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Old 10-03-2012, 11:31 PM   #1
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Under gravel filters?

I was talking to my aunt the other day, she had fish for years and years and was very very into the hobby and very knowledgeable, and I was telling her about the 55g I'm working on getting up and going and she said that the day she got an under gravel filter was the best thing she ever did in all her years of the hobby, she said that is one thing I should get hands down that will make everything so much easier. Do any of you have opinions/experience with under gravel filters?

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Old 10-04-2012, 06:17 AM   #2
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They work great and give awesome biological filtration but you have to clean them out every six months are so and it is a very disgusting experience , also you can't have plants with a under gravel
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Old 10-04-2012, 07:11 AM   #3
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Undergravel filters are kind of obsolete. They make HOBs so much better than they were that they've exceeded the quality of undergravel filters. Most people who were in the hobby for a long time would probably swear by under gravel filters because they used to be the best thing they had before HOBs became so popular.
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:15 PM   #4
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I agree they are outdated and they are a nightmare to use. I tried running a ugf setup for @8mths in addition to a 400gph hob. Its impossible to clean under the plates without ripping your tank apart. As muck & debris & waste builds up under the plates, your water quality starts to suffer. Despite daily grav vacs & frequent water changes, the work involved became ridiculous. Completely ripped apart the tank & removed them. The black mold & fungus & vileness that was under the plates was unreal!!! The water in the tank literally was black. Save yourself the hassle and skip them!!!!
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:27 PM   #5
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UGF are all about maintainence. Dispite rumors that they are obsolete and outdated they are still commonly available at most retailers and are generally the most common type of filter sold as part of a set-up in Mom and Pop stores. If you maintain proper maintanence and run them correctly they maintain water quality just as well as a HOB or canister filters. I have used them for over 20 years on cichlid tanks, never have issues with water quality, and don't use any HOBs or canister filters in combination with them. IMO, they are far cheaper and far easier to maintain than either of the other types of filters. They do have their limitations however, and the most common fail is lack of maintanence. You can keep some plants with them, but the roots do grow through the plates and on a heavily planted tank impede water movement. They do not work with sand, only gravel, and they don't work well when water movement is driven by airflow. To be fully effective, you need to combine the UGF with mechanical water movement (powerheads). If your not will to do regular gravel vaccing, they are not the filter for you.
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:34 PM   #6
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+1 to renegade. I used them wrong and killed off a 140 full of cichlids. I recommend if you are going to use them to do it with very coarse gravel, so that the debri falls through it and the plates. Regular gravel vacuuming is very important to get the gunk out from under the plates. Good pumps on both ends also keep the water flowing through the filter.

The problem with mine was that I let the gunk build up underneath and when I disturbed it I created a huge ammonia spike and killed off the whole tank overnight. With proper maintenance I think they can work very well.
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:39 PM   #7
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I agree with all of the others. I had my first tank in 1990 and an underground filter was the best and most popular option at that time. I would never, ever start a tank with an underground filter again. They are impossible to keep clean and you will battle high nitrates constantly unless you tear down the tank and clean well under the filter. Enormous hassle!

Go with a good cannister filter or HOB.
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