Under gravel filter in a planted tank
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Under gravel filter in a planted tank

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Under gravel filter in a planted tank
Old 11-26-2009, 01:47 PM   #1
 
Under gravel filter in a planted tank

I'm returning for my fifth time in the hobby and in all my last incarnations, I would use an under gravel filter with a canister filter. I've owned a number of aquariums over my life, starting with a 5 gallon and ended with a 150 gallon. This time I'm thinking of a Tetra tank (our water here is naturally acidic so I thought I might as well take advantage of the situation), the tank will be smaller, probably a 33 gallon or 50 gallon tank set up in my bedroom.

My question is this, under gravel filters seems to be ebbing in use and I just read they are not recommended in a heavily planted aquarium such as I am contemplating. Is this information factual, and why?
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Old 11-26-2009, 02:13 PM   #2
 
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Pretty much.

a) High CEC substrates such as eco-complete will get sucked right through them.
b) The under-gravel plate makes it difficult for plants to develop decent root systems.
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Old 11-26-2009, 02:25 PM   #3
 
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So far, this seems to be a Vancouverite thread. Wonder how long this will last?

Agree, forget the UG filter in a planted tank. It can be done, but as Karen Randall once wrote, there are limitations so from scratch avoid it. In addition to what kelly528 mentioned, substrates become too aerobic with an UG filter because it is constantly pulling the oxygen-rich water through it. Micro-nutrients like iron stay locked up in oxide precipitates and plants cannot use them. There is a complex aerobic and anaerobic process ongoing in the substrate and this should not be meddled with.

A canister will work, but on a planted tank less than 50g I always prefer a simple sponge filter. The plants do the filtration of cleaning the water better than any filter, so all the "filter" needs to do is gently move the water and remove suspended particulate matter. This assumes you have forest fish like tetras as you've mentioned; some fish prefer/need a slight current, but most of the forest fish do not; they come from quiet streams, flooded forest, pools, etc., and minimal current works best. Also for the plants, as I recently explained in a couple other threads; post #9 in this one if you're interested in the explanation: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/a...ed-tank-32359/.

Byron.

Last edited by Byron; 11-26-2009 at 02:28 PM..
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Old 11-26-2009, 07:01 PM   #4
 
With all the rain....

Maybe with all the rain we have been getting, I'm wanting to become "one" with the fish. Today I made the decision to stick with the fifty gallon, I like the measurements of 36 x 18 x 18; the depth allows a visually deeper experience to a panted tank. I was at King Ed Pet Center and I found them helpful in advising the equipment necessary to have a decent green (non-algae) tank, seems if I take out a second mortgage, I will be able to go with their advise...lol.

The only real surprise was the price of the lighting which was about a hundred more than I anticipated. The one filter I was shown, I think the U4 was noisy, didn't like that; this is going to be in my bedroom so quiet is in order, why I don't mind losing the UGF, they can gurgle away in the aquarium.

I live in Deep Cove and I and another buddy who lives across the street each had similiar problems with hair algae so I'm hoping to avoid that this time.
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Old 11-26-2009, 07:20 PM   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rsn48 View Post
Maybe with all the rain we have been getting, I'm wanting to become "one" with the fish. Today I made the decision to stick with the fifty gallon, I like the measurements of 36 x 18 x 18; the depth allows a visually deeper experience to a panted tank. I was at King Ed Pet Center and I found them helpful in advising the equipment necessary to have a decent green (non-algae) tank, seems if I take out a second mortgage, I will be able to go with their advise...lol.

The only real surprise was the price of the lighting which was about a hundred more than I anticipated. The one filter I was shown, I think the U4 was noisy, didn't like that; this is going to be in my bedroom so quiet is in order, why I don't mind losing the UGF, they can gurgle away in the aquarium.

I live in Deep Cove and I and another buddy who lives across the street each had similiar problems with hair algae so I'm hoping to avoid that this time.
Stores will try to sell you whatever, whether or not you need it or it is the best thing for your setup. For the record, I rarely go to King Ed's anymore, things have changed there a lot.

The 50g is a nice tank. Suggest simple sponge filter. Assuming you need lighting, then I would go with a dual-tube regular fluorescent fixture. The length of the 50g is the same as my 33g, so the tubes will be 30-inch at 25w and two of these will work very well. One full spectrum, one cool white. I can fill in details if requested. This is along the lines of what I have on my larger tanks, the photos of my 115g, 90g and 70g under my "Aquariums" will illustrate.

B.
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Old 11-26-2009, 09:16 PM   #6
 
Your tanks look great

You obviously have been tropical fish hobbyist for some time now. Do you belong the Vancouver Aquatic Hobbyist Club?

I probably will take you up on your offer for advise. I'm doing more planning on this tank than I have in my past endeavors, so I will be going slowly at it, perhaps purchasing in two or three phases. What store locally (lower mainland) do you recommend.
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Old 11-27-2009, 11:21 AM   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rsn48 View Post
You obviously have been tropical fish hobbyist for some time now. Do you belong the Vancouver Aquatic Hobbyist Club?

I probably will take you up on your offer for advise. I'm doing more planning on this tank than I have in my past endeavors, so I will be going slowly at it, perhaps purchasing in two or three phases. What store locally (lower mainland) do you recommend.
When I was living in Van (West End) I belonged to the Hobbyist group, a very good club; Lee Newman was in it then, he gave me tremendous help with a problem I was having at the time. Now I'm in Pitt Meadows and the distance is something of a problem. I should join up though, even if I can't get to all meetings.

For fish, you have a good store in N Van, Pet Boutique. I don't get over there much, again the distance, but I have had nice chats with the owner and picked up some nice fish the couple times I've been in during the past year. There is also April's Aquarium [Pets Beautiful] on Dunbar, very good quality fish and very reasonable prices. The new Island Pets Unlimited (former Big Al's outlets) are looking very promising. I know the owner, and bought all my large tanks and equipment from him in the 1990's. I also like Petland because they are the nearest larger store to me now, Tuesday's all fish are half price to members (no cost for membership). And there's Aquariums West on Burrard, a bit higher prices but a well run store (I also know Jeanne the owner), and Graham's store Noah's Pet Ark on West Broadway has good quality fish reasonably priced. Roger's out in Surrey is good, I almost never get there due to the distance.

B.
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Old 11-27-2009, 02:09 PM   #8
 
I have done King Ed Pet Center a disservice if I imply they drove the price up, or suggested they steered me in a more expensive direction. The reverse was true, I asked about the 50 gallon tank and was told there was a special on for their 55 gallon tank, fully equipped. Without seeing it, I knew it would have many "budget" items included, so I asked if the hood was the same single fluorescent tube found in so many large aquariums which I knew would lead to problems, he said yes. I then said I was interested in a heavily planted tank and lighting would be an issue, I wanted a light that wouldn't give me problems by being insufficient.

In all my aquarium expenditures, I'm sure both you and I have had the same experience. I purchase the "special" only to find out it did the job but was noisy, it did the job but died one year latter, or it didn't really do the job. I would then have to buy the "quality" item to replace the cheapo I had purchased.

In my past, I never really looked at the water available locally to see what PH it had and use the natural PH as an asset rather than a liability. So this time, I want to go slower, know more the issues I'm dealing with, and purchase quality items that don't have to be replaced because I saved $70.

I do like Pet Boutique and they have a 46 gallon tank, bowed front combo that is appealing. The canopy has three lights, it comes with a trickle filter in stages, heater, etc. I don't know if you remember Winston, he was the original owner. I bought my Red Parrots from him when they were first available in Vancouver (this was when the store was on Lonsdale), I remember him telling me he didn't like these fish. Years latter I had to return them as my house was being torn down and fully remodeled inside. Winston took the fish back and finally kept them in the large demo tank you still see running today at the store. Eventually they became his favourite fish. Our kitten is from Pet Boutique.

When I Google the "Hobbyist/Vancouver" nothing comes up, I'm wondering if this group is still around.

I'm also a model railroader - N scale - so there goes my "tank room."
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Old 11-27-2009, 10:06 PM   #9
 
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Ok I need to break this Vancouver thread here
So did you already buy a 50g or still shopping around?
As Byron suggested already, a sponge filter is an option, however since you said you want it in your bedrm, be aware it will "bubble" and you need to know for yourself if you can handle the sound or not. Personally I'd rather buy a internal filter, my personal pref there are the Cascade models, well built, do a good job and most of all SILENT (I have these in the tanks that are in the livingrm/ dining area, zero sounds wonderful).
So let's talk business now : What plants are you planning on having, what type of set up are you dreaming of????
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Old 11-28-2009, 06:28 AM   #10
 
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I kind of like UGF myself. I'm using one in my 55g planted tank. I don't think the bubble set up is enough for a UGF so I attached it to an external filter (aqua clear 70) to pull more water through the UGF. As far as plant roots, my old 20l with UGF had happy little roots growing down into the UGF space and loving it.

Because of the noise I switched from the aqua clear 70 to a power head. My set up is mimicking a flowing stream so the strong flow is desired. Good luck with your new tank. UGF is not all bad if you know how to use them!
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