TANK OF DEATH......

Metalman

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My brother bless him decided to buy one of these talllllll octagon tanks and as he lives many hours away from me all I saw on fb was stories about the tank of death killing all of his expensive fish each time. After several holidays and his boys being blamed for killing the fish or some strange disease making his water foul up on a regular basis we finally chatted on skype and he showed me the famous tank of death that had cost him hundreds in fish and god knows how many different wonderful chemicals to allow fish to go into tank same day as filling with fresh water.
I asked what filtration are you using and he replied undergravel filter system, ok show me the tank bro. He turned his laptop round and he has maybe an inch of gravel on the plastic filter base......no plants apart from some weighted plastic things and some oxygenating plants that were all but dead.
Bro can I suggest you triple the gravel height and up the whisper pump you have on it as that is about as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike.........
Several weeks later not heard a thing and I rang him, once he told equators centre he used the size of the opening of tank they suggested maybe 6-8 tetras and he found it boring.......tank got given away as far as I know 😂😂
 

mbsqw1d

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Didn't know you could still even buy under gravel filters!? Can you grow live plants ok with those? Wouldn't they all need uprooting if you needed to clean the filter?
 

Slaphppy7

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Didn't know you could still even buy under gravel filters!? Can you grow live plants ok with those? Wouldn't they all need uprooting if you needed to clean the filter?
UGFs are outdated, and hard to maintain, much better options out there...
 

OnlyGenusCaps

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I had an UGF years ago with plants. They worked great! With some basic maintenance they functioned exceptionally well for years. Worked really well actually, as I think about the successes I had! As I am thinking about doing some fry tanks, I'm really considering using them again.

That said, it made rooting a few types of plants more challenging, but I don't think this was as much an issue of the UGF per se. I think it was because those plants seem to root better in sand, which doesn't work well with an UGF.
 
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Metalman

Metalman

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I had an UGF years ago with plants. They worked great! With some basic maintenance they functioned exceptionally well for years. Worked really well actually, as I think about the successes I had! As I am thinking about doing some fry tanks, I'm really considering using them again.

That said, it made rooting a few types of plants more challenging, but I don't think this was as much an issue of the UGF per se. I think it was because those plants seem to root better in sand, which doesn't work well with an UGF.
They were great in their time but had dead spots as I remember and had to clean gravel on a regular basis. I found plants very easy to grow.....tho back then there was not as many types of plant available as now
 

OnlyGenusCaps

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They were great in their time but had dead spots as I remember and had to clean gravel on a regular basis.
I get that they are not trendy anymore. But in defense of UGF, how do we assess biofiltration capacity? The surface area available is a big one. A fairly deep layer of gravel has quite a lot of surface area.

In terms of dead areas - maybe. But aren't people trying to have low flow areas in sumps right now to create anoxic zones for denitrifying bacteria that could reduce nitrates? If there is not perfect flow, it might naturally create those areas, without all the trouble.

In terms of cleaning the gravel, I do that with my now aquariums anyhow. I gravel vac them fairly regularly. Did then too. Seemed to keep everything under control, now and then.

I wouldn't use them with diggers that might create a large bypass of the gravel by opening up a large area clear of gravel to the plate. But, I'd argue the principles and processes that allowed them to work for years haven't changed any.
I found plants very easy to grow.....tho back then there was not as many types of plant available as now
That's a great point! I have no idea how the recently introduced plants would do, especially those that are largely high tech dependent.

All this said, I'd never push UGF on anyone. People should use what they like and find works for them. But, I think the main reason people don't use UGF currently is that they are uncool and viewed as outdated. But the chemistry and biology hasn't changed. We just do our biofiltration in different places now. What happens in a sponge filter happens in the gravel in an UGF. Both are air driven for water flow. You clean both occasionally; sponges by removing them, and UGF by gravel vac. The big difference is there is likely a lot more space for bacteria in the entirety of the gravel than in a sponge.

I guess I'm just not sure why they are so reviled.
 

Slaphppy7

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The biggest problem with them is that you have to wreck the substrate to get them out and clean them, they become nitrAte factories...
 

OnlyGenusCaps

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Interesting! I guess I never ran into that, though I kept them in place for years. At least 5 in one case. Maybe it's over a longer time than that? If so, I never found out. I had the tendency to rework tanks every few years anyhow.
 

Slaphppy7

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Interesting! I guess I never ran into that, though I kept them in place for years. At least 5 in one case. Maybe it's over a longer time than that? If so, I never found out. I had the tendency to rework tanks every few years anyhow.
My LFS (old mom-and-pop store) uses them in all of their tanks, and rarely cleans them...tested a recent sample of their water, 0 ammonia, 0 nitrItes, 180+ nitrAtes
 

OnlyGenusCaps

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That seems high. I mean, I believe you. No question. But is that the UGF or not doing enough water changes?

I had a lot of plants, and changed water regularly. That probably helped.
 

Slaphppy7

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That seems high. I mean, I believe you. No question. But is that the UGF or not doing enough water changes?

I had a lot of plants, and changed water regularly. That probably helped.
Plants help for sure, their tanks are sparsely (if at all) planted...the LFS does WC's weekly, but you're not going to get the trAte-harboring gunk out of filters w/out cleaning them
 

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