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Old 04-30-2012, 05:36 PM   #1 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Differences in Recommended Water Change Schedules?

Ok, so its been a while since I've been looking on these forums, and I can see that some things have changed since I've last been here. The biggest thing I've noticed are the differences in recommended water change schedules for uncycled tanks. Let me first say that I've never kept a betta in an uncycled tank. Mine have always been in 5-10 gallon heated, filtered, cycled tanks with and without live plants. I'm certainly not opposed to uncycled tanks, I just found it easier (especially if I'm going to be away) for them to be cycled. However, I'm always meeting people who are under the unfortunate misconception that bettas should be kept in unheated, tiny bowls and I like to at least attempt to educate them on proper betta care.

So, that being said, a few years ago the recommended water change schedule for a one gallon tank was 100% every other day, sometimes even every day. For 2-3 gallons it was around 100% every 2-3 days, and 4-5 gallons it was one 50% and one 100% each week. From reading around here, I've noticed that most people recommend far fewer water changes on the smaller tanks. Now, since I've never kept uncycled tanks I really don't know in reality how fast the ammonia builds up, and I would like to give the best advice possible to people who I meet (I've found that just trying to convince them to buy a heater and do more frequent water changes is hard enough...most times trying to explain the nitrogen cycle just gets me astonished stares ). So, could someone please explain the current recommended water changes to me? Also, how did this schedule get established? Does it keep ammonia at zero?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-30-2012, 10:00 PM   #2 
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Join Date: Jul 2011
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one of the problems with recommending a water change schedule is that .. there is no set standard .. it will always depend on the situation .. and everyone's situation is different ..

i have tanks of all sizes .. 1g .. 2.5g .. 5g.. 10g .. and 20g .. and i can tell u that the need's of each tank are different even if the tank sizes are the same .. for example i have 3 2.5g tanks .. that have a different water change schedule form each other .. which makes determining a water change schedule recommendation for someone else very difficult .. as there's no way for us to know what's going on in someone elses tanks ..

of course there are general water change recommendations that can range anywhere from once a day .. to 3 times a week .. to once a week .. for the same tank .. for example .. say i have a 1g tank .. it's recommended to do a water change every 2-3 days .. but .. if i told you in my 1g tanks .. i only do 100% changes every 2 weeks .. most of the forum would be criticizing me saying that's not enough .. yadda yadda .. but what they wouldn't see is that .. i remove waste 3 times a day with a turkey baster .. and top off the water with whatever was taken out (roughly about 1.5 cups a day) .. which minimizes ammonia by a lot .. and doesn't require me to do the 100% water changes as often as what's recommended ..

100% water changes can be stressful for bettas .. some bettas tolerate it better then others .. and some are more sensitive to it .. and each situation and betta will call for a different water change schedule

in regards to keeping ammonia at zero .. it is never actually at zero .. test kits are measured in parts per million .. so even a zero reading on a test kit doesn't mean there is no ammonia in the water .. it just means that the amount of ammonia that exists is less then what the kit measures .. i hope that makes sense =D
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Old 05-01-2012, 08:05 AM   #3 
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I base my opinions on members who have decades of experience/breeding/research/testing when it comes to changing the water. The recommended I have always known, for tanks smaller then 5 gallons and unfiltered is 1 50% and 1 100% per week. With a filter it would be 1 50% water only, and 1 50% substrate cleaning per week.

Do I follow that exactly? Yes and no- depends upon my fish, it's age and it's overall health when I decide my water change routine.
I don't have large, cycled tanks- for a few different reasons. But other then one time, I have never had any health issues rise up from my care- save for one fish who was purchased ill. For younger fish I will do 1 50% and 1 100% per week, and for the older ones, a 100% every 4-5 days- but have to keep in mind I use tannins and live plants in those tanks (unfiltered 1-3 gallons).

I want to say the reason why it's recommended as I mentioned above, is more to help get new owners, or owners who do not understand the need to do water changes into a good, healthy routine. Bettas don't necessarily give off a whole lot of ammonia, but people will sometimes have bad feeding habits, or will overstock.. so the recommendation of 2x weekly will help keep the water safe, yet not too sterile/clean which can actually be just as detrimental as not doing a water change weekly.. just in a different way.

So, if we can get new owners into a good, healthy routine by doing it twice a week then if they get busy or forget one, then the tank will still get at least one cleaning that week and the fish will stay healthier.

Again, I base my info off of members such as Oldfishlady when it comes to cleaning tanks and because I follow her recommendations I have been able to keep all my fish healthy and alive with only one gill fluke attack in the past year.

Keep in mind it's not always dependent upon water changes (but that is primarily the most important concern), but a healthy well-balanced diet plays a big part in overall fish health.
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Old 05-02-2012, 07:37 PM   #4 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Thanks guys :)

Yeah, with the ammonia I was referring to being undetectable as a 'zero' point just because I find it easier.

Right now I'm working on trying to educate a few people about proper betta care after learning that they are using those horrible wall hanging tank things..ugh. People can be quite stubborn though- they tell you that their betta is perfectly happy in an unheated tank in a cold climate. I don't even know how to respond to that one without sounding like a snob, because how can I really prove that their betta isn't "happy" when it is such a subjective term? I thought of bringing some pictures of my bettas to show them the difference, but I think that may just establish me as being crazy..... :(
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Old 05-02-2012, 07:43 PM   #5 
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Ohio, US
Originally Posted by Kim View Post
Thanks guys :)
I don't even know how to respond to that one without sounding like a snob, because how can I really prove that their betta isn't "happy" when it is such a subjective term?
I respond to people like that by saying "prove it" The truth is that no one can tell anyone if a betta is happy in a half gallon or a hundred gallon. They can assume but no one can prove it. If only animals could talk to us?
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