TAL's Zero Water Exchange Test Thread

TAL

Large Fish
Sep 7, 2008
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Did the UG filter cause problems? I don't suppose you had plants in there... Was the water flow good enough?

Has the UGF caused any problems: None that I know of. Considering some of the comments I remember back when we started this, I'll be curious to see what is revealed when I pull it all up.

Water flow was never a problem. It never blew up junk from under the gravel and it never sucked in any healthy fry (that I know of - so I could be wrong - just never saw it)

I did not have plants. Everything is fake from the fish store or the dollar store.
 

TAL

Large Fish
Sep 7, 2008
588
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well well well.. look whos back, I havent been on here for months either, I have been really busy. Good to see you back though.

How many fish died?
what were your water parameters averaging through out this period?
how often did you do a water change (if any)?

The only fish that died you heard of way back when.....remember the Betta? He got stuck in between the filter tower and the wall. I did lose some fish while away on a vacation due to - I believe lack of food. I had no unexplained deaths while maintaining the tank in person.

I have done 5 water changes since I put the tank together. I never went into it really expecting to NEVER change the water BUT no way did I want to be doing 20% swaps every other week.


Looking through my test results:

Ammonia and Nitrites did not register. The exception to that would be just after vacation which I attributed to the dead fish.

Nitrates: This is the big one here....15 was the high. Most readings were between 0 and 10. You know how hard those color strips are to read....Nitrates at last testing (about a week ago) essentially zero.

pH: lows down to 6.0 - highest reading of 7.4. Reading after any water exchange was always higher. 6.4-6.8 the norm.

Given the results it would seem the few exchanges I did perform were not needed unless you believe in avoiding OTS.

I have not tested for kH. I do suggest the few exchanges I did do helped with buffering against a pH crash or serious swing.

I don't know what to say except the system seems to work.
 

TAL

Large Fish
Sep 7, 2008
588
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One things about the Nitrates that I have a question on and am hoping to get feedback on.

The items in the tank that were from the dollar store. They were fake plants. They, not being intended for use in a fish tank, have in areas grown some black - I assume - algae. I also had some green - hard - algae on some rocks in the tank (the pleco will not eat it off the rocks) Could these life forms also be helping keep nitrate levels down? Could they account for the zero levels on nitrates? I don;t think so but I do think they might be helping.

The next big step is seeing what I find under that gravel when I pull this up. Then I willl experience fishkeeping without the system and see how that goes.

Any input or suggestions?
 

TAL

Large Fish
Sep 7, 2008
588
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The system costs about $100 IIRC.

Upkeep has been the cost of the electricty to keep the pumps in the towers running. I ran out of the custom chemicals but not restocking has not caused a problem so far. Minus from that the savings on water exhanges in water and time.
 

FroggyFox

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May 16, 2003
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Wait, so you stopped putting the additives into the system?

The algae could potentially help keep nitrates at bay, but I wouldn't bet on much. I'd be interested to see the underside of the plates when you disassemble the whole thing.

Water flow wouldn't be a problem in this system...actually it seemed like a great filtration system, pairing a power filter with a reverse UGF.
 

FroggyFox

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Yes, the towers pull water in and push out through the gravel. Plants in general don't work well with UGF's...reverse or 'normal' lol a more 'soil' substrate won't work...
 

TAL

Large Fish
Sep 7, 2008
588
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Froggy...you are correct. I stopped chemicals. I also went back to the aqueon HOB filter too. The iQ one drove my wife crazy for being too loud. Yet my nitrates have been zero. Did I have enough of the bacteria that grow in the absence of oxygen...you know the ones that eat the nitrates...??? There wasn't that much algae in the tank and the water itself was crystal clear.

When I pulled up the grates.....they came out totally clean. Nothing grew on them. There was however, a layer of dark dark dark green muck in the area under them. Heavy stuff. After I pulled out the fish and stared disturbing that area the water left in the tank got wicked cloudy but settled fairly quickly after I stopped touching it.

My only firm conclusion at this point is...something was working really well. I pull no punches when I say nitrates were of no concern to me. Fishkeeping has been soooo easy.

In this re-do I have done....the system is now out of the water...but I did not scrub out the gravel - so any beneficial bacteria that may be eating algae is still in there. I do not know if they will live without the system though. I'll be watching nitrates and seeing what happens.

If I have to start doing regular exchanges - you can bet the system goes back in!
 

FroggyFox

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...you might as well put it back in then LOL Here's the thing. When you have a UGF (or a reverse ugf) ALL of the surface area on ALL of the gravel turns into your tank's filter! So when you take that filtration away...all your tank has for biological filtration is the HOB filter. This is enough for a lot of tanks, assuming you do regular water changes and don't overstock the tank. You have to consider that UGF's were pretty much all the aquarium industry used for a LONG time. The only filter IMO that could do as well on keeping a tank 100% with minimal water changes would be a canister filter. You *might* consider one of these as the noise is considerably less than an HOB as well :) I love them.
 

TAL

Large Fish
Sep 7, 2008
588
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Funny..I have been looking into cannister filters. They seem to be the cadillac filters available.

Is there one that you recommend?

I know on the upcoming big tank, I will be using a cannister filter.
 

AquaticTim

Medium Fish
Nov 30, 2010
87
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Wisconsin, USA
older post. But was an interesting read. I just have normal pet store gravel in my tank with the plants listed in my signature. Would this system work for me or has anyone seen/used a similar system? Tal- great thread, I am curious however- if it worked so well, why take it out!? I've always been told not to fix what isn't broken. lol.