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Thread: Reinstalling a UGF
02-01-2013, 12:07 PM #1
Reinstalling a UGF
Well, with the new, young discus and their being feed five/six times a day, my tank clean up at the end of the day is not going good. THe sand is turning brown ever night from both the ultra fine food waste I can't remove and, of course, the massive waste from the fish. The good news is my water nitrate remains below 1 ppm (measures from 0.4 - 0.8 ppm and the phosphates hover around 2 ppm.) Since I can only care for them at night, I will have to either remove the sand or return to service my reverse flow UGF. These units kept my sand pristine - the up flowing water not only helped me remove all food particles (even very small) by vacuuming (the particles cannot sink into the sand) but encourage a small bacteria culture to grow in the top layer that converts waste into nitrates (which my active nitrate filters easily remove.)
I had removed these to save electricity and since my nitrate filters allowed me to really go easy on water changes (my tap is high in nitrates so W/C do not help - my nitrate filters do convert this into clean water but that takes a day; hence, I do only bi-weekly water changes.)
I wil lsay this, while sand isn't at all needed (it is impossible to have plants with nitrates so low) I just don't really want to remove it ... maybe in a few months I'll give up and bite the bullet relative to sand.
For now, with the vast amount of fish waste that these little critters produce thanks to their eating enough food to feed a small army, and since the sand will provide a good culture media for bacteria to clean the sand (again, nitrates are not an issue due to my active systems) I guess I'll continue with the sand in the tank and let the UGF (along with my canister, algae scrubber and nitrate removal unit from hell) continue to do their jobs - will be an interesting experiment to see if it works as well as it did a while ago when I first developed the idea. Of course, I didn't have the nitrate filters at that time.
02-02-2013, 05:13 PM #2
Wow, such a complicated system you employed. Frankly, I can hardly imagine UGF working under sand bed. Could you please share some pictures (or url if you already posted it somewhere). In particular, the size of sand particles is of interest. I truly believe UGF is the worst filtration system in terms of maintenance, and if I had no alternative, I would prefer making it in RUGF way.
Last edited by Allesgut; 02-02-2013 at 05:16 PM.
02-02-2013, 09:58 PM #3
Agree. It states specifically to not use UGF if you have a planted tank or using sand. I have 3 planted tanks, jammed full, and my nitrates are nearly always 0. That's what my liquid ferts are for. Many people raise their young Discus in a bare bottom tank due to ease of cleaning.
02-02-2013, 11:32 PM #4
I'll try and get my digital camera to work. The UGF is not my filtering system; I have an algae filter, canister and a .. well, the filter that will not be named. The UGF is ONLY to prevent food particles from working their way down into the sand before I can vacuum them out. I can only vacuum once a day (late) and the fish have been fed four or five times already. The tank sand is a mess - since I refuse to remove the sand, the reverse flow UGF can help solve this issue. It worked well the last time I used it but gave up since I still had phosphate problems (which the algae filter is controlling.) Now, some bio-action by the UGF is just icing on the cake but of almost zero value for my tank due to the 'complex' system I use. Plants are impossible with my tank - nitrates are zero: for laughs I did put one plant in and it refused to grow at all. Low phosphates and zero nitrates is not useful for plants. Yet for young discus it is great and for me, I do not have to do 100% daily water changes but rather two 50% W/C a week and my nitrates are near zero even with heavy feeding. So, complex I will live with.
Aside: I would prefer 100% W/C a day to be honest but that is impossible since my tap has 10 ppm nitrates ... by doing just 50% and only twice a week, my algae filter can easily handle that influx of nitrates and in no time, the tank is back to near zero nitrates. So, unless I go R/O and I can't see the point right now - I already own the UGF, canister, algae scrubber and the filter which cannot be name (hint - see the movie!) I will use this system.
For any one interested, a UGF just needs a thin layer of gravel and then sand can be placed onto it without any issues. The flow is reverse so it moves water from inside the UGF, up through the gravel/sand and back into the tank. Simple: debris stays where I want it - the sand surface - and the real function is just the positive water flow up through the sand. QED
02-03-2013, 06:28 PM #5
One thing I should comment on was the condition of the sand when I moved half to put in the first UGF unit (two are required for my size tank); while I vacuum daily & stir I noticed that after I removed the sand to install the UGF plate, the smell of fish waste was noticable and my nitrates went from 0.5 ppm to over 10 ppm (Of course I am doing a close to 85% W/C - the fish are still in the tank so, no 100% this time!)
I simply confirmed that sand does store a none insignificant amount of waste even with a well stired top layer. This was a bit of a surprise.
While this does strongly support the method of using only a bare bottom tank for young discus, I still intend to leave sand in the tank for now with the UGF running.
This discovery on a fairly well kept (or at least I thought so) tank makes me wonder about standard tanks and how bad this problem can be. I do recall I had major issues with a community tank with this problem but partly blamed my vacuuming method. This tank I know had better upkeep and large water changes. Yes, I stir the sand as I vacuum but waste can and must diffuse down deep. Even with stiring (and pulling a none insignificant amount of the sand up the vacuum tube where it is better cleaned) I still have net buildup of waste.
It will be interesting to see if this problem goes away with the reverse UGF flow. To better understand if this method helps overall, I'll heavily stir/move a lot of sand in a few months and see if the nitrate climbs significantly. If not, this approch will be sound, if not, an utter waste of power and effort. Will be nice to know one way or the other.
02-04-2013, 05:19 AM #6
Well I just wanted to add that such "behaviour" of your UGF is normal for any UGF system. Only RUGF can work long with no need of nasty cleanings since already filtered water goes through substrate.