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Questions for folks who aren't doing water changes

Zirco

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In a recent poll here on R2R, about 12% of folks said that they no longer do routine water changes. Personally I tried and wasn't successful. So I'm curious to learn about the practices of those who have been able to make it work.
  • How long has your tank been running without water changes?
  • Do you forego water changes completely or do you still change some water, just very infrequently?
  • What methods of nutrient/chemical export do you employ? Skimmer, filter sock/floss, activated carbon, macroalgae refugium, microalgae scrubber, gfo, biopellets, anything else?
  • Do you run your skimmer dry, wet, very wet?
  • Calcium reactor or alk/Ca/Mg dosing?
  • High, medium or low bioload?
  • Anything else you think may be contributing to your success?
Thanks!
Zirco (Joe)
 
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KenRexford

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I have a 125g mixed reef with softies, lps, and easy sps (poci birdsnest monti etc). My water change schedule is probably once per year because I feel guilty. Tank looks great.

I feed frozen one cube/morning plus evening pellets. Feed corals daily AB+ and every 3 days or so with reef roids.
My filtration is 1 sock changed maybe every 3 days, a hob penguin filter with cartridges changed weekly, hob reef octopus skimmer with co2 scrubber, refugium with ai prime Fuge light, gfo/carbon Unit From BRS, weekly maintenance level vibrant for carbon dosing.
I maintain sand bed with maybe quarterly vacuum into a sock in the sump.

I dose 2-part from BRS with kamoer dosing pumps and have a regular very slow magnesium dosing also. Weekly trace supplements from Red Sea abcd, with adjustments as quarterly Triton advises.
I have water from culligan deliveries rather than rodi.
I have had this setup for maybe 5 years in the current combo, or close to it. Had a gha outbreak when using nopox and a faulty doser, and got lazy for a while. When fixed myself and switched to manual vibrant, that was solved. Some minor Dino’s occasionally.
 

Taylor t

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This tank pic is from a couple weeks ago. It’s a 125 main tank, it has (2) 20 long tanks under it with rock thats dark No light, has another 20 long tank plumbed to it dark with no rock, another 20 gallon frag tank with medium light, and a 40 breeder for a sump. Rock might be 15 years old. No sand in system, well, only 1 bag 20# I added a couple years ago and I can’t see any lol. Very little sand but can’t see any. Only filtration is a euro reef 180 skimmer (old school type with Eheim needle wheel) set pretty dry, occasionally my anemone sperm the water and make the cup over flow the nastiest, not very often. Then I skim wet to get it out faster. I empty cup once a week or every other week. I do use a filter sock, but not for all over flow pipes and changed it maybe 3 times the past year, it’s usually clogged and overflowing. I’ve only done a couple (2) 5 gallon bucket water changes, and that was to remove algae and crap and replace with new water. I use dosing pumps to dose calcium and alk. I used to have fish but lost power beginning of the year and lost 5 tangs, fox face, and chromis from no flow for 12 hours. Would my tank do better with weekly changes? Sure it would. But I don’t have time or drive to spend on it like I used to. It’s cheap to run, $50 a month in electric and $150 a year on cal alk and mag, the only supplements I dose. I stopped feeding the tank nori after I lost all my fish, and they only got 1 sheet every day or every couple days, so nothing else gets added. Algae grows and I really don’t care, to many reefers algae is the boogie man, but it’s actually not bad if kept in check. As you can see, my tank grows algae. My tank isn’t pristine. If you want a pristine look, water changes help. I don’t spend much time with my tank, it’s easy to keep. I can go a week and not be there for it and it will keep going, as long as lightning doesn’t trip my GFI for my emergency back up power again. This current tank was a downgrade and a move about 2.5 years ago.

B5BE36FC-A4FF-4F8E-B59E-C00D36C3D3E3.png
 

Subsea

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I do not do regular water changes. My makeup water comes directly from 1000’ deep limestone formation that was the bottom of an ancient inland sea now called Edwards Plateau. At least once a year, I do a 100% water change over a three day period. I use nutrient recycling to grow coral then frag coral for nutrient export. I also grow macro in a refugium on an opposite photocycle to help with oxygen management during lights out. Macro is feed to fish for nutrient recycling and also removed as compost for tomato plants. Feed heavy with live food to enhance fish & coral immune systems with introduction of healthy diverse bacteria.

If you must have a spotless, immaculate reef tank, my method would not suffice but I have been happy with it for 48 years.
 

ReefHomieJon

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I haven’t done one in 6 months and when I do it it’s only like 30%. I dose Red Sea Alk Cal and Mag, feed corals AB+ and corals and fish LRS frozen goods. I have a large refugium, run a half dose of GFO and chemipure blue at the recommended amount(both in 2little fishies reactors), and dose Red Sea trace elements whenever I need to dose calcium. I have a 125 ga. Display with 80ga. Sump.
When I was doing regular water changes I wasn’t seeing much success. The less I tinkered with it the better the tank got. I have very little algae growth other than the film the grows on the glass, and my method keeps my nitrates at .02 and phosphates at .05 on a average. Sometimes I does nitrates for a little boost but running the parameters like that plus everything else I do has given my corals very nice coloration and medium growth. I keep the all between 7 and 8. The tank is very happy lol
 

90's reefer

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* 16 months since startup.
* Setup as a no scheduled water change system since day one.
Only 2 water changes, one 9 gal just because at around13 months.
One 12 gal around 14 months after a fluconazole treatment for hair algae.
It elimimated all hair algae.
* 120/40 breeder sump, no baffles, with filter sock, small carbon reactor running 1 cup rox carbon, Tunze skimmer and carx running manmade media with no controller or ph probe, ato, 3 liters eheim substrate pro in a mesh bag in sump.
Running about 250gph through sump.
Wet skim.
Change filter sock twice a week.
* I dose DSR trace daily at 6ml.
Strontium weekly at 5ml.
Temp 79-81
SG 1.026
Alk 7-7.5
Ca 450
Mg 1350
St 8
Was T5 lighting for 14 months now MH.
20201016_190535.jpg
 

HB AL

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I'm going on 4 years without a true water change. Once a month or so i add a cup of salt to about a gallon of water and add it to the tank to maintain the salinity. I have alot of fish and corals. Ive got a pretty simple setup, lots of ROCK, sock, wet skim. I have bags of carbon, phosgaurd and purigen. I dose 10 or 20ml of nopox daily. I dont have any controllers I manually dose alk, calc, and mag. For trace and stuff I dose Red Sea ABCD, and Red Sea AB+. So far this regimen has been working pretty good. Here's a fts from the other day.
20200909_181512.jpg
 
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Zirco

Zirco

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I'm going on 4 years without a true water change. Once a month or so i add a cup of salt to about a gallon of water and add it to the tank to maintain the salinity. I have alot of fish and corals. Ive got a pretty simple setup, lots of ROCK, sock, wet skim. I have bags of carbon, phosgaurd and purigen. I dose 10 or 20ml of nopox daily. I dont have any controllers I manually dose alk, calc, and mag. For trace and stuff I dose Red Sea ABCD, and Red Sea AB+. So far this regimen has been working pretty good. Here's a fts from the other day.
20200909_181512.jpg
Beautiful tank. How many gallons is it?

So your skimmer pulls out about a gallon a month?

Amazing that you're keeping 3 triggers in with all those corals.
 

HB AL

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Beautiful tank. How many gallons is it?

So your skimmer pulls out about a gallon a month?

Amazing that you're keeping 3 triggers in with all those corals.
90 Cadlights, looking to upgrade it soon. Not sure how much skimmer pulls out but between it and pulling water for dipping and such, I use roughly a cup of salt a month or so to keep salinity at 1.025. I actually have 5 triggers :D
 

Lasse

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1602958569894.png

How long has your tank been running without water changes?
Basically since april 2017 - no scheduled WC. However - I run Core7 rather high in a 80 gallon system. It means that I have to take out around 1 L saltwater and add 1 L RO water each day - it will correspond to 0.3% daily WC
Do you forego water changes completely or do you still change some water, just very infrequently?
Did a large correcting WC in january 2018 and a small 2.5 years ago
What methods of nutrient/chemical export do you employ? Skimmer, filter sock/floss, activated carbon, macroalgae refugium, microalgae scrubber, gfo, biopellets, anything else?
An oversized skimmer, dry skimming (a cup/14 days) Some GFO/Al PO4 removing media in a biofilter with high flow, refugium, reversed flow DSB. Oxidator
Do you run your skimmer dry, wet, very wet?
Dry
Calcium reactor or alk/Ca/Mg dosing?
Triton system Core 7
Anything else you think may be contributing to your success?
[/QUOTE]
I do ICP test mostly every 3 months. Dose rather close to recommendations. Some things I dose daily as Iodine, strontium, manganese, iron and vanadium. PO4, NO3 and NH4 when needed. Rubidium sometimes. Some etanol dosing below my DSB.

If I see problem or if I get indications of something very wrong from ICP - I´ll do a WC


Sincerely Lasse
 

Sallstrom

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I work at a small public aquarium and we run most our tanks with no regular water changes. At the moment we’re rebuilding so we don’t have any display tanks, just holding tanks like this:
844ACD26-CBD7-46C0-9E63-3201E9D3A3F4.jpeg

We started doing Triton ICP tests in 2014-2015, and since then we switched to less water changes, then to no water changes. We had different type of tanks, some with calcium reactors, some with Core7, some we could run with just some buffer and some additives.
Here’s one reef tank which we ran without WC for 5 years.
83648B56-026A-47C6-84F9-9BE34BA80251.jpeg

Edit. I forgot to answer the questions:)

Our longest without WC was 5 years. The tank above. Then we had to take the tank down due to our rebuilding.

Nutrient export depends on the tank and what we got to work with. Algae refugiums work well. Carbon source too. But usually we need to add nutrients.

Same goes for additives. Calcium reactors work fine, but with extra Triton additives. Core7 too, with extra Triton additives. A soft coral tank worked fine with buffer and some Triton additives.
 
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Paulie069

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In a recent poll here on R2R, about 12% of folks said that they no longer do routine water changes. Personally I tried and wasn't successful. So I'm curious to learn about the practices of those who have been able to make it work.
  • How long has your tank been running without water changes?
  • Do you forego water changes completely or do you still change some water, just very infrequently?
  • What methods of nutrient/chemical export do you employ? Skimmer, filter sock/floss, activated carbon, macroalgae refugium, microalgae scrubber, gfo, biopellets, anything else?
  • Do you run your skimmer dry, wet, very wet?
  • Calcium reactor or alk/Ca/Mg dosing?
  • Anything else you think may be contributing to your success?
Thanks!
Zirco (Joe)
Yes the fact that I use nothing but 100% natural ocean water in my 65gal tank with 30gal sump ( protein skimmer, algae scrubber,UV light,,, I do 25-30 gallon water changes once a month. The ocean water has all the bacteria in it that people pay 20 dollars for 8oz bottle, I collect water from min of 10 miles offshore
My tank is 8 months old at moment

AEDFCA50-1993-47FD-BE3A-83BC34C917A6.jpeg
 

Paulie069

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Yes the fact that I use nothing but 100% natural ocean water in my 65gal tank with 30gal sump ( protein skimmer, algae scrubber,UV light,,, I do 25-30 gallon water changes once a month. The ocean water has all the bacteria in it that people pay 20 dollars for 8oz bottle, I collect water from min of 10 miles offshore
My tank is 8 months old at moment

AEDFCA50-1993-47FD-BE3A-83BC34C917A6.jpeg
In tank have 32-34 seahorses 6 small fish and very large CUC
 
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Hincapiej4

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Yes the fact that I use nothing but 100% natural ocean water in my 65gal tank with 30gal sump ( protein skimmer, algae scrubber,UV light,,, I do 25-30 gallon water changes once a month. The ocean water has all the bacteria in it that people pay 20 dollars for 8oz bottle, I collect water from min of 10 miles offshore
My tank is 8 months old at moment

AEDFCA50-1993-47FD-BE3A-83BC34C917A6.jpeg
You don't worry about parasites?
 

Paulie069

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You don't worry about parasites?
No for the fact that it’s same water I got all my ponies from, and like Paul.B. I’m a huge believer in letting Mother Nature take care of it like she does in the ocean,, it’s just how I think. I’m not one of the people that think they can duplicate the same conditions with chems and fancy equipment (that I can’t afford anyway) if and when I do WC it’s all pure NSW every time

D5E0613D-84CB-4088-8FE4-6FE3B1D6AAC4.jpeg
 

robbyg

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I went two plus years without doing a water change and things looked great right up until everything suddenly started crashing in the tank. The question you asked are good ones but you forgot to include how many gallons of water are these people using per inch of fish in the tank.

My observations of numerous posts on this over the years is that lightly stocked tanks will last a lot longer than heavily stocked but the end result is still the same.
 

Lasse

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I suppose that my tank is heavy stocked - +40 fish in 80 gallon + 4 rather large Clams. Feeding with 3 cubes of cyclops, 3 cubes of invertebrate food and around 3-4 cubes of adult artemia/mysis/black mosquito larvaes a day. For me - it is the ICP testing every 3 months that is the reason why I dare to use no regular WC

1) automatic dosing
2) skip the regular WC

Automatic dosing of some of the most important single trace elements (or basic element) is important IMO because you create a more dynamic system that is based on daily flux instead of left overs

Sincerely Lasse
 

Paulie069

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I suppose that my tank is heavy stocked - +40 fish in 80 gallon + 4 rather large Clams. Feeding with 3 cubes of cyclops, 3 cubes of invertebrate food and around 3-4 cubes of adult artemia/mysis/black mosquito larvaes a day. For me - it is the ICP testing every 3 months that is the reason why I dare to use no regular WC

1) automatic dosing
2) skip the regular WC

Automatic dosing of some of the most important single trace elements (or basic element) is important IMO because you create a more dynamic system that is based on daily flux instead of left overs

Sincerely Lasse
I wouldn’t worry about over feeding if you have big enough CUC they gotta eat too
 
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