12-02-2006, 12:56 AM
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The can be maintained and used with very good success if you do what is needed to take care of them. Deep gravel vacs, clean out underneath with a tube once or twice a year, don't overfeed and the basics.
The biggest is the assumption that you never plan to have live plants that need to root deep in the substrate. When plants root on the gravel with an UGF, the roots get into the plates and become feathered because of a massive source for nutrients. It is almost impossible to remove a well rooted plant from an UGF without damaging it enough that it won't require recovery time.
Overall they are just a disaster waiting to happen and require a lot more upkeep than the standard HOB or Canister. They also require 2-4 outlets to run the powerheads, take away space for deep substrate for digging species of fish, will never allow you to use fine substrates like sand or Eco Complete, are about the same price of an HOB to run the same tank. If enough mulm builds up underneath it can and will create a dead spot and create sulfide gas which can kill your fish, can cause a major algae bloom and are a royal pain in neck to replace if one ever gets broken.
I just can not come up with a really good reason to use one except it was given to you and you can't afford to get a different filter. Nor have I been able to find anyone in the hobby that has a good reason to use them over HOB or canisters, except for maybe price in larger tanks but I have also priced this and have yet to find a less expensive filter than an HOB.
Yes they can work, yes they have been known to work very well, but I will never run one again.
BTW, UGF actually do nothing as far as filtering your tank. They take the mulm and waste and the gravel acts as your biological and mechanical filter with all the bacteria in the gravel and very little on the UGF plates. Any waste that gets under the plates is either thrown back into the tank or turns into a dead spot and will cause problems eventually.
HOB and canisters simply give you so many more options to mechanically, biologically and chemically filter a tank whatever way you need to and most importantly, whenever you need to.
Just one last thing, until you can replace the AquaView, I would run both until you can get a secondary filter to assist the AquaView or raplace it with an AC HOB or a better one. Just maintain the UGF as well as you can and vacuum the gravel, very, VERY well weekly.