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Old 02-25-2009, 05:34 PM   #1
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General Filtration Questions

Hi Everyone! I'm new here so hello to all!
I have a 29 gallon freshwater aquarium. Right now there is no one in it because we had an ice storm a few weeks back and lost our fish. I am running a Penguin Biowheel 150 and also a UGF with a power head and a wad of filter medium in its uptake tube.



Here's my problem. I am NEVER happy with my aquarium's appearance! The fish seem fine w/it but it just never looks clean. There is always hard algae on the glass & a lot of junk all down in that gravel. I have had the aquarium empty for 2 weeks and am still changing the filter medium every day, just trying to catch up on gunk before I think of adding some new guys (maybe angels?). Vacuuming just does not get enough of that gunk out of the gravel.



Do you have any suggestions for other types of filtration I might try? I do have to watch my money but was wondering if I should try something else. I usually have some sort of cichlids and I have read in several cichlid books statements like, "No one uses undergravel filters any more so we won't even talk about them." This has all made me wonder if I am a bit behind the times and should try something new! What is your advice? I really appreciate you!



Thank you



Cathy
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Old 02-26-2009, 06:42 AM   #2
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What are you using to vacuum?
I use a Python and it really cleans the gravel very well.
As for the algae, less light, add some small algae eaters, use an agaecide, UV sterilization, ect... all kinds of ways of dealing with that.
PS: dirty gravel and alot of algae are also signs of over feeding.
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Old 02-26-2009, 09:20 AM   #3
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I'd recommend a external canister filter. The Rena Xp line is quite good, i've used them in my smaller tanks, and i use Eheim Professional in my larger tank.

I used to have a undergravel filter in my very first tank - i thought it worked well, the water seemed clean enough, however when i had to move my tank and saw the amount of... um... 'waste' that was underneath the gravel I scrapped it! However, you did say you were watching money, and external filters even the small ones aren't cheap (Rena XP 1 is about £70 i think) so you could look at getting a internal filter, I had a Fluval internal filter for quite some time, which worked ok. If you keep on top of PWC, don't over feed (as mentioned) then I'm sure you'll find it much cleaner than a UGF

Hope that helps...
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:04 PM   #4
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thank you

thank you for your advice!
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:05 PM   #5
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What are you using to vacuum?
I use a Python and it really cleans the gravel very well.
As for the algae, less light, add some small algae eaters, use an agaecide, UV sterilization, ect... all kinds of ways of dealing with that.
PS: dirty gravel and alot of algae are also signs of over feeding.
thank you! btw i had a big old oscar who died in the storm....also i have never heard of a python? i just use a regular old siphon vac???
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:44 PM   #6
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A siphon vac is fine.

However, changing the filter media every day is not the way to go... your beneficial bacteria live in the media and by disposing of it you are effectively un-cycling your tank. You will probably need to re-cycle it when you add fish again.

What lighting (how many watts) are you running and for how long?
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Old 02-26-2009, 10:36 PM   #7
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However, changing the filter media every day is not the way to go... your beneficial bacteria live in the media and by disposing of it you are effectively un-cycling your tank.
Exactly. I had a tank by the window once. Big mistake. Cleaning your filter every day or even every week is a mistake too.

My fish are massive waste producers, and I feed them heavily as well. I vacuum and change water often (25% twice a week) but I rarely touch the filters unless I can see the water flow decreasing or the pad is actually lifting up because it is plugging. When I notice these conditions I simply squeeze it out a bunch of times in a bucket of de-chlorinated water so I don't wipe out all the good, Nitrifying bacteria.

The water in my tanks is crystal clear.
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Old 02-27-2009, 02:24 PM   #8
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reply/filters

hi, i may not have been clear before but i'm changing the wad of filter medium in my UGF uptake because it is SO clogged and brown because there is SO much junk down in that gravel for running a UGF for so long...it is slowing down my power head that much....and that was why i was asking about other types of filtration...because when i cleaned out most of the tank after the power failure, i was just amazed at how much waste and junk was down in that gravel! that just can't be good for the fish!
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Old 02-27-2009, 03:41 PM   #9
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Ditch the UGF. That's a bag of crap.

Get a decent canister filter like an Eheim 2215 and forget about it.
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Old 03-01-2009, 04:01 PM   #10
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I am a UGF user, simply because I didn't know they were 'so bad' until I went to get a replacement part earlier this year after I set mine back up. I don't think they're all that bad. They aren't generally a big problem unless you do not maintain them properly. I'm guessing that is your main problem. So if you want to ditch it, as many people suggest, and with decent reason, go ahead. However if you don't have the $ to do it, you have to learn what to do right.

Firstly, I would suggest NOT putting the filter medium down the tubes, that is only adding to the problem. In order for a UGF to work properly, you need adequate flow through the gravel, as that is essentially your filter media, and this filter media is slowing flow down significantly.

Second, you have to keep the gravel from compacting, so use a gravel vaccuum on a regular basis. That means that you need to get the gravel vac down to the filter plate on 25% of the gravel once a week. Be careful not to jam it down hard and break the plate. Do you have the flat kind (usually blue or brown) or the peak-and-valley kind (usually white)? If it's the flat one, it breaks easier. If it's the peak-and-valley kind, it's tougher. Also, is your gravel fine or medium in size? If it's fine, do away with the UGF, fine gravel clogs up too much, and it's not worth changing it out just to keep your UGF, you'll spend 1/2 as much on new gravel as a new filter. I'm guessing this is what you're talking about when you say that there's "all that junk down in the gravel". If you can see dirty gravel in the front of your tank, you have not been doing enough gravel vacuuming, and the gravel is clogged up. If you vacuum often enough, you will never have this problem.

Third, you need to occasionally get the 'gunk' out from under the plate - or so I've been told. I personally don't think this is quite as bad a problem as some say. If water is flowing through the gravel, it's working. I use a canister filter (a Magnum 330 with a diatom filter) and hook the outlet in one hole and inlet in the other and let it blow the gunk out and filter it out. I do this whenever I feel - I can see the underside of my tank. The other great method I heard for doing this is to hook up a wet/dry shop vac, but I haven't tried that one yet.

That's really all you have to do, no filter media to replace, no expensive equipment to buy - you just have to know how to maintain it right and then do it!
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