No water change ever again

Chrisjbarry

New member
First want to start by saying only comment if you are not doing water changes or are doing them at say 6 month intervals or greater.

My tank is about 6 months old now. My last water change was 3-15-14, and only 5 gallons. My setup is 108 gallon rimless, running about 1000 grams of biopellets, no sand all man made ceremeco rock. Skimmer is vertex 150 with neck cleaner which is fed right from reactor. 2 wp40s. Currently I'm growing mostly sps on rocks, acans on sandless bottom, with zoas on one 18 plug frag rock. All corals are doing great with only dosing cal and alk 4 times a day with apex. Fish are a larger blue tang, larger foxface, 2 yellow tangs, clown tang, flame angel, sixline, my phosphates sit around .02 with hanna, nitrate sit less then 5, nitrite and ammonia 0, alk 7.8, cal 420, sal 1-025 mag 1350-1400. ok enough with that info.

My main question is what do I need to dose for long term as far as trace elements? I've done a couple cap fulls of iodine in the last 3 months as well as amino acids a couple times. Feeling like there will be a deficiency long term.

Are there any good test kits that will help test for trace elements? Are they truly needed long term? Seen a few very nice tanks that have not done water changes in a year or more. Only addition of salt from time to time. Ive had to add 1.5 cups of salt in the last 3 months. The reason is some evaporation or skimmer removing some.

Here is a couple pics of the tank and corals. Most were frags kept from last tank when I took it down.

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Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
Premium Member
First want to start by saying only comment if you are not doing water changes or are doing them at say 6 month intervals or greater.

Negative. This is a chemistry forum and one that focuses on science, not only "it worked for me" sorts of replies, which often are of little use if you do not understand why your system is different than that of the person asking the question. :)

Are there any good test kits that will help test for trace elements?

I don't believe there are any whatsoever, good or bad, if you really mean trace elements.

All corals are doing great with only dosing cal and alk 4 times a day with apex.

Dosing what, exactly?

All such products will bring in trace elements, as will fish foods. Top off water may as well, unless you use good quality RO/DI.

But some nontrace elements might need repleneshment eventually if the supplements you use do not contain sufficient amounts. Magnesium is a notable one. Silicate may be another if you are keeping sponges.

As to trace elements, iron may or may not be useful, depending on whether you are trying to grow macroalgae.

I know that you are not interested in water changes, but I detail what they can and cannot accomplish here:

Water Changes in Reef Aquaria
http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2005-10/rhf/index.php

the conclusion from it:

Conclusion
Water changes are a good way to help control certain processes that serve to drive reef aquarium water away from its starting purity. Some things build up in certain situations (organics, certain metals, sodium, chloride, nitrate, phosphate, sulfate, etc.), and some things become depleted (calcium, magnesium, alkalinity, strontium, silica, etc.). Water changes can serve to help correct these imbalances, and in some cases may be the best way to deal with them. Water changes of 15-30% per month (whether carried out once a month, daily or continuously) have been shown in the graphs above to be useful in moderating the drift of these different seawater components from starting levels. For most reef aquaria, I recommend such changes as good aquarium husbandry. In general, the more the better, if carried out appropriately, and if the new salt water is of appropriate quality.

Calcium and alkalinity, being rapidly depleted in most reef aquaria, are not well controlled, or even significantly impacted by such small water changes. In order to maintain them with no other supplements, changes on the order of 30-50% PER DAY would be required. Nevertheless, that option may still be a good choice for very small aquaria, especially if the changes are slow and automatic.
 

Chrisjbarry

New member
I'm only asking for people that understand the science behind not doing the water changes. I don't want a bunch of comments just saying do 10%-30% ect...


All corals are doing great with only dosing cal and alk 4 times a day with apex.

Dosing what, exactly?

Well it states cal and alk. Its 2 part from BRS for exact kind.

I do dose mag from time to time as it drops below 1300. No macro algae just pellets.

Now as for the link you posted. Its really only showing what happens if you never dose anything to help replenish what is being used up. Which again brings up my main question again. What is needed for long term no water changes. I'm not worried about build up as most of the bad stuff nitrate phosphate are removed from biopellets and skimmer.
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
Premium Member
I'm only asking for people that understand the science behind not doing the water changes. I don't want a bunch of comments just saying do 10%-30% ect...


Sure, we can do that. That's just not what you said. :)

OK, so the BRS additive. If you use the magnesium part that should come with it, then you are set in that regard. If not, then magnesium will decline over time. Other two parts systems might be a better bet if you never do water changes so you are not driving them down with the calcium and alk only additions. Things like potassium, for example, may not be present in those BRS additives in sufficient quantity. Sulfate is certainly being driven down long term if you are not adding any and are using chloride based calcium additions. Note that nothing I mentioned in this paragraph is a trace element.

I'm not worried about build up as most of the bad stuff nitrate phosphate are removed from biopellets and skimmer.

Not worried about heavy metals? OK, but some do build up since they come in with every feeding. Nitrate and phosphate are the least reasons for a water change, IMO. Toxic organics? OK, maybe they don't concern you. Chloride buildup relative to sulfate? Water changes help that, especially since you are not appearing to use a balanced chloride/sulfate additive system. Borate may get depleted, but that may not be a concern. Same for strontium, which will get depleted, but I wouldn't supplement it. You are adding iodine, which may or may not be useful, but it is certainly depleted. Silicate will be rapidly depleted. FWIW, none of these are trace elements. :)

Now as for the link you posted. Its really only showing what happens if you never dose anything to help replenish what is being used up.

Is it? I thought many of the graphs related to things building up and things being depleted. :)
 
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Chrisjbarry

New member
Ok so this is more of what I wanted in a response. But you are right is does show build ups. Now I'm going to have to go read about some of these other depleted chemicals.
 

IanWR

New member
Why not think of water changes as dosing the trace elements you are concerned with? If you are ok with dosing, why deliberately avoid water changes? Compared to other interventions water changes are cheap, can't be overdosed, don't require special equipment, and moreover are standard practice. Is the desire to go water change-less just to see if it can be done? Help me understand! :)
 

nicholasb

New member
Have never read that artical before on water changes, but have read your others on cal and alk. It was very usefull thank you so much.:thumbsup:
 

AcroporAddict

There is no substitute.
Ok so this is more of what I wanted in a response. But you are right is does show build ups. Now I'm going to have to go read about some of these other depleted chemicals.

I am very glad Randy Holmes-Farley is answering in the way you think he should. :rolleyes:
 
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tmz

ReefKeeping Mag staff
Premium Member
FWIW, I do daily 1% water changes . I do understand the science of why I do them;learned most of it from Randy so I'll leave it to him to help you.

There is no science of which I am aware to support not doing them. If the notion is to add everything the tank needs in terms of major, minor and trace elements there is nothing wrong with doing that along with some H2O. Why skip the water?

I don't dose any major , minor or trace elements other than calcium hydroxide and rare infrequent tweaks for magnesium. Food and water changes take care of those needs.Most of the elements can't be tested reliably if at all with hobby grade testing equipment i.

Haven't seen a long term tank that I like much that runs without water changes.

A little off topic but noteworthy ;5 surgeon fish including a highly aggressive species in a 108 gallon is sad,imo.

Dosing salt directly to the tank is not a good idea if that's what you mean when you say you add 1.5 cups ,btw.
 
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Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
Premium Member
I use B Ionic 2 part and B Ionic Mag. Does this cover those 'other' elements well?

While I do not know with certainty what is in B-ionic, if you believe the claims of ESV, then it will at least not deplete things like potassium or magnesium simply by adding a lot of sodium and chloride and forcing everything else down when you adjust the salinity. That is what happens with just calcium chloride (for calcium) and sodium carbonate (for alk). It should also be chloride/sulfate balanced. FWIW, that exact effect is detail in an article by Craig Bingman on the link in the next post. :)
 

Randy Holmes-Farley

Reef Chemist
Premium Member
Have never read that artical before on water changes, but have read your others on cal and alk. It was very usefull thank you so much[?B]

Thanks. :)

FWIW, there's a whole page of articles by myself and others, many of which relate to buildup or depletion of things in reef aquaria. Here's the list:

http://archive.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=102605

Two that I forgot to mention that are likely depleted are bromide and fluoride. Craig Bingman has a couple of articles on them in the above link.
 

CHSUB

"Certified Hobby Expert"
in the early 2000's i went almost 2 years with this tank without doing a waterchange. i used a Natureef Denitrator, used two part and dosed, tested for many elements that Natureef sold including: mag., iron, and others...however, coral health declined, cyano took over, and the tank started looking terrible. i went back to doing regular WC, removed the denitrator, and the tank improved....

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d2mini

Premium Member
FWIW, I do daily 1% water changes . I do understand the science of why I do them;learned most of it from Randy

LOL, same here! Except I've been doing 1% twice per day recently. :)
Might go back to once.
 

dkeller_nc

New member
There is, by the way, a highly experimental form of reef-keeping that involves little or no water changes. It's called "Dutch Synthetic Reefkeeping".

Saying that it's complicated and laborious is an understatement, and would definitely be considered an "advanced technique".

Water changes are just so much easier with a more predictable outcome. ;)
 

Amoore311

New member
I tried the No Water Change business in my 180 SPS System. I was dosing BRS CA/ALK/MG through dosing pumps connected to my APEX controller. ATO with pure RODI. I was carbon dosing with vinegar, which was also dosed automatically via my Apex. I was dosing amino acids and iodine when the corals called for it by hand.

My blue acros would pale out a little bit when the iodine was low. Aminos I would add to the coral food before their once a week broadcast feeding. Fish were fed 3x a day with a homemade "gumbo" as we like to call it around here. Basically a bunch of fresh seafood and various frozen marine fish food lightly blended and refrozen.

After around 8 month mark was when corals started to slow their growth drastically. I tested for literally everything I could possibly test for with hobbyists test kits. Nothing was that far out of whack to where I could just pinpoint the issue and dose accordingly. Nothing was stressed or dying, the growth just completely stopped pretty much tank wide. I literally had every Salifert kit they made at the time.

It was harder and much more time consuming to diagnose and properly dose the darn tank at that point than to do the water changes I so loathed.

I did a 40 Gallon water change and everything was back to normal within a week or two. From that point I just stayed the course with small water changes once a month. I never had any problems from there on out, and I also no longer needed to supplement the iodine or aminos.
 

Mark426

New member
I have been reading this thread since it began and while I don't want to sound like a douche....whats the big deal with an occasional water change. Its one of the least costly aspects of reefing ...so it cant be the expense. I would think that if reefing is your hobby, you want your livestock to be healthy, happy and growing. If its too much trouble then why fool with having an aquarium in the first place. Time to find something else that is more enjoyable?
 

h2hiero

New member
If you dont wanna worry about dosing you need a calcium reactor ASAP.
U sound pretty lazy if your trying to get away with no water changes so you need an auto water top off also.. lol


Now what you REALLY NEED TO DO.

Make your water changing experience easier.
Buy a pump and 100-200 feet of tubing and just pump the new salt water from your source directly into your tank without having to move or lift water at all.

If you do not want to do any type of tank maintenance I think your in the wrong hobby, I mean it is a hobby after all your suppose to like taking care of your tank.

I would highly recommend making the water changes AS EASY as possible.
 

tmz

ReefKeeping Mag staff
Premium Member
"Dutch synthetic reef keeping" as I read the thread sometime ago is about one fellow in the Neterlands who is trying to maintain tank with some additives and a calcium reactor. Tank shots are nice but the tank was new and helds some animals that don't normally last in reef systems like feather stars which gives me pause . I'm not sure I'd charactrize it as a method or experiment ,personally. Lot's of anecdote and pizazz without much follow through ,fact or science,imo. Haven't seen anything on it in a while. Same question as earlier: What's wrong with water?
 

AcroporAddict

There is no substitute.
Now what you REALLY NEED TO DO.

Make your water changing experience easier.
Buy a pump and 100-200 feet of tubing and just pump the new salt water from your source directly into your tank without having to move or lift water at all.

If you do not want to do any type of tank maintenance I think your in the wrong hobby, I mean it is a hobby after all your suppose to like taking care of your tank.

I would highly recommend making the water changes AS EASY as possible.

This is the thing to do. I do an automatic 1% daily water change. The only work involved for me is filing the AWC reservoir with new saltwater once a week. And since my 160 gallon new saltwater reservoir is plumbed via PVC pipework to my AWC reservoir, I only have to turn a couple valves once a week. All the work is done by a Masterflex Dual head Peristaltic pump on a timer. Change out the dripsets once every 6 months or so.

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