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>Date: Wed, 11 Aug 1999 07:47:22 -0600
>From: Beverly Wladyka <greybird at v-wave_com>
>Subject: RUGF with Plants
>We're in the process of re-building our planted 180 gal tank and I'm
>considering using Reverse Under Gravel Filtration (RUGF) along with two
>AquaClear 500s for filtration.  Dimensions of the tank are 6 x 2 x 2,
>with roughly the back half to two-thirds of it to be mderately to
>heavily planted.
>The front portion of the tank will be plant-free and will have gravel
>less than 1" deep which can easily be vacuumed and will not have RUGF.
>However, the previously planted areas in this tank have always been
>difficult to properly vaccum which is why I'd like to use RUGF where the
>plants are to be located.
>Based on my limited understanding of RUGF, the biggest benefit of using
>such a system is that it flushes organic matter that would normally get
>stuck beneath the gravel up into the water column.  The organic matter
>can then be sucked into our AC 500s which can then be easily cleaned on
>a regular basis.  Is this understanding correct?
>The one drawback I forsee is that we won't be able to use fertilizer
>sticks, etc., inserted into the substrate.  Are there other drawbacks
>that I haven't yet seen?
>Also, in this tank, I'm hoping to create a terrace using smooth river
>rock and mopani driftwood to hold back the raised gravel.  Height of the
>gravel on the back terrace will be roughly 3"-5" which is where the
>plants will grow as well as where I'd like to use the RUGF.  Will gravel
>this deep be a problem for water flow of the RUGF system?  Will the
>plants and plant roots be a problem for the RUGF, for that matter?
>All thoughts on this subject will be greatly appreciated.  Thanks in
>Beverly Wladyka
>Edmonton AB Canada
>  http://cbt.bungi.com/amazonaquarium
>  http://cbt.bungi.com/indoorpond

Depending on flow, depth, gracvel size you CAN use laterite/tabs/sticks with
these. I used laterite for years in this manner. A grid of pvc or cpvc can
be made for your tank for about 5-10$. In this grid, drill small holes on
the bottom spaced about 2 inches apart. This will allow areas of reduction
and oxidation. A small power head with a prefilter works well for water
movement for the RFUG since your using the 2x500's. 
  BTW, unless your having a high fish load, the RFUG isn't going to do that
much for you. It will kept the same temp(no cold feet) throughout the
substrate and Anubias appreciate the movement, but using Flourite instead
will make things simpler in the long run and do a better job. 
    Do you want to grow bacteria or plants? Plants do well with RFUG's but
they aren't essential nor are cables or other systems.
   RFUG's need a pump source to pump water(costing more $ in electric) into
the grid/plate. They also need cleaned(the prefilter). It's another wire in
the mess behind the tank too. Unless your after a high fish load and need
the bacteria, I'd say do flourite instead. 
I have both systems and have used RFUG's on planted tanks for over 10 years.
I have *never* had a problem growing any plants due to errors in the
substrate with RFUG's. I have had problems using soils and other componets
in the past but I know how to do it right nowdays<g>.
Flourite is set and forget.
     Simple is good. No cleaning of the prefilter is good(vacumming isn't
essential either for a good plant tank except for aesthics............   
BTW). Sucking up the detritus isn't a good thing actually. Adding this
detritus to your gravel bed will help your plants and your substrate over
time. Surface vac'ing can be done for asethics instead also. I think most of
the APD'ers do this rather than vac the whole substrate. 
    Flow through the flourite is good/done by osmosis.
Nothing to build or modify. No *need* to add laterite/tabs/sticks. I have a
2ft+ "TREE" red horemanni sword with aleast 80 leaves on it growing in it.
Time to get the ax.
     Hope some of this helps you decide. Main thing is fish load. You still
can get around this by big water changes or more external filtration too.
RFUG's work but consider all the options of what works.
Tom Barr