As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, regular maintenance of your aquarium is crucial in creating a healthy and thriving ecosystem. Filtration systems and filter media have come a long way in helping to keep your water quality healthier, but they don’t replace the importance of water changes. Regularly changing a percentage of water in your system is a crucial part of the maintenance process and it will promote a healthy aquarium.
For a time, a lack of water changes in your tank may not appear to have much of an effect on your existing tanks inhabitants, but any new fish that are introduced may not do so well. And eventually all of your aquariums inhabitants will start deteriorating. Systems incorporating more sensitive livestock, are less forgiving and more sensitive to higher nutrient levels such as nitrates and phosphates.
Let’s take a closer look at what water changes can do for your aquarium:
Remove harmful waste and pollutants
Aquariums are closed systems and over time nutrients and some chemicals accumulate and eventually create an unbalanced system and poor water quality. This includes nitrates, and decomposing organic waste material. High levels of nitrates cause stress to fish, but even low levels can be harmful to corals and other invertebrates. Organic waste that is not regularly removed can cause the pH levels in your tank to drop, which is especially harmful to a saltwater aquarium.
Improve Water Clarity
Water changes also promote clear and clean water. Not only will your tank look better, but the clear water will be particularly helpful to a reef tank. Clear water promotes better light penetration which is important to the growth and health of corals and other invertebrates.
Replenish nutrients and minerals
Adding fresh water to your aquarium will add back in the elements that are removed by filtration systems or used up by growing corals and invertebrates. Water changes will provide a fresh supply of these elements that are important for the growth and biological function of your livestock.
So now you know just a few of the reasons why water changes are important for your aquarium to thrive. But for your tank to really benefit, water changes must be done on a consistent basis and a certain percentage of water must be changed out each time.
There are a lot of different thoughts on this and it somewhat depends on fish load and system feeding, but here is what works for us and what we recommend for any of our aquariums:
For a decorative freshwater non-planted tank we recommend a 50% water change every 2 weeks to once a month. If your tank has a large number of fish than doing bi-monthly water changes is probably best. Planted freshwater tanks require a 50% water change every week. For saltwater aquariums, we recommend a 20% water change weekly.
Reach out to us with any questions or if you’d like us to provide regularly maintenance on your aquarium.