Still Going To Use Undergravel Filter...

jaysurf7
  • #1
Well I'm finally ready to set up my new 60 gal tank,the old one started leaking,got a new one now.And I decided that I'm still going to use the undergravel filter.Its sorta a mixed bag some people like them some don't,some people think there outdated and that was the old days of fish keeping,But I think its has many benefits for an aquarium,its plates underneath can serve as a great source of beneficial bacteria,the power heads you have on the side create a good current through the tank,it also can protect the bottom of the tank glass from cracking,or breaking from rocks etc. I was just wondering anybody els still think there good to use?
 
Lynn78too
  • #2
I've heard good things about them as well and probably would have, however, I've heard from multiple people that you just can't use them if you want to have live plants because of the roots. Now while I agree that that is definitely true for planted plants, you could still have plants like annubias in there that are tied/anchored to driftwood and roots are not growing under the gravel. Floating plants would also obviously work.
 
Hunter1
  • #3

5A033A87-09E5-421E-B66E-21545AD484F0.jpeg I have 2 tanks with UG filters, both with gravel. I would use them more but my other 5 tanks have sand.

IMO it’s a falsehood that you can’t have plants with an UG filter.

Going to attach a photo of my 36bf with a UG filter that covers 90%+ of the tank.

Terrible lighting. I love the plant growth I get from my finnex 24/7 but the light is low when I wake up, and low when I get home.
 
AquaticJ
  • #4
If it keeps the tank cycled, it works. I have a fish store around me that only uses undergravel filters.
 
Hunter1
  • #5
One of the arguments against UG filters is that the gunk collects under the filter and you have to break the tank down annually.

I disagree with that also.

Monthly I scoop the gravel away from the plate just enough for the siphon. Then I siphon, basically from under the gravel. I usually get some gunk initially, then it runs cleanly. I think I get that gunk before it accumulates too much.
 
Gone
  • #6
Nice tank Hunter1.

I've used UG filters in the past and never had any problems with them, other than a betta that kept swimming down the tube and hanging out underneath.
 
rainbowsprinkles
  • #7
They are the best for nitrification.. but so good they allow no denitrification (nitrate to n gas) because they oxygenate the gravel..so my UGF tanks were always super high in nitrates and needed frequent water changes...but my solution was to run only one uplift tube with low flow plus a small sponge just in case and now my tanks have 0 amm/nitrites with stable nitrates at 5ppm.when I cycle a tank initially though I use all the uplift tubes of the UGF.
 
jaysurf7
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
Yea,I think they still have a place in fish keeping, a while back you would go into a LFS and like every tank would have them I agree as far as the cleaning as long as you just keep siphoning periodically so gunk don't build up ,you're fine ,I never removed the bottom plates,just gravel vac into it,another reason I like it because it protects the bottom glass from cracking in case you drop something on the bottom etc.plus you don't have to replace it it'll stay there for good,unless you just want to get new tubes now and then if they become to old.
 
Yehoshua
  • #9
Yea,I think they still have a place in fish keeping, a while back you would go into a LFS and like every tank would have them I agree as far as the cleaning as long as you just keep siphoning periodically so gunk don't build up ,you're fine ,I never removed the bottom plates,just gravel vac into it,another reason I like it because it protects the bottom glass from cracking in case you drop something on the bottom etc.plus you don't have to replace it it'll stay there for good,unless you just want to get new tubes now and then if they become to old.
How long have you run an UGF without a general teardown?
 
JB92668
  • #10
I have run an under gravel filter for 15 years in all my tanks
 
Yehoshua
  • #11
Does that mean that all your tanks never had a teardown in all those years? That's wild.

I have run an under gravel filter for 15 years in all my tanks
Do you siphon from beneath the plates? What do you do exactly to maintain 15 years without a teardown? Do you understock?
 
rainbowsprinkles
  • #12
I’ve run one for 5 years without a tear down. Heterotrophic bacteria help control the sludge and it doesn’t become such a problem when they are air driven. Not powerful enough to pull stuff under the plates.
 
Yehoshua
  • #13
I wonder if it is really possible to send a tube underneath the plates and vacuum mulm,--as I've seen suggested. and if that would really help. I ordered a one piece plate instead of all the small snap together sections--so that I could do that every few months.
 
rainbowsprinkles
  • #14
I wonder if it is really possible to send a tube underneath the plates and vacuum mulm,--as I've seen suggested. and if that would really help. I ordered a one piece plate instead of all the small snap together sections--so that I could do that every few months.

Just stick a siphon —or if you want power- a tube attached to a wet vac - in the uplift tube. I know some folks do this.
 
Thunder_o_b
  • #15
Well I'm finally ready to set up my new 60 gal tank,the old one started leaking,got a new one now.And I decided that I'm still going to use the undergravel filter.Its sorta a mixed bag some people like them some don't,some people think there outdated and that was the old days of fish keeping,But I think its has many benefits for an aquarium,its plates underneath can serve as a great source of beneficial bacteria,the power heads you have on the side create a good current through the tank,it also can protect the bottom of the tank glass from cracking,or breaking from rocks etc. I was just wondering anybody els still think there good to use?

I was a proponent of UG filters for over 30 years. I then did a Side by side test. UG with power heads vs canister and hob.

I only run canisters and hob now. Add to that I run sand and my plants are far beyond anything I could achieve with UG.

And like you my aquariums ran for years.
 
Thunder_o_b
  • #16
View attachment 473780 I have 2 tanks with UG filters, both with gravel. I would use them more but my other 5 tanks have sand.

IMO it’s a falsehood that you can’t have plants with an UG filter.

Going to attach a photo of my 36bf with a UG filter that covers 90%+ of the tank.

Terrible lighting. I love the plant growth I get from my finnex 24/7 but the light is low when I wake up, and low when I get home.
I run my 24/7 CC lights (4 of them) on full manual all settings at max.
 
Yehoshua
  • #17
I was a proponent of UG filters for over 30 years. I then did a Side by side test. UG with power heads vs canister and hob.

I only run canisters and hob now. Add to that I run sand and my plants are far beyond anything I could achieve with UG.

And like you my aquariums ran for years.
That's interesting. You tested for ammonia nitrite and nitrates? Where was the difference, in nitrates? What bio media did you use that made the difference?

Anyway, because of your comment I cancelled my order for a UGF on amazon. Meantime. Someone tested and the UGF won?
 
Thunder_o_b
  • #18
That's interesting. You tested for ammonia nitrite and nitrates? Where was the difference, in nitrates? What bio media did you use that made the difference?

Anyway, because of your comment I cancelled my order for a UGF on amazon. Meantime. Someone tested and the UGF won?
This was several years ago so I no longer have the numbers. The nitrates were requiring more frequent water changes with the UG. Even with deep vacs there was a build up under the plate and in the gravel. I do not slam UG I just have gotten far better resualts the way I do it now.

I use the Fluval bio max in the canisters. I am using as a Test Seachem Matrix to see how it goes.

Keep in mind there are far too many variables to speak in absolute terms. I only offer my experience to help people make an informed decision.

It should also be noted that I follow a rigorous schedule of exporting organics before they enter the nitrogen cycle. Which was not possible with the UG.
 
jaysurf7
  • Thread Starter
  • #19
I ran the UGF for about 20 years on my 60 gal,before I had to tear it down because I had to get a new tank.my tank sprung a leak. Never did a general teardown while I had it running though, in addition I also had a canister filter running also.My nitrates where never high as long as you keep up with gravel vac and water changes as with any tank with a UGF or not.The thing is if you have like caves set up or big rocks etc,every now and then you must move them and gravel vac in that area,or you can get a build up of gunk which which can add to high nitrates.UGF has its pros and cons,but IMO I think the pros outweigh the cons.
 
rainbowsprinkles
  • #20
I experimented with ugf vs other methods and took daily readings....nitrates always accumulated fastest with ugf... but manageable especially after turning down the flow rate.
 
Islandvic
  • #21
Dr. Kevin Novak has some youtube videos explaining how to make slow moving "plenums" out of UGF's for the purpose of anoxic filtration for the reduction of nitrates.

I first learned about Dr. Novak from Coralbandit here on the forum.

He has published a lot of info on denitrification and anoxic filters for sumps, koi ponds and now in-tank UGF versions.

Don't dismiss the UGF until you watch some of his videos and read his stuff.
 
jaysurf7
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
I experimented with ugf vs other methods and took daily readings....nitrates always accumulated fastest with ugf... but manageable especially after turning down the flow rate.
where you using just a UGF, or a UGF along with a HOB or canister at the time?
 
rainbowsprinkles
  • #23
where you using just a UGF, or a UGF along with a HOB or canister at the time?

A tank with just a UGF. Vs tank with hob vs tank with sponge and corner filter
 
JB92668
  • #24
I move the gravel so I can use my very thin gravel cleaner to clean under the filter plate without tearing the tank down its very easy
 
JB92668
  • #25
yes that's right never teared them down ever no need to
 
Hunter1
  • #26

D337F81F-94D9-4A1C-AE45-F90EB8598E93.jpeg
14870E3A-2555-4A10-8E6C-59523D3D52BD.jpeg These tanks have UGF, HOB and sponges.

But it shows you can do plants with gravel and UGF.

But with that said, sand over dirt has been far easier for me to grow plants.

At one point I was contemplating putting a fine mesh over the UGF plates and trying a dirty tank with an UGF. Just wasn’t worth the effort.

As far as cleaning UGFs so you don’t need to tear them down annually. I move the gravel from the plate in a small enough area I can get the siphon to the plate. Then put the gravel back around the siphon and siphon a full 5 gallons this way. I do this monthly and don’t get accumulation under there.

With all of this said, I don’t think i’ll ever install another UGF. There are so many better options out there now. I just did this because it was what I knew from fishkeeping 40 years ago.
 
jaysurf7
  • Thread Starter
  • #27
yea I never tore it down either, a while back used to go to this LFS and they had a planted tank with a UGF running since the early 80's. ill still keep using the UGF with a canister filter too , the UGF is more for biological filtration and currents in the tank.I also like how it protects the bottom glass of the tank.I don't think it'll become obsolete though,sorta like the VCR lol there's still some people who use them.
 
Yehoshua
  • #28
I keep going back and forth in my mind. Just as I did before I tore it out and got a canister and an internal. What I like about it is that the water is homogeneous in every respect including temperature and flow. And another thing : it'll never demand any replacement part and if it did--it would be some generic power source. And of course it'll never leak. I'd like to do them again as a second filter also under the assumption that there is complete agreement that the ugf does what it's supposed to do: serve as a biological filter. On the other hand--I've two boxes of siporax in the external. Maybe in this case an UGF is an over kill and not worth the troubles.
 
jaysurf7
  • Thread Starter
  • #29
It will do what it supposed to do its a fantastic source of biological filtration,it can be used with a hob or canister filter,or not,and it pretty much last forever and won't break,every now and then you can get new uplift tubes if they get old though.
 

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