Would Only Water Top Offs Do!?

danelch

Member
Hey everyone. I have this newly cycled 87 gallon tank with an internal filter( 3000 L/hr ) and a sponge filter in there

There's like 15 small plants of Amazon sword, 3 small anubias, a log (8 " long) of java moss, 5 bunches if cabomba and 3 stems of pothos plants in there
(plants covering ~ 40 % bottom area)

I've got 9 guppies in there currently

Now my question is : if I continue to stock my tank with more fish GRADUALLY, would it be possible to do just water top offs once every few days or maybe do a 10% water change per week without having water quality issues ?

I plan to stock it with :

A school of 8-10 neon tetras
3-4 angelfish
4-5 GBR
1 betta
A school of 8-10 of some other small tetras
3 bristlenose plecos

P.s : there's a ton of MTS and bladder snails in there already

Thanks
 

leftswerve

Member
No, you'll need to test. Water top offs only cover evaporation, nothing more. 10% pwc would be very very very very very hard to pull off. Next to impossible for the standard home aquarist.
Good luck
 

MaddieTaylah

Member
Water that evaporates still leaves all of the waste behind, so if the water is then topped up it doesn't mean the concentration of waste has decreased at all.
 

Nauthes

Member
I believe you mentioned all those plants as you think it will be removing excess nitrates from your water.
Allowing you to only need to top off the tank water.

But as coradee said.
Water changes aren't just about removing nitrates.

With a water change you are adding nutrients back, reducing nitrates, vacuuming the substrate of any left over food/waste and also oxygenating the water quite a bit.

There is no replacement for water changes. If there was aquarists would have found it by now.
 

adh/smile

Member
danelch said:
I plan to stock it with :

A school of 8-10 neon tetras
3-4 angelfish
4-5 GBR
1 betta
A school of 8-10 of some other small tetras
3 bristlenose plecos

P.s : there's a ton of MTS and bladder snails in there already
I see a small stocking error in your plan if you would like to discuss it.
You should definitely do water changes because, as the others have said, topping off the water only covers water evaporation loss but doesn't get rid of the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. It should be easier for you though with that 87 gallon tank because it is so big and has two filters. You should be able to get away with a water change about once every month or 3 weeks. You can watch your water parameters constantly for the first several months (AFTER YOUR STOCKING IS COMPLETE) and then change the water whenever you see something getting too high. *That is just my opinion, I have a relative with a 50 gallon tank and it gets cleaned once a month and everything in the tank is fine. So you might be able to go more than a month.****
In my 10 gallon tank, I clean it every week just because my 3 guppies produce so much waste it drives me crazy seeing it on the top of the sand but my water parameters are normal in a week. I was gone 2 weeks once and when I came back the nitrates were around 10 so I had to clean it.
Hope this helps!!!
 

purslanegarden

Member
I would recommend that you do water changes. However, that doesn't mean there are no people that have only done top-offs for a long period of time, and their tank seems to be still running OK. Fish will get used to the environment, until it begins to make them sick or kill them. Depending on the load, that could be a short few months or even a year or two, or more, before seeing that effect. They also see the effects of it when they add new fish (after a long time) and wonder why the new fish isn't doing well, or might have even died. It's because it was thrown into an environment that is really high in all those wastes and nitrates. It didn't get used to living in it, like the current inhabitants.
 

BottomDweller

Member
When water evaporates only the clean water leaves so all the bad stuff is still in the so you still have to do water changes.

You have some stocking issues if you'd like to discuss them
 
  • Thread Starter

danelch

Member
Coradee said:
Hi, water changes aren't just about topping up the level of the tank up, they remove excess nitrates & waste & replenish minerals used up by the plants & fish, this thread may be of interest
Please! Keep UP With Water Changes For Your Fish!
Hey
Umm wouldn't the plants be removing the nitrates? Do I not have enough plants for that?

As far as mineral replenishing is concerned, my tank is dirted PLUS it has root tabs with almost every amazon sword in there. so do I need to be concerned about mineral replenishing? At least in the near future?
 

BuddyD

Member
I wouldn't put a betta in with guppies. I don't know about the others.
 

RedLoredAmazon

Member
danelch said:
Hey
Umm wouldn't the plants be removing the nitrates? Do I not have enough plants for that?

As far as mineral replenishing is concerned, my tank is dirted PLUS it has root tabs with almost every amazon sword in there. so do I need to be concerned about mineral replenishing? At least in the near future?
Plants help with the nitrates, I wouldn't count on them solely to remove them. It's not just the plants that need the minerals, it's the fish too. I really can't think of any ways to compare it to without being TOTALLY disgusting. I guess it would be like never cleaning your home; dirt and filth would still accumulate and that would set yourself up for disease and illness. It's not quite the same, but for fish it is. They need their home cleaned by vacuuming out the poop and uneaten food and then adding new fresh water for them to "breath". Hopefully this makes sense and I'm not totally rambling!
 

BottomDweller

Member
danelch said:
Hey
Umm wouldn't the plants be removing the nitrates? Do I not have enough plants for that?

As far as mineral replenishing is concerned, my tank is dirted PLUS it has root tabs with almost every amazon sword in there. so do I need to be concerned about mineral replenishing? At least in the near future?
The plants would help a bit but they can't remove solid waste. They probably won't remove all nitrates.

I don't think dirt and root tabs add the minerals into the water that the fish need. Also the Ph slowly drops in tanks so you need to do water changes to keep the Ph up.
 
  • Thread Starter

danelch

Member
Nauthes said:
I believe you mentioned all those plants as you think it will be removing excess nitrates from your water.
Allowing you to only need to top off the tank water.

But as coradee said.
Water changes aren't just about removing nitrates.

With a water change you are adding nutrients back, reducing nitrates, vacuuming the substrate of any left over food/waste and also oxygenating the water quite a bit.

There is no replacement for water changes. If there was aquarists would have found it by now.
Please see what I replied to Coradee ^

adh/smile said:
I see a small stocking error in your plan if you would like to discuss it.
You should definitely do water changes because, as the others have said, topping off the water only covers water evaporation loss but doesn't get rid of the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. It should be easier for you though with that 87 gallon tank because it is so big and has two filters. You should be able to get away with a water change about once every month or 3 weeks. You can watch your water parameters constantly for the first several months (AFTER YOUR STOCKING IS COMPLETE) and then change the water whenever you see something getting too high. *That is just my opinion, I have a relative with a 50 gallon tank and it gets cleaned once a month and everything in the tank is fine. So you might be able to go more than a month.****
In my 10 gallon tank, I clean it every week just because my 3 guppies produce so much waste it drives me crazy seeing it on the top of the sand but my water parameters are normal in a week. I was gone 2 weeks once and when I came back the nitrates were around 10 so I had to clean it.
Hope this helps!!!
Sure I'd love to know about my stocking issues if you think I might have some. I'm all ears. Waiting.

And umm you think I'd be able to do fine if I do like a 50% water change once a month with the type of stocking options I mentioned ^ ?

purslanegarden said:
I would recommend that you do water changes. However, that doesn't mean there are no people that have only done top-offs for a long period of time, and their tank seems to be still running OK. Fish will get used to the environment, until it begins to make them sick or kill them. Depending on the load, that could be a short few months or even a year or two, or more, before seeing that effect. They also see the effects of it when they add new fish (after a long time) and wonder why the new fish isn't doing well, or might have even died. It's because it was thrown into an environment that is really high in all those wastes and nitrates. It didn't get used to living in it, like the current inhabitants.
Like I asked adh/smile above, you think a 50% water change a month would be sufficient for my kinda stock that I mentioned above? ?

BottomDweller said:
When water evaporates only the clean water leaves so all the bad stuff is still in the so you still have to do water changes.

You have some stocking issues if you'd like to discuss them
Sure I'd love to know what issues I might have with the type of stock I've planned. I'm listening. Please do tell.

BuddyD said:
I wouldn't put a betta in with guppies. I don't know about the others.
Umm I think people do put them together in smaller tanks.. no?
 

BottomDweller

Member
The neon tetras and BN need cooler water than the rest of your stock. You could swap them for cardinal tetras and clown plecos though. Do 2 angelfish or 4, with 3 two will likely pair up and bully the other to death.
 
  • Thread Starter

danelch

Member
RedLoredAmazon said:
Plants help with the nitrates, I wouldn't count on them solely to remove them. It's not just the plants that need the minerals, it's the fish too. I really can't think of any ways to compare it to without being TOTALLY disgusting. I guess it would be like never cleaning your home; dirt and filth would still accumulate and that would set yourself up for disease and illness. It's not quite the same, but for fish it is. They need their home cleaned by vacuuming out the poop and uneaten food and then adding new fresh water for them to "breath". Hopefully this makes sense and I'm not totally rambling!
50% water change a month for my kinda stock ( I mentioned it ^ ), would it work? You think?
 

BottomDweller

Member
I would be doing 30-40% a week. Smaller amounts more often are much better than a large amount less often. 20-30% twice a week would be even better.
 

RedLoredAmazon

Member
danelch said:
50% water change a month for my kinda stock ( I mentioned it ^ ), would it work? You think?
I don't know if it would or not since I am still new at this. For me, I find it pretty easy to do 30-40% every week (I have a 54 g). My fish, snails, and shrimp poop a lot! I would just err on the side of caution and just do a water change every week. Out of curiosity, why do you not want to do weekly water changes? I know it takes some time to do a water change, but it is worth it!
 
  • Thread Starter

danelch

Member
RedLoredAmazon said:
I don't know if it would or not since I am still new at this. For me, I find it pretty easy to do 30-40% every week (I have a 54 g). My fish, snails, and shrimp poop a lot! I would just err on the side of caution and just do a water change every week. Out of curiosity, why do you not want to do weekly water changes? I know it takes some time to do a water change, but it is worth it!
I'm thinking maybe I should do a 20 % water change a week. Hopefully that'll help me stay on the safe side with ease..

haha and why am I not willing to spend a lot of time doing water changes? Cuz I'm a fourth year medical student. And idk if you know, but medicine is like your wife, requires a whole lot of attention and time and whatnot lol

No disrespect meant to any wives out there
P.s I'm not married myself lol
 

RedLoredAmazon

Member
danelch said:
I'm thinking maybe I should do a 20 % water change a week. Hopefully that'll help me stay on the safe side with ease..

haha and why am I not willing to spend a lot of time doing water changes? Cuz I'm a fourth year medical student. And idk if you know, but medicine is like your wife, requires a whole lot of attention and time and whatnot lol
Ah ha! It all make sense now! I figured there was a reason why you only wanted to do less water changes. School is hard and caring for something living at the same time is incredibly taxing. Do you have a python or some sort of gravel vacuum? If not, do buy a python! I love mine, it only takes me 30 minutes to do a 30-40% water change. If I do a bunch of maintenance like trimming plants and servicing the canister filter, then that takes a long time: 1-2 hours.

I will say if you find it too much to care for your fish and your schooling, nobody will think less of you if you rehome your fish. Sometimes it is better to keep your life as simple and low maintenance during school. You'll have more time after school is done...but I know that takes awhile for medical school!

danelch said:
No disrespect meant to any wives out there
P.s I'm not married myself lol
None taken! Since I am a wife, I would say most wives don't demand a ton of attention and time. I'm pretty low maintenance! Just a bit of advice, if you find one of those "high" maintenance people and want to get serious with them; just run! It won't get any better in the long term! Sorry, I couldn't help myself had to give my two cents on that!
 

el337

Member
BottomDweller said:
I would be doing 30-40% a week. Smaller amounts more often are much better than a large amount less often. 20-30% twice a week would be even better.
I don't agree that frequent smaller water changes are better. If you had nitrates of 80ppm, that 20-30% isn't even going to bring them down by half. Then when you do another 20% in a couple of days, you're also removing the new water you just added.

A larger water change at one time is more effective. I do at least 60-70% once a week and haven't had any issues. I do agree though that changes once a month is definitely not enough.
 

BottomDweller

Member
el337 said:
I don't agree that frequent smaller water changes are better. If you had nitrates of 80ppm, that 20-30% isn't even going to bring them down by half. Then when you do another 20% in a couple of days, you're also removing the new water you just added.

A larger water change at one time is more effective. I do at least 60-70% once a week and haven't had any issues. I do agree though that changes once a month is definitely not enough.
Ok that makes sense. I feel though that changing a large amount of water increases the chance that fish may be shocked by it though if that makes sense. So for example if the water you added was a few degrees cooler than the tank water but you only changed 30% the tank might only drop one or two degrees but if you changed 70% it would change more. Sorry if that doesn't make sense. Also if you're leaving a bigger gap between them more nitrates can build up higher then drop suddenly when you do a water change but if you do smaller changes more frequently the tank is more stable.
 

el337

Member
Larger water changes of 50% or more are completely safe as long as you match the temp of the new water within 5 degrees. You'd also want to make sure your pH of the tap vs tank is within .5 as well. I'd been doing 60% water changes weekly for two years now and my fish are no more stressed than if I did a smaller %. I feel the more toxins and waste I can remove and replace with fresh water, the better off my fish are. I've not had any illnesses and deaths (other than due to age) in my tank so I'd like to think my larger weekly changes have something to do with that.

A lot of the benefits of larger frequent water changes are explained in that link Coradee provided like prevention of old tank syndrome.

And Nitrates will actually build up a lot more quickly with smaller changes because again you're only removing just a small % of waste at a time and then removing the newer water soon after with another small change.
 

Discusluv

Member
I would have to agree with this... I change 50-75% every other day with my young discus. When they are adults- I change 50% twice weekly. Not saying most fish need this frequency of water changes, I have another mixed freshwater tank that I change 75% weekly. I haven't had any illness in this tank since I set it up three years ago.
 
  • Thread Starter

danelch

Member
RedLoredAmazon said:
Ah ha! It all make sense now! I figured there was a reason why you only wanted to do less water changes. School is hard and caring for something living at the same time is incredibly taxing. Do you have a python or some sort of gravel vacuum? If not, do buy a python! I love mine, it only takes me 30 minutes to do a 30-40% water change. If I do a bunch of maintenance like trimming plants and servicing the canister filter, then that takes a long time: 1-2 hours.

I will say if you find it too much to care for your fish and your schooling, nobody will think less of you if you rehome your fish. Sometimes it is better to keep your life as simple and low maintenance during school. You'll have more time after school is done...but I know that takes awhile for medical school!



None taken! Since I am a wife, I would say most wives don't demand a ton of attention and time. I'm pretty low maintenance! Just a bit of advice, if you find one of those "high" maintenance people and want to get serious with them; just run! It won't get any better in the long term! Sorry, I couldn't help myself had to give my two cents on that!
Hahahah
You're cool cuz 1) you like fish and 2) cuz you're "low maintenance" lol
Lucky guy, your husband. Hope you guys stay happy My ex-gf was pretty low maintenance. She wasn't into fish or other animals, but she was still pretty cool. We had to umm stop seeing each other cuz we were going to school in different places and we knew a long term relationship was way too difficult to carry out. And thanks for the advice, I'd try to steer away from the "high maintenance" types lol

About water changes now,lol, umm I have a diy syphon which works pretty fast at draining the water. I should maybe get a small water motor pump or something to refill the tank from a large bucket (the water source is too far away to get water from a pipe :/ )
And I'll try to do ~20-30 % water changes every 2 weeks and that'll hopefully work for me

Tbh, the only reason I don't have a discus grow-out tank at my place rn is cuz maybe I wouldn't be able to give it the time it needs
I'll figure out a cool time schedule soon though hopefully for my tanks
 

NavigatorBlack

Member
I have tanks so thickly planted you can't move a net through, and very lightly stocked. I do 20-25% weekly.
First off, all minerals aren't in roots tabs.
Secondly, the cycle is a gross oversimplification. Inexperienced aquarists talk like it's all that happens in water, but it is only what the little kits let you read. Fish also release a lot of hormones into the water, for communication, etc, and build ups can have effects. Depending on your buffers, water can change pH, and move far from the eventual water change water. You want to keep the tap and tank reasonably close, and there is a lot more in tanks than nitrite, nitrate and ammonia.
A water change doesn't take a lot more time than a top up. 10 more minutes a week.
If you buy a hose type water changer - it takes me 20 minutes to do a 120, while I work beside it at my computer.
 

vikingkirken

Member
Just for fun, you can look up natural planted tanks (NPTs), aka Walstad tanks. Diana Walstad has laid out ways to do a tank that is heavily planted, lightly stocked, and requires few to any water changes. But it really is heavily planted and lightly stocked, and honestly I have yet to see one that's very aesthetically pleasing, unless you like a very wild jungle look.

For your needs, I'd suggest cutting down on your stock so you can get away with fewer water changes. I know not everyone here will agree... but I think you can get away with 40-50% every two weeks if your stock is light enough and you have a good plant load. Also look into floating plants, plus aglaonema (Chinese evergreen) and pothos in your filter. Those will remove a lot of things from the water, including nitrates.

Why not just do the guppies, one angelfish, a pair of blue rams, a school of tetras, and a single small pleco? It would still be an enjoyable tank for you, and more forgiving during exam time.
 

leftswerve

Member
vikingkirken said:
Just for fun, you can look up natural planted tanks (NPTs), aka Walstad tanks. Diana Walstad has laid out ways to do a tank that is heavily planted, lightly stocked, and requires few to any water changes. But it really is heavily planted and lightly stocked, and honestly I have yet to see one that's very aesthetically pleasing, unless you like a very wild jungle look.

For your needs, I'd suggest cutting down on your stock so you can get away with fewer water changes. I know not everyone here will agree... but I think you can get away with 40-50% every two weeks if your stock is light enough and you have a good plant load. Also look into floating plants, plus aglaonema (Chinese evergreen) and pothos in your filter. Those will remove a lot of things from the water, including nitrates.

Why not just do the guppies, one angelfish, a pair of blue rams, a school of tetras, and a single small pleco? It would still be an enjoyable tank for you, and more forgiving during exam time.
IMO feeding is or will become the more relevant issue. Home aquarists tend to overfeed causing more problems than anything else.
 

Marbilus

Member
For those of you that have dirty bottoms, try putting in a small goldfish, they do an amazing job. I know some of you will say , but they are cold water fish. They do just fine in temps of 75-80 degrees.
I have one in every one of my tanks(7). Except my angelfish breeding tank.
 

bizaliz3

Member
Marbilus said:
For those of you that have dirty bottoms, try putting in a small goldfish, they do an amazing job. I know some of you will say , but they are cold water fish. They do just fine in temps of 75-80 degrees.
I have one in every one of my tanks(7). Except my angelfish breeding tank.
Is this a joke???

Not only is temp an issue....but there is no such thing as a small goldfish! They are also incredibly messy....which negates any kind of food clean up it may have done.

Using a goldfish as a bottom cleaning fish in a tropical tank (or any tank for that matter) has to be one of the silliest things I've ever read on here! You must be kidding....right?
 

adh/smile

Member
I think since your tank is so large with what seems like a good filter system you can get away with water top-offs whenever the water evaporation level gets low. Your plants will help somewhat with the water parameters but not a whole lot. You should test your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels once or twice a week to make sure any of them haven't risen to a harmful level for your fish and then do a water change when the parameters get on the high side.

I think your stalking is fine... except for the betta. It isn't impossible that a betta can go with all of the fish you want in your stalking but there is a very high chance that it won't work out. I suggest that you stock all of the other fish (not the betta) and see how they all react with each other. After doing that, if you still want to have a betta, buy one that is calm. You can tell a betta is calm by how it reacts to the other bettas around it. If you buy a selected betta and add him or her to your main tank make sure you have an extra tank ready so if the betta gets violent to the other fish, or the other fish nip the beta's fins, you can get him out of there for his safety and the other fish's.

Hope this helps!!!!
 
  • Thread Starter

danelch

Member
Marbilus said:
For those of you that have dirty bottoms, try putting in a small goldfish, they do an amazing job. I know some of you will say , but they are cold water fish. They do just fine in temps of 75-80 degrees.
I have one in every one of my tanks(7). Except my angelfish breeding tank.
No offence but I really have to agree with bizaliz3
I mean besides temperature requirements and goldfish being messy eaters, they're also gonna make a snack of my plants , no ?

Good for you if it's somehow working for you but I'm not umm 'adventurous' enough to follow your plan atm

adh/smile said:
I think since your tank is so large with what seems like a good filter system you can get away with water top-offs whenever the water evaporation level gets low. Your plants will help somewhat with the water parameters but not a whole lot. You should test your ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels once or twice a week to make sure any of them haven't risen to a harmful level for your fish and then do a water change when the parameters get on the high side.

I think your stalking is fine... except for the betta. It isn't impossible that a betta can go with all of the fish you want in your stalking but there is a very high chance that it won't work out. I suggest that you stock all of the other fish (not the betta) and see how they all react with each other. After doing that, if you still want to have a betta, buy one that is calm. You can tell a betta is calm by how it reacts to the other bettas around it. If you buy a selected betta and add him or her to your main tank make sure you have an extra tank ready so if the betta gets violent to the other fish, or the other fish nip the beta's fins, you can get him out of there for his safety and the other fish's.

Hope this helps!!!!
I really hope my stocking works out just fine and as far as a betta is concerned, I'll have to put one in and observe for the initial period I guess
 

MaddieTaylah

Member
danelch said:
I really hope my stocking works out just fine and as far as a betta is concerned, I'll have to put one in and observe for the initial period I guess
I think adding GBR's, angelfish & a betta in one tank is very risky & I can't personally see it working.

Make sure you have a back up tank for that betta if you decide to try this.
 

allllien

Member
I do a large water change only every month or so, sometimes longer (cleaning out the filter in the removed tank water when I do). I keep zeolite and carbon in my filter though which helps greatly if you want to do water changes less often, just remember to replace it with fresh stuff when cleaning out the filter (only rinse out the sponge or other media in tank water, never under the tap). I also have live plants and don't ever vacuum or stir up the gravel. I think large water changes are probably the way to go if you're doing it less often, or smaller changes more often. I remove all the water except for about an inch or so above the gravel, just enough for the fish to stay in there, this works well for me but not everyone, and also depends on what fish you have or plan on getting.
 

Thunder_o_b

Member
I will admit to not reading all the answers.

Water changes are very important if you are not using Remineralized RO/DI water in well planted tanks.

The reason is that well and city water have trace elements of lead, arsenic, and heavy metals that will build up in the water as they do not evaporate out.

I do not do water changes at the rate of others because I use remineralized RO/DI water in well planted tanks, and keep a close eye on the water readings through testing the water often.

But if you are using city or well water do the weekly water changes.

And depending on the quality of water you may need to do them more than once a week. You can find out the exact analysis of the water by contacting the city water authority.
 

adh/smile

Member
danelch said:
I really hope my stocking works out just fine and as far as a betta is concerned, I'll have to put one in and observe for the initial period I guess
Here's the thing. It completely depends on your bettas "personality". I know that some people say that fish are such simple minded creatures that they don't feel anything and they don't have personalities. I thought that myself when I began fish keeping several years ago. I've owned 5 bettas since then and each one as had a different "personality". They have each had a different level of aggressiveness and different levels of attention toward me when I walked near the tank. Though they might not have the sophisticated level of "personality" we think of as "personality", they have a fishy-level of diversity that seems like a basic "personality. Sorry if I'm being to long and not very explanatory, my meaning is, it really depends on you betta. I say go for it. Make sure your tank has A TON of hiding places either for your betta to hide from other fish, or visa versa. Definitely have a running spare tank on hand just in case things don't work out. I really hope this helps, I wish you the best of luck!!!
 

BottomDweller

Member
Marbilus said:
For those of you that have dirty bottoms, try putting in a small goldfish, they do an amazing job. I know some of you will say , but they are cold water fish. They do just fine in temps of 75-80 degrees.
I have one in every one of my tanks(7). Except my angelfish breeding tank.
Seriously?
What sort of goldfish is small? I can't think of any that will definitely stay below 10 inches in a decent sized tank.
They do an amazing job at what exactly? Pooping? These guys have a huge bioload and will in no way help clean up.
They will not do just fine at 75-80f, I wouldn't keep them over 68f permanently. Aside from health issues warmer water will speed up their metabolism and make them eat more and make even more waste.
Goldfoish are social so you shouldn't keep one alone.
Apart from all these issues you'd be lucky if a goldfish got along with the types of fish without any aggression.
 

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