Aquatic Avenue Banner Tropica Shop Banner Fishy Business Banner
Results 1 to 1 of 1

Thread: PFK Articles: Tetra tutorial: Water changes

  1. #1

    Feed Icon PFK Articles: Tetra tutorial: Water changes

    Fresh n Marine aQuarium Banner

    Advertise here

    Advertise here
    Tetra explains why water changes are important and how you should make them.

    A mature aquarium, with the filter working properly and the fish feeding and in good health, is still a work in progress. You can't simply leave it to look after itself – or just top up evaporation with new water. To keep the water healthy you need to refresh it regularly.

    Ageing aquarium water
    Over time, the composition and chemistry of aquarium water will change. The most important of these changes are:

    A steady reduction in the KH (carbonate hardness) level, caused principally by the natural process of biological filtration. If allowed to fall too low, this can cause an unstable pH, which may fall dangerously low. In softwater, with lower KH levels to begin with, the pH will become unstable far sooner than in hardwater.
    A reduction in the concentration of important trace elements and vitamins, which are important for fish, plants and filter bacteria.
    A steady increase in the nitrate level. Nitrate is the end-product of biological filtration, and will accumulate unless removed. High nitrates may harm very sensitive fish, and encourage algae to grow.
    A steady increase in the phosphate level. Phosphate is an important nutrient for fish. However, some will be excreted into the water. This encourages algae to grow.
    The magnitude and speed of these changes depends on the individual aquarium. In particular, its starting water chemistry, equipment and stock of fish and plants. To keep the water healthy, it is necessary to counter these changes to create a consistent, balanced environment.

    Water changes
    The traditional approach to keeping aquarium water refreshed and healthy is to carry out a regular 25% water change every three to four weeks.

    In softwater, or heavily stocked aquariums, this may need to be done even more frequently. Depending on the chemistry of your local tapwater, this may replenish KH, thereby stabilising pH, top-up some essential trace elements, and dilute nitrates and phosphate.

    Unfortunately, because tapwater is meant for human consumption, it has high levels of chlorine to kill germs and also contains various heavy metals. In addition, it is generally quite 'aggressive' compared to the natural waters our fish are used to. This means we cannot use plain tapwater in a tank, otherwise it will harm the fish.

    New tapwater should therefore be put in a clean bucket and conditioned with Tetra AquaSafe before use. AquaSafe not only neutralises harmful chlorines and heavy metals, it also protects the fish with organic colloids, and adds stress-reducing vitamin B, to turn tapwater into water that is suitable for aquariums. It also adds a small amount of magnesium to the water, which is typically below ideal concentrations in tapwater. Simply leaving water to stand or aerating it, as we used to do, will not make it safe for fish. Conditioning is therefore extremely important.

    As well as using AquaSafe, the water should also be warmed to within a degree or two of the aquarium water with water from a kettle (not the hot tap).

    Further improving water quality
    Based on research to confirm the key changes to water quality over time, Tetra EasyBalance has been formulated to improve the effectiveness with which aquarium water can be kept fresh and healthy.

    Added weekly, it specifically counters the important changes that traditionally have only been manageable with regular water changes:
    It replenishes the KH that is lost from aquarium water, thereby maintaining a stable pH. By only replacing what is lost, it keeps the KH and pH at the same level as the original water.
    It actively reduces phosphate and nitrate, thereby keeping levels below that which can be achieved with water changes alone. This in turn helps to control algae and improve water quality for sensitive fish species.
    It replaces all of the trace elements and vitamins needed by fish, plants and filter bacteria. This helps to maintain and improve the health of the fish, and keeps everything running smoothly.
    EasyBalance can be added weekly to ensure consistency in water quality, and therefore improve the overall health of the aquarium. This way, the need for regular water changes is reduced, which in turn means there is less need to add tap water. This can be especially useful in soft water areas, or in regions where tap water is particularly bad. Depending on your preference, EasyBalance can therefore be used to replace regular water changes, or as an additional aid to improve water quality.

    What else should be done
    In addition to water changes and the use of EasyBalance, it is important to remove solid waste from the aquarium. If allowed to accumulate, this will clog any equipment and pollute the water.

    Removing solid waste from the substrate is easy, and can be done with a gravel vacuum, such as the TetraTec GC series. The end of the vacuum is basically a wide-diameter plastic tube, which is connected to a plastic pipe.

    A siphon is started (automatically in the case of the TetraTec GC) and water is sucked up through the pipe into a bucket. As the vacuum is plunged in and out of the gravel it sucks up dirt, but leaves the gravel in place. The frequency with which the substrate needs cleaning depends on the individual aquarium (according to stocking level, filtration equipment, quality of food being used etc).

    Begin by checking and cleaning every 4 weeks, and adjust accordingly. Remember to use Tetra AquaSafe to condition any water used to top up after vacuuming.

    In addition to gravel cleaning, the filter will also need cleaning occasionally.

    Again, this depends on its design, capacity, and also the amount of waste being produced by the livestock.

    It is important not to let biological filter media clog too much, as otherwise its efficiency will decrease. Clean dirt from the filter sponges by rinsing them in aquarium water, so as not to harm the filter bacteria.

    If you have separate mechanical media (e.g. in an external filter), then this can be replaced or cleaned with tap water. After cleaning, it is a good idea to use Tetra SafeStart to replenish any filter bacteria that may have been lost.

    Keeping the perfect environment...
    Perfect water changes
    AquaSafe works by neutralising chlorine and heavy metals. It also reduces stress, promotes wound healing, protects against infection, and adds a protective coating to the fish.

    It also improves the magnesium concentration in aquarium water, which is often low in tap water. Add AquaSafe to new tap water prior to doing a water change or directly to the aquarium as a general stress-reliever.

    Using EasyBalance
    Tetra have designed EasyBalance to counter the negative changes that occur to aquarium water over time. Weekly additions of EasyBalance will replace essential vitamins and trace elements, stabilize KH and pH, and actively reduce phosphate and nitrate.

    It can be used to reduce the need for regular water changes, and therefore the need for adding tap water to the aquarium, or as an additional aid to ensure consistent good water quality.

    Complete article here

    * This thread is an item from Practical Fishkeeping Magazine website's Articles RSS feed, brought to you by courtesy of AQ's RSS Feed Poster Robot. *
    Last edited by benny; 5th Jul 2007 at 10:26.


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts