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Now I'm probably going to get slated for this but I have been neglecting my 200l tank slightly over the past few months. My normal routine was 40% water change every week with a full glass clean and gravel vac once a fortnight.
Since starting a new job a few months ago I just haven't had the time to care for it as much and I'd say it hasn't had a gravel vac for about 6 weeks now :oops:. Its been topped up with water but only whats evaporated out.

The thing is . . . I haven't lost a single fish since I started the new job (except the one that got herself stuck in a piece of bog wood :-? ) Before I was loosing loads for no apparent reason. The tank has been setup 2 years now and in that time I have had 2 failed attempts at introducing cory (lost 15 in total - have 1 left!) I've lost molly, neons, hybrid guppy, otto . . . . all sorts! the only original member of my tank is a very impressive red tailed shark.

Now that I'm starting to have a little more time to myself I really need to pick up the maintenance again but I dont know how to go about it, I dont want to go back to what I was doing before because it obviously wasnt good!!

Any ideas?!

Thanks all! :)
 

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the last water change in my tanks was ... about 5 months ago (memory isn't that good going back that far)

that water change was to deal with an ammonia issue due to ... lots

PH change converting ammonium to ammonia
removing an excess of plant trimmings for a tank that was very overgrown
the excess plants were in priority for any ammonia/ammonium in the tank so there wasn't an established beneficial bacterial colony to process ammonia.

the last fish i lost was ... due to the ammonia spike.

in my searchings on the net in enough forums i have lost count, ... i never did the "i have to do these maintenance's because it's what everyone else does."

i've heard "water changes to deal with excess nitrates", ... but what if you've got plants that keep your nitrates down ? ... then comes other excuses "because of fish hormones" ... really ???

water changes to deal with nitrates, fine, nitrates are toxic in excess, and it makes sense to change the water on a regular basis.

vacuuming the gravel makes sense to deal with organic breakdown that would result in higher ammonia (and ultimately higher nitrates once processed.

cleaning the glass, provided you don't have anything that can clean the glass, otherwise strictly aesthetics only

if you have plants, just measure your nitrates, if they're in excess (you decide what excess means to you) then change "enough" water to keep your nitrates from being that high.

i've heard (i don't measure) that plants can enjoy nitrates up to 40 as optimum under 10 could be N deficiencies

otherwise, ... water changes mean changing tank parameters, 40% sounds like a rather drastic change every week, a minor change if tank parameters match the water going into the tank, otherwise, that sounds like a lot of undue stress.

when i started i heard 10-20% water change every week, i heard that for tanks that don't have plants

i have plants in my tank with the idea that they'll process nitrates making water changes obsolete.

5 months without a water change says something you know.

last time i vacuumed the gravel ??? the tank has been setup for over a year and a half, i've never vacuumed the gravel.

i don't clean the glass, i have a pleco ... not that the pleco is particularly great at managing the green spot algae, but that was my excuse before, ... as the tank has matured and the plants stabilize, and the nutrients do whatever the nutrients do, the green spot algae isn't as obvious as it used to be.

---

in all honesty, ignore everything i have said.
do what you feel is necessary, ... but know why your doing it.
if your noticing levels in your tank are stable, why upset that ?, ... "if it's not broke don't fix it"

if your doing things because "of regular maintenance" stop that. while just my opinion, not knowing why your doing anything other than "it's because what everyone else says to do" ... pretty foolish way to live.

if you are finding your levels are getting out of hand, ... do smaller changes, vacuum the gravel if you don't have plants. if you have plants your plants will appreciate what's accumulating in the gravel. your plants will also appreciate being left alone instead of being uprooted (i don't know why people rearrange their planted tank, so many do :(

if you have no plants, ... definitely resume your water changes, ... but 40% ?, if you are medicating your tank, 40% sounds like a great water change otherwise, quit that. your only changing enough water to keep your nitrates down. ... unless someone has something a little (or a lot) more valid than "hormones in the water" i see zero reason to change water for any other reason than nitrates.
 

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If you are changing 40% a week, then it is not a drastic change because the tank water will be almost identical to the source water. No stress there. Drastic changes come from NOT changing the water, because the chemistry changes over time. For example, I would not do a 40% water change if the water hasn't been changed in 5 months because the pH is likely very different.

I do 80% changes every 4-6 weeks. I work ridiculous hours in the summer and let the tanks go all summer without a water change.
 

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i have lost fish before because i was not aware of the stress a drastic PH change can do, ... that was heartbreaking :( also the last time i just let the water temperature acclimate. ... since then i have looked at more to test/check for PH differences when adding fish and making a gradual change for the fish.

yes, that was a horrible lesson/learning experience :(

first one lasted a few days before it died
second one lasted about half-a week or more, but fins clamped down showing it was not happy till it finally died.

i felt horrible :(

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KellyL have you tested your water your adding to your tank ?, check to see if it's different than what would have been removed from your tank ?

what i see from Jaysee brings to my mind an important consideration.

if his added water is of similar PH and other parameters to what's being removed from the tank (the important parameters) he can do more drastic changes.

while this is just a guess - if his added water was drastically different 80% water changes would be brutal to the tank inhabitants (his hint at my tank to not do large water changes for a tank that hasn't had a change in many months) if his added water is close to what's in the tank, there will be no stress and 80% becomes very beneficial to ensuring the tank is healthy.
 

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other notes, i have no idea if this relates, it's only important to me as i'm trying to focus and read up on it currently

redox/orp
Aquarium Redox Balance | Fish Health | Potential & Reduction

a complex subject that isn't easy to grasp, but findings point out how important this stuff is to the health of our tanks, and relates to the health of ourselves as well

mild general relations between Oxigenation potention, PH, free-radicals, anti-oxidents, ... that can relate to the health of our fish, our tank, ourselves, ...

maybe it's nothing more than intellectual curiosities as with most things leaving well enough alone is the best thing, but if nothing more than helping us understand what is going on if our tanks are doing good, this is of that much benefit.

if found that we can look at this information and see something drastically wrong that explains why our tanks aren't operating at levels we would like to see, then the hope is to know what if anything that can be done about it, ...

unlike PH, which for short term we can add PH up or PH down, i don't know if we can look at our tanks, see a drastically out of balance ORP/Redox # and add a simple fix, but if our tanks are so out of balance we can look into what direction we would like to move things in to improve the health of our tanks.
 

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Such long posts, I will have to pull this up on the laptop...it's tough to take it all in on the phone :)
 

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Now I'm probably going to get slated for this but I have been neglecting my 200l tank slightly over the past few months. My normal routine was 40% water change every week with a full glass clean and gravel vac once a fortnight.
Since starting a new job a few months ago I just haven't had the time to care for it as much and I'd say it hasn't had a gravel vac for about 6 weeks now :oops:. Its been topped up with water but only whats evaporated out.

The thing is . . . I haven't lost a single fish since I started the new job (except the one that got herself stuck in a piece of bog wood :-? ) Before I was loosing loads for no apparent reason. The tank has been setup 2 years now and in that time I have had 2 failed attempts at introducing cory (lost 15 in total - have 1 left!) I've lost molly, neons, hybrid guppy, otto . . . . all sorts! the only original member of my tank is a very impressive red tailed shark.

Now that I'm starting to have a little more time to myself I really need to pick up the maintenance again but I dont know how to go about it, I dont want to go back to what I was doing before because it obviously wasnt good!!

Any ideas?!

Thanks all! :)
Having a red tail shark as your first fish can create many problems. they are real meanies.

But other then that, I understand you were losing fish and got a real job and as a result 'neglected' to do water changes. And all the sudden to your surprise the fish did much better?

What happened is the tank settled in with the tank (especially plants) taking care of things. Once that happened the conditions of the tank were more stable and not being upset by your "interferring" water changes.

Now don't get me wrong. There are times you need to take drastic action.

but IME allowing the tank to settle in and stabilize is the best thing for the fish, the plants, and the hobbists.

but them I'm just a fumble fingers who seems to screw things up everytime I try to correct something.


my .02
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Sorry guys it was late when I posted! I do 20% water changes weekly (40l)! sorry, was going to work out a % then realised it would be just as easy to give you the amount in liters and messed it up! :/

Your very right Flear, I have no idea why I'm doing it!! I had a small 10l tank for a Betta first and of course that needed regular water changes to keep it habitable. I guess I applied the same rule to the big tank without realising! All the research I did raved about the need to do water changes too so it reinforced what I was doing.

I was considering adding Plecto of some sort after my failed cory attempts but didnt really know what to go for? My first thought was the huge plec I saw returned to the fish store once (was as long as my hand&forearm!) so if anyone could give me advice on (smaller) plec I would be grateful!

the tap water is very good, soft and about 6.0PH, I artificially rise it to around 7.5 for the Molly's benefit while keeping it low enough for everything else.

I have that about the shark a lot, it was actually the last one to go in when we first stocked the tank 2 years ago. What I meant is that out of that first stocking it is the only one that has survived the 2 years. It is generally ok with the smaller fish, it had a 'problem' with my dwarf gourami when I first introduced them in the summer but as they have grown bigger he doesnt bother them at all.

I think I covered everything! thank you for your help! :) I guess I'm going to have a 'dirty' tank forever!!
But I will have to clean the glass . . . it drives me mad being green!
 

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the standard 'common' pleco

i would never recommend for any tank unless you like the look

they are more omnivore when younger, and when older prefer a diet of near strictly meat

there are a couple pleco oriented forum sites on the net to get information on individual pleco's, ... but as there are nearly 600 different pleco's to choose from, ... and what seems like near half of them are not available for one reason or another, over fishing, near extinct, import/export regulations, etc., ... k, so that's still like 300 pleco's to choose from.

better idea, ask your LFS what pleco's they have access to and look up those (smaller list, easier to pick what you want)

as for your glass being green, ... a healthy planted tank, ... an established healthy planted tank tends to solve this issue on it's own i hear (i have yet to see it fully realized in my own tank - but the green spot algae i have i notice is much diminished over what it used to be. ... i hear the common issue is low phosphate.

also as i hear for algae issues, for new tanks/new planted tanks, algae is ... common enough. give it time, ignore the algae, just look after your plants, cater to your plants health and i hear that's the most important step in getting rid of algae, and give it time, ... one recommendation i heard was something like a year for a planted tank to correct it's own algae issues.

for algae concerns, most of what i have to go on is what i have heard, ... i'm one of the more backwards people that sees algae as a free food source for fish (Florida flag fish), ... that are eating my hair & clado algae faster than it's growing :(
 

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There is no difference between big filtered tanks and little filtered tanks. They are exactly proportional. "Need" is relative. Some people do need to do more frequent water changes to keep their fish healthy, for whatever reasons. Other people don't need to do frequent water changes to keep their fish healthy.

IMO it's best to start out doing to many water changes and dial it back over time, rather than start out not doing enough and have to step it up because of problems.
 

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while looking at the website i posted earlier there's a page/article on "why do water changes"

Aquarium Cleaning | Reasons & Methods | Frequency | Siphon

everything i read from these guys is detailed, long, but very detailed and educational :)
this will explain more and better than i know, or know how to say :)
I did take a look at that and for those who looked also, consider this equation

before water change={(build up between water changes)/(fraction of water changes)}+ replacement water.

That applies to any linear measure where things are constant.

So consider that your tank is increasing nitrates at 1ppm/day. and you are changeing 10% of the water each 10 days with 30 ppm water.

before water change=(1ppm/day)*(10days)/(1/10)+30ppm=(10PPM)/(1/10)+30PPM=100+30=130ppm

So the tank will wind up at 130ppm before a water change, the drop down to 120ppm and be back up to 130ppm the next water change.

But if you change the build up between changes to 0 you get a constant 30ppm. With plants consumeing that 30ppm the tank will actually be a 0 ppm.

To me what is important is to get the tank balanced out and stabilized so water changes at best make no difference and at worse can cause a tank crash.

my .02
 

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Beaslbob,

i won't agree with the summarization of water changes having either no improvement or can contribute to a tank crash without explaining more about the tank

plants consuming nitrates if the tank is at 30ppm to bring it down to zero, ... only if there are no other processes going on in the tank that would be contributing to additional nitrates.

if there are no plants, water changes are mandatory in my mind (unless your looking into live rock or equivalent)
if there are plants and nitrates are high, increase the plants, add fast growing plants, replace water (or a combination)

above 40ppm for nitrates, ... water change (regardless of plant level) - possible exception for high tech, CO2 enriched etc. but then 50ppm is max to ensure the plants have enough nitrogen (more personal guess than experience)
below 10 nitrates, i don't think this number is high in any book (reef tanks being the exception)

it's still a numbers game
if there's a reason to do water changes, make sure the water going in is safer than what's coming out.

there are lots of ways to reduce nitrates, plants, water changes, or denitrification (DSB or live rock or equivalent - requires anoxic areas)

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but as i look at the link i posted, ... there's lots of other reasons to consider water changes as well
(nitrates was previously the only one i was aware of)

i think nitrates are the only ones talked about as it's really the only thing spoken of when it comes to water changes, and there is a lot of things that could factor into if water changes are something to do out of necessity or because they're needed.

today has been an informative day reading through the redox info on that site, as well, reminds me of some of the concerns i've heard expressed in a DSB. and as i look at my tank gives me lots to think on about what could be going on, ... 5 months without a water change, never vacuumed the substrate, ... i have no idea what kind of root coverage i have there, although i know plant roots can add O2 to the substrate, gives me things to consider about what is going on in my tank for sure.
 

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Thanks for that link flear. Confirms what I already know about my tanks, but am too lazy to verify :)

That calculator PERFECTLY shows how ineffective small water changes are.
 

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i wouldn't say 'small' water changes are being ineffective
infrequent small water changes are though

changing 5% a day can have a significant effect on a tank without the stress of water parameters changing significantly in any one day.
 

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i wouldn't say 'small' water changes are being ineffective
infrequent small water changes are though

changing 5% a day can have a significant effect on a tank without the stress of water parameters changing significantly in any one day.
Depends on what one considers effective...

By that calculator changing 5% a day would have a little less than no impact on my tank - nitrates would rise over time.

For me, the benefit of doing small daily water changes does not exceed the hassle, and the concern over stress from changing parameters does not warrant changing my current schedule of massive monthly changes.
 
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