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blake711 12-07-2010 08:18 PM

Newly Cylced Tank, when to do water changes?
Hello all, I have 5 gallon tank that is a few months old that has appeared to be cycled for a few weeks. It showed 7.8ph, 0 ammonia, 0 nitries, and nitrates that have been increasing. I have one Male Betta fish in it and I added 2 oto cats a couple weeks ago because I had some brown alga. The fish all seem to get along well. My question is how often do I need to do water swaps? I have some plants in my tank also and they seem to be doing well also. Is there a range I want my nitrates in? The API kit said under 40ppm its no where near that. Also I have noticed I have some tiny florescent green tiny specs on the sides of tank walls in small batches. Is this something to be concerned about? any help is appreciated.

tanker 12-08-2010 12:05 AM

I do water changes once a week and that's what I'd recommend. I've read that they should be under 40, but you want your nitrates as low as possible.

The green specks sound like algae of some sort. If your otos don't eat it, try wiping it off the glass and sucking it up when you vacuum your gravel during water changes. I've had different things appear and disappear. I don't let anything concern me unless it starts taking over.

amberjade 12-08-2010 04:04 AM

Do a partial weekly water change and you should be good. I keep my nitrates under 20 - usually aim for 10. I know it when I'm a few days behind on my wc! lol
With the oto's - you WANT some algae, so they have food. If there is more than they can eat, cut back on light and feeding a little. :)
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blake711 12-08-2010 08:52 AM

I have to admit I don't understand the need for water changes if your numbers are all within range? Can you expound on what I am missing?

aunt kymmie 12-08-2010 09:06 AM

Adding fresh clean water...nothing is more appreciated by fish. Doing water changes adds more oxygen to the water and replaces the minerals that fish need. Otos are very sensitive fish and require pristine water in order to keep them healthy in the long run. Skimp on water changes and they will not be as healthy as possible, regardless of your water parameters. Not changing water frequently and on a regualr basis will cause your nitrates to steadily rise and I guarantee that your otos will suffer. Your tank is small so water changes are not a big chore. :-)

PS. Your betta is BEAUTIFUL!

blake711 12-08-2010 09:18 AM

Ok thanks for explaining what should have been obvious. One other question how do I know if I need to supplement my otos with algae wafers or not? When I had the brown stuff in there they cleared it up in short order. I see them sucking on stuff all the time but don't know if they are actually getting anything to eat.

Byron 12-08-2010 06:02 PM

First on the otos and feeding: unless you have out-of-control algae, there will not be sufficient algae long-term in a 5g to keep 2 otos fed and healthy. Fortunately, they become very used to sinking foods once they are settled in a new home; having algae at first is very wise, otherwise they may well starve. But when they have eaten most of it, they will look elsewhere. Mine regularly appear at feeding time with the corys and other substrate fish and eagerly await the tablets, pellets, etc. Make sure you have some vegetable ones, like spirulina or algae; they will eat other types too but veggie food is good for all fish and esp these.

Otos will only eat common green algae (you will hardly see this, they are so good at getting it) and diatoms (the brown common in new tanks). The green dots on the glass is likely green dot or spot algae. Some larger pleco are said to eat it, but generally it needs to be removed by you. A solid (hard) scraper is needed. If you catch it before you can even really see it, it is much easier to control. I run a stiff sponge on a stick over the front glass every week during the water change, whether I see anything or not; if I don't, sure enough by next week there will be a couple green dots. It occurs in some tanks but not others.

Nitrates should be kept low; any rise in nitrates is a signal something is not balanced. While there is some difference of opinion on the exact numbers, by far the majority of aquarists and authors suggest never letting nitrates rise above 20ppm, although up to 40ppm is held by some. One thing is certain, nitrates are not appreciated by fish, whatever the sensitivity of individual species may be (and they vary a lot, some cannot tolerate nitrates above 10ppm without severe stress, others much higher). So keeping them low is always advisable. The weekly partial water change does this. So do live plants. In well planted tanks, nitrates are frequently zero or at most 5-10 ppm, depending upon the source water, plants, and fish load.

One last addition on the benefit of water changes: fish excrete "crud" which includes waste (solid and liquid) and pheromones. There is absolutely no way to remove all this except either live plants (a lot and few fish to balance) or water changes. Filters move water around, and bacteria break down solid into liquid--but they don't remove it. Plants can if the fish load is very minimal, far less than most of us have. I have well-planted tanks, but I still change 50% of the water in all my tanks every week, and have done for more than 15 years. Doing a water change only when nitrates increase is letting it go beyond the safe point; water stability is the goal, and this is achieved with regular substantial water changes--and l;ive plants help us in stable water--and that is healthier for the fish.


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