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Re: filtration in planted tanks, UGF

On Tue, 8 Dec 1998...

Ryan Ingram wrote:

> I would like to know how much in the way of filtration
> is enough to get decent plants growth.

Filtration probably has no direct, positive effect on plant growth.  There
are detrimental effects from oxidizing ammonia to nitrite/nitrate,
adsorbing trace nutrients, and removing nutrient-containing detritus.
Plants grow just fine with no filtration at all.  It is a good idea to
provide circulation, though.


and Holly wrote:

> What I
> don't like about not having an ug filter is the amount of cleaning crap off
> the bottom that I have to do -- that's fish waste, dead leaves, and so forth.
> I'm thinking a ug filter would process the waste better.  Will it really chew
> up plant roots, rob plants of nutrients, get clogged with sand or clay?  As
> for substrate, I'm trying to do this cheaply.  I have no problem with getting
> the big box of Dupla laterite, but I would prefer a cheaper method, like red
> pottery clay.  Does that work?  Also, my lfs only sell coarser gravel than
> I've seen in most planted tanks.  Will coarse sand from the hardware store
> work?

You can grow plants with an under gravel filter, but using one will limit
your choice of substrates.  You probably shouldn't try using laterite or
art clay at all with an under gravel filter because circulation through
the substrate will tend to keep those suspended.  Even peat can be a
problem because circulating the water through the peat can color your
water rather deep brown.

For an undergravel filter you need a bare gravel substrate and it needs to
be cleaned regularly.  I understand that fertilizer can be added in clay
balls burried near the plant roots but I haven't done that.  Your LFS may
insist that you need a coarse substrate, but I've had no problem using
uniform coarse sand with a grain size around 3-4 mm.  I use Tex-blast.  If
you use something else, then first test it with acid to see if it fizzes.
Fizzing indicates the presence of carbonates that will probably increase
your hardness, alkalinity and pH.

I think you'll find that vaccuuming the detritus off the substrate is less
work than maintaining the UGF.

Roger Miller