OK... I'll be different!...
My tank is only 5 months old or so, but I've been running a Penguin 100 Biowheel on my 46 gallon from day one. I've got plenty of live rock for my biological filtration, but I'm running the biowheel so that I can swap it over to my QT and theoretically have a seeded filter ready on a moments notice. Except for a little bit of nitrates in the beginning, I've never found a trace of nitrates in my tank. Granted, I only have one fish in there right now (O. Clown) and a couple cleaner shrimp, but I do feed once a day. (I keep telling myself I'm going to cut down to once every other day, but then I look at my clown going nuts at "dinnertime" and cave in.)
Anyway...I think the "nitrate factory" statement is one that is definitely true if you don't keep up on your maintenance. If you run the biowheel without the filter pad, then everything the pump sucks up is going to get deposited on the biowheel. Little bits of food, fish poop, etc will get stuck there and if not rinsed off in your old SW
when doing a water change that biowheel will become a little nitrate factory. Same goes if you're using the filter pad/cartridge... if you don't rinse it off, it'll become a nitrate factory. (But at least when using the filter pad, your biowheel itself will stay pretty clean.) BUT... if you're diligent at rinsing off any media that can collect debris, I think the "nitrate factory" won't be an issue.
I also run a Marineland HOB
250, just for housing a bit of carbon. I run that with the blue sponge around the canister, mainly to protect the pump. I rinse out that blue sponge, as well as the biowheel filter pad every week when I do a PWC
. Every other week, I change out the sponges that guard my powerhead and skimmer intakes. So far, I haven't had a nitrate issue.
So I guess I'm just saying, if you're not having a problem, I wouldn't mess with it. If you are, well... then I'd probably get rid of it too!