Are water changes over rated?

Timfish

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Thank you for the information and with time I'll digest it but I have a real simple question. Not knowing what unknown lurks below the waves of our tiny slice of the ocean then how does one know how much change needed to dilute these issues faster than they are produced within? . . .

You're welcome! :) FWIW, it's pretty obvious to me reef ecosystems are incredibly complex and way beyond the ability of any single person to grasp all the nuances. There are hundreds if not thousands of researchers trying to tease out all that's going on. I get multiple notifications everyday from google scholar on new research and it's impossible to keep up with all of it. To quote Solomon, "of books there is no end and learning is a weariness of the soul". You are quite correct, we CAN NOT quantify what is happening in our systems. We are dealing with thousands of species and genotypes and varieties that are all interacting with each other from viruses up to complex organisms. Some are benficial, some are detrimental and there's a lot in between. It's an impossible equation. But I'm going to need more than the inability for us to test to dismiss the research showing excess labile DOC in a reef system causes problems.

In light of what we understand about DOC and microbial processes it seems pretty obvious to me water changes are essential. Coral, algae and sponges are promoting different types of microbes in water column. Doing a water change reduces ALL of them, hydrophyllic as well as hydrophobic. Reducing them AND reducing algae should shift growth to species preferable for corals. Sponges are certainly doing their part to recycle DOC but as they process DOC from corals differently than DOC from algae and are implicated in phase shifts from corals to algae dominate reefs they are a double edged sword. Considering microbial populations can be very dynamic and species and numbers are not easily tested for it seems smaller more frequent water changes are a better way to maintain stability.

I'm glad you mentioned PaulB, his methodology seems to fit nicely with the research I've seen. His infrequent water changes are pointed out sometimes by proponent's arguing for less frequent water changes. But what is usually over looked is what is happening with his other maintenance practices. Regular use of a DE filter goes a long way to reducing the total microbial counts letting the system restore equilibrium. He also regularly adds natural sea water and muck from tidepools, reintroducing microbial diversity we know is lost over time.
 

GARRIGA

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I'm no spring chicken myself. Personally I went through the no / extremely limited waterchange phase around the same time algae scrubbers were DIY only, which I embraced fully, until I didn't.
Care to elaborate on "until I didn't"?
 

Garf

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Care to elaborate on "until I didn't"?
I spent a ridiculous amount of time researching (well googling) the interactions of algae / bacteria and corals for the 2 years I had a scrubber. My intention was to increase fish feeding without changing more water. As @Timfish stated above, it turns out it's impossible to know exactly (or even vaguely mostly) the interactions going on in tanks. What initially turned out to prove that algae was the "Answer" turned out to be "What on earth are you doing, algae is not helping you, it's helping itself", just like everything else in our tanks. Allelopathy is rife, magnified in recirculating systems. The only way to make sure some of these compounds are removed is to actually remove them.
 

Miami Reef

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Care to elaborate on "until I didn't"?

I have a few things to say.

First, I recently looked back at some evaluations of mine and I seem to have trouble verbalizing what I have in my head.

I had to ask ChatGPT to help me express myself.

IMG_8901.png



This is what I feel like is going on with the no water change method. I will input some quotes of yours that made me arrive to this conclusion.


I quickly scouted R2R for some posts of yours that was interesting to me.

Researching ozone as a solution to chemical warfare as that’s the only issue I see now from zero WC. Outside of the fact alk remains stabile because carbon dosing returns what was removed during nitrification but latter I will solve once ph stabilizes above 8 when I finally add organisms that consume it. Coralline will be my savior. Every approach has its issues

Randy,

Since denitrification (for example) raises alkalinity by returning base then would adding additional nitrates allowed to be processed by denitrification or plants then add additional alkalinity in a no water change system?

Mentioned nitrates to isolate the question but my approach would be to over feed and having an oversize refugium handle the conversion. Avoiding sodium or chloride my main concern. AFR, calcium reactor and or Kalk the current thought process to provide the necessary major elements.

Test tank running two year plus with zero WC and fed heavily. No corals and no consumers of alkalinity but that hasn't changed other than a failed attempt at adding Kalk for the purpose of raising pH which took dkh to 14 and raised pH merely 0.2 because room co2 must be through the roof. Too many consumers of oxygen live here. Added Seachem Acid Buffer to lower it back to 9 where it remains as long as nitrates remain under 20. Only time it drops to 5 when nitrates allowed to rise above 160 as part of my experiment. Literally can test one and know the other it's that stable.

Lowering alkalinity: Apply an acid such as Seachem Acid Buffer or Sodium Bisulphate which converts carbonate to co2. I'm assuming best balance that sodium with calcium chloride and Balling C although no clue how material this would be but makes sense to me. No clue what's in Seachem's product therefore don't know if that needs to be balanced were it used enough. Obviously overdosing kalkwasser would possibly cause enough used to create an imbalance.

Why I'm leaning food grade and avoid the unknown binders or sodium percarbonate although that contains soda ash and not sure how much extra sodium it will then add which might require adding additional calcium chloride plus part C to balance.

Increase alkalinity: Add nitrates and convert that to nitrogen which adds base. My approach would be macroalgae assisted with carbon dosing. Key is keeping it simple.

What would I not be testing that wouldn't be seen by ICP or typical manual tests we perform? Last I'm doing is chasing a wild goose because I think something might exist and likely don't.

I'm wanting to experiment with ozone, peroxide and UV-C. Send out ICP-MS and see how the environment changes including starting with tap straight from the sink and seeing how that's affected.


By not having semi occasional water changes, you need:

Use ICP
Use ozone
Need UV
Need hydrogen peroxide
Can’t dose alkalinity that contains sodium
Can’t use calcium that adds chloride
Afraid of adding anything to your tank because you’re afraid of ruining the balance.
Need to dose nitrates and feed heavy and then carbon dose to add alkalinity instead of directly adding the alk.


It just seems easier to be to do the dang water change than go through all this hassle. Maybe 10-20% a month might be all you need to not have to worry about all of this.


I am writing this not to judge. I have trouble verbalizing my thoughts, and I tried my best. I am writing this with a kind and inquisitive tone.
 

GARRIGA

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You're welcome! :) FWIW, it's pretty obvious to me reef ecosystems are incredibly complex and way beyond the ability of any single person to grasp all the nuances. There are hundreds if not thousands of researchers trying to tease out all that's going on. I get multiple notifications everyday from google scholar on new research and it's impossible to keep up with all of it. To quote Solomon, "of books there is no end and learning is a weariness of the soul". You are quite correct, we CAN NOT quantify what is happening in our systems. We are dealing with thousands of species and genotypes and varieties that are all interacting with each other from viruses up to complex organisms. Some are benficial, some are detrimental and there's a lot in between. It's an impossible equation. But I'm going to need more than the inability for us to test to dismiss the research showing excess labile DOC in a reef system causes problems.

In light of what we understand about DOC and microbial processes it seems pretty obvious to me water changes are essential. Coral, algae and sponges are promoting different types of microbes in water column. Doing a water change reduces ALL of them, hydrophyllic as well as hydrophobic. Reducing them AND reducing algae should shift growth to species preferable for corals. Sponges are certainly doing their part to recycle DOC but as they process DOC from corals differently than DOC from algae and are implicated in phase shifts from corals to algae dominate reefs they are a double edged sword. Considering microbial populations can be very dynamic and species and numbers are not easily tested for it seems smaller more frequent water changes are a better way to maintain stability.

I'm glad you mentioned PaulB, his methodology seems to fit nicely with the research I've seen. His infrequent water changes are pointed out sometimes by proponent's arguing for less frequent water changes. But what is usually over looked is what is happening with his other maintenance practices. Regular use of a DE filter goes a long way to reducing the total microbial counts letting the system restore equilibrium. He also regularly adds natural sea water and muck from tidepools, reintroducing microbial diversity we know is lost over time.
If you're overwhelmed then imagine an accountant from Jersey who turned down the invitation to take chemistry in high school because I knew even then that's just not for me and now I have to contend with unknown organics of which I'm clueless how to detect.

The interrelationship between corals, algae and sponges beyond my grasp or attention span yet I've been trying to understand plants since the 70s, corals since the 80s and now sponges because Scuba and his accomplishments intrigue me. Actually wouldn't be opposed to having some large sponges in my display. Might even setup a cryptic zone without trying to fully understand yet going on the notion holistically it might all matter. Honestly, don't think I fully understand what is a cryptic zone.

You mention PaulB and his DE process. Wouldn't my AOP not serve similar purpose and it's going down to the organics we are trying to remove with changing bad for good. Not sure what value ocean water brings since those I know filter it down to 5 micron then sterilize with UV. Not sure how PaulB does it but might be straight from the drink based on what I've read of him. Have considered bringing sand from the keys and placing in a sand bed reactor as a means of bringing the diversity that live rock used to yet I don't follow how the water and muck would solve my last unknown purpose for exchanging water unless something in that natural grab helps solve it. I'm still believing AOP used correctly will help reduce that not solved by all other means. Assuming I understand the science and it's ramifications.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-change. Really am not but for some of us that's not an option. At least not at frequent frequencies. Have the place if other needs are sacrificed to setup a salt vat that can likely equal half my tank volume as a means of emergency but the distance from that and my tank requires 75 feet plus of hose or lots and lots of buckets. I'm not carrying one bucket so let's put away the notion of many. Not running a hose other than pure emergency. Wife won't be having any of that and we all know she runs the house. At least mine. Happy wife. Happy life. There's also the realization that as one gets older that time is shrinking fast. Lot's I haven't done. Slaving over a tank not going to rob what little left I have coming. Only reason I'm breaking down my boa breeding side business that took the time I would have had a for a big reef tank. Although constant moving and work schedule requiring 12-16 hours plus weekends likely would have gotten in the way.

Seriously doubt my startup with frags will be of any concern and hopefully with time test like Biome (sp) will one day provide insight to what's actually needing attention. Until then I'm riding like PaulB excluding the 5 times per year water change. Continuing to track those who have forgone the buckets and rely on testing to replenish what's been consumed or lost. If they suddenly start failing then I'll have to rethink my approach. I'm not one to prove I can walk on water and if FALLOW with mushrooms my only option then so be it. Tank will be large enough to house the biggest tangs without upsetting the police and most big angelfish. Although the sponges might need to stay in their secluded zone. Mushrooms might be gone, however. Only one way to find out. Build it. Populate it. Run it. Worse that can happen is new knowledge gained and perhaps others will appreciate it or not. Can't control latter. I'm trying, however. I really am :crying-face:
 
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GARRIGA

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I spent a ridiculous amount of time researching (well googling) the interactions of algae / bacteria and corals for the 2 years I had a scrubber. My intention was to increase fish feeding without changing more water. As @Timfish stated above, it turns out it's impossible to know exactly (or even vaguely mostly) the interactions going on in tanks. What initially turned out to prove that algae was the "Answer" turned out to be "What on earth are you doing, algae is not helping you, it's helping itself", just like everything else in our tanks. Allelopathy is rife, magnified in recirculating systems. The only way to make sure some of these compounds are removed is to actually remove them.
I get that but did you see improvements once you restarted changing water assuming nothing else changed or did you just start because you felt there was a need? Was the algae failing or tank? Algae failing can be lack of iron and other supplements as you likely know for which when consumed would also affect the rest of the inhabitants. Reason I ask because in this hobby as in many the conclusions are anecdotal at best and not science based. Did this. That happened kind of thing.

Adey himself thought scrubbers were useless for corals because he lacked the knowledge of major elements such as calcium and sought greener pastures solving commercial applications. We know better today. My goal is to know better tomorrow. Not just follow the past because I failed to grasp one missing aspect causing the issue and not fear of the unknown. Testing might help me. Might not. In the end. I'll know more but first I must break the mantra this hobby has relied on for way too long. At least how I see it. Not saying all must.
 

GARRIGA

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IBy not having semi occasional water changes, you need:

Use ICP
Use ozone
Need UV
Need hydrogen peroxide
Can’t dose alkalinity that contains sodium
Can’t use calcium that adds chloride
Afraid of adding anything to your tank because you’re afraid of ruining the balance.
Need to dose nitrates and feed heavy and then carbon dose to add alkalinity instead of directly adding the alk.


It just seems easier to be to do the dang water change than go through all this hassle. Maybe 10-20% a month might be all you need to not have to worry about all of this.


I am writing this not to judge. I have trouble verbalizing my thoughts, and I tried my best. I am writing this with a kind and inquisitive tone.
Going to do ICP regardless since change only balances what was changed. Remaining still likely lacking balance. You know that.

Going to run UV regardless as a means of maintaining lower pathogens loads therefore running ozone which I was going to run regardless as it would be cheaper and more effective then just GAC alone on a 400 plus gallon tank to remove that awfull yellow crap.

Adding peroxide can be dipped by dosing or manually. Nothing more complicated then any other item we dose.

Never said I can't use sodium or chloride based additives. I know how to run Balling. You know that's not that complicated and removing water to lower salinity isn't exactly work. Wanting to reduce the need for something isn't exactly avoiding something.

You quoted sodium percarbonate which as you might know is pure baking soda and peroxide without the binders needed to stabilize. Since tin might be a binder and calling the manufacturer of store bought doesn't guarantee them telling you (I tried) along with food grade being overly costly, possibly dangerous and takes of too much storage space then why is this path wrong? Once I figure out how much baking soda I'm adding from the self constituted peroxide then I can reduce that else where or add more chloride and Part C to balance it. Beats carrying buckets.

Am I lazy? Yes. Why I've been so successful reverse engineering problems and automating solutions. I'm bragging but only because it's true.

BTW, ChatGPT gathers multiple responses from the web, for example. It's not designed to give you correct answers. Kind of like writing a thesis and the only source being Wikipedia. Might be right. Might not.

Have to say. You could have just asked the dang question versus all that ;)
 
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Miami Reef

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BTW, ChatGPT gathers multiple responses from the web, for example. It's not designed to give you correct answers. Kind of like writing a thesis and the only source being Wikipedia. Might be right. Might not.

Have to say. You could have just asked the dang question versus all that ;)
I only used chatgpt in the screen shot. All the words I wrote were mine.
 

Garf

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I get that but did you see improvements once you restarted changing water
That tank came down in order to sell my house, so no idea about that, however there are papers written by proper scientists about algae (micro and macro) associated bacteria versus coral associated bacteria. There are also scientific papers on allelopathy so I don't think these things can be dismissed as anecdote, it's science. The new tank has 1.5% daily waterchanges, seems to be doing ok.
 
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GARRIGA

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I only used chatgpt in the screen shot. All the words I wrote were mine.
Never said your words were otherwise. Just saying your attempt to define me is flawed. Any other points I presented you still have issue with or do we now understand me? :)
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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I agree. Yet without the ability to test there is a risk that said cost and effort has succeeded then to me it's blindly believing it did.

Yes, that’s true.
 

GARRIGA

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That tank came down in order to sell my house, so no idea about that, however there are papers written by proper scientists about algae (micro and macro) associated bacteria versus coral associated bacteria. There are also scientific papers on allelopathy so I don't think these things can be dismissed as anecdote, it's science. The new tank has 1.5% daily waterchanges, seems to be doing ok.
Got my results back from a two plus year no water change experiment. Waiting to have time to do a write up but in summary this tank went from being setup with tap to drained and filled with distilled then topped off with distilled to finally topped off with to. Few items of concerned found in my tap lingered in my tank and yet tank had much less accumulated then tested tap would suggest. Seems my algae experiment was solving many if not all of them. Amazing what nature can do and there’s lots of scientific papers on the use of plants and algae to solve pollutants and metals. There’s also the same on AOP solving organics including pesticides.

My point being we both rely on reference material yet I’m taking a step further by testing my theories based on said reference. However, unless I can find a means to test organics then the only validation comes from observation. Healthy living home reef might imply all well that ends unchanged.
 

Timfish

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. . . You mention PaulB and his DE process. Wouldn't my AOP not serve similar purpose and it's going down to the organics we are trying to remove with changing bad for good. Not sure what value ocean water brings since those I know filter it down to 5 micron then sterilize with UV. Not sure how PaulB does it but might be straight from the drink based on what I've read of him. Have considered bringing sand from the keys and placing in a sand bed reactor as a means of bringing the diversity that live rock used to yet I don't follow how the water and muck would solve my last unknown purpose for exchanging water unless something in that natural grab helps solve it. I'm still believing AOP used correctly will help reduce that not solved by all other means. Assuming I understand the science and it's ramifications. . . .

Not sure what you are reffering to when you say "AOP". If you are reffering to your past refferences to UV, H2O2 and hydroxyl compounds if I don't see how indescriminate killing off of microbiomes is beneficial. Water changes don't kill off microbiomes they only reduce the microbial and DOC levels in the water and they do it equally (except for those rare aquarists that use natural sea water without killing everything in it first). I'm do not understand why you keep saying stuff is unknown or untested. There's plenty of research showing these microbial and DOC process are much better understood than they were a year or two ago. What I listed i my first post in tehis therad is just scratching the surface. They can be tested for just not easily by aquarists (Aquabiomics is a significant step forward in this area). I don't see a difference between believing microbes rule the lives of corals and believing I'm breathing oxygen even though I can't easily test for either.

If we look at how critical research has shown microbiomes are for life, the tiny fraction of marine microbes that can be cultured (~2%), the loss of microbial diversity as systems age. While I disagree with some of what @PaulB's thinks about keeping corals, his use of diatom filters to periodicly reduce overall microbes counts and reintroduction of wild microbes in his maintenance via raw seawater and muck seems almost prescient in light of our understanding of the microbial processes.
 

GARRIGA

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Not sure what you are reffering to when you say "AOP". If you are reffering to your past refferences to UV, H2O2 and hydroxyl compounds if I don't see how indescriminate killing off of microbiomes is beneficial. Water changes don't kill off microbiomes they only reduce the microbial and DOC levels in the water and they do it equally (except for those rare aquarists that use natural sea water without killing everything in it first). I'm do not understand why you keep saying stuff is unknown or untested. There's plenty of research showing these microbial and DOC process are much better understood than they were a year or two ago. What I listed i my first post in tehis therad is just scratching the surface. They can be tested for just not easily by aquarists (Aquabiomics is a significant step forward in this area). I don't see a difference between believing microbes rule the lives of corals and believing I'm breathing oxygen even though I can't easily test for either.

If we look at how critical research has shown microbiomes are for life, the tiny fraction of marine microbes that can be cultured (~2%), the loss of microbial diversity as systems age. While I disagree with some of what @PaulB's thinks about keeping corals, his use of diatom filters to periodicly reduce overall microbes counts and reintroduction of wild microbes in his maintenance via raw seawater and muck seems almost prescient in light of our understanding of the microbial processes.
AOP stands for advanced oxidation process where ozone or peroxide in my case interacts with 254nm ultraviolet creating OH (hydroxyl radicals) that as you mentioned and yes it is suppose to sterilize all organics based on what I've read no different then the literature you are relying on to believe toxins are produced within an aquarium as it is at sea. Not questioning they exist. Just the fact we have no way of validating and quantifying they do. It's blind faith as it pertains to any one particular tank.

I'm destroying microbes which would have just as well been removed when throwing out tank water and replaced with fresh RODI constituted new salt replacement. Both methods end up diluting what exists. No different. As stated. I just need to determine how to best apply it. Perhaps I just run the process occasionally same as a WC schedule and process the same volume. It's easy enough to calculate how much ozone or peroxide to run through UV to affect a 10% change and perform that weekly. I'll get there by running test as planned.

My comments about unknown is specific to our tanks because we don't have an entire reef and no two tanks are alike. Therefore I can't see how the same volume of toxins produced across all tanks is necessitating same water change schedule at prescribed volumes and frequency to affect a tank turnover. Whether that's 10% weekly or 30% biweekly it's not going to have the same affect on all tanks. Some might produce more toxins and more frequently. The battle is dilution but are we truly getting the expected solution? No body knows.

Back to PaulB, his added fauna from local seawater and muck not likely the same as that from the Red Sea. Not imply there's no benefit but it's not going to be the same therefore pure speculation it contributes the same? Plus in my situation. I'll be periodically adding local sand from predestine areas although based on what I mentio0ned earlier about the dying fish I don't think I'll be doing that until the cause is identified and better understood.

Simple question. If I process 10% of tank water through a method scientifically known to compromise and minimize toxins then aren't I in effect making the same as a water change as it pertains to said toxins? Ionic balancing to be solve by other means. Want to just focus on what I 'have little knowledge of and of most concern because as you mentioned not easily tested by aquarist.
 

GARRIGA

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Can we see the tank?
Tank is gone. Went through many stages. No corals. Except for a sacrificial Xenia that seemed happy until it wasn't. Want to see when algae was at bay from natural solutions, dino and cyano infested or final plunge when nothing I could do would solve GHA although nitrates were undetectable and PO4 at 1.4ppm and 240ml of peroxide 3% in 16 gallons wasn't making a dent?

All that mattered to me was knowledge gained. Wasn't trying to win tank of the month and likely won't ever with main. Self satisfaction good enough. Next step is to run my AOP test through it. Then custom build a frag rack which will be miniature of main and further testing and changes. Once these theories run the gamut then and only then will I order my custom although likely can get started soon as first floor flooring is complete since I expect my ideas for filtration can be quickly validated and only remaining is the use of AOP to solve the unknown. Frag was waiting on second floor and that's now finished. I'm not doing anything downstairs once tank installed.

I'm being long winded because without context my little experiment doesn't say much about me and it seems the world relies too heavily on pics. Frustrating proving to my friends I used to catch big fish because it was in an era where we didn't have smart phones or even digital cameras and taking selfies seemed foolish when there were fish biting. Plus who's going to hold that Polaroid and wait until it developed. :rolling-on-the-floor-laughing:
 

Garf

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Tank is gone. Went through many stages. No corals. Except for a sacrificial Xenia that seemed happy until it wasn't. Want to see when algae was at bay from natural solutions, dino and cyano infested or final plunge when nothing I could do would solve GHA although nitrates were undetectable and PO4 at 1.4ppm and 240ml of peroxide 3% in 16 gallons wasn't making a dent?

All that mattered to me was knowledge gained. Wasn't trying to win tank of the month and likely won't ever with main. Self satisfaction good enough. Next step is to run my AOP test through it. Then custom build a frag rack which will be miniature of main and further testing and changes. Once these theories run the gamut then and only then will I order my custom although likely can get started soon as first floor flooring is complete since I expect my ideas for filtration can be quickly validated and only remaining is the use of AOP to solve the unknown. Frag was waiting on second floor and that's now finished. I'm not doing anything downstairs once tank installed.

I'm being long winded because without context my little experiment doesn't say much about me and it seems the world relies too heavily on pics. Frustrating proving to my friends I used to catch big fish because it was in an era where we didn't have smart phones or even digital cameras and taking selfies seemed foolish when there were fish biting. Plus who's going to hold that Polaroid and wait until it developed. :rolling-on-the-floor-laughing:
I was looking for a correlation between your water test ICP and the tank in question and your assertion that no waterchanges are the way forward. Nevermind but thanks for your reply.
 

Miami Reef

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Any other points I presented you still have issue with or do we now understand me? :)
I don’t have any issues with your method. It clearly works. I personally wouldn’t do it for my tank, but whatever works for you is fine. Many ways to skin a cat. :)
 

GARRIGA

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I was looking for a correlation between your water test ICP and the tank in question and your assertion that no waterchanges are the way forward. Nevermind but thanks for your reply.
Can't answer that because test were taken end of life on April 2024 yet sample tested includes everything that existed since September 2021 when it was drained of fresh and replaced with distilled to then acclimate salifin mollies to 35 ppt salt and later topped with tap. Wish I had sent samples at different points and what I'm changing next round.

For example, my tap has approximately 6 ug/l of Zinc and tank which has had 2 gallons of top off added weekly last six months plus only has 28. Either that was a high sample, incorrect test or something is naturally consuming it. Very likely the Pom Pom macro or GHA. Similar results with everything that was found in my tap sample although only 5 elements of concern found. At the same time, have items in my tank not in my source sample such as nickle. Might just be the sample didn't at the time taken. Might be something added from food or possibly a damaged pump. No clue but test was promising as I learned to control nutrients such as N&P via denitrification and carbon dosing. Solve dino and cyano via silicates and macroalgae. Latter purely anecdotal.

Not being difficult. Just not something easily conveyed due to length of test duration and lack of samples tested. Picture in this situation fails to paint an understanding.
 

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