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Filterless tanks/bacteria questions

I have had a question on my mind for a while now. As I understand it bacteria
can set up in the aquarium gravel with no problem. Under Gravel filters are a
good example of this. Some filters have have a bacteria material bed in them,
such as floss or the ceramic cylinders in canister filters where the bacteria
establish themselves.

I read somewhere that Magnum filters don't have bacteria hosting material in
them because they prefer to let the bacteria setup in the tank. My first thought
was OK the bacteria sets up housekeeping  in the gravel in the tank. Then I got
to thinking if that is correct then why would we even need filters? (I am
thinking of ammonia only, not mechanical filtering) Why wouldn't the bacteria
just set up in the gravel and do its job. The more I pondered on this I kept
coming back to the common element here seems to be water flow over the bacteria.
UGF flows water over the gravel and Filters threw the media.

Do the bacteria need the water flow for oxygenation or for to bring their food
(ammonia) to them?

Also Assuming that water flow is the important factor here in theory wouldn't a
power head or something else that caused a steady flow over gravel on the bottom
of the tank do the same thing?

This is just a curiosity question that has been bugging me for a while now.

Jeff <*\\><