Jump to content

** StevieT's How to Change Water Guide **


Recommended Posts

Step Ten: Scraping algae and Coralline

Every two to three weeks I need to clean my glass of hard green algae and coralline. I use a razor blade to remove this stuck on algae for pristine viewing.







Step Eleven: Remove water


Using a simple siphon to remove water from the tank, suspended detritus, and coralline/hard algae. You will need a second 5 gallon bucket to do this





Step Twelve: Add freshly mixed salt water back in


I usually try and do this as slowly as possible, avoiding directly hitting corals with the blast of water.




add water back to your previous water level so SG and surface skimming are the same


Step Thirteen: Finishing up

If you have a protein skimmer it is a good time to empty and clean out your cup. Remove any salt creep from lighting covers and tank glass. I wipe down the outside of the tank and stand with Windex for a nice sparkle shine!


Clean out your sponges, change out filter floss. Check equipment for wear. If you have two sponges, it is a good idea to clean the one that was in your tank, put the extra on in, then let the one your rinsed to dry out. This prevents nitrate buildup.


Your water will take a few hours to clear up but when it does it will look better than ever.







nice tank !

Link to comment
  • 1 month later...

Stevie T you are a life saver and star! Thank you :)


I made some rookie mistakes doing my first water change, and being an experienced FW fishkeeper, didn't quite realise just how much of a difference these things can make with a SW system. I bought the established tank off a friend who gave me some pointers, but I didn't listen enough it seems!


Reading this thread has answered all my questions!! I'm off to the LFS 2moro to get me a cheap heater and pump and some new buckets for my water changes. I wish I had read this first - I shocked my poor nano with a bad water change, not mixed properly and not warmed up enough. I tested my Nitrates and they had shot up over a couple days, so thinking I must do a water change to help, I went in head first and ended up probably doing more harm than good, shocked the life out of my Mushies!!


They are looking better today, and hopefully make a good recovery in the next day or two fingers crossed. The nitrates are still high :( So planning on a few smal water changes over the next few days - this should help right?


Thanks again, this thread has cheered me up this afternoon :D

Edited by NanoNat
Link to comment
  • 1 month later...

Does it make much of a difference if you use a powerhead versus a pump? I'm just starting out, so I'd have to buying another pump or powerhead... most of the pumps I've seen are $150, but a nano powerhead would be like $30. Is it worth the extra $?

Link to comment

Pump and powerhead are loosely used terms. Every powerhead is a pump so yes you can use a powerhead, most do. I used the term pump because that is technically what it is and used for before I made it a water mixing device. You can get a powerhead or pump for $15-$30


A $150 pump is for a much larger system and would be overkill for a water mixing bucket.

Edited by StevieT
Link to comment
  • 5 weeks later...




1. I am planning to get my salt-water from the LFS until everything starts to run well. Hence, I do not have any RO water at home that is not salted. For top offs, can I just used normal distilled drinking water?


Use distilled water, usually people do not drink it because it has no taste. 0 TDS is the goal with water and a reef


2. The back compartments contains a) white fine sponge B) black coase sponge and c) bioballs and a bag of carbon, d)pump. Are these sufficient? I will be adding a tank heater this weekend. Currently, the tank water is stable at 80deg. F. I assume the tank heater goes in the pump chamber?


Ditch the bioballs and sponges. Use chemical media (chemi pure) and filter floss. You can also create a fuge with chaeto. Heater can go in any area that it fits, flow is important so is tank temp stability.


3. I have heard that I should only change 10% of water per week. So, I should be changing 1.5 gal?


10-30% is fine. The more the better actually.


4. I have not done a water change yet, and will be this weekend. Noticed that there are some mostly "transparent" "flakes" on the water surface. I try to get rid of it buy skim the water top with a paper towel, but not very effective. I have never seen that on my fw tank. How should I get rid of that?


Flow pointed to the top or a surface skimmer. Is this like an AIO tank that has rear filtration chambers? If so it should have some kind of water intake that acts as a surface skimmer.


One week is a very fast cycle. Make sure you are testing before adding any livestock and take it slow.




stevie nice thread for newbie like me.. how to make or create a fuge with creato ... i have a 12 gal jbj nano i have in chamber 1 3 pcs. sponges chamber 2 ceramic ring bioballs and carbon chamber 3 heatr was is your reccomendation ..thanks i just bought this to a friend friend for my little boy he like nemo. its been 2 weeks i try to changed the water and still look bad a lot of flying things.. i need a lot of info how to take care /maintain the tank and the fish.very appreciated .thanks

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

I think its helpful to add a surface area=nitrate explanation to this thread which is a very awesome thread indeed~


Once you have enough surface area to perform nitrogenous waste oxidation, any extra you add, regardless of its form 99% of the time will produce nitrate in a nano reef, extra surface area can be a -hassle- not always a help, here's why.


You need enough surface area to oxidize the ammonia yields from your fish and from respiration by every living thing in your reef display, and a little bit of live rock and sand will do just that with nothing else (after being cycled)

Extra surface area in any form, any form, traps detritus, which upon breakdown yields further nitrate. You can have triple the normal loading of bioballs in a tank, and as long as they are kept clean and free of brown and green detritus flocs they will not produce nitrate as detritus breakdown sites. I like the idea of using chemsorb or binding pads to take up phos and nitrate, to me that's an excellent use of space


When you have x amount of ammonia being introduced into a system, x amount of nitrate will follow, and there is a finite amount of surface area in between these two which is all that's needed. We get -more- endpoint nitrate in our nano reefs than variable 'x' in ammonia because of the detritus we produce and store. To me, nitrate battling is always about detritus, nothing else.


Under gravel filters-big nitrate pumps, but not if you can clean the undersides of the substrate of detritus, then they are just like any other type of surface area exchange. Nothing actually causes nitrate unless it involves a protein, in our systems. major major rule to keep in mind is that...to find out how something is a nitrate pump, find out what it does with protein. detritus and brown junk and algal biofilms and flocs, all the stuff in any surface area within our tank, is chock full of protein.



Many people choose to use canister filters, also nitrate pumps, because they can remove suspended items from the water making it look cleaner (which may or may not help reef organisms that thrive on marine snow) so I don't want to say any method is bad, Id just like to show how all of this work has never made a 0 nitrate nano reef I've seen in ten years of reefing. canister filters on the other hand are not nitrate pumps when kept incredibly clean


Its commonly said to ditch the bioballs and use live rock chips instead, this is likely a worse cause of nitrate production (relative to your cleaning habits) because the live rock surfaces and pits hold even more detritus than round and hard bioballs, for the same regimen of cleaning!!


A refugium can also produce heavy nitrate in the nano reef, owing to the percentages we commonly allow for a refugium (80% production area within our tank, 10-20% refugium binding area is poor ratio for our stocking levels for example). The simple verification of this is go find someone with a nanocube who is running the refugium portion and has a normal fish load inside, and ask them if they register 0 nitrates after two weeks running and no water change. It may very well be possible with thorough cleaning, skimming and heavy macroalgae growth I've just never seen nor heard of it in a nano reef. Usually the refugiums in nano reefs aren't cleaned of detritus any moreso than bioballs or live rock rubble, so the same happens. The amount of nitrogen fixation within slow growing chaetomorpha is negligible, not enough to render every nano tank Ive ever seen with 0 nitrates although its a really neat zone for plant growth, -some N fixation-, and for production of foodstuffs to the outside tank area. I have never seen natural stocking levels in a nano reef, the live sand deep sand bed or heavy live rock use, accomplish an oxygen gradient zone where NO3 is cleaved and liberated as N gas (the DSB method of nitrate removal)-it just doesn't happen in nano reefs that I've seen over the years.



Water changes are indeed a nano keepers best friend and I don't want to say any of the methods are wrong (floss, bioballs, rock rubble, refugiums) I just wanted to say that removing detritus makes pretty much every filtration scheme the same, in the end. All else is just trend, so get out the test kits for nitrate and take your readings only from that. In most cases, the best approach is to -empty- out those back chambers and leave them free of extra surface area, this can do A LOT for your tank if you plan on keeping it with low cleaning hassle. The adsorbent pads will remove pollutants but a setback with them is cost, when natural means (water changes and cleaning of surface area) are free and equal. You'd have to stock and feed an inordinant amount of life in order to exceed the oxidation abilities of regular front-display rocks and sand, so ask yourself--


if Im not registering ammonia on my test kits, and nothing I change on my system will make it nitrate free (lessening my water change work) what am I trying to achieve with all these filtration modifications?


Edited by brandon429
Link to comment
  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Dumb question, but I'm replacing 3 gallons a week. I'm using two 5 gallon buckets. Does anyone mark the gallons on the bucket or do you just guess each time? I kinda wanted it to be exact so I take out exactly what I put in. Also, it would be nice to clearly see when to stop when siphoning out. I tried to kinda mark the 3 gallon area with a knife but it doesn't show up worth a ####.


Could you use a permanent marker or would that be dangerous leaching crap into the water?

Link to comment
Dumb question, but I'm replacing 3 gallons a week. I'm using two 5 gallon buckets. Does anyone mark the gallons on the bucket or do you just guess each time? I kinda wanted it to be exact so I take out exactly what I put in. Also, it would be nice to clearly see when to stop when siphoning out. I tried to kinda mark the 3 gallon area with a knife but it doesn't show up worth a ####.


Could you use a permanent marker or would that be dangerous leaching crap into the water?

I mark the outside of the bucket. I use a flash light and shine it on the line. That way I can see where the water is at.

Link to comment
  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...



Thank you! :bowdown:


my 28G been up and running for a while now Thought it was about time to swap some water out, I'd been told to wait but no idea how long. I've finally got 0's across the board on my Test and have introduced two little clowns a week ago. :scarry:


I've been waiting for my RO/DI unit so ran to the shop and picked up 10.5lts of Distilled water. I think someone before pointed out being competent with FW does not mean you know what's going on with FW, so before I dived in I re-read your post to check all details. I also read on a local forum no need to heat water in Singapore as it gets up to temp during mixing and airing process.


Worked a charm, done the math with salt and my Pinpoint registered 48.5 and I keep my tank at 48.6, All in my Blue bucket (blue for Sea = Good) emptied 10.5 ltr's (marked level in my Red bucket) using a simple syphon, then dropped my Chiller pick up tube in blue bucket and filled her back up.


4hrs later salt steady at 48.5, PH moved from 8.16 > 8.20, Temp consent at 27. Water crystal :happydance:


Will run all my test day after tomorrow to check i not messed anything up.


Thanks a Lot



Link to comment
  • 4 weeks later...

I would have never guessed krylon is okay for a reef until it was posted here on nr several times, cool what you guys discover thats helpful in a new pico build Ive started

Link to comment
  • 1 month later...

is 5 gal wc's every 4 days too often for a bc29? trying to keep my calcium up, seems to drop to 300-320 by the 4th day? the other water parameters are good. should i use a supplement instead?

Link to comment

You can't have too much water changes, but sometimes it is less expensive to use supplements.


What is you water change water's calcium level? Do you have many stony corals or other reasons for the calcium usage?

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recommended Discussions

  • Create New...