undergravel filtering in conjunction with my canister

  • 3xzsucof
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3xzsucof created the topic: undergravel filtering in conjunction with my canister

I do have an undergravel on my current 55gal tank, but I have 3/4" and bigger gravel in this tank so it was easy to get waste to be sucked out. Along with a canister filter

In the new 150gallon Im going to use fine gravel like 1/4" and potentially smaller. And I'm not sure if this works well with small gravel.

Would be using home made Pvc one like I have in the 55 gallon btw.

Any thoughts?
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UNC-CH replied the topic: undergravel filtering in conjunction with my canister

Different people will have different opinions on this. Here's mine.

Under-gravel bed filters are a bad idea. Thick gravel beds are terrible because they trap all kinds of crap in them that will never be syphoned out. Thick gravel beds turn into a sewer and become breeding ground for harmful pathogens. Adding a filter that actually pulls more debris into the gravel seems insane to me. The only good gravel is a very thin layer of gravel that can be vacuumed easily. I'm aware that some make claims regarding the importance of a gravel bed in having a beneficial bacteria colony. Some even go so far as to claim that gravel vacuuming can be deadly to fish. While bacteria do live in the substrate, they also live in sufficient numbers in the filter media. There is no need to have a cess pool at the bottom of your tank. Just use a filter or sump.
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jmunroe replied the topic: Re:undergravel filtering in conjunction with my canister

I agree. Not to mention the debris that gets under the filter plates that can't be removed. Also with digging cichlids, once the substrate is moved around and gets thin in one spot or the plate gets exposed, the water just flows through that path of least resistance and the under gravel filter doesn't work at all.

Go do a water change - the solution to pollution is dilution.
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Lammergeier replied the topic: Re:undergravel filtering in conjunction with my canister

Yep. The fish lab uses UG filters and honestly, they're sufficient - for guppies. I'd never use them with cichlids for the reasons UNC and jmunroe have said.
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Poseidon2.0 replied the topic: Re:undergravel filtering in conjunction with my canister

jmunroe wrote: I agree. Not to mention the debris that gets under the filter plates that can't be removed. Also with digging cichlids, once the substrate is moved around and gets thin in one spot or the plate gets exposed, the water just flows through that path of least resistance and the under gravel filter doesn't work at all.


I used these as a teenager and and have horrible memories of massive loads of bio waste whenever I would clean the tank. Definitely a bad idea. Seems like very, very outdated technology.
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  • Darth Nandopsis
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Darth Nandopsis replied the topic: undergravel filtering in conjunction with my canister

UG filters do work, & can be quite effective as a biological filter....if maintained properly. Let's remember, they have been around for a long time...if they didn't work, they would have faded away like a gimmick. If used properly, the entire gravel bed becomes biologically active.......I used them for years (before better technology came along) w/ excellent results.

In order to use them for cichlids(which I don't recommend), they have to be prepped to preclude digging, which will disturb the bed, rendering it ineffective. A layer of eggcrate on the bottom, then gravel or foam, then the UG plate, then some more egg-crate, then a layer of gravel. This way they can dig to their hearts content with no damage to the bed. But this means less water volume for the fish, as you need a substantial amount of gravel/foam on the bottom.

That being stated, they do have drawbacks. They are immobile, so if you have to treat the tank w/ meds, you will kill the filter in most cases. You also have to clean under the plates, which means semi-annually you have to snake a piece of tubing down the uplift tubes, start a siphon, & pull out any mulm/detritus that accumulates. You also have to siphon the gravel bed frequently, & only 1/2 @ a time....you clean it all & you remove too much BB.

Again, they do work....but they are outdated & require a good bit of maintenance to perform well in a cichlid aquarium.

THOSE WHO REFUSE KNOWLEDGE ARE DOOMED TO FAIL.

WATER CHANGES ARE THE LIFEBLOOD OF THIS HOBBY. IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE SO OR SIMPLY DON'T FEEL LIKE DOING THEM, RE-HOME YOUR FISH, SELL YOUR AQUARIUM & FIND ANOTHER HOBBY, AS YOU WILL FAIL UTTERLY, COMPLETELY, & MISERABLY.
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DMD123 replied the topic: undergravel filtering in conjunction with my canister

I used to have the UG filters on tanks back in the 80's... :blink:

The modern twist to these is to do a reverse UG filter that pushes water up through the gravel instead of pulling it down through.

I would personally never use one again.
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  • 3xzsucof
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3xzsucof replied the topic: undergravel filtering in conjunction with my canister

Hmm makes sense wasn't sure how it would work with the fine gravel I'm using.
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DBLN8 replied the topic: undergravel filtering in conjunction with my canister

Just yesterday while rooting around in my Aquarium tote's in the garage I came across an old UG filter I used eons ago. They worked but they were a pain to maintain, cleaning them thru the lift tube really gave you an idea of how much nasty stuff can accumulate in an active aquarium.
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Goranothos replied the topic: undergravel filtering in conjunction with my canister

Darth Nandopsis wrote: Again, they do work....but they are outdated & require a good bit of maintenance to perform well in a cichlid aquarium.


Darth hit the nail on the head here, IMO. Undergravel filters should be regarded in the same manner as Ye Olde Corner Boxe Filter:



An ancient relic of the past. Once upon a time, like dinosaurs, they ruled the world.

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” -Mike Tyson
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