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Beginners Guide to the Water Change
Published by EagleC on 07/22/2007 (41871 reads)
This article is to give new keepers a guide on how to perform a water change on a coldwater or tropical tank in the most effective, least stressful manner.

Every week or two you need to change between 10% and 25% of the water in your tank. How much and how often depends on test results and isn't covered in this article. This article is to give new keepers a guide on how to perform a water change in the most effective, least stressful manner. Least stressful for both the fish and the keeper that is.


Equipment
Before you start you'll need to make sure you have some basic equipment. First of all you'll need water containers of enough capacity to hold all the water you are taking out of your tank and all the water you will be replacing it with.
You'll need some dechlorinator that removes chlorine, chloramines and dangerous heavy metals from the tap water.
Finally, you'll need a Gravel Vaccum.

All of this equipment should be available from your local fish store. For water containers though you may find that a DIY or camping store is cheaper. Make sure the container is 'food grade' though.

Proper Preparation
1. First prepare the clean water that needs to go into the tank at the end. To do this fill your 'clean' container with water from the cold tap and bring it up to the same temperature as the tank by either using boiled water or by adding a spare tank heater.

2. Add the dechlorinator to the fresh water, stir it in and leave it to stand while you prepare the area (see step 3). If you plan to add medications, plant food, salts or other additives to the tank this should be added to the new water now.

3. You're going to be walking around with heavy containers full of water. 1 liter of water weighs 1kg so make sure they're not too heavy for you if necessary use multiple smaller containers. Also lay some towels down around the tank as its guaranteed there will be some drips and splashes. Leave the fresh water out the way for now but make sure all the empty containers that you will need are to hand.

4. If you are going to have to walk across a tiled or laminated surface consider investing in a rubber anti-slip mat. Put some slippers or shoes on to protect your feet and keep them dry.

Out with the old
Note: Before you remove the old water, this is the perfect time you test your water for ammonia, nitrites, nitrate and PH.

5. Use a gravel vacuum to syphon water from the gravel of your tank. At the same time this collects all the solid waste that collects at the bottom. Syphon the water into the spare buckets or containers that you prepared earlier. For gravel just dig the end of the gravel vac in about 1cm and watch the dirt get sucked up then move the vac over a little and repeat. For sand its a little trickier, wave the nozzle over the sand creating a small underwater dust devil. The dense sand will generally separate from the relatively light solid wastes.

6. Check your dirty water containers carefully to ensure that you haven't accidentally syphoned up a fish provided they're all clear you can empty them out in the garden - tank water is great plant food.

In with the new
7. Pour the new water in very slowly so as not to disturb, frighten or shock the fish or the gravel and decor. You might have to decant the water into smaller containers so that its easier to lift up to the tank and pour.

That's all there is to it.
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  • Home away from home

 putting clean water in tank....

7. Pour the new water in very slowly so as not to disturb, frighten or shock the fish or the gravel and decor. You might have to decant the water into smaller containers so that its easier to lift up to the tank and pour.

Would it be ok to use the gravel cleaner to bring the freshwater into the tank instead using a container to scoop and pour?

 
  • Just can't stay away

 Re: putting clean water in tank....

I use my battery operated siphon to add my clean water to the tank rather than pouring it in from a container. The fish all come over to it, they seem to like messing about in the current it makes and it doesnt frighten them as much. Probably think theyre being fed lol

Pam

 

 Re: putting clean water in tank....

yer so do mine , they fall about in the bubbles and the current lol

 
  • Plants  Adviser

 Re: putting clean water in tank....

Yes natterjack, any method of getting the water to enter the tank slowly and uncontaminated is good. For some of my tanks I can prop the bucket on a shelf and syphon the water back down to the tank.

Sorry I didnt answer sooner!

 
  • Just popping in

 Re: Beginners Guide to the Water Change

Doubtless a stupid question from a new fishkeeper, but is it really necessary for the new water to be warm? While I know that new fish can die from the shock of different water temperature, is there really a problem if all fish have been in the tank for weeks/months? Or is it because, with big water changes (eg 50%) it will simply take too long for the tank to get back up to the right temperature? Cheers,

 
  • Plants  Adviser

 Re: Beginners Guide to the Water Change

It's a very good idea to make the new water as close to the old water temperature as possible. The new water will not mix evenly in the tank immediately and so if its fresh out the tap at 7C and you place it into a tropical tank you may create a very cold pocket of water that takes some minutes to dissipate. A fish swimming into this pocket could as a worst case suffer cardiac arrest from the shock. More likely though that it will simply weaken their immune system for a short time.
Some species are less bothered than others about this, cory for example will see an influx of cooler water as the spring melt water and start mating. Basically though these instructions are best practice, follow them and you wont go wrong.

 
  • Just popping in

 Re: Beginners Guide to the Water Change

My tank is higher than the bucket of new water would be. Would a battery powered syphon work in that case or does the bucket still need to be higher than the tank water level?? #Physicsproblems!!!

 
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