Water changes. We do them religiously every week/month/year(!) but, why? Well like so many other things we do with our aquaria, there are many reasons, and for the most part, they are used to get rid of build ups of certain unwanted substances. One of the things that builds up are nitrogenous wastes. With the nitrogen “cycle” over a period of time nitrites will begin to build up. Although plants do absorb nitrites, unless you have a heavily planted aquarium they will not be able to cope with the average stocking levels in our aquairia. When we do a water change, we get rid of some of the nitrites. Another thing that builds up are hormones. Yep, hormones. Fish naturally excrete them and can be harmful, especially to fry and eggs when they build up. Also, what about all that gunk? You know what I am talking about. That pile of fish poop, food, plant waste and such that builds up in between that red rock and that piece of driftwood in your tank? Well with your siphon and gravel vacuum, you can take care of it!
So the water change does all that, but how do you actually do one. Effectively? Well generally one uses a long, flexible, plastic tube and a bucket. To start the siphon, either 1. Suck on the end of the tubing that is out of the tank, with the other end under water. (Be careful! Do not swallow any of the tank water! It can contain harmful bacteria and microbes!) 2. Take the siphon and fill it with tap water from your sink, with one end covered by your finger. Then simply place the end that is covered into your aquarium and the other end over the bucket and let go! With the siphon sucking water out of the tank, fill up your bucket and then dispose of it. (Your house plants will love it!) You can also use the in-tank end to suck up any mulm and such that has built up. Nowadays though, most serious hobbyists use Python “No Spill and Fill” aquarium vac’s. These babies attach to your nearest faucet and allow you to siphon water form you tank and refill without any buckets! Purty sweet right? Just remember to treat your tap water before putting it into your tank!
Water Changes in Nature
You heard right. Water changes in nature. Sure a big giant doesn’t use his magical bucket and siphon to clean the oceans and rivers. But nature has its own way of cleaning itself. Think about it. In a lake over time water evaporates and is replaced by rain water, the trees and plants surrounding (and in) it take care of the nitrogenous waste and in streams, what is constantly flowing to the ocean and being replaced? All in all, it is the best water change system ever created.
So next time you are in the middle of doing a water change, think about all the good you are doing your fish!