How do I do water changes on 125 gallon?

Mistacliff
Member
I’m new to this large of a tank and I’m still working on getting everything to get it set up. I plan to get a canister filter and maybe one or two sponge filters. I saw someone had replied to one post that they connect a hose to the faucet for refilling the tank, which sounds a lot nicer than filling buckets, but what about water treatments? In my previous 65 gallon tanks I’ve always added water conditioner and bacteria starter to the buckets. I always figure that makes sure that it is mixed in properly and then I also know how much to put in.
I’ve also seen people mention there is a way to have the canister filter be like the pump for doing a water change. Do I need to be doing a gravel vac across the entire tank each week?
Also I am not quite ready to stock the tank with fish and won’t be for 6-8 weeks. If I were to fill the tank with water and have it cycling with no fish would I still need to do water changes? Or can I let it sit there cycling and pay no attention to it?
 
SotaAquatics
Member
I wouldn't really touch the tank while it cycles for the first 6-8 weeks. A good idea I saw once was to "feed" the tank like you would normally with the fish you will have. Maybe not that much at first.., but by week 6-8 put in the amount of flakes you would expect to be putting in with your planned fish load. Vac up anything if it starts to get rotten, or leave it, really doesn't matter in my experience. A properly cycled tank should be able to process uneaten fish flakes in about 24 hours.

I use a Python for doing water changes and gravel vac - hooks up to the sink. Only downside is you can waste a lot of water while cleaning the tank - one of the main reasons why people often go the route of using a pump with a long hose instead of the python or equivalent. I am not sure how to use the canister for this, I would guess you would just run it like normal but swap out your return line with a long hose that goes from the canister to your sink/drain.

I fill my tanks directly from the sink with the python as well. I add my dechlorinator directly to the tank right when the water starts coming in, and I add an amount corresponding to the entire tank volume, not just the amount of new water coming in. I.e. for a 50% water change on 100 gallons, I add Prime for 100 gallons, not just for the 50 gallons of the new water. Unless you are using RO water or adding anything special, this should work just fine. I temperature match the water just by hand and am usually within 1-2 degrees of the tank, have never had an issue doing it this way, including on shrimp tanks.

Finding a way that works for you to do water changes without buckets is really important for tanks this size in my opinion. Makes your maintenance a breeze vs a chore.
 
  • Thread Starter
Mistacliff
Member
Do you gravel vac the whole tank each week? I’m going to be new to the canister filter as well, do you clean the sponges in the canister each week? Or clean the sponge filters that will be in the tank each week?
I will do a water change each week but I’m just wondering if you do some of these other things every other week or once a month or whatever.
 
loganblack
Member
Always had this question on my mind. I have a 55 gallon so I use 5 gallon buckets for my water changes. Maybe I'll look into how to use water directly from my tap. :-D
 
  • Thread Starter
Mistacliff
Member
I started this hobby by following the advice of the amazing employees of petsmart so I have always been using top fin brand water conditioner and bacteria starter. What should I be using and adding to the water/tank during water changes?
 
SotaAquatics
Member
Mistacliff said:
Do you gravel vac the whole tank each week? I’m going to be new to the canister filter as well, do you clean the sponges in the canister each week? Or clean the sponge filters that will be in the tank each week?
I will do a water change each week but I’m just wondering if you do some of these other things every other week or once a month or whatever.
This is really going to come down to the method you decide on. I gravel vac when I water change as the python is basically a long siphon that hooks to a sink, you can suck up waste with it, if you were to use a canister/pump for water changes the gravel vac would be a separate task. Depending how heavily planted your tank is, how much you feed and how fast waste builds up, gravel vacs could be needed weekly or not at all, really will just depend on how much waste builds up. I do it weekly because I am notorious at overfeeding... and because I can do it same time as I water change.

I think rough rule for a canister filter is once per month but again, will depend on how you set it up. If you have a sponge pre-filter on your intake, you might only need to clean the canister every 3 months and then just rinse the pre-filter sponge weekly while you do the water change. I let my sponge filters go a lot longer then a week in between cleaning, but they do get nasty, weekly is probably ideal if you are up to it.

https://www.amazon.com/25-Foot-Python-Aquarium-Maintenance/dp/B000255NXC - a link for the python just so you can see it, they have their own website you can order from as well, I am not sure where to get the cheapest one, or if there are equivalent products/DIY options. But honestly, this has changed my life for my fish room. There is no way I would be running multiple tanks without this.
Mistacliff said:
I started this hobby by following the advice of the amazing employees of petsmart so I have always been using top fin brand water conditioner and bacteria starter. What should I be using and adding to the water/tank during water changes?
You don't need to add bacteria starter with every water change once your tank is cycled. As for a water conditioner, Seachem Prime, I love it and I think its probably the most recommended and highly rated. There is also Seachem Safe, which is a powdered form of Prime. It is the most economical and what I use in my fish room, a 10 dollar container of it will treat around 60,000 gallons or so?
 
Cherryshrimp420
Member
Having a large water reservoir helps a lot, as well as a pump with long enough tubing to pump water into your tank.
 
seem
Member
Buy a 5000 litre per hour aquarium pump, they are not that big. A pond pump would be too big to pump that amount. Get some 25mm anti kink hosing and couple of jubilee clips to attach to pump. It will empty 90% of your tank in 15-20 mins. To fill place pump in big container(s) or 2 to 3 baths bath already treated with Prime dechlorinator.
 
Dunk2
Member
Mistacliff said:
I’m new to this large of a tank and I’m still working on getting everything to get it set up. I plan to get a canister filter and maybe one or two sponge filters. I saw someone had replied to one post that they connect a hose to the faucet for refilling the tank, which sounds a lot nicer than filling buckets, but what about water treatments? In my previous 65 gallon tanks I’ve always added water conditioner and bacteria starter to the buckets. I always figure that makes sure that it is mixed in properly and then I also know how much to put in.
I’ve also seen people mention there is a way to have the canister filter be like the pump for doing a water change. Do I need to be doing a gravel vac across the entire tank each week?
Also I am not quite ready to stock the tank with fish and won’t be for 6-8 weeks. If I were to fill the tank with water and have it cycling with no fish would I still need to do water changes? Or can I let it sit there cycling and pay no attention to it?
The Python is a must have IMO, especially for larger tanks.

I‘ve been using a Python for about 2 years on a 75, 32.5 and 15 gallon. After I remove the old tank water, I dose Prime to the water remaining in the tank based on the entire volume of the tank, not based on the amount of water being changed. Then fill ‘em up.
 
seem
Member
The Python is overated. It not very good as a gravel cleaner. The tubing kinks above the vacuum tube so when you vacuum the substrate the tubing folds over blocking the vacuum.They didn't use anti kink coil. It uses far too much water from your tap emptying the tank, far better to use a submersible pump.
 
Dechi
Member
seem said:
The tubing kinks above the vacuum tube so when you vacuum the substrate the tubing folds over blocking the vacuum
It depends on how you store it. My 15 year old Python has no kinks and nothing is blocking the vacuum.

seem said:
It uses far too much water from your tap emptying the tank, far better to use a submersible pump.
If you leave the tap running while emptying, sure. But you’re supposed to turn it off as soon as the suction has taken. I can’t imagine why it would be using too much tap water if you do it right.
 
Dunk2
Member
seem said:
The Python is overated. It not very good as a gravel cleaner. The tubing kinks above the vacuum tube so when you vacuum the substrate the tubing folds over blocking the vacuum.They didn't use anti kink coil. It uses far too much water from your tap emptying the tank, far better to use a submersible pump.
In 2 years, I've never had either of those problems.
 
RonP
Member
I use a small pump and hose as well.
I have a 50 gallon plastic container which I fill with water conditioned with Prime. The container is filled by pump from kitchen sink.. Water is left up to a week in the container, which has its own filter and heater.. Water changes are pumped from container to my 6 tanks. Used tank water is pumped outside onto flower gardens.
 
lojack
Member
It sounds like you got a lot of good ideas already.

If you don’t want to buy an actual python, I just bought about 50’ of acrylic hose (your length will vary) from Home Depot and attached it to the gravel vac I already had. Super cheap compared. Been using it for over ten years like that. I get the siphon started (like a shorter gravel vac, not attached to faucet) and let it water my trees/lawn.

The suction for that length of hose is fine for gravel vacuuming. I have a heavily planted tank and only do it once a month or so along with once a month canister filter cleaning. You’ll have to run the setup awhile to see when you’ll need to do these things. One person’s maintenance routine doesn’t fit all tanks.

Like others said, I add dechlorinator directly to the tank based on entire tank volume. Been doing it this way since I was a kid (decades) but YMMV. Filling it up I used to attach it to a faucet in our guest bathroom but we recently remodeled it so I was back to using weekly buckets. Thankfully it’s warming up so I was able to just hook it up to the hose spigot again. At least I have some time to figure out how to get some temp regulated water for the colder months without buckets lol.
 

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