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Old 06-15-2004, 01:33 AM   #1
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Plants and UGFs


On this site and others I have read about planted tanks and a UGF. Some say they have been very sucessful with it all, and others simply don't reccomend it at all.

At the moment i have a 20gal community tank with an under gravel filter. In the tank I currently have 4 blue danios, 2 male guppies, (will add 4 females soon) and 2 awesome otos. Plant wise I have 2 medium sized 'rooting' plants and one floating that is hanging around, along side about 6 seeds that I popped into the tank about 1 week ago and are ready to sprout. In addition, I would like to add a bit of java moss.

I love the look of a planted tank but personally I am not sure I want a fully planted tank. I am not that experienced yet among other reasons. But I would like to sustain a variety of plants however, I do have that UGF.

So far my plants have done well, all but 1 that I bought in the beginning. It was a large and long leaved beautiful thing, but the leaves turned brown and sickly looking and I eventually tossed it after trying to nurse it outside the tank. The other plants like I said, are doing just fine.

I am wondering now, how many plants can an UGF sustain? I mean, I have heard one person say they had a fully planted tank for quite a number of years that was perfectly fine. I can see the drawbacks of this UGF and plants, but I would jump to assume that there is a median here. Perhaps it depends on the rooting of the plant or simply the number/density of them?

If I can hold a few plants happily with the UGF, are there any suggestions, especially about cleaning? I do use a fertilizer and a 25watt fluorescent bulb that came with the tanks hood.

Thanks in advance.

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Old 06-15-2004, 02:21 AM   #2
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Well the UGF will not effect the plant very much. The problem of UGF is it will totally break down every 9-10 months. It happen to me twice despict i clean the gravel weekly.

The 1st time I manage to notice the sudden changes (eg. N properties fluctuation, sick fish, cloudy water etc) and immediately clean the whole tank. But in 2nd time i was outstation n when i return i lost 70% of my stock.

Since then i have change to a canister filter and i am very happy with the canister as i found out they are very reliable n much easier to maintain compare to UGF.


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Old 06-15-2004, 02:23 PM   #3
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There is a distinct difference between a planted tank and a tank with plants. A planted tank is heavily planted and the layout and equipment (CO2, filtration, lighting, substrate) are all chosen with the plants needs in mind. UGF's are not a good fit for a planted tank. I've outlined some of the reasons why I believe this to be so on this webpage.


That being said...it is absolutely positively possible to combined a few healthy thriving plants with a UGF in a fish tank. For years I did this too. However, once a person desires to have more emphasis on growing plants and want's to attempt a planted tank then the UGF must be abandonded.

IME, using a UGF with plants is only successful for long periods of time if you follow these guidelines.

1. Limit the amount of light and thereby avoid CO2 supplementation. Stick close to one watt per gallon as a rough rule of thumb.

2. Choose plants that are low light and that don't require substrate rooting. Anubias, Java Fern, Java Moss, and low light tolerant stem plants. Avoid swords, cryptocoryne, and other rooted plants.

3. vacuum the gravel thoroughly and often. This advice flies in the face of a planted tank where you never vacuum the substrate. But, with a UGF you want to discourage it becoming a mechanical filter and trapping and keeping solid debris.

4. Fertilize rarely and only via the water column, never add solid fertilizer to the UGF bed.

Try your hand at growing plants well with the UGF. If you find you have developed a "wet thumb" you can always start a new tank with planted tank specific equipment or remove the UGF from your current tank.
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Old 06-15-2004, 11:52 PM   #4
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I have a UGF and wanted to take a stab at rooting plants so I bought some pots. Pots might sound funny for an aquarium, but I really like the way it looks. Small clay pots can be found at Walmart or craft stores and probably lots of other places. With the pots you can isolate a small portion of substrate and do whatever you want.

I mixed vermiculite, kitty litter, and peat moss, put the pant in and then put epoxy coated gravel from the aquarium on top to keep everything down. It's a little soon to tell how everything will work out, but the plants seem to be doing better.

Previously my plant roots had grown down past the gravel and into the undergravel filter. I'm guessing they can't get the nutrients they need this way.
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Old 06-16-2004, 12:23 AM   #5
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Thanks for the comments and suggestions. Seems quite positive for me. As I mentioned, I do not want to go to a fully planted tank, and I did in fact have Java Moss in mind, so it seems possible to have what I want with the UGF. At least for now. If I ever go for a fully planted tank I would take that UGF out. I will have to get used to watching and cleaning the tank a bit more often though. Thanks again for the comments. Sounds good to me.
46gal semi-planted Community:
2 Long finned Blue Leopard Danios
4 Ottos
1 Sunset Gourmi
20 Assorted Corys
5 White Cloud Minnows
2 Dwarf frogs
2 Clown Loaches
2 plecos, 1 clown 1 rubber lip
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plant, plants, ugf

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