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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
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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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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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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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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What types of fish deaths? What were the symptoms?
Have you tested your ammonia, nitrIte, and nitrate levels recently between water changes?

Issues with proper dosing of Prime would be obvious immediately while doing water change itself and shortly thereafter. Fish gasping for breath at water surface, clamped fins, and in extreme cases- a quick death.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
What types of fish deaths? What were the symptoms?
Have you tested your ammonia, nitrIte, and nitrate levels recently between water changes?

Issues with proper dosing of Prime would be obvious immediately while doing water change itself and shortly thereafter. Fish gasping for breath at water surface, clamped fins, and in extreme cases- a quick death.
I have never seen signs of chlorine/chloramine poisoning after a water change so I don't think dosing Prime was the real issue. That being said, I have increased the amount of Prime I dose during water changes. I do still believe that dosing Prime for the entire volume of the aquarium is a little excessive if the goal is only to de-chlorinate the replacement water. Now I am dosing for the amount of replacement water times two. For instance, if doing a 15% water change of 75 gallons (0.15 x 75 gallons = 11.25 gallons) then I will dose Prime for 22.5 gallons (22.5 gallons = 11.25 gallons x 2). That gives me plenty of wiggle room if I estimated incorrectly the amount of water changed in the aquarium. So far so good!

I religiously kept an "aquarium log" at the time I was having the most issues 2 years ago. I just reviewed it and knowing what I do now, I think I see the pattern that may have caused the issues.

I was keeping a 5-gallon and a 3-gallon aquarium. I was testing water parameters every 3-7 days and doing all of the regular maintenance you would on a larger aquarium. In order to keep the substrate looking clean, my weekly water changes ended up being large (50-80%). I was also just learning about EI dosing and the finer details of fertilizing plants. Between large water changes and dosing fertilizers, the GH would fluctuate between 7-12 German degrees and the KH between 3-4 degrees. I had read somewhere that top off water should only be RO water to prevent mineral buildup over time--so I started messing around with RO water. Lessons learned:
--Most people know KH can only be raised slowly (about 0.2 every 24 hours). Now I know GH also has to be raised slowly (about 0.5 every 24 hours).
--Don't mess with RO water unless you really know what you're doing. Water treatment is way more complicated than I thought it would be.
--Try not to do more than a 20% water change per 24 hours. More than that may stress inhabitants (i.e., invertebrates such as shrimp are especially sensitive to sudden changes in total dissolved solids).

The types of disease I saw varied and I think it all came down to disease-susceptibility caused by a stressful environment that I inadvertently created.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I'd like help setting up this calculation if possible because I think it'd be useful.

So let's say 75 gallons of aquarium water is at 6 degrees GH. You want to decrease it a nudge with a 15% water change. You want to ensure that the total change in GH in the aquarium does not exceed 0.5-0.6 degrees GH to protect the inhabitants. You plan to make the replacement water 5 degrees GH.

15% of 75 gallons = 11.25 gallons

You'd be adding 11.25 gallons replacement water at 5 degrees GH to 63.75 gallons aquarium water at 6 degrees GH. When mixed together, what is the new GH?

I know in the above example the answer would be somewhere between 5-6 degrees GH. But how do you calculate the exact answer? This calculation would just be for estimation purposes, like doing proportions.
 

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I've added 10% of untreated water into a tank without issues.
I now run incoming water through a duel stage house filter with 5 micron carbon filters. It removes any chlorine and saves me on add dechlor chemicals.
 

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I'd like help setting up this calculation if possible because I think it'd be useful.

So let's say 75 gallons of aquarium water is at 6 degrees GH. You want to decrease it a nudge with a 15% water change. You want to ensure that the total change in GH in the aquarium does not exceed 0.5-0.6 degrees GH to protect the inhabitants. You plan to make the replacement water 5 degrees GH.

15% of 75 gallons = 11.25 gallons

You'd be adding 11.25 gallons replacement water at 5 degrees GH to 63.75 gallons aquarium water at 6 degrees GH. When mixed together, what is the new GH?

I know in the above example the answer would be somewhere between 5-6 degrees GH. But how do you calculate the exact answer? This calculation would just be for estimation purposes, like doing proportions.
(11.5 x 5)+(63.75 x 6) / 75 = 5.9 If you replaced 50% of the 6 dKH water with an equal amount of 5 dKH water, you would have 5.5 dKH water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
(11.5 x 5)+(63.75 x 6) / 75 = 5.9 If you replaced 50% of the 6 dKH water with an equal amount of 5 dKH water, you would have 5.5 dKH water.
Awesome--thank you!! That calculation gives me a lot more flexibility than I originally thought. I'll definitely keep this handy.
 
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