150 gallon tank housing adult fancy guppies (app 300-500 at any one time)
Other inhabitants are a small colony of Red Cherry Shrimp, 3 Ghost Shrimp and 12 Neon Tetras (3 are more than 8 yrs old). Approx 200+ low/medium light plants of all types. Gravel is 3/16" standard natural pea gravel mixed with shell grit. Decorative stones are mostly Lava collected in the desrt SW
. Largest is 14x8x6" Approx 200 lbs all covered with Java moss and/or guppy grass. Tank has been set up for 10 yrs + this location (38 yrs total). The UGF
covers the full bottom w/3 - 4" thickness of gravel on top. No air pumps or jet pumps used. No other filters used except to polish water (cannister/Diatom) after a water change (50% 2-3x a yr) for about 3 hours.
installed and running normally for the first 8 months after setup to establish bacteria colony (cycle with fish/plants). Plants were introduced a few at a time since setup. Fertilizer used is PMDD+CSMB (225 mL/week) but will change over to individual ferts once the PMDD is used. After breakin and cycle UGF
flow was turned down a little each month over 6 months until completely off. No vacuuming of the gravel ever. Fish are fed 3 - 8X daily 6 days a week but only an amount for them to clean up within 1 or 2 minutes. 95% of food never reaches bottom. If I have a dirty spot on the bed I will feed fish sinking shrimp pellets in that area and it will be spotless within 3 days. No algae growth anywhere except green spot algae near lights. Front glass scraped monthly. Tank simulates a dry season stream pocket w/plants, cut off from main flow.
When I change water (50%) to get rid of TDS
, I use a 3/4" plastic hose stuck down one of the lift tubes. Always draining from lowest point in tank (beneath UGF
plates). Roots from the plants have really not bothered imbedding in the filter plate yet... one or two Crinum are the only ones entangled and that took 4 yrs. The bio-load is light compared to a cichlid tank setup but I still think this method would work with them too IF tank was never overloaded with fish. Infusoria and microscopic life are a good thing. No mulm ever collects. Nitrates always run below 40 - 50 ppm
. I can leave for 3 -6 weeks without fear of no food/starvation. There has never been disease of any type. New fish and plants are always Qt'ed at least 3 weeks.
The trouble most people have with UGF
's is overfeeding which leads to plugging the gravel bed. Then they vacuum and leave nothing behind. A spotlessly clean tank is a diseased tank just waiting to happen (does not apply to SW
). The area under the filter plate is as clean now as it was 10 years ago. Never a problem with aenorobic bacteria.
Try this method... you will have to experiment at first to get the right balance of fish/plants/filter bed. Once you get it right you can put all the LFS
'es out of business because you won't need all the extra supplies they pile on you.