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Continuous water change - with chlorinated tap water


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So, I have a tentative plan to do a bit of home improvement, which will include a water softening system (for water heater, shower, laundry) so I'll be doing a fair amount of plumbing anyway...

So, as long as I'm whacking that hornet's nest, I'll run a tap and drain to my aquarium. (Technically, the tap will be "for the refrigerator's ice system", but they are located close enough to each other.)

So, I'd like to do a continuous drip system to change my tank's water.

The problem: I have chlorinated tap water (unlike the guy in the YouTube video below)

I also don't have room for a holding tank to pre-treat a day's worth of water with a dechlorinator like Prime, as shakaho does.

So... I'm looking for input for ideas, and a sanity check...

First: according to my city water report, my tap water gets a maximum of 0.5ppm of chlorine.

I'm thinking of a flow rate of 1-1.5 Gal/h for my 55 gallon tank.

So: options...

While I could use a carbon filter for chorine, I don't want to ever have to worry about the carbon filter suddenly being ineffective should my utility company switch to chloramine in the future. It's not the sort of thing there would be a big public awareness campaign over; the switch would likely 'just happen'...

My first idea is to drip tap water into the main tank. Next, dilute prime with distilled water, to make it easier to accurately dose with a dosing pump. Then every X minutes, it adds an appropriate dose of prime to the main tank.

The second idea is a minor variation: instead of adding to the main tank, both are added to a smallish (1 liter) container that overflows into the main tank. That way the prime has a chance to dechlorinate the water first.

So far, I'm leaning towards the 2nd one...

Next, the dosing mechanism for prime: there are the dosing systems some reef keepers use. The downsides are cost, control complexity, and dependence on electricity.

I've also thought of a of dripper to dose prime - something like a hospital IV, provided it's a constant drip rate. I have no idea if the drip rate really is constant... Or if the equipment would hold up to continual use- or if it's cheaper than a dosing system...

Any other thoughts/ideas?

Edited by troy.telford
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I do 10% per day.  For your tank, that's 5.5 gallons a day.  You can easily find an attractive urn or other container to hold dechlorinated water that drips into your tank.  You could even use one half that size and fill it twice a day.

 

I know some people trickle water into their ponds without dechlorinating.  I wouldn't.  And I wouldn't put chlorinated water in the tank and trust a machine to dose Prime as needed.  Others put a filter on the line to the dripper to remove chlorine.  That's a good procedure if one is conscientious about changing the filters.

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I do 10% per day. For your tank, that's 5.5 gallons a day. You can easily find an attractive urn or other container to hold dechlorinated water that drips into your tank. You could even use one half that size and fill it twice a day.

Would that be enough? I want to have the more consistent water parameters continual changing provides, and I'm not sure if that'll be enough to keep my nitrates below 20 ppm...

I know some people trickle water into their ponds without dechlorinating. I wouldn't. And I wouldn't put chlorinated water in the tank and trust a machine to dose Prime as needed. Others put a filter on the line to the dripper to remove chlorine. That's a good procedure if one is conscientious about changing the filters.

I'm not sure trusting a machine is a good idea either. Especially as it could work flawlessly for years, then just stop which would kill my tank...

Edited by troy.telford
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10% per day is roughly equivalent to 50% a week.  It is also the amount used by most of those who have what they call "koi ponds."  I refer to them as "technical koi ponds", to distinguish them from "ponds that contain koi". The koi people call ponds that do not meet the criteria for a technical koi pond "water gardens".  This term is used with the nose in the air and a tone of disdain, however they admit that a water garden is OK for goldfish.

 

I mention koi ponds because they are very similar to a bare bottomed, unplanted aquarium with superior filtration.  Like aquarists, koi ponders use nitrate as an indication of the adequacy of water changes.  The filtration takes place in a filter pit near the pond so that the filters are fed by gravity.  The water is collected from the pond via a bottom drain which goes to the mechanical filtration which is a settling chamber(s) and/or a "sieve."  The water then goes to a biofilter(s).  Currently, this is most often a moving bed filter(s) and/or a shower.  The filtered water is then pumped back into the pond.   They have no plants in the pond and feed a lot, but are able to keep the nitrate down with continuous changes involving 10% of the pond volume in new water per day.

 

The amount of nitrate in a cycled tank without phytofiltration is a function of the amount of nitrogen fed.  If you can't keep nitrate down with 10% of the water "changed" daily, you are probably overstocked, overfeeding, or have nitrate in the tap water.  You can still get rid of the nitrate by running your filtered water through a veggie filter before it goes back to the tank.  

 

I should also point out that doing continuous water change doesn't mean you never remove any water from the system.  You still want to vacuum the bottom of the tank and empty the filters.  periodically, and no one says you can't do a weekly larger change.

 

 

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The amount of nitrate in a cycled tank without phytofiltration is a function of the amount of nitrogen fed.

I was actually thinking of posting a question about that in the water quality section. Along the lines of 'if you fed the exact same amount of food in otherwise identical tanks, would three fish put out the same amount of waste as five fish?' Since the fish can only metabolize what food they are given, it would make sense that the amount of food fed is really what determines the bio load. Of course, I could also be totally wrong...

I should also point out that doing continuous water change doesn't mean you never remove any water from the system. You still want to vacuum the bottom of the tank and empty the filters.

My main purpose is to make my water parameters more consistent, and improve the overall quality of my fish care.

Any extra 'ease' I hope to achieve is in keeping my fish healthier & therefore not having to use a QT tank for a sick fish. Having adjacent tank plumbing would be a big plus, too.

'Not having to do water changes' is a nice fantasy, though... I'll put that one up there with scaling the cliffs of Olympus Mons.

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The amount of nitrate in a cycled tank without phytofiltration is a function of the amount of nitrogen fed.

I was actually thinking of posting a question about that in the water quality section. Along the lines of 'if you fed the exact same amount of food in otherwise identical tanks, would three fish put out the same amount of waste as five fish?' Since the fish can only metabolize what food they are given, it would make sense that the amount of food fed is really what determines the bio load. Of course, I could also be totally wrong...

 

Not if you believe in that old idea about conservation of matter.   :)     The only difference would arise if you were comparing growing juveniles with mature fish.  Growing fish would be incorporating much more protein into their bodies.  Actually, given mature fish, the data is available to calculate the nitrate production from the amount of food used and the % crude protein content of the food.

 

I should also point out that doing continuous water change doesn't mean you never remove any water from the system. You still want to vacuum the bottom of the tank and empty the filters.

My main purpose is to make my water parameters more consistent, and improve the overall quality of my fish care.

Any extra 'ease' I hope to achieve is in keeping my fish healthier & therefore not having to use a QT tank for a sick fish. Having adjacent tank plumbing would be a big plus, too.

'Not having to do water changes' is a nice fantasy, though... I'll put that one up there with scaling the cliffs of Olympus Mons.

 

I wasn't clear.  I was just addressing your concern about the small changes being inadequate.  

 

However, I can assure you the amount of labor saved is very great.  I have two in-ground ponds and four container ponds.  If I set up a conventional aquarium, it about doubles the amount of work I have to do.

 

As for the improvement of fish care, last summer I got toxic water from the city for 3 or 4 months.  I lost a number of fish, but it took a long time to realize that all of them had had a full or large partial water change before they got sick and died.  The fish that had received only continuous water change were all fine.

 

 

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