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Plants with Undergravel Filter?

9149 Views 7 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Hawkeye
Good morning APC!

I'm very new to plants and I plan on introducing new plants to my aquarium. However, my aquarium uses undergravel filter which does a good job and I don't have plans of changing it. I've heard that using undergravel filter (UGF) is not a good idea for plants but I would really like to keep the UFG. So, I need your advise on the best way to introduce and take care of plants taking into consideration the UGF. Thanks very much.

(By the way, does anyone know what's a red wave plant and yellow rose plant?)


My tank - 30 gallon horizontal tank:

4 Featherfin Catfish
5 Angelfish
8 Sepae Tetra
1 red swordfish
6 albino cory
6 bronze cory
1 Clown Loach
3 Glass Fish

These fishes are quite small, except for the Angels which are about 3 inches.

I have 1 driftwood and 1 decor. Approximately 20% of the right-side of the aquarium are covered with short plants.

I have an undergravel filter with 2 tubes on each of the rear corners. I am using airpumps for both tubes with the air being pushed through a small tube down into the gravel and up a bigger tube. The gravel are small pebbles, not sand.

I've also begun vacuuming the about 30% of the gravel once a week when I change 30% of the H2O.
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You can use plants you don't have to plant like Java fern, Java Moss & Anubias; these plants can be tied to wood or rocks. You can also use floaters like Hornwort & Water lettuce.
You can grow any plants you want. My first plant tank had all kinds of plants and it had a UGF. The more I got into growing plants the more I knew the UGF had to go. It was the maintenance. The gravel kept the NO3 levels high so it was a constant battle with algae. I would have to do the gravel suck thing once a month. I used powerheads to drive the UGF and I had 4-5 inches of gravel too. That could be why I had so much trouble with it.

Thanks for the very useful advise. It will go a long way into helping me out venture into aquaria plantilia.
What was in your gravel that kept NO3 levels high? If it did and you follow the estimative index that seems to me like it would be good. As long as all parameters were in check. You can do a RFUG which Tom has used and said they work fine. Although unnecessary it would do the same thing and offer good overall circulation. Use a lot of gravel with it and dont worry about things. Just dont use jobes :).
I think what was the source of NO3 was a heavy fish load and over feeding. I never used root tabs in this tank as long as had an UGF. You don't have to use them because the ferts in the water column are pulled down to the roots of root feeding plants. I had a deep substrate in this tank. It seemed like every thing was pulled into the gravel and rotted there. The only think that would keep the NO3 down was gravel sucks once or twice per/month. I am not saying you can't grow plants Its just a pain. At lest it was for me. Some of my biggest Amazon Sword where grown in this tank. I had Cyrpts that reached the top on the tank (55gal). The roots ran all over the tank and became entangled in the UGF. I wish I had started off with a canister filter with Eco-Complete from the start. It would have saved me allot of time and aggravation.

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I wouldn't have one in there if I had everything to do all over again, but my 30 gallon has an old UGF plate in it. I don't use it any more, but it certainly doesn't hurt anything.

There shouldn't be any need for you to go through the trouble of removing it, should you decide to go with other filtration (a good idea). My personal preference is for cannister filters.
I agree Cavan. When I changed over to a canister filter I left the UGF grids in the tank until the tank died.

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