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Old 03-21-2013, 02:52 PM   #1
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Here's a link to a short 5 minute video I uploaded to YouTube explaining why and how I have a low maintenance reef tank including soft corals and a dozen fish BUT DO NO WATER CHANGES.



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Old 03-21-2013, 05:14 PM   #2
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First off can you give some more details in your post like how long the tank has been running, and various other water specs?

Second, you don't explain how you go about not needing to do water changes. You say what supplements you use. And the supplements you use are what most people who want a better reef aquarium use.

Basic ecology/chemistry/physics and the law of conservation of mass/energy means that the nitrogen containing compounds (NH4, NO2, NO3) released from your fish and inverts are made and will remain unless removed either manually or biologically. In large amounts these compounds can be toxic to all of your tank's inhabitants. So what you are saying is that your protein skimmer gets all of the proteins and nitrogenous waster material out of your tank? And that your sand and LR provide all the biological filtration?

If this works for you great! But I doubt it will last forever. My recommendation would be to do 10% water changes weekly if you want your tank to remain happy and healthy.
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Old 03-21-2013, 06:24 PM   #3
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I've gotta agree with Kohan. Might work for a while, but stuff just does not disappear. Nitrates would have to increase at some point unless every bit of chemistry I've ever seen on the subject suddenly changed.
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Old 03-21-2013, 06:49 PM   #4
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How are you keeping alk up? I also agree that this tank won't be healthy indefinitely. I don't see a lack of maintenance. I see you mixing up things and adding things you don't even know if you actually need.
What are the levels of Calcium Chloride, Cobalt Chloride, Iron EDTA, Lithium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride, Manganese EDTA, Nickel Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Molybdate, Strontium Chloride, Zinc EDTA, Copper EDTA, and Potassium Bromide in the tank?
Eventually, these things are going to build up and cause you serious problems.

IMO/IME, it's just easier to do a water change.
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Old 03-21-2013, 08:19 PM   #5
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Checked all parameters with my LFS today and the only thing that was sketchy was the nitrate level, 0.30, and the pH, and alkalinity, which were 7.8 and 3 respectively. Also the phosphates were a little high, but not very high according to them. I knew this post would draw some attention - but the only thing I did was - today a 10% water change and Added a Phosban sock to the overhead drip filtration. I have been employed in the Wastewater Treatment field for over 30 years and understand the nitrogen cycle. Nitrite/nitrates measured a little high do not make me panic. My reaction to the pH was to add some Kent Marine Pro-buffer dKH enhancer. 54 mls to be exact to boost - and this was before the 10% water change and I waited over an hour for the buffer to react.

In the Wastewater treatment industry we utilize a microscope to examine the activated sludge, which is the the heart of secondary treatment and use indicator organisms to dictate any changes to the treatment process. I observe very carefully - my reef tank - day to day and the organisms in my tank to tell me if I need to check the chemistry - well anyway so far - so good. I do not keep Stoney corals for that reason - as the softies are more tolerant than less than perfect water quality. I know how to read and interpret The annual consumer confidence report on the tap water that I use straight from the tap. I am lucky in that it is naturally alkaline with a pH of around 8.0, and also our tap water is not chlorinated, nor treated with any chemicals,as our local water system are all deep wells.

Thanks for all the feedback thus far - Happy Reefing!
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Old 03-21-2013, 08:27 PM   #6
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I completely agree with the 3 other previous posts. Assuming all those essential elements stated by Mr_X are even on the proper level, the byproduct of feeding your critters called nitrate is not going to just disappear. Yes, the 10% water change is what it takes lol.
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Old 03-21-2013, 08:36 PM   #7
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I dont understand why you wouldnt do waterchanges? Just for the sport of it? I dont disturb my sand bed either but i do water changes all the time. I have a bunch of sps and lps though...

Just wondering what made you decide to go this route?
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Old 03-21-2013, 08:41 PM   #8
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This sounds like a bad idea on a variety of levels...

I do not understand the point of not doing water changes. Those replenish your water as well as mechanically remove toxins. My understanding is that it is not possible to maintain a closed system, long term, without removing Nitrates.

Tap water may be fine for consumers, but ideally you want close to zero TDS. What is your water out of the tap? It can't be anywhere close to zero.
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Old 03-21-2013, 08:45 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the feed back thus far - no I would never do anything in my tank just for "sport." I hate losing anything - that being soft corals or fish and have lost none in this tank thus far - except for a Copper Band ButterFly and that killed me to see him die.

In the previous post I made - before you posted your comment - I noted that at the advice of my LFS'S guy I did a 10% water change - please read the post, Thanks.

Again thanks for all the feedback.... Happy Reefing!
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Old 03-21-2013, 08:53 PM   #10
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I guess the overall point is "Why are you trying to run a reef system without water changes?" I see you did a 10%, but that could not have dropped your Nitrates down to close to zero, which is where they should be. Ammonia and Nitrites should always be zero. Again, IMO, there is no way that this can work long term and be healthy for the fish.
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Old 03-21-2013, 08:59 PM   #11
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Thank you for all the comments. I use Purigen, by SeaChem to help control the nitrates. I 'll probably add another bag to the overhead drip filtration now to attempt to drop it further. Again, I have not seen any problems for the dozen fish that have been in the tank since Sept 2011 when it was set up - thank you for the advice and concern.
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Old 03-21-2013, 09:04 PM   #12
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Well, keep us posted!
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Old 03-21-2013, 09:12 PM   #13
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Thanks to all - and I certainly will keep ya'll posted - Have a gr8 Reef Day!
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Old 03-27-2013, 05:07 PM   #14
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With my algae turf scrubber and dosing various chemicals, my 300 gallon reef went a couple of years without a water change when i was occupied with work and did ok. But I am back to 10% every other week and the reef looks much better for it. As said above, there are many elements we don't test for that could become depleted or over concentrated without periodic water exchanges. Now if you had a gas chromatograph, it might be a different story.
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:03 PM   #15
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I agree, it's the unknown toxics that worry me. After much thought and consultation with the guy who got me started in this in the 1st place I've done a 20% water change, and will continue with a 10% every other week. My pH has already improved as well as the nitrates, I started using Phosban and phosphates are less than one now. Thanks for the help to all...
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Old 03-27-2013, 08:38 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reefermadness52 View Post
I agree, it's the unknown toxics that worry me. After much thought and consultation with the guy who got me started in this in the 1st place I've done a 20% water change, and will continue with a 10% every other week. My pH has already improved as well as the nitrates, I started using Phosban and phosphates are less than one now. Thanks for the help to all...
Excellent. I pay attention to the phosphate number more than ph or most other things. The lower it is the better, although fish can tolerate it much better than coral does. Good luck to you!
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Old 03-27-2013, 10:23 PM   #17
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Not sure if it is the same thing but in my freshwater days I never did water changes and rarely lost any fish. I had a piranha that lived almost 5 years with no water changes and I use to feed it live food.
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Old 03-29-2013, 10:32 AM   #18
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I've also had freshwater aquariums, one that was a 55 gallon long tank that had a Chocolate Cichlid, and an Arowana in it. I'd throw sewage worms I'd collect with a net from a clarifier at work in that tank at least three times a week. I never even thought of doing any water changes to that tank. Those fish more than doubled in size before I gave the tank and fish away after two years. Never had a problem and those fish were always healthy and happy... The guy who gave me the tank, and fish originally had that tank stuffed in his tiny mobile home, decorated the bottom with beach sand, and an old tennis shoe - the water was so cloudy you could hardly see the fish! So I guess that freshwater species are a lot more tolerant than salt water...
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