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A guy at the LFS, who i' ve been speaking to for years and really does know his stuff, said something yesterday that sort of shocked me.

"The massive planted display only gets 10% water changes a week. It doesnt need more than that as the PLANTS help keep the chemical waste down"

I told him that i'd been doing a 40% change and he said this could be why my plants aren't thriving.

Is he right?!

Thanks :)
 

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He could be, but not all setups are the same. The key with his setup is "massive planted tank". I think it's over simplifying things a bit to say planted tanks should have minimal water changes, in fact, I know it is. Better to start asking the question "what am I removing that they need". If you have fish, it also changes things. So, there's really not nearly enough info to say if he's right or not in your case. Plants will use ammonia, and nitrate, and if the food they need is in short supply due to water changes, they could suffer, yes. If you're heavier on the fish than plants, then I don't see how water changes could make the plants suffer as there will always be nitrates in the tank. Ask him for details. Ask him why? If it's just because he doesn't do them and his plants thrive, then that's really a shallow approach and understanding of keeping plants thriving. Dig deeper.
 

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I agree with Prov 100%.

I've had planted tanks that required daily water changes and one that only required a very small water change ever few months.

I once had a little 5g planted tank that did best with weekly water changes of 90%. Plants seemed to thrive in a nutrient starved environment... go figure. :D
 

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The guy at the shop is like all of us. He knows what works for his tank --but that may not work for your tank. Comparing fish tanks is like comparing women, there are some general items that agree but one better not get into specifics!

The way I would go is try to gather a bit more information on your tank and then the fellow can make a better judgement. Have you tested for nitrate and phosphate? How do you judge that 40% is required? I do think that many people use massive water changing as a magic formula rather than getting facts and making decisions on those facts. Maybe you are changing too much water/maybe not.
 

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PfunMo said:
I do think that many people use massive water changing as a magic formula rather than getting facts and making decisions on those facts.
You triggered a thought with the above.

Have you read up on Tom Barr's Estimative Index? He's actually found a bit of just what you describe... a magic formula of dosing a tank and 50% water changes to grow plants. Works very well if you follow the plan. It's not for everyone to follow the magic formula at all, and for those folks, you'd want to test for things like phosphate, nitrate, etc. like you mention.

Just thought it might interest you given what you typed in your reply. :D
 

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Like most here I have been planting our tanks since day one. The last 6 or so years I have tinkered with refugiums with various levels of success. I still run fuges on our larger tanks and for one can say the water is clearer and the fish are healthy but WC's are still req'd.

I can not say scientifically that palnts remove more than what we measure for and I am sure others here can expound on this. Having said that ... Plants are optional, Water Changes are Mandatory.
 

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I have a heavily planted 90g that is lightly stocked (5 tiger barbs, 3 Siamese algae eaters and 2 otocinclus) and I do about 40% water changes every 7 to 10 days. Even though my water parameters are spot on I still feel better replacing a lot of the old water with new.
 

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Just an observation here, and it being a general one.

For those of you who are doing bigger water changes for their planted tanks. I'm thinking (with probable flawed logic ;) ) that maybe one of the reasons that the plants may be thriving is the fact that you might be adding something as opposed to removing something ?? Could it be that your water supply has some trace minerals, or phosphate that the plants need ?? So by doing water changes you are giving them something that they need, even though you are reducing the amount one of their other 'foods' (nitrates) ??
 

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An interesting book is Diana Walstad's "Ecology of the Planted Aquarium". She outlines putting together a low tech planted tank with some fish and lays out the reasons not to do water changes, or at least very few, very rarely. But, again, that's a very specific type of setup with soil as a substrate. Some of it's a bit technical, but it's a very good book for anyone interested in the effects of plants in aquariums, etc.
 

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Randy_G
I have no doubt that what helped was both the addition and removal of substances... one thing plants absolutely love is stability. Large frequent water changes can help keep things "stable" in that your tank always matches your tap water (or close to it). If that is what a plant likes, then that is how the plant will thrive.

prov356, it wasn't Diana's book, but rather Diana herself that helped me create one of her exact setups... back in the day when we could find her online, she was a goldmine of useful information! I'm sure her book is worth every dime!
 
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