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Re: UGF's aren't so bad.
Holes?? Anyway, UGFs have long been regarded as NOT very useful and
non-conducive for long-term, stable (like 5+ years without total tear-down),
planted tanks by many plant tank novices and experts, although quite a few
people still use them. An UGF effectively becomes both your biological and
mechanical filter which harbors lots of bacteria under the plate and
requires frequent cleaning. This is hard to do in a heavily planted tank
and unnecessary when you compare it to a good canister filter. Many
ions will be oxidized to unavailable forms with all that well-oxygenated
water flowing through the substrate, and the plants will suffer.
I have had very positive experience with UGF's.
My 135 gallons was set-up 18 years ago with three undergravel plates as a
rift lake cichlid tank. The only time I have torn the tank down was when I
decided to switch to South American Cichlids with plants and inactivated two
of the three plates. It is true that many plants will not grow well directly over
an active plate. Also, clean the gravel, if you do not plan to keep water flow
I now use only one of the three plates. Amazons, crypts, val, hygro, anubias
bartleri, etc grow over the two inactive plates.
Java moss and giant val grow on top of the active plate. With CO2 and
fertilizer, all the plants grow like gangbusters.
IMHO, the UGF is unbeatable for biological activity and fine filtration. The
trick is to grow the plants where the plate isnt and gravel siphon once or twice