Q&A about aquarium maintenance

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Post by mariusmeyer »

Hi Pam.

I am in the process of planning my new 500 liter aquarium to house malawis.

I've been thinking about the filtration and I was wondering if you could assist me in it. I was thinking of a custom made under gravel filter (UGF). I know it is advised not to use one since malawis dig allot but I want to use it since helps to keep the water clear. My concern is all the waste that accumulates underneath the filter and was wondering if it is a bad thing ( I think it is but need professional advise ). I was wondering what would happen if I have vacuum tubes underneath the UGF to pick up all the debris. I'm planning on having a filter thats takes the water from the tank (underneath the UGF) and then pumping it out of the aquarium into a gutter system. The water will pass through the gutter system containingg a level of sponge, then through a level of bio-balls, then through a level of activated carbon and again through another layer of sponge to catch any debris not collected is the layers above, and then back into the tank. According to my thoughts this would give clean oxygenated water back into the tank.

If you could please give me your thought about this setup I would appreciate it since my local pet store cannot give me any.

Thanx a million
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Pam Chin
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Post by Pam Chin »

Hi Marius,

Bscially you are are going to pull the water from the aquarium thru the gravel, and into a sump and then pump back into the tank thru a series of media. Sure that would work fine. The UG filter was designed to pull the water down thru the gravel, and the debris eventually is pulled down underneath the UG filter plate. A lot of gucky stuff can build up. While your good bacteria in the tank is eating on some of it, is still shocking to see what accumulates. You can put a siphon on your lift tubes and suck some of it out. However, this debris can be toxic if you don't get it sucked out and some how migrates back into the tank.

There are many ways to filter your tank, combining two types is fine, I don't dwell too much on the method of filtration as long as you have enough in your tank. You want to make sure you are turning over the amount of water you have in your tank 6 - 8 times. How you do that is by the method you are most comfortable with, you are the one that has to clean it, if you don't have a problem with the maintenance then go for it. While UG filters are considered primitive it is hard to beat the principal of how it works, and it is also the least expensive way to filter you tank. It is a proven method, it has just been over shadowed by cannisters, etc.

As far as using a UG filter with cichlids that dig, you just provide a barrier. Once they get down to the barrier, they can't go anythiing further. Good barrier material is egg crate, or a plastic covered mesh, you need to allow the flow of water. So you put your UG filter plate down, cover it well with the gravel, add your egg crate and then add more gravel to cover it.

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