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Old 06-07-2006, 01:03 AM   #1
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Switching out undergravel filter

I have a 120 gal tank with an undergravel filter and a couple of Aqua Clear bio filters that hang off the tank. My fish are mostly cichlid and some cats. I want to switch out the undergravel filter for a cansiter. What is the best method for doing this? Should I retain some of the water and hold my fish in a large bucket while I pull out the undergravel? I'd like to thoroughly vacuum the gravel once the filter is out and I don't want to harm my fish. Also, I've read on different sites that you don't want to change out more than 50% of the water. Is this accurate?

Some advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 06-07-2006, 01:57 AM   #2
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Welcome to AA! We have a twelve step program for removing UGF's...actually, no we don't.

Your best option would be to stick your siphon hose down the uptubes to get out as much junk as you can. Another option would be to hook up your canister filter to your ugf for a few days. Either way you will get out a lot of stuff. Leave the fish in the tank. Netting is a major stress.

Changing more than 50% of your water can disrupt your cycle or just change the chemistry. If you match the temp, pH, GH and KH you should be fine with a larger change. Just be sure to watch for an ammonia spike, meaning more PWC. Test for at least a week after the switch.

(See guys, I can answer a post about removing a ugf without citing the merits of ugf's and defending their use )
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Old 06-07-2006, 02:02 AM   #3
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I can't, UGF's are nitrate bombs waiting to explode, you are much better off with a canister filter, any models you have your eye on?
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Old 06-07-2006, 07:30 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Apocalypse_Gold
Welcome to AA! We have a twelve step program for removing UGF's.
Hi, My name's SkullJug and I have a UGF.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apocalypse_Gold
(See guys, I can answer a post about removing a ugf without citing the merits of ugf's and defending their use )
I'll try too!

I would do it this way.

1. Give your gravel a clean - Doesn't have to be perfect, but you want to make sure that if the gravel gets stirred up it doesn't cloud the tank up.

2. Drain off about half your water where you can keep it. Take a good handful of your gravel (Which should be relatively clean) and keep it aside in some aquarium water (You can use it to get your cannister cycled later on)

3. Get a hose in under the UGF and suck out as much crap as possible. Then give your gravel another vacuum (If you are running out of water just fill the tank up again very gently) and keep sucking. Keep going until the tank is empty as you can get it.

4. Push all the gravel to the back and pull out your UGF. Any water that is left may be pretty dirty - Suck it out.

5. Smooth out your gravel. Put your aquarium water back in and top it up. Dechlorinate and run a pump (don't hook your cannister up until it's dechlorinated)

6. Put the handful of gravel you kept aside in you cannister basket - Towards the bottom is best and prime the filter ASAP. Have it all setup and ready to go BEFORE you put the gravel in as contact with the air will kill the bacteria. This gravel in there will really help boost your cycle. Just remove it next time you clean the filter.

P.S. UGF's RULE!!!
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Old 06-07-2006, 02:02 PM   #5
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I have a 55 community tank set up with 2 AC 110's running the UG filter plates, one on each plate. They keep the area under the plates clean, so whatever isn't actually trapped in the gravel gets rinsed out of the sponges (2 in each filter) when I do partial water changes. I just rinse the sponges in the sink, since the gravel is loaded w/bacteria, no problems.
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Old 06-08-2006, 03:16 PM   #6
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Thanks for the responses

I appreciate the responses - well written and very informative. I will be attempting the switcharoo at the end of the month. I'll report back my findings when done and again a couple of weeks later to report on the affects.

I don't want to start a holy war about ugf's, but I'd have to agree that they are nitrate ticking time bombs. I have never been able to get a handle on the nitrate levels on my tank that is nearly a year old. Plus, my cichlids are diggers and occasionally expose the ugf.

Thank you again and please check back for an update on the progress if you are interested.
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Old 06-09-2006, 02:54 AM   #7
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I can't, UGF's are nitrate bombs waiting to explode, you are much better off with a canister filter, any models you have your eye on?
This makes me laugh. Perhaps you would like to explain how a UGF is a nitrate bomb? The amount of nitrate produced in a tank is directly related to the bioload, not the type of filtration. A cannister that isn't cleaned regularly is no better than a UGF.
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Old 06-09-2006, 05:17 AM   #8
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It isn't a pretty sight when they explode, pieces of fish plastered to the glass, the ceiling... 8O :P
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Old 06-09-2006, 08:08 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by BillD
Quote:
Originally Posted by tropicfishman
I can't, UGF's are nitrate bombs waiting to explode, you are much better off with a canister filter, any models you have your eye on?
This makes me laugh. Perhaps you would like to explain how a UGF is a nitrate bomb? The amount of nitrate produced in a tank is directly related to the bioload, not the type of filtration. A cannister that isn't cleaned regularly is no better than a UGF.
I'm with BillD on this one - UGFs are do NOT produce nitrate!!!! Bioload produces nitrate. A lot of people out there use UGFs as an important part of their filtration and swear by it. There are a lot of people who say things like like 'Nitrate bomb' but this is only because they don't understand how UGFs work.

A UGF is no different to a cannister - Dirt cannister = Nitrate. Dirty UGF = Nitrate.
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Old 06-09-2006, 08:43 AM   #10
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My 3 cents here............I ran a 90 gallon tank using just an UGF for 20+ years. Rarely did water changes, and never had a problem. One reason might have been that we had a light bio-load. Not very many fish, and a very hardy Anubias [which is still alive today]. Also we keep a relatively deep substrate..3-4" in some places. I Never disturbed the gravel so as to create cloudy water. That would tell me that I'm mixing nasty stuff into a healthy environment. Thinking back on it now.....I knew nothing about water changes, or cycling or much of anything else other than watching the fish enjoy their digs. Yes we lost fish occasionally, but we never had a 'bomb' disaster.

Today this tank has several more fish, many more plants and we have added a HOB filter 300 gph.....why? My LFS owner told us that all the fish on the planet would die and that ghosts from Gourami's past would notify the CIA, FBI, and NSA to launch a covert operation to special forces fiddler crabs bite my toes in bed for eternity.

I still run the UGF @ both ends of this 4'tank. My wife and I discuss our tank talks and tantilizing experiments here and on other 3W. fish fact finding forums. ....& she's always so ****ed practical..."Why do want to mess with something that works?"

Women!!!!!!!

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Old 07-06-2006, 04:42 PM   #11
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Okay, so perhaps my nitrate levels are not due to the ug filter but that is not the main reason I want to change it out is due to the fact that the cichlids constantly expose it. I was planning on removing the UG, leaving the 2 power filters (Aquaclear 50 and Aquaclear 70 with foam, carbon, amonia rocks and nitrate rocks) and adding a Rena XP 3.

So, not to defuse the nitrate bomb, I'd like to redirect this post to focus on the other reason - cichlids constantly exposing the UG. If you have suggestions for or against removing the UG for this reason, I'd love to hear them.

Thanks again for the constructive 'bombings'
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Old 07-06-2006, 06:07 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Apocalypse_Gold
Changing more than 50% of your water can disrupt your cycle or just change the chemistry.
where do you get this information from? i do regular 50-75% changes daily or every other day and my chemistry doesnt change. or are you referring to cycling tanks?
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Old 07-06-2006, 06:56 PM   #13
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I will second that Chotie, I have done 80% switching substrate and had no problems. The bacteria buildup is in your filter media mostly, and then driftwood, decorations, tank walls...IMO
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Old 07-06-2006, 07:10 PM   #14
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I think the caution to watch for ammonia spikes is associated with the risk of kicking up alot of mulm which could overload the good bacteria in the tank. It shouldn't be an issue in a tank that is regularly gravel vac'd. Since this tank had a UGF I would imagine that the risk is increased because of that.
It never hurts to test !
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