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Water Changes

Hi folks,

Me again I'm afraid ;)

A question about water changes.  Why are they necessary (if they are necessary).

I can understand the need to reduce the nitrates, but it looks like you have the 'problem' of not enough nitrate in a planted tank that has sufficient lighting and CO2, so you actually need to add nitrates to keep the plants happy.

If the purpose is to replace trace elements or other nutrients, then why not just add a trace mix rather than take a load of water out and put another load in?

Are there other chemicals that need to be added/removed that can only be done through water changes?  And is it for the benefit of the fish or the plants?

Thanks folks (maybe one day I'll be able to help by anwering questions rather than asking all the time!!).