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water changes... really? are they necessary? debate

This is a discussion on water changes... really? are they necessary? debate within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Originally Posted by Mikaila31 Ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite are only the basics of water parameters. A tank may stay cycled for years without water ...

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water changes... really? are they necessary? debate
Old 03-08-2011, 05:51 PM   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikaila31 View Post
Ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite are only the basics of water parameters. A tank may stay cycled for years without water changes. However buffering capacity will not be replenished. Since the cycle produces small amounts of acids these do reduce and consume buffering. Along with fish regulatory functions and plant growth. Plants are actually quite good at consuming Ca, Mg, and other minerals out of the water leaving it depleted. This will eventually effect the fish and plants in a chronic manner, it is very hard to undo this kinda damage. Saying fish have been fine for years holds no merit on if the fish are actually fine. Good example of this is I fed my cats Science diet for 13 years, then one ends up with diabetes(13 years old). A lot of research and vet visits later it came down to the fact that years of expensive crappy food eventually catches up with animals. Switched foods(even more expensive now) and kitty instantly went back to non-diabetic. He was on insulin for about a week. Its best for the animal to care for it properly from the beginning. Simply because it seems okay is no reason to assume it is when you are not doing water changes. Failure to provide proper care will eventually catch up and often becomes more work then if you had simply provided proper care from the start.

Even my planted tank that runs like the El Natural method still gets weekly water changes of 30-50%.
you make a great point but i would say the water you use in water changes has an negative impact too....like mine....its really hard, loaded with calcium, and ph is about 8.4 so its pretty hard to do water changes for me....i'v never had problems with fish health. Usually mineral deficiency results in discolored scales, poor fin structure ect. none of which have ever occurred recently in any of my setups
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Old 03-08-2011, 06:01 PM   #12
 
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I had a cichlid tank with a UGF and a HOB filter that went for 3 years without a water change.

Now I have no UGF filters and I can't go for two weeks without a water change.
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Old 03-08-2011, 06:03 PM   #13
 
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Originally Posted by 1077 View Post
You would need heavily planted tank (not a few swords), and a balanced fish load that would not produce more organic waste than the plant mass could consume.
Over time,the buffering capacity that water holds would need to be replenished with GH booster (Calcium, magnesium), or plant's would begin to suffer and fish,, depending on species,,would also feel the effects.
Heavily planted aquariums that receive few water changes are possible with afore mentioned balanced fish load in proportion to plant mass.(Is a fine balance)
Heavily planted tank in my view, as well as other's is a tank with no more than fifteen percent of the bottom NOT planted.
Those who run such heavily planted tanks with few water changes, often admit that with increased numbers of fishes,, water changes are needed for fishes health.(too many fishes for plant uptake of organics )
Those who don't admit this.. Are only interested in plant growth near as I could tell,and fishes are almost afterthought, They will tell you that fishes will, as you say.. survive but then goldfish and bettas often survive poor care for some time before dying. What value do you place on fishes?
i value my fish....i always calculate adult size into stocking as anyone would.....then i build the tank around the fish...this includes the plants ....substrate...filters....decor....to mimic their natural habitat.
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Old 03-08-2011, 06:53 PM   #14
 
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I look at it this way. I would not want to live in an enclosed place with my poo and pee so I do not want my fish to live that way either. They may live and not get ill but how do you know they are happy? No matter how hard we try to make a tank natural it is still not natural. In ponds and rivers there are so many factors that we can not recreate in an enclosed tank.
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Old 03-08-2011, 06:57 PM   #15
 
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i have to say that many of your posts have been very interesting with the different angles you guys have come at this topic with. I would agree with many of your points and disagree as well but its good to hear your knowledge, thoughts, and ideas on the matter. to ME these is just a matter of your tanks biology. A fish tank being an enclosed ecosystem should, as in nature, be balanced. This is a goal all of us as aquatic keepers have in common.
...i find its unfortunate that there is not enough information on the internet (that i found) that can support this issue one way or the other. if you find some ( thats not a sales pitch for a product) please share!
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:26 PM   #16
 
Water changes mandatory in a planted tank? No.

Helpful? Yes. I'm no scientist - so I can't pretend to know what's going on at the microscopic level - however I will say this.

One of my tanks is an understocked 29 gallon with 2x hob filter and lots of live plants. Post cycle the tank never had anything above 0.0 ammonia nitrate or nitrite, and the PH has stayed the same.

So, the tank is nice and healthy, the fish look good. However, you ever see that film that kind of gathers on the top? Similar to what gathers on puddles? Well, that's not good for the fish, and it's not something you can measure - and it lends itself to the fact that many, many other things are going on in the tank that we aren't aware of.

That being said, it's obvious clean, fresh water is great for fish - but is it necessary? No, I don't think so.

Helpful? Sure.

Myself, I don't really believe in water changes on a scheduled basis. What I do is every week or two i'll stir up the substrate and suck whatever pops up, and ill get rid of the film on the top. That process is usually good for dumping a bunch of water out, which I will then replace with fresh water. Boom, water change - but not for the sake of changing the water.

Also, the whole "discus need daily 100% water changes or they will die" thing is just so, so silly. Yes i'm being sarcastic there but really, discus are fish. If the tank is healthy and clean, surprise - they will function just like other fish. I get that they are expensive and people stress, but cmon.
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:33 PM   #17
 
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Originally Posted by rnsheehan21 View Post
you make a great point but i would say the water you use in water changes has an negative impact too....like mine....its really hard, loaded with calcium, and ph is about 8.4 so its pretty hard to do water changes for me....i'v never had problems with fish health. Usually mineral deficiency results in discolored scales, poor fin structure ect. none of which have ever occurred recently in any of my setups
Once you see those signs you have caused permanent damage. Mineral deficiencies are felt long before they are seen. I've dealt with these personally and no one says, "You don't look good". Only difference is fish can't tell you how they feel.

You said you had cichlids so I fail to see why a pH of 8.4 is a problem. If tapwater isn't what you want to use then mix in some rainwater. My tap is 7.6 and moderately hard. I strongly disagree about it causing a negative impact. I regularly add Mg and occasionally Ca on top of what comes out of my tap. Your water my not be ideal, but forgoing the addition of important nutrients in a effort to reduce buffering is not the proper way to care for fish. My 3 main tanks all get about 50% weekly no matter what. My closest to "perfect" tank is a 5 gallon paludarium that holds 1 gallon with shrimp. Its maybe 3 years old and has been running very well, no filter, and top off about ever 3 months. Thing is you can't have perfection in a enclosed box. Input must match output or it is not self sufficient. That said tank is not "perfect" though it may on the surface appear to be. It may run just fine for a long time, but will eventually collapse as soon as a SINGLE essential nutrient becomes lacking. From there it will take a very fast nose dive, plants stop growing, uptake stops, waste builds up, and inhabitants get killed. Then the surprised owner explains how the tank was fine for years then "unexplainably" fell apart in a week.

There is also the long term chronic effect on fish in such a setup. With important ions in low abundance in the water column. There osmoregulatory system will be taxed by such a environment. This costs the fish a great deal of energy to maintain the necessary cellular levels of these ions. The kidneys are overworked and can lead to a shortened life due to organ failure. This also happens quite suddenly and is irreversible, though the onset of it is very slow.

There is a saying in this hobby, "We keep water, fish just happen to live in it." this coincides with the most important rule in fish keeping. For me there is more then enough information to support water changes and none to discourage them.
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:33 PM   #18
 
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No one said anything about Discus needing a 100% water change but they do need a regular water change because they are delicate fish that cost a lot of money. And unless you have kept them before you honestly in my opinion have no idea what there needs truly are.
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:53 PM   #19
 
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No one said anything about Discus needing a 100% water change but they do need a regular water change because they are delicate fish that cost a lot of money. And unless you have kept them before you honestly in my opinion have no idea what there needs truly are.

I have kept discus, and they are no different then any other "Delicate" fish. It's just people being overly cautious having spent a decent chunk of change on a fish - which is fine, but hardly necessary.

I also clearly said I was being sarcastic about the 100% water change, but this is going off topic.

Mikaila31 has said it best. An isolated ecosystem can operate for years, but one fundamental thing being depleted can cause an entire collapse. This can happen with or without water changes, but they obviously can serve to deter that. In my opinion, avoiding water changes is mostly laziness, or people growing bored of the hobby and not wanting to be bothered.

Also, keep in mind , a sizeable water change can be traumatic for fish as well and needs to be managed correctly. especially if your tap water is not necessarily what you have in your tank water (different PH, temp,hardness etc) and if its not treated properly. My fish generally don't react with stress with large water changes, most of them go swim by it to see whats up, and some swim in it - but i imagine it depends on the fish. I'm not going to dump 10 gallons of water on my angels - but my zebras and female bettas could care less.
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Old 03-08-2011, 10:16 PM   #20
 
odd I dump water on my angels, my tap and tank parameters don't match up exactly. Temp is in the ball park range. Straight from tap to tank. Usually at least 50% a week on that tank. I'm not saying that angels NEED that. However the particular tank they are in requires it for a couple different reasons.
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