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UFG vs no flow

Since folks feel there are other ways that are good such as UGF for planted
tanks, why not try this if you really believe it works so well.

Grow a tank with a UFG and sand.
Then try the same tank without the UF and add something like soil or
Flourite with no flow.

Now you can tell me which will have nicer plants?

Also, considering the loss of usable tank space, addition of lift tubes,
initial cost of the UGF, added air pump or powerhead and it's electrical
consumption, which do you think would be better? Why?

What I've seen: I have done this and have seen the differences. I kept UFG's
and switched after seeing the difference between C/PVC grid style UG filters
over traditional plates. Later, I saw the difference between this (RFUG's)
and Flourite with no flow.

Each step made the plants grow better and in every case.

The difference in __both__ the non and CO2 enriched tanks was dramatic when
the substrates were switched over each time.

I spent a number of years observing a number of tanks before I made this
conclusion. I really wanted the RFUG's to work better but that was not the

Now while you can have a plant tank with UGF and RFUG, the tank will look
better, easier to maintain, cost less in the long run, and produce better
growth without a UFG if you use some of the other substrates like Kitty
litter, soil, sand+laterite or flourite etc.
Kitty litter and RFUG did do pretty good surprisingly.

If you are "cheap" why even add any laterite to plain sand? I mean you can
still have a decent looking planted tank doing this also with plain sand and

Sure, you don't have to use many of the recommendations on this list, but
each component, the added extra lighting, the CO2, good substrate, good
maintenance routine, herbivores, balanced fish load, lots of plants from the
very start will help improve the tank. Each piece makes it easier for folks
to grow and maintain a planted tank with any design concept they want.

I think a good substrate , no matter _what method_ you use is simply a no
brainer. It will help any type of planted tank. Once set up, you seldom need
to do anything further.

If anyone wishes, they can set up a tank with mature sand+UGF and mature
sand (no UGF) and see. Or better yet, try flourite and no UGF for either
tank and see a dramatic difference.

I was a water column doser with very very poor substrates for a number of
years, just sand and snail poop pretty much. Adding the good substrate
really made that extra difference and certainly brought plant health up a
couple of notches. Didn't matter what I did to the water column.

Some folks feel the substrate is a low priority. When growing plants in the
non carbon enriched tank, I think the substrate is king, light balancing and
routine feeding (for water column nutrients).

You can choose to delete a good substrate for cost reasons but I don't.
I think it's a key part of any planted tank and it's a pain to replace, mess

This hobby is luxury item.
I do think if cost is a big issue, non CO2 tanks are good(less $ for the
light, CO2 tank etc), but you may want to set up the substrate well. I
really like the way flourite and onyx have done in the non CO2 tank
approach. They do not appear to wear out but rather, improve with age. I do
add more peat and mulm to these non carbon enriched tank than CO2 enriched
tanks, about 2-3x as much. The substrate is also 4 inches deep in non carbon
enriched planted tank. I can get away with less, maybe 1/2 that in a CO2
enriched tank but I almost always slope up to 3-6 inches in the rear of the

Tom Barr