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Undergravel filters are great for fish only aquariums but there use in 
planted aquaria is debatable.  In addition epoxy coated gravel is probably 
the least desirable substrate.  If you are loathe to tear down your aquarium 
and start from scratch I would vacuum the mulm and detritus from underneath 
the filter accessing from the up lift tubes.  Then remove the up lift tubes 
and cap off the holes.  Your gravel may have enough mulm and detritus to 
support plants but you may want to amend it with a nonclouding substrate such 
as Flourite.  Dont try to add laterite as you will have a cloudy mess.  For 
filtration you could use a hang on or  canister filter depending on your 
taste and budget.  You can easily fit 4 flourescent tubes over the top of a 
55 gallon.  Add  DIY yeast CO2 and you are on your way.

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