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Water Change - How Often


fi5hkiller

Failure to change water frequently allows the accumulation of pollutants that will affect fish health and growth. So why do we have to change water? Basically for a few reasons:

1) supply fresh water to the fishes

2) removal of excess waste or food

3) removal of Nitrate and any presence of chemical

4) finally, water changes replenish elements and minerals in the water needed to maintain a healthy environment

in one of the message posted by ranchugirl, it was mentioned that frequent water change will introduce better fish growth.. another reason why you should change water more frequently.. the message can be found here - http://www.kokosgoldfish.com/forum/index.p...hl=water+change

anyway, I have noticed that many people stick to fixed rule by only changing 10 ?20 % of the water in their tank on a weekly basis. That?s a good practice but many people have failed to judge the condition before applying the rule. Many people also fail to understand that rule do not apply to every situation.

So what are the consideration factors to determine how often you should change water?

1) Fish Tank ratio ? How many fishes you have in a given tank. The more fishes you have in a tank will definitely produce more waste.

2) How often you feed your fishes ? this is another condition that varies in every people where some people chose to feed once while some people chose to feed twice or even more.

3) Amount of food fed - Some fish eats more than the others, which also contribute to the waste level

4) Plants ? the amount of plants you have in a tank will definitely affect the level of nitrAte. Loose leaves that are left in the tank will rot to produce ammonia too.

5) Water characteristic ? water from different water source will have different properties. Thus different water will have different level of tolerance.

Another thing to take note. Do you treat/age fresh water from the tap? Treat meaning to add any required additive to achieve the required condition where chlorine and chloramine are removed and PH greater than 7.0. Ageing of water is to leave the amount of water that you will be adding into the tank in a bucket overnight before pouring them into the tank. By leaving the water overnight, unnecessary gaseous and will be evaporate and encouraging absorption of oxygen. Adding an air stone is greatly encourage in this aspect but not necessary.

One more point, Topping up your tank does not constitute as water change! Water may evaporate but not the undesirable components (such as nitrAte) in it! Worse of all, as water evaporate, the concentration of the undesirable components will be higher (base on per gallon basis).

For those who may understand mathematics, I shall briefly put my understanding gained from reading here with some figures. Lets say your fish is giving out 20 nitrAte each day and you must keep it as low as possible though 0 is impossible. At 20 per day, it will be 140 in 7 days. By changing 50% water, you keep it down to 70 (week 1). Another 7 days have past that brings the nitrAte to 210 and by changing 50% of the water again, the nitrAte is down to 105 (week 2)! Starting to notice something? Another 7 days have past that bring the nitrAte to 245 and 50% change will bring nitrAte down to 123. Yes, despite changing water, nitrAte is still increasing. So many people are experiencing problem after a long while despite they stick to all the rules to ensure everything in perfect condition.

You may vary in your feeding with different kind of food in different amount and at different hours. What about water changes? Do you vary in water changing as well or still stick to the 10% -20% on weekly basis rule? See, so if you vary in feeding, then you have to vary your water-changing schedule too.

Another advantage of water changes that I would like to introduce, especially at time of crisis. When you notice your fishes are not acting normal, say staying at the bottom of the tank, does not eat, and even over turn! HELP!!

Relax, what would be the first thing you should do? Change part of the water will enhance the condition of the tank that will also makes your fish feel better. And most problems start off with bad water. NitrAte is a major culprit that contributes to many forms of infections (may it be external or internal). Especially internal infection, some organ may swell that cause it to narrow the air passageway thus affect its swim bladder (that?s why they over turn). Before the condition is worsen, change water and maintain water quality will definitely nurse the fish back to health. Especially for swim bladder cases. At most time, we can?t see what is going on internally. We can only assume the fish has recover when it starts eating or swimming. But unknowingly, the infection is still active within. But good water quality and good environment help the fish to nurse back to health.

Many times I have come across cases of fish problems that were solved almost immediately with water change. Where owners immediately see sign of improvement when their fishes started to behave more normal. If they have follow the advise to maintain the water quality, that might be the reason why they did not follow up with that thread anymore and they are still chatting happily away in the forum. That?s a good sign, for it goes to show that they have solved the problem! Am I right? :P

Therefore, I would like to encourage everyone to judge for him or herself and only you know yourself better. How often you should change water depends on the common factor mention above. Well, I think it has become my habit that I felt my main hobby is changing water and not keeping goldfish. :lol:

cheers

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You've put a lot of thought and logic to that post Fi5hkiller. Very useful, thank you.

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Wow!!

What excellent, well thought out, practical ideas about water changing!

Thanks!!

:hi

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Guest UT butterfly03

Posted

Great post. Thanks alot! It was very helpful to a newbie such as meself :)

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Guest Fishfan21

Posted

Great stuff!!!

Exactly what I needed to read!!!! :D

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Well Fi5hkiller....All I can say is BRAVO!!!!!!! :happydance That was a very thought out ,and well explained answer. Alot of people do just say that they ,do a 20-25% or what-ever water change,but like you said ,there are so many other factors involved,and depending on factors,makes me decide how much ,and how often I need to change water out..Enough said---Good Job!! :D

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Fi5hkiller, that thread deserves an honorary spot at the top of thepage!! :happydance

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Wow, thank you for thinking so highly of this article.. Seriously I only thgt of sharing the idea written in this article without thinking of achieving anything but more educated fish keepers.. :)

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Well, Fishkiller, my fish would like to thank you, never mind me! :lol:

When I bought my tank from an aquarium store, they told me that it's fine to change the water once a month, or every 2 weeks if I want to be vigilant. Well, I've been changing it every 2 weeks thinking I'm being good, but I see now that I'm not! :angry:

Thanks for pointing out all the benefits of weekly water changes; I'll be doing it weekly from now on. Also, I'll take into consideration all the factors you pointed out to determine how much water I should take out.

Thanks a lot! :D

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Guest PeachesCat

Posted

Wonderful and informative post!

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thank you. :)

and I also would like to thank all who will take their time to read this article.. not for me, but just something that I would like to share for the benfits of your fishes.. :)

cheers..

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B) I do water changes once a week. And I also change my filter media once a month. And to make sure my Emperor 400's are working properly, I take apart the entire filter and clean it to brand new condition every two months.

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hmm, so far I never cleaned my filter to brand new condition.. I will take apart the filter compartment and merely brush each part with an old tooth brush in a bucket of water from the tank.. I wont ensure clean to the extend that it is like new.. lest it crash the benefitial bacteria even though I have more than more 1 filter in each tank..

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Guest Nia Shannon and Ian

Posted

B) I do water changes once a week. And I also change my filter media once a month. And to make sure my Emperor 400's are working properly, I take apart the entire filter and clean it to brand new condition every two months.

Ditto. I have two small goldies in a 10 gal.

I change 2 gallons a week and add Stress Zyme and 2 tbls of Aquarium Salt every water change. Ditto on the filters. I have 2 filters.

1 airstone 1 water intank filter with air and 1 side mounted Microfilter. My water is cleeeean!

Ph and Ammonia is always right!

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Guest amdell_2005

Posted

Thanks for the information. I honestly had no idea about all the contaminants that can be found and can be harmful to the fishies. It's great having people like you on board!!! :hi

Angie :play

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It's very good Fi5hkiller. I've only read some of it, but I am going to read the rest very soon!

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I've read this before a while back, and after all my fish dramas (and ongoing in fact), re-read this and agree that clean water prevents problems, and prevention is better than cure :exactly . I am guilty of assuming that the water is ok by estimating when I've fed the fish too much, or looking at any excessive debris around etc - guilty!!! So I hope that everyone here will remind each other constantly "Have you done a water change recently?" :D

Oh, I also want to point out that along with water changes, I'm sure fishkiller includes gravel siphoning as an important activity during water change, because most poop+dirt, if not all, stays in the gravel anyway, and water change might not necessarily be effective at all w/o gravel siphoning. So we have to keep this in mind. I've seen so many ppl (myself initially too) just having small cups/containers to remove top water from the tank manually and than replacing it with tap water.

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Thanks Fishkiller for the great information!

I'm obviously a newbie to these boards, but have owned goldfish for about 2 1/2 years. When we got them, my pet store told me to do a partial change every 2 weeks for our 2 goldfish and 10 gal tank (size of tank at the time). It always looked so gross though, so I upped to 50% change every 1 week. Today, I have a 20 gal tank for 2 fish and still do the 50% each week and a full cleaning every 1 month. I thought I was being crazy cuz they told me that wasn't needed, but I'm glad to get the reassurrance that I'm doing what's right for our little fishies!

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I've read this before a while back, and after all my fish dramas (and ongoing in fact), re-read this and agree that clean water prevents problems, and prevention is better than cure :exactly . I am guilty of assuming that the water is ok by estimating when I've fed the fish too much, or looking at any excessive debris around etc - guilty!!! So I hope that everyone here will remind each other constantly "Have you done a water change recently?" :D

Oh, I also want to point out that along with water changes, I'm sure fishkiller includes gravel siphoning as an important activity during water change, because most poop+dirt, if not all, stays in the gravel anyway, and water change might not necessarily be effective at all w/o gravel siphoning. So we have to keep this in mind. I've seen so many ppl (myself initially too) just having small cups/containers to remove top water from the tank manually and than replacing it with tap water.

Thank you for taking your time to read this long article I wrote sometime back.. And I am very happy and glad if this article has help you in someway.. As usual, nothing is perfect and I really appreciate the feedbacks given..

Kat, thanks for bringing up the issue on Gravel..

Personally, I do not use gravel becuz of the knowledge which I am about to share with you here.. I believe many others will have more knowledge and experience to elaborate further on the issue of gravel.. but what I am going to touch on about gravel are issues related to tank hygene

Gravel.

Basically, Gravel is used for several purposes:

1) Decorative - making the tank look more natural

2) Holding down decorations - like plants, ornaments, toys soldiers ( :lol: that's my friend's choice of decorations), etc

3) as the base filter

As mentioned, I am not going to touch on other issues like risk and benefits of gravel, therefore dun be surprised if I missed out many topics on gravel as I am only concern about Tank Hygene/Cleaniness which is quite closely related to tank water quality.. Good or bad, I shall leave it to you to decide or someone else to write an article to tell us more (a new topic!! who is gonna take it on?)

Gravel tends to trap poop n other form of debris.. So does the ornaments and other display items in the tank as well as some tight corners or spaces/gaps in the tank.. If these trapped poop or debris are not removed, it does contributes to the ammonia/nitrIte/nitrAte level of the tank..

Thus in some situations, some people notice that they are unable to bring down the ammonia/nitrIte/nitrAte level despite after several rounds of water changes.. This is becuz they failed to clean up what's trapped in the gravel or ornaments or corners.. but in such cases, it shows that the amount of trapped debris is beyond tolerable level or it indicates that the amount of trapped debris calls for red alert!!

One thing I want to point out about trapped debris.. if trapped, it tends to release ammonia/nitrIte/nitrAte gradually, but any sudden movement such as when the fish overturns a rocks, all trapped chemical will gush out at the fish at once.. worse of all, it is rather high in concentration and the fish can be damage in certain way.. that's why, at time you see a fish sudden;y dashed away after overturning a rock and behaving oddly as if in a state of shock..

with that in mind, do bear in mind.. if you have gravel or other ornaments, do beware when you conduct water changes.. do not literally POUR the water into the tank as it will loosen up all the gravel and thus releasing all the trapped debris or trapped ammonia/nitrIte/nitrAte!!! Worse of all, these chemical components are released at a rather high concentration which is quite bad for the fishes.. and it can be deadly if in HIGH concentration especially for tanks that calls for red alert as mentioned above..

Therefore, do manke it a point to clean up your gravel and ornaments and reach your arm or cleaning tools into those gaps/corners to cleanout whatever that is trapped within at least on a monthly basis though once weekly is strongly recommended.. For tanks that calls for red alert, do your fishes a favor, relocate them in another tank before cleaning up the gravel..

Lastly, a good practice is to scoop out half of the gravel/ornaments to be sterilised once a while (not all at one go lest water cycle is crashed).. This practise is optional, but it will keep your gravel/ornament clean and presentable.. With this practice in place, it also reduce maintenance effort.. For those who use gravel/ornaments, do you notice your gravel/ornaments require more effort to maintain over time?? if so, time for a thorough cleaning.. easiest way out - sterilise it by boiling them in salt solution..

that's all for my contribution on Gravel/Ornaments that is related to water quality.. Please do feedback if I have missed out any other issues pertaining to water quality.. I am not an expert, for I am still learning!!

Cheers.....

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Another good practise - Pour water into the tank as gradually as possible.. Best if drip method is adopted.. Drip as in to allow clean water flow back into the tank through a tube in a controlled manner to prevent strong current and to avoid temperature shock and to allow fish to acclimate to the new water and to avoid stirring up the tank especially overturning gravel to release the trapped ammonia/nitrIte/nitrAte..

This was discussed in one of the post.. Unfortunately I am unable to retrieve it.. Please do post the URL if anyone comes across the discussion on this water transfer method..

cheers..

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Good point about sterilising gravel + ornaments occasionally...I have to admit I'm quite slack at specifics like that, after all, ornaments to get covered with a layer of offending dirt after a while which should be cleaned. I suppose the same applies to gravel and gravel siphoning is just not enough over a long period :) Perhaps this also applies to wiping the tank surface during major tank cleaning, I noticed that a layer of algae-like (whitish sometimes) growth tends to develop on the tank glass over time, same like the ornaments :)

I thought that gravel is good for keeping a colony of bacteria, besides for decoration? (in addition to the filter media of course). So perhaps people are still keeping gravel for this. Sorry about going off topic btw, I agree completely about keeping high water quality :)

PS: I think the drip method was in "tip of the month", specifically for reducing pH and/or temperature shock :)

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That's rite, I should have included that.. how can I forget about wiping wall of tank.. Thanks again Kat.. :)

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Guest aaronburro

Posted

Yes, despite changing water, nitrAte is still increasing.

I hate to burst your bubble, but the increase is not unlimited. It does eventually reach a maximum limit, but that limit is based on the amount of water you take out each time.

the limit is this:

N * (100) / (W),

where N is the amount of nitrates produced is the time frame between water changes and W is the percentage of water taken out at each water change.

thus, if you take out 10% of the water each week, you end up with a limit of a whopping 10N of nitrates.

here is a small table for it, in case you are too curious for your own good:

05% = 20n

10% = 10n

20% = 5n

25% = 4n

30% = 10n/3

40% = 3n/2

50% = 2n

60% = 5n/3

70% = 10n/7

75% = 4n/3

80% = 5n/4

90% = 10n/9

95% = 20n/19

But, you are of course right, ultimately. The only way to keep the amounts down is to add in an extra water change here and there, do more every now and then, or increase the amount you take out every week and just deal w/ it.

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