Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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burch76 03-03-2007 10:52 AM

Water changes
Hello all, I just have 2 small questions...I have a 55 gallon tank and i was just wondering how frequently i should do water changes and also what is the maximum amount of time i should leave my lights on?

saxenamohitm 03-03-2007 11:59 AM

Hey there...
I too have about a 60 gallon tank (4*2*1 ft)....i previously used to change 40-50% water every fortnight and then i got some epidemic killing my fishes (i lost bout 6-7 fishes out of 16 dat i had in my tank)
i had to reset my tank and then started the practice of changing 20-25% water every weekend...and i havent encountered any serious health problems with my fishes.

The question regarding the lights still confuses me...i actually switch on the tank lights during the day at around 2-3 pm and switch it off at around 12-1 am so its almost 11-12 hours...mine is an unplanted tank so i wouldnt even need that much light but never really thought about it...hope someone more experienced gives the answer to it..

usmc121581 03-03-2007 05:57 PM

OK someone is going to say something about it but I dont do water changes. I lose 2 gallons a night to evaporation. That has nothing to do with it.

For the lights I'll give you my schedule:

Actinics 9:30 am-9:30pm
MH's 1:00pm-8:00pm

Andre 03-03-2007 07:30 PM

same usmc, i am designing a keep fill for my tank right now, so you never add salt either really than?

caferacermike 03-03-2007 08:04 PM

I'll be the one that says it.

Adding top off water is not the same nor should it be compared to doing a water change.

Let's say that there are X amount of bad things in a gallon of your water. For the sake of argument even if you use RO water don't pipe up because your fish still make waste and for the sake of argument I am not going to add that factor in. Instead just think of X amount of bad things going on in a gallon of your water.

So you have a 100G tank full of water with X amount of baddies. To this I'll say X= 10. So if you are not doing water changes we'll say your tank is starting with 1,000 parts of baddies. Now every other day you add 2 gallons of water with 20 PBS (X=10x2G=20parts of bad stuff or PBS for short.) So what I'm getting at is whether you add it in non RO water or we'll just say it's from the bioload you now have 1,020PBS in your tank. So after 2 months that figure is now 1,600PBS. It just continues to concentrate the bad stuff by only adding new water. You must physically remove the waste somehow. Skimmers help significantly with this however they also have limitations. A skimmer can also remove minerals and salt from the water slowly lowering the salinity. Another point is that most serious reefers are also running reactors that contain carbon and or a phos remover. This enables them to make sure their water is as clean as possible. These reefers are in a different category then hobbyists because they dedicate a lot of time to their tanks and know every detail by heart. If something is not right, they know all about it.

I recomend and try to follow a 20% biweekly water change schedule. this helps insure I keep the correct levels of natural sea water elements in my tank. I know some serious reefers that have awesome SPS tanks that do not do water changes at all. They believe that due to the amount of supplemental dosing they do, their levels remain artificially constant. They are correct. And because of the SPS load most of the excess nutrients are removed by the tiny polyps. But even these diehards admit to doing a huge water change once every 6 months.

The recomendations for 20% biweekly are a general outline for new tank owners. Seasoned veterans believe that they can see changes with their eyes, generally they are correct. The best schedule I've ever heard of was doing a 1% daily water change. Not so much for nutrient removal as element supplementation. It makes sure the levels never crash.

I'm having a bit of trouble with my tanks PO4 right now so I've begun doing 5g water changes every other day and a 25g water change on Saturdays to help combat this issue before I end up with an algae problem. I can regulate my waterchanges based upon my test results. I keep a test kit handy and test weekly. If something is not coming out right I'll test more often and make necessary corrections.

On the flipside you have 2 of the world's best reefers speaking last year at MACNA.

Eric Borneman was quoted as saying he never does water changes. Ironic becuase he was giving a lecture about his tests for the best salt mix available. His tanks are gorgeous however he did have a huge crash in 05 that wiped out his main display.

Anthony Calfo said he does 95% water changes about ever 4 days. Gave a speech about how his fish are so used to this they lay flat against the substrate in anticipation.

Again I'll stress that these are 2 top notch reefers that make their earnings from their home display tanks and the research they do. These guys have all the time in the world to dote about their tanks and make corrections as necessary. If that is not you, simple water changes can provide huge results.

Andre 03-03-2007 11:10 PM

wow, that was a lot of information. I am just sayin i have not had a problem.

caferacermike 03-04-2007 09:34 AM

Andre I'll say it like my LFS says it, "it's not a matter of if but when". I've heard stories of tanks runnign along fine for years and then suddenly "poof" they turn so sour you can't save them. Instantaneously over night so much ammonia will be released it wipes out the entire tank.

Here's a weird bit for those that don't but start, don't jump in head first to water changes. Build it up very slowly. Start by just doing small changes until you work up over a few months to larger changes. Do not disturb the substrate or rock work at first. You have so much contaminant that is built up, going in and disturbing it all will overload the system. You will need to bring it down slowly so you can remove the excess from the water, then a little from the rocks, then a little from the substrate. That'd be like trying to move a mountain by digging out the bottom first. Start at the peak and slowly chip away at it.

If you chose not to do water changes please have a giant skimmer and serious loads of flow. I mean at least a 30 times tank volume flow. A 100g tank ought to have a giant skimmer and at least 3,200GPH flow in the tank itslef. This will help prevent nutrient or detritus from settling into the substrate or rockwork and allow it to be suspended until the filter can remove it.

The choice is solely up to the hobbyist. I leave that to you to decide. I recommend it because simple water changes can prevent so many downfalls of the hobbby. They eliminate so much excess hardware from our sumps and filtration that the cost of hte salt mix is much less then the extras. A good schedule will eliminate any need for UV sterilizers, dosing, denitrator coils, Phos reactors, etc... while really putting the shine on the inhabitants of the tank itself.

Note to SPS growers. If you haven't heard yet it is possible to kill SPS corals with to much phosphate. Algae actually grows in the skeltal portion of the coral and irritates the flesh until the flesh suddenly disappears in a matter of hours. Once this starts, nothing can stop it. If you've ever had a frag or colony suddenly die off and leave a bright green or pink skeleton behind, now you know why.

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