Why do we have to do water changes?
The reason we do water changes, is to provide the fish with a clean environment to live in. Fish breathe the same water that they waste into. So, if the waste builds up in the tank, it can kill the fish. Luckily, we have good bacteria in our tanks to break down most of the waste. Some waste can not be broken down, so it builds up over time. And if the waste concentrations becomes too high, the fish can die. Another reason for water changes is to prevent the pH, the acidity of the water, from dropping too low. As bacteria breaks down fish waste, an acid is produced as a by-product. This acid will make the water a little more acidic. Over time, the pH of the tank can drop quite low. If the water becomes too acidic, it will burn the fish and then kill the fish. These are the main reasons why we change the water in our fish tanks. Other reasons include: Initiation of spawning, removal of excess food, removal of any contaminants that will hurt our fish, disease control, removal of detritus, and many other reasons.
When do we do water changes?
The frequency in which we do water changes depends on how many fish we have; how large our fish are; how large our aquarium is; how much we feed our fish; and on what type of fish we have. A good rule to follow is about once every 2 weeks for an average aquarium stocked moderately with small community fish. If we stocked the tank more heavily, if we have larger fish, if we feed more often, then the frequency of water changes go up. In such cases, once every week is recommended. Certain types of fish require very clean water; Discus are such a fish. If these fish are to be kept, then weekly water changes may be necessary. Please ask for our recommendations for your specific tank.
How do we do water changes?
Before we start on the actual removal of water from our tanks, we must first prepare the water that is going into our tanks. In the winter time, we recommend that you let the new water sit out over night. This is to give the new water a chance to warm-up, to de-gas, and to de-chlorinate. We don't recommend that you mix the hot and cold water. Even though the temperature will be in the proper range, there will be too much dissolved gas in the water. This dissolved gas can be seen as bubbles that form on the sides of the container holding the water. The dissolved gas can kill your fish by entering the fish's body and then forming bubbles inside the fish. This is similar to a SCUBA diver surfacing too quickly. In the summer time, the water can be used immediately after a de-chlorinator is added. However, we still recommend that you let the water sit out over night. The actual water change involves removing up to 20% - 50% of the tanks water. More can be changed under certain situations. The fish are left in the tank during the change, but the ornaments are removed. With a siphon gravel cleaner, systematically clean the entire gravel bed. Try to remove as much debris and detritus from the gravel as possible. Don't worry about taking out too much dirt, as you can never remove all of the dirt. After the change, replace the water with the water that has been sitting out over night and decorate the tank as you desire.
Note: We always recommend to use of a water conditioner, to remove any chlorine and chloramine that is in the water.