today we’re going to give you the ultimate guide to water changes. So we’re going to go over basically all the reasons why we do water changes, we’re going to give you information on the effects of nitrates and some solutions. The things you can do around your tank to make sure your fish are always help healthy and happy So let’s get right to it. So let’s start off with why we actually do water changes so first and foremost we’re doing it for waste removal, that one’s fairly straightforward, we want to get the waste out of the tank and the second reason we want to do water changes is to replenish minerals. Minerals are an essential part of the aquarium, basically freshwater fish absorb minerals through their skin as this helps them regulate in the water. This is just a normal process for them so normally they’re going to get used up, so this is something we want to replenish as we’re doing water changes. So this is going to relate particularly to our hardness both GH and KH will affect this. So to make sure that we’re replenishing those essential minerals, we want to make sure we’re doing regular water changes. So the last reason they’re so important is for nitrate dilution so after all the waste has been converted in the nitrogen cycle it is going to be converted to nitrate, the end result of this . It is something we want to keep to a minimum and we want to actually go ahead and remove it from our tank by means of water changes.
So let’s take a look at some of the studies that have actually been done with nitrates. Studies have been done with different species to find the concentration at which more than fifty percent of a given species will actually die due to nitrate concentration. So for most species this numbers between 100 to 350 particles per million so this is was done on a short basis. In the short-term study basically they found that most fish over a 96-hour period, will end up dying at that level of concentration. Now they continue this study with the fathead minnow. Amazingly this fish was able to resist in a concentration of up to 1,400 particles per million , which is just insane. Now one thing they did notice with this is, even though it was able to withstand those conditions and it’s a super hardy fish, they were able to see effects of nitrates on the body and physically at just 21 particles per million. So at just 21 particles per million they were actually able to observe a noticeable effect. So another study has been done on a more long-term basis. Basically, a set of striped bass was exposed to conditions of 200 particles per million they noticed that after one week they were able to see physical visible effects from this and start to actually see issues, by seven weeks most of the fish were actually gone. So in as little as seven weeks at concentrations of 200, even though it’s a fairly high number for most, it really did cause noticeable damage and irreversible effects. So when in as little as seven weeks they were able to see these irreversible effects things like damaged heart, livers and kidneys,they seen an increase in white blood cells, a decrease in red blood cells and other abnormalities. So in that relatively short amount of time they seen all kinds of effects that would lead to unexplained deaths and other things that would otherwise be preventable in the hobby.
Okay, so now that we know the effects of nitrates and how important it is to actually go ahead and remove them,we’re going to look at some other water change myths. So one of the biggest myths,that I see fairly often, is that beneficial bacteria lives in your water column. People are afraid of doing water changes because they’re afraid of removing the nitrifying bacteria and biological bacteria that keeps their tank in balance and actually converts the ammonia and nitrite to nitrate. Now the thing with that, is most of your biological bacteria is actually going to live in your filter. It’s going to live on your substrate, on your surfaces but it’s not just present in the water column itself, so theoretically even if you were to do a 100-per cent water change two hundred percent water change there would be no negative impact because it’s not going to affect the cycle of your aquarium, Now another myth we see is that prime is being used as a solution. So prime, yes it’s a great water conditioner and it does detoxify nitrite nitrate and ammonia, but this is definitely not something to be treated as a solution for any of these problems. If you’re having issues with ammonia or nitrate nitrite this is usually related to issues with your cycle or other things like that. If you’re having issues with nitrate could very well be that either the volume of water that you’re changing is not enough or that it’s not being changed frequently enough. And the last myth, that we run across fairly often, is that big water changes are actually harmful. There are certain situations in which, there can be valid concerns to look at, but we’ll get into that in just a moment.
So there are some valid concerns to take into consideration when you’re doing a water change. First and foremost you want to know your tap and source water. You want to make sure that you’re not differentiating or your parameters are too far off from what you strive to keep. So if your tap water is coming out drastically with too high of a ph and you’re trying to keep something like a discus that requires a lower pH and your tap water is coming out at eight or nine then in certain cases there are times when you don’t want to do super-large water changes. Generally speaking, if your parameters are fairly close, you really shouldn’t have any issues. A lot of the issues are caused by the difference in tds or total dissolved solids, so your nitrates make a part of your total dissolved solids,so if you’re changing them too drastically up or down, the fish can go into osmotic shock. They will have began heavy breathing, some of them all won’t actually survive these circumstances. So generally speaking if your nitrates are really high, doing a great big water change, really can have more negative impact than good, so there are situations where large water changes certainly can be dangerous.
Now let’s talk about standards for a moment. So now that we went over the studies and we found that nitrate effects are visible on fish in as little as 21 particles per million, we should always be striving, at the very least, to keep them under 20. Personally, with our tanks we like to keep them under 10, really you can’t have them too low. So a lot of these fish in the wild live in very least huge basins water and river system so they have very little concentration of nitrates, just because of the huge amount of space and the constant freshwater that they have coming into this new system. That’s why it’s important for us to make sure we’re supplying that fresh water to our systems. So personally, we like to keep our nitrates under 10. we should always strive to be under 20. Now we like to keep it low because we find if there was ever an issue where maybe we can attend to a tank right away or we fall off our regular schedule, an extra day or two isn’t going to cause harm to our fish.
So let’s talk about solutions if your nitrates are really high or have been high and we want to get them lower. So large volume water changes are the most effective way at diluting nitrates. So I’ll give you an example, so say you’re starting out at a hundred particles per million, that’s an insane number but we’re just using that because it makes the math easy, so we have a hundred particles per million in our tank. We do a 25-percent water change that means, we are removing 25 particles per million of nitrate. Now that now brings us down to 75 particles per million. Now if we wait a week and during that week our fish produces another hundred particles per million of nitrate now our total is a hundred and seventy-five particles per million. Now if we take that and we’re doing another twenty-five percent water change we’re really diluting very little nitrates. The number we remove will be more than last week, but overall our nitrates are slowly increasing every week. So because our goal is to reduce them, doing small water changes sometimes just doesn’t cut it. Ultimately what you want to do, is find out how much bio load or how much waste your fish is actually producing between water changes. So you can do this simply by testing.
Test right after you do your water change and then wait till your next water change. Now test before this water change, you want to see how much your nitrates have changed in this time, this will give you an estimate of about how many nitrates per day or how many nitrates your tank is increasing by between each water change. This will help you adjust the percentage that you change. So, for instance, if we look back to our original example where we are at 100 particles per million. Now if we were to do a 75-percent water change that leaves us with 25 particles per million. Again if we leave it a week, now we’re at 125 and again if we’re reducing it by another seventy-five percent. That number is going down drastically each and every single week. where we’re actually seeing nitrate removal. There’s actually a really great tool on this and a really good article. if you want to get right into the science of it, there is a calculator for it this was written up by one of our great friends from the cck. I’ll leave an article here for you guys to check it out. You don’t have to be members or anything like that to read it. But if you want to get more advanced with it. it is absolutely amazing it really helped us out with this video and it’s a great tool to have. It really puts into perspective and shows you the different nitrate levels that you would see and the changes you would see by doing different percentage of water changes the biggest thing with this is you want to make sure that you’re changing as much water as you possibly can because we want to keep those nitrates as low as we possibly can. We also want to make sure that we’re changing it frequently. We want to make sure that our water is fairly clean so that every time we’re removing the nitrates by diluting them, it’s not to the point where the fish is going to experience osmotic shock. So again consistency is key, and having a good schedule, with a large enough amount of water.
We found there’s a lot of people that are scared of doing water changes. They’re scared of doing too many or too much of a percentage of a water change and a lot of these aren’t actually based on facts. Everyone has opinions, which is fine, everyone does things that work differently for them and and they have different ways of doing things,which is great, we just want to present you the facts here today and give you more information so that you’re able to make an educated decision. So about how much water should you change? That number is going to be different for absolutely everybody. It is going to depend on your tank, the tank size, how much your nitrates are going up every single month or every single week or between your water changes and then there’s so many different factors. We want to make sure we’re actually removing nitrates. Enough nitrates for it to actually be effective. Not only does this keep your fish healthy but this is going to save you a lot of time and effort. It’s a lot easier to do one 75 percent water change than it is to do three twenty-five percent water changes. So not only is it easier on you, it’s better for your fish.
So always look into look any kind of information out there, always do your research, look for the facts, take everything with a grain of salt and make sure you make the decision that’s right for you. At the end of the day it’s your tank, it’s your fish. Do what suits you but make sure that you look into it. Again thank you guys for watching I hope this helped clear a lot of things up and that you guys understand a little bit more about where we’re coming from.