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This debate will last through eternity! But it's 2020 and have things changed?

Are water changes a thing of the past or of the present?

  • PAST

    Votes: 96 12.0%
  • PRESENT

    Votes: 675 84.3%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 30 3.7%

  • Total voters
    801

revhtree

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Are water changes a thing of the past or of the present?

Do water changes, don't do water changes? The debate will last F O R E V E R!!



So why not continue it today! :p Well things change, methods change, people change, systems change and what is 2020 telling us, besides it's a crazy year, about changing out your water in your saltwater reef aquarium?

This paragraph from @Randy Holmes-Farley makes it as clear as mud but is so truthful! HA!

Water changes are, by definition, the act of replacing some aquarium water with "new" water. For various reasons, the ways to perform them and their importance are both a matter of some debate and confusion in the world of reef aquaria. Many aquarists perform them extensively, and others never do them. For those who do, the reasons vary and are sometimes even at odds with one another; for example, replenishing "trace elements" and exporting built up "impurities," with the identities of these two being unclear and possibly overlapping.
So in light of this brand new discussion topic of water changes let's dig in and talk about it! It's 2020 and has your feelings changed about water changes?

1. YES water changes are beneficial or NO water changes are not beneficial to a reef aquarium?

Let's go a step further....

2. YES water changes are necessary or NO water changes are not necessary for long term health of a reef aquarium?

3. Do you perform regular water changes on your reef aquarium?


water-changes-reef-tank.jpg
 

Pntbll687

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I used to perform water changes every week, like clockwork. I would change 28g on my 180g system. I did this because I was NOT dosing two part. I used the water change as a way to bring alk and calcium back up. My tank was using about .75dkh (mostly LPS) over the week, so the swing in alk wasn't that large.

When I started dosing two part, water changes have become less frequent, and for different reasons. I now primarily do water changes to vacuum the sand bend and remove detritus.

I don't think it's water changes that allow tanks to thrive, but the act of doing water changes allows one consistent time to view and observe the tank.
 

richarddeweerd

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I think that water changes are not bad, but the weekly 20% water changes are predominantly good for the companies who sell the salt.

If your corals look good, you dose Ca and kH, and your NO3, NO2, and NH3 are in the right range there is in my opinion no need for weekly changes.

I'm now replacing about 15% once a month, and mainly for cleaning the sandbed.
But I'm also using natural seawater.
 
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Joeg

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I'm currently struggling with the desire to set up an AWC system for less work and I can't help but wonder if it's necessary. Part of me thinks that the expense is not justified if it's possible to do water changes much less frequently or even not at all. I'm not sure what path I'll end up but at this point it seems to me that doing regular water changes, whether automated or not, brings the likelihood of greater stability, especially if you are not willing to be religious in your testing and recording of a wide variety of levels.

With that said, the fact that I'd even considering going the less/no water change route means that I think it it's not necessarily needed for the success of a tank. I feel that I've seen several threads where users have wonderful looking tanks with zero or very infrequent water changes so it seems that it's possible but with everything there is a cost. If you stick with water changes you're going to be paying for water and salt plus either your time to do the changes or the cost of equipment to do the lifting for you. I'd guess that if you're going to go the less/no changes route you had better have a variety of test kits or deep pockets for frequent ICP tests and all of the trace elements that you might need, some of which may still be needed with water changes anyway.

I'm currently back in the game with a new tank that's just cycled as as I mentioned above, part of me really loves the idea of adding a DOS to my apex and just going the automated changes route with my only real involvement being making sure the tanks in the basement are full. Utilities where I live are not cheap so I'd be looking at adding to a water bill that is already close to $100 a month not to mention all the waste water I cannot utilize. The no water changes has a lot of appeal on many levels but I think once I grapple with the decision for a while longer that I'm going to fall into the group that does changes but maybe only every 4-8 weeks. I'll still build the water change station in the basement but instead of automating on a daily basis I'll just test regularly and then grab a pump and a long run of hose when I've decided there's reason to do a water change. As much as I love the idea of no water changes I'm not sure I'm the right person for that route in terms of economics or testing diligence.

I look at water changes like the tank size advice many new aquarists receive which is to spend a little more on a tank with some reasonable volume because the volume adds a bit of a water quality safety net. I think regular water changes offer that same type of safety net because they're constantly knocking back problematic build-up's and deficiencies in water quality.
 

Timfish

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Present and future. While our ability to test what's in our tanks has improved somewhat with ICP tests and 16S rDNA we still can't test for what's going on with coral microbiomes. Research is showing VERY COMPLEX microbial processes are going on and we are a long long way from understanding them. (Like how many aquarists even know about Dissolved Combined Neutral Sugars which can be so problematic for corals and isn't removed by skimming or GAC?) From what I've seen reef systems should also last decades if not centuries but I don't see very many aquarists being able to keep animals for more than a few years. I don't see this being accomplished without water changes. Admitidly some of our corals may indeed be short lived and some of the death we see may be atributed to old age. But we don't really know. To ignore science and assume we know everything there is to know to keep reef systems for their normal life expectancies without water changes strikes me as hubris.
 
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Nano sapiens

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The way I look at it, regular water changes, done correctly, are typically beneficial.

For smaller systems, water changes are relatively easy, cheap and helpful to long term success. Once the systems gets larger and larger, then other options besides regular water changes start to make sense (cost and labor wise) and can be utilized with success.
 

ca1ore

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The debate persists because we lack data. The 'assumption' is that water changes are necessary both to dilute undesirable and replenish desirable things. It's an inexact science of course. T'would be great if somebody did a long-term study of adequate sample size of tanks with and without water changes. Then we would have data and the debate would end .... OK, perhaps that's the giddy optimist in me, but at least we would be more informed. That there are successful tanks that do significant water changes, successful tanks that do modest water changes and successful tanks that do no water changes suggests it's not THE critical element to success that some say. Personally, I do modest water changes because I cannot quite bring myself to stop them completely - frankly they're relatively inexpensive and not all that inconvenient so I keep doing them.
 

Greybeard

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Simple. My tank looks better when I do water changes. If I skip one, I can see it in the coloration and expansion of my corals. As long as that's true, I'll continue doing water changes regularly.

Your tank looks great without water changes? Great! Don't do 'em.

But... if you don't do water changes because they're inconvenient, time consuming, or expensive... you should really look at your process. Yeah, ok, a 200g bucket of salt ain't cheap, but expensive? A 10-20% weekly water change? Probably less than whatever you're dosing. Inconvenient? You need to spend some time setting up a well planned water change system. Time consuming? Same thing... my 20g water changes take me about 5 minutes, once a week. If you can't spend that much time with your reef... what's the point of having one?
 
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Nick Steele

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Currently I’m still doing about 25% once a week on my 20g tank but I’m battling with some things so I have to do them to help bring the tank to where I want it. Once I get the tank how I want it I will go to ever two week and then possibly once a month water changes if possible.
 

[email protected]

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1. YES water changes are beneficial or NO water changes are not beneficial to a reef aquarium?
I chose other. At the moment, I am not doing water changes. My dinoflagellates are hanging in a delicate balance of dosing to raise the nutrients (which is zero!) so I haven't done one for a while. I personally think it depends on the tank. Paul B never does water changes, and others do them every week! Every tank is different.

2. YES water changes are necessary or NO water changes are not necessary for long term health of a reef aquarium?
Again, it depends on the tank. I would like to keep the detritus in my system because with my TBS rock there are a lot of filter - feeding mouths to feed (i.e. barnacles, sponges, tunicates, feather worms, clams, etc.) My sand on the other hand is SPOTLESS. I have no clue how that happened but it is as clean as a whistle.

3. Do you perform regular water changes on your reef aquarium?

I certainly did in the past, before the dreaded dinoflagellates. Now I just does and scrub; trying to avoid water changes. Doesn't seem too bad for my tank, even though there is hair algae (but that feeds the hundreds of limpets and chitons that came with my rock so I'm not complaining).
 

Mhart032

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I tried the no water change Triton Method for several months, i never saw good results. that with dosing the triton big 3/3A&B well the 4 base elements, Dosed the triton trace elements religiously. i my tank still struggled. when i switched to KZ with 10-15% weekly everything took off. I was a big advocate for ULM tanks and thought it was the way to go.. but im back on the waterchange bandwagon for life.
 
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MnFish1

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1. YES water changes are beneficial or NO water changes are not beneficial to a reef aquarium?

Yes, (assuming reef aquarium means coral containing) - depending on what you're using for 'water changes' - If you use a high quality salt - (I chose Brightwell Neomarine) - You may not need to add any 'trace elements' (I do not). I do dose 2 part. My assumption is that all the elements my fish and coral need are in their foods - and the salt I'm using. So - I'm not doing water changes to 'replenish trace elements - I'm using them to remove anything I cant test for - that might be detrimental.

Let's go a step further....

2. YES water changes are necessary or NO water changes are not necessary for long term health of a reef aquarium?

Yes - water changes are are necessary. Even @Paul B (who rarely does water changes) - struggles with certain SPS. I feel that people often put a lot of stuff in their aquarium (various corals, fish, etc) - in the end - the ones that survive are the ones that can adapt to whatever management style you use. Thus some people that say 'my nitrate is 80 - and everything is fine' - and others say different. Its all about whatever is in teh tank. To me - water changes even some of these issues out.

3. Do you perform regular water changes on your reef aquarium?

Yes - I tried the 'no water change' method a while back - with a refugium, etc etc - with all the lights pumps, etc I found myself correcting hardware, plumbing issues often. And also required much more testing. Now - Its simple - skimmer, carbon (chemipure blue) - and a 30% water change every 2 weeks. The corals have never been better.
 

ScottR

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FWIW I tried the whole no water change and only dose and nutrient export. Tank just lacked. Weekly water changes of 10%ish really brought it alive. Better growth, colouration, blah blah blah.
 

92Miata

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The debate persists because we lack data. The 'assumption' is that water changes are necessary both to dilute undesirable and replenish desirable things. It's an inexact science of course. T'would be great if somebody did a long-term study of adequate sample size of tanks with and without water changes. Then we would have data and the debate would end .... OK, perhaps that's the giddy optimist in me, but at least we would be more informed. That there are successful tanks that do significant water changes, successful tanks that do modest water changes and successful tanks that do no water changes suggests it's not THE critical element to success that some say. Personally, I do modest water changes because I cannot quite bring myself to stop them completely - frankly they're relatively inexpensive and not all that inconvenient so I keep doing them.
Absolutely. So much of this hobby at this point is just oft-repeated anecdotes that have become 'rules'.


1. YES water changes are beneficial or NO water changes are not beneficial to a reef aquarium?

Water changes are a tool, and using that tool has both benefits and risks. I've seen tanks with relatively minor issues crashed by hastily done water changes (see OregonReef) - and I've seen frequent water changes save tanks with major issues.

Its really difficult to perfectly match salt water - so water changes always induce some stress - question is - is the stress offset by other improvements.

2. YES water changes are necessary or NO water changes are not necessary for long term health of a reef aquarium?

Clearly not necessary. There are people keeping beautiful reef tanks without them. They can be a useful tool.

3. Do you perform regular water changes on your reef aquarium?



Yes, no, maybe? My tank runs barebottom - and is designed to push waste forward into a crease between the front glass and the edge of the starboard. I'll siphon that and replace the water that was siphoned out - but its probably 5%, and is anywhere from a couple of times a week to once a month depending on how much waste the tank is producing/how corals look/etc.
 

PokeFish

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I do water changes every week UNLESS, my corals are looking great and I don't see anything wrong with the tank. When I don't do a water change, I continuously check my parameters until I do one (just to be safe)
 

ash1176

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Have you ever tasted a glass of water after it’s been laying there for a day? it tastes weird (I know it’s just tap water and different to sea water) but aquariums are a closed loop, in the ocean you get currents, you get get freshwater coming from rivers, everything is renewing, IMO it’s important to regularly (everybody tank is different so no set rule) to swap out old water with some new water!
 
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