No water changes, heresy?

Scorpius

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what’s your proof for saying this? I do water changes so I want to point that out. But there are plenty of amazing tanks using various methods with no water changes for years...

corey
My proof is that we keep these tanks as closed systems. There's no way to keep everything replenished and in balance without regular water changes. You can get away without water changes for quite awhile, years likely, but sooner or later the pied piper shows up and demands payment.
 

90's reefer

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My proof is that we keep these tanks as closed systems. There's no way to keep everything replenished and in balance without regular water changes. You can get away without water changes for quite awhile, years likely, but sooner or later the pied piper shows up and demands payment.
Not true IMO.
I planned and started my 120 as a " no water change system" from the start.
It can, has been done, and is still being done, on many systems.

Not recommended for a beginner though.

I dosed 2 part and trace elements from day one.
At 6 months carx startup with manmade media.

Simple basic system of 7" filter sock, skimmer, carx, ato, and 3 liters of eheim substrate pro in a mesh bag.
11 fish over 50 corals, snails, 3 shrimp, 2 brittle stars, 2 urchins.
Bare bottom, heavy flow, feed 2+ cubes frozen 3-4 times a day.

Only wayer that is new is to replace skimmer nog and to raise sg when needed.

11 months since startup.
It can be done but requires knowledge on how its done.

Hard to get a good pic with phone but I just took this one.
20200523_144219.jpg
 

BlazinNano

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There are a lot of factors in my opinion on water changes VS no-water changes. Depends on size of tank, size of filtration, size of bio-load. You can't run a 100 gallon tank with a 10 gallon sump and no skimmer without doing water changes, but a 50 gallon tank with a 100 gallon sump with skimmer, refugium, and reactors you could probably get away with no water changes. Water changes are on a tank by tank basis. Nothing in this hobby is set in stone.
 
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HB AL

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I love this tank! That yellow tang looks so fat and healthy
Ya it is chunky so is the purple tang, really all my fish are fat and healthy, although I like to describe them as " solid ". They get fed 12 cubes of various Hikari cubes each day. If I skip a day then I can tell if there hungry cuz my Clown trigger goes and starts munching on the red monti cap, he doesnt like the green one or any other coral.
 

Scorpius

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Not true IMO.
I planned and started my 120 as a " no water change system" from the start.
It can, has been done, and is still being done, on many systems.

Not recommended for a beginner though.

I dosed 2 part and trace elements from day one.
At 6 months carx startup with manmade media.

Simple basic system of 7" filter sock, skimmer, carx, ato, and 3 liters of eheim substrate pro in a mesh bag.
11 fish over 50 corals, snails, 3 shrimp, 2 brittle stars, 2 urchins.
Bare bottom, heavy flow, feed 2+ cubes frozen 3-4 times a day.

Only wayer that is new is to replace skimmer nog and to raise sg when needed.

11 months since startup.
It can be done but requires knowledge on how its done.

Hard to get a good pic with phone but I just took this one.
20200523_144219.jpg
Talk to us about how great no water changes are in 3-5 years.
 

HB AL

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Talk to us about how great no water changes are in 3-5 years.
I can agree with some of what you say but doing no water changes is not for everyone especially if the person has been reefing less than say around 5 years. I've been going with no water changes on my tanks for around 15 years and it has gotten much simpler with all the supplements, media, testing, etc... that have come out the last 10 years or so. Every 2 months or so I have to bring up my salinity and use 2 cups of salt in a gallon of water, mixed then poured in the sump, but in a few months it will have been 3 years since I did a true water change. Over the years I've come up with a simple system to keep all the tanks inhabitants healthy when not doing water changes and to be successful at it. Once again it's not for everyone since you need a good system to keep the water in pristine condition for the good of the corals and fish. But I do things differently than others, like I dont quarantine fish just float and plop them and let there immune systems take care of any disease that one might bring in. My current tank has been running for 4.5 years and I had 2 fish die around 4 years ago, one jumped out and the other i found dead in the morning. I added my last fish around 8 months ago and in my case I'm fully overstocked on fish and corals. Had a 180G tank ordered and was gonna do the change over in March during a vacation but all that changed with covid and the shutdown affecting the import of the glass for the new tank coupled with having to work 60 hours a week ever since. Hopefully by the end of summer I can proceed. I can say water changes aren’t a must do to have a thriving tank.
 

DracoKat

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Going through your post history, it looks like you were unsure of why your sps died off. Unless you used a bad batch of salt if you are using RODI water and not having any major changes in the elements it is hard for me to think that the water was the root cause.
I am still unsure why my SPS died, I never figured it out for sure. It could be a bad batch of salt, could be my water, could be all the detris I kicked up, could be a fluke that all started to turn white at the same time? I have no idea, testing never gave me the answer either.

All I know, my remaining SPS and other corals appears to be much happier in a dirtier tank! That alone is enough for me to stop doing water changes.
 

Vette67

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I have shown this picture many times. When I first got into reefing, when i set up my 180 in 2002, I thought I had found a way to do this without water changes. And I more or less got away with it for about 10 years. Then in 2012, this happened:


I thought I had figured out how to go without water changes too. It took about 10 years for things to crash. This didn't happen over night, but it happened quickly. I had to tear down the tank, acid bath, bleach the rock, and then treat with lanthanum chloride before I started things back up. Since this crash, I have been a bigger advocate of water changes.

Now that said, I think things have come a long way even since 2012. I would still personally never go without doing water changes, but I think the triton method, and perhaps zeovit could make it so that you don't have to do water changes, if that is your preference. Testing is certainly more sophisticated than it has been in the past. There was no ICP back then. I still think it remains to be seen if these types of systems can be maintained long term without water changes. And by long term, I mean 10+ years. Just be aware that a crash can happen and when it does, it can happen quickly, and take out a lot of livestock with it. As with everything in life, it depends on your aversion to risk.
 

90's reefer

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I have shown this picture many times. When I first got into reefing, when i set up my 180 in 2002, I thought I had found a way to do this without water changes. And I more or less got away with it for about 10 years. Then in 2012, this happened:


I thought I had figured out how to go without water changes too. It took about 10 years for things to crash. This didn't happen over night, but it happened quickly. I had to tear down the tank, acid bath, bleach the rock, and then treat with lanthanum chloride before I started things back up. Since this crash, I have been a bigger advocate of water changes.

Now that said, I think things have come a long way even since 2012. I would still personally never go without doing water changes, but I think the triton method, and perhaps zeovit could make it so that you don't have to do water changes, if that is your preference. Testing is certainly more sophisticated than it has been in the past. There was no ICP back then. I still think it remains to be seen if these types of systems can be maintained long term without water changes. And by long term, I mean 10+ years. Just be aware that a crash can happen and when it does, it can happen quickly, and take out a lot of livestock with it. As with everything in life, it depends on your aversion to risk.
That tank could have
used a herd of sea hares lol.
The hobby has come along way in the last 10 years for sure.
The next 10 will be interesting.
 

HB AL

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I have shown this picture many times. When I first got into reefing, when i set up my 180 in 2002, I thought I had found a way to do this without water changes. And I more or less got away with it for about 10 years. Then in 2012, this happened:


I thought I had figured out how to go without water changes too. It took about 10 years for things to crash. This didn't happen over night, but it happened quickly. I had to tear down the tank, acid bath, bleach the rock, and then treat with lanthanum chloride before I started things back up. Since this crash, I have been a bigger advocate of water changes.

Now that said, I think things have come a long way even since 2012. I would still personally never go without doing water changes, but I think the triton method, and perhaps zeovit could make it so that you don't have to do water changes, if that is your preference. Testing is certainly more sophisticated than it has been in the past. There was no ICP back then. I still think it remains to be seen if these types of systems can be maintained long term without water changes. And by long term, I mean 10+ years. Just be aware that a crash can happen and when it does, it can happen quickly, and take out a lot of livestock with it. As with everything in life, it depends on your aversion to risk.
Keeping a tank thriving for 10+ years without a crash is a feat in itself whether you do water changes or not. With that said I wouldn't consider a slow spreading algae outbreak to the point it takes over the tank a crash. After that long of a time quite a few people my lose some interest in the tank be it personal life or something else, then you stop doing the little husbandry things needed, testing params, etc... then a couple months later gha has taken over the entire tank. Scenes like your picture can happen whether you do water changes or not, just read all the threads on the nuisance algae board.
 

Vette67

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Keeping a tank thriving for 10+ years without a crash is a feat in itself whether you do water changes or not. With that said I wouldn't consider a slow spreading algae outbreak to the point it takes over the tank a crash. After that long of a time quite a few people my lose some interest in the tank be it personal life or something else, then you stop doing the little husbandry things needed, testing params, etc... then a couple months later gha has taken over the entire tank. Scenes like your picture can happen whether you do water changes or not, just read all the threads on the nuisance algae board.
I wouldn't disagree with your statement about interest fading over time. But for me, living in Ohio, my diligence usually follows the seasons. When it’s warm outside during summer, my maintenance lapses. During winter, I am much better at performing maintenance. I probably didn’t give you all the information. If this had just been an algae outbreak, then you could consider it to not be a crash. But the algae smothered probably 3/4 of my coral, killing it. So it was most certainly a crash. Losing dozens of coral, some volleyball sized acro heads; this GHA outbreak did not end well. I have the coral skeletons on a shelf in my basement to remind myself of what can go wrong when maintenance slacks.
 
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blasterman

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Somebody said "trace elements" and I'm still rolling one the floor. It's like that scene from CaddyShack when Bill Murry talks about trace elements for the golf course and the gopher is spying on him. Define "trace element". Does it have uranium and palladium?

I will insist again that so called 'trace elements' are nothing but industrial contaminants in salt mixes. These same people try to tell you sodium bicarbonate and baking soda aren't the same thing.

Never been a fan of water changes because of the denial most reefers are living in because you are doing them to export nutrients because your tanks are over stocked.

DOCs are another matter, but they can be pulled via skimming.

Also, the worst outbreaks of algae I've seen, discussed and dealt weren't dented by even massive water changes.
 

Tastee

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I’m more at the infrequent WC point. My 65g has been running for a little under 3 years now and my 120g is now 3 months in. I run Aquaforest reef salt and 3 part dosing 24x7 which covers a large range of trace elements. The Component 1+2+3+ dosing liquid replaces everything that is in the salt originally so in theory I am losing nothing. I do run WCs, but only 10% every 6 weeks. So far so good. Here is the older tank.

F8E91E0B-5799-4746-8BDA-712B61E9FF1C.jpeg
 

Joedubyk

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I’m more at the infrequent WC point. My 65g has been running for a little under 3 years now and my 120g is now 3 months in. I run Aquaforest reef salt and 3 part dosing 24x7 which covers a large range of trace elements. The Component 1+2+3+ dosing liquid replaces everything that is in the salt originally so in theory I am losing nothing. I do run WCs, but only 10% every 6 weeks. So far so good. Here is the older tank.

F8E91E0B-5799-4746-8BDA-712B61E9FF1C.jpeg

Yeah, now here's another thing. lf you are an acro dominant tank versus your tank which is a softie tank, that should be duly noted by anyone making a decision on their WC

My corals LOVE and react very well to weekly water changes versus not. I have an acro dom tank though

If you have softies / lps you probably (Definitely) get away with very infrequent if any at all water changes.
 

Joedubyk

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Never been a fan of water changes because of the denial most reefers are living in because you are doing them to export nutrients because your tanks are over stocked.



Also, the worst outbreaks of algae I've seen, discussed and dealt weren't dented by even massive water changes.
So all of the vendors who grow corals for a living and throw money down the drain w/ weekly water changes? That is so false it's not even funny.

And if you have a big tank 180+ you know you're not going too remove an appreciable amount of nutrients with a wc.

I'll say this. If you have a decent amount of corals, especially SPS , make sure all your filters on your RODI are changed, especially the RO membrane and do weekly water changes. at least 15%. Then come back and say you don't notice a difference....
 

jda

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None of the truly awesome 'no water change tanks' are truly that way to the letter. They will, and do, change some water, just not on regular schedules. They are truly limited water change tanks. The only ones that have been running for a long time (years and years) also work very hard to do other things like supplement and test - Dutch Synthetic comes to mind, but it costs more and takes more time than changing water for most folks, so it is more of the lifestyle than a cost or time saver.
 
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