the beaslbob build - Page 10 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #91 of 189 Old 02-09-2014, 04:01 PM
potassium nitrate sounds great :), ... potassium deficiency :( ... i need to find potassium supplements for my tank.
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post #92 of 189 Old 02-10-2014, 06:19 AM
Hello M__31:
thanks for the explanations I am not sure i completely understand all of the implications but i think it is helpful.
One thing more since plants are so efficient at toxin removal why do so many folks with planted aquarium preform redundant test for the nitrogen cycle when the bio-filter may not even exist. Since there is no nitrate why then change water on a weekly basis.

I guess I was sold a bag of worthless goods when I ordered api test kit for 20 bucks. Normally i donít test for the nitrogen cycle but i thought i would try to emulate TFK methods and here i am informed that i maybe better off just doing things the way i have been!

Since there is a wish list I wish I knew where #75 & #83 are to be found.
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post #93 of 189 Old 02-10-2014, 11:02 AM
Pop, you me, and hundreds of other people ask that same question every day

Beaslbob here is making a statement and proving every day water changes are not always needed
my tank at home as well is proof of that as well

many saltwater tanks and their "live rock" also provides anoxic environments in the live rock to process nitrates into harmless N2 (that can be gassed off)

Deep sand beds (DSB) also provide this action (without plants)

yet, many people are replacing water on a regular basis with regular weekly or monthly maintenance for one single purpose "because they think it has to be done"

and they refer to the nitrogen cycle as their proof.

there are some that recognize that the nitrogen cycle may be resolved with one of the above methods, and they are incorporating those methods in their tank.

these people decide that regular water changes are again required, ... and this time the excuse becomes a buildup of fish hormones that will affect growth rates of fish.

we can't test for hormones.

but we notice that once people recognize nitrates are no longer an issue, and nutrients are likewise being processed by plants and/or algae, and all these things that are in the water column (nutrients) are being utilized by plants and/or algae in a healthy cycle for healthy plants in a balanced nutrient mix for the plants, ...

then there comes an excuse that we can't test for the presence, the absence or an excess buildup of "hormones"

so, it seems, if it's not one thing, it's another, and so long as there's an excuse people will persist in maintaining some excuse or another to continue regular maintenance.


my personal thoughts on fish hormones and the excuse that water changes are needed to keep healthy fish as a buildup of hormones will stunt their growth ...

WTF, really folks ?

does that mean i'm right, no by any means, it does not mean i'm right.

but i have seen fish outgrow their aquarium and show no signs of even slowing down their growth, so (to me) that says fish hormones are a BS excuse.

if your fish are healthy, if your plants are healthy, if whatever you are adding is not building up to toxic levels, if you're not adding anything and things are maintaining healthy levels, ...

well at this point, beaslbob is making an excellent point

changing your water is going to introduce whatever is in your water pipes into the aquarium, ... dissolved lead, dissolved copper, dissolved chemicals the water treatment plants are adding to keep the pipes from corroding (not necessarily healthy) added chemicals to ensure no infectious bacteria grows and reproduces in the water piping that could cause us health issues, ... some rather deliberate toxic chemicals

these chemicals are various forms of phosphates
types of chlorines (either chlorine itself, or chloramines (different kinds of chloromones may be found - with different levels of toxicity and half-life times)

those are the chemicals i'm familiar with, there's likely others as well, ... chemicals added and chemicals produced by various parts of the waterworks system dissolving or converting inside city water piping as it makes its way from the treatment plant into your home.

water that goes in the tank that is soft, ... you're likely reducing any and all nutrients in the water column, to lower levels, ... great if your water is in an eutrophic or hypertrophic state and you want mesotrophic or oligotrophic nutrient levels. (if you don't know what this is, don't change your water)

water that is hard, is going to be higher in calcium (likely from dissolved cement piping it flows through) and will increase calcium levels ... fine for tanks with high pH and/or coral tanks, or other tanks housing invertebrates.

for fish what want soft water, and your tap water is hard, ... changing water may not be the best move unless things are getting toxic (you can either see it, or test it), ... in this case get a RO unit (another expense)


so what's the truth ?

well i'll side with change your water when you know why you're changing your water.

-medications are always a reason to change water afterwards
-being without plants or any other means of processing nitrates into N2

those are what comes to mind myself. maybe i'm missing a few REAL REASONS for water changes.

but go with reasons for water changes instead of doing things because it's just what is always done, regular maintenance

more often then not regular maintenance is good (general averages being what they are)
sometimes those water changes are needed
very often water changes are alright regardless as our fish & plants are adaptable to changing levels of water parameters (so long as the change isn't too drastic too fast)

but sometimes this isn't the case, ... and i'm only guessing here, ... these are people who struggle and try as they might, they're doing everything they should, everyone has advice that "this should work" and no matter what it's not working, and they give up and blame themselves.


now the reality, ... as simple as it is, ... know what you're doing. don't do it just because, but know what you're doing, know why you're doing it.

that sounds so simple, and yet, the vast majority are doing things because "well everyone else does the same thing" ... they don't know what they're doing

and it gets really sad, this is the majority of the world in everything, we do things because someone else said to, we don't question, we don't understand, we just follow, ...

we don't think, and when questioned, we don't take responsibility for our actions, because we were told what to do.

... but that's my rant about that.

it applies to aquariums as well,

if you don't know why, perhaps it's time you find out. and learn and "know what you're doing"
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post #94 of 189 Old 02-10-2014, 11:31 AM
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Many of those discus people feel pretty strongly about the importance of daily water changes when growing out stock, to remove the growth inhibiting hormones they think they excrete. There is a reason they see improved growth rates from those massive daily water changes. Is the reason the reason they think it is? I don't know.
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post #95 of 189 Old 02-10-2014, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by jaysee View Post
Many of those discus people feel pretty strongly about the importance of daily water changes when growing out stock, to remove the growth inhibiting hormones they think they excrete. There is a reason they see improved growth rates from those massive daily water changes. Is the reason the reason they think it is? I don't know.
Likely the simple answer is yes. One growth inhibiting hormone is somatostatin ( omg autocorrect knew that word .. Good thing as I wasn't sure the spelling lol) . I think studies on that were even out there when I started keeping fish more seriously at 12. Also gamma aminobutyric acid . Both of those build up in the water and slows or stunts growth. There are pheromones and other hormones that also build up and cause other things .. Not sure the name of all these chemicals or all the specific effects ... Sorry I do crazy research and end up overloading on info and can't retain it all -_-. But in short .. Yep.. No water changes do have hormone related effects on fish.. And few water changes too, just not as big a deal at that point .

However .. flear , I don't even care about that for an excuse for my water changes. I do them because I like sparkling clean tanks. Just that simple.. And a water change is sooo easy . I know done like to say that they have crystal clear water with few water changes but mostly that's untrue, well yes it can be clear... But there is a tint to the water. It's so subtle I'm sure most don't notice.. Perhaps my eyes are more color sensitive .. Idk.

Yes, I'm aware if MANY more reasons for water changes. however I'll be perfectly honest and admit my main purpose for them is the look of fresh clean water.

Sent from App
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Last edited by Agent13; 02-10-2014 at 12:55 PM.
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post #96 of 189 Old 02-10-2014, 01:08 PM
yes, currently my tank looks like weak tea (i wish i was kidding, i'm not :(

not in the slightest subtle, ... but that is due to other things i have done

as for when the water clears up (visually at least with plants and whatever else, ... i don't know how clear it gets, i think i have always noticed a slight tint even at it's clearest, ...

reminds me of what i have heard about tanis from wood
and that has me wondering if this is why greenwater won't take hold in the tank :(
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post #97 of 189 Old 02-10-2014, 03:13 PM
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I love this thread because it seems everyone brings there A-game ! So much good scientific info. I'm hoping that you all might be willing to apply the info in this thtead to my tanks.
My water is very hard because it comes from a spring fed natural lake that is rich in minerals (Skaneateles Lake ).Ph is also quite high. Its great for drinking and cooking , but I worry about my fish living in it because of the ph and hardness.
Any of you freshwater chemists know -what are the dangers of keeping fish in hard alkaline water? Any warning signs I could look out for?
I have plants and sand substrate, and lightly stocked tanks. I change 25% water every week. I haven't had any problems that I'm aware of, but I'm thinking LONGTERM here.

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Last edited by rsskylight04; 02-10-2014 at 03:15 PM.
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post #98 of 189 Old 02-10-2014, 03:18 PM
going with beaslebob, and myself too, ... forgo water changes and plants may suck out the excess nutrients making softer water, ... ya, that's entirely theory, no science behind it, but an idea.

changing water though, ... i'm sure it would remain hard as any changes the plants made by sucking back nutrients would likely be replaced with the next water change.

as i sit here thinking about it though, ... pH aside, ... it might be better for plants being spring-fed lake water and the rest of the stuff in there, ... like your tank gets automatically dosed nutrients with every water change :)

too bad plants and fish kinda argue about what's best for each other.

other then that, ya, i'm all theory on this one.
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post #99 of 189 Old 02-11-2014, 12:22 AM
Pops #75 and #83 try the post numbers, that is really only if your lost on the whole NH3/NH4 thing. Which was covered despite being basically off topic.

API test kits..... good to have on hand..... I can't say much more then that TBH. When I setup a tank it may get tested for ammonia once or twice over the first week. After that if ammonia hasn't shown its not going to. Its been may years since I've dealt with any NH3/NO2 issues in my tanks. Nitrate is pretty inaccurate but not useless for 1-2 times a year where I do a whole round of testing on my tanks to try and estimate their nitrogen uptake. An established tank is an established tank. It shouldn't change without reason provided you are taking care of it. Next time you wanna drop $20 on your tanks tho you are better off getting a digital pH meter and TDS meter off ebay. Both can be had for less then $20 total and you will actually use them kinda regularly...

Originally Posted by Flear View Post
Beaslbob here is making a statement and proving every day water changes are not always needed
my tank at home as well is proof of that as well
No one needed proof every day water changes are not needed, thats pretty typical. If your trying to say water changes overall are not needed, then no. Neither you nor bob have given evidence of this. A tank managing for X amount of time without any water changed isn't any real proof since no one in this thread has given numbers to show that tank is holding steady. That somehow they have outdone nature on at least 1:1 millionth the scale and found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The only thing that is done here is making a low productivity tank which certainly will take longer to reach the eventual crash. Natural aquatic ecosystems are not self sustaining and they are not closed systems, they have multiple inputs and output and cycle at least a dozen elements. Hormones... eventually... will break down, afaik the whole disucs issue is due to their sensitivity and the high conc. of fish a breeder is going to be keeping in a single tank.

If you want to even hint at a possible self sustaining tank, make a tank that has no build up in TDS then we can go from there. Everytime someone says they only ever top up, my first question is 'How high is your TDS?" that alone is going to show a tank not self sustaining. Something is building up and will continue to indefinitely unless you change the water or provide some means of an output. The best you can do is slow it down really. Once you can make a tank where TDS isn't building up you can take it to the next level of are the nutrients staying stable which will require some more advanced testing then API offers. Just because TDS stays stable doesn't mean you won't hit a nitrogen deficiency, heavy metal toxicity, ect at some point. Just because you have plants doesn't ensure anything. They will only uptake as much as they need. You are simply assuming it will be exactly what the tank needs removed, which it likely won't be. As soon as the tank hits that first limiting nutrient... that will hold control over all other nutrient uptake and in short they will build up.

Plants can consume gH but very little of it since those are micro nutrients, kH is basically untouched by all but a few as an alternative carbon source. Most can't use it, peat moss is one of the few.

My neglected tank isn't the best example for this since TBH IDK what all has happened to in the last 4-5 months. I've hardly changed the water tho. I've topped it up from half empty a couple times. I don't normally add anything to this tank, ferts, dechlor, ect. Its currently again half empty with the the filter and heater unpluged only the lights run to keep the plants and few inhabitants alive. It was on my list of weekend things to take care of months ago. But anyway lets use it as an example. Nothing is dying in this tank, plants are growing inverts and the ADFs that call it home are healthy. The water is clear. Now stat breakdown for this tank as of today is:
kH = 8-9d
NO3 = 0ppm
GH = 15-16d
pH = 7.8
TDS = 529ppm

My tap water that I use to top this tank up has the following stats:
kH = 4d
N03 = 0-5ppm
GH = 6d
pH = 7.8 - 8.0
TDS = 130ppm

Now these are truthfully what you should expect from a lack of water changes. KH and GH will usually be the first to increase. Its not hard to keep nitrates at zero even without filtration, especially when a tank is designed to do so. One degree hardness is equal to 17.8ppm, calculating that out on the heavy side of those numbers you can account for a 267ppm increase on the TDS. Yet the tank has a 399ppm increase in TDS over the tap. There is 132ppm increase unaccounted for, which goes beyond anything I can test for. This tank is not sustaining itself, that is what this is staying, there is build up and it will keep building up.

You will have to drop to very low productivity to slow the build up also seal up the tank as much as possible to avoid evaporation so hardness doesn't build up as fast. Vast majority of people don't want that. Its the exact opposite of what I demand from most of my tanks. High light, high nutrients, high fish load, high output. The only real difference here is 30min a week for a 40-60g tank changing 50% or more of water to ensure there is no build up of excess nutrients. Plants and fish TBH like the same thing. I can spawn and raise fish in the same tanks I specifically setup for plant production. My tanks give me back at least some of their cost.

If any are at all interested in aquatic ecosystems, freshwater ecology by Dodds is a great text. Google gives some chapters for free but not the ones of specific interest here, chapters 12-14 deal with various nutrient cycles. Do not expect it to be light reading, do not expect everything to be applicable to an aquarium. It helps you understand where the aquarium ends and where a complete ecosystem starts. An aquarium is not the latter.

I'm out of alcohol for now so IDK how responsive I will be to replys.
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Last edited by Mikaila31; 02-11-2014 at 12:30 AM.
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post #100 of 189 Old 02-11-2014, 09:38 AM
Mikaila31, thanks for your post

your right, neither me nor bob have provided any test results about our tank
i have never taken any test results on my tank other than PH & ammonia

ammonia for toxicity reasons
pH so i can keep on top of nutrient availability due to pH changes.

i would agree with your post about TDS escalating, ... to uncontrollable levels, and all that may be responsible for.

honestly, i do like the additional info yourself and others have provided about the nessissity of water changes beyond nitrates.

yourself (Mikaila31), Agent13, & Jaysee have provided information i have not come across before.
sure not showing testing and people are going on results (while results are good, results can be misleading)

but things to think about with more than an arbitrary "hormones" with zero information to say what is being talked about (thank you Agent13 :)

for my self-sustaining idea, recently a lot of effort has been put into considering what can be done to reduce nutrient levels in the water column, ... and aside from a high CEC additive to the substrate (that willreach saturation levels - so only delays the inevitable - does not solve this problem) ... i am left to consider greenwater, floating plants, and a plants natural tendancy to absorb nutrients directly from the water through it's leaves.

this is farther complicated as limited sources i have come across sound like potassium is easily water soluble, ... so what may start in the substrate will be easily moved into the water column, ... again, i can delay this result, but not stop it or slow it down once CEC is saturated.

greenwater (and critters to eat the greenwater to move disolved nutrients into detritus to fall to the bottom of the tank) is a very ... so far it's not promising without specific strains of pytoplankton that may bloom out of control if given a chance.

Mikaila31, yes, this is something i am spending more and more time considering how to deal with, and it's not looking promising.


agent13, i'm not at a level yet to consider how hormones in the water are broken down, or what can be done to shorten this time.

and what you & Jaysee mentioned are emphasizing what others have hinted at, that certain fish require "clean water" but don't go into any detail about what that means ... clean can be clear, but there's a lot that can be floating in water we will never see because it's either dissolved or (like hormones) just sits and floats indefinitely till it breaks down or is otherwise utilized (i have no idea)

but if (as jaysee mentioned) discus breeders are having what appears significant improvements with lots of water changes, there is more going on. and this has to be considered.

the hard part is information on this is worse than sparse. as i said many fish say "clean water" but sites go into no detail about what that means. (so i had simply ignored it, ... why bother considering something when you have no idea what's going on ... would be like living underground your entire life, never knowing what the sky is like and someone telling you it's blue - what does it matter, something to forget)
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