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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Ok.

Changing the water is good, siphoning the dirty gravel is best (more dirty water) however if you have rock, driftwood structures or plants will get in the way and prevent you from siphoning. I had driftwood structures collapse when I tried to vacuum the substrate.

I am wondering if any system exist in which you can place something that is like an old under gravel filter which separates the bottom of the tank from substrate however it might have like a slope or a V-shape area to allow fish waste to collect in a certain area under the gravel.

Then you have large diameter(for high water flow) tubing / PVC pipe that will run back up the aquarium, over the top of the aquarium which then could be collected to a hose leading to a low gravity point, waste water line, or maybe even a python sink adapter setup.

The idea is that the pressure of the entire aquarium is going to force all the fish waste in the graven down into this collection space below the gravel then into the tube to effectively clean 100% of the gravel without having to move any structures, plants, kick up anything into the water column, etc..

Creating a new smarter gravel siphon vacuum system which is best for people with planted tank with driftwood/rock structures which you don't want to disturb?

Basically an evolution and combination of these 2 systems.







Does it already exist or if not, would something like this possible work? Picture the wide python hose( or something much wider for faster water flow) was attached to the output of the under gravel filter with the undergravel filter possible allowing for more water flow as well as lower area in the space below the under gravel filter for fish water collect in certain spaces near the water intake to exist the tank)

What do you think?
 

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I'll let some of the engineers on here respond to if it will work but are you talking about a fish only tank or heavily planted because my tanks are heavily planted and I never vacuum the substrate.That is all plant food and as long as you don't disturb the gravel leave it....
 

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If you do not have a dirted substrate I would recommend looking into reverse under gravel filtration.Though honestly ugf's do not work well in planted tanks because the roots tend to clog the bottom plates.

The best way I have found to deal with fish and other waste is biologically through the plants.
 

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As my thinking has slowly evolved, I now find what you propose is not really what I would use.
One is that things do have a nasty habit of developing dirt, algae or some sort of "grung" even when down and out of sight. Think of the stuff that collects in filter tubing or impellers and what happens if we don't clean it occasionally? I found that same thing happening under my undergravel filter plates. Without me being able to see it, the passages were stopping up with this gunk. As it did the water just moved to other places which were still open but where the water flow stopped, the good bacteria died and was replaced by bacteria not using O2 to live. The bad stinky stuff that dwells in sewers. If you are not removing the debris, the system could be failing and you would not be able to see it.
I no longer use UG filters.
Second point is whether you really need to remove the debris as you are now doing. To me the point of doing all the work as you are, is to get debris out as this debris does result in increased bio load. More debris, whether in the sub or in the filter does mean more ammonia, more nitrite and results in more nitrate. Since plants use these as food, I no longer work so hard to remove it when I have plants. A theory that may work but is super hard to achieve and keep working is that the plants and the debris are in near perfect balance so that the plants do all the work. Can be done but hard to keep it all going for long term as things change.
For my larger tanks where I have some plants, I no longer work to clean the debris out of the bottom but work more on cleaning what is collected by the filters more often. This combined with more water changing than in former tanks, works better for me. I never move stuff to clean under them.
 

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1) Detritus is not forced down through gravel in a UGF - it collects there and decomposes as water flows around and through it.

2) As mentioned, UGF plates tend to get plugged by rooted plants.

3) I think sand is the best substrate...and it doesn't work with UGF's nor does it need to.

4) I've been an organic (veggie) gardener for years. In the planted aquarium, why do we attempt to remove organic fertilizer (uneaten food and fish/plant waste, only to add chemical liquid ferts and root tabs?!?! Might better feed the plants organically!

A better objective is to achieve a balance in plants, fish/bio-load and water purity. This could even mean fewer water changes and/or a reduced volume in weekly water changes (no point flushing nutrients only to dose more).
 

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The idea is that the pressure of the entire aquarium is going to force all the fish waste in the graven down into this collection space below the gravel then into the tube to effectively clean 100% of the gravel without having to move any structures, plants, kick up anything into the water column, etc..
That's actually far from reality. Pressure of water in the aquarium cannot force anything down. Water pressure acts evenly in all directions as our good old friend Pascal explained, it does not create any "down" force on submerged objects.

Quote the opposite, pressure differential between upper and lower portions of submerged objects actually creates an upward force, as our good old friend Archimedes explained.

The only forces that can make waste to sift through gravel are: weight of the waste (which is greatly reduced underwater as explained above) and water flow (as in UGF). But it appears that your design is not intended to employ permanent UGF-style water flow, so there's nothing to push waste through the gravel in your case.
 

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I'll let some of the engineers on here respond to if it will work but are you talking about a fish only tank or heavily planted because my tanks are heavily planted and I never vacuum the substrate.That is all plant food and as long as you don't disturb the gravel leave it....
In my fish only aquarium, I can move the fake decorations and vaccum the substrate however on the medium planted/natural aquariums I find it harder and harder to vacuum the substrate. When I create a rock or wood structure, its a careful balancing act of keeping the whole thing up. If I disturb it with the siphon hose, the entire thing could come crashing down.

The more natural structures I make, the less and less area I am able to clean with the siphon hose.

I was under the impression that its still better to vacuum the substrate then not as far as water quality since the fish waste has to first break down in the nitrogen cycle before it can be useful to the plants and there will probably be enough of that even trying to keep the tank clean.

I think I read somewhere that the gasses that can get trapped deep in the substrate can be dangerous for the fish.

I think it would still be of good use and help the quality of water if one exist.

Thanks.

As my thinking has slowly evolved, I now find what you propose is not really what I would use.
One is that things do have a nasty habit of developing dirt, algae or some sort of "grung" even when down and out of sight. Think of the stuff that collects in filter tubing or impellers and what happens if we don't clean it occasionally? I found that same thing happening under my undergravel filter plates. Without me being able to see it, the passages were stopping up with this gunk. As it did the water just moved to other places which were still open but where the water flow stopped, the good bacteria died and was replaced by bacteria not using O2 to live. The bad stinky stuff that dwells in sewers. If you are not removing the debris, the system could be failing and you would not be able to see it.
I no longer use UG filters.
Second point is whether you really need to remove the debris as you are now doing. To me the point of doing all the work as you are, is to get debris out as this debris does result in increased bio load. More debris, whether in the sub or in the filter does mean more ammonia, more nitrite and results in more nitrate. Since plants use these as food, I no longer work so hard to remove it when I have plants. A theory that may work but is super hard to achieve and keep working is that the plants and the debris are in near perfect balance so that the plants do all the work. Can be done but hard to keep it all going for long term as things change.
For my larger tanks where I have some plants, I no longer work to clean the debris out of the bottom but work more on cleaning what is collected by the filters more often. This combined with more water changing than in former tanks, works better for me. I never move stuff to clean under them.
Just to clarify, I am talking about building a new system which I don't believe currently exist, the pictures are just to show things which do currently exist that can possible be combined into a system which I don't believe exist yet.

In other words, I am not talking about an under gravel filter in the sense of a constant current to move water slowly though the substrate nor am I talking about connecting an under gravel into a HOB filter.

I am talking about basically a Python/Aqueon Siphoning system which pulls out of the aquarium with a very short term yet high flow rate to basically flush out the worst of the fish waste.

Do you have a normal in ground pool? Do you know how the pool is sloped on the bottom to lead everything into a low spot which has the drain connected to the filter?

Well think of that except the filter is only used for water changes.

Just wanted to clarify that you knew I was talking about a high water volume system for water changes not for filtering.

So on another point, are you saying that having fish waste collect in these underground plates would be bad because the substrate gets oxygen however under the substrate it would not get oxygen and create a bad type of bacteria?

Please let me know if that is what you are saying?

Thanks.
 

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Just to clarify, I am talking about building a new system which I don't believe currently exist, the pictures are just to show things which do currently exist that can possible be combined into a system which I don't believe exist yet.

In other words, I am not talking about an under gravel filter in the sense of a constant current to move water slowly though the substrate nor am I talking about connecting an under gravel into a HOB filter.

I am talking about basically a Python/Aqueon Siphoning system which pulls out of the aquarium with a very short term yet high flow rate to basically flush out the worst of the fish waste.

Do you have a normal in ground pool? Do you know how the pool is sloped on the bottom to lead everything into a low spot which has the drain connected to the filter?

Well think of that except the filter is only used for water changes.

Just wanted to clarify that you knew I was talking about a high water volume system for water changes not for filtering.

So on another point, are you saying that having fish waste collect in these underground plates would be bad because the substrate gets oxygen however under the substrate it would not get oxygen and create a bad type of bacteria?

Please let me know if that is what you are saying?

Thanks.
My thinking is that no matter how we try, algae/debris/gunk tends to collect on things. In canister filters it often can be seen collecting on the tubing. In HOB filters it is in the siphon tube. Even where there is good flow like inside water lines coming to the house, minerals collect. Some of it is rust when the pipes are metal but there is also some that collects in PVC pipes. In several areas, the water companies do what they call a chlorine burnout to help clear this.
With this in mind, I am always reluctant to see any system that has water flow without a somewhat easy way to monitor and then clean the system if it is needed. How long and how soon would depend on lots of thing like it does in the public water supply.
I found under gravel filters were sneaky in that I could not tell when and how much was collecting until I pulled everything down and pulled the plates. Stinking mess in my tank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
1) Detritus is not forced down through gravel in a UGF - it collects there and decomposes as water flows around and through it.

2) As mentioned, UGF plates tend to get plugged by rooted plants.

3) I think sand is the best substrate...and it doesn't work with UGF's nor does it need to.

4) I've been an organic (veggie) gardener for years. In the planted aquarium, why do we attempt to remove organic fertilizer (uneaten food and fish/plant waste, only to add chemical liquid ferts and root tabs?!?! Might better feed the plants organically!

A better objective is to achieve a balance in plants, fish/bio-load and water purity. This could even mean fewer water changes and/or a reduced volume in weekly water changes (no point flushing nutrients only to dose more).

1. I used UGF years ago and I can tell you the most nasty stuff was under that plate when I tore down the tank. I am talking about pure black horrible stuff. If you could vacuum that stuff out under high pressure pump or siphon system, you would be doing well.

2. The system I'm talking about may not currently exist yet and would not necessary have to be based off a UGF system. It could be a serious of pipes or tubes with small holes all over or a solid piece of plastic in a mini-reverse pyramid shape with thick collection pipe at the lowest point,etc..

3. I have heard that sand is one of the worst substrate for plants. It does not add anything for the plants, it does not absorb nutriments like lava rock/eco-complete or provide any natural trace elements as many other substrates do. In addition, it can act like small knives and ruin a filter if sucked in as well as shows fish waste the worst of any substrate.

4. The " organic fertilizer" only accounts for nitrates whereas fertilizer such as tabs have trace elements and other compounds. That is why products like " water garden by back to the roots" don't work for so many people.

Nitrogen is only 1 part of what plants need.

You need phosphate, potash, Boron, Iron, magnesium, Zinc, etc..

https://backtotheroots.com/products/watergarden

" Myth: An “aquaponics” system is a good way to keep a betta in a tiny container because the plants will remove wastes.
False! There is no excuse for keeping your betta in a very small unfiltered container. Proper aquaponics systems, where plants are grown on top of the aquarium using the wastes from the fish as fertilizer, can be a fun project. However, the tiny “aquaponics” tanks that seem to be all the rage because they claim to make water changes and cleaning unnecessary, are little more than betta death traps if you use them as advertised. Cleaning, heating and filtering is always necessary!"

So why change your water at all if all you need is plants? Why not just seal the top and let your mini ecosystem run unmolested for years on end in a endless cycle?
 

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When I used ugf plates in tanks with gravel I would stick the tubing from the siphon down the holes in the back of the plates and siphon out a lot of debris from under the plates. I had one tank on an open stand and could look up through the bottom to see how well it worked. This was a 20 gallon tank and this cleaning method would clear maybe half the bottom area. Not enough suction to remove the debris that was farthest from the holes.
I think the concept has some value, but it will take some experimenting to get it to work. Perhaps an access hole in each corner?
And the problem of which substrate will work with such a system. Under gravel plates would need coarse substrate.
 

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I'm not saying it would not be possible to design/build a system that would work. More that I am looking at how practical it would be to spend the time and effort to do it. One big thing is to look at what needs are served to judge the potential market. Then those needs are balanced against what it takes to get the product off the ground.
It could remove more of the debris but would there be lots who would consider the system? Knowing the way I now operate, both fish only and planted, I do not see much market. At least not for me. Rather than buy into a new system, when I do want to remove more debris, I simply add more powerheads to move that debris to the filter intakes or up my water changing to deal with the potential ammonia. Perhaps there is too much worry about things that are left being a problem. Now that I am leaving more debris, I see no problem with ammonia that I did not have before.
My main idea might be that you are designing a solution to a problem that I don't have.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
When I used ugf plates in tanks with gravel I would stick the tubing from the siphon down the holes in the back of the plates and siphon out a lot of debris from under the plates. I had one tank on an open stand and could look up through the bottom to see how well it worked. This was a 20 gallon tank and this cleaning method would clear maybe half the bottom area. Not enough suction to remove the debris that was farthest from the holes.
I think the concept has some value, but it will take some experimenting to get it to work. Perhaps an access hole in each corner?
And the problem of which substrate will work with such a system. Under gravel plates would need coarse substrate.
The concept seems to work on this small betta vase.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdQ00LeM9Zg

I wonder why not a larger aquarium especially if you used a powerful pump or python connected to a your sink.
 

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Good point- I was just using gravity/siphon. Larger siphon tube might also help, in a larger tank, but too large a siphon tube would empty the tank too fast.
 
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