Unorthodox Planted Tank- With Undergravel Filtration - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-06-2010, 05:20 AM Thread Starter
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Question Unorthodox Planted Tank- With Undergravel Filtration

Yes, I know, it's not the purist's version of a planted tank, but I'm setting up my old 55 gal. and although I was at first going to go with the total planted tank method, this is my main tank, in my den, and I want to make sure it looks good from the start. So I've decided to use one (or a few) of my smaller tanks to learn about planted tanks and go with what I know for my 55, at least for now, and that will include undergravel filtration. However, I do want to include live plants, so I'm looking for advice on incorporating live plants in a tank with UG filtration. Should I simply use small pots hidden under the gravel and root the plants in a common planted tank substrate within the pots? Any suggestions are appreciated.

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Last edited by Olskule; 02-06-2010 at 07:59 AM. Reason: confusion over "UG"
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-06-2010, 05:26 AM
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Floating plants and mosses and ferns and anubias could also be used. Just throwing that out there.

Such floating plants that could be used: Hornwort, Lemna trisulca, Utricularia Vulgaris, and those fancy true above the water floating plants like salvinia and frogbit and red root floaters.
I see no problem with using pots, although I am not particularly familiar with under gravel filters.

By the way, some might think U.G. stands for utricularia graminifolia.

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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-06-2010, 05:35 AM Thread Starter
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Floating plants and mosses and ferns and anubias could also be used. Just throwing that out there.

Such floating plants that could be used: Hornwort, Lemna trisulca, Utricularia Vulgaris, and those fancy true above the water floating plants like salvinia and frogbit and red root floaters.
I see no problem with using pots, although I am not particularly familiar with under gravel filters.

By the way, some might think U.G. stands for utricularia graminifolia.
LOL! See? I'm so old school that I automatically think "undergravel" when I see "UG"

And good point about the floaters- thanks


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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-06-2010, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by seds View Post
By the way, some might think U.G. stands for utricularia graminifolia.
That's actually what came to my mind when I read the title....then I realized it must be something shocking (hence the gasp in the title), so I thought Utricularia gibba...

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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-06-2010, 08:04 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Darkblade48 View Post
That's actually what came to my mind when I read the title....then I realized it must be something shocking (hence the gasp in the title), so I thought Utricularia gibba...
Sorry for the confusion, I'm still not familiar with all the abbreviations on this site; I just edited the heading to avoid confusion. But I did look up utricularia graminifolia. Interesting plant.

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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-06-2010, 10:00 AM
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I second going the moss/epiphyte route if your heart is set on using an undergravel filter. I think you might run into problems with trying to use pots.

There are some really nice tanks out there that only use epiphytes/moss combined with heavy use of driftwood. Take a look at all of the anubias, java ferns, and bolbitis. You could also check out some of the liverworts, like pellia/mini pellia and riccia.
I'd advise staying away from java moss, as personally i think it looks stringy and unkempt. Check out fissidens fontanus, or xmas/taiwan/peacock moss. all of these will grow more bushy, without the tendrils that java moss can get.
All of these can be tied, stapled or super-glued to the driftwood and will avoid the problems of roots clogging your filter.

Since most of these are slow growers by nature, you would probably be better off with low-medium light and a lighter fertilization regimen. The good news is you could have a very nice planted tank with minimal plant maintenance and no need for co2.
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-06-2010, 04:05 PM
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There is no reason not to plant whatever you want when you use an undergravel filter. The only consequence is that the plant roots may grow into the slots in the filter plate, partly plugging them, and making removing the plant later much more difficult.

If you run that undergravel filter in reverse, with the water being pumped down the tubes to under the substrate, to flow back up through the substrate, you can avoid the roots problem almost entirely. I use that type filter now on one tank, with no problems. Another member here uses a conventional undergravel filter in his tanks, but with only a portion of the substrate being used as the filter, and no plants in that area. He has great success with that.

Just because a method is out of current favor, and no longer being used by many people, doesn't mean it isn't a good method.

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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-06-2010, 09:34 PM Thread Starter
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There is no reason not to plant whatever you want when you use an undergravel filter. The only consequence is that the plant roots may grow into the slots in the filter plate, partly plugging them, and making removing the plant later much more difficult.

If you run that undergravel filter in reverse, with the water being pumped down the tubes to under the substrate, to flow back up through the substrate, you can avoid the roots problem almost entirely. I use that type filter now on one tank, with no problems. Another member here uses a conventional undergravel filter in his tanks, but with only a portion of the substrate being used as the filter, and no plants in that area. He has great success with that.

Just because a method is out of current favor, and no longer being used by many people, doesn't mean it isn't a good method.
I've already thought about the partially bare substrate UG filter, and may do that in another aquarium (especially since I have inherited a 45+ year old triangular UG filter plate that would be perfect in a couple of different placements I can think of), but I like the reverse-flow idea you mentioned, and being able to grow whatever I want. On a 55 gallon standard tank with 2 X 24" plates (perfecta-flo, with 1/3 mid-way plate single uplift placement option), what reverse-flow rate would be good, what type of (preferable cheap) substrate can I use, and how thick should it be? I came across an old bag of cat litter (I read the cat litter thread), I'm testing it for firmness, and it seems to be staying together, so I'm wondering if, once rinsed extremely well, that would work in a mix with standard small/medium gravel. Or would the cat litter be better saved for a tank without the UG filter? (One or more of those is comming soon.)

Thanks for the help!

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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-18-2010, 10:09 AM
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A UG filter will work fine for most plants as long as you power it with a powerhead below the water line of canister filter.. NOT an airstone.

I have grown many plants this way and actually inject C02 under the plate to diffuse in one of them.

One of the AGA biotope tanks has reverse flow UG a few years ago... and that looked great.

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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-18-2010, 08:31 PM
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this tank has an undergravel filter




The article about the tank http://www.thekrib.com/Plants/People/opsomer.html

also, this tank has an undergravel too...

http://showcase.aquatic-gardeners.or...1&vol=-1&id=49

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post #11 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-18-2010, 09:34 PM
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The best under gravel filter is the one you DIY from PVC or CPVC pipe and fittings. See https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/di...-past-diy.html

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post #12 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-18-2010, 11:02 PM
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why don't you just use a smaller undergravel plate then plant rooting plants on the opposite side of the tank?
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post #13 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-18-2010, 11:26 PM
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why don't you just use a smaller undergravel plate then plant rooting plants on the opposite side of the tank?
because there's no need?

did you see what i posted above?

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post #14 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-18-2010, 11:31 PM
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wow, snotty...

yea. cool...
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post #15 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-18-2010, 11:50 PM
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about the pots...i'd just make sure that the with root feeders they get access to a free flowing water source...if they are planted in closed containers this may not happen. i'm not sure how ug filters work but perhaps if you put little holes on the bottom of the pot it will suck water through it so the plant is in constant contact with minerals in the water column?
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