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FAQs About Water Changes for Freshwater Systems 

Related Articles: Water Changes, General Maintenance,

Related FAQs:  Aquarium MaintenanceTreating Tap Water for Aquarium Use, pH, Alkalinity, Acidity, Freshwater Algae Control, Algae Control, Foods, Feeding, Aquatic Nutrition, Disease

Water Preparation 10/15/06 What is your recommendation as far as regular water changes? Thanks, Mark <15-20% weekly is ideal to me.> <Chris>

Water Changes.      9/21/14
Hello Crew,
<Hello Stephen,>
I've just been reading an article by Bob Fenner on this subject, though I still feel I need a little clarification on whether what I'm doing this right or not.
<Hmm... not difficult to do/understand. The more water changes, the better; but moderating that is the need to minimise exposure to rapid changes in temperature and water chemistry. Hence, a standard approach is around 25% every week or two, depending on how 'dirty' your aquarium might be. Big,
messy fish need more water changes.>
I currently have a 46 (UK gallon) tank which has only been operating for about three months. I have seven fish; two Bristlenose Plecs, and five bronze Corys (& all is very well). I have been performing two mini changes a week (10 - 15% each time) - simply because I don't want to create too much of a drop in temperature (2 degrees so far is the most I've seen).
<A trivial change, and actually one Corydoras often appreciate. Slightly cold water used for a water change is a useful spawning trigger for this genus.>
I don't mind doing two smaller changes per week, but do I 'need' to do that much? Bob's article seems suggests that 10% a week would be ample? Does this amount change with certain fish?
<10% a week is a bare/acceptable minimum for a lightly stocked tank like yours. You can use a nitrate test kit to tell if that's too little water though. If your nitrate levels are high (say, 40 mg/l or more) then bigger
water changes are sensible. 25% a week is safe and widely recommended, assuming you make some token effort not to top the tank up with ice-cold or boiling-hot water!>
<<I suggest 25% per week changes. RMF>>
Finally, what do you think of the internal filters that act (supposedly) as effectively as an external one?
<Internal canisters are excellent. The biggest issue with them is they're unsightly and difficult to hide. But they're super-easy to maintain, and provided you chose one big enough for your tank, they can provide excellent water quality.>
I ask since I feel that I need to bolster my bacterial population, and although I have a several years old external filter, one of the above mentioned advanced internals might be the ticket for me.
<Six of one, half a dozen of the other. External canister filters are excellent, the gold standard against which other filters are compared. But they can be (are) more difficult to disconnect and therefore to maintain.
Nonetheless, if you have a mature, working external canister you're happy maintaining, there's no compelling reason to switch to another type.>
Thank you very much. :)
<Welcome.>
Btw, I've looked on YouTube for WetWeb videos, but there doesn't appear to be much at all. Do you have plans to add the odd video?
<Not that I'm aware of. But if you want to see Bob Fenner in action, the search his name, and lo and behold!
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=bob+fenner
Cheers, Neale.><<What the?! B>>

Filtering out water from sand       9/20/14
Hi crew, hope all is going well. I have a freshwater aquarium with a sand substrate. When I clean the sand I try my best not to suck up any, but I always do get some. When I am done I have a mixture of sand and water in my bucket. I was wondering in you were familiar with a type of screen or filter that I could separate the sand and put it back into the tank. Thank you for your help.
James Hall
<I would pour off the water (and mulm), maybe give the sand a bit of a rinse with tapwater, and pour in back into the tank... Look for a gravel vacuum with a "long throat" that will allow the sand to mix in it, but not be so much sucked out... Perhaps a Python product.
Bob Fenner>

Water change     11/24/13
Hi there
Apologies in advance for what is quite a simple question.  I have two very mature tropical fish tanks (about 120 litres each) that have been stable for over two years now.  In one tank, I have one Forktail Blue-eye, one guppy, eight mature neon tetras and two mature platys (no new mates because I am trying to run the tanks down a little).  The other tank has thirteen young neon tetras and three amano shrimps. 
I am planning on going away for three weeks.  Although my neighbour will feed them once every few days, I am not happy to ask her to do water changes.  As the tanks have just a few fish in them each, is it possible to leave the weekly 20% water change until I get back?  Or is three weeks pushing it just a little too far?  I'd be very grateful for your advice here.
all the best
Pat
<You can leave these tanks without water changes for three weeks without much risk of trouble. Do make sure you reduce the food given as you state, but also minimise the risk of overfeeding (a good idea is to put the daily portions into individual pots then hide the rest). If you can, do a decent water change a couple days before you leave. Cheers, Neale.>

FW... evaporation rate guessing     5/3/13
Hello there I really hope you can help me with this ... ok I have a 500  gallon freshwater fish tank.. now this is my first tank at this size.. Ok I had drawled a line on my filter tank to know to not to go over that line for safety  reasons like so when turn pumps off it wont over fill in the filter tank and  there be a mess.. But ok well my question is for a freshwater tank my size how  much water evaporates daily??? So meaning what is the normal amount of water  that would evaporate daily??? I hope you can answer my question and thank you  for your time..
<... depends on relative temperature, the humidity in the air above the tank, whether it is covered, there is a breeze... likely a gallon or so per day. Bob Fenner>
/Neale      5/3/13
Hello there I really hope you can help me with this ... ok I have a 500 gallon freshwater fish tank.. now this is my first tank at this size.. Ok I had drawled a line on my filter tank to know to not to go over that line for safety  reasons like so when turn pumps off it wont over fill in the filter tank and  there be a mess.. But ok well my question is for a freshwater tank my size how  much water evaporates daily??? So meaning what is the normal amount of water  that would evaporate daily??? I hope you can answer my question and thank you  for your time..
<We can't answer this! Evaporation depends on a number of factors, including the temperature of the room, the amount of air movement, and how saturated with water the air already happens to be. The warmer the room, the more the air moves, and the dryer the air, the faster evaporation will occur. Make sense? Automatic aquarium top-up systems are available for use on marine tanks, and these can be used on freshwater tanks too. As for what happens if a pump fails, if the tank is properly designed, there is no risk of water spilling out of the tank. Consult with an experienced fishkeeper who can look at your system to be sure, but standard aquarium pumps like external canisters shouldn't drain the tank even if they stop working.
Cheers, Neale.>
Re: (no subject) Evap., FW     5/4/13

lol i got to say that's pretty funny cause when your message started it said that my question couldn't be answered and you answered it.
<Tis a guess>
 Well what i am meaning is when you said bout gallon a day.. That was the answer i was looking  for.. and thank you for explaining everything to me bout pumps, room temp and if  there is a breeze and etc. I was thinking bout a gallon a day is normal. So with  your opinion being close to what i was thinking you have made my day cause now i  know that about a gallon a days is most likely normal.. thank you for your time  and getting back with me.. I hope you have a wonderful weekend...TA TA..
<Cheers, BobF>

Water Changes - II - 12/18/2012
Dear Sabrina,
<Hi, Joe!>
Thanks for the good advice and quick response. 
<Glad to help; sorry for the delay on this one.>
Just finished a 50% water change.  How long before I will get a true reading on the ammonia level?
<Heh, well, by now, you certainly should.  Generally, a day or two after using a Chloramine remover ought to suffice.  If in doubt, in almost every scenario, water changes typically won't hurt.>
By the way, you guys at WWM are the best!
<Thank you for these kind words, Joe!  Very much appreciated.>
Thanks,
Joe Messina
<Wishing you and your critters a happy season,  -Sabrina>

Rift valley salt mix and topping up    8/10/12
Hi folks
I just wanted to check something if you don't mind?
<Sure.>
I've got a fairly new Lamprologus ocellatus setup and I'm treating my soft mains water with the rift valley salt mix from the water chemistry article on WWM.
My question is - when it comes to replacing water lost to evaporation should I be topping up with straight mains water or mains water treated with the rift valley mix?
<Ideally, you top up evaporation with pure water (RO water, deionised water, even rainwater) as the water that leaves the tank through evaporation is pure H20, and the mineral salts are left behind. In practise you can normally top up with tap water, and provided you do water changes on a regular basis, the additional minerals that get in this way won't mess
up water chemistry too much.>
I'd have thought the minerals would be concentrating, so pure mains water, but I wanted to make sure there wasn't anything I was missing.
<Ah, yes, you do understand the problem.>
Thanks, as always.
Cheers
Gord
<Cheers, Neale.>

Water Change, FW    10/11/11
Hi WWM,
I have a question about water changes; specifically, the mechanics of how to do it.
I have a 10 gallon tank with 3 adult platys and 2 fry in a isolation tank. The other fry is in the 10 gallon. I use a tube and bucket I purchased from PetSmart. As I pull a vacuum, the water immediately runs fast into the bucket; it is difficult to clean the entire rock surface with a 10% water change.
How do you efficiently vacuum all the rocks and remove all the trash?
<That's largely the job of your filter. If the dirt sits on the floor of the aquarium, then your filter is likely too weak. Small hang-on-the-back filters are especially poor at this job. Undergravel filters will, obviously, draw dirt into themselves unless of the reverse-flow type.>
Is the goal to clean the rocks with every water change?
<No.>
I was told to do a 10% change once per week and a 25% change once per month.
<Something like that. A good benchmark is 20-25% each week for a busy aquarium, a bit less for a lightly-stocked one, perhaps 50% for a heavily stocked aquarium.>
Do I clean the gravel once per week or once per month?
<As often as necessary. Stir with a stick, and siphon out whatever comes out.>
Sorry for so many questions. The PetSmart folks told me to do 10% every week and 25% every month. I just don't know how to clean the bottom with only 10% water change since it removes the water so fast.
<One of many problems with small tanks. But then again, a small tank shouldn't be heavily stocked>
Here is my idea:
Vacuum most of the water into a large bucket (obviously leave enough water for the fish to swim)
Wait until all the trash and sediment sink to the bottom
Pour the water from the bucket back into the tank without pouring the trash back into the tank
Add replacement water into tank (if 10% water change, then add one gallon replacement water)
The goal is so I can get most of the trash from the bottom of tank.
Thanks for considering my questions and comments
<Sounds rather complicated. Don't worry too much about solid waste -- this isn't dangerous to the fish, and it's the job of your filter to remove this anyway. Rinse or replace the mechanical filter media in your filter more often if the filter isn't keeping the water clean, or else review the type/amount of filtration and act accordingly.>
Dante'
<Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Parasites in my tank with other illnesses...please help! I'm desperate!   10/3/11
I have one more thing I was hoping you can help me with. I have learned so much from your website but the thing I just cant seem to get a straight answer to no matter what website I'm on is about the cycle. I've read that your <<you're>> supposed to vacuum the gravel,
<If you want; I rarely bother.>
change the filter regularly
<No; clean the filter media every month or two, yes, but never replace more than 50% of the biological media in any 6-8 week period. Carbon needs to be replaced weekly, but there's so little reason to use the stuff in a freshwater tank I wouldn't waste money on it.>
and do a water change regularly cause the uneaten food and fish waste is toxic to the fish and produces ammonia.
<Something like that! Water changes are for diluting nitrate, which builds up as the end product of biological filtration. But the biological filter is the bit that handles ammonia and nitrite, and these two chemicals should be 0 mg/l at all times in a healthy, cycled aquarium.>
Then I have read that the good bacteria is not necessarily in the water but in the gravel and the filter.
<The latter, mostly. Filter bacteria sit on the very top of the gravel, but not enough to clean the water in the aquarium, so you can largely ignore them. The main population of "good" bacteria live in the biological filter, typically sponges or ceramic noodles in the filter.>
So, am I supposed to change the filter regularly and vacuum the gravel regularly and if I do, will I be removing the good bacteria?
<Water changes and gravel cleaning are both good. Do them. Filter media needn't be replaced very often, with sponges and ceramic noodles lasting for years and years. But you can, and should, *rinse* these media in a bucket of aquarium water every month or two. This will remove the brown silt without killing the bacteria.>
I ask this cause I have been doing water changes and vacuuming the gravel at least every 2 days since my ammonia levels are just a little bit high but no matter how many times I do that my ammonia levels wont go down. Is that cause I need to change the filter?
<No. But is your filter big enough for the fish you are keeping? For a community of small fish like Neons, you want a filter rated at 4 times the volume of your tank in turnover per hour. In other words, if you have a 20 gallon tank, you want a filter that's rated at 4 x 20 = 80 gallons/hour (sometimes written GPH or gph).>
Cause I haven't changed the filter cause I thought that's where the good bacteria was?? I'm sooo confused...lol!!! Thanks again for any advice you may have to offer :)
<Do buy/borrow, then read an aquarium book for beginners. You will find life much simpler if you understand what's going on. Cheers, Neale.>
Okay so the helpful bacteria will be killed as well which is a problem.
<If the tank dries out, or is treated with a steriliser like bleach, then yes, the bacteria will be killed alongside Finrot, Velvet, Whitespot, and most other pathogens.>
But cycling the tank is not a problem for me.
<So long as you understand how to cycle the tank before adding fish, then great!>
So just to recap sterilising the tank will kill the parasite?
<Should do so, yes. But do remember sterilising is more difficult than many assume, and pathogens can survive in cracks and crevices. Best to discard what you can (gravel, filter media), sterilise the bare minimum you need to keep (e.g., tank, filter components, heater), and buy new whatever you can
-- if this is really what you want to do. Sounds massive overkill to me.
Many medications available that kill Velvet, alongside other types of pathogen too, e.g., Seachem Paraguard, and these won't harm filter bacteria.>
Thanks for your help Neale
<You are welcome. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Water change gone wrong?   9/19/11
Boy do I feel beat. I did a 20% water change this morning. (the snail got better and is still doing fine.) But last night, I tested my water for nitrate, nitrite, alkalinity, and pH (I don't have any ammonia chemicals or
test strips, so I'll do that tomorrow when I get some.)
To my surprise, the nitrates were the worst! The nitrite levels haven't even budged from when I first set the tank up! And the worst part: the pH and alkalinity are very low. Alkalinity is low and the pH is acidic.
<Yikes, how much is much?>
I put in a pH tablet last night that brings it up/down to a neutral level.
<... the low alkalinity... equals buffering capacity...>
Then it went back down again this morning. I guess I have to work on the ammonia and nitrates, first, THEN work on getting that pH up.
<Easy enough. Read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwph,alk.htm
and the linked files above>
Would a 20% water change every three days help? I'm just wondering, 'cause I don't want to take any chances with the snail again!
At least the fish have calmed down. I put one tablespoon of aquarium salt in two days ago, and they've calmed down quite bit. Now they're almost completely back to normal (as if the ammonia spike never even happened!)
I solved the baby platy problem by taking out one of the aquarium light bulbs out (of course I didn't think of that before.) I'm guessing it's just a phase, since the younger brood is still acting normal.
The baby snails are in a separate jar now, so it won't add to the ammonia levels much.
Again, thanks for all of the help you could give me. I'll be sure to visit your site when I need help again. :D
-Jenny
<Welcome! BobF>

vacuuming gravel, FW  2/17/10
Hello,
<Hello,>
I have a 72 gal. with: 6 silver dollars, 8 female platy, 1 male pearl Gourami, 1 male bushynose Pleco, 1 clown Pleco, 1 angelfish, 2 mystery snails, 2 bamboo shrimp. It has been running for almost 9 months. All of the inhabitants are doing well. I do a 10%-15% weekly water change and I vacuum the gravel when I change the water. I feed twice a day - what they can eat in about a minute. I rarely see food hit the bottom.
<I bet! Silver Dollars are remarkably greedy fish!>
My gravel is 1-2 inches thick. When I vacuum the gravel there is always a lot of debris. Why is there so much debris under my gravel?
<You have some big, messy fish. Mostly it's faeces. There may also be decaying plant material, if you're feeding your Silver Dollars and Ancistrus the green foods they need (peas, courgette, spinach, etc.).>
Is this normal?
<Pretty much.>
I'm done with my water change long before I remove all of the debris from underneath the gravel. I considered switching to sand, but I like the look of the gravel.
<Pros and cons to both, but while sand leaves detritus on the surface, gravel lets the detritus sink in. So tanks with sand may look dirtier, that's only because you can see the detritus (and potentially, it's easier to remove). Gravel tanks tend to be dirtier than sand tanks, if only because debris accumulates in the gravel over time.>
I've changed over half the water in the tank trying to vacuum out all the debris, only to find it all back in less than 2 weeks.
<About the going rate!>
Do my fish produce that much waste?
<Clearly, yes.>
I've had 2 green water outbreaks in the past, I'm wondering if that is what caused them.
<The two things are not strongly connected, since the debris on the gravel is largely insoluble and so can't be used as a nutrient by algae. But having said that, a tank with lots of debris typically has high levels of nitrate and phosphate as well, and also relatively poor water circulation, and these two issues can be associated with algal blooms.>
I have 2 350 Marineland penguin filters running, I keep my lights on about 11 hours. Thanks for your help,
Curtis
<While popular filters, hang-on-the-back filters do suffer from having the inlet and outlet close together. That means water circulation across the tank will be variable, strongest near the filter, weaker farther away. This is different to an undergravel filter, where the water flow is uniform across the bottom, or an external canister, where the inlet and outlet are usually at different ends of the tank. Also, whatever filter you have, it's ability to remove silt and debris will be dependant on sufficient turnover *and* mechanical filter media. If your tank is silty at the bottom, clearly
the filters aren't doing their jobs, or you aren't maintaining them properly. Check they have enough mechanical filtration media (typically filter wool) and make sure you replace this regularly. If you don't have plants with roots, consider installing a reverse-flow undergravel filter.
This uses a canister filter to force water into an undergravel plate. The water rises through the gravel, and in doing so pushes silt into the water column. This prevents the gravel getting dirty, and with the silt in the water, the mechanical media in the canister can quickly remove it.
Reverse-flow undergravel filters aren't compatible with plants that have roots, but floating plants and epiphytic plants (like Java fern) are fine.
Cheers, Neale.>

Barrels  8/20/09
Hello Crew!
<Brandon>
I recently acquired some barrels (2x 35g, 3x 15g) that were previously used for flavor syrups in the food industry. Closed top, 2" and 3/4" bung holes. I've rinsed with plain water, and then soaked with ~ 2.5-3% bleach
(household, pre-diluted). They still smell somewhat like the flavors! Do I need to continue to clean until no smell remains, or is a slight smell okay?
<I'd scrub out with water, sponge (new and not one with mildewcide) and rock salt... let sit for a few weeks with rock salted water in them>
I only worry because I will be doing 50% water changes weekly (~35g, beginning EI dosing) and want to make sure that this will not be toxic to my fish and plants. Any advice?
-Brandon
<Likely the bit of syrup will not be toxic, but I'm shying on the side of conservativeness here. Bob Fenner>
Re: Barrels  8/21/09

Hello again,
<Brandon>
Barrels are a permanently closed top, and my hand certainly wont fit through a 2' opening. I've heard charcoal briquettes and/or newspaper (carbon) absorbs odors well? Also, vinegar/baking soda combination with water.
<Don't add these together... foam city>
This probably sounds crazy by now, haha. If nothing else, I will have a vanilla and coconut scented aquarium in my living room :-)
-Brandon
<I'd fill with very salty water for a few weeks... drain and see if they still smell strongly. Again, a small bit of "pop" residue is not likely going to be harmful. Our company made "fish pond filters" from such drums years back... Bob Fenner>

EI Dosing / Water Changes 08/15/09
Greetings Crew!
I currently own a 72g bowfront set up as follows:
a.. Drilled, wet/dry filter w/ Mag7 pump supplying ~300gph to main tank, 30gph to 10g breeding tank adjunct
b.. (2) 10k bulbs, 65w, and (2) 6500k plant bulbs, 65w <260 watts total>
c.. Pressurized CO2 - kH runs between 7-8 (with gH running 10-12), pH 6.9-7.0... gives me somewhere between 21-26ppm. Fish show no signs of distress.
d.. Water quality as follows - Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate 0, for >1 year.
kH/gH as stated above. Temp ~80-81F
e.. Dosing Flourish Excel 5ml every other day
Here's the question. My tap water come out between 20-25 gH, and 15 or so kH. My fish are mostly tropical community, tetras, rasboras, SAE, Pleco, etc. When I do water changes, I have to make my change water 50/50 with RO water. I've been researching EI dosing, and am interested in doing it. My plants grow nice, and fairly quick, but they do show some signs of element depletion (yellowish leaves w/ green veins, spotty pinholes, etc.). EI dosing sounds great, but the problem is thee 50% weekly water changes it entails.
<So?>
I've purchases a 35g polyethylene drum (for $5 -a steal), and intend to use it to get RO water from my LFS. Problem is, 20 gallons of RO costs about $10, aside from transport. My question for you is,
<... Make your own RO... much cheaper than even just paying for gasoline to haul around from elsewhere>
If I start do use the EI dosing method w/ 50% water changes, would using my (very hard) tap water hurt (knowing it would, in time, raise my tank to the same parameter), or should I suck it up and shell out the extra cash for the RO water?
<I'd suck, make my own>
I don't want to hurt my fish or my plants, but I need to be realistic in what I have time to do. Will a kH of 15 and a gH in low 20's be alright for a planted tank?
<For the vast majority of "aquarium plants"; absolutely yes>
In time, I want to purchase my own RO system, but I am in Nursing school, so money is something I don't have a lot of.
<They are cheap... I'd read on WWM re... get one from Home Depot, Lowe's...>
Thank you in advance for your help. Awesome site as usual, just couldn't quite find this answer.
-Brandon
<See here re EI:
http://www.barrreport.com/estimative-index/3209-want-more-accuracy-want-daily-pmdd-style-ei-dosing.html
Bob Fenner>

EI Dosing / Water Changes <<error>> 08/15/09
Hello all again!
<Brandon>
Made a mistake in my email to you; the measured kH/gH of my tap were old values, for I made the mistake of not testing it again before I messaged you. They were taken months ago, before the introduction of a new 3 million GPD RO facility in my county. This plant supplements our (very) hard water (which we get from 5 sources - our own wells, and another supplier's wells, reclaimed, and desalinization plant, and now our RO facility). As you can imagine, 5 water sources tends to cause fluctuations in hardness. The test I just performed was 8kH / 16gH. Given this new data, and knowing that my aquarium is fairly close to those parameters, and most certainly NOT forgetting that my tap water can fluctuate 5dgh on a daily basis, would tap water be safe for the entire water change (de-chlorinated and temp'd, as always)?
<Ah, yes. Certainly>
Thank you again!
P.S. - Fun Fact - The desalinization plant I spoke of is the largest in North America, belonging to Tampa Bay Water. The reclaimed water comes from a 15 billion gallon man-made above ground reservoir... now that would be the ultimate tank
<Agreed! BobF>

Re: EI Dosing / Water Changes 8/15/09
Thank you for timely reply, Bob. I actually work at The Home Depot. Our RO systems are geared towards sinks, and low output... 5gpd at a $100 or so...
<Yes>
Most websites sell Coralife/Kent Marine systems for near same price, but @ 10x output. Just a heads-up on bargain shopping ;-)
<Wow; didn't realize the commercial petfish units had come down this far.
Thank you Brandon. BobF>
-Brandon

FW Water   5/2/09
I have a ten gallon FW tank with one blue lobster and an occasional guppy.
My tap water is atrocious. The average PH does not read on the charts, below 6.0ppm. Is there a store bought substitute that could work for water changes.
<Don't bother. See here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWsubwebindex/fwh2oquality.htm
Scroll down to the section on making water harder by adding home-made Cichlid Salt mix. Do that. Cheap, easy, and will be ideal for both Crayfish and livebearers.>
For example what would be the best option between distilled, purified, spring, and of course is one specific brand name preferable over another?
I have determined this would be the easiest way to combat my tap water problem but have received mixed messages from LFS about the best type of water to use. Any suggestions aside from an RO unit which I own but cannot set up at my current location. I would prefer not to have to adjust the waters chemical makeup with additives, if this is possible.
<Trust me, it's easy to add stuff to tap water to make it perfectly safe for your fish. Between the Rift Valley cichlid salt mix and water conditioner, even the worst potable water can be turned into spiffy aquarium water! And at just pennies a month!>
Thank-you.
Ivy
<Cheers, Neale.>

Basic Question, FW water changes  4/17/09
Henry here.
<Hi, Henry!>
First, I want to thank the crew for all of the guidance they provide.
<Kind of you to say so.>
My question is on the method used to add the new water during a water change. I used to put a bowl on the substrate, and pour the 5g jugs in.
Now, with all I've added I don't have a place to put a bowl. How can I add water without disrupting everything?
<Ah, the tricky bit! Pouring the water against the glass can help, and pouring onto a big piece of rockwork will do the trick too. If you can arrange the plants so that there's at least one open gravel area or one big
rock, then that can become the place to add water. (In fact if you make a front corner relatively empty, and lower the gravel level below that of the rest of the tank, this is where muck will collect, making it very easy to siphon out detritus.) I find adding water via relatively small buckets (2-3 gallons) is easier, because you can control the flow more easily. Once the tank is more than 50% full, simply pouring water on top of water should deaden the impact quite a bit. Finally, if you have a really fiddly layout of plants and such, you can use a powerhead or even a small internal canister filter to pump the water into the tank from floor (though
obviously you need to make sure the pump doesn't run "dry" as this can damage to impeller). Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Back up generator & tank update 04/07/09
Neale, thank you for the insight and the new article link. Glassfish eating neon tetras?!? This hobby is certainly not boring.
<Not for those glassfish, at least.>
Do you have any suggestions for blue Mbunas other than the Placidochromis that would be happy in my tank?
<Pseudotropheus demasoni is the most recommended "dwarf Mbuna" and while not peaceful, it isn't big enough to be genocidal either. It tends to ignore non-blue, no-vertically banded fish. Interestingly, the Yellow Lab is a variety of Labidochromis caeruleus that is rare in the wild; the usual Labidochromis caeruleus are blue, so if you can get those, then they're just as good as Yellow Labs. Other Labidochromis species might be options too, such as Labidochromis sp "hongi".>
On another note, it's the time of year to plant vegetables and such, which I enjoy. I tried to find information on WWW regarding the benefits of reusing aquarium water, but failed to get a hit. So, do you know if there
is evidence that using aquarium water removed from the tank is "liquid gold" for watering houseplants, gardens, etc?
<Do use aquarium water all the time... is rich in nitrate and phosphate.
But won't be high in iron and other trace elements.>
Water is a hot topic and tagged to become a scarce resource in the next decades, so we aquarists needing water for our tanks should definitely pay attention to this subject!
<Quite so! One reason I recommend rainwater for soft water fishkeeping.>
Cheers,
Summer
<Cheers, Neale.> 

Changing Lots of Water In Two Very Large Aquariums  7/3/08 Hi Crew, I have just purchased 2 x 125 gallon tanks (one for general community tropical fish and the other for Malawi cichlids) and would like your advice on how the most efficiently perform water changes. Till now I have had a comparatively small 34 gallon tank which I weekly take 3 buckets of water from and replace with fresh water. Using buckets will not be viable for the new tanks however as it would take all day to get enough water out and replaced. I am considering buying a pump and hose pipe to flush the old water down the drain then filling a large water butt with warm dechlorinated water and using the pump to get the clean water in. Is this how large tank owners usually perform their water changes?? Any ideas you have to make this process easier would be gratefully received!! Many thanks Brian < Check out the Python Water Change System. It cleans the gravel at the same time it removes water from the aquarium. You could use a large submersible pump to remove the water but it wouldn't clean the gravel at the same time. The same system can replace the water in the tank. The only problem is when to add the dechlorinator. I would recommend that you get two five gallon buckets and place them next to the aquarium you are going to refill. Place the DeChlor in each bucket, Fill up the first bucket with water and place it in the aquarium. As the second bucket starts for fill you can add the DeChlor to the first bucket you just emptied. Repeat until the tank gets filled. You could always fill two plastic 55 gallon drums add the dechlorinator and pump them in to the aquariums too.-Chuck>

Water change, FW  4/09/08 Hello, <Hello, Merritt here today!> I have recently set up a 400L Juwel Rio and its been running for two weeks and a half now. <Nice size tank, I would have let it run just a little longer due to its size> Initially I set it up and let it run for a week (advised by the LFS) and added Tetra Bactozyme and tetra safe start. <Sounds good> Then after a week I added two small angel fish, 5 guppies and one baby bronze Cory. So far, all fish have been doing extremely well, no signs of poisoning like I read on WWM site or any other problems. When should I do my first water change? I know it's been a week since they are in there and I did a test with this API master kit - ammonia showed up as zero, the water in the test tube was colourless. Should I do a water change tomorrow? <Considering the size of your tank and the amount of fish in it right now, I would not worry about a ammonia spike. Thus, a water change shouldn't be your concern. If you want you can perform a water change of about 25%, it can't hurt the system or the fish> Thanking you in advance, <You are welcome!> Neervana <Merritt A.>

Water Changes -03/27/08 Hello Crew! Thanks for all you do for our hobby. I do have a question whose answer may seem obvious to many, but has been troubling me for some time. In a planted aquarium which is moderately stocked why are water changes still recommended? <Multiple reasons, but two of the most critical are accumulation of dissolved organic chemicals (these will lower the pH) and exhaustion of the carbonate hardness (which allows pH to fluctuate too rapidly for good fish health). Put very simply, an aquarium can rarely be run like a pond; because it is so small and the amount of light used so meagre compared with sunshine, it cannot reach a "microcosm" balance. Do read 'Dynamic Aquaria' for more on this topic. It is certainly possible to create viable microcosm and mesocosm aquaria, but it is extremely difficult to do this without very specific sorts of hardware that allow the plants, algae and bacteria to create healthy conditions. You also need to employ incredibly low animal stocking levels. For all practical purposes, these "balanced" systems are lab projects, not for home hobbyists.> It would seem that if you are addressing Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates satisfactorily there would be little benefit to doing water changes. <Water changes do more than dilute nitrate.> Are there other pollutants that are not being addressed by the nitrification process? <Many. Heavy metals that come in with the tap water and dust, organic acids produced by decay, airborne pollutants of various kinds including aerosols and vapours from the kitchen, and so on. All kinds of gunk ends up in the aquarium, and water changes help you remove them.> Any input would be appreciated. Regards, Howard <Cheers, Neale.>

Python Water Changes - The Straight Dope 10/9/05 Hello; OK, this is covered fully on WetWeb - but as usual I cannot find a simple bottom line answer - just opinions that say nay or yay. No degradation of the material found on WetWeb of-course. I have learned more there than anywhere - but occasionally I wonder if there are ever bottom line facts regarding aquarium "anything." <Bottom line fact= nothing is absolute in the world of aquariums, there will always be differences of opinions/experiences.> Can I add water directly from my tap to a freshwater aquarium using the Python during a water-change? <Yes you can; should you? That is up to you.> I am assuming you understand that I would add the appropriate chemical treatments (which are Amquel+ and Novaqua in my case) directly to the aquarium prior to flipping the switch on the Python. Further, given the instructions on these Kordon products - I would add enough chemical to treat the entire volume of water - as Amquel+, for example, is supposed to also aid in Nitrite/Nitrate/Ammonia depletion - while Novaqua is supposed remove heavy metals, aid stress, and contain regenerative additives. I will add that I consider a 10% risk (for example) to be a "NO" response. Just looking for a 100% proven fact here as to yay or nay - and the proven method that goes along with it given a Yay response. Thank you; Scott K <I would not be comfortable giving a yes or no, but here is my experience. When I had between 15-20 tanks setup, varying in size from 20-120 gallons I removed and added water using a Python hooked up to my tap. Before I started filling my tanks up I added enough prime to condition the amount of water I was adding back to the tank. At the time I was keeping Goldfish, large Cichlids, and Amazonish plant tanks, I never noticed a problem with this method.  Now I have one planted tank and for a few months I added water directly from the tap and added Prime directly to the tank. Now that I have added Discus to my tank I mix my water separately before I add it back to the tank. Chances are my fish will be ok if I add water directly from the tap, but I don't want to chance it.  Bottom line, mix the water and conditioner in a separate container then add it to the tank; this will also give you the ability to adjust the temperature before adding it back to the tank. A couple more experiences, a local fish store accidentally left tap water flowing into their system overnight and killed all of their fish. At all of the fish stores I worked at we mixed the water before adding it to the tanks. -Gage> 

Re: Tetra Fresh Delica in Daphnia storage, and FW gravel vac.   1/25/08 Hey Neale, Well I decided to give half the pack to my two bala sharks and the other half to the catfish, and they loved it! They are going into a frenzy, but I didn't feed them too much, I tested the water and it seems fine, N03 is a little high - around 0.1 but I am doing a water change tomorrow morning anyway, so they should be fine until the morning, shouldn't they? <NO3 is nitrate, NO2 is nitrite. Make sure you know which you're testing. 0.1 mg/l nitrite is not good, and implies either overfeeding or under-filtration or an immature filter. What you want is for that reading to go to zero. 0.1 mg/l nitrate is fine, but I don't think many freshwater test kits register such small amounts.> I looked for a gravel vacuum everywhere in central London today but none of the pet shops seem to have it. Do you know where I could get one? <If you want one, then someplace like Wholesale Tropicals in Bethnal Green or Aquatic Design Centre on the Great Portland Street would be two places to go. Personally, I just use a stick and the hose pipe. Stir the gravel with the stick, and siphon out the crud during the water change. Put water on houseplants or in the garden -- they love fish tank water!> I wanted a Hagen one. I have to use a manual cleaner tomorrow but I'm worried in case it scares them and they get stressed. What should I do? <Take the kid gloves off! Fish will get used to you cleaning the tank if you don't chase them and you do it regularly. Animals are very good at learning what's danger and what isn't.> Any other options? Not just replacing water is good enough, is it? <It is the main thing, but cleaning the tank and maintaining the filter are both important, too.> I have to get the debris off the gravel as well? <TO some degree, yes. No need to get paranoid, but if the gravel is obviously dirty, then a quick stir and a clean will help. What's on the gravel is largely harmless solid waste, and looks worse than it actually is. The dangerous stuff to fish is dissolved in the water: ammonia and nitrite.> Thanks, Neervana. <Cheers, Neale.>

BGA/silicate connection 11/9/07 Hi guys, Scott here. For the second time in about a year, I am battling BGA in my 20-gal freshwater tank. The tank is heavily planted, with a 65-watt Corallife compact fluorescent fixture. The bulb is about a year old. Java fern, Java moss, Wisteria, A. nana, corkscrew vals, and something I think is a variety of crypto are all producing new growth without CO, and little supplementation. Rotala indica not so well, but still has new growth. <Sounds like insufficient light. Rotala is a plant that is a weed under bright light, but does nothing at all under inadequate light. For example, I've stuck this species in a garden pond and it has survived and grown even under ice! But inside moderately illuminated aquaria, it just slowly dies. If light isn't the issue, check the substrate and CO2 concentration: both of these are key factors for Rotala.> For some reason, the rhizomes of my banana plants rotted away, but they continue to produce new growth. <Hardly the most reliable plant in the hobby. They need very specific water conditions depending on the species in question. Seemingly little adaptability.> The main problem has been BGA that grows over the lower leaves and chokes them off. <Common problem. Water quality (nitrate and phosphate especially), overheating, and direct sunlight are all critical triggers for Blue-green Algae. Often, treating with antibiotics is the only quick way to completely eliminate BGA, but if you get good plant growth and stabilise water quality, eventually it fades away.> I am using straight well water, which I have tested for silicates at around 10mg/l. <Silicate isn't really an issue with Blue-green Algae. Diatoms perhaps, but even in freshwater aquaria Diatoms aren't normally a problem except in immature tanks or tanks with poor lighting.> Sometime in the last few months, the pH of my well seems to have increased from 7 to around 7.4. The tank tests between 7.4-7.8. Phosphates are under .25. One of my local LFS insists that the silicate is what is feeding the BGA. <No, it's really not. Silicate is hardly used by most organisms. Diatoms almost uniquely use silicon to produce their external "shell".> I am considering an R/O unit, because I also have some funky-looking stuff growing in my saltwater tank. I guess the main questions I have are: Is the silicate likely the BGA culprit, and if so, will an R/O unit make that much difference? <Reducing the phosphate level in the water may help, but the silicate is hardly here nor there. In freshwater tanks, the way to beat algae is stunningly simple: fast-growing plants. Hygrophila, Cabomba, hornwort, etc all work well. Slow-growing species like crypts and ferns have no effect. The theory is that fast-growing plants produce chemicals that suppress the growth of algae. In my experience, this method works well, even against Blue-green Algae.> The silicate test I use states that silicates are not an issue for freshwater tanks and will usually be between 4-20mg/l. If I go to R/O water, will decomposing plant material leach silicate back into the water anyway, and if so for how long? <Most plants contain very little silicon; the exception are grasses, which deliberately use silicone to prevent grazing (and this is why grass-grazing mammals have rapidly-growing teeth -- the silicon is constantly wearing them down). Hope this helps, Neale>

Re: BGA/silicate connection -- lesson learned 1/9/08 Hi Neale, <Scott,> I thought I'd update you on this exchange we had a couple of months ago. I tried everything from phosphate pads and powders to erythromycin, yet the black slime persisted. Finally, as an experiment, I did a series of 25% water changes over three days. The black slime is disappearing rapidly. Just goes to show you , even if your test kits are reading zero nitrates and phosphates, they may still be in your system and are just being consumed by the algae. <Indeed. Possibly something not directly measured... sulphate, iron, magnesium... who knows?> Also, I want to thank the crew for the information you've put together on Betta keeping. Because of your advice, I set up a 5-gallon tank, with a very small HOB filter and a heater keeping it at a steady 82F. The Betta is very active and happy, and full of personality -- more so than I have ever seen in any of those desktop/countertop bowls. <Precisely. While you *can* try and keep a Betta is a big brandy glass, if you're a little more generous, you'll get far more out of these fish.> Finally, a quick question. I am trying to advise a friend on setting up a 40-gal breeder for freshwater. With a tank this length, is there any advantage to using two heaters and two HOB filters to provide more consistent water conditions throughout the tank? <If finances allow, this approach can work very well. More circulation always results in better conditions in the aquarium, and though 4x the volume of the tank is a good minimum for community tropicals, 6x the volume is better, and for many fish even 10x the volume is good. It's a good idea to choose two under-powered heaters though. That way, if one fails in the "on" position, it won't have enough wattage to boil your fish. So if your tank needs 100 W of heating, use two 50 or 75 W heaters. FWIW, this is precisely how my community tank is run, with a heater and a filter at each end.> Thanks again, Scott <Cheers, Neale.>

Gravel washers, dis. transmission   4/10/07 Greetings, I recently purchased a gravel washer and believe it's the best thing since sliced bread for water changes!  I do water changes and gravel washing at least every two weeks. <Wow, you're a better person than I... water changes weekly, gravel cleaning once or twice a year!> I am wondering though, should the gravel washer be soaked in any kind of disinfectant between washes? <If you have more than one aquarium, it is a good idea to clean things between moving them from one tank to another. You'll see retailers nowadays often keep their nets in jugs of disinfectant so that any diseases in one tank can't hitchhike to another. But realistically, cleaning the gravel washer every two weeks is probably overkill. If you want, sit it in a bucket of strong (at least 70 grammes/litre) salt solution. That'll kill most bacteria and parasites, while at the same time not being toxic to the aquarium fish if any gets left behind on the device.> I realize that the water is chlorinated going through the tubing back into the tank but trapped water does lay in the tubing between washes. <Store things dry. Most bacteria and aquatic parasites cannot tolerate exposure to air or sunshine (UV light) for very long.> Could that be a potential source of any kind of disease for the fish? <Potentially, yes, but the risk is trivially small compared with live foods (esp. Tubifex) and new aquarium fish.> Just wondering what you might recommend.  Thanks in advance! <Cheers, Neale> Linda Ritchie

Gravel washers & Value of "Quarantine", aka Isolating new livestock... FW here  4/10/07 Morning Neale, Thanks for the quick response. <No problem.> I'm slowly getting it through my head that the best way to protect your existing healthy fish is to use an iso tank for the newbies. <Yes it is. Also, when breeding fish, nothing beats having another tank to cosset pregnant females or rear the babies.> I've taken many fine suggestions from your crew and website.  Most of our LFS in this area are large chain stores that don't do much to isolate or even recognize a problem with their stock so it's vital that I take every precaution to prevent infestation in my tanks.  It's very relaxing to me to watch my livebearers go about their daily chores happy and healthy and to watch the fry grow into adults.  I've been keeping fish off and on for almost 30 years and much has changed in husbandry techniques since I started.   <Cool. One thing I forgot to mention in your original question -- is chlorinated water going into the tank when the fish are there? It shouldn't be. The chlorine is quite nasty as far as the fish are concerned. So always use a dechlorinator on any water that is in the tank when the fish are there.> Linda <Cheers, Neale>
Re: Gravel washers
& Value of "Quarantine", aka Isolating new livestock... FW here  4/10/07 Yes, the water is chlorinated but I add the dechlorinator in conjunction with the water.  I put some water in a pitcher and add the dechlorinator to prime the filters.  So far this has worked great. I wash the filters and filter packs with the water that comes out of the aquarium into the sink during the water change.   <Cool.> I don't try and adjust the pH to much for the livebearer tank. <Always wise. Easiest to get fish that like your water, rather than try to fiddle the water to suit your fish.> I just added some crushed coral to work on the KH, it's a little low at 4. <Agreed, and the solution sounds good. Be sure and deep clean the coral sand though: once covered in bacteria and algae (i.e., after a few weeks) it is isolated from the water, and doesn't do any buffering.> GH is right about 7-8 which should be okay.  Ph is very stable at about 7.4. <Both fine for platies.> Found out the hard way that the pH neutralizer does a number on the live plants! <Odd. Some plants like acid water, some alkaline, so that may be the thing. Many of the hardier plants, such as Vallis, like hard, alkaline water. If you soften the water too much, they get unhappy very quickly. Done this myself and watch hundreds of Vallis die overnight! Not pretty. Again, best to choose plants for your local water. There are lots of species that love hard, alkaline water: Vallis, Egeria, some Amazon swords (e.g. E. bleheri), some Crypts (e.g. C. wendtii and C. ciliata), Java fern, Java moss, etc.> I bring down the pH to around 7.2 for in the tetra tank.  As long as it remains stable the fish are okay. <Most tetras shouldn't mind even pH 7.4, so I'd not bother with the pH adjustment. The difference between 7.2 and 7.4 is not that important. Fish don't really "feel" pH anyway; they feel the total dissolved solids, which the acidifying agent isn't doing anything about. I personally wouldn't bother with the pH adjuster -- I'd sooner do more water changes to keep the quality high. Cheers, Neale>

Living example of doing well, FW water changes  03/09/07 Last word (for now) from a beginner :--)    <Mmmm>   My father started doing some partial water changes in his big tank.   He noticed the change - fish felt much better (swam more lively) after freshwater "injection." (Didn't I tell him that few weeks ago...:--)   Now, he saw my Emperor filter and requested that I order one for his tank.   In the meantime, my father's neighbor (another aquarist) asked me for the Emperor filter and some good fish stuff to read. Well... I recommended the best source - wetwebmedia :--)   Education at work :--)       Best to you and all crew.      Anna <I'll say! Thanks for this Anna. BobF>

Watering Plants With Turtle Water And Salt Water    1/14/07 I have a fresh water tank (40 long) with two red ear slider turtles, some fresh water plants, and a few small gold fish.  I change about 5 gallons of water per week.  I have quite a few plants around my house.  Would the excess water from the fresh water tank be better for these plants than regular tap water or RO water? <Not all plants have the same requirements. House plants are best watered with RO since the salts will accumulate if consistently watered with the turtle water. Outdoor plants can be watered with the turtle water as long as they are occasionally overwatered with fresh tap water to leach out any minerals that may have accumulated in the root zone.> Also, when I change my salt water tank, can I simply pour the excess water down the sink?  Does it hurt my septic system?  What should I do with it? <The water from your salt water tank should only be a small percentage of the total water going to your septic system. The bacteria used in the septic system cannot usually handle over 15 ppm salt concentration. With normal house hold water use the salt should be very dilute by the time it enters the septic tank.-Chuck>

Please! HELP! FW water change... maint.  12/23/06 I have a 2 month old Tank...A few plants! and only a few fish (5) and 3 snails. I recently did a partial water change with water conditioner. <Best to store such new water ahead of use...> I have notice a gradual change in the appearance of the glass in the tank.....It has this really hard to remove clearish/white substance growing...its also flaky like! <Interesting... wonder what the make-up of your new and system water is/was... Likely a "scaling event"... surprising that this didn't take your fishes out...> Now, today a week later I see these itty bitty worms squiggling from the glass....Please! help!!! what is this? Elizabeth Davis <I encourage you to do a bit of reading, avail yourself of at least pH and alkalinity test kits, testing... The worms are likely nothing to be concerned about... the scale/scum can be wiped off, or shaved away with a razor blade scraper or such. Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaint.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Water changes: better to do proactively and regularly, before toxins build up.   11/29/06 Hello Crew, <Hello!> When I started fishkeeping, I knew when to change some water from my tanks as eventually the levels began to rise. <Best to do water changes proactively - not to wait until toxins have built up.> Now I have two tanks and I've come to realize that overfeeding is quite easy to make the mistake of which is why I feed, even my established tank only 3 - 4 times a week. <Reasonable. It's very easy to overfeed, pollute a tank...> The result seems to be that both tanks never get any nitrite build-up and the nitrate is always between 5 and 10, usually around 5 to 8. <I assume you are measuring the nitrates in ppm, right? 10-20 ppm is an acceptable FW nitrate level, although less is always better.> The ammonia I find almost impossible to keep at 0, as it hangs around 0.02 - 0.04 but never gets any higher. <Ammonia NEEDS to be a ZERO.  Period.> Regardless of those levels should I still perform one w/c for my smaller Q tank per week and say...one w/c for my 210 litre every two weeks? I've been carefully watching the levels so see how long it takes for the nitrite and nitrate etc to increase but everything seems to be just the same. Maybe there are things that I now need to know about that fluctuate like KH levels? I also now appreciate the benefit of doing things slowly and gradually. (Thought I'd just send this message again as I'm not sure my emails are working well atm). <You're reasoning of "slow and gradual" is good.  I would suggest performing weekly water changes of 5-10%, even in the absence of "problem" ammonia, nitrite and/or nitrate readings.  I do 5 gal. water changes weekly on my 44 gal. FW and 29 gal. BW, and 50% water changes on my 3 gal. Betta tanks.  Better to not allow toxins to build up - much easier to control before the fact.  This is my recommendation. Also, as a side note, do be sure your test kit isn't expired. Also, some test kits are more reliable than others - the "dip sticks" are notoriously inaccurate, whereas the liquid kits are preferable.  The presence of ammonia in your tank concerns me; if you haven't been having fish health problems, I'd recommend double-checking with a new test kit. But do be aware that any amount of ammonia in the water is deadly to livestock. Best of luck, Jorie> Thanks. Steve.

FW water changes.   11/24/06 Hello Crew, <<Hello, Steve. Tom>> When I started fishkeeping, I knew when to change some water from my tanks as eventually the levels began to rise. Now I have two tanks and I've come to realize that overfeeding is quite easy to make the mistake which is why I feed, even my established Q tank, only 3 - 4 times a week. The result seems to be that both tanks never get any nitrite build-up and the nitrate is always between 5 and 10, usually around 5 to 8. <<I like this scheme better than waiting for changes in toxin levels as an indicator that its time for a water change, Steve. Even with all of the parameters at zero theres good reasoning for replacing some of the water in your tanks. Trace elements can be lost or significantly diminished over time and these need to be replaced for the health of your fish. Best to simply set up a regular interval and stick with it to keep things as stable as possible.>> The ammonia I find almost impossible to keep at 0, as it hangs around 0.02 - 0.04 but never gets any higher. Regardless of those levels should I still perform one w/c for my smaller Q tank per week and say...one w/c for my 210 litre every two weeks? <<I think this would be an excellent schedule. By the way, your test kit is undoubtedly measuring total ammonia which is a combination of toxic ammonia and less toxic ammonium. Since the test doesnt differentiate between the two, one way to know how much you have of each involves comparing your reading along with your pH levels and temperature against a chart. Provided that your pH levels arent excessively high, youll likely see that the amount of toxic ammonia is relatively insignificant compared to the ammonium levels. If you want to be more rigorous about this, you can find kits that test for each of these components individually but I wouldnt be concerned, frankly.>> I've been carefully watching the levels so see how long it takes for the nitrite and nitrate etc. to increase but everything seems to be just the same. Maybe there are things that I now need to know about that fluctuate like KH levels? I also now appreciate the benefit of doing things slowly and gradually. <<As Ive suggested, Steve, Id stick to the regular changes that you mentioned. Water thats well-buffered will resist changes in pH. KH tests will measure carbonate and bicarbonate levels if youre interested but I think it wiser in your case to keep it simple. The potential risk in waiting to catch a change in your parameters is that you might not catch it/them in time. A pH crash, for example, can occur rapidly and can be as devastating, or nearly so, as an ammonia or nitrite spike. Why take the chance with your pets?>> Thanks. Steve. <<Youre welcome, Steve, and best regards. Tom>>

Siphoning Babies - Danio Fry and Gravel Cleaning - 09/30/2006 Hi Crew, <Hi, Mike!  Sorry for the delay....  your email wasn't able to come through properly in our Webmail system; my computer was able to read/respond, but I've been out a bit.  I do apologize for this delay.> I spend far too long reading your website but enjoy it immensely. <Heh!  Me too.> I have a mature 240 litre freshwater community tank and over the last few weeks, every time I do my weekly partial water change, I syphon tens of baby zebra danios out with the tank cleanings. Obviously they are too small to net and I've tried various methods of separating them from the muck but, inevitably, I spend hours every week with my head in a bucket rescuing baby fish by whatever painfully slow method I've invented; dipping cup, air-tube syphon or pipette usually. <How about a brine shrimp net?> My problem is that I'm becoming increasingly fond of dumping the baby laden sludge directly into one of the fry tanks to save time. Although it's probably very good baby food, it does mean that I am building up waste in tanks that I can no longer syphon 10% of the water out of weekly since I'm back to square one - babies and muck. So what, if any, faster methods can you suggest of separating the babies from my siphonings please <A pipette and patience is probably the best/safest way....> and what is the best way of cleaning the gravel in the fry tanks?   <Best option here is not to keep gravel in your fry tanks.  Keep them bare-bottomed instead, if possible.> On a marine note, have you seen the new marine shop/website in Leeds?  www.reefranch.co.uk http://www.reefranch.co.uk/ ? <I haven't; I don't think anyone on the Crew right now is in the UK - but if I'm out that way, I'll have a look!> Fantastically well cared for fish and corals.   <Sounds great.  I like to hear of new, good shops opening up.> Best regards, <To you as well!> Mike Cursons <Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Cloudy water AFTER water changes, FW  7/3/06 Hi:    <Hello there>   I have checked your site and could not find an answer to my problem which is: I have a 72 gallon FW with an Eheim pro II filter, 2 small Nutrafin Co2 units. Ammonium, nitrate, nitrite not detectable.  The tank is heavily planted and everything is lush.  I clean the gravel regularly with a sludge extractor. There are/were 5 rummy nose tetras, 4 small bushy nose Plecos (1.5 inches each), 2 rams and 1 flag fish, 1 Oto cat in the tank. Hardness reads at 3 carbonate hardness, ph is 7.0.  Water changes about 10 gallons a week with distilled water. <Mmm, why distilled?>   So far so good until I decided to do a more draconic <...?> water change due to the "change hype" posted everywhere.  I did this with tap water and addition of a water conditioner (there is chloramine in the tap water).  About 1/3 of the tank.  The next morning, the water is milky and the fish in acute distress swimming on top gasping for air. <Yes, likely a "die-off", induced loss of "useful" (established) bacteria... with others, free-living (so populous it's making your water appear cloudy) microbes> Testing of the water with a sera test kit gives no results.  I change 15 gallons with distilled water (this is as much as I had at home).  When I get back later, two of the rummys have died and the water is still very cloudy.  I removed the fish to a quarantine tank that is okay.    <Good idea, move>   What is going on?  This is not the first time that I am having this problem when adding tap water - I thought water changes are supposed to make it better. Testing of the water (including phosphates) when this happened the first time in a smaller tank came also back negative. I am desperate and concerned that my rank will entirely crash.  repeated water changes in the past to get rid of the cloudiness did not make it any better (with conditioned) tap water. <Does appear that your tap/source water is "that" toxic to upset balance in this system... I do think that periodic larger change-outs are useful/advisable, but I would switch all such changes, along with regular ones to other "types" of water. IMO, reverse osmosis. I strongly encourage you to look into a small home-size unit. Easy to install, use... is what I do, have done for decades. Bob Fenner>

No water change... H3O or striking a balance   6/18/06 I have heard of the reef guys doing zero-maintenance tanks and am wondering if I am the only one with a freshwater zero-maintenance.  I am using a ten-gallon tank done in Amano style initially (heavily planted, many shrimp, a few Otocinclus, potting soil, peat moss, lava sand, and gravel in layers, with very bright light - 2x13w compact fluorescent and the ah supply reflector and ballast kit, and very fine filtration [Can't remember what I used for the filter, it was a cylinder with a very fine pad which I attached to a powerhead and submerged on the tank bottom.  I cannot see it anymore]).  My livestock was a school of neon tetras which didn't last long, and some coral platys.  Well, a few weeks after the tetras died, I decided to do an experiment to see how long a tank could survive without any maintenance.  To my great surprise, the last shrimp (Caridina japonica) lived for more than two years after I quit adding food and doing water change.  I had only been topping off with bottled distilled water as necessary.  The shrimp kept producing huge numbers of eggs until they died, at one point I saw an aquatic insect (dragonfly maybe, but I never saw it pupate), and the platys just kept producing fry. The Cabomba is always flowering. All the 3rd generation platys were small and darker in color, a very deep orange instead of the coral I started with.  The adults are about .5" long, and the females were producing about 3 fry per month, and I estimate about 2 fry per month survived total.  The platys feed exclusively on algae which is everywhere.  I don't use a heater, and the temperature of the water gets down to 65 sometimes in winter and I have never seen a hint of the shimmies.  Now there are only two platys left, both male, so the end is near, but it will have been 4 years in August since anything besides distilled water has entered the tank.  From time to time I have cut off a sprig of Cabomba which is trailing out the back of the tank and put it in my 29g cichlid tank but I do not believe this is where all my nitrogen has been going.  There is absolutely no odor to the tank, it doesn't even have that odd funk which lakes usually have.  (I live in Texas where water temperatures can reach the low 90s in Summer.  If the lakes where you are don't give off a smell, my apologies.)  Has anyone else done this for four years in a tank so small? <Not that I've read re> I would love to have a party in August, but no one I know seems the slightest bit impressed.   I think they just do not understand.  Some of them even say I am being cruel to the platys to continue this experiment. <What happened to the Neons?> However, I haven't seen any deformities or behavioral disturbance in the fish since I started, only a diminution of size with successive generations.  In closing, I suppose I don't really have a question, except whether you think I have discovered the holy grail of the nitrogen cycle, and whether you think trying it in a 29 would be a good idea, maybe I could use the larger livebearers such as mollies? <I wouldn't. This genus is far less tolerant than Poecilia> Thanks for reading this winded email, and I can try to get pics of my two platys (and the completely greened-out tank) if you would like. John <Thank you for sharing. Am still a fan of frequent partial water changes... though a sort of "balance" can be achieved, even with small volumes of water, as you have done. Bob Fenner>
Re: No water change
 6/20/06 > <What happened to the Neons?> I think the water here is just too hard and alkaline for them.  They have never liked our water much, they lose their robustness within a few weeks.  I have decided not to touch tetras again until I can get an ro unit or some such, and at that point I might want to start dabbling with marine.  (Will do water changes though, lol) >I see. And agree! RMF<

Siphoning... TGIF once again Crew, Assuming maybe Jen S. is still answering since I just got an email back from you. <I'm still here... wish I was on a tropical island somewhere, but hey.  I have fun w/ this too!> I just wanted to share something I do for siphoning water since reading that a lot of people use there mouths. <Ick, not me... use an automatic syphon here.  I could never understand why people used to siphon gas tanks with their mouth either.  ick.> I also use to do this but being paranoid I always thought "Hey is my mouth dry, arms a little shaky, little dizzy" so I decided to figure out another way. Many may use this same technique but from what I read a lot don't. Simply go to your local Wal-mart and buy a spare power head or use one if you have access to it in your fishtank. Stick the hose right in front of it and  pump enough water to start the flow take away and your siphon has started. <Very cool!>   Figured I would share this with people that may need a solution to using there mouth. Since finding out about palytoxin today and realizing there is a lot of dangerous stuff in there I am sure to be A LOT more careful in future handling of my aquarium. <Hahaha, yes you should!  Don't want to inhale something that might bite, right?> Thanks for the time, Homerj <No, thank you for sharing!  Excellent.  Have a great night!  Jen S.>

Discus aquarium and Python water changing system    4/4/06 I have a 42 gallon octagon aquarium with 2 blue turquoise discus 12  neon tetras, and a Pleco of undetermined sort of about 3 inches long.  I  plan to add one more discus at a later date.  The two I presently have are  3-4 inches.  I have 80 watts of compact fluorescent lights, a Fluval 304  canister filter, a 100 watt heater, 3 inches of substrate, and many faux silk  plants.  I plan to switch to live plants soon, that is why I have so much  light.  The discus do not seem to have a problem with its  intensity.  My ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates are non-detectable at this  time.  Sometimes my nitrates run .10-.15. The water temperature  is 83 degrees F.  I do 20 percent water changes every week and vacuum  gravel as well.  My question is-- would it be detrimental to my aquarium to  use a Python water changing system run straight from my tap while simultaneously  using the a product that removes chloramines and chloride?   <Mmm, no... though I would run the water return "slow"... and slightly warmer in temperature than the tank> I am  fortunate that my tap ph is 7.7-7.8, which is the same reading as my tank  ph. <A bit high... but likely okay for "man made" Symphysodon (vs. wild-caught)>   This tap water would be slightly warmed so as not to cause a change in  the tanks current temperature.   I was told that use of  water heated by the home's water heater was a bad idea-- is this correct?. <In general this is fine... there are some concerns with gas saturation and metal contamination... at times/places>   My water heater is brand new and my house is only 10 years old. I am aware  that using a large water bucket with aged water is the best way to do water  changes, but I am having health problems and am unable to perform water changes  as I used to by bucket method for at least another 3 months during my  recovery. <I see... and agree... the Python method is better than delayed changes> Using the Python seems like a good idea, but Discus are delicate  and I would like your advise on exactly how delicate they are in regards to the  water changes.   Much thanks for your time, interest, and advice-  Andrea. <Thank you for writing, sharing. Bob Fenner>

Water Changes On a 55 Gallon Tank.   2/14/06 How often should a person do water changes with a Eheim filter system and a skimmer on a 55 gal. tank ? < Check the nitrates. When they get above 25 ppm then they need to be reduced with water changes. Assume that your tank produces 10 ppm per week. At the end of week one you have 10 ppm and don't need to do a water change. At the end of week two you have a 20 ppm nitrate level. At the end of week three you have a 30 ppm nitrate level and need to reduce it with a 33% water change. By changing approximately 20 gallons of water you will reduce the nitrate to 20 ppm. Is 20 gallons of water per week too much work? Then reduce the amount of fish and add some live plants.-Chuck>

Water Changes and Gravel Cleaning 1/22/06 Hello WWM Crew (and thanks for all the information you provide), I have a very basic question and forgive me if it seems ignorant, but I'm a little confused! On some of your advice responses regarding maintenance of freshwater tanks, I see that you inform people to do regular water changes, and gravel cleaning. Wouldn't these qualify as the same thing?  Because with my tank, I vacuum my gravel at least once a week, and this lifts at least 25% of my tank's water, so I just fill it with new water again and condition it with AquaSafe (So none-the-less, I see no point in water changes). Am I missing something really important here?  As you can probably tell, I am a beginner, so I am still trying to learn all I can, and have spent many hours on your website. Thanks Again! <It is possible to do a water change without cleaning the gravel; it is much harder to clean the gravel without doing a water change.  If you are using a siphon powered gravel vac then you are cleaning your gravel while doing a water change, which is usually the best way to go.  Hope this helps, Gage>

Low Maintenance Small FW Aquarium   1/14/06 Hey, there.  I'm writing to ask for advice on setting up a low maintenance aquarium for use in my dorm room.  I have a ten-gallon tank with a BioWheel filter and heater, but unfortunately, I'm not able to clean it as often as I would like since the bathroom is about a minute walk down the hallway.  I siphon the dirty water out when I have a chance, but this process is very tedious and can take hours because I don't have access to a deep kitchen sink like most homeowners. <I'd get/use an attachment to the tap-spout... from Home Depot, Lowe's... and a five gallon "pickle" bucket...> I had a really tough time keeping my batch of fish from last semester alive for this reason.  I went through about 6 mollies and platies, as well as a Cory cat and an apple snail.  The temperature was set at the right number, and the filter was always constantly running, but for some reason, 90% of the fish lasted less than a week while one molly and one platy lived for a full 6 months (and are still going strong). So I have a few questions: first, what went wrong the first time? <Not possible to state with the given information>   The PetCo people told me that combination of fish would be good for bacteria circulation and whatnot, but they didn't turn out as hardy as I had been told.  Second, what is the best combination of fish in a ten gallon freshwater tank that will keep the water clean for as long as possible? <... perhaps some purposeful cleaner organisms... and live plants...>   I thought it had it right the first time, but my cleaners just kept dying.   <Maybe a better livestock source...> And third, are there any inexpensive appliances that could help me keep my tank clean without breaking out the siphon and bucket for an hour? <Not really... in such a small system... best to make the weekly changes of water part of your regular routine (I do mine on Sundays along with vacuuming the carpets...> Thanks so much!  I'm looking forward to a happier, healthier tank in 2006!           *~Andria~* <Me too! Bob Fenner>

Tapwater vs. non-Tapwater, An Exceedingly Entertaining Read   12/1/05 Keywords: freshwater, maintenance, water change/s, Tapwater, RO/DI, filtered water, isotonic OPC, Aloe. <<Not sure why these keywords are included, but am keeping as they will help others in future Googling.  MH>> Hi there. Thanks for all the good tips and articles, I've lost count how many hours I've spent on your site so far. You've probably surmised that I'm a newbie to aquariums. You have taken me gently by the hand and I have a burning question percolating from conflicting information about freshwater changes. Filtered vs. Tapwater to be specific. Background. Saved 2 zebra danios and 2 salmon coloured tetra from being flushed by a friend's young son when he had to move. They were in an aquarium; I had nothing but a 1-gallon bubbled-glass canister, a 5-stage water filter attached to my kitchen system, some OPC (oligomeric proanthocyanidins, strongest type of antioxidants ... with which we maintain our health and which I sometimes sell), all natural surfactant cleaners, a litre of 110% pure aloe juice; and loving intentions. Knew nada about ammonia, waste, feeding ... anything to do with fish keeping actually ... miraculously the fish and I got through some stressful times, together. I learned that a few grains of isotonic OPC will instantly purify water and rejuvenate a dead-looking (and acting) fish in minutes, <<We at WWM cannot, at this time, advocate using a product intended to "rejuvenate" human skin, as an antioxidant for such, for fish or their water.  Marina>> that pure aloe juice poured over a sickly fishy will quickly convert the scales to lustre, that stale water = listlessness, while water change = smiley-face exuberance; and that the fish will somehow communicate to me when there is a problem (or death) within the Team.  Eight months passed happily, I began to crave a larger system. An Xmas 2004 gift was a 2.5-gallon glass fishbowl into which I placed a peace lily that prettily protruded from atop but never bloomed. Lost the largest tetra over the 2nd ammonia disaster along with (later) the largest danio (who like the large tetra displayed a negative attitude I didn't appreciate). Researched constantly. Added a stunning blue male betta & 3 tiny neons. Some water replaced Wednesdays, full change and "sterilizing" (with all natural surfactant cleaner) of all contents (bowl, lily roots, glass gravel, cave, the works) Sundays, with a few grains of isotonic OPC into the fresh water. Life was happy, Team blissfully helping me do my computer stuff where they domiciled beside my desk. Beta constantly flirted with me, making bubbles so much I named him Bubbles Beta. He ate right out of my fingers, we developed a fun feeding ritual.  Along came my birthday (Easter), and a 10-gallon outfit complete with everything including test kit (the readings from which I don't seem able to "get"). What fun. Filled it up with filtered water, added 3 little danios and 2 Otos, total Team now 15 (lost the remaining tetra and a couple of Otos along the way). Coloured gravel with some green sand atop (total of 1" deep), nifty little "waterfall cave," created 3 rock caves (small, I change them around constantly), added my 2 antique silver sugar bowls for decor and a mirror background from LFS. Beautiful. Bubbles and I were sad to give up our flirting (the filter gets rid of his bubbles) and feeding rituals, although excited about the expanded home. He flirts with himself now in his reflection, actually he appears to have become a touch vain. Diligently turned on the aquarium light daily for 12-ish hours, 25-40% water changes direct from my filter system during the hot summer. After the summer heat I added a heater, stored (and heated) water for a few hours in a plastic bucket prior to use (constant 78 degrees everywhere) and manually vacuumed every 2 weeks. Then came the green algae.  Nothing got rid of the stuff (although it wasn't nearly as bad as experiences I read on your site, just a tiny bit and cloudy green water sometimes). The Otos turned their noses up at it. So I added another 10 drops of Crystal Clear then, pursuant to your posts, turned off the light and *piff* the stuff disappeared in a couple of days.  But Bubbles became listless.  And then I read about the Python No Spill system. *Count me in* I excitedly exclaimed while passionately penning it into #1 position on my Santa 2005 List. Oops. Then I read on your site that Tapwater is taboo, that water has to sit for a week or more before use, use RO/DI water; while another post lauded the benefits of the Python system (which uses Tapwater). The technical writings on chloramine scared the *censored* off me, I'm even shuddering at the thought of the stuff potentially in our drinking water! My 5-stage filter specs don't list it as being removed. "OMG, could Bubbles be slowly being poisoned?" I silently wailed. Wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth. My eyes crossed in confusion.  Sleeplessly, I couldn't rationalize how the Python could be so successful ... and using taboo Tapwater yet; and I couldn't imagine how to add de-chloraminators while the Tapwater was gushing into the Aquarium through the Python hose (I'm good but I don't do miracles).  << <giggle>  Bones, is that you? MH>> I pictured my loving Team being poisoned to certain tortuous death by their trusted Leader (me) while scrutinizing posts from Python users and manufacturer pontificating about fish thriving on Python's Tapwater.  I've read thousands of posts on your site and others; nowhere have I found resolution to my quandary.  The bottom line I get is: your fish will thrive on a Python No Spill Tapwater system but don't use Tapwater. I beg you. Please straighten out this desperate newbie before I flush myself along with the water change. Tanks Tons *to coin a phrase*//Rarest1, Ottawa Canada < Not all tap waters are created equal. Water chemistry is different all over North America. The Pacific Northwest gets lots of rain and their water has almost no dissolved minerals. The Southwest uses Colorado river water that is very hard and alkaline. Every city has a little different way to treat their water. Most of the replies WWM gets are from areas with poor water quality. In these instances we recommend letting the water stand in a container for a time period to let the minerals/chemicals and dissolved gases to equilibrate and dissipate into the air.  At this time the water can be modified (Dechlorinated, buffered, filtered, etc...), to meet the needs of the fish. The python is a great tool for removing aquarium water and for vacuuming the gravel ( as long as it is not turned on too high). Replacing the water is a little different. If the pH is around 7 and you can get the water temp up to 80 F, then I would have no problem replacing the water straight from the tap with some Amquel added to take care of the chloramines.-Chuck> 

Chlorine Problems 8/5/05 Hello, First time participating in a web based FYI session.  I thought I would send along my experience with the Bala swimming inverted (simulating an infected swim bladder) and listless with heavy breathing and sometimes they dart in all directions. I have lost about 2 dozen fish in my experience and would like to share what I found.  I came across your page searching for albino Labeo chrysophekadion since I have a 16-18 year old fish and thought I would start searching for companions.  Anyhow,  I had 8 Bala's all around the 7-9 inch size in a tank which was fueled by well water.  I moved to city water and within the first two water changes lost all of them to toxic poisoning.  I change my water once every 2 - 4 weeks and about 1/3 to 1/2 the water at a time.  They were in a 70 gallon tank. This occurred 7 seven years ago and with experimentation and scientific methods I noticed it was mostly related to the chlorine levels in the supply water.  My pattern was that I restocked the Bala's in spring and every winter they would expire to poisoning.  Throughout the past seven years a water softener was added to minimize some of the incoming toxins, and to a point it did make a difference.  I found out that the cities water department was increasing their chlorine levels in the water supply for a failing pump and well.  Last summer the pump was replaced and I have had no casualties since when executing a water change.  I found out that silver scaled fish are more susceptible to toxic poisoning so I suppose that Arowana's and Silver Dollars are in this category also. I do take precautions when preparing to change my water especially in the winter. The city engineer reminded me that the chlorine levels will stay higher in colder temperatures since it doesn't have a chance to "burn off".  So when changing water in late November to the end of March I never change more than a 1/3 of water unless my chlorine test strip (made by Jungle) assures me that the level is safe.  I noticed that a lot of Bala Shark discussion occurs on the page http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwshkfaqs.htm and I think that Chlorine Levels (especially from government water supplies instead of private wells) could be the culprit.  Hope my experiences help and maybe provides longer lives for the sharks in the hobbyist tanks. Robert < We will pass this along so others may learn from your experiences.-Chuck>

Automatic aquarium Hi First of all I want to thank you for this excellent site. I've been visiting it almost everyday, what a source of great info. Keep up the great service. My question is from the plumbing department. I'm setting up the 90 gallons freshwater tank and trying to plan and anticipate as much detail as possible. The tank will be planted discus, so water changes will be a big part of its maintenance. One of the issues that I want to address is to make it automatic. Being a gadget freak and a computer geek somehow gave me this idea of DIY system based on x10 home automation technology.  Here is my plan.  My tank is drilled so I want to modify the stand pipe to accommodate the solenoid controlled valve at a lower water level from normal operation. The valve will be low voltage totally submerged and normally closed. When open the valve will gravity drain 30% of water in the tank to the sump below. The sump will have another solenoid valve that will open at the same time to allow the water to flow down to the basement and to the drain. <Why wouldn't this just be open all the time? Is the fear that the tank will drain down completely?> After certain time when the water in the tank reaches the valve's level the flow will stop and both valves will close. All this could be programmed and controlled by computer software. I'm going to use Indigo for Mac and PowerLinc controller.  I would appreciate your opinion on this, I know it sound a bit crazy but I just love hi tech stuff.  I should also mention that I've been in the hobby for many years and this is my ultimate tank that I want to set up just right. The difficult part is to find the solenoid-controlled valves that will fit my needs. They need to be inexpensive and low voltage; most of them are 24V so that is good.  Fully submersible, and operate in the environment with almost no intake pressure, most of them do require some water pressure to operate and that is not good. I found some valves for irrigation systems, there are cheap enough but require 50psi to operate. Does any one of you guys know where to go to get those valves? <Yes... look to/for the plumbing supply outfits that deal with chemical industries... these can be found under "plumbing" in your Yellow Pages...> I remember seeing some at one of those automatic aquarium sites but there were like more than $50 each and my thought was I do not need them made of real gold, PVC will do. I would appreciate any feedback, ideas and tips I could get from you. Thank you Val Kosiecki <A worthy project... I would rig your source water (likely heated R.O.) such that only so much water was available... and the overflow standpipe such that the tank cannot be overwhelmed (low flow, volume). Bob Fenner>

You Want me to do What with my What..?  Aquarium water can be Good for your Houseplants! Hi Bob, <Mario> Thanks for you insight and quick response to my questions.  I am unclear about what you mean when you said ".... (put the water on your plants) ..." in your response below to one of my questions. Can you explain, please? Thanks, Mario <A comment encouraging you to use this water on your house plants... for watering them. Bob Fenner>

Vacuuming Sand Hello, how are you all doing? Basically, I have a pretty simple question that I cant find an answer to: how do you vacuum sand? There has to be some trick-of-the-trade. It's a thirty gallon Malawi tank with about a 1-1.5'' of sand on the bottom. I have two power filters; AquaClear 300 and a Penguin 330 Bio-Wheel. (if that makes any difference) Thank you in advance for your time and cooperation. < You can purchase a gravel vac at most stores. Use it when you do a water change to get rid of the accumulated mulm in the gravel or sand. Basically you start a siphon into a bucket and the wide mouth tube allows the sand and gravel to churn while it siphons the waste out of the tank.-Chuck> 

FW filtration, water changes Thanks, I had bought the tank used and was using the gravel that came with it for temporary use until I can get something else, you can hook a gravel washer up to the magnum and if you take the nozzle off of it, its powerful enough to suck the gravel right up and it doesn't get into the impeller, so that's how I plan to remove it without upsetting pacu. <Better to change water while vacuuming the gravel. Bob F>
Re: FW filtration, water changes
True, but then you run out of water after a while so the gravel doesn't get as clean, so what I do, is spend about 20 minutes on Saturday and Sunday cleaning the gravel with the filter promptly followed by a 25% water change Sunday with a python (while cleaning the gravel a third time, I'm really picky about keeping the gravel clean). Keeping this up with water polishing cartridges during the weekend and 16 oz. of carbon during the week with a UV sterilizer keeps my tanks absolutely spotless, its like there isn't even water there! <Good technique, practices. BobF>

Freshwater ray, automated water changes Hello, I've been reading through your site and find it very insightful.  I've been reading about the freshwater rays for a couple months now, wanting to try them but thinking I did not have the time or money to put into one.   My fiancé recently bought me a surprise...a male P. hystrix!  Being it was a surprise, I didn't have very much time to prepare, and it seems my friends and family didn't have much of an idea of what these fish require before they bought him for me.   Well, for the time being he is in a 55 gallon tank, peacefully living with an Oscar and eating well.  the Oscar, though, is horribly messy, and I'm having to do 75% water changes every week to keep his water conditions under control.  I have the materials to build an 8x6x1 foot pond for him, but cannot set it up until I move out of my current residence (my landlord won't allow it).  I'm moving out July of next year, so in the time being I have to figure out how to keep my ray healthy.  I have some time off work, and was thinking about trying to build a continuous water changing device for my tank.  My water is the right quality (soft, neutral to acidic).  I want to drill a hole in the back of the tank for the overflow, then use airline tubing connected to a bathroom sink with a sprayer nozzle on the end.  I've never had a problem with chlorine before, sometimes even being as bold as to put water straight from the tap in with my hardier fishes. <Be aware that municipalities do not continuously administer the same concentration (generally chloramine, not chlorine) and that you may well "get caught" by their pulsing sanitizer> In your opinion, would the sprayer nozzle be enough to evaporate the chlorine? <No, but you could use a contactor of sorts... chemicals that would absorb...> As a side note, my pond will have a large, 3x3 foot viewing pain on the surface, kind of like a big snorkel mask, I'll also plant two kinds of tropical water lily around the outside to give my ray a sense of security.  Could you give me any helpful hints and criticisms before I put money into these projects? thanks! Jon <What specifically are you looking for? I would not go ahead with your continuous water changer as you describe it... too risky, and the chance to siphon/gravel wash the present system would be lost... keep changing the water manually, twice a week if necessary, and look into more filtration, circulation. Bob Fenner>

Water changes? How often when levels are bad? Hello! Great site, I've been reading your excellent replies, and I have also been lurking on the forum all morning. :) I have a question about my 55 gal goldfish tank (population: one 3" black moor and one 2.5" calico telescope). Here's some background... Due to a stressful water change (beyond my control - long story... no longer an issue). The fish both ended up with an internal infection (symptoms: loooong clear poop) and the moor additionally showed symptoms of cloudy eye. To care for them I just completed a 5 day treatment for cloudy eye (using Maracyn from Mardel according to the instructions). For the internal I currently feed them 'Midi-Gold' (from goldfish connection) and this high quality medicated goldfish food has seem to have removed all symptoms in just a matter of days - yay! QUESTIONS: 1. The Maracyn left my tank very cloudy and with high levels of ammonia and slightly elevated nitrate (all other levels are perfect). I did one 25% water change Saturday and treated the tank with an ammonia neutralizer (Kent Ammonia Detox Ammonia, Chloramine & Chlorine Neutralizer), I repeated this routine again on Sunday, and although the tank looks a lot better, much clearer, the ammonia and nitrate levels are still elevated. The fish are very active, eat well, and looks fine. (I normally do a 15% water change every week.) I assume I need to keep doing water changes until ammonia levels are good? How many/much water changes can I do without stressing them out? (I treat all new water with "Prime" to dechlorinate and "Cycle" for biological supplement before adding and new water tests perfect for all levels.)  <Hello, MikeB here to help you.  I would change the water but do not touch your filter or gravel.  The Maracyn killed off your biological filter and that is why the ammonia is high.  If you do a 25% every other day you should be fine.> 2. Yeah... the fish are very active leading to question number two... This morning the moor started to very enthusiastically chase the calico, nudging at the butt and sides of the calico while zooming around the tank all morning. Is this the reputed breeding behavior (perhaps triggered by suddenly feeling much better after being sick)? I have not noticed any tubercles on the moor... but they have always been very close and now they seem very intense. Is this courting behavior always between a male and a female, or is the moor just chasing the calico since there is no one else to chase? I'm just curious if we lucked out and actually got a male and a female. <It can be hard to tell.  Even if it is courting ant the male keeps nudging the female, that could be a lot of stress for the fish.  I would suggest rearranging the decorations in the tank.> Thank you so much for your time! New(er) Goldfish momma! (6 months and counting) <Good Luck, MikeB.>
Re: Water changes? How often when levels are bad? Mike! Thank you very much for your reply. I will keep up with the water changes every other day until the levels are back to normal. The moor has stopped his courting and they are now back to just being mellow and snuggly again, but I'll keep en eye on the calico to make sure she's ok and not being pestered too much. Thanks again for your assistance!!! Karma <Sure, not a problem.  That is what we are here for!!! MikeB>

Arowana and chlorine Hello guys, <Hello...Jorie here> With weekly water change (20%) ,if I don't have space to age water or condition them, how can I transfer tap water into my 125 gallon fish tank, without negatively affecting my baby arowana? <I really don't see how you can get around having separate containers to age/condition the water.> Can I just put the recommended amount of Amquel plus, Novaqua, and aquarium salt into the tank before I use a hose and transfer tap water? <I would definitely suggest against that plan - sounds risky and downright unsafe to the health of your livestock, in my opinion.>   Kordon states that it might take several minutes before Amquel plus and Novaqua completely eliminates chlorine, chloramines, and etc. with that several minutes........will that have negative effects to my baby arowana? <I would think this would have negative effects on any fish.  I think you've pretty much answered your own question, my friend! It isn't worth the risk of harming the fish, if you ask me.> what do you guys recommend?  Any alternatives besides storing water into another tank or several buckets ? <I don't personally have any super-large tanks, so I just use 5 gal. buckets for my fresh and brackish water.  I have heard of people using large Rubbermaid-type trash containers (NOT metal ones) for water aging...perhaps look into this as an option.> Thanks, Antonio <You're welcome. Jorie>

Firstly you have a great site with a lot of info! <Thank you!  that is what WetWebMedia is here for!> I would like to know how often is to often to do water changes? <It depends on how large the tank is, what sort of filtration you have on the tank and most importantly what sort of fish, and how many you have in the tank.  For example with my goldfish I have to do weekly changes of about 25% because the fish are so messy.  I have lots of filtration on this tank, without it, I might need to do that twice a week.  So, it's really hard to give a general statement, but I find that doing a 10-20% change ever week on the "average" tank is a good habit to get into.> I change about 30% when the water starts looking cloudy, and I'm not having a deaths or parasites that I know of. <That is good, as long as fish are happy and healthy then you must be doing something right.> How much salt should I use for each  gallon of water.  I just use a small marble size for a 15 gallon, should it be more? <I'm assuming you are adding the salt for a slight brackish environment. It's not an exact science, but marble size for 15 gallons really will not bring the salinity up that much at all.  I doubt it would even read on a Specific Gravity tester. With my platys I found that at least a spoonful of salt for 10 gallon was what a breeder told me and I found it to be a good rule of thumb.> I have platys, fancy guppies and Neons in my tank. Actually my tank is really 30 gallons, it is 2- 15 gallons with a connector tube, one side has fry and the other adults, 4 of my female guppies have had fry this last week so their are MANY of them,  should I change their water more frequently? <Neons are not really easy fish to care for, if they are doing well then I believe that you must be doing something right.  You might want to try doing more frequent changes and see if the fish do any better, but really it sounds as though you are doing okay.> My platys are pregnant, how many fry do they usually have? <An average size fish will produce 10-20 fry.  And those fry will be able to breed in 4-5 months.> Thanks Diana <good luck with the fish and tank. -Magnus>

Freshwater Water Change Issues Hello crew.<Hello, Ryan Bowen with you today>..help! Let me give you the rundown first..55 gallon tank run on a Fluval 304(adequate for a 75 gallon tank). media inside are carbon and bio-rings, plants are 10 Amazon swords, 2 grasses, and 1 banana plant. <OK> My fish are 6 Corys, 1 pictus catfish, 1 red-tailed shark, 4 tiger barbs, 1 jack Dempsey, 1 red zebra, 1 black convict, 1 krib, 3 otos, 2 apple snails and a crayfish. All fish get along well as they have all appropriated a part of the tank to call their own. <For now> For the past two months I decided to remove carbon from the system. My plants flourished but I noticed the water would cloud much quicker. I left this setup for the 2 months but the murky water made me return to using carbon. With the newly added carbon, I did 70-80% water changes to get rid of the murk, and for a day or so the water would be clear, but then the greenish cloud returned. I do water changes (60-70%)every 4 days and this green water returns!!! It's driving me insane. I want to smash my tank with a BAT it is so damn frustrating!!! I am using 300 grams of carbon in the system, and I don't know what is causing the cloudiness. I don't overfeed and all levels (nitrate, -ite, ph, etc) are fine. <Excess nutrients of some sort...where do you acquire the water you're changing?> Any possible ideas on what's screwing up my tank and any possible solutions are very welcomed.<I'd encourage you to follow these ideas closely, and see if it helps get your tank to ideal conditions: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm.  Perhaps I see an RO/DI in your future?  Cheers, Ryan> .thank you for your time and expertise Jean-Pierre Luque

Gravel Vacuuming Tricks I am picking up my fish tank from my grandmothers and she feeds them bloodworms and since she started doing that the tank got very dirty and its hard to siphon everything out without taking away to much water.  What should I do to keep this under control? Thank You <<Dear Kevin; In order to keep this under control, you will need to do the siphoning and waterchanges more often. Once a week, or every second week, depending on how many fish are in the tank. Let's say 25% of the water volume. Since your siphon removes water so quickly, you need to move fast. If need be, you can siphon half the tank each time. Do half the tank during this waterchange, and the other half during the next waterchange, alternating sides each time you do a waterchange. If you siphon with one hand, and use the other hand to fold and squeeze the hose (like with a garden hose) to control the flow of water that goes into your bucket, that is even better. You can clean beneath large decorations, logs, rocks, etc, around once a month or so. If you vacuum often enough, the waste should not build up too much. Also, remember, do NOT overfeed! If you cannot keep your gravel relatively clean, even with regular siphoning, you are overfeeding! Same with your filter media, if you find you are squeezing a lot of crud out of your sponges, you are overfeeding. -Gwen>>

Automatic Water Changers Greetings, I have been looking over your site since I discovered it and find it has a wealth of information about fish.  I have recently acquired a 55 gallon tank and some fresh water tropical fish, so I appreciate the mass of knowledge your site provides.  I hope I am not asking something that has been answered in your "FAQs" though I think they would be more properly titled something else - FAQ implies the same question being asked over and over and so to be answered in a single place, while your helpful section might better be called a log since it sequentially answers questions without grouping them together by subject.  Anyway I am not trying to criticize, just point out why I was confused for a little bit there, especially by questions in the FAQ in which as part of your answer you suggest reading a URL which happens to be the same one I am looking at. <Good points. The term "FAQ" is/was a matter of "convention"... though "log" is much more definitive I agree. RMF> I'm pretty much a beginner at owning fish, and so made the mistake of buying too many fish too soon for my tank.  (Buying from a discount retailer doesn't help either, they don't know what they are doing much more then you do.)  Anyways, I started out with 12 fish based on the calculations the instructions gave me (12 * 4 inches average grown length = 48, 1 inch of fish per gallon) - one fish was killed by another, one got stuck in a bubbler ornament, and two others just up and died, I'm guessing because the biological load on the tank was too great.  The rest of the fish weren't eating but I started doing daily water changes of about 10%, which for a 55 gallon tank actually works out to 4 gallons.  The remaining fish have perked right up and seem to be doing much better now. Anyway here is my question.  Returning the fish to the store is out of the question, and I don't want them to die so I am pretty much stuck with them.  But I don't relish the prospect of manually changing a few gallons of water every day or two, especially if I ever need to be gone for a few days.  So I started wondering, this "power filter" that sits on the back of the tank requires a couple of filters every 4-6 weeks, and those aren't that cheap.  Why couldn't I just set up the tank so that a supply line on my house's plumbing runs through some sort of pre-heater that also mixes the drops of water treatment, and then every day have it on a timer or something so that it (relatively slowly) injects a few gallons of fresh treated water while allowing the same amount to be sent down the drain (with a screen or something to keep the fish from being lost of course).  Such a set up would seem to be much cheaper then using a filter and would also eliminate the constant water noise (air pump noises are much more tolerable when trying to sleep).  This seems like such a simple logical solution but yet I haven't been able to find anything like this at pet stores or whatever.   From looking over the FAQs I see lots of people using sumps, but in this setup there would be no extra tank, only the pump, piping or tubing, and intake regulation of heat and water conditioning.  Am I not looking in the right place, does something like this exist, or is this something I would have to do myself?  Any suggestions or recommendations? Thanks, Michael Hello. There is a company called Aquarium Products that makes one called the Aquarium Water Changer: http://badmanstropicalfish.com/products/product_auto.html .It has been around for quite some time. Of course, you can always DIY, if you have the talent. You can do a search for automatic water changers, here are a couple of links for you to start with: http://www.netpets.com/fish/reference/thielbook/thielbook4i.html http://www.thekrib.com/Filters/water-changer.html I also recommend you do a bit of reading on ammonia, nitrite, and nitrates, or the cycling process in general. Follow the Beginners FAQ's at thekrib.com. Good Luck -Gwen Loiselle

Shaking the Snake - Water Change Questions Hello all, <Hello to you!> I have a somewhat specific question that I wonder if you could answer.  I have a 120g tank with an Arowana, pompom knife and a few others. <I have never heard of a PomPom Knife... I've kept almost all other types of knife fish. I'm assuming it's a new common name.> Due to back problems, I bought a Python system to clean the gravel and add water. <I have friends that swear by the python system.  I have other means figured out, but I'm still thinking of getting a python for the girlfriend.> Here's the question.  I have been filling up the tank with the tap water and then adding the  correct amount of "Prime" (product name) water conditioner.  Is this o.k.?   <I know people that do that every time with not problems.> My Arowana has slight clout and some fin separation.  I was wondering if the water or change methods could cause this.  <Most likely not, Just make sure that they water you are putting in the tank isn't that different in water temp from the tank itself.  That can bother some sensitive fish. check your water parameters, perhaps the water levels are off and it's effecting the fish a bit.  Other idea is that one of it's tank mates are pestering it. which could explain the fin separation.> Thanks in advance, <Hope that helps, I doubt it's the python and the water change bothering it... -Magnus>

Should I, or Shouldn't I (change the water)? Hello . I have 2 fish left they are  Dalmatian Mollie and a Algae eater . They both have Ick and I have been treating them for that. <Make sure to treat the tank as the package directs.> There is stuff in the bottom of the tank such as food and fish poop. <You shouldn't let food rot in the tank, it gives an area for the bacteria and other bad things to breed in.. not to mention it starts effecting the chemistry balance of the tank, which in turn hurts the fish and their immune system. Try not to overfeed so that food sits on the bottom.  Adjust your feeding so the fish eat everything in the tank that is fed to them.> 2 other fish had just died that was in with these one last night and one today they both where Kissing fish. The Dalmatian Molly and the Algae eater are both acting fine . My question is should I change the tank ? <I'm assuming you mean the Water in the tank.  In that cause, I would do a 50 percent water change, then go back to medicating the water per the medicines instructions.  That should cure of the problem of ich.  But, make sure that your keep your water conditions in check, having bad water chemistry is a fast way to loose fish.  Good luck and hope everything goes okay. -Magnus>

Timing of Water and Filter Changes I have a twenty gallon tank with a variety of tropicals with a power filter attached.  I try to do a 20% water every two weeks and filter change every month. Is it okay to change the filter at the same time as the water or should the timing be staggered?   <This should be fine.> Will changing it at the same time upset the bacteria balance?   <No.  The thing to avoid is vacuuming the gravel and changing the filter cartridge at the same time, it is best to stagger these to allow new bacteria to form in the cleaned substrate (or new filter cartridge) so you don't have inadequate biological filtration.  Separating these acts by perhaps a week's time would probably be adequate.> Thanks for the help. <Any time.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina> Salvatore J. Frontiero, Esq.

Timing of Water and Filter Changes - II Thanks.  I should have mentioned that I vacuum the gravel with each 20% change...... <In that case, yes, I would change the cartridge at a different time.  I'd also recommend only vacuuming about half the gravel each time, also to prevent removing too much bacteria at once - of course, if you're not experiencing changes in water quality (test often/regularly for a while) with your normal routine, you may not need to change how you're doing things at all.  Hope all goes well,  -Sabrina> Salvatore J. Frontiero, Esq.

Water changes/water treatment (10/24/03) Greetings, <Hi! Ananda here tonight...> My name is Mimi. I have a couple of 55 gallon fresh water tanks. I have historically made my water changes using a siphon (to remove only ) and a bucket (5 gallons of treated {Novaqua Water Conditioner} tap water, ph neutralizer) to replenish. <Okay...> I have always treated each individual 5 gallon bucket of water .  I am now finally ready to use the Python system, which means I will be putting straight tap water into my tanks. My question is do I treat the whole tank for the approximate 20% water change, i.e. enough Novaqua & ph neutralizer to treat the new 11 or 12 gallons, or should I add enough to treat the whole 55 gallons? <I drain the water, then add the dechlorinator to the tank -- a little more than I need, just to be sure it takes out all the chlorine. If you're adding 11-12 gallons to the tank, you could use enough dechlorinator for 12-15 gallons.> Thanks for any help you can give me. Until then, I'll continue with the bucket routine! <Buckets, schmuckets! I wish I hadn't waited so long to get my Python system.> Cheers! <Right back at ya! --Ananda>

Praying for an easy water change! Good evening, <Hello! Ryan with you> I was asked to maintain a freshwater tank ( 55g ) at my church. I only have experience with reef tanks. So, here is the problem; the water has not had a partial H2O change in a long time (one and a half years ) and the book I read says you could have a dangerous shift in pH and a conversion of ammonium into ammonia. <Among other things, yes.  This is comparable to a car in the driveway that hasn't had it's oil changed in years.  No one wants to take it to the mechanic, because only THEN will there be something wrong with it!  The damage here is unavoidable, and likely the surviving livestock has been slowly acclimated into horrible conditions.  Your job is damage control.>  What can I do to prevent this from happening? <Start with VERY small water changes, and do them frequently.  If this tank is close to you, a gallon every few days for a few weeks should ease you back into decent water conditions.> Do I need to add salt also? <No> If so, can I use Instant Ocean?                                              livestock: 3 fantails 4" long, 10 tetras, 2 neon's and 1 plecostomus 10" long ( Is this to much livestock for one tank? ) <No, but you're about full.  Patience and observation are the ingredients to success in this situation.  And try to keep your hands out of that tank!  Best of luck! Ryan> Water Changes Sir, I was just reading your article: The Conscientious Aquarist Frequent Partial Water Changes I have a question if you don't mind.  I have a 240 gallon freshwater system, with a reef ready wet/dry sump and pre-filter set-up powered by two external pumps rated at 1250 GPH each. <all sounds good>  The tank is stocked with 6 fish all 3-6 inches long and I was wondering what type of water change schedule you would recommend.  I have been doing weekly 15-20 percent changes <sounds good> and after reading this article, I was wondering if I should change less of the water or do the changes less frequently. <Frequent partial water changes are best, I have enclosed a link that should help http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwh2ochgs.htm > Thank you,<your welcome, IanB> Joe

Puzzling Water I will get a test kit and i will give you the numbers you require. just give me a few days to get back to you with this information. <We will be here.> i must be honest- i try do to water changes and vacuum once a month. but i did get lazy a couple of changes back and i went well over the monthly limit. AND since, i have not had clean water. although it is much cleaner than it was initially. (embarrassed) i was thinking that every two weeks i should so a 25% water change and every month i should gravel vacuum. what do you think? <I like to do water changes weekly, but every two weeks is not a bad routine.  Nobody likes to carry buckets of water, I would recommend getting one of those siphons with the really long hose and the adapter to connect to your sink, the brand that I bought was python, or something along those lines, I'm sure one of our sponsors has them.  They are really handy.  I vacuum the gravel on every water change, it makes me feel good to see all of the muck leaving my tank. Best Regards, Gage>

300 gal fresh water >Hello >>Hello. >We have a 300 gal freshwater tank running for 3 weeks still cycling I have the equipment Timers valves pumps etc.. to set up an automatic water change system. I am thinking 2 or 3 55 gal drums, 1 with water ready for tank and one that fills and conditions with aeration, circulation for a week then would replenish the ready water drum. >>Sounds like fun.  Let the envy ensue.  Will these drums be metal or plastic?  I am hoping plastic, to reduce the chance of reactivity or leaching of any metallic compounds.  If they are metal, try to find a good plastic liner. >The water would be removed and replenished through the sump. I have an ro/di filter and doser pumps, should I use them? Or just the straight city water  ph 7.8  and dissipate the chloramines. >>If you have the equipment, I would use them.  Chloramine is a combination (and more stable) of chlorine with ammonia.  It requires the use of dechlorinator that states it will remove chloramines. >The 55 gal could be set to do a max of 7 gal a day more if I add another 55 gal drum or chemical drip of Dechloraminators or the ro/di. Is it healthy to do a small daily water change and what percentage in our 300 plus 30 gal sump system. >>Wow!  Great question.  I am a huge proponent of small, frequent water changes over infrequent large changes.  If you did something on the order of 10%/week that would figure to 1.42%/day.  So (allow me to get my calculator out here, math is not my strong suit)...that would figure to be (for a 300 gallon tank) 4.26 gallons per day.  It should work out fine, yeah? >I have a surge controller that  I will set up to power heads in the lower portions of the tank to allow the disturbance of the substrate to keep the debris and fish waste stirred up sent to the over flows and sump along with a canister filter drawing water from the tank directly.  How often should the sand small gravel 3 to 6 inches deep be vacuumed?  Tank has plants and will have close to 300 inches of fish in time, mostly small community fish and bottom dwellers, lobsters, crabs, etc.. >>Since this is going to be a planted tank, I don't recommend vacuuming the gravel at all.  Since you're going to this much trouble, let me suggest utilizing a sump (yes! a sump).  The plants will not appreciate having their roots repeatedly disturbed, and having the powerheads set to keep excess detritus moving back into the water column you should have few problems with the sand/gravel becoming to compacted with gunk.  I'll suggest ensuring that the flow is not excessive, too.  And please leave some detritus, both for the plants to utilize and for the bottom dwellers to sift through.  Other than that, it looks like you'll be golden. >Thanks for the help  Ron Rocha >>You're welcome.  Marina.  P.S. Send pics when it's gotten going!

Siphoning I love your site.  It's very informative, although somewhat intimidating.   <Thank you. We try to keep it from being too intimidating but it does have a tendency to send a person into overload because theres so much stuff to read. :o)> We are VERY new and VERY inexperienced at this.  But our one fish--a Betta--is doing very nicely, thank you.   <Bettas are a great starter fish because theyre easy to care for and generally quite hardy. You made a good choice.> We'd like to keep it that way and are slowly beginning to "do" things, as opposed to sitting by and waiting for the bowl to cycle and so on and so forth. <Very good. The one thing Bettas require (like any fish) is regular water changes.> We noticed he got sluggish a few days after we brought him home and ended up buying a very small heater, which worked wonders for his metabolism.   <Wonderful.> Things have since that time gone pretty well.  I've sponged off the sides of the bowl several times to clear algae growth--special sponge, bought from the fish dealer.  There is gravel in the bottom and a nicely functioning bottom filter system.  We have not changed any water yet, but we have had to add water due to evaporation. <Even with a filter, regular water changes are very important. Since you do have a filter they arent needed as often but still no less than once a month. More if the tank is small.> I would like to siphon out some water and debris and add fresh water--it has been sitting for over a week and is ready to go in, I'm sure--but I (blush) can't figure out how to use the doggone siphon. I see references to using it, but they just say to "siphon out the water."  Okay--HOW?  There is a hose and a plastic thing on one end that consists of two tubes, one inside the other, which I assume one is to push in and out.  But how does it WORK? <Well, there are several ways. The siphon you talk about doesnt sound familiar so Im not suite sure how to start it but they way most people do is just suck on the end until water starts flowing. If you do this be sure to move your mouth fast so you dont get a mouthful. *G* Really, with as small as your tank is, the easiest way for you to do it is going to be bypassing the siphon tube entirely. Just use a cup and scoop out water. In this size tank, if you change about 3 cups of water weekly youll be fine.> The guy at the store where I bought the fish did a demonstration for me--about 2 months ago--and I just can't remember what he did.  Maybe I'm just chicken, the bowl isn't big (maybe 1 1/2 gallons) and I'm a bit concerned about frightening the fish.  Should I scoop him out in a cup before I do this?  Thanks for any help. <Shouldnt bother him much at all. When I do mine, my fish will go to the other side of the tank but they never act stressed from it. Ronni>

- Moving to larger aquarium - ...in the same room - using lots of the old water and some fresh tap water, 55 gal tank has been running for 24 hrs now, very Hardy Oscars that are used to me adding 3 3liter bottles of our tap water to their old aquarium at a time and never have a problem with it..... how many days would YOU suggest the water should circulate? <Two days - 48 hours.> Temperature is good. <Cheers, J -- >

Mad science re goldfish husbandry... now disease I have six goldfish for a science experiment and have had them for 3 months.  As part of the science ex. I was not able to clean my bowls <What?! I really have to wonder about any "science" experiment that would submit a living creature to living in basically an unflushed toilet.> but now one of my fish has totally loss his tail!!! <It's no wonder. He's most likely suffering from fin rot due to poor water quality. The ammonia and nitrites are probably off the charts!> The pH level in his bowl is a 7, is that too much?  Because all of my other 5 fish/bowls have a 7 for pH too.  It also has been a 7 for pH level for at least 2 months.  Is there any thing I can do for it? Will he definitely die? He is a small comet goldfish and he is in a gallon tank with only rocks in it.  He has been getting Wardley Goldfish Floating Pellets (small). I also think that maybe some of the other 5 goldfish may be starting to loss their tails too. Do I get them out of the water right away? PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks sooooo much! <A Ph of 7 is OK for goldfish. Ideal is around 7.2 to 7.4 but they can be kept in a little higher or a little lower. What you need to do immediately is water changes! You need to change about 50% of your water every day for the next several days. You will also need to medicate this fish and any of the others who are showing symptoms of fin rot with a commercial medication designed for treating this. I believe Mardel makes one, possibly Maracyn 2 but make sure to read the box to make sure that's what it treats. And please, no more science experiments like this. Science is a wonderful thing but not when it's cruel. Ronni>

Discus and Water changes Hello Bob, I have a 159 gallon (48"x24x32H) tank.  It has one overflow and I have a 54 gallon trickle filter. I have a mag 18 pump for the tank return. (can turn it down)   <I like strong flow, but this is a lot for this sized tank and especially so for discus fish> I am considering having 4 - 6 discus in this tank, with possibly a stingray (not sure about stingray yet)   <The tank simply isn't big enough for that many fishes. Max recommended stocking level would be four adult discus. They can easily reach 5-8" each as adults... some get even larger. Even with five discus... that would only be one large fish per 10 gallons... rather crowded if not cruel. The stingray is simply not even possible here (tank size)> My question is that if I were to keep the water parameters in real good shape (by a low bioload and good filter) why then does everyone tell me that I have to change 50% of the water out everyday 2 days??   <for starters... your desired mix is a high bio-load by any definition. These fish can reach adult size in 2 years. As empathetic aquarists that's not long at all to plan in advance for a healthy maturation to adult size. I realize the tank looks big when they are babies... but babies grow up <G>> Is this because of the growth inhibiting hormone that they give off? or is it because they'll get diseased?   <Discus are indeed very sensitive to water quality... much more so than most other fishes. Daily water changes is standard with breeders and wholesalers to maintain health. Every other day for a home tank is not unusual. Anything less than weekly is unlikely to help you succeed in the long run. Do read up more on discus care... they are wonderful fishes and so very beautiful... but they are labor intensive. More challenging than saltwater aquaria by far> I don't understand if the ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and PH are ok? <there simply is so much more to water quality... DOC levels, Redox, microbial populations. And all in the presence of higher temperatures that discus like can easily lead to serious complications> then why so many changes? <nature/needs of the beast> Thank you so much p.s. you've been a tremendous amount of help to me with my SW tanks. (along with your book) thanks again Lynn <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Discus, Stingray, Water Changes Hello Bob, <Hello Lynn>    I have a 159 gallon (48"x24x32H) tank.  It has one overflow and I have a 54 gallon trickle filter. I have a mag 18 pump for the tank return. (can turn it down) <Good. A bit brisk>   I am considering having 4 - 6 discus in this tank, with possibly a stingray (not sure about stingray yet) <Have seen these Amazonians kept together... spectacular>   My question is that if I were to keep the water parameters in real good shape (by a low bioload and good filter) why then does everyone tell me that I have to change 50% of the water out everyday 2 days??  Is this because of the growth inhibiting hormone that they give off? or is it because they'll get diseased?  I don't understand if the ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and PH are ok? then why so many changes?   <Mmm, likely a few things, reasons for the large, regular water change suggestions. Many folks hold that Discus are quite sensitive to "metabolite build-up", their wastes mal-affecting them... so dilution is one route to counter this. Also, freshwater stingrays, though mostly sedentary, are relatively large, heavy animals that eat and eliminate, defecate a bunch... Both of these points are valid... and both can be countered in other ways: live plant use in the tank and/or sump/s, chemical filtrant (like Polyfilter, GAC/Granulated Activated Carbon) use... The good news here is that the fishes act as very good bio-indicators... you can see them "turning dark", becoming more oriented to the corners... if/when water quality is sliding. I encourage you (if you intend to go ahead with these fishes or just the Discus) to look into a largish Reverse Osmosis unit for making water... a means to store, heat it in anticipation of use (like in a Rubbermaid Brute (no, we don't own stock in the company) trash can and cover...) and place this near the tank for ease of changing> Thank you so much p.s. you've been a tremendous amount of help to me with my SW tanks. (along with your book) thanks again Lynn <Glad to find this to be so. Bob Fenner>

Upside down Bala Shark, Water Changes my Bala shark is acting listless, he was floating upside down, and he's breathing heavily.  he stopped floating upside down but he's still breathing heavily.  i just changed his water today.  i filled his tank with tap water but put some aqua safe water conditioner to make it safe for him. his water was really cold and we warmed it up, but we still don't know what to do. <Sounds like the water change has done a number on your minnow-shark. How much percentage-wise did you change? I would make maximum 25% changes. And the temperature needs to be about (if not a little warmer) than the current... and the chemicals added to make the new water safe... did you add them/it before adding the new water? Should be done this way. Best to actually make up and store the new water ahead of its use, as in a dedicated plastic container... with a heater, pump... store for a week or more ahead of using... rather or in addition to dechloraminators to neutralize sanitizer. Bob Fenner>

Water Change -> Fish Dying Help!  What went wrong this time? <I dunno, lets find out.> We have a 35 gallon hex which had 2 platys, 2 black skirt tetras, 2 gold skirt tetras, 2 leopard Danios, 2 zebra Danios, 1 cinnamon Gourami, 1 blue dwarf Gourami, and 1 small pleco.  So far 1 black skirt, 1 leopard, and 1 zebra have died.  I suspect more will die over night. <I would find a new home for the platies, they have different water quality needs.> Today I setup 15 gallons for changing (we were working on eliminating an algae bloom - no chemicals added just eliminated the light and decided to do a water change) <I would leave the lights on as usual, something else is causing the algae bloom. excess nutrients? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwalgcontrol.htm > adding Aquaplus <does Aquaplus remove chlorine and chloramines? I do not recall.> and acid buffer as I normally do. Filled the jugs with 73-74 degree water and let it sit for a couple hours.  I then siphoned and cleaned the aquarium to the level for replacing 15 gallons and replaced the water.  Almost immediately upon adding in the new water the fish had a noticeable change.  Several were sitting down in the gravel, a few hanging up near the surface.  The skirt tetra appeared fine as did the blue Gourami.  Five hours later the Danios are still at the surface <Danios usually hang out near the top.> swimming some along with the cinnamon Gourami while the platys are hanging down in the gravel, and three fish have died. Tests before and after the water changes show almost identical conditions.  pH went from 7.2 to 7, ammonia and nitrite are 0, nitrate is 5.  Water temperature stayed around 74-75 while adding the new water in and afterwards.  Our salt level was .02% and we have added more to take it to about .07% when the fish started going down hill. <keep up with regular partial water changes to get than nitrate down.> Did we get hit with a really high amount of chlorine?   <possibly?> The reason I ask this is my father is visiting and makes himself a daily glass of Ionic Colloidal Silver with a kit he purchased (that's a whole story of its own). <OK, I'm curious.  For the daily FAQ readers: http://www.sharinghealth.com/beckprotocol/howcs.html > Yesterday the kit registered the water as fine and making Colloidal Silver but today the kit registered that it was making Silver Chloride which results from too much chlorine in the water. <From what I hear the chlorine levels can vary a lot in tap water.> I've done a bunch of water changes since we acquired the aquarium in June 2002 and have never had this happen.  Should we purchase additional test kits, and if so what besides the ones we currently have. <ph, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are the basics.  Weekly to bi-weekly water changes should keep things in check.  I am not sure what type of filtration you are using, but this could be a factor.> Thanks for your time and advice. <Thanks for stopping by, Gage> Matthew Prentice

Water EMERGENCY, and ick too !!!! Hello, I had a question that my local pet store could not answer. I have a forty gallon tank and I have all live plants with 2 inches of sifted red rock ( the rock is more like a soil so that the plants can root good in it).  I keep the temperature at 78 degrees.  I do a 40 percent water change weekly.  I have two whisper filters with bio sponges. I always add the same temperature of water back into the tank. I have 1 blue Acara female, 3 Australian rainbow fish, two checkered barbs,1 talking catfish, 1 Cory cat, 1 dojo, 4 head and tailights,1 fresh water oyster, 1 apple snail, and 1 Oto (auto? sp). My question is: I have never had a problem with my water changes and this last water change I lost 7 fish.  I have well water that has no added chlorine.  I did the water change and about 15 min later my 5 Siamese algae eater where swimming very fast and flipping around.  They were also twitching, seconds later, they were dead.  Later that evening, one of my rainbow fish did the same thing and died, then about 10 minutes later, my Silver dollar also died, doing the same thing as all the others.  The very next day I took my water down to the pet store to be tested and everything was perfect.  So I bought some more fish to replace the others lost.  My Gourami I bought died that very night.  There were no skin abrasions indicating that it may have been picked on by another fish.  I took a second sample in and again, every things was perfect.  I am lost to what may have been the problem. I am wondering if maybe the food was bad that I had given them after the water change.  It was a new food I have never used before.  It was zoo plankton that you keep in the refrigerator.  Could this have been the problem?   I hope that you can help me out with this problem. Thank you, Brooke Howard <Alright Brooke, have you tested your well water?  How long do you let your well water age before using it in your aquarium? You may have ammonia/nitrite in your well water. Or your well water may be a high enough pH to increase the toxicity of any wastes in your well water or aquarium. 40% is a lot of water, if there is a problem with lack of oxygen saturation, high carbon dioxide content, etc. or ammonia alone or combined with a higher pH would do it. Test your well water, determine all water parameters (ammonia/nitrite/nitrate/pH/hardness) aerate and heat it for 12-24 hours, test and adjust pH, then use for water changes.> Second question: I sent the above question out to another website and it has not been answered, so your the lucky recipient of the questions.   Since last week, my fish now have ich and since then some have died.  I bought ick guard by jungle, and now it is all gone and no improvements.  I also have been using Melafix ( about a tsp.)  I have no carbon in the filters and have been changing 25 % every 24 hrs.  I am out of money, and don't want any more fish to die.  My mother in law has a bottle of Greenex, but says for marine only....could I possibly use a little of this in my freshwater tank ?   Please if you can read right away,  I have little time left till the rest die. <Use copper as per label directions, best in a QT tank if possible. No Greenex for anything including marines...No Melafix, etc. just copper.  For more surf over to WetWebMedia.com and type "copper" and "ick" into the google search engine at the bottom of the page. You may have to cycle your tank again, please check your well water as I think it is the source of your trouble.  Best of luck. Craig>

Carbon Hi there, I have two questions for you: 1. Can I use carbon to break up the bond between chlorine and ammonia rather then using conditioners (de-chlor)? <Yes> And how long should I wait, 24 hour? <Should be sufficient.> 2. My brother asked me a silly question, do fishes know their owner (I think he meant the person who feeds them)? <Fish can definitely learn who feeds them and respond by coming to the top of the tank. -Steven Pro>

Fwd: Dear Mr. Fenner...sorry to disturb you once again but... (% water changes) I am going to have a 55 gallon like I said before. there will be maybe 2 fish at first...how much % of water should I change weekly to establish clear healthy water?  <About ten percent a week> I have another tank and it gets cloudier everyday then my mother does a 60% change at it clears then cloudy again its like I chain?  <It is... indeed a chain... too much change is killing off beneficial and benign microorganisms... Please show this note to your mother and encourage here to make smaller water changes. Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water. tm Bob Fenner>

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