Well, I guess I don't know how to explain it then. Maybe I'm better at gravel vacuuming than I realize.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
Undergravel (U/G) filters are still available, it's just most shops prefer to sell power filters because they make more money from them and people think they are better than U/G filters.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?
To maintain an undergravel filter you simply gravel clean the substrate every week when you do a water change. Easier than a power filter.UGFs are outdated, and hard to maintain, much better options out there...
No you don't have to remove them to clean them. Gravel cleaning removes the gunk in the gravel and from underneath the plates. They do not become nitrate factories. The reason nitrates go up is because of fish, fish food and lack of water changes.The biggest problem with them is that you have to wreck the substrate to get them out and clean them, they become nitrAte factories...
Are you sure it wasn't a faulty test?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
You get a lot more than a gallon a day if you have a good undergravel filter with a decent airpump. It's obviously not as much as a power filter or using a powerhead on the uplift tube, but does the job.The biggest problem I see with under gravel filters is that most use air stones in a tube to move the water through the gravel. With such a setup you might get a little more than one gallon of water flow through the gravel per day. At such a low flow organics will build up in the gravel. There is simply not enough water flow for them to work well and eventually the the buildup of organics will stop the water flow and the filter will not work effectively.
That is caused by a poor gravel cleaning technique. If you have an undergravel filter in the tank, you start the gravel cleaner syphoning and then push the gravel cleaner into the gravel. Push it down until it touches the filter plate and leave it there until the water being sucked up is clear. Then lift the gravel cleaner and move it to another area. This sucks the gunk out of the gravel and from underneath the filter plates.I read a post some time ago of a person that decided to replace the air stone with a pump and was able to do it without tarring down the tank. It took days for the pump to pull up clean clear water from the filter.
The biggest problem I see with under gravel filters is that most use air stones in a tube to move the water through the gravel. With such a setup you might get a little more than one gallon of water flow through the gravel per day. At such a low flow organics will build up in the gravel.
The biggest problem with them is that you have to wreck the substrate to get them out and clean them, they become nitrAte factories...
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!
Something tells me that if you aren't familiar with his videos I should introduce you to the Fishman. The one I just linked talks about two types of gravel filters he's built, one that seems a bit like the rig you just described. In general, I like his videos, though I am glad he has changed the intro music (sorry the linked one has the old intro music). He isn't a talking head into the camera. Builds stuff that's interesting. Does experiments to test claims, particularly in filtration (though I'm more cautious than he is when making claims of allelopathy). All in all, I think he's a decent resource, and one of the better folks on YouTube. I'd be curious about your take though.Here is an idea I had, make a large overflow with multiple thru hull fitting with suction screens/caps. Fill the overflow box with gravel and grow emersed plants in it. Now you have a large biofilter and the roots system are well oxygenated.