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Old 06-30-2019, 03:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy Am I doing Water Changes Wrong?

I've been in the fish-keeping hobby for at least 10 years. I've always wanted a beautiful, large planted aquarium. I finally have the large aquarium (75 gallons) and for the past two years I've gotten the hang of keeping live aquarium plants.

Ever since I started keeping live plants, I've had more fish deaths. There has to be some critical step that I'm missing or doing wrong and I'm hoping you can help me.

-I've never used CO2, so asphyxiation is out.
-I've only used Seachem's product line for fertilizers. Right now I'm only using Equilibrium, Flourish liquid, and Flourish root tabs.

Before keeping live plants these are the steps I would follow for a partial water change:
-Unplug filter and heater
-Use algae scrubber and/or dedicated "tank toothbrush" to clean surfaces in the tank as needed
-Siphon substrate until clean and desired amount of water is removed
-Calculate how much water was removed (I turn percentage into gallons). Then dose Prime for the amount of gallons removed directly into the tank.
-Fill bucket with fresh tap water matching the temperature of the tank (or as close as possible) and pour into tank one at a time until tank is full again
-Restart filter and heater.


After keeping live plants these are the steps I currently follow for a partial water change:
-Unplug filter and heater
-Use algae scrubber and/or dedicated "tank toothbrush" to clean surfaces in the tank as needed
-Siphon substrate until clean and desired amount of water is removed
-Calculate how much water was removed (I turn percentage into gallons). Then dose Prime for the amount of gallons removed directly into the tank.
-Fill bucket with fresh tap water matching the temperature of the tank (or as close as possible) and pour into tank one bucket at a time until tank is full again. If it's a larger water change (>20%) I hook a potable water hose to my sink to refill the tank.
-Restart filter and heater.
-(1) Dose Equilibrium and Alkaline Buffer, for amount of gallons removed, into the tank (pre-mixing in a small container of aquarium water so as not to dump all in at once) to make replacement water equal desired KH and GH.


What are your thoughts? Does something stand out to you that could be shocking fish during water changes? If you use Equilibrium or Alkaline Buffer how do you go about water changes? My tap water has a KH of 1-2 degrees, GH of 1-2 degrees and pH around 7.0.
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Old 06-30-2019, 03:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I doing Water Changes Wrong?

Are you disturbing the root tabs?

Everything sounds fine otherwise.
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Old 06-30-2019, 04:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I doing Water Changes Wrong?

I'm glad everything sounds okay but I'm still puzzled by the trend. I don't disturb the root tabs. I have sand so I'll poke at it to release nitrogen gas bubbles--but not all of the surface area of the tank at once.
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Old 06-30-2019, 07:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I doing Water Changes Wrong?

I believe you are supposed to dose Prime according to the total amount of water in the tank, not just the amount you are adding. If you want to dose the smaller dose, you need to mix the Prime into the new water before you add it to the tank.
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Old 07-01-2019, 07:34 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I doing Water Changes Wrong?

What Hoppy said. I have suspected that the directions on Prime were intended to get you to use more of it, but I have always followed the directions to dose for the entire volume of the tank if I am not treating the tap water before adding it to the tank. I have done some very large water changes on occasion because of accidents, and have never lost a fish after a water change.
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Old 07-02-2019, 05:04 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I doing Water Changes Wrong?

Definitely dose Prime for the whole tank not just the amount removed. I actually double dose whole tank after a water change as I use a Python. One entire whole-tank dose before filling and another dose after filled.

Edit: If you're filling with a bucket then just dose Prime directly into the bucket for that amount of water.
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Old 07-02-2019, 05:14 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I doing Water Changes Wrong?

I use Equilibrium as I have very soft water. I have the dose premixed before water change, then dump that in immediately after filling is finished. Probably would be ideal to trickle it in as filling but my fish have never seemed to mind. If you're using one large bucket you could just mix it in that but I have a terrible time getting it all mixed in even though I use a big pitcher that I can shake to premix. With Equilibrium I just dose the amount for the water being added not the whole tank so as to not get any buildup.
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Old 07-02-2019, 05:19 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I doing Water Changes Wrong?

This may not be a factor, but for a planted tank I wouldn't syphon the substrate at all. Too big of a chance that you might disturb any root tabs, etc. I just lightly hover the siphon about 1/4 inch over the substrate if necessary. But I usually don't even do that.
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Old 07-06-2019, 07:05 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I doing Water Changes Wrong?

I will dose with Prime for the entire tank volume during water changes from now on. I was only adding the minimum amount required to de-chlorinate the new water. Maybe it helps alleviate the stress of water changes somehow.

I use a siphon but I just hover over it 1/4"-1/8" above my sand substrate to remove fish waste, dead plant material, and other debris. Sometimes I accidentally suck up some sand when I graze it. I often use a turkey baster (dedicated to aquarium use) to "blow" debris on top of the sand into a corner of the tank--kind of like sweeping a room in your house. Then I will siphon up the "pile" I made in the corner.

I will see if I can start pre-mixing the Equilibrium and Alkaline Buffer doses before starting the water change so there is less of a delay in adding them after the aquarium is filled back up.
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Old 07-24-2019, 10:46 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Am I doing Water Changes Wrong?

a very interesting thread, subd
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