Yesterday, I finally got around to performing an overdue water change in my 125-gallon tank. Admiring the fruits of my labor afterward, I couldn’t help wondering, “Why on earth do I wait so long to do these when the result is always so rewarding?”
Actually, I know exactly why I wait so long, and it’s probably the same reason many of you do as well—sometimes life just gets in the way. Writing and editing projects begin to pile up, deadlines loom one after another, and I just don’t have enough time or energy left by the end of the day to squeeze in yet another project. Weekends usually find me catching up on articles or SWS posts or at least trying to squeeze in a little relaxation, so I don’t exactly relish the thought of doing water changes then either.
Still, whenever I discipline myself to push through and tackle this essential maintenance chore (which actually doesn’t have to be as challenging or time-consuming as I make it out to be in my head), not only do my fish and corals reap the benefits, but my enjoyment of the tank is significantly enhanced as well.
How so? First off, the dilution of all the bad stuff in the water and replenishment of the good stuff—like a rush of fresh air into a stuffy room or that first warm spring day after a cold winter—seems to bring out the very best in my fish. Never are they friskier or more vibrantly colored than right after a water change. They even seem to respond positively to the appearance of the vacuum hose in the tank, as if they recognize that it means clean water will soon be on the way. I don’t know whether it’s possible for fish to think this way, but their lively comportment in the hours and days after a water change seems to say, “Aaaaahhhh, that’s the stuff!”
The corals (just a few softies at the moment, though their numbers will be growing soon) tend to perk up as well, expanding to their fullest potential as if to display their gratitude for the boost in water quality. I’m sure they also appreciate the fact that water movement throughout the system is maximized after a water change because my regimen includes cleaning any algae or gunk buildup from the intakes and output nozzles of my submersible powerheads and sump pump as well as from the slots in the overflow and the nozzle for my sump return hose.
General visibility is also best in my tank right after a water change. Because the tank has windows facing it on all sides (our house has an absolutely preposterous number of windows, so they’re pretty much an issue in every room), all the panes are very prone to algae growth. So, right before siphoning out the dirty water, I give the panes a complete once over with my algae magnet, scrape any coralline algae or other tough growths from the glass with a single-edge razor blade, and gently clean the corners with an aquarium brush.
The net effect of all this is a crystal-clear aquarium filled with healthy, energetic livestock—not to mention, a proud, gratified tank owner. And you can experience this as frequently as you’re willing to perform water changes. Not a bad tradeoff!