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I am an avid opponent of UGFs. For several reasons. First, they really don't provide that much useful filtration to your tank. Second, the accumulation of debris down there is harmful after a while, but they are an absolute pain to clean. In addition, if you have fry, they can be sucked down into them and become all deformed. I just don't think its worth it. If you are going to get one so you don't clean the gravel as much, think again, since it sucks everything down, the HOB or canister filters can't get to it and it just sits there and rots.

Sorry, a minor rant there....

Cheers!

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Be careful... Depending on how long you have had it in there, you may kick up A LOT of debris. Suggest you take fish out in a small bucket first, just it case there is a lot. Also, you will be taking out a large part of the biobugs. Its like taking a bunch of gravel out or an ornament... you may have an ammonia spike following this while the biobugs adjust. So just be careful!

Goodluck!

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Just my opinion :D , but I think that UGF's that are properly installed and maintained can work very well.

I have had UGF's on half of my tanks, 3 of the 6. There has not been any more disease or problem in any of those tanks, if anything, the fish have been healthier.

You need to put a good gravel layer over the plates, about 3", and it needs to be the proper size. Also, you need to gravel vac the gravel just as you would in any tank.

I have one tank that is heavily planted, has 3 1/2" of gravel over the plates, 4" in some places, and the plants are the most beautiful ones that I have. The fish are healthy and the UGF has been running for 8 years without cleaning. The plant roots go into the mulm under the plates and as in nature, they keep everything sweet.

This is one subject that has a lot of differing opinions, and this is just mine :rolleyes:

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If you have kept your gravel clean by regular gravel vacs, then don't be so worried. Really.

I think that the majority of people that have trouble with UGF's don't have a thick enough layer of gravel over the plates, and they don't keep the gravel clean. If you want to be sure, do a good gravel vac. Take out as much crud as you can. The gravel in a UGF with give up a reddish/brown look in the water when this is vacuumed, but that is as it should be and is nothing to worry about.

If you really want to take the UGF out, put your fish in a bucket of tank water, break the tank down, and take the filter plates out. Rinse off your gravel to remove loose debris (in water the same temp as your aquarium water using dechlor is you have chlorinated water), and put your tank back together.

I believe that UGF's can be used effectively in tanks with goldfish. Another mechanical filter should be used to remove debris, but with proper maintenance an undergravel filter will do a good job of biological filtration.

JMHO.

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I too have an undergravel filter...and have been thinking of removing it. I'm just kind of tired of the 3" plus gravel, and find I vacuum a lot of crud out of it all the time. But then again...I tend to vacuum a lot. If my tank isn't fully cycled, could vacuuming the gravel inhibite the production of the good bacteria, that would break down the crud?

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I think touchofsky did a pretty good job of defending UGF's, so I will only say that I agree, they get a bum rap. Properly set-up and maintained, UGF's are GREAT biological filtration.

If my tank isn't fully cycled, could vacuuming the gravel inhibite the production of the good bacteria, that would break down the crud?

The "good bacteria" doesn't break down the crud, it converts ammonia (invisible crud). The bacteria that breaks down the crud is undesirable and so the more crud you can remove from your tanks, the better off your fish will be. Overvaccuming can lengthen the amount of time it takes a tank to cycle, but if you have extensive crud in your tank, better to get it out than wait and chance it will cause problems.

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That's certainly true. :) I understand that some may not want to use them in their own tanks (don't want to bother cleaning it, etc.) but personal preference is a seperate issue than whether or not the set-up is bad for the fish. When it's properly maintained, it's not. I have had a good part of my collection in tanks with UGF's for years with no problems. If the design of the system was the problem (as opposed to the neglect of the fishkeeper ;) ) I certainly would have had some losses by now.

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