It is planted with javafern, annubias, moss ball and i also have a betta fish. My last water change was 4 days ago and it was a half water change. When should my next water change be?
 
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AvalancheDave

Boring math about why I always go 50+%:
10ppm garbage weekly buildup with 40% changes.
Weekly:
1.) 0+10ppm-(10x.4)=6
2.) 6+10ppm-(16x.4)=9.6
3.) 9.6+10ppm-(19.6x.4)=11.6

The garbage continues growing each water change until a threshold is met (stuff dies). Again the thing to remember here, plants may drink up most of your accumulated nitrate, but "it's not just the nitrates". Let's take one example, fish keeper had chlorinated/chloramine water and uses dechlorinator or uses a fertilizer containing sodium.

Continue the math for a few more iterations:


WC40.png


WC40 chart.png


WC60.png


WC60 chart.png

I haven't found a scenario where nitrate or anything else accumulates indefinitely. Not with evaporation, nitrate in tap water, or both.
 
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John58ford

Continue the math for a few more iterations:


WC40.png


WC40 chart.png


WC60.png


WC60 chart.png

I haven't found a scenario where nitrate or anything else accumulates indefinitely. Not with evaporation, nitrate in tap water, or both.

I do believe I expressed the rate at which you will gain impurities incorrectly but I do stand by my 50%+ recommendation.
Your charts are correct, assuming a weekly water change, forever and 10ppm weekly loading. The closer to 0% changed and the more unstable and run away your tank gets (I think it takes about 40-50 weeks to "flatten the curve" at 10% with crazy high numbers), at 50% your total accumulation after change never exceeds your weekly, and at better than 50% you're leaving yourself some room for error and staying below the build up. I used weekly in my examples as the math is pretty easy to translate. There's more to what I had to say in total there though, as I do not necessarily go for the weekly water change schedule, or any time based schedule for that matter really.

I know you (Dave) already know most of what I'm going to say here but it's for OP as well.

When going planted, there will be certain things being used by the plants, some are put in by fish waste (nitrogen by product) others are put in with the water (macro nutrients like calcium). As you adjust your curves to look at possible multiple week changes and adjust for plant waste/trimming you will notice certain things trend down just as fast as others trend up. Reverse our math for the usage of calcium (18ppm/1deg), magnesium and carbonates for example. If you are constantly running out of kH, and changing more often than your nitrates can build you lose a balance. It's possible if your tap has a high hardness and decent alkalinity you may not notice 2 degrees , but it's also possible 2 degrees below tap may put you on the edge of crash (the nitrogen cycle, and plants both use hardness/alkalinity) if you have softer water. If a tank were to use 1 degree of hardness per water change you would settle 1.5 degrees below tap at 40% or stay within .6 degree at 60%.

I am not exceptional at writing tables and did that math earlier in my head but I have a good idea what happens if you have depletion and accumulation issues (all tanks do, especially planted) and choose to go less than 50%. Just like your nitrate would theoretically cap at 15ppm, your calcium will bottom and stay as well (number depends on your starting parameters). Issue is, depending on your water that may put you in a position where you now are making nitrates faster than you can give your plants macros, to use the nitrates then you do end up with an increasing game with no solution but to reset your water, or turn to chemicals.

Some may say change weekly, dump some chemicals in there and call it a fish tank, I encourage a good grasp on the numbers vs the products. I'm not saying go crazy long between water changes in the long run, but the first 3 months at a weekly change rate while you watch how your plants are meeting the nitrate and other nutrients at/below or above your target threshold while you develop microfauna is a good way to get an idea of the nuts and bolts before you end up blindly reaching for the fertilizer and supplements when you could have found a balance. I have found that if I'm truly balancing my water, I end up on sightly longer intervals, at about 60% water changed and don't need the additives. That's even with very very soft water. I still sit firmly in the 50%+ camp. I also think if you keep your water as close to the source and stable as possible you can keep healthy fish and plants will follow. You also don't have to worry about running out of chemicals and not being able to do a heavy water change if it were to end up required (because life happens).

Thanks for posting that chart though, I saw a calculator like that online somewhere when I was doing some charting on my parameter logs. I will edit my above post to include diminishing gains as a detail. Where do you sit in the water change schedule camp AvalancheDave ? I know we have a couple threads like this around here but just as my testing and planting etc have changed, my thoughts have shifted a little since it last came up. I do know that even in one fish room, none of my planted display tanks are "one size fits all" quantity and frequency.

When should my next water change be?
Since your tank is newly cycled and not too well established, I'm going to stick with recommending 50% once a week while you monitor your parameters and observe. Once you start to develop a little micro fauna, or if your plants don't do so well, you could try extending the frequency while you monitor, or reduce your change percentage sightly. It will take some time for it all to balance. I personally keep my very lightly planted betta and snail tank around 15-30 ppm nitrate. All I can get it to support without additives is one large anubius (wow does it grow slow, almost a year with this one and it's only at about a dozen leaves) and crypt wendtii, I thin the crypt every couple months. To get to the target number in a 10 gallon tank it takes me about 3 weeks, but again every tank will be different, and I slowly increased the schedule while I watched him, and the parameters closely. Some folks report their betta does best at 10ppm or less nitrate, but then other folks run 30-40+ and dump in a ton of chemical to really grow some plants, each fish and tank is different. At the 3 week mark, I was doing weekly changes and testing, I still test that tank, and most of them weekly for anomalies. Usually two or three of seven differently planted tanks needs a change each week so I just set aside the time with my kids, we play science; then we haul water.
 
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smee82

I dont worry about the maths i just change around 80% every week. Unless your in a drought or dealing with sensitive livestock big waterchanges are always better.
 
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Nourhanateout22

I do believe I expressed the rate at which you will gain impurities incorrectly but I do stand by my 50%+ recommendation.
Your charts are correct, assuming a weekly water change, forever and 10ppm weekly loading. The closer to 0% changed and the more unstable and run away your tank gets (I think it takes about 40-50 weeks to "flatten the curve" at 10% with crazy high numbers), at 50% your total accumulation after change never exceeds your weekly, and at better than 50% you're leaving yourself some room for error and staying below the build up. I used weekly in my examples as the math is pretty easy to translate. There's more to what I had to say in total there though, as I do not necessarily go for the weekly water change schedule, or any time based schedule for that matter really.

I know you (Dave) already know most of what I'm going to say here but it's for OP as well.

When going planted, there will be certain things being used by the plants, some are put in by fish waste (nitrogen by product) others are put in with the water (macro nutrients like calcium). As you adjust your curves to look at possible multiple week changes and adjust for plant waste/trimming you will notice certain things trend down just as fast as others trend up. Reverse our math for the usage of calcium (18ppm/1deg), magnesium and carbonates for example. If you are constantly running out of kH, and changing more often than your nitrates can build you lose a balance. It's possible if your tap has a high hardness and decent alkalinity you may not notice 2 degrees , but it's also possible 2 degrees below tap may put you on the edge of crash (the nitrogen cycle, and plants both use hardness/alkalinity) if you have softer water. If a tank were to use 1 degree of hardness per water change you would settle 1.5 degrees below tap at 40% or stay within .6 degree at 60%.

I am not exceptional at writing tables and did that math earlier in my head but I have a good idea what happens if you have depletion and accumulation issues (all tanks do, especially planted) and choose to go less than 50%. Just like your nitrate would theoretically cap at 15ppm, your calcium will bottom and stay as well (number depends on your starting parameters). Issue is, depending on your water that may put you in a position where you now are making nitrates faster than you can give your plants macros, to use the nitrates then you do end up with an increasing game with no solution but to reset your water, or turn to chemicals.

Some may say change weekly, dump some chemicals in there and call it a fish tank, I encourage a good grasp on the numbers vs the products. I'm not saying go crazy long between water changes in the long run, but the first 3 months at a weekly change rate while you watch how your plants are meeting the nitrate and other nutrients at/below or above your target threshold while you develop microfauna is a good way to get an idea of the nuts and bolts before you end up blindly reaching for the fertilizer and supplements when you could have found a balance. I have found that if I'm truly balancing my water, I end up on sightly longer intervals, at about 60% water changed and don't need the additives. That's even with very very soft water. I still sit firmly in the 50%+ camp. I also think if you keep your water as close to the source and stable as possible you can keep healthy fish and plants will follow. You also don't have to worry about running out of chemicals and not being able to do a heavy water change if it were to end up required (because life happens).

Thanks for posting that chart though, I saw a calculator like that online somewhere when I was doing some charting on my parameter logs. I will edit my above post to include diminishing gains as a detail. Where do you sit in the water change schedule camp AvalancheDave ? I know we have a couple threads like this around here but just as my testing and planting etc have changed, my thoughts have shifted a little since it last came up. I do know that even in one fish room, none of my planted display tanks are "one size fits all" quantity and frequency.


Since your tank is newly cycled and not too well established, I'm going to stick with recommending 50% once a week while you monitor your parameters and observe. Once you start to develop a little micro fauna, or if your plants don't do so well, you could try extending the frequency while you monitor, or reduce your change percentage sightly. It will take some time for it all to balance. I personally keep my very lightly planted betta and snail tank around 15-30 ppm nitrate. All I can get it to support without additives is one large anubius (wow does it grow slow, almost a year with this one and it's only at about a dozen leaves) and crypt wendtii, I thin the crypt every couple months. To get to the target number in a 10 gallon tank it takes me about 3 weeks, but again every tank will be different, and I slowly increased the schedule while I watched him, and the parameters closely. Some folks report their betta does best at 10ppm or less nitrate, but then other folks run 30-40+ and dump in a ton of chemical to really grow some plants, each fish and tank is different. At the 3 week mark, I was doing weekly changes and testing, I still test that tank, and most of them weekly for anomalies. Usually two or three of seven differently planted tanks needs a change each week so I just set aside the time with my kids, we play science; then we haul water.
Thank you to everyone! This was very informative. I was so stressed out yesterday, I feel a little bit better. I care so much about my betta and I want nothing but the best life I can give him, one that is better than sitting on a shelf at a pet store
 
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Bluejay010101

When I had a 5 gal with 1 betta, I did 2x/week wcs of 10-20% each time. To me, it makes sense to spread out water changes so it's not too drastic at once.

Now upgraded to a 10 and I do 10-30% 1x/week. If I'm deep cleaning or something like that I'll do 50% at most.

Also you can rinse your filter media in old tank water you siphon out. This gets the gunk off of them and keeps your filter running at optimal. I do this once every 2 weeks or so.
 
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Mazeus

You are going to get a variety of answers because we all do things differently. If you are new to fish keeping, I'd recommend 20-25% once a week. Once you feel more comfortable with fish keeping you can figure out what works for you.
 
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Fisch

Do you mean vaccum half my gravel? Like you mean don't siphon all the way down to bottom?
So to keep the pristine water my method is:
For the small watercha
Do you mean vaccum half my gravel? Like you mean don't siphon all the way down to bottom?
Yes, everybody has his own method, what works best.
The vacuum really upsets my Betta, so I split the task. One week I vacuum one half, the next wee the other half. I stir the gravel to get the gunk out, and do not go to the bottom (that would mix my substrate and sand and gravel substantially).
 
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Nourhanateout22

So to keep the pristine water my method is:
For the small watercha

Yes, everybody has his own method, what works best.
The vacuum really upsets my Betta, so I split the task. One week I vacuum one half, the next wee the other half. I stir the gravel to get the gunk out, and do not go to the bottom (that would mix my substrate and sand and gravel substantially).
Cool. My subtrate is gravel, I personally like to take my bettw out when I'm siphoning and cleaning lol
 
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Nourhanateout22

When I had a 5 gal with 1 betta, I did 2x/week wcs of 10-20% each time. To me, it makes sense to spread out water changes so it's not too drastic at once.

Now upgraded to a 10 and I do 10-30% 1x/week. If I'm deep cleaning or something like that I'll do 50% at most.

Also you can rinse your filter media in old tank water you siphon out. This gets the gunk off of them and keeps your filter running at optimal. I do this once every 2 weeks or so.
Thanks for helpful info. When you say deep clean you mean bleach/stress coat decor?

This is the filter I have, its from topfin and it comes with integrated filter. It came with a carbon pad, was not sure where to put it cause it doesn't look like it goes in the filter so I put it in one of the compartments in my tank. I also added a piece of filter sponge.

What kind of filter do you think this is? And does the pad somehow fit in here or separate?

20200831_111551.jpg
 
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Bluejay010101

Thanks for helpful info. When you say deep clean you mean bleach/stress coat decor?

Oh no. I mean just gravel vacuuming a bit deeper, then rinsing out my filter media in old tank water, maybe moving some decor around, and rinsing them in old tank water. I use driftwood so sometimes a bit of algae and biofilm accumulates on it. Brushes off easily.

I don't bleach anything in the tank. For equipment like gravel vac or wc bucket, I'll sterilize those 1x/month in 1 part vinegar and 4 parts hot water. Then rinse well and let air dry. My plant tools, I'll dip them in h2o2 and give them a good rinse every 2 weeks or so.
 
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Nourhanateout22

Oh no. I mean just gravel vacuuming a bit deeper, then rinsing out my filter media in old tank water, maybe moving some decor around, and rinsing them in old tank water. I use driftwood so sometimes a bit of algae and biofilm accumulates on it. Brushes off easily.

I don't bleach anything in the tank. For equipment like gravel vac or wc bucket, I'll sterilize those 1x/month in 1 part vinegar and 4 parts hot water. Then rinse well and let air dry. My plant tools, I'll dip them in h2o2 and give them a good rinse every 2 weeks or so.
Ow okay what is h202, I have seen that at petsmart I think
 
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FoldedCheese

Cool. My subtrate is gravel, I personally like to take my bettw out when I'm siphoning and cleaning lol

I strongly recommend against doing this. IMO your tank is big enough that he can move out of the way so you can work around him. He will eventually get used to the siphon and your hand in his tank. It's also far more stressful to remove him every time and if you're netting him you run the risk of possibly damaging his delicate fins.
 
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Nourhanateout22

I strongly recommend against doing this. IMO your tank is big enough that he can move out of the way so you can work around him. He will eventually get used to the siphon and your hand in his tank. It's also far more stressful to remove him every time and if you're netting him you run the risk of possibly damaging his delicate fins.
I dont use net, I use my hand and put him in the cup I bought him in from petsmart. I feel like i can't siphon efficiently if my betta is inside cause I'm afraid of hurting. Plus I think its more stress if he's in the tank while I'm siphoning with constant water movement, its only a 5 gallon so not a lot of places to go. If I had a larger tank I would leave him in there so he can hide while I'm cleaning
 
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Bluejay010101

Ow okay what is h202, I have seen that at petsmart I think

Just hydrogen peroxide, 3%.
 
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Bluejay010101

I dont use net, I use my hand and put him in the cup I bought him in from petsmart. I feel like i can't siphon efficiently if my betta is inside cause I'm afraid of hurting. Plus I think its more stress if he's in the tank while I'm siphoning with constant water movement, its only a 5 gallon so not a lot of places to go. If I had a larger tank I would leave him in there so he can hide while I'm cleaning

I agree w/ ValkyrieLips, don't take your betta out. I had a 5 gal before I switched to the 10 and I never took my betta out for water changes. This is unnecessary stress on them. Dealing with temp changes, parameter changes, and you have to acclimate him back in every time.

Learn how to gravel vac:
efficiently. I learned from this vid. You keep it low to the substrate and go slow. lf your betta comes close, just move it away from him.

Always temp match the new water and dechlorinate before it goes in the tank.
 
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Fisch

Cool. My subtrate is gravel, I personally like to take my bettw out when I'm siphoning and cleaning lol
I did that as well when I did the big water changes, but I feel he is more stressed when I do this. Now he investigates the siphon and if it gets too stressful he swims into the opposite corner, another reason why I only vacuum half his tank at a time. It is all very personal and I don't follow a rule book, but my gut.
 
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