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Discussion: Fewer Water changes / No water changes

This is a discussion on Discussion: Fewer Water changes / No water changes within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Originally Posted by JasonI Yes I do stock plants. I have a 10, 20l, and a 90 gallon tank and there all planted tanks. ...

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Discussion: Fewer Water changes / No water changes
Old 03-01-2010, 09:58 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by JasonI View Post
Yes I do stock plants. I have a 10, 20l, and a 90 gallon tank and there all planted tanks. I was mesmorized 1 day at a local fishstore that had a planted tank so I decided to invest in some plants and got hooked.
I hear ya I started with 1 tank back in the day then 2, 3, 4, till I had 7 or 8 set ups ....yea it does get addictive if you like Internet and good quality plants you may be interested int his site; the site ain't built very fancy or nothing but their plants sure rock and I like their prices too Aquarium Plants Pond Plants From Sweet Aquatics
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Old 03-01-2010, 10:02 AM   #22
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Good points!
But really HOW OFTEN will a w/c be necessary and then how much of its volume?
I pers wouldn't go as far as saying never do a w/c but what about scenario's like instead 1x week 40-50% only 1xmonth? Or 20% every 2 week....or ... or...or....
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Old 03-01-2010, 10:14 AM   #23
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Great thread, Natalie. Thank you for starting this discussion. I am also curious about the different scenario's regarding how often and how much should be changed with a fully planted tank.. Looking forward to following this thread and learning from everyone.
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Old 03-02-2010, 03:07 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Angel079 View Post

Good points!
But really HOW OFTEN will a w/c be necessary and then how much of its volume?
I pers wouldn't go as far as saying never do a w/c but what about scenario's like instead 1x week 40-50% only 1xmonth? Or 20% every 2 week....or ... or...or....
Impossible to tell, really. I think, even if there was no measurable reason to do a water change (i.e. nitrate levels aren't rising), I'd still want to do at least one a month. Since it's me and I'm paranoid, I'd probably do one once every two weeks. I don't have any tanks planted heavily enough to try this experiment though; I need to do weekly water changes to keep nitrate levels where I want them.
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Old 03-02-2010, 08:36 AM   #25
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Well let's keep the thread rolling, see who else would like to join the discussion and I will report back what's happening with my lil no-filter plant tank as well as the 55g's readings over time now

@Iambatman I hear ya I'd prop also break down after ~2weeks and do a w/c. I'll keep a close eye on my readings meanwhile
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Old 03-02-2010, 08:42 AM   #26
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Once my mini-cycle is complete (UGH!!) I'll monitor mine as well. With my non-planted tank, once a week was a MUST, sometimes twice a week. It was extremely hard to keep nitrates under 40ppm. It usually sat between 20ppm and 40ppm. 40ppm was certainly pushing it for me. My 5g fully planted tank sits at 5ppm, sometimes less. I'm hoping with how much I planted my 55g, I'll have the same results, if not 0ppm nitrate..
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Old 03-02-2010, 12:44 PM   #27
IMO/E-in the non planted tank or gravel based lightly planted tank with moderate stocking weekly water changes are needed of 25-75%, with a good gravel vacuum everywhere but around the plant roots or decoration for best water quality and best interest of the livestock.
Being a responsible fish keeper IMO you need to look at what is best for the livestock overall health and well being and what is optimal for as normal growth and development that can be achieved in a closed system.
IMO to be a good fish keeper you must first be a keeper of water and understand the science behind it.
Freshwater fish need fresh water to thrive not just survive......

With that said.......

........ the game changes IMO/E in the natural planted dirt based tanks.......you can create a self sustaining mini ecosystem that needs little maintenance and still maintain optimal health, growth and development of the livestock

In keeping the walstad type natural planted tanks with a twist of my own I have found great differences in the two types of set-ups, the dirt based substrate and massive active plant growth can make a difference a big difference especially when it comes to water changes even in the closed system.
Water changes are intended to dilute/remove the ammonia, nitrite and keep nitrate at safe level as well as removing the DOC.
With the natural systems the plants do all of this, as natural filtration system once it has become stable and the plants are actively growing the plants remove/use ammonia before it ever has a chance to convert and often times you will not even have nitrate, the plants also use the DOC to a degree, it never leave the tank per se' it can be in/used by the plants so it is not harmful to livestock.

My 55g NPT has not had a water change in 11 months and it is stable, 0ppm on ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH runs 7.8 and this is down from 8.8 in the 17 months this tank has been running, it houses a breeding pair of Ancistrus sp and they currently have around 30 fry, 15 male guppies, 8 female Betta splendens, lots of RCS and pond, ramshorn, trumpet snail so it is lightly stocked, it did have a HOB running for the first 6 months and it is now off so no filter or water movement, lights are shop lights with 4 bulbs daylight 6500k 40w, 4 bulbs for 8h and 2 bulb for 12h (total 12h photo period), no CO2, no ferts, no excel.
Substrate is sifted dirt from my yard 2 inches and play sand cap 1 inch. I don't have any algae problems to speak of, never have, I have 10 different species of plants most are stem type, and rosette type- crypt, sword, vals, sags, also have java fern and java moss on drift wood, floating plants are water lettuce, duckweed, I have to trim plants weekly and top off about 2-3 gallons of water due to it being open top for better light penetration....I am sure I am missing some information but the point being the set up can change water change needs IMO/E...when the plants act as the filter, fish as ferts a closed ecosystem can work with limited water changes.

I have 9 NPT set up and running some older than others at different stages and water change needs, but all have either organic potting soil or dirt with sand caps, some with filter some without, lights range from 1.5-2.5wpg, all of them are very heavy planted up to 90% plants, all have snails and shrimp but not all have fish, some are shrimp only.
The fish behavior in this type of set up is awesome too, I have seen behaviors I have not seen in the 30 years I have been in this hobby....just awesome......
Low tech, low cost, low maintenance (once established) and lots of fun.....
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Old 03-02-2010, 01:38 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Mean Harri View Post
I think the determining factor would be nitrates. Once they build up to nearing unhealthy levels the water has to be changed. Apart from that what is the benefit? Most water contains the mineral, etc... that our plants need. Those will be depleted. But, I think most people with planted tanks fertilize. Of course there are those that never had to.

Additionally, doing no wc and adding top off water would add small amounts co2. Larger water changes add a lot more co2 to the tank and create swings. This should be interesting to discuss.
This has been my argument on the marine side of this hobby for ages. Nitrates are removed by live rock and deep sand bed systems, so we generally run zero nitrate on a properly set up system. We then replace buffering salts with a buffer and calcium with a supplement.

At this point the only real argument becomes trace elements, which most authors think are replenished with foods. This is, in fact, the #1 argument against adding iodine to a marine tank. The iodine is already introduced with food. I am just guessing, but I bet in freshwater live plant tanks this discussion applies. Aren't you already adding a balanced additive?

I am a believer that fish do NOT appreciate water changes. I have never seen a fish that responds well to water changes. They generally freak out, run and hide, fade in color, breath heavy, and take an hour to begin behaving normal. What part of this is "appreciation"? Water changes are a stress factor that can be avoided in balanced systems.

I honestly think the frequent water change recommendation one of the longest running myths in this hobby, on live plant tanks and marine systems. That being said, for freshwater tanks without live plants, water changes are a necessity keep nitrates low! Even then, I personally prefer very frequent smaller water changes. If you want to change 20% per week, then I say change 3% per day. It only takes a minute to do daily and it reduces the pH swings.

So, live plant folks, you have my vote for smaller less frequent water changes. Granted, I have no experience with live plants, so you get what you pay for reading this post.
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Old 03-02-2010, 02:19 PM   #29
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Priceless! That's the kinda people/ input I wanna read about I wanna know all there's to know about your tanks, please!!!

From your exp then how do you think chances are with my lil 2.5g non filter -plants only tank with some snails will be?

What's your thoughts (on larger tanks) to keep the filter running but lessen w/c?
Example my 55g has 6 Cory Cats, 9 Albino Barbs and 1 Kissing Gourami and a Eheim 2213 except for a lil maybe 8" by 3" spot all is covered in plants by now, system was set up mid Nov last year.
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Old 03-02-2010, 05:35 PM   #30
Gosh..I could go on and on about these awesome set-up...lol......I will be happy to share my experience and what an experience it has been...lol.....I love this hobby and I had to find a system that required very little care due to my recent health/disability issues so I could keep my aquariums running and the livestock alive all at the same time...lol......and I found it...however, these are still young set-ups (18mo) and I am still learning the planted tanks and still doing lots of research...but what an awesome 18 months it has been......

Part of the success in the natural planted tanks IMO/E is the Dirt, you need dirt for the ecosystem to go full circle to take care of itself. I used dirt from my pasture in some and organic potting soil in others and a mix of the two soil in yet another and top soil and kitty litter in one, plain ole play sand I got from wally world to cap the dirt and some gravel I had that I removed from the tanks to replace with dirt, cost $20
One of the potting soil I used had the vermictulite or perilite (spelling) the white stuff...anyway, I didn't remove it and it has not caused any problems other than looking ugly from floating, so if I had it to do over again I would have sifted it out or used a different potting soil or a top soil.
Another mistake I made in a set up, I used sand from my stock pond and the silts caused problems that took forever to fix.

Next come lights, you have to have enough light to make the plants grow, not fancy lights, but the right type and amount of light. I bought cheapo 48 inch shop lights from wally world and the bulbs, cost me about $60 to put lights over my two big tanks.
The daylight bulbs 40w 6500k are great for the NPT as long as you replace them every 6 months, but at $5 each or $20 a tank, its affordable and I save them to use in my kitchen and barn so they are not wasted.
Photo period is also important to keep the plants actively growing to out compete algae, I keep mine on 12 a day, I do a rotation of sorts by turning half the light off after 8 hours and so two bulbs are on for the full 12h, this is what has work for me the best and I do get natural sunlight but it really only hits my 25g tank.
I also removed all the hood on the tanks for better light penetration and on the smaller tanks 10, 20, 25g I use 2 light strips over them to get more wpg, I cut some yard stick to fit the inside lip of the tanks so the light strips sit safely and don't fall in the tanks and they are pretty strong too...my cats like to sleep on them...lol....

To be successful in the natural planted tank, you have to start off with lots of plants, you can't sparsely plant them, the active growth keep the water safe for the fish, so at least 75-90% of the tank has to have fast growing stem type plants and once the tank is stable they can be replaced with other rosette plants, but the stem plants roots are important to bring oxygen into the soil to prevent anaerobic soil, same with the live bearer trumpet snail, these guys help pull oxygen into the soil to keep it safe and from spoiling killing everything..it is a balance, you also need floating plants to help pull nutrients, ammonia etc....

You can set up this system and stock it all in the same day provided you have all the right ingredients, you still have to make some water changes frequently the first month or so until it settles and the soil becomes its submerged state.

I know I am forgetting some information....lol.....

On your 2.5g, that is a perfect tank to start your first NPT, give it a try and soon you will have your 55 planted....this is an awesome system....

When I first read about this system I thought "dirt" no way.....but when you think about it...what do plants grow best in....dirt......and they wont' be a dirty mess either, if done correctly....I can post some pic if you would like....I got lots of them....lol.....
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