How to Guide: Aquarium Water Changes

Saltwater aquarium water changes

Hey Salty Nation, Jeff Hesketh here and I love to share information that helps fellow hobbyist be more successful in their aquarium keeping ventures. When it come s to maintaining an aquarium, water changes need to be on the top of the list. Water changes are also a great way to stay on top of your aquarium husbandry and in most cases the key to maintaining an aquarium long term. Today we are going to take an in depth look at aquarium water changes and just how important they are to maintaining a successful aquarium.

For more information on keeping your saltwater aquarium in tip top shape visit our aquarium maintenance section.

The Importance of Aquarium Water Changes

An aquarium is an enclosed environment, everything that is place in an aquarium stays there until its removed. Water Changes are the most effective way to remove pollutants from your aquarium. Without water changes all the waste excreted from fish, uneaten food, decaying plant matter and other pollutants would stay inside the aquarium.

The development of new filtration systems and other chemical filter media have reduced the emphasis once placed on routine aquarium water changes. Aquarium filtration and chemical filter media helps extend water quality and slows down the buildup of harmful pollutants. However, it’s important to understand that filtration alone can not completely offsetting the effects of pollutants in the aquarium’s water quality.

Aquarium Water Changes Frequency

The schedule for routine aquarium water changes can be handled a couple different ways As a general guideline, a monthly 25% water change is recommended. However, smaller, more frequent water changes (15-20% every 1-2 weeks) are preferable for heavily stocked aquariums or aquariums with large fish.

Aquarium Water Changes Equipment

Here is a list of equipment you will need to conduct a water change for your aquarium.

  • Clean Bucket
  • Waste Bucket
  • Siphon hose
  • Airline
  • Chip clips
  • Heater
  • Towels

Aquarium Water Changes Step by Step

  • Get a towel and spread it out on the floor before you begin changing aquarium water (spills happen).
  • Unplug all electrical equipment that comes into contact with the aquarium water (powerhead, heater and return pumps).
  • Start your syphon by placing one end of the hose in the aquarium water and sucking in the other end. Set this end of the hose in the bucket and begin cleaning your aquarium.
  • Now you should have water flowing out of your aquarium and into your waste bucket. You should now start moving aquarium decorations and gravel around to suck up the solids that are trapped in the aquarium. Note: The waste bucket should only for dirty water and never for clean water.
  • Once you have removed 10-25% of the aquarium’s water you will remove the end of the hose from the aquarium. Carefully lift your waste bucket of dirty aquarium water and go empty it. Now it is time to replace that dirty water with fresh water.
  • Before you add the new water to the aquarium, ensure that match the temperature and water parameters of the existing fish tank water. Slowly add the new water so you do not shock the fish. I usually do this by using an air and drip it back into the Aquarium.
  • When all of the water is replaced, and you finished working in the aquarium water you may now plug all of your electrical equipment back up.

Aquarium Water Changes Video



Aquarium Water Changes During Cycling

I’m going to keep this one short, Not only does performing frequent small water changes in a cycling aquarium delay or hamper the cycling process, but, it can drag out the process that the aquarium can stay in an ever cycling process. I’m kidding but I would stay away from doing water changes while your aquarium is cycling.

Whole purpose of cycling your aquarium is to dirty it up, so you can get to the final stage of nitrogen cycle and maintain living environment for your aquariums inhabitants. Performing aquarium water changes during this time will only extend the process. Leave it alone, give it some time and your aquarium will cycle.

Benefits of Aquarium Water Changes

Water changes restore and maintain a balanced aquarium by removing harmful pollutants as well as replenishing vital trace elements. Whether you have a fresh or saltwater aquarium, it is good practice to perform routine water changes. Below you will find  the benefits of aquarium water changes.

Keeps the nitrogen cycle in check. Ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are nitrogen compounds harmful to fish. Biological filtration process ammonia, converting it to nitrite, and finally into nitrate. While fish are more tolerant of nitrate, high nitrate levels place harmful stress on them. As a result, fish, corals and invertebrates become more susceptible to disease and demonstrate poor growth and color development.

Removes dissolve organics. The routine removal of decaying organics during water changes is important in many ways. As organic waste breaks down, they release nitrogenous products, phosphate, and other chemicals that can lead to poor water quality.

Restores trace minerals. In the ocean, there is a constant source of vital minerals, nutrients, and vitamins. However, in marine aquariums, trace elements and essential minerals are often removed through filtration or are depleted as corals and invertebrates use them to grow. Water changes provide a fresh supply necessary for proper growth, biological function, and coloration.

Conclusion

When it come s to maintaining an aquarium, water changes need to be on the top of the list. Water changes are also a great way to stay on top of your aquarium husbandry and in most cases the key to maintaining an aquarium long term. Today we are going to take an in depth look at aquarium water changes and just how important they are to maintaining a successful aquarium.

For more information on this subject check out The Fish Tan Guide article on aquarium water changes.

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