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Floyd R Turbo 03-11-2009 06:05 PM

Which canister filter should I choose?
I have always ran my 55g with a UGF and at one point had a medium HOB. Set it up again this year and the HOB was no good (15+ yrs old) so only UGF w/2x550 penguin powerheads. I have a community with about 25 or so fish, and a 10g full of molly and guppy fry (45 !! in total), some of which will eventually go in the 55 and it will be quite full. I also have 4 swords, some mundo grass, and vallisneria. This is my first tank that I've really tried to keep well planted. The vals propegate like crazy - 2 turned into 8 in no time. 1 sword is doing great, one ok, and 2 not so great, but I think it's due to diatom/brown algea resulting from high municipal phosphates. Plenty of light, no CO2 (probably will do soon). I will probably need something that has space for a phosphate absorbing pad also to control the algae.


So I think I'm starting to see the light about ditching my UGF, especially with the plants, and have been researching different canister filters and I am having a hard time understanding a few things. Each has their own 'suggested' 'up to' tank size, and then another GPH. I guess I want to do apples to apples and get the best bang for my buck, since the one I get I am going to stick with, and have to take into consideration media cost, space in canister, and flow.

To start, I have heard that with a planted tank, it's a good idea to have the water turnover rate be less than 5. So with 50 effective gallons, 250 GPH would be the max I would want for flow. But it seems that the bigger the filter (more space/trays) the better for flexibility, but then the flow rate gets too high for the plants.

I've basically figured that there are essentially 4 major reputable brands: Rena/API, Cascade/Penn-Plax, Fluval/Hagen, and Eheim. I'm looking for the best match, here's what I've come up with so far.

*** Prices are Big Al's Online for a baseline ***

XP1 is 250 GPH for up to 45g, 1 basket, $100 (too small?)
XP2 is 300 GPH, 75g, 2 baskets, $140

700 is 185 GPH, 65g, 2 baskets, $60
1000 is 265 GPH, 100g, 3 baskets, $70

205 is 180 GPH (110 GPH 'filter flow' whatever that means - from tech manual on website) for up to 40g, ? trays, $115
305 is 260/185 GPH, 70g, $140
405 is 340/225 GPH, 100g, $170

Looks like there are 2 styles on Big Al's, 221 and 223 series. The 223 series looks more like the other above (dual connections on top w/disconnect) so I'll just go over those. I could not find GPH data for Eheim.
2232, 35g, 2 trays, $100
2234, 60g, 3 trays, $120
2236, 80g, 4 trays, $130

So I'm looking for all opinions, positive and negative (I want to hear the negatives!!), as well as some suggestions on the size/flow I should choose.

I haven't had a chance to go shopping and pull some of these out of the packages yet, but from what I see, the Eheim looks like it has great bio media with those ceramic balls compared to I think Rena which had a handful of spiky looking cylinders (kinda like licorice sticks), not much I could find for the others. Also I noticed that Eheim is round vs all others are square. Round seems more logical to me, leave it to the Germans. So I guess right now I'm leaning Eheim. I would love to get a 3e series if I had the $$ those look cool.

So if you have any one of these brands, I would appreciate your input, tell me what bio media they use, how easy to clean (I'm guessing this is about the same for most), how quiet, how much the filter media runs & what you have to replace regularly (besides carbon - not going to use that because of plants), etc, etc, etc...

Thanks ahead of time!!!

Fishyfanatic 03-11-2009 08:39 PM

I have only used the Cascade brand and I love it. I've had 4 Cascades and for a 55 I'd go with a 1000.

roka64 03-12-2009 05:19 PM

I have unly used Fluvial and love them too! LOL! I have a 304 on my 55.

DHCrocks 03-12-2009 05:39 PM

I have a Rena XP3 and two penguin 650 reverse flow UGF on my 55gal. I really like the XP3, I used to use a magmum 350 but this is so much easier to clean. Get the XP3 if you decide on a Rena it comes with a valve so you can control the flow if you want to turn it down, the extra capacity of the 3 trays is worth it, you can put much more bio media in there. I have the top two trays filled with ceramic.

Floyd R Turbo 03-12-2009 07:20 PM

Thanks all for the input. I got some hands-on at an LFS today, took out an XP2 and a new Marineland canister, but he didn't want to take the cascade out of the box, said it was too hard to get back in.

He mentioned that the Rena model had better connectors, 4 ribs, than the Cascade, 1 or 2 ribs, and that the screw-on connector on the Cascade can be connected incorrectly causing the tube to slip off, but that would never happen with the Rena, that made sense I guess. I thought it was kind of weird that the Rena inflow jet comes out about 3mm from the top tray, then it pushes out and around and down to the bottom, I would think that would cause some kind of flow problem because it seems so restricted, but I guess not.

The Marineland version had a tube built into each tray to direct the water straight down to the bottom, and there was virtually no space around each tray, so the flow is down thru the tube in the tray, and back up from the bottom. I liked that design, it made more sense to me.

The LFS which keeps these tanks said that the Rena is the best. They didn't carry Eheim because he couldn't get parts for it or something, and just didn't carry Hagen.

The interesting thing is that the XP2 on Big Al's Online is $140, LFS had it for $148. The Cascade 1000 was !! $155 !! at LFS and !!! $70 !!! on Big Als. Why the difference I wonder???

Didn't check the Marineland price, but Big Al's C220 220 GPH / 55g $150, I think the LFS was higher.

He also said that the flow rate for almost all canisters reduces by about 25% after a couple weeks, I guess that could affect my decision also, 250 GPH becomes < 200 GPH, so with that logic sounds better to go with a higher GPH than generally needed, because 90% of the time you'll have lower flow, unless you clean the canister weekly.


Stat 03-13-2009 06:56 AM

I own a Marineland Magnum 350 it is nice the hoses and clamps were a bit cheap out of the box.

I use this on my 55 gallon turtle tank does a great job. Turtles are about 3x as dirty as fish.

If i was to do it over again. I would buy the fluval 405 check the video out on U-tube the hoses are of higher quality and clamps and you can customize your intake and your out put hoses to match your needs.

Any canister you go with you should make sure you can get the media easy no since in buy a canister filter off of the INTERNET only to not be able to buy the media any where else.

Fishyfanatic 03-13-2009 07:06 AM

I'm not sure how the connectors can be done incorrectly on the Casacde. It's pretty straight forward, you just screw on the connectors. Either way you go, don't worry about the media. As long as you get the filter foam, the rest can be purchased locally no matter the brand.

I'm not sure why the price is so different. My lfs sells the Cascade 1000 for about $125. I tend to buy online for equipment and in stores for stocking.

missileman 03-13-2009 09:25 AM

I am looking myself.
I found the Rena XP2 for $99 + $20 shipping on Ebay
XP3 for $120 + $20 shipping (3 baskets 350 GPH) same vendor
NEW! Rena Filstar XP2 External Aquarium Canister Filter - eBay (item 140300972875 end time Mar-13-09 19:12:11 PDT)

Floyd R Turbo 03-13-2009 09:46 AM


Originally Posted by Fishyfanatic (Post 964223)
I'm not sure how the connectors can be done incorrectly on the Casacde. It's pretty straight forward, you just screw on the connectors. Either way you go, don't worry about the media.

It sounded more like an idiot thing, if you don't get the hoses far enough over the ribs, when you screw down the hose clamp it can actually push the hose back off, which can cause the hose to break free I guess. The rena has 4 ribs and a snap-on clamp that will never come off. Sounded like if you knew what you were doing, you'd have no problems...

laxpatrick 03-13-2009 09:51 AM

Love my XP2 - though many will tell you that the XP3 is in the butter zone for a 55 gallon... I'm quite happy with it - been running since early Jan - crystal clear water and chemistry is spot on...

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