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Undergravel Filter


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  • Regular Member

The idea behind an UGF is to create a steady current of oxygen rich water through the gravel bed so that more good nitrifying bacteria can grow there. It should also suck down the solid waste and help to break them down by bacteria. The concept is sound and can work well. However, if the current flow is weak then aeromonas will take over and multiply within the UGF which is not a good thing. The mess that leaves behind can trap an unsuspecting fishkeeper and lead to H2S poisoning and bouts of bacterial infections.

So if you want to install an UGF, make sure you use a power head instead of a simple air pump type of setup. You really want a strong current through the gravels. Use it in conjunction with a canister filter or two is a good combo but not by itself for a 55gal tank.

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  • Regular Member

Agreed. UGF's can work very well - I have run them before and liked them very much - but I would not use one as the sole method of filtration in a GF tank. I would combine it with another type of filter.

They also have practical limitations; one is that you can't change the medium obviously, so if you wanted to add carbon to remove medications for example, you couldn't. That's one reaosn why you need another filter in there as well. Plus, gunk builds up under the plate and needs siphoning out every month or so (not a pleasant job).

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I have two filters in the tank already. Combined they do about 500 gph. My water stays clear, but I want to do as much for my fish as I can.

How do you clean under the plates? I have gravel in the bottom of my tank now. Do you have to take the gravel out? I just don't understand what is involved in cleaning the paltes. How deep can your gravel be on top of the ugf?

Any more info would be greatly appreciated! :thanks

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  • Regular Member

Yes, as far as I know there is very little option other than removing all the gravel, the fish and then the UGF plates to syphon all the waste that collects under there. It really pollutes the tank - you cannot leave the fish in during the cleaning. You cannot just pull the plates out for you cannot get them back under the gravel unless you take the gravel out too. (I always had about 1 inch gravel on the filter)

I have only used an UGF with a lightly stocked tropical tank - and used a power head for it. It was a wonderful thing - but I did not clean it very often. I cannot imagine what it would look like under there in a goldie tank, though! I know what the bottom of my cannister filter looks like after only 2 weeks! EwwwwwwH!

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  • Regular Member

In your case, I would recommend that you forget about an UGF. Way too much work to get it in (as daryl mentioned) and the impact on the water quality will be minimal.

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Ok, the ugf sounds like a lot of work. I think I will stay away from it. Thanks for letting me know, I had no idea what was involved with keeping up with one.

Is there anything that I can do to improve the life of my fish? I want them to be as happy as possible. I love them so much :heart .

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  • Regular Member
Yes, as far as I know there is very little option other than removing all the gravel, the fish and then the UGF plates to syphon all the waste that collects under there. It really pollutes the tank - you cannot leave the fish in during the cleaning.

Ah-ha, Emma has a trick up her sleeve for doing this! :lol:

All you need do is remove the powerhead from the uplift tube, stick your siphon hose right down the tube and as far under the plate as you can get it and then simply siphon the goo out from underneath. It is still a yucky job to be honest, simply because there is a fair amount of goo which collects under there, but it's not hard to get it out. :)

If you already have filters in the tank then by all means put in a UGF as well if you want to (you'll need to take everything out of the tank, including the fish and water, put the UGF plate in, fix the uplift tube and powerhead and then put everything back - not a quick job!).

If you have a powerhead running and a good depth of gravel, then a UGF provides phenominally good biological filtration. You need at least an inch of gravel on the plate, ideally fine gravel rather than the really big stuff. You also can't put very heavy or bulky ornaments in because they interrupt the flow of water through the gravel and you get 'dead spots'.

Is there anything that I can do to improve the life of my fish? I want them to be as happy as possible. I love them so much

Boy, I know that feeling! I think you're doing plenty for them already hun. They are lucky to have such a caring owner as you. :heart

Your tank is absolutely lovely by the way. :)

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:lol: I tried that. My syphon tube would get so full of gunk it would plug up. Then I would suck up a bit of gravel and plug it up again! I remember being so frustrated that I said some not so nice things about gravel and gravity and suction and such and tore the plates out anyway.

You have more patience than I, dear Emma! :D

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I had to work really hard to set this tank up. I did it for CJ, the large comet in the right corner. About a month later I was in a hunting and fishing store with my husband. I noticed they had several large tubs in the back with different kinds of live bait. One was full of large common goldfish! I told them that I wanted to buy 2 for a pet, and I wanted to pick them out. They thought I was crazy, and were laughing. I didn't care, I was able to save 2 fish from a horrible death. I named them bait and chum. They are 2 very happy fish! I want to make their life and the rest of my fishies lives the best they can be. So that is why I want to spoil them and do all I can for them.

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Gorgeous tank! are they real plants? they look really healthy. Good for you for rescuing bait and chum, and good names 2 :)

I know what you mean about wanting to do all you can for your fish, i have spent far too much on my two but they are worth every penny. I think the only thing thats the same for them since i've found this site is the decorations in the tank, they've had new filter, new tank(!), air pump, light, varied diet and most of my free time. I can't understand people who don't understand who its possible to get attached to pet fish, they have so much character!

Rachel

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Thanks! No they are not real plants. For me fake plants have been easier than the real ones. I plan on trying real plants again soon.

My goldfish have all new stuff also. When I got my first goldfish (CJ) I had no idea what he needed. I had him in a 5 gallon with a small filter, and he was already 5 or 6 inches. I found this site soon after getting him, and have learned so much about keeping a happy fish. CJ stuck with me through all my trials and errors. He is now a happy fish :D ! I still want to learn as much as I can so that he can grow to his full size, and live a long life.

Nobody seems to understand how I feel about my fish. That's why I am so glad that I found this site. Otherwise I would have no one to talk to about my fish. A lot of people I know don't think fish have feelings, or personality. They don't understand how I can love a fish, since you can't pet it, hold it, play with it, or any other things you can do with a dog or cat. I disagree. I do all those things with my fish.

Ok, I'm done babbling. Sorry I got off the subject. Any other info to help my fish would be great. Thanks!

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  • Regular Member

A UV sterilizer is a device that pumps the tank water through a tube that has a UV lightof the proper "strength" to kill suspended parasites, bacteria and floating algae. Just as sunshine will kill many nasty things(My favorite method of sterization and bleaching!) , the concentrated UV light will kill off parasites when they are in their free floating stage of life, and other things. The trick is to pump the water slowly enough through the UV tube such that the water is exposed to the UV for a maximum time.

Rick has a good product with an excellent explantation up on Goldfish Connection's site..... https://www.goldfishconnection.com/shop/det...tId=40&catId=23

I am slowly adding these to all my large tanks and tanks that contain my particularly "precious" fish. My Rocky recently came up with 4 tufts of "fungus" on his head and lip (PANIC), but the UV unit that was added seemed to nip this in the bud. It cleared within 12 hours. I am pleased with the 2 I have.

:)

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  • 3 months later...
  • Regular Member

Hi All - I am going to bump this thread because I would also like to learn more about UGFs. Graham's new 20-gallon tank has a UGF - at what point would I want to add a UV filter into the mix - because it does not seem that doing it right away would be most beneficial... I mean, the tank needs to cycle for a while, I would think, but with regular cleaning, etc. - how will I know when I would need to add UV filtration? THey are so expensive!!!! I am going to start saving my pennies now, though, because I want only the best for GN! I have used UV filtration in the lab before - but I am not entirely clear how they work in the water - they just pump the entire amount of water through the filter - the more slowly the better - so in X amount of time - the entire system would be sterilized? Thanks for your replies! :fishtank:

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  • Regular Member

There is no specific time that you would "need" to add UV - it is just a special extra that some of us choose to add to our tanks. The Ultraviolet light sterilizes the water as it shines on it. Some things take a longer exposure to the UV to kill them, others take very little time. Free floating algae - the kind that turns your water green takes very little exposure to UV to kill it. Some parasites take a lot longer. Remember - only the parasites that are suspended in the water will be pumped through the UV and killed. That which are on the fish will still need to be eliminated through other means.

Your UV will pump only so many gallons per hour through it. The sterilized water will be mixed with the unsterilized water - so your system will never be compeltely sterile. It will just have a lot of nasty things potentially removed from it.

I am not fond of UGF - but it sounds like Emma has really got them down to an art. Even with the best UGF going, for a dirty goldfish, I would still recommend an additional filter of some nature - for mechanically removing large debris and waste from the water. The UGF is mainly biological, and requires the bacteria to break everything down. It may not be up to the entire job that a fully stocked goldie tank gives it.....

Graham's tank sounds like it is going to be a really fine home - upperclass all the way! :D

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  • Regular Member

Just thought I'd add my 2 cents worth. I had an UGF once and found it incredibley messy, when it needs cleaning it's a major operation to strip down your tank. I would also recommend supplimenting an UGF with another filter.

On the other hand some people manage beautifully with one, like dataguru for example.

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  • Regular Member

:twocents I agree with Fishmerised.

I had a UGF on a turtle tank years back. It kept the water crystal clean, but when you had to clean it...... Yuckkkky!! (Only twice a year though)

Slugger :)

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  • Regular Member

What you can try is a positive flow UGF. The idea behind it is that you use a powerhead to force water into the UGF so that the oxygen rich water is forced UP from under the gravel into the tank. This way, gunk and mulm can't accumulated in the gravel. Well, there will be some around the edge but on the whole, there shouldn't be the same problem as a standard UGF. The downside is that you must have a normal HOB power filter or canister filter to collect the waste that is now floating in the tank. :D

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Guest jordanmia

i have an UGF in my 10 gal tank. it actually is my only filter and my tank is overstocked. sorry but i'm new :ignore anywho... it keeps my water very clean. i don't have any problems with cloudy water. I normally siphon the gravel on top and I get lots of waste. Since my tank is new the brown algae gets into the uplift tube, which is a pain to clean. to do a thorough cleaning I moved the fish out and place the gravel from one half to the other half and pull 1/2 of it up at a time. This way I'm not having to move the whole thing or remove the gravel completely from the tank. it has it's pro's and cons. but for a really LARGE tank, it might be more hassle than it's worth. plus, mine makes big air bubbles occasionally. i'm not sure why.

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Thanks for your replies! I have read about the positive flow UGF's and they sound really neat, too. I don't hink GN's tank is set up that way now (and I was wondering what happens to the discrete matter floating about in the tank) - the + flow would resolve those issues.

The UGF only has to be cleaned twice a year? Sounds good to me! GN's "nanny" - I suppose I should say "uncle", will be taking care of that for me - with once monthly siphoning -

What is HOD?

I will check out Dataguru and Emmas threads for more info. and keep you all abreast as it seems there are not too many UGF goldie tanks. Thanks for your input and advice :D .

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