I have a 46 gallon that's pretty much just had a few (around 3) endlers and huge amounts of jungle Val for the past year. Haven't changed the water in this time. Should I beware of nitrate buildup and change the water before adding new fish or no? Endlers have just been living off of stuff growing in the tank; I haven't been feeding them.
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Well unless you do water changes the nitrates will eventually go up unless you have fast growing plants that will use it up before it does start getting high.
Water changes are really best to do for the reason of removing nitrates and other stuff that will buildup over time in the water some of which cant be removed any other way.
I've never witnessed nitrate buildup in any of my planted tanks, ever. I guess it could still happen, but as lightly stocked as yours is I doubt it. However, you should still be doing water changes regularly anyway. I can't see any reason why you shouldn't just go ahead and do a water change before getting new arrivals as a precaution.
In planted tank nitrate spikes could mean the plants are consuming ammonia instead of nitrates. Then as aerobic bacteria build and start consuming ammonia the plant start consuming nitrates and the nitrates drop.
As long as the fish are doing fine I wouldn't worry.
although I would not add food for a week or so after adding new fish.
I have over twenty fish in a 37 gallon and, even over longish periods between water changes, the nitrates never go above 5ppm, often they remain at zero.
I'd suggest testing the water so you know where the levels might be first, water change anyway as there are other things that can build up other then nitrates. Also, the water parameters may be very different in there now than the source water was. You should know where it is at before adding new fish as it may not be suitable for their requirements.
I would not do very large water change if tank water is year old ,and fishes are present.
The sudden change in pH, but more importantly hardness,could have negative effect on the fish who have adapted to present condition's.
Best to do small daily, or every other day 25 to 35 % water changes over a week, and work your way up to larger water changes.
This will help prevent osmotic shock.
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