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Long term substrate stability…

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Magnum Man

Fish Herder
Jun 21, 2023
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Southern MN
When I was into aquariums 20 years ago, everything had an under gravel filter ( in fresh water) salt water was transitioning to sump filters… today, after restarting several tanks over the last year, I started up a couple with under gravel filters, supplemented with current filters like the Tidal and Aquaclear series filters… and still using some of my old Marineland hang on tank canister filters

I’m questioning the long term stability of substrates with no water circulation through it… with sand, I get that for Cory’s and earth eaters, but if planting and putting the sand that deep, or layering types, seems you get pockets of unwanted bacterial growth… shallower sand pretty much gets turned over by the previously mentioned fish

I’m just pondering, as I’m getting ready to fire up another, and wanting to put sand in, as I want to move some Cory’s that are in tanks, that have become regional tanks, and the Cory’s no longer fit… which to me seems like I should just put a thin layer of sand on the glass bottom, and do artificial aquatic plants, using my houseplants growing out of the aquarium, and floaters on the surface, and then am forced to make / buy some sort of natural pots to plant into, if I want other more normal live plants

I do have some “ industrial filter mat “ material, that if cut the exact tank size, could hold up the sand, over the under gravel filter plate
You hear of people's older tanks crashing, and I certainly don’t want to lose fish I’ve had for a while, and I’m a busy guy, so I’m looking for at least minimizing the maintenance, and looking for stability… as the tank matures

Any thoughts or suggestions, before I dive into the next set up???
I liked UG filters, but I haven't run one for 25 years. I have had no problems with substrates, ever. Sometimes I mix playground and pool filter sand or small gravel, sometimes I have straight up sand. Plants that need root tabs get them, and all is well.
You just cannot use sand with under gravel filtration as it will just sift down through the filter plates. Even an "industrial filter mat" over the filter plates is only a short term solution to this issue as it will become clogged and require a complete breakdown of the tank to clean or replace the mats. However you can still probably use under gravel filtration and have such fish as corys. Just use the smallest sized gravel that will not fit through the filter plates and is not a course gravel. Small smooth gravel that has been processed to remove edges should be just fine for bottom dwellers.

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