No water changes? Plants do the job...

Discussion in 'Planted Tanks' started by Kendrick, Sep 3, 2020.

  1. Kendrick

    Kendrick

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    Have gotten back into fish keeping after 15 years.

    Saw a video about a pet store in California—the owners don't do water changes, only rely on plants to clean up the nitrates etc. The tanks are C02-fed though.

    Any thoughts or experiences with this?

    New to the platform so apologies if this is old news.

    Cheers
     
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  3. Hendre

    Hendre Polypterus freak

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    Welcome!

    This is often referred to as the Walstad method. Pretty complex stuff at work there with nutrient cycling and maintenance. Heavily planted tanks can get away with less water changes, but they are often highly beneficial. See no reason to really skip them unless you have a very lightly stocked tank..
     
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  4. JimmyHD

    JimmyHD

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    Hi, welcome back. I have a setup (heavily planted) where I do "low" (but not "no") water changes. I do a 20%-25% water change every four weeks; also, every two weeks I clean out the mechanical media of the first stage of my filter.

    I find that plants can absorb most of the nitrates. However, they usually can't take care of the other things like mineral build-up (you could use RO water, I guess).

    So ja, plants can definitely reduce the need for water changes, but occasional changes would still be recommended, I think.
     
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  5. A new day

    A new day

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    Welcome!
     
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  6. OP
    Kendrick

    Kendrick

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    Thanks for your feedback Hendre. Will have a look at the method online.
     
  7. OP
    Kendrick

    Kendrick

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    Thanks Jimmy.

    That sounds great—I'm aiming to get to that stage with my tank. The plants are too young still at the moment and had an ammonium spike the other day which made the water stink and killed some fish (R.I.P.:() so I did a 50% water change and things are better. Still some gill burn on one or two fish but I think they'll make it.

    Do you use C02?
     
  8. JimmyHD

    JimmyHD

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    Yes, but at quite low levels: about 5 bps for a 450 L tank. Ultimately, whether you use CO2 or not, the total rate at which the plants grow is proportional to the amount of nutrients they take out of the water. So, if CO2 makes them grow quicker, they will remove more nutrients and fewer water changes required. If you have low-medium difficulty plants with no CO2 and they have enough light to grow quickly, then that'll work too.
     
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  9. A new day

    A new day

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    Yes I agree with what the guys are saying. I remember and liked the vid you mentioned, they base their low maintenance regime on plants and a deep substrate (which helps to denitrify).

    I keep densely planted tanks and like deep substrates but still do around 20% water changes on anything that is moderately to densely stocked. I’m very sure that I would’ve had to do far bigger and more frequent wc without the plants etc.

    Then: it’s not really so much about the plant biomass as it is about growth rate, because it is during the growth process that plants absorb nitrates and other nutrients. A tank full of fast growers will purify the water much better than a tank full of only Anubias, for example. So good to include fast growers in the mix, as well as plant densely. Floating plants such as Salvinia (and duckweed ugh) are excellent for this purpose.

    Best to get a feel for the tank once it has matured, and keep on top of water testing if you’d like to reduce or eliminate water changes. Each tank is different, and if your water change regime is informed by testing parameters then should be all good?

    Eg the one tank that now seems to function like my pond in the sense that it gets massive top ups only (with very little water siphoned out only when I’m tidying up) is the 1,5m. I think it is because it has a lot of emersed growth and actual pond plants / marginals. The plants in that tank are very thirsty and hungry!
     
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  10. OP
    Kendrick

    Kendrick

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    Thanks for the insight!
     
  11. OP
    Kendrick

    Kendrick

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    Thanks for the advice. I have some fast growers (most of which I don't know the names and neither did the store owner) including hornwort.

    15992204111828676783344985674484.jpg

    15992205094613422406577293061066.jpg
     
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  12. A new day

    A new day

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    Looks like Ludwigia repens, perhaps?
     
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  13. f-fish

    f-fish #unspecified

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    It is all about an ecosystem, and allot of time we forget that it means bacteria. During lockdown I switched my dosing up and the results was really good. Esp on keeping the substrate clean without having to do any WC or vacuum. Other products also work but from this manufacturer I really like the balls. (Big tub on the left)

    P9041317.jpg P9041321.jpg

    Sure it is meant to treat septic tanks, but being all natural without any clay etc added ... it works great in all my low maintenance tanks.

    Later Ferdie
     
  14. krg007

    krg007

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    I've read each bucket contains 2 bags. How many balls per 250g bag? Also, how many balls would you place in, say a 3ft?
     
  15. f-fish

    f-fish #unspecified

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    Plenty - I have not counted them. Mayb say 45 balls in each bag.

    Add a ball every two - three weeks. They take a while to dissolve.

    Later Ferdie
     
  16. krg007

    krg007

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    Thank you! Reason for me asking, there is always muck at the bottom of my canister filter. So dropping a ball or two in that space should help with that. Need to go to Stodels today in any case and i've read they stock them.
     
  17. f-fish

    f-fish #unspecified

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    Anywhere in the tank will do, you can not see them once they hit the water, and the fish do not seem to care about them either.

    Later Ferdie
     
  18. krg007

    krg007

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    Went to Builders Instead. Cheaper than Stodels.They do actually disappear. Now i sit with the issue of having too much. How long do they last in storage?
     
  19. f-fish

    f-fish #unspecified

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    Keep the lid shut ... and you should be good for many many months.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2020
  20. OP
    Kendrick

    Kendrick

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    Yes! Thanks you.

    The one is ludwigia and the other is hydrophila polysperma (by chance watched a video which discussed it).
     
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  21. OP
    Kendrick

    Kendrick

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    Thanks Ferdie.

    This is very interesting indeed! Will look into this. Never heard this being spoken about on YouTube.
     

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