water changes... really? are they necessary? debate
after talking with some of the guys at work i am really beginning to question this idea of water changes being necessary.....that is if you tank is planted........
if you don't have LIVE plants then yes you better change out that water.......but let me reiterate... if your tank is planted i think that water changes are optional.....
why do i say this? because my last tank i had i went 1.5 years with out a water change....my fish, all cichlids, and one chinese algae eater survived ....tank before that, of 3 years of various tetras, same result......these tanks were planted with various swords ......so i just wanted to get some feedback see what others have experienced and to see if others have even tried not doing water changes for awhile......because for some of us who are not as lucky to have neutral soft tap water ....its a pain ...more like a chemistry project then a simple water change....anyway hope this sparks some debate and if you have any questions for me please ask:-)
I do believe water changes should be preformed even in a well planted aquarium. I have a heavily planted QT that I change the water twice a month, and the chemistry stays the same and the nitrates never exceed 5ppm, but clean water is important.
First of all, water left in the tank can change chemistry if not changed in awhile. This usually means the water becomes more acidic, but that varies depending on the types of plants and other decor such as driftwood, or chemistry altering rocks. That just maked more problems in the future when you do do a water change, or when you top off the tank. I actually combined my secound point with my first so, um, I don't have much more to say.
I will continue to do water changes in my tank no matter how well the chemistry holds. Fish should have fresh, clean water. I am sure there are other reasons why to change water for a heavily planted tank, but I can't name any right off the tip of my tounge.
(edit: and why give a fish less attention than they deserve?)
I have heard of tanks that have PERFECT setups, like perfect fish combo and everything and like shrimp and stuff and they completely seal the tank. no 02 or anything. Truly an amazing feat, a little ecosystem in itself, but I have heard of it. I personally kind of enjoy the whole scene of water changes so I don't mind too much.
P.s. my water is hard out of the tap as well. I have just been lucky and haven't had to do anything to it :)
I have a heavily planted tank that I have not changed the water in for 4 years. I tested the water last week and the levels are all within normal ranges
I'm willing to bet no matter how heavily your tank is planted if you've got a shoal of discus in that tank weekly water changes are mandatory. I'm not willing to find out the answer to that for certain by not doing water changes on my discus tank, heck no.
That being said, I have a little 6gl very heavily planted shrimp farm that I'm sure would be just fine missing quite a few water changes. I stretch it on this tank, do a water change about three times a month. Would never take a chance like that with my discus.
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 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 do water changes no matter what - I actually make the fresh water going into my SA tank a tiny bit cooler than the tank, too. My fish all respond really well to it! It's like a refreshing rain. Gets the cichlids into spawning mode, too - not that I see any eggs. My plecs eat them overnight!
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I have seen some of these "perfect" setups...never with fish though but still pretty cool ...glad you mentioned that cause i forgot about those
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