Back in the aquarium hobby after a 30 year delay, boy was I surprised...what happened to undergravel - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 04:06 AM Thread Starter
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Back in the aquarium hobby after a 30 year delay, boy was I surprised...what happened to undergravel

They were all the rage back then. Well I am glad to be back in the hobby and am anxious to see what's new. This is the first time I will be having a planted tank. I have a 90 gallon tank to aquascape. I was hoping to find a local aquarium store, you know little " mom and pop"kinda thing, sadly all I see are Petco and PetSmart. Well any way am looking forward to being part of this forum.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Dorothy View Post
They were all the rage back then. Well I am glad to be back in the hobby and am anxious to see what's new. This is the first time I will be having a planted tank. I have a 90 gallon tank to aquascape. I was hoping to find a local aquarium store, you know little " mom and pop"kinda thing, sadly all I see are Petco and PetSmart. Well any way am looking forward to being part of this forum.
Welcome to TPT! My first tank was 30+ years ago. Undergravel filter, no tech level, and no plants at all. As you say, a lot has changed. I was pretty overwhelmed at first when I got back into aquariums and deciding to go planted. Lots of great people here have helped with my journey and I am sure many will want to help you as well. Myself included.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-02-2019, 08:08 AM
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Well, seems like 30 years is all the rage in taking time off. I was mid to late 80's. The internet sure is a game changer.

I'm still a fan of undergravel, just modifying as I learn of more and varied theories.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-04-2019, 04:58 PM
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Been in it since 1979. Have only been without a tank once for nine months while we built our house. A lot of changes for sure. Yeah the net has made getting info a lot faster and harder. Why harder? There is a lot of misinformation out there.
Over the years I've found the more things appear to change the more they are the same. Still have to do water changes. Still have to feed fish.
And the more I look at the modern filters I realize newer isn't always better. UG still works. But it has its limits as to how much water you can flow through it. And it's not a great filter for heavily planted tanks.
I use mostly sponge filters and the old school corner box filters from Lee. I like the box filters because if I need to add carbon, or want a different media it's easy.
For HOB I have stuck with the tried and true Whispers. Cheap. They work. Can get parts for them. (Unlike my Supreme AquaKings and Aqua Masters.)
Anyway welcome back!
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-04-2019, 05:04 PM
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You can still find under gravel filters. But hang on the back and canister's have come along and can be easier to maintain. I have been keeping tanks for 55 years now. Learn something new everyday. Yes most of LFS's are going away. An Petmart and Petco while they have a fish department it is not really made for actual aquarium hobbyist. In fact other than really new hobbyist they really don't stock the basic stuff that hobbyist use to get from a LFS.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-04-2019, 05:15 PM
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My local petsmart in Tullahoma TN has a 20 something girl named Betty that is into it. All hope is not lost.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-04-2019, 06:25 PM
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Welcome back to the hobby and TPT

The responses in this thread make me chuckle because I can certainly relate..

This is a post for us old-timers to commiserate how technology has kinda passed right by us while we weren't looking. It used to be enough to have an HOB or Box filter, a trusty heater, and an air-pump...

Fish-less cycle and bacterial supplements? What's that? You added fish and changed water everyday until tank was cycled. I did this with discus when I first started raising them 18 years ago-- never worried that my fish would be exposed to ammonia or nitrites because I ensured they wouldn't.

There were some amazing local fish stores where we built long-term relationships. For a majority, those stores are gone.

Plants? They had some water lilies and such for koi ponds and you would see anacharis ( with the live-bearers ) or java moss ( for breeder tanks); but that was the extent of it.

Decor, for me ( beyond the first year where blue gravel and a castle "fancied up" my tank), was a branch or stump- maybe. It has only been in the last 2 years Ive added plants to my aquariums.

Ive had 1-4 tanks running continuously for the last 30 years and always used Emperor HOB's until my husband complicated everything and bought me canister filters about 8 years ago. They amaze me and I curse them at the same time. Just last week 1 of my Fluvel FX6 filters that I have on my 180 gallon gave up the ghost after 1.5 years of operating. Had to replace the motor. My HOB's would typically last me 5 years at a fraction of the cost. Still, I paid up to replace the motor on the FX6-- because my husband assures me they are "better."

180 g. low tech w/ wild South American cichlids, corydoras eques, and African Congo riverine tetras.
60 g. low tech w/ F1 Alenquer pair /Stendker "Tefe" discus and wild Altum Angels
30 g. low tech w/ Wild Tucano tetras
30 g. low-tech African Biotope
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Discusluv View Post
Welcome back to the hobby and TPT

The responses in this thread make me chuckle because I can certainly relate..

This is a post for us old-timers to commiserate how technology has kinda passed right by us while we weren't looking. It used to be enough to have an HOB or Box filter, a trusty heater, and an air-pump...

Fish-less cycle and bacterial supplements? What's that? You added fish and changed water everyday until tank was cycled. I did this with discus when I first started raising them 18 years ago-- never worried that my fish would be exposed to ammonia or nitrites because I ensured they wouldn't.

There were some amazing local fish stores where we built long-term relationships. For a majority, those stores are gone.

Plants? They had some water lilies and such for koi ponds and you would see anacharis ( with the live-bearers ) or java moss ( for breeder tanks); but that was the extent of it.

Decor, for me ( beyond the first year where blue gravel and a castle "fancied up" my tank), was a branch or stump- maybe. It has only been in the last 2 years Ive added plants to my aquariums.

Ive had 1-4 tanks running continuously for the last 30 years and always used Emperor HOB's until my husband complicated everything and bought me canister filters about 8 years ago. They amaze me and I curse them at the same time. Just last week 1 of my Fluvel FX6 filters that I have on my 180 gallon gave up the ghost after 1.5 years of operating. Had to replace the motor. My HOB's would typically last me 5 years at a fraction of the cost. Still, I paid up to replace the motor on the FX6-- because my husband assures me they are "better."
Or maybe we've just found that newer isn't always better.
I am a gadget guy. And I love tech. Heck, while I can still do my job the old way tech has made t easier and more consistently accurate. But I still can't see the real need for a smart phone for 90% of those that have them. (Do you really need to be on facebook all the time)
Having as many tanks as I do it would be way too much to put an individual filter on every one. That's for sponge and box filters. Sure I own tons of Whisper HOBs and even two small canisters. Both canisters are on tanks running. Not fully sold on them though.
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Quote me as saying I was misquoted.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-06-2019, 02:33 PM
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Two months ago, I bought a 55 gallon tank with a starter kit for half price. The starter kit is cheapo stuff, so I thought I would connect the filter that came with the kit to an undergravel filter system. I have an old stand & canister filters that I've had in the basement for maybe 9 years. That was the last time I had my tank set up. I have discovered that now you can buy activated gravel that should work well with an undergravel system. However, I'm going to try it, but this will be one of three filters in my tank. I just got in replacement seals and gaskets for my old canister filters and the undergravel system yesterday. so, after a few months of planning, I'm ready to go. So, long story short, you can still get an undergravel system.

My first tank was also in the mid 80s as a kid. One thing I can share that I have learned between that time and now is that in addition to testing the PH and nitrate levels in your water, you can test the hardness in your water as well. To the best of my limited knowledge from that time, the hobby did not have that as part of its focus; at least not what I read at the time for fresh water setups. liveaquaria.com is a good source to see what levels different fish prefer. Also, although you may want to do business with stocking your tank with a mom & pop store, Petsmart will test your water for free so you can see what water chemistry you are starting with and if your tap water is the way you want to go.

Good luck with your set up
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