air stone stability
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Old 08-08-2013, 11:52 PM   #1
MortimerInBlack
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air stone stability


Hi, i have 2 of those small cylinder air stones, attached to small tubing and placed at the bottom of the big pipes, which are on top of the undergravel filter plates.

My concern is, I can't get those air stones to stand straight on the plate. They bend at an angle, almost 45 degrees, due to the winding flexible tubing attached to the airstones. They are still right at the bottom and fully inside the big pipes (which are supposed to circulate water up ), but is this good enough?

I dont want to fill up my 30gallon tank until Im sure the bottom stuff is ready and wont need adjustment. I guess im just worried that the air stones will wear out faster or not work properly. Any advice is appreciated.
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Old 08-09-2013, 12:30 AM   #2
Diana
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As long as they are at the bottom of the up tubes it does not matter what orientation they are at.

I have seen (and have some on hand) a stiffer tube that will hold the air stone more securely in place. It is the same diameter as the flexible tubing, just stiff.

Can I ask why you are using under gravel plates? Really old technology!
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Old 08-09-2013, 01:15 AM   #3
MortimerInBlack
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well cuz with an undergravel filter i wont have to change the water that much, or maybe not at all, so ive been told. The bacterial living on the gravel stones themselves act as the actual filter. Im using a power filter too, in conjunction with the undergravel filter.

undergravel plates are the only way i know of to implement the undergravel filter (along with the uptubes and airstones and stuff).

[edit] forgot to mention, im not putting any live plants in this tank, so the UG filter wont cause problems there

Last edited by MortimerInBlack; 08-09-2013 at 02:33 AM.. Reason: forgot extra detail
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Old 08-09-2013, 03:43 AM   #4
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You've been told wrong.

Even with UG water must still be changed. It's not just removing the toxin buildup it's also replacing things.

Diana, it's really old technology but it still works. And works quite well. The one upgrade to the standard UG would be a reverse flow UG. So long as you aren't the type to fiddle fart in the gravel a bunch it's a fine filter and when I ran mine (in many tanks) the water was nice and clear and parameters were very stable.

One of many things I've learned in life is the latest and greatest usually isn't.

Mortimer, if you're concerned about the stone wearing out use a good stone. I've tried the cheapos, the ceramics/glass and the wood stones. They all clog up. The wood and ceramic last the longest. And IME the ceramic/glass last longer than the wood. But like I said they all eventually clog.
On mine I ran rigid down the tube and used a small piece of flex to connect the two.

You want as fine a bubble as you can get.

Last edited by Darkblade48; 08-09-2013 at 08:37 AM.. Reason: Please use the edit function for back to back posts to keep threads cleaner
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Old 08-09-2013, 05:00 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GraphicGr8s View Post
Even with UG water must still be changed. It's not just removing the toxin buildup it's also replacing things.
i have a 30 gal tank and planning on no more than half a dozen small fish, like neon tetras. im pretty sure that ill only need to change a quarter of the tank water per month, maybe less. and im not getting goldfish either, they doodoo way too much.

but recently i read about having to clean the bottom of the tank because the UG thing makes it dirty somehow. Not sure about this. Remember, im using a UG filter and power filter.
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Old 08-09-2013, 03:59 PM   #6
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Back in the old days when I was still using UG filters driven by an air pump, I would still clean the gunk out from underneath the filter plates at least quarterly or depending on the stocking level of the tank.

Just remove the air stone, insert a length of vinyl hose down the uplift tubes and siphon out a lot of the gunk from under the plate. It doesn't get all the dirt but does remove a lot of it.

Water changes are still important, IMO, regardless of whether the tank is lightly stocked or not. The fish enjoy the new water and other impurities are removed during the exchange.
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Old 08-09-2013, 06:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deeda View Post
Just remove the air stone, insert a length of vinyl hose down the uplift tubes and siphon out a lot of the gunk from under the plate. It doesn't get all the dirt but does remove a lot of it.
I have no dirt/sand in my tank, only gravel stones, water, plastic decor, and a real seashell (and soon a real log). Well, the plastic filters and airstones, too, but no dirt.

Quote:
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Water changes are still important, IMO, regardless of whether the tank is lightly stocked or not. The fish enjoy the new water and other impurities are removed during the exchange.
Hmm, this is definitely starting to conflict with other info. I was told that many times, fish die of the 'shock' right after you buy them and put them in the new tank. (Even as I type, my fishless tank is running both filters in order to build up the bacteria. Been 1 day, so 2 more and I'll buy 2 fish to start. If they dont die in 3 more days, ill buy 4 more.) So you hafta be careful with new water too.

Finally, there will be natural evaporation of the tank that ill simply fill back up---probably not a quarter tank (of 30 gal) per month this is still new water. Either way, it won't be hard to manually scoop out 1/4 or even 1/2 of the water, then replace it.

Can I ask, what you use instead of UG filters? Do you use some other form of UG or a totally different kind of filter(s)?
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Old 08-09-2013, 08:55 PM   #8
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I was referring to the dirt that collects underneath the UG filter plates as the dirt and debris from the tank is drawn through the gravel.

I also suggest you read some of the posts on this forum about using the fish-less cycling process for getting your tank ready for fish. It is not recommended to let your tank run for a couple days and then adding fish. The reason new fish die in a new tank is because there is not enough beneficial bacteria to support them.

Natural evaporation in the tank only removes the water but it leaves the other minerals in your tank. Removing a given percentage of water weekly or twice a month will 'refresh' your existing water and be better for your fish.

I use canister filters, power filters and various sponge filtration on my tanks, depending on the size and stocking levels.
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Old 08-09-2013, 10:36 PM   #9
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You need to do some more research it sounds like. Read on here about cycling a tank. Don't just toss in fish. Undergravel filters are not used much anylonger as they build up crap under the plates and that pollutes the tank with tons of nitrates. To clean them you need to essentially tear down the tank. You can put a powerhead on each tube to force water down and then up through the gravel bed to avoid the buildup. By the time you spend $50 on 2 power heads you might as well by an aquaclear filter, buy the second largest one. Read up here and don't take advice from whomever you are getting it from. Water changes are good for fish and good for the soul so they are a win win

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Old 08-10-2013, 01:45 AM   #10
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Dee is spot on. Water is the only thing that evaporates from your tank. All the minerals and salts stay behind. They build up in concentration every time you just add water.
You've got a 30 gallon tank. 10% per week water change is 3 gallons. Not a lot.
UG works and it works well. IMHO they ll out of favor because there really isn't much to them. There is no real "tech" to them and it seems we all want the latest, greatest and hi tech gadgets. The pain part of UG is cleaning the mulm from under the plates. That was one reason that reverse flow was popular during the last part UG use.
At one point I had every tank with UGF. From my 10s to my 90. It was just easier to throw out the floss from the aquamasters and the aquakings so the UGFs went to the closet. Still have most of them in a closet even after two moves.
I will say though that I never experienced any more of a spike in ammonia, etc then I do with other filters if they aren't maintained.

In any tank a 10% WC per week will keep your fish healthier. When I am condition to breed I'll start doing 10% every 3 or 4 days. After the fry are swimming I change 10% per day. The growth is noticeably better.
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:27 PM   #11
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I think everyone is forgetting that I'm using 2 different filters in the same tank:

The UG Filter (UGF)
The Power Filter (PF)

Those are the only 2 kinds of filters I know of, so I'm using both. I checked out "aquaclear filter" on amazon and it looks like just another power filter.

Also, there's no dirt/sand and no live plants in my tank, just gravel stones. The power filter will remove all fish doodoo via carbon, and the UG filter will support bacteria all around the gravel stones that take care of the nitrates or nitrites or w/e they're called.

Dont worry, Ill go ahead and change 10% of the tank water every week, but if you're saying that i shud be using PF instead of UGF so as to avoid cleaning the bottom...i'm already using them both.
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Old 08-11-2013, 02:45 AM   #12
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Mortimer, the "dirt" we are referring to is detrius also called mulm. It is in every tank. Power filter or undergravel it is there. It's the stuff left over from the breakdown of excess food and fish poop. The power filter doesn't get all the waste. And an excess can build up in the UGF. And with a UGF you need also need to vacuum the gravel 1/2 at every W/C. Actually with no plants you should do it with a PF also.

If you are running a power filter why are you bothering with UGF? Either way you need to change water.

You need to go learn more about the nitrogen cycle and what is going on in your tank. There are plenty of threads here already so rehashing is a waste of electrons that could be more productive.
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Old 08-11-2013, 07:57 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MortimerInBlack View Post
i have a 30 gal tank and planning on no more than half a dozen small fish, like neon tetras.
I concur with most of the rest of the posts here, but I'd like to point out that in a 30g tank, you'll be utterly bored with half a dozen neon tetras within a week's time, and you'll start making plans to get more.

Don't depend on the waste produced by 6 water column fish to plan your filtration and water changes. You're going to get a lot more.
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Old 08-11-2013, 10:10 PM   #14
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Quote:
nitrates or nitrites or w/e they're called
Do more research before you buy any fish.

1) Fish produce ammonia, not 'doodoo'. They produce feces that settle between the gravel and decompose. This decomposing matter is the 'dirt' or mulm that everyone is telling you will need to be removed from under the plates and to be vacuumed from between the gravel. Otherwise the beneficial bacteria will not grow there. There needs to be very good water flow for the bacteria to get the oxygen they need. If the gravel or the space under the plates is filled with junk the water flow decreases, and the bacteria population drops. UGF systems are NOT self-cleaning.

2) Ammonia (from decomposing wastes and from fish gills) is turned into nitrite by certain bacteria. These bacteria live stuck on surfaces where there is high oxygen. Such as on the gravel of properly operating UGF systems, and on the media in a filter.
Nitrite is also toxic to fish.

3) A different group of bacteria turn the nitrite into nitrate. These bacteria also live on surfaces with the first group of bacteria.

There are no bacteria that will remove nitrate in most aquariums. It will continue to build up in the water until something removes it.
Water changes.
Plants.
A special group of bacteria that do not grow under these conditions.

Many of the filters that hang on the back of the tank (abbreviated 'HOB' filters at most fish sites, and AKA Power Filters) have removable cartridges for filter media. When the floss in the cartridge is dirty (there is that word again!) with fish waste and other things the instructions say to throw it away, add a new one. This is great for the company that is selling new cartridges! The problem is that the old cartridge has been growing the beneficial bacteria that remove ammonia and nitrite. When you toss the cartridge you are throwing away the bacteria that were removing the ammonia and nitrite in the water. So the ammonia can build up. Most people here at Planted Tank keep aquatic plants in their tanks, and this provides a cushion, a safety of something else that can quickly start using excess ammonia if there is a loss such as by removing a cartridge. Your UGF contains only more bacteria. They do not increase their use of ammonia very fast, so each time you throw away the cartridge you are running the risk of an ammonia spike. The Aquaclear brand name of Power Filters avoids this problem. The media is reusable. Rinse and reuse as needed, and the bacteria stay alive. The only part you will remove and replace is the activated carbon.

Here is the fishless cycle. Read through it not just to find out how to do it, but also as part of the research of learning how the ecology of an aquarium works.

Cycle: To grow the beneficial bacteria that remove ammonia and nitrite from the aquarium.

Fish-In Cycle: To expose fish to toxins while using them as the source of ammonia to grow nitrogen cycle bacteria. Exposure to ammonia burns the gills and other soft tissue, stresses the fish and lowers their immunity. Exposure to nitrite makes the blood unable to carry oxygen. Research methemglobinemia for details.

Fishless Cycle: The safe way to grow more bacteria, faster, in an aquarium, pond or riparium.

The method I give here was developed by 2 scientists who wanted to quickly grow enough bacteria to fully stock a tank all at one time, with no plants helping, and overstock it as is common with Rift Lake Cichlid tanks.

1a) Set up the tank and all the equipment. You can plant if you want. Include the proper dose of dechlorinator with the water.
Optimum water chemistry:
GH and KH above 3 German degrees of hardness. A lot harder is just fine.
pH above 7, and into the mid 8s is just fine.
Temperature in the upper 70s F (mid 20s C) is good. Higher is OK if the water is well aerated.
A trace of other minerals may help. Usually this comes in with the water, but if you have a pinch of KH2PO4, that may be helpful.
High oxygen level. Make sure the filter and power heads are running well. Plenty of water circulation.
No toxins in the tank. If you washed the tank, or any part of the system with any sort of cleanser, soap, detergent, bleach or anything else make sure it is well rinsed. Do not put your hands in the tank when you are wearing any sort of cosmetics, perfume or hand lotion. No fish medicines of any sort.
A trace of salt (sodium chloride) is OK, but not required.
This method of growing bacteria will work in a marine system, too. The species of bacteria are different.

1b) Optional: Add any source of the bacteria that you are growing to seed the tank. Cycled media from a healthy tank is good. Decor or some gravel from a cycled tank is OK. Live plants or plastic are OK. Bottled bacteria is great, but only if it contains Nitrospira species of bacteria. Read the label and do not waste your money on anything else.
At the time this was written the right species could be found in:
Dr. Tims One and Only
Tetra Safe Start
Microbe Lift Nite Out II
...and perhaps others.
You do not have to jump start the cycle. The right species of bacteria are all around, and will find the tank pretty fast.

2) Add ammonia until the test reads 5 ppm. This ammonia is the cheapest you can find. No surfactants, no perfumes. Read the fine print. This is often found at discount stores like Dollar Tree, or hardware stores like Ace. You could also use a dead shrimp form the grocery store, or fish food. Protein breaks down to become ammonia. You do not have good control over the ammonia level, though.
Some substrates release ammonia when they are submerged for the first time. Monitor the level and do enough water changes to keep the ammonia at the levels detailed below.

3) Test daily. For the first few days not much will happen, but the bacteria that remove ammonia are getting started. Finally the ammonia starts to drop. Add a little more, once a day, to test 5 ppm.

4) Test for nitrite. A day or so after the ammonia starts to drop the nitrite will show up. When it does allow the ammonia to drop to 3 ppm.

5) Test daily. Add ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. If the nitrite or ammonia go to 5 ppm do a water change to get these lower. The ammonia removing species and the nitrite removing species (Nitrospira) do not do well when the ammonia or nitrite are over 5 ppm.

6) When the ammonia and nitrite both hit zero 24 hours after you have added the ammonia the cycle is done. You can challenge the bacteria by adding a bit more than 3 ppm ammonia, and it should be able to handle that, too, within 24 hours.

7) Now test the nitrate. Probably sky high!
Do as big a water change as needed to lower the nitrate until it is safe for fish. Certainly well under 20, and a lot lower is better. This may call for more than one water change, and up to 100% water change is not a problem. Remember the dechlor!
If you will be stocking right away (within 24 hours) no need to add more ammonia. If stocking will be delayed keep feeding the bacteria by adding ammonia to 3 ppm once a day. You will need to do another water change right before adding the fish.
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Helpful hints:

A) You can run a fishless cycle in a bucket to grow bacteria on almost any filter media like bio balls, sponges, ceramic bio noodles, lava rock or Matala mats. Simply set up any sort of water circulation such as a fountain pump or air bubbler and add the media to the bucket. Follow the directions for the fishless cycle. When the cycle is done add the media to the filter. I have run a canister filter in a bucket and done the fishless cycle.

B) The nitrogen cycle bacteria will live under a wide range of conditions and bounce back from minor set backs. By following the set up suggestions in part 1b) you are setting up optimum conditions for fastest reproduction and growth.
GH and KH can be as low as 1 degree, but watch it! These bacteria use the carbon in carbonates, and if it is all used up (KH = 0) the bacteria may die off.
pH as low as 6.5 is OK, but by 6.0 the bacteria are not going to be doing very well. They are still there, and will recover pretty well when conditions get better.
Temperature almost to freezing is OK, but they must not freeze, and they are not very active at all. They do survive in a pond, but they are slow to warm up and get going in the spring. This is where you might need to grow some in a bucket in a warm place and supplement the pond population. Too warm is not good, either. Tropical or room temperature tank temperatures are best. (68 to 85*F or 20 to 28*C)
Moderate oxygen can be tolerated for a while. However, to remove lots of ammonia and nitrite these bacteria must have oxygen. They turn one into the other by adding oxygen. If you must stop running the filter for an hour or so, no problem. If longer, remove the media and keep it where it will get more oxygen.
Once the bacteria are established they can tolerate some fish medicines. This is because they live in a complex film called Bio film on all the surfaces in the filter and the tank. Medicines do not enter the bio film well.
These bacteria do not need to live under water. They do just fine in a humid location. They live in healthy garden soil, as well as wet locations.

C) Planted tanks may not tolerate 3 ppm or 5 ppm ammonia. It is possible to cycle the tank at lower levels of ammonia so the plants do not get ammonia burn. Add ammonia to only 1 ppm, but test twice a day, and add ammonia as needed to keep it at 1 ppm. The plants are also part of the bio filter, and you may be able to add the fish sooner, if the plants are thriving.
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Old 08-12-2013, 12:18 AM   #15
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Great synopsis Diana.
One thing I do with my HOB is to put a new biobag in front of the one that's running. I do it one week before I change out the used one. When I take out the used one there is a healthy bio filter in place.
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