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Old 08-24-2011, 08:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Lets talk UG filters

Lets talk about Undergravel filters, no really. Old technology? maybe but so is running water. When we got tired of going outside to pump water, we didn't stop using water . We invented faucets. OK not a great analogy. In the beginning of the aquarium hobby, which was right after WW2 we all kept goldfish and guppies. The first thing we did was to put in an undergravel filter, why? Because it worked. Originally we thought it was a mechanical filter and we loved mechanical filters because we liked to filter out particles. Water quality didn't matter as long as we could see the fish. Clear water was also essential to locate the dead fish, and we found a lot of dead fish.
Not because of the UG filter, but because we were using it wrong. We read the instructions and that was our first mistake. The people who invented and sold UG filters were not at fault, they also liked to filter things and an UG filter does that fairly well. Unfortunately, for some reason we didn't want to think of all that stuff that was filtered but still in the tank. We must have been busy watching those Ann Margaret movies.
But in our defense, freshwater systems do great with UG filters. I am not sure why but they do.
Then we all got high class and changed most of our systems to salt water. We loved our UG filters so we kept them, after all, they worked great and "filtered" out all that "stuff" that we figured we needed to filter. Then there was Bonanza on TV and we again forgot that an UG filter does not remove anything.
Boy were we stupid. Thats when 99% of us removed the UG filter. But there is something I like to call those people, and that is "wrong".
The UG "filter is fine, we were the problem. It is not a "filter" even though that is what it reads on the box, it is a water treatment system.
If we use it as a filter, our tanks will crash, guaranteed.
Robert Straughn (The Father of Salt Water fish Keeping) advocated UG filters as the greatest invention since tap water. The man was a genius but he didn't know the reason the UG worked.
The UG "System" will only work if we keep out the particles or as we like to call it "detritus" (dirt, crud, shmutz etc.) The gravel on the bottom of a tank vastly increases the real estate that bacteria can live on. Bacteria are like us, they like water front houses with continous fresh calm breezes and lots of easy to get food. Gravel is perfect for them and, like apartment buildings, they can live on top of each other without getting in each other's way.
Water with no particles flow past those bacteria, the bacteria process out what they want, which depending on the type of bacteria that could be nitrate, nitrite, ammonia
or Harvey's Brystal Cream. Too many particles and the bacteria will think they are living in a slum and the water flow along with their oxygen and food will stop.
Some bacteria are lucky and they like it when there is less oxygen, they have larger noses to collect oxygen, maybe not, I don't know, but they process nitrate in the absence of oxygen.
So some detritus in the gravel will limit oxygen and actually help those bacteria convert nitrate and detritus is going to get in there no matter what we do.
The best way to run a system like this is to take the UG filter and throw out the instructions. Then build a manifold above the water. Connect the tubes from the UG filter to the manifold and pump water into the manifold so all the tubes get a slow even flow. The water going into this manifold should first be strained to kep out those large smutz particles. Run this arrangement slow. The slower, the better.
Will this run for fifty years with no maintenance? Absolutely not. A few times a year you need to stick a canister filter of some type in there and stir up the gravel. It helps if most of the rock is not laying on the bottom. That doesn't look good anyway so figure out how to do a dynamite aquascape job.
It may get you a girlfriend, maybe not.
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:45 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Great read and great sense of humor. I especially liked ....


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....Some bacteria are lucky and they like it when there is less oxygen, they have larger noses to collect oxygen, maybe not,...


Paul, are you still using one after recent aquascaping spree?
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Old 08-28-2011, 10:17 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Puffer, why would I not use a system that is cheap, little maintenance and lasts forever?
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Old 08-29-2011, 10:30 AM   #4 (permalink)
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you have a point Paul

I also believe in good ol' "if it aint broke dont fix it"
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Old 10-25-2011, 10:40 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default UGF

hi just loved to hear that word (ugf) some people can make anything work, just because they know what they have in their hands its like lock picking knowing how its works .Great write up (life is like licking honey off a thorn - with caution)
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Old 10-25-2011, 01:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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bluepipes is back, yeaay
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Old 10-25-2011, 05:42 PM   #7 (permalink)
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this is jmo but ugf were the worst,thank god weve moved forward.........
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Old 10-26-2011, 05:31 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
god weve moved forward.........
Of course, I feel we moved backwards.

If it were not for UG filters, there would not be a fish hobby. People just used them incorrectly in salt water so they crashed.
If you use the thing wrong, it is our fault and not the piece of equipment.
They last forever with very little maintenance. No other system except for maybe bare bottom lasts as long. Just my opinion.
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Old 10-26-2011, 01:10 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default UGF

hi ,yup have used most things , but my requirements now are low (bare bones ) systems powerhead , heater , lights , low bio load
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Old 10-28-2011, 12:45 AM   #10 (permalink)
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UGF were never made for the anal retentive. I used one once, then after about 2 months I decided to carefully remove it and take it outside where I doused it in gasoline and melted it into something that resembled the lump of crap it was.

There are certain things I would never like to see again in my life. This is one of them. Opinions are like AH's, everyone has one. This is mine..
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Old 10-28-2011, 11:05 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Ugh

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UGF were never made for the anal retentive. I used one once, then after about 2 months I decided to carefully remove it and take it outside where I doused it in gasoline and melted it into something that resembled the lump of crap it was.

There are certain things I would never like to see again in my life. This is one of them. Opinions are like AH's, everyone has one. This is mine..
Hi , could have cut it up and DIY stand for frags, sounds like a rush of emotions / wasted gasoline /
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Old 10-28-2011, 12:05 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Those are very good opinions. (I like the gasoline thing)
OK everyone here who has a tank running 40 years continousely without a UG filter, raise your hand.
I will wait.

But, you are correct, I am in the vast minority and most people would burn them. Of course they don't know how to use one.
I also know that I don't have the nicest tank on here. But I still won't get the gasoline.
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Old 10-28-2011, 01:58 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mynd View Post
UGF were never made for the anal retentive. I used one once, then after about 2 months I decided to carefully remove it and take it outside where I doused it in gasoline and melted it into something that resembled the lump of crap it was.

There are certain things I would never like to see again in my life. This is one of them. Opinions are like AH's, everyone has one. This is mine..
ROFL

You reminded me of the "baseball bat to the printer" scene from the "Office Space"
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Old 10-29-2011, 06:16 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Great read as always Paul!!

I used the ufg for the longest on my Oscars tanks.. They worked great for them dirty big suckers.lol My ugf ran with ph that pushed water down 2 tubes, and I would also take everything out once a month to clean all the muck that would collect under them.
But when I switched to first brackish, and eventually salt water I stopped using them. I didn't think they would work very well with sand vs gravel.
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Old 10-29-2011, 09:06 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
I didn't think they would work very well with sand vs gravel.
You are correct, the thing would not work the way you were using it at all with sand or gravel.
The problem with UG filters is that absolutely no one who has negative things to say about them ever ran them correctly. And that is in reverse and very slow because if they did, their tank would last forever. (yes I have proof)
People run them the way the instructions read (I did also) and it will not last one year.
I have never heard of a correctly run RUGF crashing but how many DSBs do we read about that crash in a few years?
If you make a DSB incorrectly using too fine sand or stir it every week it too will not work. So if you have never used a UG filter the way I am talking about, you are correct, it will not work.
I have heard of one 10 year old DSB out of the thousands I know about from the decades I have been in this hobby.
I never say they are bad, I just say they have a short lifespan, much shorter than even a hermit crab which I have kept for 13 years. I need a system that will last as long as me. Hopefully a few more years.
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Old 10-29-2011, 10:29 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Have kept marines 39 hrs , you can use what you like but without PODS >patience > observation > discipline > system to run together the mantra is . Tears on my pillow pain in my $$$$$$ billfold . Lol
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Old 10-29-2011, 01:56 PM   #17 (permalink)
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You kept marines for 39 hours? Did you change the water yet?
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Old 10-29-2011, 02:54 PM   #18 (permalink)
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You kept marines for 39 hours? Did you change the water yet?
sorry 39 yrs water changes last 21 yrs from my local rockpools because my systems have been( KISS ) I dont get hung up on running with the herd , having to show my tanks is not important .When I look at someone's tank you can see personality traits which makes it interesting for me lol
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Old 10-29-2011, 05:50 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I knew that, just messing with you

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having to show my tanks is not important .When I look at someone's tank you can see personality traits which makes it interesting for me lol
Exactly
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