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RE: water changes

There's some archive stuff surely about all this.

> The two most important aspects of aquaria are aesthetics (what they
> look like) and effort (what it takes to make them look that way).  So I
> am always interested to know why anything that is high or low effort
> has a big impact on aesthetics.  So I ask, "Any more views out there on
> the frequency of water changes?

Well, for many, just getting the plants to grow is the most important thing!
That's all I've ever really cared about: plant health and growth. Aesthetics
is secondary to me.
> I don't doubt that some have had success (with plants, fish, corals,
> frogs, whatever) doing very few and very small water changes and others
> have had equal success changing over half the water every few days.
> And anything is worth a try with the exceptions of incest and folk
> dancing (apologies to G.B. Shaw).  But it would be nice if we could
> explain why opposite methods work and like attempts often fail.

Well it could be from your tap water/your fish food-bio load/ always getting
in there and never leaving nothing alone/ errors in
dosing-testing/assumptions/ perfectionism-analisim and on and on.......

> Sometimes this means we need more data--sometimes we just need harder
> or more scientific data to add to our anecdotal info.

Be my guest! Test and get good kits and start doing! Then you'll find out!
And you'll benefit directly too. How you interpret the results is another
> Borrowing Tom's suggestion, which was stated as a method for keeping up
> the good fight algae (and he certainly hasn't suggested that it is they
> only method that will work) we can point to one method of aquaria
> maintenance that leans toward one end of the spectrum -- 50% weekly
> changes, with the suggestion that it is good or at least innocuous for
> the fish and good for helping plants compete with algae--if nutrients
> are added in proper measure.

What is put in is often what you'll get out.
Add lots of light, CO2 nutrients etc you'll get lots of potential errors
Add less nutrients, only fish food with some small amounts of traces etc
Have lower lighting no CO2, you get slower growth and less potential errors.
There's trade offs with each method.
I want my cake and eat too like the rest of you but nature seems to make
sure that doesn't quite happen to any great degree. But still I look and
search.........but "the journey" is a good one.
> Diana Walstad's excellent book describes a successful low-tech
> methodology with which she does water changes only every few
> (6?)months.  That seems to me to be at the opposite end of the
> spectrum.  
> (Of course, if I am misrepresenting either case, that's neither Tom's
> nor Diana's fault).

Well it could be all my fault:)
I've done/have a tank like the water change every six months type and I also
keep the high tech fast growing plant tanks also. Most are the latter. Most
folks here and most list use CO2. I gear much of what I say to that end. But
there are many that do not use CO2. I can do that as well. Methods interest
me greatly. But there are trade offs and things that often overlooked or not
considered when getting into plants. Most folks go "I want an Amano Tank"
with lots of Riccia etc. So what do you do?

> Re large and frequent changes, I wonder, if your water is going bad
> enough in a week that a water change is healthier than harmful, isn't
> something drastically wrong?  Crashed biosystem; tank very overloaded
> with fish; etc.

No, it's to prevent all them dang gone dosing errors. Overfeeding etc. Most
folks on this or any list don't test very much. Most don't like to. It's a
chore most would rather get away from. Water changes can greatly improve
stability in your tank, remove any toxic byproducts we cannot test for,
remove algae & spores(giving them a weekly shock) without testing nearly as
much. You can get close enough by estimating based on what your tap water is
made of. If you have 0 NO3, 0 PO4 etc in the tap add enough KNO3 to get to
about 5ppm and enough KH2PO4 to get 1.0ppm and add again half way through
your week etc. You can estimate by knowing how much volume of KNO3 to add
for example. Say for your tank it takes 1/2 teaspoon to get your NO3's to
5ppm etc. You can test to double check and all but after a few times of
doing this you can get close enough to grow plants great and not deal with
algae problems.
> If frequent large change actually provide stability and less risk of
> stress, why not replace virtually 100% of the water each week?

Well if you wish to take it to extremes you could but....where are your fish
going to stay? What about the pH? Tap is often a full degree higher than the
the tank water etc. Common sense stuff here. Once in a while perhaps if you
have to for some reason, I use to do 70% water changes on my Saltwater
tanks. Corals and fish did super. Never supplemented etc. Didn't have too:)

> On the opposite end, if changing the water isn't presenting a change in
> environmental conditions, then why would it be better for the fish?
> Not simply because it prevents a build up of nitrate--fewer and smaller
> changes could do that in a planted thank that isn't overloaded with
> fish.

Try this one on the Discus list:)
But yes you can have healthy fish etc if you can leave the tank alone and do
the DW method. Most overfeed their fish too much etc or mess something up
and doing water changes helps remove these user errors. Some of us are
better at the balances than others. Often just being patient will go far.

So for most advice, more water changes will help. And if you have algae,
your not doing too well in the balancing department yet..................
So a water change is good advice IMO for algae problems. Then check out
what's missing and add it.
> Does anyone want to support an alternative view that less change is
> less potential stress for the fish.

I say a stable place is a good place. Stable levels for plants and fish.
> I might have been doing much too little work -- or maybe, much too
> much.

No, your just getting closer to what works for you. No algae and happy
plants and fish. What that level is for our happiness factor is up to each
person. Some are anal and some can handle a nice tuff of BBA in their tank.
I'd rather see a healthy plant in a tank with some algae here and there than
a stunted pale plant in an algae free tank. Take care of the plants and they
will take care of you.
Tom Barr
> Scott Hieber