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Old 08-18-2012, 06:52 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Texas
Posts: 625
Fluval C4 - 10 Month Review

I was going to wait till a year to review these, but I've stopped using them in favor of moving a Fluval 405 onto the tank.

The Tank:
40 Breeder
PFS substrate
1/3 heavily planted with rotala, wisteria, banana plants, a java fern, wendilov and a melon sword
3 Orandas that have grown to ~3 inches
2 ~2 inch Bristlenoses
Tons of MTS
Hagen Glo 2x39w lights
2x Fluval C4

C4 Pros:
- Modular system makes things nice and organized for cleaning and swapping media. The only thing you have to remove to get to the lower tray is the top bio tray, and you can just slide the sponge holder out with no fuss
- Good flow
- Easy to clean bio media
- Very easy to adjust the height of the intake

C4 Cons:
- Sponge pad started to fall apart at ~6 months
- Spout that trickles water over the top bio media is prone to clogging
- Lots of nooks and crannies around the impeller that need cleaning
- Intake is annoying to clean because of the fine grate
- Prone to overflowing out of the front of the intake chamber even when clean

The filters worked well for quite a while. I was alternating cleaning one each week with a 40% water change. About every month the flow from the spout that drips over the top media tray would become so restricted that I had to spray a hard stream of water into it to blow out all the gunk.

At around six months, cleaning the sponges became difficult. The sponges are a two-sided deal, where one side is coarse and the other has a very fine pad on it. The fine side began to fall apart and leave fibers everywhere, including in the tank. Recently, I completely replaced them with coarses sponges meant for a Rena by trimming about 1/2 an inch off one side. Works much better now. Speaking of making things fit - the lids never did. They must have been warped during casting or something because they never fit snugly on.

Even after cleanings now, water overflows from the front of the intake chamber and back into the tank if I put them on full power. I have to run them at about 1/2-3/4 to avoid this. If I run them on the lowest setting, I get an annoying slow trickle sound of water dripping back into the intake chamber from the top of the sponge area. I replaced the carbon cartridge with mesh bags of Matrix a long time ago, so I'm running double bio media in both filters.

I don't regret buying them, but I think the next generation of this style will be much better off. The price was right ($35 I think), and they looked cool at least. In the end, I'd say these and the Aquaclears I've owned are about equal in their services and how much I like them (although these are more contemporary looking). Canisters are still my preferred filter type.
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