Just made a major upgrade from 20g to 135g, help pls! - Page 4 - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #31 of 64 Old 05-23-2008, 11:56 PM Thread Starter
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I think i have been screwed by the lfs. Went in to the store to get a Fluval 405 but the owner convinced and sold me a Lee's premium undergravel filter model #13178 for $90 and 3 AquaClear 70 powerhead for a total of $180 as well as 3 AquaClear PH adapter for a total of $30.
Does this sounds right? Please help.
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post #32 of 64 Old 05-24-2008, 12:53 AM Thread Starter
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Do i have to spend more time vacuming the gravel if i use undergravel filter. In short, will it take more to mantain than using a canister filter?
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post #33 of 64 Old 05-24-2008, 01:46 AM
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Are you running the UGF as reverse flow? I'd highly recommend that, and it means you'll need to do far fewer gravel vacs.
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post #34 of 64 Old 05-24-2008, 02:11 AM
Take it back, you've been screwed.

Please allow me to give you a shopping list.

(1)Perfecto undergravel filter plate
(2)Emperor 400 Powerfilters
(2)Magnum 350/360 canister filters
(4)Marineland 660r power heads*(reverse flow adaptors come with these.)
(2)Fluval 3+ internal power filters
(1)tube of silicone adhesive

* Marineland 1140 powerheads may also be used if you wish to create maximum filter efficiency and water flow in the tank. However, the reverse flow kit must be purchased separately. I use both in different setups, of course. The larger the tank, the larger the powerhead. In the 8' tanks, for example(the 300g, ect) I actually use (6)Marineland 1140's.

You will need to stop by a fabric store to get enough polypropylene 1/16"-1/8" mesh to cover the filter plate. I will explain its use later during the explanation of the set up. An added note here. I only use the the mesh when setting up cichlid tanks where the fish will excavate the gravel. Planted tanks, where non-digging fish will be housed, do not use this option. I use the mesh to protect the filter plate from being exposed and creating a "soft spot" in the gravel bed for water to find an easier way to flow.

This system is one that I have been using and preaching about for 25+years. I am met with much resistance because of the negative aura given to ugf's by many manufacturers, hobbyists and lfs's. But, set up in a reverse flow operation, the old dog has learned a new trick and is one of the best filtration systems around. Now let me explain the how the system is set up,how it works, and its benefits.

I use Perfecto filter plates exclusively. Their design lends them to the system more readily. Looking at the transverse profile they look like this, \/\/\/\/\/\/. The filtration area is doubled. DO NOT SUBSTITUTE!!

Now for the polypropylene mesh. Fill the troughs/valleys of the filter plate Be careful to keep the level of substrate below the "peaks. Apply a thin bead of adhesive on the "peaks of the plate. Carefully apply the mesh. Allow to dry. Usually 24 hours. Add the remainder of substrate to the tank. just a note, make sure that the holes of the "tubes" are clear of any gravel and debris. We do not want to restrict the water flow.

Place the powerheads as high in the water column as possible. The first two "elements" of the "layered" filtration system are finished. One element being the sponge prefilters on the powerheads and the second, your gravel bed.

Next will be the placement of your Fluval internal power filters. I like placing them in the corners at the lowest possible level, as close to the substrate as I can get them. This is the third element in the "layering".

Next is the placement of the Emperors. I like them to be rather centered in the tank. The intakes should be placed at a level not taken by the other filters. The canisters are next and placement of the intakes should be to the outside of the power filters. The outlets can be "sprayed" across the top of the water or a spray bar may also be used. Again make sure that the intake is at a different level than the other filters.

The filtration system is done.

Let me now explain the benefits of the system. The use of reverse flow powerheads is not a new concept at all. Like I stated before, I have been using this very system for many years. Although downsized considerably, the system can be used in tanks as small as 20g/29g. The layering concept is nothing more than using multiple types of filters. Even my 10g tanks utilize this idea. I do not use the canisters or the internal power filters on smaller set ups. Two reason predicate this. One is the lack of room in the tank. The second being that I do not want to create a maelstrom of current in the smaller tanks.

The biggest benefit is the huge amount of filtering capacity. Such a system as I recommend for your tanks is filtering at the rate of nearly 3100gph, when using the Magnum 360's, the Marineland 1140 powerheads and the other products I listed.

The reverse flow of the powerheads, instead of having water pulled down through the gravel, is circulated form under the filter plate. The flow provides filtered, oxygenated water to the bio-bed. The flow is more even and consistent than the conventional method. The reverse flow also helps to deter substrate compaction, thus negating the possibility of "dead spots and developmeanaerobicroebic bacteria and deadly gas build up. The upward flow will also keep particulates suspended in the water column for removal by the other elements of the system.

Another great benefit is that you can place your heaters inline on the return lines of your canisters. UV sterilizers can also be placed in the return lines.

One of the biggest perks is labor saved in maintenance. Gravel sweeps are almost non-existent, filter maintenance can be done one layer system at a time in a normal routine. I must also add that the biological effect of being able to clean the system one "layer" at a time, is compromised much less in this system. The result a healthier tank and less work.

The cost of such a system? Much cheaper than one may think. The total, excluding UV sterilizers and inline heaters is just a shade over $500. But, unlike many schemes... it works.
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post #35 of 64 Old 05-24-2008, 11:56 AM
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Umm, Bob, will you come to my house and design a reverse flow UGF for me? Pleeeeease? :D

Live2bet- I would safely say, with no actual basis, that Herefishy is one of the top UGF professionals in the world. He's an absolute freak about filtration, so a setup recommended by him is going to be a damn fine system.
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post #36 of 64 Old 05-24-2008, 12:50 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks herefishy. Screwed huh? (btw, lfs is going to charge me 10% for the returns..... better of than over paid $80 huh?)
The filtration system you mentioned sounds very ideal and i like the idea about minimum maintenance and no gravel sweep :D but the cost factor of the whole upgrade from a 20g to a 135g is getting to bother me a little now. With that in mind, is there like a bare minimum basic fundamental filtration system that i can start off with without burning a big hole in my pocket? (if i spend too much on equipments i might not have any money left to buy any fish :) )
FYI, i'm going to have a African Cichlids aquarium with about 30 approx 4" cichlids (probably more in the near future), no live plants and i also have a used AquaClear 110 filter.
With the above setup, please help me find a filtration system that would work good for now.
About the Lee's UGF i bought, it comes with 3 plates and it requires 3 power heads. Why do you need 4 power heads in your system?
Thanks in advance for all comments and also for the patience.
(novice trying to upgrade )
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post #37 of 64 Old 05-24-2008, 12:52 PM Thread Starter
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thanks bob.
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post #38 of 64 Old 05-24-2008, 01:47 PM
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Filtration is one of those things that are incredibly important in an african tank. That being said, I would invest in the UGF before any other filter, as that is the one that will be very hard to add on later, unless you want to tear your entire tank apart. Later on it will be much easier to add a canister or power filter.
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post #39 of 64 Old 05-24-2008, 02:14 PM Thread Starter
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how many power head would i need for a perfecto ugf?
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post #40 of 64 Old 05-24-2008, 02:18 PM
I thought I might hear the billfold squeal a little bit....

If I were going to leave anything for future addition, I would forgo the internal powerfilters and maybe one of the canisters. But, in doing so, I would upgrade the powerheads to the Marineland 1140's. Use the Magnum 350, in lieu of the 360. Ten gallons of filtration +/- won't be missed and parts and accessories for the 350's are much easier to find. You'll save yourself about $200 in the initial setup cost. By nixing the internal powerfilters and keeping one of the canisters, you will still be able to use an inline heater and/or UV sterilizer should you wish to do so. You will have more flexibility. It will also "clean up" the overall look of the tank and its equipment.

The Perfecto plate(s) actually has (4) holes per plate. Thus, I use (2) powerheads per plate. Also the design of the Perfecto doubles the filteration area of similar plates.

The Aquaclear 110 is rated at 500gph, which is fine, more than the Emperor 400. The reason I use the Emperor is because of the way the filter works and the way it is configured. It has a "wool" media filter for trapping debris. But it has three other features that the Aquaclear does not. It has a media basket which allows you to add buffers or material to condition the water. The second feature is the "bio-wheel". This feature gives you additional biological filtration. It also has two filtering chambers and is less expensive than the Aquaclear. It is my opinion that the Emperor is the best power filter on the market. And when you also consider the cost, it's a best buy.

Placement of the elements will change. The Emperors have an extended intake tube. Make sure that it is as low to the substrate as possible. The sponge prefilters for the power heads will be as highin the water column as possible and the extreme left and right "heads" should have the prefilters to "point" to the corners. The canister intake will be located between the power filters with its intake somewhere between the other two elements vertically. You may try checking on aquabid or on ebay for used Emperors and Magnums. I am not above using "pre-owned" equipment. Like you, saving money on equipment just gives me more money to spend on fish.

I am not familiar wit the intake tube length or configuration of the Aquaclear. I cannot make any suggestion there, sorry.

I am going to PM you with my personal contact info. I have a webcam so that I can show you the orientation of the prefilters and some "eyeball" views of some of the components I am talking about. I guess I could take some pics, but I'm too lazy. lol Maybe, I'll shake of the laziness and take them anyway. Just let me know if you need them.

But, if I were you, I wouldn't compromise too much on the filtration. Especially if you wish to stock the tank heavily with Africans. We will discuss stocking schemes once we get you past this initial phase of set up. There are some African cichlids that are easy to care for and some that take special care, such as diet.

And, okiemavis, I'd have to come to town when the "Evil Empire" is in there. We'd definitely have to have a large supply of Sam Adams for "brain fuel". Having to think makes me very thirsty.
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