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20H tank setup with UGF mod worklog/journal


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Here is a worklog/journal of my rather long journey into setting up my first real aquarium tank.  I had a 1.6g nano tank (but that was just a premade kit and a learning experience in "what not to do").  I hope this can inspire or help others in the hobby.  A lot of inspiration and help came from the wonderful community here at aquarium coop so thank you to everyone who's helped me out thus far (link to original thread).  Also, I did a ton of research on https://aquariumscience.org/  as well, which provided so much in depth data and analysis beyond what I could typically find on most articles and youtube videos.

I started out trying to use an airstone w/ the UGF, but I couldn't stand the noise the air pumps made and also all that extra "splash" the bubbles created on the glass lid and the chance of the tank water getting siphoned out through the air tube.  So I switched to the pumps hidden beneath the gravel and the end result is a more powerful flow for more oxygenation and dead silent setup.


Stand Setup

Safety is concern for me due to my kids at home and I didn't want to chance the aquarium slipping off the stand.  So I bought non-slip rubber furniture pads that I cut to size along the frame.


Also, if for whatever reason, I need to slightly move the aquarium a few inches to get to the back of the tank, then I wanted it to easily slide.  So I attached these furniture teflon (PTFE) glides.  I used a small machine screw with a nut to secure it on the feet.


Tank Setup

I’m using two pumps.  One is rated 60-80gph (power can be adjusted on the pump) and another is rated at 30gph.  All barbs are 5/16” OD.  

UGF plate modification (inlet)

I used ⅛” drill bit for pilot hole then expanded with 5/16” drill bit.  Then, I had to enlarge the hole w/ the 5/16” drill bit b/c the barbs are not straight, but slightly ribbed so that at its widest point it’s slightly bigger than 5/16” to allow for grip onto the tubing.  I tried to force the barb into the 5/16” hole, but the UGF plastic did not give enough budge and I didn’t want to break anything so I just made the hole a bit bigger. I used a metal file at the end to clean up plastic shavings for a smooth finish.  Note that I tried the ⅜” drill bit, but the hole got far too big.  Another side note, I think some gap is acceptable b/c there will be a layer of substrate above the barb location anyways.


placement of inlet

The sides of the tank I think would have provided the ideal location for even distribution of suction but most likely the tubing would have shown in the side glass panes.  So I opted to put the barbs in the back and slightly off center.  My reasoning was that the section b/t the two barbs would have overlapping suction anyways.


Some warnings on safety, you may injure yourself.  I like to create a groove on whatever I’m drilling by drilling in reverse first, then drill in forward direction.  You may end up drilling into the UGF plate grills b/c for me the drill tends to get sucked into whatever material I’m drilling (perhaps it’s a function of my poor grip on the drill).  So always try to angle the drill away from the plates.


UGF uplift tube modification (outlet)

The uplift tube comes in three parts.  The bottom piece that connects to the UGF plate.  The longer 12” tube and the top piece that’s for the outflow.

Bottom Uplift Piece: I also drilled a hole in the uplift tube to hold the tubing going out so that the outlet water can create turbulence at the water surface for oxygenation. Similar process to the UGF plate drilling, where I started with a smaller pilot hole and then expanded as needed.  I was concerned about the plastic snapping/cracking, but the plastic in the uplift tubes did not crack.

12” Uplift Tube: I used a mini hacksaw to create a slot for the tubing to slide further down.


Filling the tank with water
Since the pumps need to be completely submerged, I filled the tank up to where pumps were and ensured the pump inlet tubing had water in it.  Then, I tried to turn the pump on and ensured the pump was working w/ the current water level before adding more water to the tank.  Also, I had to quick turn the pump on/off to dislodge air bubbles in the pump, which caused excess noise/vibration.

Benefits of modular design

This modular design allows the barb and the tubing going into the pump inlet to remain above the UGF plate.  So if I have to remove/replace the pump for repairs or cleaning, then I just have to remove the pump from the tubing.



When testing in a bucket, the 60-80gph pump was rather loud at anything but the minimum, but when I was putting that pump into the tank, I forgot to set the pump back down to the lowest setting.  I had already covered the pump w/ gravel so I tried hearing the pump from below the tank and it was actually silent.  I could hear a slight hum only if my ears were inches from the bottom plate underneath the tank.  So I am very happy w/ how silent this setup turned out.

Alternative Design: using tubing instead of barbs for the inlet. 

I could have just drilled a hole for tubing to go into the side walls of the UGF.  I thought about this, but didn’t want to risk the tube kinking or accidentally changing the position/orientation of the tubing and no longer sucking water from below the plate.  Also, due to the limited space b/t the UGF plate and the side of the tank, I’d have to angle the tube so that it wouldn’t be perpendicular to the side of the UGF plate.  So that may impact even distribution of the suction.

Alternative Design: place inlet hole at top of UGF plate (similar to how uplift tubes work).

So the idea is to drill a hole and somehow secure either the inlet barb, pump inlet, or inlet tubing to be on top of the UGF plate (similar to how the suction for the uplift tubes work).  I opted not to go this route for fear of the inlet popping off the hole (aka getting dislodged) for whatever reason or perhaps the inlet barb/pump/tubing would be pushed down to sit flush against the floor of the tank (and this would obviously kill the inlet flow).  

EDIT 9/1/2022

Future plans

  • I need to eventually do some cable management.  I might feed the USB cords through a plastic tube (solid black or some solid color).  
  • I was toying w/ the idea of using a T-line somewhere and using the pump to drain the water out for water changes.  Not exactly sure on the details but it's a possibility b/c the inlet for the pump as at the bottom of the tank.
  • I might add something to the end of the outlet tubing so that I can get more of a "spray" effect to create even further turbulence.  Not sure on how much more effective it would be.  It seems like there's plenty of turbulence as is though.


Edited by venzi
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On 8/31/2022 at 11:44 AM, venzi said:

I might add something to the end of the outlet tubing so that I can get more of a "spray" effect to create even further turbulence.  Not sure on how much more effective it would be.  It seems like there's plenty of turbulence as is though.

Interesting setup. I'll check out the original thread in the morning. I wanted to mention that for "near silent" air I recommend the ziss air stones or something similar that can be adjusted. They definitely tune things down quite nicely to the point where I constantly had to look over and make sure the power was on.

As for the above future idea, I would check out Dean's spraybar design and potentially something like that would work? One inlet on each end sort of a setup.

That would also give you the option to have a bar across the top, pumps at the top of each of the uplift tubes into the spray bar.  This would also get rid of the cord issue you were trying to work through too.

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  • 3 weeks later...

oh yea I've seen that video before (didn't realize he was Dean).   It's pretty cool the little tips he throws in there on orientation of the pipes to achieve different goals.  I think before trying out any mods to the output spray pattern, I need a better understanding of how to estimate how much turbulent flow is occurring at the surface with my existing setup.  I keep staring at the water surface trying to figure it out 🙂  I read a stat that said like you need "15 sq inches of turbulent flow per pound of fish " i forget the exact numbers.   I was considering getting an O2 test kit b/c that's prob the most precise I can get.  Anyone have experience with O2 test kits?  Are they pretty reliable?  Any recommendations?


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