Filter on a budget

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Aquarium Advice Activist
Dec 10, 2003
Lookin to replace my dying filter for my 55g. I have a very limited budget of about 50 bucks. Anyone have any suggestions? Was looking at an emperor 400 but if anyone has a different suggestion I'd like to hear it.

Thank you.
For a 55 gal tank I would go with a canister filter. BUt since that is out of your budget, I'd go with 2 hob filters. From experience, I'd go with the AquaClear instead of the Emporer. I had an emporer originally on our 55 gal tank and it wasn't up to par as the AquaClear is. As for models, I'd get an AC 50 and AC 70 and install one on each side of the tank. That's going to run you about $70. You could get away with the 110 for about $65 but I tend to like using 2 hob filters for larger tanks for a more even filtration
I agree with Fishyfanatic - a tank that size would do better with a canister and they do tend to be on the pricey side. --- However, Marineland recently reinvented their canister filtration. They are known as the C-series. I just bought one myself (c-220) for 55 gals. I do not have my running yet because I am still working on my tank but there are favorable INDEPENDENT reviews on the web - look for yourself. The neat thing is that these units are trying to make a name for themselves and to help this, most sellers have them at a discount price for example Drs Foster & Smith has the 220 at 109.00. But shop around there are cheaper prices. If you buy one there are much cheaper alternatives to buying the premade media for the canister (ask us later about this) so don't feel the sticker shock of the media replacement by Marineland - there are bulk - cheap - alternatives. In the long run the canister (which ever brand you decide to buy) will be cheaper - more beneficial to biological filtration - and less maintenance than 2 filters hanging on the back. Please check out the link about the c-series I provided -- BUT REMEMBER THIS LINK IS CREATED BY MARINELAND SO IT WILL BE BIASED - IT WILL CLAIM TO BE THE BEST FILTER AND MAKE YOU BREAKFAST IN BED - so do a little research I did and for me I feel I made the right choice - to each their own
I would suggest 2 filters as well, at either end of the tank. I run a canister and HOB on my 29 gallon and like the extra water flow and lack of dead spots. I would suggest teh Aquaclears and get the biggest you can afford. Properly cleaned they shoudl give plenty of decent filtration and current.
I was searching through the local classifieds this morning and found a guy selling his 1 yr old Fluval 403 Canister Filter for $80.

Should I look into this? It’s rated up to 100 gallons and I know these things are generally expensive. I've just never had any practical exp with canister filters before.
I'd go with 2 AquaClears, 2 50's (or a 30 and a 50) it should be enough unless you have fish the produce a lot of waste. If it's a planted tank without a large bioload you can use less filtration than a fish only tank. I bought a used AC 110 in great shape from someone on the local fish forum at a really good price.

I've used an Emperor 280 on another tank. It's a workhorse, 9 years with no problems. I don't use the Emperor filters, way to expensive. The largest Whisper filters work with a slight trim of the frame. HBH filter fiber pads also work great over the Whisper frame and save even more money. If you need carbon and/or ammochips you can put them in the media basket.

I like the flow across the surface better on the AC, less turbulence and less noise if the water level is a little low. When the Emperor is on the feeding setting (low) it gets loud except right after it's been cleaned. AC's is quiet on all flow levels.
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