Even the most novice aquarium hobbyist is likely to understand the importance of routine water changes in keeping an aquarium clean and healthy. Water changes are not only essential for keeping algae growth and aquarium fish diseases at bay, but they are also important in maintaining stable water chemistry. If the water chemistry in your tank changes drastically, your fish could become stressed or even die as a result. In order to avoid such a severe consequence it is wise to understand not only the need for regular water changes but also the proper way to go about performing them.
Why Water Changes are Necessary
Like all living creatures, aquarium fish produce waste and this waste typically sinks to the bottom of the tank where it accumulates with other forms of organic debris like decomposing plant matter and uneaten fish food. Over time, this debris begins to break down and produces ammonia, a substance toxic to fish. Though the beneficial bacteria in an aquarium help to convert ammonia into less harmful substances, these bacteria can only do so much. Water changes are necessary to keep toxins in the tank under control – if you never performed a water change, the chemicals would simply build up in the tank water, making it unsuitable for aquarium fish. Water changes are also needed to replace the water lost through evaporation.
Proper Water Changing Procedure
Though the size and frequency of necessary aquarium water changes may vary slightly according to the species of fish in the tank, most tanks require a weekly water change of 10% to 15% of the tank volume. These regular water changes should be accompanied by a larger 25% water change once a month. To perform a water change most effectively, use a gravel vacuum to siphon the substrate in your tank – this method will remove built-up detritus from the bottom of your tank along with the dirty tank water. If you were to simply scoop out a few gallons of water from the top of the tank you might succeed in diluting some of the toxins present in the water but the build-up in the substrate of the tank would continue to produce ammonia which would eventually lead to a decline in water quality.
Once you have removed the desired amount of water from the tank, the next step is to replace it with clean water. For freshwater tanks, regular tap water can be used as long as it has been dechlorinated. Aquarium hobbyists use a variety of methods to remove chlorine from tap water but the easiest and most effective method is to use a liquid water conditioner. Water conditioners work instantly to remove chlorine and chloramine from tap water, thus making it safe for aquarium fish. If you have a saltwater tank, your water changes may not be so quick or easy. You must mix the saltwater at least 24 hours before you perform the water change and it is best to add the water to the tank through a sump system rather than pouring it directly into the tank.
Tips for Water Changes
To make your water changes easier, select a gravel vacuum proportional to the size of your tank. If you have a small tank, a simple tube-shaped vacuum should be sufficient. For larger tanks, however, gravel vacuums that have wider heads are helpful. Though you cannot get away without ever performing a water change if you want your tank to stay clean and healthy, there are a few things you can do to reduce the frequency of necessary water changes. Adding an EcoBio-Stone to your tank is an easy way to keep your tank water fresh and clean and reducing maintenance needs. EcoBio-Stones are made from natural zeorite and special cement, and they can be added directly to the tank where the beneficial bacteria with which the stone is infused will immediately get to work. These bacteria will establish a colony in your tank, working to maintain the nitrogen cycle so the water in your tank stays clean and the water quality remains high. If you can maintain high water quality in your tank, you will find that you need to perform water changes less often.