Partial Water Change: How To Clean Your Aquarium

Imagine living in a small room with no ventilation 24 hours a day; this includes going to the bathroom and eating. And then, once a month, someone comes along and opens a window for a short time. Most of us wouldn’t like that scenario, right?

This is more or less what happens in an aquarium, if the water is changed only once a month. Therefore, it is often emphasized by experts that partial water change in the aquarium is absolutely essential.

Overall, the recurring water change invigorates the environment and provides greater well-being for fish and plants. That said, let’s go into more detail about the importance of partial water exchange (TPA) in your aquarium.

What does partial water change do in practice and why is it the right way to clean your aquarium?

Because of all the biological processes that take place in an aquarium, various changes take place in the water over time. More commonly, nitrates accumulate because this is the end product of biological filtration in most aquariums.

But there are other things going on in the environment as well. Small, biologically important elements are depleted, and if they are not replenished again, the aquarium’s chemistry will begin to change.

In this way, total dissolved solids will increase, fish pheromones may increase and there will be an increase in dissolved organic compounds. None of these changes are desirable or really good for the pets’ quality of life.

Partial water changes, if done frequently and in sufficient volume, will keep everything under control and create a much more pleasant environment for fish and plants.

How to Partially Change the Aquarium Water Without Killing the Fish

Despite the small risk of harming them (if done the wrong way), as we have already seen, regular water changes are extremely necessary. It is extremely stressful for fish to live in a poor quality environment.

Acclimatization is the key! Don’t expose your fish to a totally sudden change, the secret is to know how to make changes in a balanced way. Be aware of these three basic tips:

Tip 1: Use a gravel vacuum

Aquarium owners often make the mistake of changing all the water when they undergo a thorough cleaning, including the substrate. Many cannot find a better alternative to cleaning the substrate without removing the water from the tank.

It is advisable to use a gravel vacuum to suck up debris from the bottom once a month during general cleaning.

A gravel vacuum is a useful tool for water changes and substrate cleaning, so invest in a good quality tool.

Tip 2: Worry about water chemistry

Water chemistry is crucial to fish health, a drastic change can be deadly. Therefore, maintaining a stable condition before and after the water change should be a top priority.

Before adding new water to the aquarium, do a simple pH test with a kit. While several parameters control water quality, pH is a key indicator.

If you add tap water, be sure to treat the water with a conditioner. There are many effective water conditioners available on the market. Aquarium water must be free of chlorine, chloramine and heavy metals.

Tip 3: Keep a steady temperature

Always try to keep the new water temperature as close to the current aquarium water temperature as possible, as a rapid change in temperature can be very unpleasant for your fish.

For most tropical fish, the acceptable temperature ranges from 22° to 26° Celsius. Fish are more susceptible to disease at low temperatures. You can easily measure water temperature with a thermometer.

Lastly, it’s best to preheat the water before adding it if necessary.

How old tank syndrome works

Old tank syndrome” occurs when, even with regular partial water changes, there is an unwanted change in the water chemistry.

If you follow the oft-cited formula of changing 15-20% of the water every week or two, you may find that the nitrate level is slowly increasing, the pH is changing, and the water is becoming increasingly inappropriate.

This goes unnoticed at first, but it will eventually impact the health of the fish and, when you least expect it, you have a big problem on your hands.

It is recommended that nitrate and kH are also monitored, especially in the first few days of the exchange. The results of these tests should be used to adjust the volume and frequency of water changes to keep everything in balance.

Over time, decorative elements such as logs and rocks can change the parameters of the water. Organic materials tend to lower the pH and release tannins, resulting in increasingly darker waters.

Failure to change the water regularly will allow these materials to have a more substantial impact on the water parameters, often with serious consequences for the living beings that inhabit the aquarium.

So if you notice these changes in your tank, be even more disciplined and increase the frequency of your TPAs.

Final considerations

Partial water change is not a dangerous process, but an absolutely essential part of maintaining your aquarium. However, you need to do this so that the fish can adapt to the change.

A sudden change in water chemistry is the leading cause of death for fish and aquatic plants. The key that gives the best result for a water change eliminating the associated risks is routine.

When you follow a meticulous routine of water changes, your fish will easily get used to it. Good water quality can keep your fish healthy and alive with a longer lifespan.

The condition of aquarium water directly affects a fish’s immune system. A healthy fish with strong immunity will rarely get sick or die. No more touching scenes of dead fish floating in the aquarium!

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