My opinion on water changes

Discussion in 'Water Parameters and Additives' started by viper357, 25 Apr 2014.

  1. viper357

    viper357 Admin MASA Contributor

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    There are a lot of different ideas and methods involved in keeping a marine aquarium, one of the current controversial methods is whether or not to do water changes. When asking this question on an internet forum you tend to get a lot of very short replies that don’t particularly detail the advice or give reasons as to why certain advice is offered. A reply such as “I haven’t done a water change in 8 months and my tank is fine”, does not help in any way, nor does it offer any form of explanation as to why it works for that particular person, for all we know they may have a miniature scientific lab under their tank with controllers and dosers and reactors constantly monitoring and automatically adjusting various different parameters within their system. They've been doing this for a while, they know exactly how their system runs and what it needs, something like this takes a while to learn, as Mr Saltwatertank often says, “know your tanks personality”.

    Now this is just my opinion, but I believe newcomers to the hobby should be encouraged to perform regular water changes, small weekly ones or larger fortnightly or monthly ones, whatever you feel comfortable with. Until such time that you have been in the hobby for a while and you have learned all of the different chemicals and elements that your tank requires and their optimum levels and how they all interact with each other, do water changes. It is a learning process. Understand why you are removing and replacing water, what is in the new water that is going into your tank. Water changes remove and dilute pollutants, they also replenish many elements that are being consumed by your inhabitants. A water change can be akin to a breath of fresh air for a fish tank, many people have often commented on how their corals react positively when doing a water change. It also removes the yellowness that old water tends to have. A bad thing about old yellowing water, apart from the horrible look of it….is that it reduces the effects of your lighting in your tank. Did you know that yellow water absorbs Violet and Blue light? Two of the vital colours involved in photosynthesis and colouring in your corals. Which means your corals won’t grow as well nor will they look as colorful. Why spend thousands, sometimes tens of thousands on a state of the art LED light unit, then argue about spending a couple of hundred on a water change? Yes carbon and ozone can control the yellowness, but until you reach that stage of understanding your tank and it’s requirements, what elements it needs, nothing beats a good old water change.

    See this pic for an example of old yellow water, you can see the water on the left has a distinct yellow colouring to it.

    [​IMG]
    photo from advancedaquarist.com

    My advice, if you are new to the hobby and just starting out, do your water changes until such time as you have learned the more intrinsic aspects of your tank and what goes on inside it before you consider the option of reducing or stopping water changes. All tanks are run different, what works for one may not work for another. Some of the biggest and best internationally known hobbyist tanks still do regular water changes. Nobody has ever done a water change and said their tank looks terrible afterwards. ;)
     
    Last edited: 25 Apr 2014
    Midnight Reefer likes this.
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  3. Nemos Janitor

    Nemos Janitor

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    Spot on Dean.:thumbup:
     
  4. MistaOrange

    MistaOrange

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    Interesting
     
  5. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    Another advantage of doing regular water changes is that you do not need to worry about the levels of all the trace elements in your tank. Starting out in this hobby, you should anyway start out with the easier to keep corals. That means softies, leathers, zoa, pincushions, maybe a few more expensive ricordia. Xenia, button polyps. Pity that some of these can take over, given the change.

    Point is, all these corals do not worry too much about the right levels of magnesium or calcium. Just doing a water change with a good quality salt and that would be enough to replenish whatever levels that have been used up. More so for all the other minor elements.
     
  6. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    Plus, another very important point, Your system must fit in with your lifestyle. Do not set up a complex system that requires a very high knowledge just to maintain it. If you know that you will be away often. The tank sitter should be able to look after your system, and it should be simple for them as well. Well, what is simple for me is complex for my tank sitter. At most, tank sitters should just feed your fish and maybe check the RO drum only. Nothing else.

    So unless you got dosers you can trust. And you rely on frequent water tests to add whatever is needed. Do not go that route. Even if you skip your weekly water change, and only do it next weekend, your system will not crash. But hoping that the tanksitter will add just the right amount of chemicals for you, and you are tempting a tank crash at worst.
     
  7. leslie hempel

    leslie hempel Moderator MASA Contributor

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    another point to consider is the collection of NSW if using it

    know the area you are collecting from, perhaps even test the quality of the water you are adding before adding it as you may very well be adding pollutants, check sg levels as NSW is often higher than required,

    we have had ALOT of rain in the past 24h here in EL specifically (floods) the quality of newly collected water will be suspect and in such a case have synthetic options available..

    waterchanges are a basic but extreemly important aspect of marine reefkeeping and only once you feel you have been able to read your water should you look at staggering or phasing it out if you should so wish,

    after 20 odd years in the game i still believe it to be a vital function to be performed at least monthly!

    awsome informative topic dean
     
    reef addict likes this.
  8. zgg01

    zgg01

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    agree 100%
     
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