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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been in the saltwater hobby for about 7 months now and started with a Biocube 14. I got a 90 bowfront about a month ago that I got off of Craigslist pretty cheap. I'll start out by explaining my setup before asking my question. The tank is a 90 gallon Oceanic bowfront with build in overflow, 30 gallon Eshopps sump that has the filter sock catching the water coming from the tank, and Pro Clear Aquatic Systems skimmer. The water goes through some sponges before going into the chamber the return pump is in, which is 1200 gph. I have over a 100 pounds of lr in the tank and two Hydor circulation pumps( There's also the flow from the return pump in there also). As for fish, I've got 3 clowns, 1 foxface, 1 coral beauty, 1 firefish, 1 white one with orange spots that stays on the bottom cleaning the sand, and one solid purple fish( can't seem to think of the last two names at the moment). I also have a few corals, kenya tree, birdsnest, some waving hand pom pom, a few zoa's, and some plate coral. The tank was running for 4 years before I got it and it took about 2 hours for us to transfer everything to my house.

Here's my question, my tank evaporates a gallon of water a day that I replace, I change my filter sock out every 5 to 7 days( which takes out all sorts of nasty stuff). I've been adding a gallon of saltwater to the sump every week to keep salinity where it's needed( also trying to raise it a little because it at 1.023 and I'm slowing trying to bring it to 1.025). With all the water I add for evaporation a day( 30 gallons a month) and the nasty stuff that the sock removes, what's the point in water changes if my water perimeters are good and I'm adding calcium, iodine, etc. to the tank?

It seems to me that whatever nasty stuff I don't get with the sock on it's weekly change, my cleanup crew inside the tank will get. The tank is full of shrimp, isopods, snails, and crabs that clean the things that can raise my water levels. I'm still new to this saltwater, so don't hound me to bad about questioning the monthly water changes( which I still plan on doing 30 gallons a month), it just seems kind of a waste of good water if everything is checking out fine with my testing and fish/corals are happy.

I also know that I will be told that I've got to many fish in my tank but they all stay under 3" with the exception of the foxface and he's only about 2.5 " right now. I figure my bioload will increase with him as he grows, am I wrong?
 

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Many believe water changes are a cure-all-to end-all type of thing, I do not. I will say however that the salt mix, if it is a premium brand, does replace some trace elements you are not adding and may not be aware of so a monthly dose of fresh salt mix is still a good idea. Another note; once you get the SG where you want it you do not have to add salted water for the top off as this will cause the SG to sky-rocket. I hope you are using a Refractometer to check the SG as they are more accurate and consistent.
 

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Short answer is that you need to be topping off with fresh water, not salt water. The salt does not evaporate, the FW does, so thats what needs to be replaced.

Edit: read that wrong....sorry...u do us fw of course....trace elements are what you are replacing....I think the more water changes the better
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies, mainly just asking out of curiosity. I check my salinity with a Refractometer before topping off with any saltwater for sure. I'm just trying to get it to the 1.025 level, I think the corals will be a little happier at that level from what I've researched. I'm adding Instant Ocean reef accelerator as needed(which isn't much with me testing the calcium level because it seems to be staying pretty stable). All my coral are still somewhat just frags and don't seem to be using a whole bunch of trace elements at the moment. I do alternate between the Instant ocean and some Kent Marine microvert to feed the corals. I put nowhere near what the microvert directions say put in the tank due to the corals not being very large and not having a lot of coral at the moment. I'm done with the fish adding but plan on adding more coral slowly to the tank.
 

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most people would tell u to do water changes. they help keep environment stable, replenish trace elements, and remove nitrates. After all we wouldn't want to live in a room with air that is cleaned/recirculated over and over would we? I thought not! Make sure once your salinity is good to only top off with freshwater. btw your tank does not seem overstocked to me, u should be ok.
 

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You cant get away from waterchanges, its like Cutietwo said old water is like stale air. Water changes are the fresh air to our tanks and also replace trace elements in the system. Without these you also will be creating a very high nutrient load on the tank resulting in algae growth on a large scale. Welcome to the reef
 

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I personally don't do water changes... at least regular water changes. Some water gets replaced as equipment is cleaned. A big advantage of water changes is that you not only remove nitrate and phosphate form the water and replace trace elements, you also remove chemicals which you are not testing for. Every time you spray cologne, wash your hands with soap, mop your floor, etc... you wind up with trace amounts of these chemicals making it into the water through the air. Theoretically, they may not be harmful in small doses but they can accumulate and may be harmful. Things like this (to me) make occasional large water changes worth it. If you have an affective way of removing nutrients and replenishing consumed elements, I see no need for regular water changes.

I have changed about 75 gallons of water in my 90 gallon SPS reef tank in the last year with a very heavy bio-load.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I change about a 1.5 gallons a week on my 14 gallon, I figure with the lr that's in it, there's only about 10 gallons of water. That system is ran with a skimmer in the first chamber, bioballs in the second, and the return pump in the third. There's no way of removing anything out of that tank without doing the water changes. The reason I decided on the one large water change a month was the sock filtration that's in the sump of my 90 gallon. I figure when I change the sock, I remove a lot of the unwanted waste in my tank. The tank is 90 and probably another 15 in the sump. The lr in the tank is probably taking 15 gallons away from the total water volume. So I'm thinking 30 gallons a month(1/3 of the total volume) should be good. Any advice on why this wouldn't work? Should I do 15 every 2 weeks? I'm still a newbie and trying to figure everything out and it's a lot easier to ask advice from folks with experience than me losing a ton of money from finding out the hard way.

The saltwater water top offs, once a week will quit once I get up to 1.025. I'm just trying to be slow with raising it, not to shock anything by doing it to quickly. It'll be fw only once I'm happy with the salinity level in the tank.

Thanks everyone for helping a newbie
 

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To me water changes are not a cure all end all but they are the best proactive thing that you can do for your tank. Although you are probably getting a good amount of nasty stuff out of your tank and you have a CUC in the tank; keep in mind they they still have waste too. Right now you have live sand. I think we're you to have no sand in the tank you would be shocked to see how much junk would be at the bottom of your tank. In mine I have always had sand but in vacuuming the sand I am always amazed at how dirty the water is when I do a water change.
 

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The main reason I do water changes is to remove dirt and detritus...adding trace elements Is the bonus.

+1. I don't rely on any sort of cuc to "clean up", either. gobies, hermots, snails, etc, may go after uneaten food and detritus, but remember, if it eats, it poops. in the end, it is really up to you to remove the poop. I look at my snais and crabs as just some extra neat things to watch and don't count on them to clean up anything.

I do 10% weekly, myself. I have it down to a science and it takes about 10 minutes! I spend less time doing a water change than I would testing and calculating doses daily/weekly.
 
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