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Nervous about water changes

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Anyone else get super nervous after a water change or is it just me? After I’m done with one I’m sitting for the next few days thinking “did I crash my cycle, did I add my water conditioner wrong, am I going to wake up to a dead tank tomorrow, etc?” Is this just new hobby jitters that I will get over or does this still happen to the veteran fish keepers too?

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Develop a routine and stick to it. Helps to cut down on the anxiety if you always do things exactly the same every single time. Also, remember that most water conditioners are safe up to 5x. If I’m filling buckets and have the “did I add conditioner?” thought, and I truly can’t remember, I’ll dose again. I’d rather have 2x the amount of dechlorinator than 0x

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On 6/5/2023 at 8:05 PM, Tfred82 said:

Anyone else get super nervous after a water change or is it just me?

100% this is just the newbie jitters.  I actually enjoy and look forward to water changes.  It's a break from all the other things in the day. It's something very different than the normal day, and it's a chance to get arms wet and to really see what is going on in the tank. 

Welcome to the forums @Tfred82!

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I only had a proble with a water change one time.  I was out of Fritz Complete dechlorinator and local Petco only had Aqueon.

3 Cories were instantly in severe stress after dosing Aqueon and died horrible deaths within a half hour.  2 more recovered but took weeks.  All were immediately transferred to another tank within minutes.


The Aqueon dechlor was transferred to the trash can…

I now dose Fritz Complete from an 8 ounce bottle with the pump head.  I always keep an unopened ounce bottle on hand to refill the 8 ounce.  When I open a 16 ounce bottle to refill the pump bodied dispenser I order a new 16 ounce bottle same day…

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@Tfred82 I don't get nervous, but that's because I have done so many. If it's new to you, I can understand why you'd have jitters. How much water are you changing? Maybe try doing smaller changes, to reduce your stress, and get yourself used to the steps and build your confidence that everything will be fine.

I used to do simple "1 pitcher out, 1 pitcher in" changes on 5 and 10 gallon tanks, there's no reason you can't do the same for 20 or 30 or bigger. I use the pitchers from the dollar store, they're 2L or 1/2 gallon size. Buy 2. Fill 1 pitcher with temp-matched water (doesn't have to be an exact match, if you dip your fingers in tank then pitcher, you'll get a sense if it's close or not; a bit cooler is better than a lot warmer, FYI). Use the empty 2nd pitcher to remove 1 pitcher of water from the tank (keep it for your garden and houseplants!), then add water back from the pitcher of clean treated water. Tip: when refilling, keep the pitcher upright, and lower the bottom of the pitcher into the tank until the water in the pitcher is near the top of the tank water level. Then slowly rotate the pitcher over so the water in the pitcher mixes gently with the water in the tank, and raise up the bottom of the pitcher (slowly) and voila. No disturbance, no churning, no substrate thrown all over the place, happy fish. 

Since you're relatively new, this is also a good opportunity to emphasize that overfeeding is the fastest and most common path to problems for new fish/tank keepers. Fish can go days and days without food, and if you don't have too many in your tank to start with, the amount of food they need will be very small. If you see anything more than tiny bits of uneaten food 2 min after feeding, dial it back a bit. Bottom feeders can be a bit slower, so can bettas, but if you have tetras, danios or any of the other typical "first fish" the 2 min rule is a good one. Feeding less goes hand in hand (fin in fin) with less water needing changing 🙂

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