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Old 10-24-2004, 07:10 AM   #11
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Welcome to AA.

Heck of a way to introduce yourself to the forum, but hey no biggie. As stated above, poor water quality is the problem with ugf. I'm happy to hear that your 55 FO tank is staying healthy with ugf. I'm guessing you do lots of water changes, or your livestock has adapted to the high nitrate levels you have.

But facts are facts. UGF by itself is not as effective at dealing with ammonia and nitrite as canister, wet/dry,skimmer, dsb/lr filtration or combinations thereof. I am not saying they do not work. They are a time proven method of basic filtration. But in the same sense, a chevy s10 will move my boat, but my 3/4 ton diesel does it a lot better. And they produce nitrate rather than eliminate it, so no comparison there. If you have lots of sand and LR on top of your ugf, then you aren't really running a pure ugf, but basically sandbed/lr filtration with a nitrate factory under it.

While most fish will adapt to the point they can live with elevated nitrate, corals and inverts generally can't, this makes ellevated nitrate detrimental or devestating to any kind of reef environment. As a majority of people who become interested in saltwater aquariums eventually want to keep some forms of coral or invert life in their tank, it is usually wiser to start them down the path that will give better water quality, then forcing them to tear down and rebuild an established system.

UGF can be pretty cheap, but I'm guessing it isn't much less expensive than basic DSB. My dsb in my 112 cost me less than $50, and that's including the pump that runs about 1300gph. My ammonia and nitrite are always 0, and my nitrate stays below 20. I don't run a skimmer on this system, and my nitrate stays below 20 with no water change in 2 months. W/d and canister will of course be more expensive, but you'll see lots of peeps advising new folks away from them as well. I for one always push toward the least expensive route, never towards high dollar items like w/d.

In the end, it is your tank. If ugf is working for you then by all means continue using it. If you manage to make it work for your new reef, then congratulations and continue using it. And if it works great, then by all means advocate it along with your method of its use. This is a forum for people to post their experience and give advice to help others have the most succsesful tank they can. And that does mean experience and opinions from every front. But for the vast majority, the advice given here is being given as the result of the experience of a significantly large portion of the saltwater community. Not only of this forum but of the community in general. I personaly would never demand you follow my advice because it is based on my personal experience and research. Regardless of the methods any given person chooses to employ, I and many others will do anything we can to help someone have a good, healthy system.

There you have it, my best off the top of my head argument.

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Old 10-24-2004, 11:46 AM   #12
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Since I'm still fairly new to the intricacies of SW, I do lots of reading and forum searching. One thing I've seen a lot of talk about is the 'mysterious tank crash' problem, when people use UGF's. UGF's do work for filtration, but instead of weekly filter media cleaning, you have to pull the UGF plate every 6-12 months, which is nearly the same as a full tank tear-down. I'm of the opinion that the longer a tank runs (with regular water changes) the healthier the tank is.

The other thing I've learned is that the use of Live rock has boosted the SW keepers ability to keep more exotic fish than in the past, because the LR mimics their original enviroment, so the fish is less stressed and has a longer, happier life.
Because LR would block circulation on a UGF plate, the two don't play well together.
Weighing in the facts that I've seen in my studies, UGF is not the way to go any longer.
Check out The Conscientious Marine Aquarist by Robert Fenner. its a great SW resource (probably THE best book a beginner/intermediate could buy) - and it advocates LR, over UGF.

Former advisor and planted tank geek...life's moved on though.
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Old 10-24-2004, 11:47 AM   #13
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See whats nice about having LR/LS and a sump/skimmer is there is no real maintenance. The clean up crew dose it for you eating the waste no need to vacuum no need to take the tank down to clean the UGF. This way you have more time to enjoy the tank.
A lot of LFS that have been in the business for 20+ years still sell the UGF and a canister filter and CC which in it's day that was the way to go and thats ok.
We are just promoting the current way to go and IMO easier and more healthy for the tank and its occupants.
My friend still runs your set up and he is always battling NO3. I run both my tanks with LR, SB and sump ,skimmer and a fuge and my NO3 is 0 in my 125 reef and 5 in my 55 fowlr. More time for me to enjoy the fish and less water changes.
What it all comes down too in the end is what works for you and what your comfortable with and we all have the same common goal.... Keeping our fish friends happy.
9/02-125 REEF, 125 lbs LR,LS 4x160 VHO, Reef Devil /Sump, Fuge
7/03-55 FOWLR 60lb LR, 50 lb SD sand 2x40 NO strip light, Reef Devil/sump, Fuge

TANK PICS http://www.aquariumadvice.com/viewtopic.php?t=98202
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Old 10-24-2004, 03:40 PM   #14
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well, i didnt really mean to come off as a jerk or anything, but i see all these posts against them with no real reaasons for it so i was getting curious and frustrated with people all telling me different, as far as its not exactly nature, i was referring to the whole aquarium idea in general not liverock, so yeah, anyway, thanks for all the input, and ill now have to reconsider my path of destruction for this reef tank im setting up, thanks, any more info will be great, but i dunno what else there is to say
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Old 10-24-2004, 04:13 PM   #15
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I was reading this article the other day http://reefkeeping.com/issues/2002-1...ture/index.htm and it made me think about excessive water changes and there possible long term effects on aquaria. It made me wonder about the reasons why aquaria will just sometimes "crash" It was a pretty good read.
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Old 10-24-2004, 08:07 PM   #16
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Hi. I went through the same thing with advice against UGF. The one person at my LFS helping me to get started said that would be fine for my 55 GAL. So, I started with 20lbs LR and a few damsels. This is the point where I started getting advice to tear down and start over. Well, I didn't listen. I added 40 more pounds of LR from Liverocks.com and it is breathtaking! The colors are amazing, purples oranges, reds, blues! And the hitchhikers are wild, 3 brittlestars, a couple clams, a tiny, but beautiful orange-and white striped star, plus I'm finding more and more every day.
My tank cycled for a week after I added the new live rock ( Nh3 as high as 50ppm, no2- high, no3- over 80!) But frequent WC helped and everything is zero with the exception of NO3-, fluctuating between 20 & 40. I added a yellow tang, neon gobi, & some orange turbos. Everybody's doing fine.
I am am concerned with the longevity of this set up, but I love this hobby so much, that when I think the tank is about to crash, I 'm going to go to a much larger tank. If you are worried about keeping substrate clean, get a lot of hermits. I haven't had to vacuum yet.
Good luck with the UGF!
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Old 10-24-2004, 09:16 PM   #17
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I ran a ugf in a 38 gal for 6+ yrs. For FO is was fine. I vaccumed the cc when I did water changes but nitrates were high. Snail would not even last. For a reef with inverts and corals, a ugf will give you high nitrates eventually.
*180 gal Display, 100 gal basement sump, 33 gal refugium, 3x250 MH, 2x160 VHO actinics, zoos, some softies, LPS & lots of acros and other SPS.
*100 gal prop tank plumbed into main system w/ 2x96 PC lights and 1x150 MH,
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Old 10-24-2004, 10:35 PM   #18
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My preferred system to run is a bare bottom berlin, but I have had, over the years, in addition to the berlins, deep sand beds, a plenum, combinations of these, and, when I started, undergravel filters.
My undergravel filter was set up in a 30g tank, with a Hagen 802 power head and quick filter attachment directing the prefiltered water down under the plate and UP through the crushed coral substrate.
This was the way the tank ran as a freshwater tank and so I just replaced the gravel with the crushed coral and added live rock to the tank as well.
I never had any problems with it, including nitrates, so I believe the live rock took care of the nitrates for me.
This set up ran for me for over 4 years until I needed the space to put 75's in.
I honestly couldn't find any difference in the results of that tank compared to the plenum tank and the dsb's that I ran for many years, many in the same time span.
I have one 40g still left with deep sand bed (set up back when the forums first talked about deep sand beds), and a 20g with shallow sand bed, but all the rest are bare bottom berlin.
I find it strange that so many people get down on a system when in fact most of them never ran the systems they get down on.
Also, remarks like "facts are facts" but never backed up with the source of these facts.
I've been reefing for almost eleven years now and never seen any proof that UGF or the reverse flow UGF are any worse than DSB's or plenums, or Berlin, even though Berlin is my chosen method.
Do a search on Google, or on Reefs.org, or on Reef Central and you won't find any fact showing UGF to be inferior.
One of the biggest problems with any system is the hobbyists who experience tank crashes, and then after listening to the "gossip" on the forums, decide that the filtration method they were using was the cause of those crashes. They usually fail to see that other factors, usually something under their control, might have been the actual cause of many of these crashes.
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Old 10-25-2004, 09:47 AM   #19
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not to be argumentative, but you say "I never had any problems with it, including nitrates, so I believe the live rock took care of the nitrates for me." I've not heard of live rock being able to remove nitrates...I thought this was a function of the DSB as well as a reason to have a fuge full of macro algae. Can anyone clue me in here?
Former advisor and planted tank geek...life's moved on though.
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Old 10-25-2004, 10:58 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by malkore
I've not heard of live rock being able to remove nitrates...I thought this was a function of the DSB as well as a reason to have a fuge full of macro algae. Can anyone clue me in here?
LR works similarly as a DSB would. Within the rock resides faculative bacteria's in anoxic (low oxygen) regions that process nirtrate in a like fashion to the anaerobic regions in a DSB. The only difference being what the bacteria's expell as far as waste production of the process.

As far as a UGF is concerned, how well they work or do not in many cases is directly related to the hobbiest maintenance routine and waste producing bioload. Even the most supported filtration systems are at risk when a tank is not properly set up or maintained. That said I wouldn't want a UGF in any of my tank but any system can be made to work, especially with a light biolaod. The main downfall of a UGF if not attended to is the collection of detritus under the plate. Much like a plenum only certain animals (worms and pods) can get to it but are often not in sufficient enough number to process the waste effectively. If there is enough of an accumulation there reach's a "critical mass" if you will that only goes downhill from there. If the bioload is kept light and the hobbiest is mindful of their husbandry, any filtration system will work to a certain degree.

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