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Old 04-20-2009, 11:09 PM   #1
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Switching filtration methods...finally! What about bio colony??

I am currently running a UGF w/power heads on a 55g planted freshwater community of livebearers & tetras (see my tanks) with 69 (yes) fish. 45 of them are fry, most are less than 2 months old. I have my brand spanking new Marineland C360 coming this week via eBay.

My plan is like this: bottom tray standard filter floss that is suggested for stage 1. The next 3 normally go carbon, bio-balls, then bio-tube, from the bottom up. I'm not using the carbon, so my idea to get the bio colony going is to mix the bio balls and tubes in the next 3 compartments along with a bunch of gravel currently in the aquarium.

The question is, how long will I have to leave it like that until I can take the gravel out of the filter trays and pull the UGF?

Once I pull the UGF, the bio-colony will still exist in the gravel, from what I understand, but mainly on the top inch and on all other surfaces. I just don't want to pull it too early and end up cycling the tank.

Also, and I think I know the answer to this, is putting the gravel in the trays a bad idea? The stack is topped off with fine floss, so it's not like anything can get to the impeller, so I figured no big deal.

Any comments are welcome
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Old 04-23-2009, 04:58 PM   #2
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Anybody willing to chime in on this one? I got the filter today and want to get moving with my plan ASAP!
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Old 04-23-2009, 09:48 PM   #3
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I don't think the gravel will do any harm in the canister basket ... as long as it is not too fine and packs down too much. Something like sand won't work well as the filter will have a hard time pumping water through it. But loosely packed gravel should act more or less like carbon in terms of filter performance.

Roughly, the time needed for colonizing a new filter is 4-6 weeks. I would leave both filters running for that time. You might be able to do it with less time. As you pointed out, you are not really removing all of the UGF bio-bugs, as the gravel will still be there.
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Old 04-23-2009, 10:02 PM   #4
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4-6 weeks seems like a long time. I always understood that the bio-colony will reproduce at a geometric rate, doubling every so often. If I mix gravel, ceramic rings, and bio-balls all together in the top 3 baskets, I would think it would be enough to sustain in about a week.

I am also concerned about the amount of water flow in the tank. With a UGF running on 2 power heads, and a 360GPH canister, I'm turning the tank over probably on the order of 10-12 times an hour. That's crazy flow.

Could I just fill the canister as planned and shut down the UGF? It's not going to kill off the bio colony since there will still be O2 flow to the upper layer of gravel, will it?
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Old 04-24-2009, 06:33 PM   #5
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10-12x an hour isn't that crazy ... that's what I have now!

The standard recommended time is for seeding a filter from scratch so you can completely remove the old filter. <And it prob. err on the side of caution.> Since you are leaving the gravel, I would think that you can do the switch much faster. To reduce the flow, I think you can switch off one of the PH in the UGF right from the start. <This is like switching out 1/2 the filter material & that generally is well tolerated.> As to when it might be safe to switch the UGF completely off, I wouldn't be able to say for sure. A lot depends on temp, etc. as to how fast the bio-filter can be established in the new filter. Personally, I would wait for at least 2-3 weeks, but it is prob. overly cautious.
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Old 04-24-2009, 07:19 PM   #6
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That's what I was thinking. I also had a suggestion from a local LFS that I could do that (shut off 1/2 the filter) and then I had the thought that I could plug the intake of the canister into the uplift tube of the remaining half and then do away with the other power head as well. Or I could do that and leave the other half still running.

The only problem I'm having now is hooking up the canister. My stand (standard all-glass particle board type stand) has only a 2" gap in the back, not big enough for the tubing, can't rasie/lower the disconnect lever because the tubes have to be turned in towards each other, so I have to saw out a notch for one of the tubes, which isn't a problem, I just didn't anticipate it.
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Old 04-30-2009, 12:07 AM   #7
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Well, I got it all configured and fired it up, and seems to be working great. I ended up using Seachem Purigen in the 2nd basket (once I figured out how to contain it), then just the bio-balls in the second along with a bunch of gravel, and the ceramic rings in the top basket again with a bunch of gravel.

I still haven't done anything to the UGF, just don't have the time. The temp jumped from 76 to 80. I've never used a heater, the power heads were enough to keep it stable, I'm guessing when I pull those it'll drop back down.

I only lost 1 fish in the switch over. I had the intake tube for the C360 a little close to the uplift tube for the UGF and one of my molly fry must've swam between the two and got suctioned on to the grating. I wiggled it and he broke free, but the damage was done, he wasn't swimming right and looked like he wasn't going to make it, so I put him down (ice water). Sad.

The only thing I will say about the Marineland C360 is that it is not perfectly silent - is does give out a slight hum, not sure if that will go away or if I should remove/reinsert the impeller assembly...
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:45 PM   #8
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So yesterday I decided it was a beautiful day outside so I stayed inside to mess with my filter system. Does that qualify me as a dedicated enthusiast?

I decided to pull 1 of the UGF plates. Let me tell you this: if you are thinking of doing this, you darn well better have a well thought out plan, because no matter what you do, you're going to have a nasty mess and a tank full of gunky water.

I started by taking out all the plants & decor, then I did a deep gravel vacuum across the whole bed. What I realized at this point was that the gravel vac flow was strong enough to suck the gunk under the plate up and out. This also meant the power head could blow it into the tank. Once I caught that, I shut it off. No idea why I didn't do that in the first place. That cleared up pretty fast though.

Next, I started scooping the gravel out one cup at a time. It wasn't nearly as messy as I thought it would be, the vac job turned out to be pretty good.

After that, I very slowly started to tip the UGF plate up by lifting the back edge. I hadn't removed the uplift tube yet. This was my second mistake. The third was letting go of the plate. That pushed all the remaining crud out---every frickin' where. By the time I got the plate out and vac'd up the remaining gunk that didn't get loose and as much of the big chunks that I could, you couldn't see from one end of the tank to the other. The water was crystal clear to start.

Thank the lord above that I bought my Magnum 330 w/diatom cartridge, like, 20 years ago. That sucker clears up the water in no time. After I got that up and running, by the time I had scraped the algae and put the gravel back in, it was back to crystal clear.

The plants are back in, decor too, and I only lost 2 fish, again a guppy fry got sucked into the C360 intake, this time tail first, and I got him free but he just wasn't right again, so I euthanized him as well.

So to wrap it up, if you're going to pull a UGF plate, get ready for one heck of a mess. Hopefully the next half won't be quite so bad now that I know what to do!!
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