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HOW TO MAKE A PROPER WATER CHANGE

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HOW TO MAKE A PROPER WATER CHANGE

Post by Shannon *Admin* on Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:31 pm

Few experienced aquarists give much thought to making water changes. It has become second nature. The advanced and experienced aquarists take it for granted. For the beginner, the nuances and attention to water changes can mean a happy fish or a dead fish, and anything in between. So here is one way to perform a water change to make a happy fish:

1. Make sure you're using proper source water free of contaminants (including but not limited to: dissolved organics, ammonia, nitrites, pesticides, phosphates, nitrates, silica compounds, smell, and poisons). If there is any doubt as to the quality of the source water, test it. Artificial salt manufacturers who recommend using tap water as the source water are wrong. The variations of tap water quality around the world make it range from marginally good to horrible. Even when found marginally good, will it be consistently good? Get more information about the downside to using tap water here: Chemistry and the Aquarium

2. Mix the source water, preferably using a submersible (inside aquarium) pump (not an aerator). The water should move up and down in the mixing container, not around in a circle. In this way, the water doesn't take on excess air/carbon dioxide, and mixes quickly and thoroughly. Choose a mixing place away from household chemicals (for instance, don't mix salt water in the laundry room, paint shed, garage where cars are parked, etc.).

3. Add the artificial salt to the water, in the quantity required to get close to the marine system's specific gravity.

4. Mix the salt according to the salt manufacturer's directions (as to how long to mix). (NOTE: The salt manufacturer should know how best to mix their salt into water, however studies have shown that the most stabilized water is achieved after about a week of mixing. This extended time is connected to gas exchange and the chemical reactions going on in the water between the various salts and the gases in the surrounding air.) In no case would I recommend mixing for less than 48 hours. It has been discovered that bad salt mixes will usually 'show themselves out' within the first 48 hours of mixing. If the mixed salt is cloudy or partially undissolved in 48 hours, there is something wrong. No good salt mix should leave a noticeable residue. (NOTE: Some unusual/less common artificial salt manufacturers may depend upon mixing to chemically react their chosen ingredients. Such manufacturers can recommend up to and including 2 weeks of mixing!).

5. After mixed, check the specific gravity of the prepared water. [NOTE: If the salt mix is not properly balanced to provide the proper calcium, alkalinity, and magnesium, now is an opportunity to bring those chemistries into the desired range with the chemistries in the marine system.] The specific gravity of the new water should match as closely as you can with the specific gravity of the water it will replace. Usually, matching to within 0.001 sp. gr. unit is acceptable. Adjust the new water by adding a little more salt, or adding some source water. If a lot of salt had to be added (more than 2% of what you've already added) then go back to 4.

6. When the specific gravity of the new water matches the marine system water specific gravity, measure the pH and temperature of the marine system and the new water. Adjust pH and temperature of the new water to that of the marine system water. (NOTE: This is one of the places of the biggest common error -- the pH adjustment. The pH of the new and old water must be extremely close -- to within 0.05 pH units, if possible). The temperature of the new water should be no lower, and can be up to 1.5F higher than the marine system water. As the volume of the water change goes up, the more important controlling these two qualities becomes. 10% or less water changes can get away with lesser control..











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Re: HOW TO MAKE A PROPER WATER CHANGE

Post by Shannon *Admin* on Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:32 pm

CON'T


7. Remove the water from the marine system. You can take advantage of siphoning in order to clean out detritus/debris around in the display tank, QT, sump, and/or refugium.

8. Add the new water to the marine system.

After the above, it is important to replace evaporated water with distilled water (if you have a small aquarium), or RO/DI or deionized water for larger systems. Maintain a constant specific gravity of the marine system, a constant pH in the proper zone, and a near constant temperature.

Some interesting information and things to know:
a. A sudden drop in temperature as little as 2F in an hour can cause a marine fish mucous coating to sluff off or improperly function. This causes the fish to become sensitive to infection and diseases it could otherwise fend off. This is the reason why fish who go through a drop in temperature suddenly become ill or infected. A small drop in temperature is significantly far worse than a small rise in temperature.

b. pH is measured not in 'straight numbers' but in a logarithmic function of the hydrogen ion concentration. A small change in pH number is a large change in concentration of the hydrogen ion. What seems like a small numerical change is actually a large chemical change. Don't be fooled. A pH change of 0.10 pH units is significant to a marine fish that has never known the pH of its home waters to change by more than 0.01 units over the period of a year!

c. Salinity sets up the way the fish's internal chemistries function. The fish's internal physiology is based upon the fish's environment and that environment is the water, how much salt is in that water, and how clean that water ultimately is with regards to its home water quality. A fish can handle a rather rapid lowering of salinity (specific gravity) but not an increase in salinity. If salinity drifts too low in the system, raise it slowly (no more than 0.002 sp. gr. units per day). The fish's internal chemistries need time to adjust to a change in salt concentration in the water.

d. Chemicals to make pH adjustments need to be compatible with the marine system. Small adjustments can be made with fresh and pure Baking Soda found in the grocery store. This is sodium bicarbonate. Too much of this and it throws off the alkalinity and the pH control is pretty much lost. Another useful pH adjusting chemical is sodium carbonate. Less is needed to raise the pH. You can make this at home by heating pure fresh Baking Soda, spread out on a pan, in a preheated oven at 350F for 40 minutes and letting it cool. This will change the pH up (raise the pH quicker, and less is needed and thus less likely to throw off the alkalinity). Other suitable chemicals are sodium hydroxide (liquid or pellets). No one can say how much of any of these chemicals to use. This is in part because no one knows the starting pH and the strength of the buffer of the salt water you made up. It is trial and error. Just add a very little bit then check its effect on the pH of your batch. pH should be checked by a meter, NOT by a test kit.

Making the fish think the water is cleaner but hasn't changed in pH, temperature or salinity is the key to a good water change!

_________________
LOW NITRATES?? WHATS THAT?..Cool 

REEFING IS A WAY OF LIFE NOT JUST A HOBBY!!Laughing 

MEMBER OF OVERFEEDERS ANONYMOUS  What a Face 
avatar
Shannon *Admin*
Admin
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Number of posts : 251
Age : 41
Location : Fergus, Ontario
Tank Size- Gallons : 38g Display, 12g Nanocube, 8 Gallon nano, 28g JBJ HQI

29g Biocube - Feb 2/14
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Registration date : 2008-11-24

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