Undergravel filters?

davros

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Back (way back) when I was active it seemed you could not do a tank without an undergravel filter. Has the thinking changed? From my poking around there seems to be less emphasis on them currently.
Davros
 
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davros

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Imagine filter cleaning day with a UGF 😳
Dunno, sucking all the crud off the bottom (various jigs) was just part of the water change? Sounds like maybe a tank will cycle faster with an/a UGF ? (UGF, HOB- lots of new acronyms for me :))
 

Rocky998

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Dunno, sucking all the crud off the bottom (various jigs) was just part of the water change? Sounds like maybe a tank will cycle faster with an/a UGF ? (UGF, HOB- lots of new acronyms for me :))
Well I'm just imagining taking the undergravel filter out and then KABOOM an explosion of debris that makes the tank look horrible 😅. Then having to bury it again 😳😕😔
 

Essjay

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I never used UG filters but from what I can gather if the water is drawn down through the gravel debris can accumulate underneath the plates. I think that's why the library books I read when I first started keeping fish (pre-internet) said the tank had to be torn down once a year to clean it.

A drawback with UG filters nowadays is that many of them have flimsy plates which are easily broken. Care needs to be taken in choosing the brand.


Cycling should go at the same speed regardless of the type of filter. It's rate determining step is the speed at which the bacteria multiply, and this can vary with water conditions.
 

Slaphppy7

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Another point to mention is that many of us now use sand instead of gravel, nowadays...UGFs aren't an option, anyway
 

enricosonic

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I used them in the early '80s, they were commonplace then but yeah, what a pain to get under there and clean. And too often a small curious fish could end up trapped.
 
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davros

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Well I'm just imagining taking the undergravel filter out and then KABOOM an explosion of debris that makes the tank look horrible 😅. Then having to bury it again 😳😕😔
Oh yes, that kind of cleaning IS a disaster, a complete teardown 'cuz the filter would cover the entire bottom and one can't leave gravel under the filter plates because supports would be crooked and the plates stressed.
 

AbbeysDad

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Undergravel filters are great, BUT require routine maintenance (e.g. gravel vacuuming) to keep from becoming a 'nitrate factory'. It's much more efficient to have an untouched sand substrate and a HOB or canister filter. Now I'm a fan of the Aquaclear HOB's but the fairly new Seachem Tidal filters look good too.
Now having written the above, Dr. Novak's plenum notion might be worth considering...but if I was to do it, I think I'd use the UGF beneath landscape fabric and sand and set it for a very low flow. I'd still use a HOB but the plenum potentially creates a more active bio-culture in the substrate....Then again, it's more theory since we can't really measure substrate activity. :)

EDIT: HOWEVER, if you're willing to do the work and maintain it properly, a UGF can be a very economical and excellent bio-filter.
 

GaryE

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UGFs are perfectly fine, and easy to keep clean. A little vacuuming every once in a while, where the plant roots aren't, and you're good.

I have none now but have considered making some - they work. They are just out of fashion.

Most air driven systems are uncool now, even if they work very well. You could also pop a powerhead on a UGF, though powerhead prices have gone up. No one can sell you insert cartridges or media that needs to be replaced for a UGF, and so, the industry moved on.

I run central air through a quality pump, and a pipe and valve system, and my old tech filters let me keep fish not everyone does. All this fun at a fraction of the cost...
 

Oblio

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No one can sell you insert cartridges or media that needs to be replaced for a UGF, and so, the industry moved on.
We did have those cute little carbon cartridges that fit on top of the lift tubes. We replaced them religiously to keep the fish alive :fish:
Or that was what we thought ....
 

GaryE

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We did have those cute little carbon cartridges that fit on top of the lift tubes. We replaced them religiously to keep the fish alive :fish:
Or that was what we thought ....
I bought 3 old tanks with homemade ugfs, so I didn't even have that! They were excellent for keeping difficult SA cichlids healthy. They did provide quite a bio-bed, to think of it. They seem to have been knocked out, at least around here, by Aqua-Clears . The early versions of that filter were workhorses. I had one that ran for 15 years. The novelty...
I remember undergravel plates being priced well above power filters, and they were gone pretty quickly after that.
I may make one with my new fishroom, and see how it works.
 

gilpi

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Not much required to maintain ugf’s other than an occasional light gravel vacuuming. I maintained many tanks especially salt water, huge amounts of beneficial bacteria can reside in the gravel. Yes, stuff got through the gravel to the bottom, this is where using the right gravel and a power head was a must to keep it clean.
 

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