Newbie questions: UG filter, substrate, and Live plants - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-04-2013, 01:04 AM Thread Starter
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Newbie questions: UG filter, substrate, and Live plants

Hi. I've been keeping freshwater fish with plastic plants for about 4 years. I'm going to be setting up a new tank soon, and I want to have live plants. Please forgive me if these are stupid questions......

I have always used both HOB filter and under-gravel filter for maximum filtration. Can I continue to use an under-gravel filter with live plants?

How do you vacuum the substrate around live plants without damaging the roots?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-04-2013, 02:07 AM
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It is best not to use a UGF with live plants, as the roots will get tangled in the plate.

Some people speculate that the extra flow near the roots is also not beneficial for plants.

You do not really need to do any deep gravel vacuuming in a planted aquarium, just a light surface sweep to suck up any debris and mulm is good enough.


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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-04-2013, 05:47 AM
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A HOB should be perfectly fine.

plants also do better with a finer substrate then what is usually used for undergravels, and a lot of times either have a dirt underlayer, or something like root tabs added to the substrate - stuff you wouldn't want water passing over/through.

I kinda feel that undergravel filters are a bit archaic, and date from a period where airstones were the most effective way to move water.

Anyways, if you are concerned about what biofiltration you may be loosing without an undergravel, the plants will absorb some of the ammonia directly and altogether bypass part of the nitrogen cycle. The faster growing the plant the more ammonia it will absorb.

Glad to hear you are considering a planted tank. I'd recommend starting out low-tech, less equipment to buy, less maintenance, and (IMO) less stuff to potentially go wrong. Granted, the growth will be a bit slower, but it also gives you a bit more time to notice/correct potential problems and you spend less time trimming and pruning.

Poke around on here a bit, take a look at some of the stickies - there's some great info on this site, and a lot of people with a good deal of experience.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-04-2013, 11:40 AM
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I'm using UG filters in all my tanks except for the SW one. This is a picture I took yesterday of my 300L tank.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-04-2013, 10:49 PM
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Nice tank danielt! Yeah UG filters get a bad wrap but I have never had anything but success with them.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-05-2013, 02:25 AM
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Originally Posted by danielt View Post
I'm using UG filters in all my tanks except for the SW one. This is a picture I took yesterday of my 300L tank.

Wow!! That is a beautiful tank! Any details regarding UG and substrate, lighting, CO2, etc.?
Thanks and again, beautiful!
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-08-2013, 01:53 PM
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Thanks Dave! I did a presentation of my tanks in my introduction
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