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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm setting up my first aquarium (75 gal) for cichlids and need to figure out an efficient way to conduct water changes. The tank resides in a finished part of the basement with an adjacent bathroom as well as an unfinished portion of the basement with a fresh water source and floor drain. The basic requirement I'm envisioning is that I have a water tank / barrel where I manage pH buffering, water conditioning, temperature adjustment, etc. I'll have accomplished that part ahead of time. When I'm ready to change the water, I first drain via hose from the aquarium to either the adjacent bathroom tub or the unfinished basement floor drain. Then, I pump (or drain) the new water from the water tank / barrel into the aquarium.

I can probably figure something out myself. However, I don't want to re-invent the wheel a harder way or make unnecessary mistakes, so I'm hoping some of you have nice setups / processes you can share with me here. Thanks!
 

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A few more questions for you first!

Are your tap water parameters that much different than what your fish will require?

Is your water source (tap) treated with chlorine or chloramine?

Do you have a water softener?

Do you have a hot and cold faucet that you can adjust the temperature and hook up to to add water directly to the tank?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Deeda said:
Are your tap water parameters that much different than what your fish will require?
I'm on well water here (Monument, CO) and have successfully kept fish with no adjustments other than micro ferts (planted nano tank). Honestly, I haven't yet determined the exact adjustments I'll need to make. I'll get a baseline from the local breeder that I'm sourcing the fish from and go from there.
Deeda said:
Is your water source (tap) treated with chlorine or chloramine?
As stated above, I'm on well water and therefore it's not pre-treated.
Deeda said:
Do you have a water softener?
No.
Deeda said:
Do you have a hot and cold faucet that you can adjust the temperature and hook up to to add water directly to the tank?
Yes. The adjacent bathroom has this.
 

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Sounds good so far! I also have a private well and use it directly from the tap after adjusting hot/cold to tank temps.

Have you tested your tap water for pH, GH (hardness), KH (alkalinity), ammonia, nitrite and nitrate? If not, I would start there to get some baseline parameters.

I never asked which cichlids you are considering keeping so that may make an impact on needing to adjust your tap water parameters before refilling the aquarium.

Does the basement bathroom also have a shower head? If so, you should be able to add a shower diverter on the shower arm and then a hose so you can refill the aquarium with tempered water.

If you also had a stationary tub with faucet for laundry in the basement, that would make it easier yet as it is what I use to refill my aquariums. Just asking.
 

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Agree with Deeda. Skip the tank, just go from tap to tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Deeda said:
Have you tested your tap water for pH, GH (hardness), KH (alkalinity), ammonia, nitrite and nitrate? If not, I would start there to get some baseline parameters.
All I've done is clean the aquarium, clean/pour in new aragonite, add water, and am running with my new Sunsun filter. I have not tested the pH, GH, or KH from the tap. I've just begun the fishless cycle, although I'm using existing media from my other tank. No hurry getting this set up. I still have to purchase my water test supplies (among several other things), so I guess I'm on hold until I do that over the next week or so. This was all a gradual procurement of supplies as funds become available, so I'm sort of doing it in order of necessity. I'll chime back in once I have those baseline water parameters.

To answer your other questions:
Deeda said:
I never asked which cichlids you are considering keeping so that may make an impact on needing to adjust your tap water parameters before refilling the aquarium.
Agreed. However, in my case, I'm also planning on matching my local breeder's water (specifically pH and temp). He's on a well; probably same aquifer. I've decided on a Tanganyika shoreline [pseudo-biotope] with Callochromis Melanostigma and Neolamprologus Caudopunctatus.
Deeda said:
Does the basement bathroom also have a shower head? If so, you should be able to add a shower diverter on the shower arm and then a hose so you can refill the aquarium with tempered water.
Yes. It's a full bath with a tub shower. Oh, I like that idea! It's rarely used in its intended basement guest bathroom capacity; plus, that would be somewhat tidy and out of the way. Maybe add a quick-disconnect in order to easily store away the hose.
 

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Sounds good so far!

Glad to hear you are doing a fishless cycle AND you should be fine until you get the test kit.

On the shower diverter idea, you could use a length of hose that reaches the bottom of the tub, vinyl or similar and attach a female hose repair kit at one end (hooks up to diverter) and a male end repair kit at the other end (hooks up to garden hose). This contraption can be left in place between water changes and won't add much weight to the shower arm. You can then use a drinking water safe (my preference) RV hose to fill the aquarium directly. Choose a 5/8" diam. hose, not the 1/2" diam as I found it too small in size.
 

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This may be too elaborate, but I have sumps on my tanks, with external return pumps. I placed a ball valve on the return line PVC that forks off to a sewer drain PVC. For a water change, i stop the pump and the sump fills with water. When it is filled to the top, I turn the ball valve to divert the return line to the sewer, turn the return pump on, and empty the sump. I then refill the sump with a dedicated PVC from my de-chlorinated water barrel, and then turn the ball valve back to normal, the return pump on, and bang - 20 gallon water change. I then repeat once or twice to get my 55 gallon barrel emptied. Whole process takes 20 minutes and no hoses or buckets. Got to pay attention so I don't overfill the sump. Made that mistake once and put a water level alarm on the rim of the sump.
 

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I do water changes with a continuous drip system inspired by fmueller's design. I have a T on an exposed water line on the same wall as the tank with a valve between the T and a 1/4" line that runs along my baseboards and drips into my sump in the return pump chamber. I have a dosing pump that adds Prime to the sump to counter the chloramines in my water supply. I don't need to add anything else as my local water is nearly an identical match to Lake Malawi for pH, KH, GH. I have a siphon drain on the intake side of my sump that basically keeps the water level constant so it drips out there at the same rate it drips in. My tank is next to an external wall on the ground floor of my house, so I run the drain through a hole in the wall to the outside. I put a flat bulkhead strainer on it to keep critters from trying to get in the house. You could do something similar with a drip from the adjacent bathroom and a drain to your tub or floor drain. I set mine up to drip about 10 gal a day, so it's about a 50% water change weekly on my 130 gal (total volume, tank and sump).
 
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