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Old 02-01-2007, 02:32 AM   #1
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Advice on which substrate to use on RUGF

I've been told by the guy at the LFS that I won't require a Co2 System in my aquarium even though i want to keep live plants. He suggested using reverse undergravel filtration. As this is my first time with live plants I'd like to start out with the basics I know that using the RUGF means that the plants won't grow as quickly as with a co2 system, my main concern at the moment is to keep the plants alive. Any way, my question is can any one suggest types of substrate I can use that won't cloud the water but provides nutrients for the plants? Also I have goldfish so I would prefer pea size substrate.

P.S. I've been told that golds eat up plants but would still like to try to keep plants
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Old 02-01-2007, 08:41 AM   #2
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I'm not sure what the type of filter used has to do with supplying co2 in the tank? If your plants need co2 then you will have to find a source of it to give them. Excel seems to work in lower light, smaller tanks. DIY or pressurized seems to be what is required in larger or higher light tanks.

This really sounds like more bad lfs advice to me. Unless somebody that is better informed can explain how this works, I would disregard the whole concept of RUGF filtering.
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Old 02-01-2007, 10:28 AM   #3
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While some people find that plants work just fine with undergravel filters, most agree that they're not a good idea. If you plants are growing well, then eventually their roots will grow through the filter plates. This means that when it comes time to clean under the filterplates not only are you going to be tearing up all your plants and having to redo your aquascaping, but you're also going to be damaging your plants and setting back their growth while they repair the damage to their roots. You'll also damage the roots any time that you decide to move a plant which has roots that have grown threw the filter plates.

Whether or not you need CO2 is not dependant on the type of filter that you use. It is dependant on how much light you have over the tank. While CO2 is beneficial for all planted tanks, it becomes necessary somewhere between medium and medium high light. If you stick to less than medium light then you should be able to get away without having CO2.

There are many different substrates that you can use in a planted tank. There is a substrate thread linked in the Read This First sticky. Give it a read as it has a lot of information that will help you with your decision.

Since you're going to be keeping goldfish with the plants I would recommend researching which plants are more resistant to their attension as well as which plants will do well in the lower temps that their tank is likely to be kept at. Anubias should be fairly safe, and I imaging there are a few others that would work as well. Since goldfish are such messy fish, it's one more reason to go with a HOB or Canister filter instead of the RUGF. These filters will make it a lot easier to handle the fish's waste without constant cleaning.
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Old 02-01-2007, 10:45 AM   #4
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shelleygirl - what size is your tank and what kind/how much lighting do you have over it?
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Old 02-01-2007, 03:54 PM   #5
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In general (very general) UGF/RUGF promotes very healthy roots. That is, the plants will have an awsome root system at the expense of good leaf growth. Roots will quickly clog the UGF/RUGF. Also, UGF/RUGF makes replanting a chore/mess for rooted plants due to the roots growing through the filter plates.

One will typically go RUGF in an attempt to hold off the time when a UGF (might theoretically) go toxic due to excess waste buildup. With a planted tank, the plants consume the waste/nutrients that get trapped in the UGF and make the tank more viable in the long term.

So, a RUGF is good (maybe/arguably) in a non-planted environment to keep the tank running longer. A normal UGF will pull nutrients into the substrate which plants then use in a planted tank. Your plants will have healthy roots, and average to lackluster leaves (relative to the massive roots). These techniques are not very popular anymore, that does not mean they do not work. A lot depends on the tanks goal. I use UGF's nowadays on some of my fry tanks. Combined with plants, the tank water stays very clean and I have less maintenace going on, so as to not disturbe the fry. Outside of a fry tank, if the goal is a nice planted tank, a good powerfilter is the more modern choice.

CO2/non-CO2 is a question relative to lighting for the most part. Filtration type does not factor in any major way for this decision.
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Old 02-01-2007, 05:19 PM   #6
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With the roots of the plants growing through the plates problem, my idea is to cover it with gardening mesh/fabric to stop the roots from doing so. I have a 2.5ft tank with approx 130gal (probably be less once i install my rock background) with very low/low light, I already have a ehiem canister filter and was just planning to connect the tube with the filtered water into the undergravel filter. I've read the article on substrate and have to rule out several substrate suggestions as they aren't very suitable with the RUGF method. Do you guys think that root tabs are ok to use with the RUGF? or will they be pointless as the water pushing through the plate will just desolve them too quickly?
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Old 02-01-2007, 05:26 PM   #7
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Since you've already got an eheim filter, I'd suggest using it by itself instead of combined with the RUGF. A canister filter is probably one of the best filtration methods you can use on a planted tank.
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Old 02-01-2007, 05:44 PM   #8
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Nothing stops plant roots. That is why I have to get someone to come out once a year or so just so I can flush a toilet. They just go through pipes and all.
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Old 02-01-2007, 07:07 PM   #9
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The fabric is going to act like a prefilter and clog. Or it is going to create lift/ back pressure lifting the substrate.

I can't say I agree with the LFS advice on this.

If you want the returns under the gravel then plumb it like a sprinkler system and put multiple outputs at the gravel surface.
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Old 02-01-2007, 07:16 PM   #10
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Not my forte, but I believe that Goldfish really like to eat plants. With ultra low light, and goldfish (which prefer coldwater) you will be limited to Java Fern and Anubias. Neither of these plants root to the subrates. They are instead tied to rocks and driftwood. So root tabs are probably not needed.

In looking back over your posts, it looks like you have a large tank, for goldfish, and you are going to make some sort of rock wall along the back. The rock wall is the perfect place to anchor the Java Fern and Anubias.

Not sure on any level why you would use a RUGF in the situation described. Eheims are really good filters. If you are determined to have a RUGF, it probably wont make one bit of difference to the overall success of the tank or the plants.
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Old 02-04-2007, 12:20 AM   #11
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I keep goldfish and can attest to higher water temps. Mine stay in 74* -78* water and LOVE it. They stay more active and digest better when the water is over 68*.
Having said that, I can tell you I have tried several times to plant their tank and it didn't work.
I have talked to other goldfish keepers that had planted tanks and got mixed reviews. It is possible but you have to keep them well fed. This means alot more PWC's though...alot more. A couple of the tanks affected the Goldfish negatively. They began to stress and bottom sit. This was attempted for a couple of weeks and they wre then pulled out of the tank. I would think it had something to do with water perimeters but really couldn't tell you one way or another.
So, it is going to be a hit-or-miss for you if you want to do it. It is doable but the tradeoff is more tank maintenance.
If you really want a planted tank, get a small 10 gallon and keep some cory's in there with them.This way you get to have the fun of the plants and the tank is small and easy to keep.

Here is a link to the my other favorite fish forum. These are mostly goldfish people so perhaps you can find what you are looking for there as well.

http://thegab.org/
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