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Does it matter if you miss a weeks water change ?

Raws69

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5 Oct 2020
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182
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Essex
Hi

due to work I’m gonna miss the op of doing my regular water changes, and don’t really trust the missus to not flood the lounge. Does it matter missing 1? Both heavily planted 140l and 200l. Been running since last Sept.

cheers
 

dw1305

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7 Apr 2008
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nr Bath
Hi all,
due to work I’m gonna miss the op of doing my regular water changes, and don’t really trust the missus to not flood the lounge. Does it matter missing 1? Both heavily planted 140l and 200l. Been running since last Sept.
No, it should be fine.

I'm often away for several weeks in a row, and I just change a bit more water when I'm back.

Cheers Darrel
 

ScottH

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5 Jul 2021
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M206SQ
I've never had a problem leaving it for 2 weeks when on holiday. You won't be feeding the fish in that time either meaning less waste.
 

Nick potts

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25 Sep 2014
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Torbay
As above, 1 water change will be fine, life gets in the way often and I miss the occasional WC
 

Aqua360

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paisley
I'd imagine the technical answer is, depending on your bioload. In tanks that operate with smaller bioloads, there's a safer margin around stuff like water changes before they reach critical levels
 

foxfish

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11 Oct 2009
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Guernsey
This must really depend on the individual set up, how stable it is, how mature etc .
Some folk run their tanks right on the edge and some keep a placid environment, low stock, low light very stable, mature tanks.
It may also depend on the keepers own disposition ….. all the above terms could apply just as easily to the tank guardian as the tank itself ;)
 

PARAGUAY

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13 Nov 2013
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Lancashire
Some of the Asian aquascapers many contest entries dont change anything like 50% and above just 20 to 30% weekly. Probably low bioload helps. There are a couple of George Farmer videos showing how he restores his tanks after being away .All in all George does very good job of it
 

zozo

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16 Apr 2015
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Netherlands
An old-school consensus from 40 years ago it was stated in every aqaurium guide that waterchanges were an absolute nono. We only topped what was evaporated, and this was very little because most tanks had hoods and glass cover panels to fit the tube lights. Tanks should smell like old sludgy sinkholes and old aquarium water received holy properties. Then we kept it running till the Old Tank Syndrom kicked in and started over again. And nobody knew when that would be. But it would always be years. And in my personal case back then, I can't say I experienced it negatively. It was simply how it should be done.

Back then it was mainly Eheim, Sera, and Dupla as leading brands sponsoring the publishing of aquarium guides. It all was definitively based upon professional opinions.

I remember a story from the 1980s where a German fish breeder suffered from a seemingly uncurable fish disease. And for the professionals with large installations they thought that next to no need for water changes that filters also shouldn't be cleaned. Anyway, after a long period of searching for the cause of the disease. They finally found out that the filters were infected with all kinds of nasties, making all the fish and their fry sick. And after draining and cleaning out the complete installation and start fresh again, the problem was solved. I believe this incident was the trigger for professionals to change from the water change Nono, to it could be rather important. And their consensus changed around this era.

Much later Diana Walstad picked the idea back up and scientifically underscored this old-school practice and states in her book "Ecology of the planted aquariums" that if sufficiently planted, there actually is no need for water changes. The ecology in the aquarium will deal with it on its own devices. In a later 2nd edition, she revised this idea and advocates that water changes only are of some importance to minimize the risk of accumulating pathogens (such as fish TBC) and went from no water changes to periodically only 10% because pathogens accumulate only in the oily biofilm at the surface.

I guess in modern times and the popularity of open-top tanks scaped and viewed as an art form also increased the idea of sufficient water changes as good husbandry. Mainly derived from eliminating the possible unpleasant smells and keep the water as clear as possible to a certain degree. And obviously, the glass panels are easier to clean when the tank is partially drained. This makes water changes more of a practical (husbandry) than ecological importance.

I still today know somebody personally with a lush open-top planted aquarium in the bedroom 20 meters away from the first tap in the house. And it's simply laziness but she never does water changes and only tops off what evaporates. If she does it might be once a year only, I guess because then it starts to smell... She has aquariums for about 12 years now and never changed the water and never suffered any problems. Lately, her 12 years old Labeo bicolor died of old age. It survived all these years and stayed strong and healthy.

Not my kind of husbandry but I guess the proof is in the pudding. Diana Walstad is correct after all...

From an ecological standpoint of view, it seems the importance of water changes resides in your peace of mind and being hygienic.
 
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Tim Harrison

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Same here. Back in the day I rarely did water changes, just top ups. But my tanks all had low fish biomass and a thriving and dense plant biomass coupled with undergravel filters and HOBs and sometimes a canister filter. If I did a water change it was usually because I'd had a re-scape, or moved the tank. Never suffered the so called old tank syndrome either. All inhabitants were healthy and usually died of old age.

Similarly, like @Zeus. I've had more than my fair share of back problems over recent years and my tanks haven't always benefited from regular water changes. Usually though they tick along fine, especially if they're past the 3 month stage and have become biologically stable. So missing one water change ain't necessarily the end of the world if the ecology is well balanced.

So I guess it is possible to maintain a scape with minimum intervention over the long-term. However, I wouldn't advocate it as a regular means of husbandry, frequent and large water changes are still the easiest and most reliable way of maintaining a healthy planted tank, and preventing disease and algae.
 

Nick potts

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25 Sep 2014
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Torbay
frequent and large water changes are still the easiest and most reliable way of maintaining a healthy planted tank, and preventing disease and algae.
I think this is the most important point, while water changes aren't the only way to go when maintaining a nice aquarium, the reason they are used by most is that it is the most simple and reliable way. You don't really need any understanding of the ecology etc, just take water out and put fresh back in :)
 

MichaelJ

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9 Feb 2021
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Location
Minnesota, USA
It would (should) definitely not be a problem in a low tech setup.

Years ago, after a 3 weeks vacation, I came back to a broken heater - most likely because the water evaporation caused the heater to be partially exposed and I didn't tell the person who fed the fish a couple of times a week to top off the water. My bad. Luckily it was during the summer and the tank only had hardy Cichlids, so no harm was done.

Cheers,
Michael
 

MichaelJ

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9 Feb 2021
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Minnesota, USA
Not my kind of husbandry but I guess the proof is in the pudding. Diana Walstad is correct after all...
While I do like Diana Walstad's book and learned quite a bit from it, the whole approach just seems as such a big gamble, that I would rather just do the regular WC's to remove toxins/pollutants, obvious debris and decay and dose some ferts and be confident that all is good, instead of relying on the long shot of obtaining some mythical rarely obtainable self-sustaining balance - like the uncle who smoked 3 packs a day drank half a bottle of Scotch a day and still got to be 99 :)
Cheers,
Michael
 
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