Regular water changes?

Discussion in 'Water Parameters and Additives' started by inflames, 31 Aug 2009.

  1. inflames

    inflames

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    Hi Guys and Gals,

    Please could I have some light shed on the Question "the need for regular water changes". I understand the reasoning behind using RO water for top up's. I personally only top up with Kalkwasser mixed in RO, I have yet to 100% satisfy myself on the reasoning behind water changes. If we are regulary dosing our tanks with calcium, magnesium and all the other trace elements, using carbon, Phos removers, growing cheato,skimming, ect... In other words only "adding" the required "good stuff" that gets consumed by what ever in our tanks, and "removing" the "bad stuff/by products" what is the reasoning behind the regular water changes?

    Has the whole water change regime just become a seldom questioned standard? I just want some reasoning behind why we do regular water changes and what (if any) benefits exist because of regular water changes, and what are the negatives of not doing any water changes?

    Any thoughts and scientific reasonings are welcome...please help me understand this better!

    Thanks
     
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  3. Sentari

    Sentari

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    Tagging along. I know that we replace water to take out some impurities and also to take out harmful chemicals.
     
  4. viper357

    viper357 Admin MASA Contributor

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    Anthony Calfo has a great saying - "dilution is the solution to the pollution".

    Corals, fish, algae's, snails, crabs etc all require certain elements in order to flourish, by doing water changes with a good salt you are providing all of the above, if you look at the Tropic Marin salt for example you will see they advertise their salt as having more than 70 trace elements, by doing water changes you are replenishing these elements that are used up by your livestock. It also helps with water clarity, over time water tends to take on a yellowish tint as it gets older.

    You will also be removing waste, pollutants, coral secretion etc. by doing water changes. I like to think of it as a way of refreshing the water in the tank, compared to living in a city choked up with polluted air as opposed to living in the country with fresh air, fresh water is like fresh air. My corals noticeably expand a lot more and I get increased polyp extension straight after a water change, so they can obviously sense the new water and are enjoying it.
     
  5. inflames

    inflames Thread Starter

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    OK. I hear what you are saying with the consumption of the trace elements and the replenishing of these trace elements. Are we replacing these with SALT? or is it just an added bonus that comes with new SALT water. If you add these trace elements via dosing of a suplement additive then there would be no need to do a water change then? as the trace elements would be replenished WITHOUT doing a water change!

    Then on the removing side of this question... Skimming, ATS, cheato, PO4 removers, ect all remove the bad stuff then why the need to do a water change again? Unless our methods of "pollution removal" is not suffice with all or some of the methods mentioned above.

    So we are looking at 2 reasons for doing a water change then.

    1) to add trace elements?
    2) to remove pollutants?

    Dont get me wrong here...I am just trying to justify the need for regular water changes! Can the same end result be achieved WITHOUT doing regular water changes, using other ways of adding and removing? Especially in say a FOWLR where the BIO load is signicantly less than a full reef setup...is the need to do the same amount and regular water changes nessasary?

    You say that your corals extend their polyps straight after a water change.. what do you think the reason for this is? Fresh salt water? How long are they extended for? if they are only extended for say 2 days, would you not deduct to do a water change every 2 days in order to get them to extend more? And does extention denote good water parameters?
     
  6. trad

    trad Fish, thats the word!

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    Basically fish poo and urine doesn't evaporate sooooooo, you have to take out water to Dilute it as viper pointed out. I have seen tanks running for a year plus without a water change but the moment a water change was made the fish became ill and died. This was probably due to a huge build up of waste over a long time which was then removed is a single change causing the fish to stress out so regular water changes will prevent large changes in water parameters.
     
  7. brentnorm

    brentnorm

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    Your top ups also help to an extent as far as dilution goes but nothing replaces a water change.
     
  8. inflames

    inflames Thread Starter

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    Hi Trad,

    I understand that fish poo and wee does not evaporate...does it not get skimmed? Used by the algae of an ATS, absorbed by a PO4 remover? What do you think the reason was for the death of the fish after a year of no water changes? Surely if you take Vipers note on the polyp extention, then the corals and fish would have been over the moon at some fresh stuff in the water!
     
  9. brentnorm

    brentnorm

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    There are many reasons why but you will probably find that it was the quantity of water changed.
     
  10. inflames

    inflames Thread Starter

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    Hi Brentnorm,

    Why does nothing replace a water change? This is the reason for my question!!!:razz:

    I say that a water change is not really nessasary...provided the correct dosing and extraction of gunk is done?!?! Does water "breakdown" and change the "older" it gets?... just remember that all the water on the planet is millions of years old!!!
     
  11. brentnorm

    brentnorm

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    Even the earths water goes through continuous evaporation, rain, filtering through various processes like earth but even our natural oceans are being polluted quicker than they can recover which is why we loose species daily due to pollution.
     
  12. inflames

    inflames Thread Starter

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    Ya, hear what you are saying...we cant even compare our little "oceans" to the big scheme of things! With all the advancements in our filtering sysytems and additives and monitoring of those "ideal" levels in our aquariums...is it still really a "must do" to do water changes? Has anyone actually had 1st hand experience or can back up the need for regular water changes?
     
  13. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    Put it like this, especially for a fish and softy tank. If you keep to your weekly 10% water changes, you do not need to add any other stuff, providing you use a good quality salt.
     
  14. brentnorm

    brentnorm

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    Spot on there. I think that this sort of answer will be the norm throught the forum if everyone had to answer. If they were given the choice to dose chemicals or do water changes there is just no competition
     
  15. Nemos Janitor

    Nemos Janitor

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    My 2 cents worth. If you can't test the element you are dosing then how do you know how much additive to put in your tank. Good quality salt mixes put all these elements back at the right proportion.

    Another consideration is that skimming, scrubbing etc does not only remove the bad stuff but the good stuff too.

    So i also recomend sticking to what all the experienced reefers, Calfo, Sprung, Bob Fenner, Randy Holmes Farley, Delbeek, Forssa, Nilsen etc say. "Your tank needs at least a 30% water change every month". 10% weekly is better.
     
  16. inflames

    inflames Thread Starter

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    OK, so the feeling I am getting here is that its been recommended by allot of people in the know over the years, that regular water changes are nessasary to replinish our systems with trace elements in as close as possible to NSW. Very little has been done (research wise) to the different consumptions of these trace elements of different systems, say compare a 500ltr FOWLR to a 500 ltr Reef tank.
    I would imagine that the trace elements in the water would be "consumed" far less rapidly in the FOWLR system compared to the reef tank? So with that in mind...would the same water change regime be applicable to both systems? or could we deduct that the consumption (of elements) and pollution in the FOWLR system would be significanly less than the reef system?

    Yet we do not deiiferenciate the 2 totally different systems! and the consensus is just do water changes (10%) weekly regardless of what setup one has!
     
  17. FransSny

    FransSny

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    Interesting train of thought inflames, my 2c...WC can be adjusted according to your parameters. Thus the need for testing.
     
  18. inflames

    inflames Thread Starter

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    Interesting comment...a good 2c!! We spend allot of money on 1st buying the salt and mixing the salt and then we go spend more money on test kits to confirm (because we really dont believe what is in the salt?!?!? that we buy to begin with!!) that our parimeters are right! and if they are not then we do another water change...this time with a different salt...and then go get other test kits again (because we didn't really believe the 1st test kit anyway!)... So when does it stop? When the money runs out?!?!?:razz:

    The guys that stay at the coast... do you mix salt and RO or do you use NSW?
     
  19. Tobes

    Tobes Retired Moderator

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    My feeling on this subject:

    I recommend a 10% water change weekly.

    The "rule" is NEVER add what you cannot test for - and with a water change you replace something like 70 trace elements as mentioned before. If you don't do water changes and want to dose all trace elements, are you willing to buy and regularly use 70 someting test kits? Start advertising your kidneys :p

    Another question for you. Regardless if it's a fish only or reeftank, would you like to bath in the same water every night?

    We take these creatures out of their natural habitat to keep them in our living rooms, lapas, etc - I feel the least we can do is make their stay as comfortable and as close to their natural conditions as possible with regards to water quality.

    Just remember that they get a couple of water changes during the day in the ocean ;)
     
  20. FransSny

    FransSny

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    Very cool info tobes ....WC has always been a contentios issue in my opinion, I know of reefers who do this once a month !
     
  21. inflames

    inflames Thread Starter

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    Thanks for your input here Tobes!

    I dont think my wife would be to happy about me bathing in the same water every night!! I am just questioning the reason behind the need for regular water changes! the replenish and remove?!?! I would also agree not to add what you cannot test for, so then do we just assume that the 70 odd trace elements are actually consumed? and that they need to be replenished...even if they are not used up by the system? or are we just doing water changes because its the norm and recomended as a standard in our hobby?
     
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