View Full Version : Water Changes

01-13-2005, 09:00 AM
here's a quick question for you guys ..

How often do you do water changes? and do you add anything to the water with the changes? (ie stress coat etc)

We've got a relatively new tank set up. It's a 55 gallons tank with 5 fishies in it so far. (again new tank .. more fishies to come)

So i was just wondering how often we should change the water without stressing the fishies out too too much .. and if we should be adding anything to the water to ease the experience for them a little.

01-13-2005, 09:26 AM
I do water changes once a week of about 20%. I take water out until the water level reaches the top of the intake of my penguin biowheel filter. If I take the water level below that, all the water in the filter flows out the intake and I have to prime it again. This just happens to be enough of a water change to drop my nitrates down to a reasonable level. I have about 25 juvies in mine right now. By the end of the week nitrates are about 15ppm. They drop to about 7-8ppm after the water change. That's probably what you should shoot for.

Measure your tank and find out how long it takes nitrates to get up to 20ppm. That will determine the frequency of your water changes.

Measure the amount of water it takes to drop your nitrates down below 10ppm. That will determine the volume of water changed each time.

This will vary as you add fish. Testing is a wonderful thing.

I only add a simple water tap conditioner when I do my water changes. It only removes chlorine and chloramines. I don't use anything that detoxifies ammonia or nitrites because that could affect my tests for those. If you have ammonia in the tank that is broken down by something like ammo-lock, it still shows up on your test, so you're reading shows ammonia but that ammonia is no longer toxic. Once the ammonia is broken down with products like this, it takes your biological filter longer to break them down along the nitrogen cycle. I like to know that my filters are working perfectly and address the issue at it's root if there's a problem.

Another couple of things I do is vacuum a different portion of the substrate with each change. Also, never change all of your filter media at the same time. Rotate 1 piece of media with each change (filter cartridges, sponges etc.). I have two carts in my penguin and two sponges in the tank. Only 1 of the 4 gets cleaned .in tank water each week.

That's probably more than you wanted to know and everyone has their own method. This is just mine. I'm always open to recommendations as well.

01-13-2005, 09:39 AM
no no .. the more info the better as far as i'm concerned :)


one more question ... We had probs with ammonia levels in our tank, so we purchased ammo-chips. Since we've put them in, the ammonia dropped significantly. I was just wondering how long we should keep the ammo chips in there for.

01-13-2005, 10:45 AM

Def change your water once a week. 20 to 25% is normally ok. Depends on your bioload( # of fish). The problem with ammoina level is normal on a new tank. The tank must cycle in order to stabilze itself. You can leave the ammo chips in for as long as you want. The chips will act as surface area for bacteria to grow on. You said you have 5 fish. What kind are they? This is important. Read up on the fish you want to keep.

01-13-2005, 12:10 PM
Just curious Catherine, I am not sure if you are new to the hobby so I'll ask anyways.

You said this tank was relatively new and then later you mention an ammonia problem, did you cycle your tank?

01-13-2005, 07:34 PM

New to the hobby indeed! We've had fish before .. but this is our first time owning african cichlids.

We bought the tank a few months ago. About a week after letting it cycle we put in the first batch of cichlids. We had 3 demasoni pombo and 2 julidochromis yellow ornatus.

Unfortunately sth went wrong and the ammonia spiked quite high. We lost all but one fish in a matter of weeks. The one demasoni that lived (we named him Bubba) is still alive and seems happy. We waited a couple of weeks .. took care of the water and Bubba and when we thought the tank was ready we threw in another 4 fish.

Which brings us to now. We currently have 5 fish in the tank again. The one demasoni pombo, 1 hap venustus, 1 lamp moori, 1 lamp lelupi orange and a rhino pleco to help keep things clean :)

Right now we change the water about once every 2 weeks ... but we're going to start doing the changes weekly.

The new fish are still getting use to the aquarium, and Bubba is still getting use to his new neighbours. It seems ok so far, the water is at good levels .. only thing we're worried about now is one of the smaller ones who is getting picked on (we're going to put him in his own tank this weekend until he gets a little bigger) and one of our other fish who kinda looks like he might have bloat. Problem with that is that we're not very familiar bith bloat, so we'll be making a trip to the place we got him from tomorrow.

So yeah, as you guys can see, we'll take any help we can get :)
Any and all suggestions are welcome :)

Thanks again!

01-13-2005, 08:09 PM
Originally posted by Catherine

We bought the tank a few months ago. About a week after letting it cycle we put in the first batch of cichlids.

okay this might have been where the problem was. an aquarium doesn't begin "cycling" until a fish is put in or ammonia is added to do a "fishless cycle".

when you added in the fish, that is technically where your cycle started. waiting a week before adding them was basically just letting the water "cure" so that the chlorine was totally removed by your water conditioner (a week is actually not totally necessary).

this might have been why you had trouble with ammonia :)

01-13-2005, 10:01 PM
Looks like I keyed something there and punky jumped on it.

Okay so what I gather from what you have said:

You ended up cycling the tank with your first five fish. Four died in the process from ammonia and/or nitrite poisoning.

When all looked okay you dropped in four more fish and for the most part things have been okay minus some picking and one fish appearing sick....

First of all I have no experience with any of the above mentioned fish, lol, however I would suggest searching the net for the rough dietary needs of each fish. Make sure they are all simular, trying to stay away from straight up carnivore/pescivore and vegitarian combos, makes for potentially bloated fish. I'd say omnivores can go either way a little vegies doesn't hurt a carnie :rofl: and a little meat doesn't hurt a vegetarian. <not steak of course lol>

I would try to quickly figure out the rough tank diet and then I would look into getting more fish to help spread the stress out. Again a topic I'm not too helpful about, hopefully others who know more chime in.

Last note I wouldn't add too many fish at once remember your bacterial colony has to adjust so you'll see ammonia and nitrite mini spikes when you increase residents. Also make sure to pick up a decent test kit, I'd go drops vs strips.

If you want to know about teh cycle to better understand what happened just do a search on cycle.

01-14-2005, 01:51 AM
Here are my suggestions; just what I do:

Do 40-50% weekly water changes; fill up a bucket with tank water (so you don't kill the good bacteria) and rinse the filter pads. By the time you get out the equipment, siphoning 40% takes about 5 minutes longer than changing 20%. I put Prime water conditioner before adding water back through a hose attached to the faucet (some people would say this a bad practice, but with a 60 gallon, I'm not carrying buckets). As I add the water, I am constantly adjusting the temperature to make sure the new water is about the same.

Also, in my opinion, having less than 10 african cichlids in a tank, in most species, creates a higher risk of hyper aggression. If you had around 10-15 fish, it's more likely the dominate fish will have too many targets to chase and spend more time clinging to his territory to ward off countless intruders. Once a fish decides it owns the whole tank, you're in big trouble.

The necessary overcrowding is why changning 50% of the water a week is well worth the small time investment. Having 2 or more filters is also great in preventing ammonia/nitrite spikes, as more of these toxins can be consumed. Most posters here report mbunas enjoying the current created by multiple powerheads in the tank.