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When and why did Undergravel filter go out of style?

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My 48 gal tank ran on a under gravel filter with 2 power heads. During the 90's when I ran the tank for 13 years, before retiring from the hobby. I had cichlids and a clown knife.  It was a sad day when I had to rehome the CK, they are a cool fish!! He started throwing water out of the tank, as a renter, I was worried about the carpet. I had him 3 years.

Then before my son was born I switched to fancy gold fish.  They also gave much enjoyment. However I had to give them away when I moved out here.

Now that I'm getting back into the hobby, it seems like no one uses the under gravel filters anymore. I also saw my favourite lfs using them, sponge, and corner filters. They also bred fish and were successful. I did use an AC 2000 on a 54 gal as it came with the tank. They are the filters currently using. I would like to set up a tank on the under gravel system. However I don't know where to get power heads and lift tubes. My power heads had the adapter to sit on top of lift tubes.

can anyone shed light on why the old style filters went the way of the dinosaur?  No under gravel or box filters. From my reading hobbyists don't use charcoal anymore.  

My water and the fish stores were always crystal clear. I'm still trying to adapt to all the changes. It seemed simpler years ago. I guess the biggest change is the types of filter media and the use of sand.

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I can think of two answers for why the UGF was selected against, and went the day of the dinosaur… Actually lets pick a better example because some dinosaurs still live today. How about went the way of the Irish Elk.

1. Money – Aquarium supply companies figured out they could make more money by introducing monthly disposable filter cartridges. By filling them with minimally effective carbon, and forcing you to throw out a huge quantity of biofilms every month with your cartridge, they can generate more revenue. I think that’s why HOB’s emerged (excuse the pun) because the individuals interested in selling them could make more money. Once filtration move outside the tank then technology pushed things along.

2. Technology – The technology has replaced your substrate with bio-media, and super-effective ion exchange chemical media. Consider the new chemical media being introduced, its placed even more impetus to use sumps, HOB’s and canisters. And now that some of those can be regenerated, its becoming even more lucrative to use them. Secondly, the industry has made huge advances in bio-media and increased the affordability of them, which also makes UGF obsolete. For example, you can have a fully customizable FX6, with lots of Purigen and Biohome Ultimate, and then you can use your Python to vacuum the sand, and keep everything clean and aerobic. All the while getting massive water flow through the canister also allowing for HUGE increases to bioload inside the tank. I know someone with 3 – FX6’s on one 140 Gallon tank. I think it’s a bit nutty, but it allows for some ridiculous ideas. Ideas that could never be supported by a UGF.



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