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Father Fish claims that with his method, water changes are never needed. Can this be achieved with the Walstad Method as well?
Yes. One can strike a long-term balance between nutrient addition (fishfood) versus nutrient removal (plant pruning, debris removal, etc).

Long ago during a drought period in my region, I did no water changes for more than 6 months. I believe that I could have kept the tank this way indefinitely.
 

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Father Fish is an interesting fella, isn’t he? I was struck by how he says to keep tanks at 80 deg. And I was just reading somewhere the other day that we’re keeping our tanks too warm!


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Father Fish is an interesting fella, isn't he? I was struck by how he says to keep tanks at 80 deg. And I was just reading somewhere the other day that we're keeping our tanks too warm!

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I interpreted this as a prophylactic measure. Namely, against ich which makes sense especially when keeping tropical fish.
 

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I tried the no water change thing and it’s never optimal for the fishes. Sure plants or deep substrates can eliminate nitrates but there are other waste products that compromise fishes immunity.
 

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I tried the no water change thing and it's never optimal for the fishes. Sure plants or deep substrates can eliminate nitrates but there are other waste products that compromise fishes immunity.
I tend to agree with you. If I'm not mistaken, all natural freshwater bodies have runoff and fresh input of some sort. Natural water changes!
 

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I can go many weeks without water changes and my water parameters will stay within safe ranges. But when I do a nice water change anyway, my fish all seem to liven up and have renewed vigor. So I may not technically NEED a water change, but I do it anyway. The fish seem to appreciate it.
I have experienced the same. What we're doing is probably giving them extra electrolytes, electrolytes the fish have consumed by merit of, well, being alive. Additionally, with the aggressive plant growth, I struggle to keep nitrates above 10 PPM and they also consume electrolytes. So a top up or partial water change gives them much needed chlorides & phosphates & carbonates of potassium, calcium, magnesium and sodium. Sugars & sulfates come from food so a freshening up is needed every once in a while unless you want to dose Seachem Replenish at regular intervals.
 

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Honestly, I have always thought of the Walstad method as a way to reduce water changes, not eliminate them entirely. I keep too many fish in my tanks, mea culpa. Occasional water changes give the fish and plants a boost, and help reduce algae. On average, I do water changes about once every three months.

My tap water is reasonably good and close to the parameters I want in the tanks anyway. Big water changes are as easy to do with the garden hose as small ones, so I usually do at least 50%. Because tap water is cold in the winter, there is a longer interval between changes in this season. I don't use heaters and let my tanks cool during the winter, so the reduced water changes come at the same time when plant growth and fish activity slow down.
 

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I have this 10G dirt tank that I didn't change the water for like 2 years, just out of laziness. I had guppies in it and were fed regularly. In the end, it looked sad. Mulm everywhere. Snails died off. Crypts and anubias, looked pale, small and were dying off. Guppy population were small.

I did major water changes a few months ago, and guess what? The plants came back to life. The dirt probably exhausted itself a long time ago.
 

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While a well-established planted tank can be kept without water changes, that does not mean that I recommend no water changes. (I'll bet that Father Fish doesn't either.)

In the past, I went 3-6 months without water changes. Now, that the drought has ended and I'm more interested in my fish (i.e., guppy breeding), I change about 50% of the water every 1-2 months.
 

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If you keep topping up with mineralised water and lose water only by evaporation then levels of dissolved solids will rise. This is how oceans became salty.
I have no idea how long you would have to go with no water changes before dissolved solids become an issue. In the case of oceans, millions of years passed before they became extremely salty - even Father Fish hasn't kept a tank that long, despite appearances :)
My guess is that some water changing will be beneficial. I will trust the opinions of experienced aquarists on how much, how often.
 

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You have to understand that plants take up salts, even sodium that they don't need into their tissues. That's why it's important to prune and remove excess plant growth periodically. So no water changes doesn't mean that salts and ions just pile up until the end of time.
 
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