Less water changes?

0morrokh
  • #1
I'm in a hurry, but in a nutshell if you have a big tank that is densely planted and quite a bit understocked with fish, could you get away with less water changes? Maybe test the water weekly and do a change once the nitrates start getting up to a certain level?
 
Gunnie
  • #2
You could, but you have to keep in mind that there are other pollutants in the water besides just the nitrates. Even if the nitrates stay within range with fewer water changes, you could still have what they call "old tank syndrome" which is basically where these othertoxins build up in your tank and your ph gradually drops until it just crashes and could kill all of your fish.
 
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0morrokh
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
Oh ok that's good to know...
But, do you think it would be ok to do changes only every other week, or maybe only very small changes? It would take a while to explain exactly why I'm asking this, but let's say the tank is 30-50 gallons, well-planted, and only had a shoal of Neons, say 10 of them for 30 gallons, a few more for 50. I just figure in such an understocked tank the toxins would take a lot longer to build up, but be honest if you don't think less than weekly water changes no matter what is a good idea.
 
Butterfly
  • #4
Yes in a large, well planted tank, under stocked tank you could do water changes less often. Say every other week instead of weekly. But I wouldn't want to go longer than that, and not all the time. As well as pollutants that need removing there are things that need to be replaced with water changes.
Carol
 
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0morrokh
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Yes, I wouldn't want to go more than two weeks. I'm scheming a plan to get more fish...long story to explain it though. Thanks for the help.
 
Gunnie
  • #6
Yep. Sometimes I get lazy and don't do my weekly water changes, and my fish are just fine.
 
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Isabella
  • #7
Omorrokh, I know you're in a hurry now. But if you ever have the time, please read "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium: A Practical Manual and Scientific Treatise for the Home Aquarist" by Diana L. Walstad. I think the author talks about something precisely that you have in mind. You won't regret having read this book if you are seriously thinking about having larger heavily planted tank, and without CO2 injections. I think I will use this book to set up my future heavily planted tank. The book is not expensive either - a new one on Amazon.com is around $20; if you'd like a used one, I'm sure you could find it much cheaper, also on Amazon.com.

I agree with Carol and Gunnie that there may be chemicals other than nitrate accumulating in the water over time without frequent water changes. However, thanks to the book above, I also have a little different opinion now. The book explains how having a very heavily planted tank actually eliminates the need for frequent water changes. Provided that you have appropriate rooting medium (soil at best) and A LOT of plants, you may not need so many water changes at all. This is because plants "filter" the water in a way. Plants actually do consume not only ammonia and nitrite (and nitrate to a lesser degree) but also a lot of toxic chemicals and heavy metals that accumulate in water over time. Plants also use fish wastes and uneaten fish food! They also keep your pH stable. So if you have a very heavily planted tank, with good lighting, the plants will remove all toxic chemicals from the water and thus eliminate the need for frequent water changes. Also, if you do too many water changes in a heavily planted tank, you may be removing nutrients from the water that are plants' food. Such a tank may create an ideal self-sufficient aquatic environment. This is not to say that you wouldn't have to do any water changes, but you would definitely have less water changes. Well ... just read the book, and you'll see what I mean
 
ncje
  • #8
I completely agree with Isabella. Heavily planted with just a few fish would certainly allow you to drop your water changes a lot. Ive always been the type of person that likes to keep the substrate to a minimum, so now I am using plants that are potted in small tubs or attached to wood. I have 16 separate plants in my tank like this all healthy.

I would recommend 30% of your tank every fortnight. But you have to watch how you set up. You can't allow for anerobic dead spots etc. So a book is a good idea. As I said I move mine around and totally clean the little substrate I have once a week (the beauty of one tank is the level I can maintain it).
 
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Gunnie
  • #9
Sounds like a very cool book Isabella! You might get it cheaper on overstock.com. Shipping is only $1.40 I think.
 
MaryPa
  • #10
My 55 is very heavily planted,well whatever plants the cories leave rooted. ;D I do about 15% water changes every 3 weeks and just skI'm over the substrate once in awhile. My tank has quite a few fish in it tho so maybe you can get away with just every 3 weeks or so with fewer fish. The only tragedy's I have are old fish dieing off. All my other tanks get 25-30 water changes weekly.
 
Butterfly
  • #11
HI Mary
Mary does that one have soil in it like the Diana L. Walstad book talks about? If so how easy is it to take care of?
Carol
 
MaryPa
  • #12
No Carol it has a little over an inch of sand with Eco-complete on top.
 
Butterfly
  • #13
Somebody has a tank set up a la walstad and I can't remember who... hummmm....
Carol
 
Isabella
  • #14
Carol, the book describes how a soil bottom is free of hassle (no need of deep gravel vac. or even stirring). Soil is the best natural medium for ANY plants on Earth. After all - plants grow from soil, lol. Once the plants get established well in the soil and their roots are spread all over the bottom, they sort of "stir" the gravel themselves by producing gases that need to get out somehow - this creates movement within the soil and thus eliminating dangerous toxic pockets. The roots of plants also consume these toxic gases should they accumulate under the soil. However, I can't remember if the author said whether it's necessary to stir that soil or not. But I think not (well, I'd have to read the book again)  - which is what makes the maintenance of such a tank very easy and hassle-free. The only condition is that it is so densely planted that the bottom is completely filled with roots which will prevent toxic gases from, forming and the leaves will consume all nutrients from the water thereby eliminating all toxic chemicals and metals. Like I said - a sort of "self-sufficient" environment, IF created correctly. No need for CO2 injections either. I believe this woman because she has and had many tanks set up this way and they're all successful and all fish are healthy there. The woman herself is a scientist so she must know what she's talking about. She has done a lot of research and experiments to support her book.
 
Butterfly
  • #15
Everytime this comes up it sounds so interesting! I may just have to try it someday
Carol
 
Isabella
  • #16
I am definitely going to set up a tank "A LA WALSTAD" one day, lol
 
2211Nighthawk
  • #17
its been asked before, but now I have over 100g's worth of tanks and now it actally effects me.

Is there anyway to reduce the amount of water changes you have to do? Assume best case scenario. (I'm not at that point yet ) basically, landlords/parents have brought up the water bill issue again and weekly 50% water changes add up after a while.
 
FishFish221
  • #18
Dig a well?
 
2211Nighthawk
  • #19
Dig a well?
Ha! Aside from digging my own lake. I'll bounce it off them, see what they say. Heehee...
 
vikingkirken
  • #20
Stock lightly, plant heavily. Particularly fast-growing stems and floating/emersed plants.

I don't change 50% a week, more like 25-30%. That has been sufficient so far for me.
 
RedLoredAmazon
  • #21
Conserve your other water usage. I figured my 40% weekly water change in my 54 equals a long shower or an extra load of laundry. I've combined my two kids dirty clothes into one load so that has been saving me money with the water issue.

On a side note, we did discover that we had slab leak in our hot water line right around the time that I set up my tank. That was the biggest drain on our water!
 
2211Nighthawk
  • #22
Stock lightly, plant heavily. Particularly fast-growing stems and floating/emersed plants.

I don't change 50% a week, more like 25-30%. That has been sufficient so far for me.
Yeah stocking lightly don't work for my big tank... big waste producers in there that would LOVE a nice gourmet salad. Yeesh...

Conserve your other water usage. I figured my 40% weekly water change in my 54 equals a long shower or an extra load of laundry. I've combined my two kids dirty clothes into one load so that has been saving me money with the water issue.

On a side note, we did discover that we had slab leak in our hot water line right around the time that I set up my tank. That was the biggest drain on our water!
OUCH! yeah water leaks suck. That is defiantly one thing that I can cut down on, is my long hot showers.
 
KinsKicks
  • #23
Use terrestrial plants to help out; something like pothos will gladly suck up those nitrates

And +1 for water conservation. Idk if it's possible for you, but I take full showers at the gym/university and do laundry at the laundromat. And I make it even easier by possessing clothes that don't need "special" care. Honestly...my electricity is more of a concern than my water bill lol. I hardly turn on any room lights and rely on tank lights to illuminate
 
2211Nighthawk
  • #24
Use terrestrial plants to help out; something like pothos will gladly suck up those nitrates

And +1 for water conservation. Idk if it's possible for you, but I take full showers at the gym/university and do laundry at the laundromat. And I make it even easier by possessing clothes that don't need "special" care. Honestly...my electricity is more of a concern than my water bill lol. I hardly turn on any room lights and rely on tank lights to illuminate
Biggest issue with plants is that I have two very brave and curious cats that would probably love to chew on plants. Anything sticking out could be eaten. Heck, I wouldent put it past my older cat to scoop plants out of the tank. He's weird...
 
KinsKicks
  • #25
Oh wow...they're gutsy. Probably avoid pothos then, they are toxic to them (although not deadly).

Maybe a part time job; babysitting and dog walking are pretty easy and pay really well hourly lol; its one of my favorite things to do to earn side cash. Then that way you can help pay if they are getting particularly naggy? Lol
 
Fashooga
  • #26
Perhaps look into downgrading a few tanks. Also are you using a python system which you use water to suck the water out of the tank?
 
DirtyEw0k
  • #27
I put lots of plants in mine and I never need to worry about nitrates so my water changes stay small. In fact I need more fish because I feel like there's not enough nitrates for my plants to eat I end up just changing a bit when there's hardly any nitrates just to get some good minerals back into the water. Plants will work wonders for you
 
2211Nighthawk
  • #28
Oh wow...they're gutsy. Probably avoid pothos then, they are toxic to them (although not deadly).

Maybe a part time job; babysitting and dog walking are pretty easy and pay really well hourly lol; its one of my favorite things to do to earn side cash. Then that way you can help pay if they are getting particularly naggy? Lol
My word, yes they are brave... I'm waiting for the kitten to go swimming. It's about 2 inches to the water line and she dosen't have the balance my older cat does. I have thought about a second job, my full time ones ends at 330 so it does give me options.

Perhaps look into downgrading a few tanks. Also are you using a python system which you use water to suck the water out of the tank?
*whimper* but I like my tanks. I think the biggest (literally) issue is my 60g. My other three have a MUCH smaller bioload and I probably could get away with much smaller water changes. Yes I use a python, it makes life SO much easier.

I put lots of plants in mine and I never need to worry about nitrates so my water changes stay small. In fact I need more fish because I feel like there's not enough nitrates for my plants to eat I end up just changing a bit when there's hardly any nitrates just to get some good minerals back into the water. Plants will work wonders for you
I have some moss type stuff (don't know what it is but it's not dead yet) but would love to her plants in at least the 20g. The 15 I have a lot of hard scape on and my betta tank is bare bottom but I could probably do potted stuff. Gotta wait till people start trimming their plants and get some cheap stuff.
 
vikingkirken
  • #29
What's in your 60 gallon, and what type of filtration?

And, why is the betta tank bare bottom...? You could do a Walstad tank for him and pretty much eliminate water changes on that one.
 
2211Nighthawk
  • #30
8" Common gold, 3 dojo's and a small BN pleco. Filter is a fluval 403.
 
Over It
  • #31
Live plants is the absolute best way to be able to cut down on water changes.
Since your Goldie will eat the plants get a breeder box and put them in there. You can always remove some every once in awhile and feed them to your Goldie if they grow to much to fit in the box.
 
2211Nighthawk
  • #32
Live plants is the absolute best way to be able to cut down on water changes.
Since your Goldie will eat the plants get a breeder box and put them in there. You can always remove some every once in awhile and feed them to your Goldie if they grow to much to fit in the box.
Didn't think of that. Might have to try that. I've got one place in the tank the cats can't reach.
 
techfool
  • #33
Plants, floating plants and purigen (I put the purigen 100ml bag in a fluval minI filter) brought my nitrates down from over 40ppm to around 10ppm. When the nitrates go up to 25ppm I change the purigen. The purigen lasts me about two months but I am very heavily stocked.
 
2211Nighthawk
  • #34
Plants, floating plants and purigen (I put the purigen 100ml bag in a fluval minI filter) brought my nitrates down from over 40ppm to around 10ppm. When the nitrates go up to 25ppm I change the purigen. The purigen lasts me about two months but I am very heavily stocked.
So what is purigen? Just a highteck media?
 
Kitma
  • #35
If the python is like the aqueon water change that hooks up to the sink, it's wasting a ton of water. Using buckets to drain and the python to refill could cut your bill.
More trouble yes, but the python (again assuming if like the others I've used) has to have to sink on the entire time your vacing. The water usage for a 50% on a 50 is going to be more than gallons.

We've stopped using ours at work because it sucked and for me because it wasted so much water. I haven't set up mine at home yet.
 
2211Nighthawk
  • #36
If the python is like the aqueon water change that hooks up to the sink, it's wasting a ton of water. Using buckets to drain and the python to refill could cut your bill.
More trouble yes, but the python (again assuming if like the others I've used) has to have to sink on the entire time your vacing. The water usage for a 50% on a 50 is going to be more than gallons.

We've stopped using ours at work because it sucked and for me because it wasted so much water. I haven't set up mine at home yet.
I use the sink tap to start it but then disconnect it and gravity drain it into the tub. It would flood my sink other wise.
 
vikingkirken
  • #37
Why don't you put lids on your tanks...?
 
2211Nighthawk
  • #38
What's in your 60 gallon, and what type of filtration?

And, why is the betta tank bare bottom...? You could do a Walstad tank for him and pretty much eliminate water changes on that one.

Why don't you put lids on your tanks...?

Betta is bare bottom so it's easier to do water changes. I'm hesitant about going all out with plants on it because with my luck I'm gonna buy 60$ worth of plants and they're all gonna die on me. I'd love to get some mature plants but they're hard to get and I don't order online.

I have lids on all my tanks. I have two brave/stupid cats that are way to curious about the fish.
 
Kitma
  • #39
I use the sink tap to start it but then disconnect it and gravity drain it into the tub. It would flood my sink other wise.
Oh, well that works great then!
 
2211Nighthawk
  • #40
Oh, well that works great then!
Yep. love it. I miss my old place, it would drain down into the basement. WOW did that work good. Suction is so much lower when your on the same floor as the tank.
 

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