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Hagen - AquaClear Power Filters
The AquaClear is possibly the most popular Power Filter series in the market. An AC 200 was my first ever power filter, and nowadays I have half a dozen on several tanks, ranging from the AC Mini to the AC 300. What I like best about AquaClears is their versatility...the design makes them incredibly easy for me to reconfigure filter media any way I want, and also for me to add/remove home-made media. AquaClears are also very silent and reliable, and the output flow doesn't disturb the water surface too much, making it an ideal filter for live plant tanks (in which case I also don't use the carbon insert). The foam insert lasts virtually forever, all you have to do is rinse it once in a while. Two minor drawbacks are the facts that you cannot regulate the water flow too well, and that the intake tube doesn't allow much level adjustment. But these filters' advantages by far outweigh the disadvantages.
While it's difficult to argue that Aquaclear powerfilters are popular, and are decent products, they do have a number of problems, IMO. The plastic casing is not particularly durable, and the covers in particular are quite easy to crack. More significantly, the AC filters that I've used often had difficulties in self-priming. That is, when the filters are unplugged or the power goes out, they may or may not automatically restart when power is reconnected. Needless to say, this can cause problems, and I've found a tank where the power had been off very briefly several hours before I got home... the filter had not been functioning since then, and the impeller and motor housing was very hot from running dry for so long. Luckily, no fish were harmed. While they are decent filters, I hesitate to recommend them because of this... their reliability leaves something to be desired. I still use them on small, lightly stocked tanks (my quarantine tank and a fry growout tank), but would not use them again on large showtanks; IMO, you're much better off with a reliable, self-priming cannister filter in these applications.
My first and only filter. I think itīs a really good filter except for the restarting problem. The water regulation switch is quit useful. I found the filter media reasonably easy to replace. It does a good job filtering and is usually quiet.
I love these filters! Inexpensive and very easy to maintain. I have a 300 on my 29 gallon, and a mini on my son's 10 gallon. In addition to the sponge and the carbon, I also keep a bunch of polyester quilt batting to help "polish" the water. Without the batting, the filter still does a wonderful job. I've never had a problem with "priming" at all, but I can see how it could be a problem for some. It takes around 45 seconds to let the filter prime itself and if there is a big air bubble in the tube, it can cause some problems. Overall, I love the ACīs and not only RECOMMEND them, but I also PURCHASE them for people if I'm helping them set up fish tanks of their own.
The best filter I have ever used. This filter has no crummy gimics like the Penguin Bio-Wheel, itīs sturdy and I've never had a problem with the priming thing. All aspects of filtration are the best.
I recently bought an Aqua-Clear 150 for my 20 gallon tank. I was having an algae problem and felt inadequate filtration may be the cause. I replaced my old Whisper filter, and within a few hours, the tank was crystal clear. These filters are an awesome buy. Instead of using a dinky insert, they have a huge block of foam and plenty of room for whatever other medium you like (carbon, phosphate remover etc...). I have experienced the restarting problem, and found that increasing the water flow corrects it. I would recommend this filter over any other filter for smaller tanks.