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Originally Posted by nomel View Post
In nature, fish live in water that is constantly changing; in rivers the water flows past the fish, and in lakes there is a natural change over from top to bottom causd by thermal currents, and in both cases there is considerably more water per fish than in any aquarium. The result is that the fish does not remain in the same water more than a few seconds. Further, if there is something in the water that the fish dislikes (toxin, salt, temeperature or acidity change...) it has the ability to move elsewhere in the stream or lake; it is not forced to remain in the same water as it is in the aquarium.
Fish produce waste constantly--urine and solid excrement. Solid waste can partially be removed by vacuuming the substrate but most of it breaks down into liquid before this occurs, and in liquid form it remains in the aquarium, circulating around and around. No filter can remove it. The ammonia resulting from the waste and other things is converted by bacteria. But the waste remains, and it continually increases. The fish is literally swimming around in its own urine and waste. Only the partial water change can remove this waste.
The perfect scenario would see a pwc every day. Some discus keepers do this, change 50% every day, and many of them feel this is mandatory for discus. Other fish may not be quite as sensitive but a regular pwc benefits all fish and plants, since it provides micro- and macronutrients they require. Fresh water also supplies minerals the fish require to maintain a healthy internal balance. Fish need minerals just as we do to maintain body functions and a healthy immune system. Performing more frequent pwc with less water is preferable to less frequent with more water, because the object is not only to change part of the water but to maintain an equilibrium over a period of time that is more constant than fluctuating. From experience I have learned that a weekly pwc maintains a more constant balance in nitrates and water quality than monthly or bi-weekly changes. And it more closely patterns nature, so the fish naturally respond with less stress which means better health and increased vitality.
There are filter manufacturers who claim their products allow the aquarist to perform fewer pwc. This is false. Nothing can replace the pwc, and the more often, the better.
Byron Hosking, BMus, MA
Vancouver, BC, Canada
The aquarist is one who must learn the ways of the biologist, the chemist, and the veterinarian. [unknown source]
Something we all need to remember: The fish you've acquired was quite happy not being owned by you, minding its own business. If you’re going to take it under your wing then you’re responsible for it. Every aspect of its life is under your control, from water quality and temperature to swimming space. [Nathan Hill in PFK]
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