Are water changes over rated?

Ben's Pico Reefing

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Nothing wrong doing or not doing as long as you providing what the corals need. I do 100 percent weekly. I also don't dose and do not have any filtration other than a sock to protect pump. My other tanks including one setup over a year and tore down due to move was just a small cylinder.

Water changes should be used to correct issues your normal filtration can't handle or do or to replenish elements. The larger the tank the more you'll need to change. This is where dosing and more filtration come in. If setup right can replace water change.

This also depends on the coral you keep. Even with large tanks full of sps, weekly 100 percent may not be enough and dosing needs to be done daily.

We tend to go back and forth because there are various successful methods and some methods people just can't repeat. On top of which every tank is different especially over time.

It's up to what the individual wants and what the corals need.
 

Reefer Matt

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“No one” likes to do water changes. It’s work. However, testing and dosing is work too. Either way, most Reefers aren’t doing none of those. There’s a trade off trying to get to the point of the least work possible. The only way we have to tell is by visually looking at the tank. But one thing in reefing I have learned is that it takes a while for things to turn bad, but it takes even longer to turn them around again. Sometimes work upfront saves work later. But there are those who are successful doing nothing also. Just gotta find your own groove and stick to it.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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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.

Organics, including toxins, hormones, etc.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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Umm, "removing nutrients" which you state as overrated, and "organic removal" are the same thing... So is "ionic balance" to some degree...

What is the evidence that organic removal by water change is "overrated"?

How many people have actually measured the different organics in their water? How about even measuring one organic molecule?

The answer is zero. :)
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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Folks who thinks their experience proves that water changes are not helpful based on their experience of not doing water changes might want to read this to gain a broader perspective on what may be useful and not:

 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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There's an acid compound produced by algae that takes about a thousand years to be broken down in seawater, but for the life of me I can't remember it's name. I know you will remember it.

There are many compounds that accumulate in the ocean that are not, or become not, biologically biodegradable.

Organic Compounds in the Reef Aquarium by Randy Holmes-Farley - Reefkeeping.com

from it:

One interesting aspect of organic compounds in the ocean is that some have been there for thousands of years. Many organic compounds, especially in surface waters, are rapidly cycling between living organisms that consume and modify them, and the dissolved forms that are just floating about. Acetate, for example, can have a turnover rate as high as once per day on average in the water column, and once per hour or two in pore water inside sediments.

With each turn of this cycle, some of these organic materials become more and more refractory. That is, they become less and less palatable to organisms, and are turned over more and more slowly. Eventually, some remain that are largely resistant to further biodegradation and processing, and these can then stay as DOM for many thousands of years. Essentially, they are the waste that is left after every organism has had its shot at using them.

The pathways for degradation of such refractory molecules are not well known, but likely reflect some rare biological events (rare bacteria encounter them, they encounter a rare enzyme, or they are acted upon by an enzyme that does not normally process them, etc.). The long term degradation likely also includes physical and chemical processes, such as oxidation by oxygen, ozone, or other oxidizing agents, and being hit by appropriate radiation (UV, x-rays, gamma rays, etc.).
 

Miami Reef

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I also enjoy changing water. I would do it more if salt cost wasn’t so dang expensive now. It makes me feel like I’m refreshing my tank.
 

apb03

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I also enjoy changing water. I would do it more if salt cost wasn’t so dang expensive now. It makes me feel like I’m refreshing my tank.

I'm the same. I don't find it to be that much of a chore. I would rather change my water than clean the cat litter box any day.

I run a long Python hose from my tank to my utility sink in the basement and then hook that same hose up to my mixing station to refill using an app-controlled power switch for the pump.

I usually do it while having my Sunday morning coffee.

Easy water changes are the key for me.
 

Reefer Matt

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I like them, it gives me an excuse to drive on the beach and look at the great scenery.



I knew there’d be some that do, hence the quotations. If I learned anything about reefing, it’s that there are no absolutes. And I would too if I were you! Awesome! :beaming-face-with-smiling-eyes:
 

Paul B

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Virtually all our fish and corals came from the sea with a tiny fraction that were hatched and raised in ASW.
 

Miami Reef

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I would rather change my water than clean the cat litter box any day.
I LOVE scooping the litter box. It’s honestly so therapeutic to find the perfect, solid clumps. I wish I was joking lol.
 

Paul B

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There are just so many reasons I don't have a cat. That is just one of them. :rolleyes:
 

GARRIGA

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Organics, including toxins, hormones, etc.
If these toxins and hormones can't be tested then how do we know they are there and if present actually detrimental and wouldn't much of this be removed by GAC, skimmers or other remedies including ozone or peroxide? I'm not chasing imaginary problems knowing many tanks have successfully been kept without changing the water and either they never acquired these toxins or they never elevated to the point of concern. Plus are they derived from the tap we use that isn't removed by RODI or are these induced by the corals or other inhabitants we keep, for example? You've mentioned the remnants of coral warfare in the past but it seemed more based on theory then actual verified results as it pertains to our little boxes of water.

Would hydroxyl radicals potentially oxidize these non-testable concerns we don't even know actually exist since testing doesn't revel their existence? I don't want to perpetuate a practice based on fear. I'd like to base it on science or as close to it as possible. Broad stroke fear of the unknown just not how I roll. Were that the case then what stops me from fearing anything less than 100% daily change isn't really needed? Can't say it's based on others because others have kept tanks without the amount of water change that would likely be needed to win the race of removal before it's produced again since we can't test what they are supposedly diluting. Just how I approach it. No saying others should. Each can decide for themselves.

To be clear. Are these toxins not detectable due to amount present or no test exists? Were a test available then one could then perform that necessary change when test dictate it's needed vs blindly thinking an abstract figure solves it for them since we have no clue at what rate it's produced and how much dilution needed to keep them benign and safe. After all, copper exists in the ocean although at certain levels becomes toxic. I'm not emptying my tank to remove every trace.

Not arguing but I need more than generalities as I can't just assume that something spooky lurks in the dark.

Some background on myself. Spent 40 plus years reverse engineering problems in the world of finance. My mind doesn't think in absolute or that any problem can't be fixed. All I need is knowledge and testing theories. Why until there's verifiable scientific data that only a water change will solve my problem I will seek other venues because to change or not to change seems at the moment purely based on anecdotal self reporting and runs the gamut with each camp challenging the other and all I seek is knowledge. If I'm wrong. Have at it but please be more specific as to exactly why this I can't test is such because I have no clue what toxins or hormones we are talking about and I'm sure you're just answering a question yet I'd like more substance since I've obviously haven't found it on my own and trust me I've tried figuring all this out with what resources are/were available going back to the 70s. Still learning obviously but I really need more than just "it exists".

Sorry for the rant but might helps others grasp why and what I'm trying to solve which may or may not get solved but I'm going to try and only way I'm changing my mind because facts bear it out vs just fear of the unknown or very likely not understood on my part. :)
 

Paul B

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Garriga my friend, I personally feel most people change to much water but I don't want to get into that. Many aquarists feel we can remove everything we want to remove using carbon, ozone or skimming. I'm sure we can remove much of it but we are also removing many of the things we want to stay in the water and carbon and ozone are not limited in what they will remove. Some things are not removed by ozone but changed into something we may not want. (I am not a chemist but speculating)

They will as you said remove metals, but all of our animals need some metals, but how much? No one really knows and I am sure different creature's need different types and amounts of metals including copper, iron and Iodine.

I also feel one big problem that is not discussed is coral and sponge toxins. I recently had a huge problem with sponge toxins which killed many of my corals when I removed way to much photosynthetic, encrusting sponge that oozed out a seemingly toxic, white, gooey substance. It took a while and a bunch to carbon, ozone and Poly Filters to eliminate. Corals hate that. :grimacing-face:
 

revhtree

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I've had a 30 gallon reef tank setup with all soft corals and 5 fish for almost 2 years. I think the best advice I got over this time was to stop doing routine water changes. The first year of my tanks life I was on a weekly water change schedule and was constantly battling fluctuations with readings and corals being happy and then unhappy. Then I stopped doing water changes, and my tank has flourished over the past year! Haven't done one in months and i just took readings. Nitrates are at 0 and the corals and fish couldn't be happier! So are water changes over rated? What do you think?

PXL_20240426_233639056.jpg

Yes :)
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

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If these toxins and hormones can't be tested then how do we know they are there and if present actually detrimental and wouldn't much of this be removed by GAC, skimmers or other remedies including ozone or peroxide? I'm not chasing imaginary problems knowing many tanks have successfully been kept without changing the water and either they never acquired these toxins or they never elevated to the point of concern. Plus are they derived from the tap we use that isn't removed by RODI or are these induced by the corals or other inhabitants we keep, for example? You've mentioned the remnants of coral warfare in the past but it seemed more based on theory then actual verified results as it pertains to our little boxes of water.

Would hydroxyl radicals potentially oxidize these non-testable concerns we don't even know actually exist since testing doesn't revel their existence? I don't want to perpetuate a practice based on fear. I'd like to base it on science or as close to it as possible. Broad stroke fear of the unknown just not how I roll. Were that the case then what stops me from fearing anything less than 100% daily change isn't really needed? Can't say it's based on others because others have kept tanks without the amount of water change that would likely be needed to win the race of removal before it's produced again since we can't test what they are supposedly diluting. Just how I approach it. No saying others should. Each can decide for themselves.

To be clear. Are these toxins not detectable due to amount present or no test exists? Were a test available then one could then perform that necessary change when test dictate it's needed vs blindly thinking an abstract figure solves it for them since we have no clue at what rate it's produced and how much dilution needed to keep them benign and safe. After all, copper exists in the ocean although at certain levels becomes toxic. I'm not emptying my tank to remove every trace.

Not arguing but I need more than generalities as I can't just assume that something spooky lurks in the dark.

Some background on myself. Spent 40 plus years reverse engineering problems in the world of finance. My mind doesn't think in absolute or that any problem can't be fixed. All I need is knowledge and testing theories. Why until there's verifiable scientific data that only a water change will solve my problem I will seek other venues because to change or not to change seems at the moment purely based on anecdotal self reporting and runs the gamut with each camp challenging the other and all I seek is knowledge. If I'm wrong. Have at it but please be more specific as to exactly why this I can't test is such because I have no clue what toxins or hormones we are talking about and I'm sure you're just answering a question yet I'd like more substance since I've obviously haven't found it on my own and trust me I've tried figuring all this out with what resources are/were available going back to the 70s. Still learning obviously but I really need more than just "it exists".

Sorry for the rant but might helps others grasp why and what I'm trying to solve which may or may not get solved but I'm going to try and only way I'm changing my mind because facts bear it out vs just fear of the unknown or very likely not understood on my part. :)

Your comments are exactly what a reefkeeper would have said 40 years ago about the inorganic elements (calcium, alkalinity, potassium, iron, etc.).

"If we cannot measure them in our tanks, how do we know they are an issue?"

Many, many organics are present in the ocean (scientists do actually test) and are known to be released by the organisms we keep, so the very good assumption is they will be there in a reef tank. It is not known exactly what levels of what are good, bad, or otherwise for a reef tank.

Did you read the article I posted? It is lists specific toxins, for example.

Organic Compounds in the Reef Aquarium by Randy Holmes-Farley - Reefkeeping.com
 

GARRIGA

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Garriga my friend, I personally feel most people change to much water but I don't want to get into that. Many aquarists feel we can remove everything we want to remove using carbon, ozone or skimming. I'm sure we can remove much of it but we are also removing many of the things we want to stay in the water and carbon and ozone are not limited in what they will remove. Some things are not removed by ozone but changed into something we may not want. (I am not a chemist but speculating)

They will as you said remove metals, but all of our animals need some metals, but how much? No one really knows and I am sure different creature's need different types and amounts of metals including copper, iron and Iodine.

I also feel one big problem that is not discussed is coral and sponge toxins. I recently had a huge problem with sponge toxins which killed many of my corals when I removed way to much photosynthetic, encrusting sponge that oozed out a seemingly toxic, white, gooey substance. It took a while and a bunch to carbon, ozone and Poly Filters to eliminate. Corals hate that. :grimacing-face:
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. Not intending to run any of this 24/7 but if it can to a great extent replicate what a water change accomplishes then I'm having at it because I stopped carrying buckets in the 80s. Perhaps run ozone or peroxide or both through UV-C once a week long enough to process one tank full of water. Only one way to find out although I get it. There will be those moments as you experienced where a large change might be needed yet my place will never allow that. Want a big tank. No place to store that much water or enough to make weekly 10% without sacrificing space for other things needed. At least not for the tank I'm designing. I've been dreaming of this since the 80s. Not getting younger. Just like Ford. I'm just going to say it must be done and do it. Worse case. I'll have a miniature pool for the pets :rolling-on-the-floor-laughing:
 

GARRIGA

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Your comments are exactly what a reefkeeper would have said 40 years ago about the inorganic elements (calcium, alkalinity, potassium, iron, etc.).

"If we cannot measure them in our tanks, how do we know they are an issue?"

Many, many organics are present in the ocean (scientists do actually test) and are known to be released by the organisms we keep, so the very good assumption is they will be there in a reef tank. It is not known exactly what levels of what are good, bad, or otherwise for a reef tank.

Did you read the article I posted? It is lists specific toxins, for example.

Organic Compounds in the Reef Aquarium by Randy Holmes-Farley - Reefkeeping.com
I'll read the article shortly but my main concern is the actual toxicity of that we don't know actually exists since every tank is different and we won't all keep the same organisms. Nature must process these toxins and I don't believe it's just time which dissipates them considering how long corals have existed. Since ozone and specifically hydroxyl radicals oxidize organics then wouldn't it be logical this would also oxidize these toxins? My mind races back to the fact there are successful keepers performing minimal if any water changes and the only conclusion being their corals don't produce enough to cause concern or somehow they are being naturally resolved. How? No clue but if success is being accomplished by those sticking to the old ways as well as those dosing to replenish without a routine of buckets then it would seem to me that for all change isn't good.

As it stands now. I'm designing my main build with no intention of ever performing a water change and spending time learning all I can then putting it to practice to find a way to combat any and all concerns. Sometimes you have to sink the ships to get the commitment needed to accomplish a dream.
 

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