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Should I use an UGF?

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Ray Pollett

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Reason I ask is everyone seems to think a Protien Skimmer is essential. To those who have been around a while, that was also true of UGFs. No- one years ago would think of reccomending a tank set up without an UGF. But times change. For those who are no old enough to remember, the UGF changed saltwater fish keeping. It allowed most people to keep fish alive for more than a few months. Everyone said you had to have one. Then Protein skimmers came along. We were now able to keep fish and corals alive. So they became the equipment you had to have to keep a saltwater tank. Well today most no longer use crushed coral on the bottom; they use a sand bed. A lot of people use a DSB and LR. What a lot of people are seeing is with a DSB, LR and detrivores a Protien skimmer is no longer needed. It is just the changes in the hobby, and we will see otther changes if we hang around. So please stop telling people a Protien Skimmer is required, It is not. It is optional.

By the way I still have one tank with an UGF, crushed coral and LR. A healthy tank.

Ray
 

Desolas

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Well you kind of answered your own question there. Were you actually asking, or just stating your opinion?

Protein Skimmers do so much to benefit a tank that I can see how the perception is they are required. Your right, they aren't, tanks without them are restricted to a smaller bioload or some other form of filtration to take the place of the skimmer. Skimmers also are beneficial to maintaining tank pH by aerating the water. You need something to filter out the organic matter, you need something to aerate the water, that's all that is really true.

I think the major fault of UGF's which made their time pass was like what is happening with DSB's, people are finding unless they do something about it they become detritus traps which causes problems in other ways. There are ways to avoid that, but most people would rather jump on the next "big thing" and point their finger at their previous method as causing all of their ills. I ran a UGF on my first tank, I found if you run it backwards with two high volume pumps it becomes a really good biological filter - and it stays clean - the only problem is it required having two Hagen 802's in each corner of the tank. That's why I no longer use a UGF in any tank, FW or SW. They are physically bulky and I hate having hardware in the main tank.

I think what your going to see more of is people switching to a bare bottom tank with high water volume and a huge skimmer. This is going to mislead a lot of people into thinking this is the next miracle cure. What we'll end up seeing is a lot of followers who don't take into consideration the sudden lack of biological filtration and we'll see a lot of people complaining how running bare bottom nuked their tank from nutrient overload because they didn't compensate for the loss of their large biofilter (sandbed.)

Fortunately in this hobby there is no right or wrong way when it comes to husbandry as long as you're having success and are keeping a healthy thriving system. As you know, mainstream dictates how most people are going to act. This hobby is very driven by the next big thing.
 

mojoreef

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Well I have been around for a little bit anyway. I have seen alot of things come and go, some with validity and others with out. I have also seen alot of things being promoted over the last 4 or five years that are just miconceptions and not fully identified, DSB's being one of them, but that is another story.
As per Protien Skimmer they are a very efficient method for the exportation of detritus/organics and waste, are they essencial? nope. Nothing is really essencial, anyone can choose to run thier tanks with or with out most things (beyond bacteria) If you choose not to use a skimmer you are removing a peice of equipment that is a major player in the removal of the above products, you just need to find another method of doing so. If you think a dsb or an undergravel filter is going to do so for you, then you just dont understand how they work.

Desolas I am a little confused about the below comment.
think what your going to see more of is people switching to a bare bottom tank with high water volume and a huge skimmer. This is going to mislead a lot of people into thinking this is the next miracle cure. What we'll end up seeing is a lot of followers who don't take into consideration the sudden lack of biological filtration and we'll see a lot of people complaining how running bare bottom nuked their tank from nutrient overload because they didn't compensate for the loss of their large biofilter (sandbed.)
What exactly is biological filtration supposed to do for you, I do fully believe in it myself, but I would like to understand how you reference it in your above statement.
From my understanding of it everyone has it (dsb, lr, whatever) to process down and convert nitrogen based products, right? Now in a system with no real exportation Ie: a tank with no skimmer or a tank with just a dsb or even a tank with just LR. you would then need a lot of biological filtration just to be able to process nitrogen based products (never mind all the other products that we put in our tanks). But a tank that aggressively exports the above mentioned products (say one with good flow to remove the above and a good skimmer to get rid of it) has substancially less detritus/organics to deal with as it has removed them. If thier not thier you dont need alot of biological reduce to take place. I am getting the assumtion that you think a BB tank has no biological filtration, that is not the case what so ever. because of the set up of a BB tank the vast majority of the waste and so on it removed prior to breakdown, thus not a lot of biological filtration is required. All BB tanks that I know of contain LR which give the tank the biological filtration that maybe needed for the the detritus and so on that is left behind.

let me know what you think


Mike
 

Desolas

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If their not their you don't need alot of biological reduce to take place. I am getting the assumption that you think a BB tank has no biological filtration, that is not the case what so ever.
My statement was somewhat incomplete, that was not my point at all. What I was saying was in the same regard to using a DSB and a UGF the right way. What I was implying is people will start to switch to bare bottoms without taking into consideration they then need to remove the detritus, bare bottom alone isn't the method, it is only part of it. I support the concept of a bare bottom tank, but like a DSB, it has to be done right. What I was trying to point out is what I think will happen is people will skirt the details, remove their sandbed without adding any means of trapping the detritus, then complain that their barebottom failed. I think this is the major cause of DSB failures, people not using them right. You see a lot of people switching to a DSB but not taking into account that they can trap detritus (insufficient flow near the sand) and they don't introduce enough fauna to the sand bed (or continue to do so) so you end up with finger pointing at the method rather than the real problem which was execution by the hobbyist.

If you are running a tank as DSB tank, remove the DSB to bare bottom and do nothing else you've lost a component of your biological filter. You need to do more than just have a bare bottom to have a bare bottom tank. My comment was supposed to get across that you need to do it right for it to work, you need the entire system.

I was trying to use other examples of why I think UGF's got a bad rap, people put them on and then either sucked water through them, or worse, used airstone to drive them. The wrong way to do it - that just creates the nutrient trap/sink that UGF have become known for. When I mentioned running it backwards at high volume - the right way to use one - that was where I was pointing out there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. When people don't use something the right way it gets a bad rap, people point fingers at the equipment rather than looking into if they were using it the right way, then they move onto whatever is currently popular.

But since we're talking about bare bottoms now I think they can be really useful as long as you export the organic waste from the tank before it can start to break down and pollute. I think this is going to be a hurdle for some people to grasp and what may eventually lead to a lot of negativity towards having a bare bottom system. That and because of the current require to keep the detritus in suspension to trap it I think they are really only well suited to tanks with harder corals due to the high amount of water turnover required. The amount of flow needed really isn't going to be good for a tank full of leathers or mushrooms, which will lead people with such tanks to turn down their flow, negating the concept of the bare bottom somewhat.

What I meant to basically say about barebottoms (in summary) is I think you will see a lot of people yanking out their DSB or whatever and failing to increase their flow or skimmer capacity. These people who are following the mainstream will suffer from not doing things right (I've already seen cases of it popping up) but that was not a dig at bare bottoms, but hobbyists who follow mainstream concepts with just enough of a cursory glance that it causes negative feedback for the method used, which then leads to people jumping on the next miracle fix.

Hopefully that was a little clearer. I need to stop posting first thing in the morning before the old brain has woke up. :)
 

mojoreef

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VERY STRONG POST. Desolas and I agree. Although I do not agree that you need alot of flow to keep detritus in the water column and then out of the tank you do need it to be well positioned. People must realize that it is not a plug and play system (no system is) good husbandry must be practiced. On softies and BB systems they can be done with lower flow as the softies themselves are great nutrient uptakers. But still husbandry applies.
At this point in the young life of a DSB system I dont believe it is quite a complete system yet. If all the procedures you mentioned above are practiced you are still only processng nitrogen products and sinking the balance. I think it needs to be modified ...or maybe mechanically enhanced in order to make up for the balance of elements that dont get reduced. Believe me I have spent alot of days on that one. But thier should be a method, it just has to be thought out.

I am not sure I understand the concept of reversing the flow of an under gravel filter?? if you got a moment let me know what the plan is thier.


Mike
 

Elmo18

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Oh no, its the DSB and BB talk again. Oh wait, did i just say that? :D

I'm still to DSB, nuff said! Maintenance, yes, it does work. I run one tank BB, i see no problems either.

- Elmo
 

Ray Pollett

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Messages
196
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Blaine, WA
Desolas said:
Well you kind of answered your own question there. Were you actually asking, or just stating your opinion?---]
Just getting peoples attention

Protein Skimmers do so much to benefit a tank that I can see how the perception is they are required. Your right, they aren't, tanks without them are restricted to a smaller bioload --- Me and many others disagree with you on this point. We stock our tanks as heavily as we did with a PS. or some other form of filtration to take the place of the skimmer. Skimmers also are beneficial to maintaining tank pH by aerating the water. You need something to filter out the organic matter, you need something to aerate the water, that's all that is really true.---A simple HOB filter like an Emperor 280 or 400 does both of these for a whole lot less About $40.00 ea compared to the price of a skimmer. They are also more versitile in my opinion.

I think the major fault of UGF's which made their time pass was like what is happening with DSB's, people are finding unless they do something about it they become detritus traps which causes problems in other ways. --- I disagree again. We have no proof that DSB do that. We have people who have to blame their failures somewhere, and do it without proof that is the cause. The whole idea started IMO with another half baked idea by Dr. Ron; who comes up with some good info and some really bad off the wall stuff IMO. As to UGF, No it is not the best way to set up an aquarium, But it still works very well if used properly. I have one running for over three years and the tank is doing fine. Has been vaccumned twice in that time frame. Low light corals are foing good along with an LTA. The only reason It does not have more corals is the owner refuses to upgrade his lights. Has 1-65W PC over aproximately 70 gallon tank. There are ways to avoid that, but most people would rather jump on the next "big thing" and point their finger at their previous method as causing all of their ills. I ran a UGF on my first tank, I found if you run it backwards with two high volume pumps it becomes a really good biological filter - and it stays clean - the only problem is it required having two Hagen 802's in each corner of the tank. That's why I no longer use a UGF in any tank, FW or SW. They are physically bulky and I hate having hardware in the main tank.---Very true, the uptubes and PHs can look bad. I do not run mine in reverse. I use detrivores in the crushed coral.

I think what your going to see more of is people switching to a bare bottom tank with high water volume and a huge skimmer. This is going to mislead a lot of people into thinking this is the next miracle cure. What we'll end up seeing is a lot of followers who don't take into consideration the sudden lack of biological filtration and we'll see a lot of people complaining how running bare bottom nuked their tank from nutrient overload because they didn't compensate for the loss of their large biofilter (sandbed.)--- I agree with you here.

Fortunately in this hobby there is no right or wrong way when it comes to husbandry as long as you're having success and are keeping a healthy thriving system. As you know, mainstream dictates how most people are going to act. This hobby is very driven by the next big thing.
[/QUOTE] I agree, I was just getting tired of all the people who make it sound like a Protien Skimmer is absolutely essential. I've seen too many Absolutely essential equipments sit in garage sales for a penny on the dollar price.

Ray
 

Ray Pollett

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Messages
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Blaine, WA
mojoreef said:
VERY STRONG POST. Desolas and I agree. --- A I respect both of your positions, I just do not totally agree. Maybe it's because of all I've seen or maybe I need more than a so called experts word. I've always liked to try things and see for my self. lthough I do not agree that you need alot of flow to keep detritus in the water column and then out of the tank you do need it to be well positioned. --- I agree with you fully here People must realize that it is not a plug and play system (no system is) good husbandry must be practiced. On softies and BB systems they can be done with lower flow as the softies themselves are great nutrient uptakers. But still husbandry applies. ---A point a lot of people ignore of forget.
At this point in the young life of a DSB system I dont believe it is quite a complete system yet. If all the procedures you mentioned above are practiced you are still only processng nitrogen products and sinking the balance. I think it needs to be modified ...or maybe mechanically enhanced in order to make up for the balance of elements that dont get reduced. Believe me I have spent alot of days on that one. But thier should be a method, it just has to be thought out.--- Just like in the past, we will continue to learn and change with that knowledge.

I am not sure I understand the concept of reversing the flow of an under gravel filter?? if you got a moment let me know what the plan is thier.--- A reverse flow sends the water down thru the tube and the water then travels up thru the crush coral. In theroy it blows or suspenses the waste and uneating food in the water column above the crushed coral. This keeps it available for the fish to continue to eat it and a filter to trap it as the water passes thru the filter. It was used more often on the fresh water side than the salt water side.


Mike


Best Wishes,
Ray
 

Ray Pollett

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Joined
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Messages
196
Location
Blaine, WA
Elmo18 said:
Oh no, its the DSB and BB talk again. Oh wait, did i just say that? :D

I'm still to DSB, nuff said! Maintenance, yes, it does work. I run one tank BB, i see no problems either.

- Elmo
Hi Elmo,

This was to get people thinking. A lot of equipment has been pushed as must have over the years. Looking back we now see they were not, and some like the UGF are considered by a lot of people to be a bad idea. At the time they came along they improved the ability of us to keep the animals alive. But now we have better ways to do it and the animals to a big point are the winners. I think the Protien skimmer is one of these. It will pass, but some will continue to use it. I still use an UGF, but would not reccomend it as the way to keep a tank. It just happens to be an odd situation.

Best Wishes,
Ray
 

NaH2O

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Messages
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"You need something to filter out the organic matter, you need something to aerate the water, that's all that is really true."---A simple HOB filter like an Emperor 280 or 400 does both of these for a whole lot less About $40.00 ea compared to the price of a skimmer. They are also more versitile in my opinion.
How does a HOB filter get rid of DISSOLVED Organic Compounds? The following information can be found Here. DOCs are bipolar molecules; these surfactants are attracted to air/water interfaces, i.e., bubbles. A bipolar molecule contains one or more atoms attracted to air, and one or more atoms attracted to water. Also, Other compounds besides DOCs can be removed as well. These may be VOCs (volatile organic compounds), POC (particulate organic compounds), uneaten fish food, trace elements, secondary metabolites from soft corals, bacteria, macro- and micro-planktons, coral eggs and sperm and other similar compounds.. Skimmers were originally used in the waste water treatment facilities, and then it was determined this would be useful to aquariums. Some argue that they do not want to remove all of these compounds from their tanks. This is true, if you like the look of "nuisance" algal growth, cyanobacteria, dinoflagellates and the like. Certainly, keeping softies would be a better group without a skimmer. I can't imagine a long term, successful SPS tank without one.

"I think the major fault of UGF's which made their time pass was like what is happening with DSB's, people are finding unless they do something about it they become detritus traps which causes problems in other ways." --- I disagree again. We have no proof that DSB do that. We have people who have to blame their failures somewhere, and do it without proof that is the cause.
There is evidence showing that DSBs act as a sink. It is the functionality of the system.....the detritus gets broken down and sinks until it can't go any further....it hits the bottom of the tank. It becomes trapped. I will agree that some are quick to say the sand bed is to blame - without looking at the overall picture. We can test to see if the sand bed is leaching phosphates....simply take a sample from the sand bed and run a phosphate test.

But now we have better ways to do it and the animals to a big point are the winners. I think the Protien skimmer is one of these. It will pass, but some will continue to use it.
I disagree. The protien skimmer is an advancement in the hobby for sure. The car was an advancement from the horse. People are still driving cars - they have been improved, and changed, but they are still cars. I don't own the "Jetson's" flying car, yet. Skimmers may improve in design, or newer models that provide longer contact time, but all in all - IMO, they will stick around.
 

Witfull

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thinking is what needs to be done in this hobby, it involves more science than most hobbies. as far as some equipment being esssensial, it has to be looked at in context. as stated, the UGF was essensial at the time it came out. as other research was done newer/better ways were developed. if looked at from the average hobbyist point of view, they need the tools needed to gain success. we owe that to them, and more importantly the the creatures we keep in our glass boxes. can any of the styles of tanks work? yes, as stated, as long as a procedure is adheared to. if not, there will be failure. UGF, DSB, BB, all have their pros and cons as well as a unique way of needing to be set up and maintained. i have my personal preference but will help guide anyone with the direction they have chosen. if they have not decided then i will present options, but there will always be a small amout of bias no matter to whom you talk to, including my self, as to which way is the one where the pros outweigh the cons.
 

Curtswearing

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Great posts everyone. We all have options. I ran skimmerless for a while and said to myself, "I'll never do that again".

While I won't tell people they HAVE to buy a skimmer, I will ALWAYS recommend that people get the biggest, baddest, and best protein skimmer they can afford. The advantages they offer are awesome in my opinion.

They Filter detritus out of the water column mechanically but obviously not all of it.
Most of the detritus they miss will break down into Dissolved Organic Compounds and the protein skimmers are able to grab these as well.
They help Oxygenate the water which substantially helps with pH stability.
Any reef-tank filter is designed to remove something. Removing the waste that protein skimmers trap is easy....dump the bad water out and rinse in tap water. I wish cleaning out my LR and DSB was so easy.

Here's the protein skimmer I want.
 

szidls

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I am not sure I understand the concept of reversing the flow of an under gravel filter?? if you got a moment let me know what the plan is thier.--- A reverse flow sends the water down thru the tube and the water then travels up thru the crush coral. In theroy it blows or suspenses the waste and uneating food in the water column above the crushed coral. This keeps it available for the fish to continue to eat it and a filter to trap it as the water passes thru the filter. It was used more often on the fresh water side than the salt water side.


Mike [/B]

Best Wishes,
Ray [/B]
I agree with Ray about the reverse flow being used on the freshwater side. I had a 55gal community tank with UGF for many years. It was on an open frame angle iron stand. Even after regular vaccuming and husbandry I could still see detritus and alge accumulations under the UGF on tank bottom. I switched to reverse flow on the power heads and within a coupple months the tank bottom was clean. On my 150 gal FW I had no UGF but I ran an emperor 400, A fluval 404 canister and a magnum canister with dual biowheels. Lots of filtration!
As for using a skimmer on marine tanks. As Mike said. No they are not essential........but I do believe they are very useful in the overall husbandry/maint. My rule of thumb has always been the more filtration the better. Whatever works for you and how much time are you devoting to the maint. of your tank.
Scott:cool:
 

NaH2O

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WOW, Curt! Who gets to clean the skimmate from that beast? PEW! I bet that would be some nasty stuff. I wonder if the person changing the skimmer collection area, has to wear a snorkle and mask to get it all?
 

Ray Pollett

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Blaine, WA
NaH2O said:
How does a HOB filter get rid of DISSOLVED Organic Compounds? --- Carbon does a good job of this if replaced at a reasonable interval. By the way DOC are also food for a number of corals. The following information can be found Here. DOCs are bipolar molecules; these surfactants are attracted to air/water interfaces, i.e., bubbles. A bipolar molecule contains one or more atoms attracted to air, and one or more atoms attracted to water. Also, Other compounds besides DOCs can be removed as well. These may be VOCs (volatile organic compounds), POC (particulate organic compounds), uneaten fish food, trace elements, secondary metabolites from soft corals, bacteria, macro- and micro-planktons, coral eggs and sperm and other similar compounds.. Skimmers were originally used in the waste water treatment facilities, and then it was determined this would be useful to aquariums. --- That is all old information that is true Some argue that they do not want to remove all of these compounds from their tanks. This is true, if you like the look of "nuisance" algal growth, cyanobacteria, dinoflagellates and the like. That is a pure crock.



There is evidence showing that DSBs act as a sink. --- It is the functionality of the system.....the detritus gets broken down and sinks until it can't go any further....it hits the bottom of the tank. It becomes trapped. ---No there is not. There is another of Dr Ron's half baked ideas in my opinion. No scientific test were done just an idea. I will agree that some are quick to say the sand bed is to blame - without looking at the overall picture. We can test to see if the sand bed is leaching phosphates....simply take a sample from the sand bed and run a phosphate test.



I disagree. The protien skimmer is an advancement in the hobby for sure. The car was an advancement from the horse. People are still driving cars - they have been improved, and changed, but they are still cars. I don't own the "Jetson's" flying car, yet. Skimmers may improve in design, or newer models that provide longer contact time, but all in all - IMO, they will stick around.
We disagree here. Like the UGF they will disappear from most tanks.

Ray
 

szidls

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NaH2O said:
WOW, Curt! Who gets to clean the skimmate from that beast? PEW! I bet that would be some nasty stuff. I wonder if the person changing the skimmer collection area, has to wear a snorkle and mask to get it all?
Hey Nikki,
I'm sure those skimmers come complete with a self cleaning mode.
IE........Just like the new million dollar toilets the city of Seattle placed downtown...........LoL.
Scott
 

Ray Pollett

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Messages
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Blaine, WA
Witfull said:
thinking is what needs to be done in this hobby, it involves more science than most hobbies. as far as some equipment being esssensial, it has to be looked at in context. as stated, the UGF was essensial at the time it came out. as other research was done newer/better ways were developed. if looked at from the average hobbyist point of view, they need the tools needed to gain success. we owe that to them, and more importantly the the creatures we keep in our glass boxes. can any of the styles of tanks work? yes, as stated, as long as a procedure is adheared to. if not, there will be failure. UGF, DSB, BB, all have their pros and cons as well as a unique way of needing to be set up and maintained. i have my personal preference but will help guide anyone with the direction they have chosen. if they have not decided then i will present options, but there will always be a small amout of bias no matter to whom you talk to, including my self, as to which way is the one where the pros outweigh the cons.
Well said. Lets give opinion and let people decide. After all each is responsible for their animals. When we tell them over and over that one piece is essential we are wrong.

Ray
 

Ray Pollett

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Messages
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Curtswearing said:
Great posts everyone. We all have options. I ran skimmerless for a while and said to myself, "I'll never do that again".

While I won't tell people they HAVE to buy a skimmer, I will ALWAYS recommend that people get the biggest, baddest, and best protein skimmer they can afford. The advantages they offer are awesome in my opinion.

They Filter detritus out of the water column mechanically but obviously not all of it.
Most of the detritus they miss will break down into Dissolved Organic Compounds and the protein skimmers are able to grab these as well.
They help Oxygenate the water which substantially helps with pH stability.
Any reef-tank filter is designed to remove something. Removing the waste that protein skimmers trap is easy....dump the bad water out and rinse in tap water. I wish cleaning out my LR and DSB was so easy.

Here's the protein skimmer I want.
I have to agree as long as we point out this is an opinion and not present it as essential. IMO I get just as much air in the water with my HOB filters as you do with a protien skimmer at a lot less cost. As to cleaning LR and DSB imo thay is what detrivores are for.

Ray
 

Witfull

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New Jersey
as an option, would you consider it option worth consideration? you are correct that it is not essential in the fact that the tank can run with out it, but--- can it run better with it? i would wager to say that any tank that has not had a skimmer on it had one put on, it would pull alot of grunge from the tank, even though the said tank is running great with out it.
 

Ray Pollett

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Blaine, WA
Witfull said:
as an option, would you consider it option worth consideration? --- Yes it is worth considering - I'm just tired of it being presented as essential

you are correct that it is not essential in the fact that the tank can run with out it, but--- can it run better with it?---Depends on how the tank is set up. Some tanks can run better IMO without one
i would wager to say that any tank that has not had a skimmer on it had one put on, it would pull alot of grunge from the tank, even though the said tank is running great with out it.
Yes it will pull gunt from almost any tank. However on some tanks like those with mostly or all softies that are set up with BSB, Lr and lots of detrivores it is mostly pulling out food in my opinion. And is a detriment in those cases IMO

Best Wishes,
Ray
 
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