Weekly Water Changes

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Weekly Water Changes

Postby Mark Stone on Thu Nov 17, 2005 1:32 am

OK, here's the deal. If you look at internet sources, particularly the newsgroups and forums, the overwhelming majority of people recommend weekly water changes. However, if you stroll over to the library, or go over to the bookstore, or talk to your local fish store guy that seems to know what he's doing, they will tell you monthly. Sometimes even longer. Axelrod. Konig. Dick Mills. The rec.aquaria FAQs. Monthly. Independently, I've found that monthly is what works for me -- about 30 years of Oscar keeping, usually pairs in 55s. Monthly changes leaves no time for any measureable accumulation of nitrate, and then I discover after the fact that most recognized aquaria authors that you can read down at the library recommend the same thing. The instruction manuals that come with Aquaria, Inc. products (Magnum, Aqua-Tech, Emperor, Penguin) -- Monthly. The manual that comes with the Whisper (Tetra) 30-60 filter -- Monthly. Neal Pronec -- Monthly. When you get down to it, the only place I have ever seen weekly water changes recommended is in newsgroup and forum posts. (Except on a package of "Clout", as part of medicating an aquarium). So what am I missing? There's nothing wrong with weekly water changes, I think, but if they are intregal to fishkeeping, then why are they never recommended in "ligitimate" literature and in my experience?

I will duck, now, in preparation for the onslought of answers:D

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Weekly Water Changes

Postby GothicWombat on Thu Nov 17, 2005 2:05 am

this new learning amazes me. tell me again how sheeps bladders may be imployed to prevent earthquakes

but seriously i like this idea of monthly water changes because i'm lazy and lately i've also been busy so it's been hard to find time to bucket out the enough water from my 135 gallon to change anything. however my tank seems to always be a little higher in nitrates than i would like, mabe i should just get a crapload of plants,
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Weekly Water Changes

Postby DanRad on Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:03 pm

Back in the days of the "balanced aquarium" the literature said a lot of things that we don't necessarily have to agree with today -- no matter who said them. With a less complete understanding of the nitrogen cycle came a fear of adding water with any great frequency or volume. Not to say it coulcn't work -- it obviously did. In fact as I recall keeping plants was somehow a lot easier in those days. Thinking back to the 50's, I don't think I ever changed water. I just topped off whatever was necessary to replace what evaporated. With incandescent lights and no tank covers, that was often a fair amount. I did do gravel vacuuming, and kept my filters clean (come to think of it, I did also change water in the bowl I was keeping my betta in. I was probably overfeeding him). In spite of this, goldfish and livebearers bore galore, so I must have been doing something right. Having said that, I'm now doing frequent, large-scale water changes -- yes, there are recognized authorities who have researched and recommend this -- and I like the result I'm getting. Is it the only reasonable way to proceed? Clearly not, but in my view it has been pretty well researched, it is effective, and has no discernable down-side other than the time spent. If I ever do a real "fish room" I'll probably try to set up a constant-flow system. I agree that this more closely mimics natural water flow. The fish farms in Florida for example use well-water from the aquifer there that comes out of the ground at a year-round temp of 72. Also visited a trout hatchery out in Arizona that is situated on a natural spring (cooler than 72), and use that spring water constantly flowing through their concrete troughs -- finally into a holding pond that is the beginning of a stream. No filtration, just constant fresh water.

Can you succeed with filters, disciplined feeding, minimal water changes, plants, etc? Of course! Are frequent, large-scale water changes just a fad based on ignorance? No! Are there other ways to do this? Of course there are! Nobody knows it all.
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Weekly Water Changes

Postby Mark Stone on Fri Nov 18, 2005 10:57 am

Originally posted by DanRad
Back in the days of the "balanced aquarium" the literature said a lot of things that we don't necessarily have to agree with today -- no matter who said them. With a less complete understanding of the nitrogen cycle came a fear of adding water with any great frequency or volume. Not to say it coulcn't work -- it obviously did. In fact as I recall keeping plants was somehow a lot easier in those days. Thinking back to the 50's, I don't think I ever changed water. I just topped off whatever was necessary to replace what evaporated. With incandescent lights and no tank covers, that was often a fair amount. I did do gravel vacuuming, and kept my filters clean (come to think of it, I did also change water in the bowl I was keeping my betta in. I was probably overfeeding him). In spite of this, goldfish and livebearers bore galore, so I must have been doing something right. Having said that, I'm now doing frequent, large-scale water changes -- yes, there are recognized authorities who have researched and recommend this -- and I like the result I'm getting. Is it the only reasonable way to proceed? Clearly not, but in my view it has been pretty well researched, it is effective, and has no discernable down-side other than the time spent. If I ever do a real "fish room" I'll probably try to set up a constant-flow system. I agree that this more closely mimics natural water flow. The fish farms in Florida for example use well-water from the aquifer there that comes out of the ground at a year-round temp of 72. Also visited a trout hatchery out in Arizona that is situated on a natural spring (cooler than 72), and use that spring water constantly flowing through their concrete troughs -- finally into a holding pond that is the beginning of a stream. No filtration, just constant fresh water.

Can you succeed with filters, disciplined feeding, minimal water changes, plants, etc? Of course! Are frequent, large-scale water changes just a fad based on ignorance? No! Are there other ways to do this? Of course there are! Nobody knows it all.
Outstanding post. DanRad, this is why you rock-and-roll!!:bravo:

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Weekly Water Changes

Postby stilllearnin on Fri Nov 18, 2005 11:30 am

When you get down to it, the only place I have ever seen weekly water changes recommended is in newsgroup and forum posts.


Have to disagree ;)


All of the below mentioned are "published" and should all be "reconized"

"A regimen of large, partial water changes and powerful biological filtration should take care of these fish." Vinny Kutty and Wayne Leibel on keeping pike cichlids

"All Geophagines do best in clean water and regular partial water changes"
Leibel, Wayne S. 1993a. A Fishkeeper'ss Guide to South American Cichlids


"T. duboisi is one of the most popular cichlids from Lake ...
The maintenance of the breeding tank mainly consists of a weekly water change" Ad Konings saw you pointed him out above ;) in lectures in person Ad also gives the advice of frequent water changes for central americans,plan to hear his talk this weekend and just about guarantee , frequent water changes will be given as advice.


"frequent partial water changes are recommended for proper health and growth" Don Danko - on breeding pike cichlids

"Water changes of 50% were done on a weekly basis to promote health and proper growth." Don Danko - on breeding plecos

"Daily water changes prevent bloat and promote growth and breeding" Ron Georgeone - argueable the best "fish showman" around and breeder of many "hard to spawn species".


"Water changes must be done in large amounts if you are to be successful at breeding angelfish. Angels seem to thrive with 40% or greater water changes done as frequently as possible, even daily. You will probably not have much success with breeding angelfish if you can't change at least 30% once a week." Steve @ angelsplus


" Discus require 25% daily water changes" Bing Seto

"Discus require at least 25% daily water changes" Jack Wattley


"a very efficient outside power filter in conjunction with a program of frequent, regular partial water changes" Paul V. Loiselle,on keeping central americans



"You must change your water frequently. Frequently does not mean once every couple of months. I don't care how big or how many filters you have on your tank, you still need to change your water and clean your filters or vacuum your gravel" Pam Chin on keeping cichlids in general.





The instruction manuals that come with Aquaria, Inc. products (Magnum, Aqua-Tech, Emperor, Penguin) -- Monthly. The manual that comes with the Whisper (Tetra) 30-60 filter


Look up those brands or their offbrands and one thing you'll also notice is they all sell some type of chemical/junk thats something along the lines of "for use btween water changes".



Monthly changes leaves no time for any measureable accumulation of nitrate

In my oponion nitrate is still NOT the only thing to consider.

If your stuck in your house and the air is full of sulphur but the air tests fine for oxgen,would that satisfy you because what you checked was ok? Or would the suplhur still be annoying even though it wasn't tested for?
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Weekly Water Changes

Postby Mark Stone on Fri Nov 18, 2005 1:00 pm

Originally posted by stilllearnin
Have to disagree ;)
I disagree with your disagreement. You gave 11 quotes: 6 don't specify frequency, they only say "frequenty"; 4 are in reference to breeding; and 2 are in reference to Discus, which I think are too, too specialized to be included in a discussion about general aquaria. I think consensus still goes to monthly, (Dick Mills in "You and Your Aquarium", Herbert Axelrod in "Handbook of Tropical Aquarium Fishes", etc.). I think the pattern is that specialized breeders and some specific species need weekly, or more frequent, water changes, and perhaps general home aquaria kept by duffers like me need monthly? I don't know. Monthly has always kept my lil' tanks rockin'.

In my oponion nitrate is still NOT the only thing to consider.
You're right, but with us Oscar keepers it's the major consideration, because Oscars don't tolerate plants. Do you know of another contaminant that would increase at a faster rate than Nitrate in an Oscar aquarium?
Ad Konings saw you pointed him out above
Does that mean I have to dig through my books and find his "monthly" recommendation?:D

Everyone else reading in, please don't misunderstand -- frequent water changes are one of the most important things you can do to keep a happy, healthy aquarium! Please don't use my rants to excuse yourself from this basic. We're just wrestling with the term "frequent" --

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Weekly Water Changes

Postby stilllearnin on Fri Nov 18, 2005 1:55 pm

Does that mean I have to dig through my books and find his "monthly" recommendation?

I'd like to know how old the book is?


Dick Mills in "You and Your Aquarium"
you mean the book from 1986 :p Been a while since I've read or even had it,but....
Doesn't that book or his next one reccomend 10-20% weekly water changes?






4 are in reference to breeding
Whats the thing healthy fish are driven to do most ? (after eating since we talk alot about oscars ;) )

2 are in reference to Discus
I'll never understand why that makes a huge differance? Is it because discus are "more sensative" ? Even though oscars and other fish can be caught in the same bodies of water ?


heres two more that aren't specialized:

"I am not an expert on cichlid diseases. My philosophy is: do lots of water changes and avoid getting diseases, then you won't have to treat them" Ron Coleman

"Do a weekly water change" Ron Coleman on keeping cichlid tanks.

Back to humanes with air - If 30 people are in a room , 2 can smell a gas leak the others can't - does that mean only 2 can be effected by it? or does that mean it'll just take the others longer to notice? ;) You find 30 volunteers and I've got a match and $5 that says one way or another they'd all end up felling the effects even if only 2 let us know it right away. ;)

Do you know of another contaminant that would increase at a faster rate than Nitrate in an Oscar aquarium?
That I don't know exactly,but use a good TDS meter and you'll see theres a differance in TDS (total disolved solids) between a fresh changed tanks water and one thats went unchanged for a while.

Please don't use my rants to excuse yourself from this basic. We're just wrestling with the term "frequent" --


frequent (adjective) happening often; regular; common; usual :D

monthly (adjective, adverb) happening or produced once a month :cool:
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Weekly Water Changes

Postby Mark Stone on Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:43 pm

Originally posted by stilllearnin
I'd like to know how old the book is?
Arrgghhh, I'll try to find it.
you mean the book from 1986 :p Been a while since I've read or even had it,but....
Doesn't that book or his next one reccomend 10-20% weekly water changes?
Not that I know of.
Whats the thing healthy fish are driven to do most ? (after eating since we talk alot about oscars ;) )
Splash. (hehehehe) --- The quotes you are using, though, seem to be in reference to inducing spawning rather than basic aquarium maintenance.
I'll never understand why that makes a huge differance? Is it because discus are "more sensative" ? Even though oscars and other fish can be caught in the same bodies of water ?
I've never kept Discus, but my understanding is that they need much more specialized care and water conditions than most other species. My impression might be wrong, though, since I've never kept them.
heres two more that aren't specialized:

"I am not an expert on cichlid diseases. My philosophy is: do lots of water changes and avoid getting diseases, then you won't have to treat them" Ron Coleman

"Do a weekly water change" Ron Coleman on keeping cichlid tanks.
It's funny to hear Ron Coleman say "I am not an expert on cichlid diseases" -- it's hard to believe, I have so much respect for his depth of knowlege in regards Cichlids. He and I got into several discussions on several subjects when we both frequented rec.aquaria.freshwater.cichlids around 1997-1998 or so, and I may be mistaken but I think he supported me in my rants against the "required" weekly water change. I would have to "google" up those old conversations, but I think he recommends weekly but does not require it.
frequent (adjective) happening [b]often; regular; common; usual :D

monthly (adjective, adverb) happening or produced once a month :cool: [/B]
And, frequent (adjective) meaning monthly -- Einstein was right, all things are relative.

You asked how old Konings book was, and it occurs to me that most of what I look at for reference is older (I'm giving away my age here --) and that perhaps newer materials support weekly changes instead of monthly. I had never read published recommendations for weekly water changes, but you seem to have come up with a wheelbarrel full. Maybe fishkeeping as an art has evolved and I missed most of it, stuck in publications that were printed before anyone knew the cause of "New Tank Syndrome":D Experientially, though, I have to say that weekly water changes in well-maintained Oscar aquaria has not been necessary. But there I go, supporting my stand with personal experience when I've just finished lecturing Ironside (sp?) in another thread about Research! Research! Research!

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Weekly Water Changes

Postby stilllearnin on Fri Nov 18, 2005 11:59 pm

Splash. (hehehehe) --- The quotes you are using, though, seem to be in reference to inducing spawning rather than basic aquarium maintenance.

Yeah I'll agree but I tried to use quotes from reconizeable people and it seems the older reconized people have either vanished or went to work on breeding something.




You asked how old Konings book was, and it occurs to me that most of what I look at for reference is older

at least your not running syphon powered hang-on filters :D ;) I'm not that old yet but that might be a clue there lol

At least you used some good referances like Mills and Konings :thumbsup: Haven't seen many people actually refer to Dick Mills books,but I haven't seen a new one for sale locally (except Marine) in probally close to ten years :(

Axlerod I knew you refered to before but BLAH

I'm not sure when it's being published or if it will be a multi-part article in TFH or a book ? But David Boruchowitz is supposed, to be soon publishing a study on growing mutliple oscars to adulthood in a 75 gallon tank! With daily 100% water changes.
Many things he does in old scholl style so it may be interesting to you.

It's funny to hear Ron Coleman say "I am not an expert on cichlid diseases" -- it's hard to believe
Yeah Ron seems to know alot! Nice guy too, maybe he changed his keeping style over the years.


As far the rest of it , I'm right with everyone else 20 years ago I had fish in bowls with cheap box filters full of floss and carbon. Used to just dump the water and scrub the bowls,decorations and ugly flourescent gravel, when the water got "dirty"
That was a water change :shock:

Maybe fishkeeping as an art has evolved and I missed most of it

I think alot of us and especially some people new to the hobby just don't realize how much it actually has changed until we actually think about it.
Like I said my early days of fish keeping I looked into where my fish were and saw bowls and either a box filter or even just an airstone.And a mess of humming loud air pumps,always needing a new diaphram.
Now I look in my fishroom and see more feet worth of plumbing in that one room then there actually is for my house. 30 to 80 gallon sumps for wet/dry filters (some of those would have been dream tanks back in the day) large hang-on filters (some of those are the size of bowls guppies used to be kept in)

Not sure of your exact age but I'm fairly certain your a little older then me Mark,so you might be another person that remembers the old/early submersiable heaters? The sand filled ones that would shatter in a tank and make a mess . Or there was the hang on types that zapped you if they got humid or splashed.
Boy this hobby has come along way
:thumbsup:
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Weekly Water Changes

Postby Fuzzy on Sat Nov 19, 2005 1:42 pm

Excellent thread, I always get amazed at how much experence we have here in this site.
That being said, myself I find nothing wrong with you doing monthly changes Mark. Let face the facts, with your years of experence, you obviously have the skill to not over feed, use good filtration,etc, and I am pretty sure, if you happened to see a problem arise, quickly act on it.
Myself, as I have stated, I change my water based on test results for nitrate, not on time frames.
I do use salt in my tanks, and that leads to quicker and higher levels of TDS's, which IMO are more of a problem then the three standard elements tested for in fish tanks. At least in cycled tanks maybe a better statement.
Yet if i was asked to put in print, or to make a recomendation on water changes, I would generalize my answer and say weekly. That way, a novice would , I hope, follow my advice, and an experenced keeper might question my advice.

Just my two cents on the thread:D
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Weekly Water Changes

Postby Mark Stone on Sun Nov 20, 2005 9:33 pm

Originally posted by stilllearnin
, , , it seems the older reconized people have either vanished or went to work on breeding something. . .
Or their fishes died because they were only doing monthly partials, and have moved on to other hobbies - - - :D

Clear-Free brand green colored corner filters, powered with a single airstone and full of filter floss -- THAT was filtration. One of those babies for every 15 gallons. I still have them out in the garage - - - - - - - -:thumbsup:

Mark -- :cool:
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