Diatom filters- if used regularly could they replace weekly PWC
I've been having an argu.. err discussion with my husband about diatom filters and how well they clean water. He believes that if a good diatom filter were run 2 or 3 times a week for a few hours that it would replace the need to do weekly partial water changes... that just topping off the tank every week would be enough.
Hmmmm......doesn't change the fact that it's a closed system, and I am of the view that if I was a fish, I would rather appreciate some of that stale 'toilet' water taken out if there on a regular basis! No matter how well that water is filtered!
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I agree with AbbeysDad!! Diatom filters do a great job and are basically used for short periods to polish the water. (Supposed to be able to remove Ich spores) As far as I no there is nothing that replaces regular partial water changes.
Just to clarify, the tank still would run regular filtration, in my case a hob type, that runs 24/7... of course. He is suggesting that the diatom filter even used for an hour a day in addition would preclude the need for the typical 50% pwc we do each week, and instead require only a top off each week.
At present, the HOB filter does not have carbon in it. And we have 100% live plants... if that helps any..?
There is no way to entirely do away with WC in a closed box. Even if you can control nitrates, which is easy if you set a tank up with that goal. Eventually you will lose buffering capacity if you don't change the water. If this happens then you get a pH crash. Along with the plants that will have problems when water become devoid of micro and macro nutrients. Fish also secrete growth hormones and other things like chemokines into the water. Its not exactly know how these function to effect growth. It is well know though that the more water changes you do on growing fish the faster they grow. If your tank is well balanced it probably will last a long time without WC. Eventually though you will have something like a sudden pH crash. Or the months of no water changes will of allowed the tank water to become very different then the tap water. Then doing a water change can lead to things like pH shock. This along with the fact that the diatom filter doesn't even remove nitrates. In the end a daitom filter probably costs the same as at least a year of water changes, if not more.
I concur with Mikaila.
Filters, no matter what type they are, move the same water around. Yes, depending upon the type they may alter the water chemistry or do this or that to the water, but they do not remove and replace the water. And all fish occur in water in nature that is constantly being replaced, not to mention the biomnass of fish to water volume in nature far exceeds any aquarium.
Some planted tank sources will suggest infrequent water changes, even only once or twice in a year. But this is misleading. For this to work, the tank must be very heavily planted, and contain a very minimal fish stocking. I recall once reading that a group of 8 neon tetra in a very heavily planted 55g aquarium would be the maximum fish load/water volume ratio to achieve this. I am not saying this is or is not accurate; I only mention it to emphasize the point that the fish load must be minimal in order for the plants to handle it without water changes.
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