your experiences with undergravel filters

armadillo
  • #1
Hello everyone. I am considering an undergravel filter, but I"d like to weight the pros/cons. Do you have any experiences you could share? Also, I don't really understand how it works.
 
sgould
  • #2
Here is an article basically advising against them:


I think UGFs are one of those subjects, kind of like the product "Cycle", where some people like them and others hate them. I had a tank with a UGF many years ago. However, at that time I had no idea what I was doing and so when I did water changes I drained the entire tank, removed the gravel, scrubed the UGF plate, etc. Consequently, I never had problems with the filter become clogged as they discuss in the article above. However, totally draining the tank and killing off all my bacteria on a regular basis was clearly not the smartest fishkeeping move in history either. :-\
 
Gargoyle
  • #3
I think an UGF can work well if you know what you are doing. Obviously it needs to be cleaned like any other filter and this is where most people base their judgment on the UGF. They do not clean it... It stops working.. So it is obviously the filters fault right ?? LOL!!!

So if you are going to clean it.. Usually once every 3 to 4 months of use you'll be good to go. If this is to much hassle for you to do then I would stick with a nice HOB filter which work very well and are easier to clean. ;D

Just my 2 cents..
 
griffin
  • #4
personally, I think that a ugf isn't worth the amount of work necessary to keep it going well relative to a hob filter.

also, if your ugf messes up, you're in for one heck of a time
 
armadillo
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Here is an article basically advising against them:


I think UGFs are one of those subjects, kind of like the product "Cycle", where some people like them and others hate them. I had a tank with a UGF many years ago. However, at that time I had no idea what I was doing and so when I did water changes I drained the entire tank, removed the gravel, scrubed the UGF plate, etc. Consequently, I never had problems with the filter become clogged as they discuss in the article above. However, totally draining the tank and killing off all my bacteria on a regular basis was clearly not the smartest fishkeeping move in history either. :-\

Thanks for that article, SGould. I've just read it. It seems a UG filter is definitely not a must, at least, from reading it. It also sounds like additional maintenance for perhaps not lot of added benefits. It also sounds like it has its risks to the cycle, making it overly dependent on the filter. Of course I have had no direct experience of this, so UG owners, please don't shoot me down. Food for thought.
 
armadillo
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
I think an UGF can work well if you know what you are doing. Obviously it needs to be cleaned like any other filter and this is where most people base their judgment on the UGF. They do not clean it... It stops working.. So it is obviously the filters fault right ?? LOL!!!

So if you are going to clean it.. Usually once every 3 to 4 months of use you'll be good to go. If this is to much hassle for you to do then I would stick with a nice HOB filter which work very well and are easier to clean. ;D

Just my 2 cents..

I see, so it is more of a hassle to clean UGFs too.
 
armadillo
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
OK, I think I'll pass on the UGF for now, then. Does't sound like an absolutely necessary piece of equipment. I really liked the idea of bottom water agitation, though.
 
atmmachine816
  • #8
UGF's are not cheap either, you can get a cheaper HOB filter than ugf now. My grandpa kept fish for a long time, over 40 years and he ditched his ugf. When I got my tank from him after he passed away he had his boxed up and used HOB filters. Though I don't have any personal expierence he knew what he was doing with fish and read a lot but never came online for these types of things. If he doesn't use them, it's good enough for me not to use them.
 
armadillo
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
He must be very proud from where he is that you've taken on his hobby.
 
atmmachine816
  • #10
yup
 
darkwolf29a
  • #11
UGF seem to be on a cycle. When I first started with fish, WAY too many years ago, my Mom bought one for her tank. Honestly, she ditched hers years ago, and I haven't had one in a tank since the late 80s, when I was keeping goldfish.
 
timg
  • #12
I have UGF's in most of my tanks, including the new 8' that is just setting up. I find them very effective and simple to maintain, it beats me why people are so against them. When it comes to price, in my experience a UGF costs £10 for a 4' tank, a HOB costs £50+ for the same tank. Even if you have to add the cost of an air pump, you still come in way cheaper!

It might be different in the USA, but over in the UK HOBs and internal filters are still very expensive in comparison.

As for cleaning, you might take a look cleaning tip to make life a bit easier.
 
Callum The Cat
  • #13
I was told I needed an under gravel for my 70 gallon but I no someone she doesn't use one what i'm saying is its not neccarsery and I just brings the stuff from the bottom up that's all ;D Callum!
 
atmmachine816
  • #14
Ya in us, ugf for 29 gallon tank is 35$, hob filter is only 32$
 
Jimold
  • #15
mine was a nightmare. It had a huge amount of bacteria and algae under it that would occasionally come to the surface. And even worse, there were like "pockets" of ammonia that would play **** with the cycle.
 
timg
  • #16
I have had problems with UGF's but not as many as I have with powerhead filters. The problem with PH's is the continuous cleaning of them, and my lifestyle doesn't always give me the time at the right moment to do maintenance on the tanks. If you don't clean the PH filters regularly they become clogged and inefficient very quickly, whereas with UGF a week here and there makes very little difference.

It is down to personal choice, but with the method I use to clean the UGF, it is actually a lot quicker and causes less disturbance to the tank to clean them properly once every six months, and as long as there is an alternative filter in the tank, cycling isn't a problem. (I always have an air box filter in the tank as well as the UGF. It very rarely needs cleaning, in fact, I have two 3' tanks with UGF and air box filters, and the air box hasn't required cleaning since the tanks were started, some 3 months ago. I consider this a good demonstration of the effectiveness of UGF)

I am not knocking the alternative powerhead or canister filters, neither am I stating that UGF is the best. Like everything in a closed environment, if it isn't maintained properly, it will cause problems eventually. The advantage I find with UGF is the infrequency of maintenance required and the stability that it offers.

With reference to gases building up in the gravel, (this really should say substrate, since they build up in any substrate), this can and does happen with or without UGF. It is essential to vacuum the gravel regularly regardless of the type of filter you use, in order to disturb the gravel and release any gases from the substrate before it causes any problems. This is an unfortunate side-effect of planted tanks, in so much as you can't vacuum effectively, so in tanks where you have plants, you will end up with gas pockets as the gravel or substrate packs down. A simple way around this is to use a knitting needle or similar to loosen the substrate around the plants without uprooting them and release any gases in the process. (I know that I had serious problems with one planted tank, years ago, when I used sand as a substrate. Within a few weeks, it had gone black and enormous gas pockets had formed. Every so often, one would break through the top of the sand and shoot up through the water.)

Just a few suggestions there which may help.
 
armadillo
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
Good one about the knitting needle. Clever.

I've asked the mods to sticky your post on UGF maintenance. Very informative.
 
timg
  • #18
in my day, it was called common sense, though these days, this seems to have been replaced with "spend as much as you can on what the salesman says will do the job, but don't blame him if it doesn't"

I am surprised about the cost of UGF in the states. Can't understand what can possibly warrant prices like that! (probably because they don't want to sell them, as they make more money on HOB's etc!)
 
new2fish
  • #19
Interesting info...

I am thinking of losing my UGF, since I now have the over the back filter & my tank conditions seem to be good & stable now....I was going to leave them both in, but after reading & talking to people... I think it needs to go... a couple of reasons I feel this way, is that I don't think it is working properly & I only have it in one corner... I don't want to "poison" my tank by bad stuff trapped under the filter.

Anyone every removed the UGF after a tank has been set up?
I would love suggestions on how to go about it, so I don't disturb something I am not supposed to.

Like should I carefully remove the grids? or should I gravel vac, then remove the grids? or what?

Info is GREATLY Appriciated, as I want to do this before I encounter any ammonia build up or other bad issues.
 

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