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Hagen - AquaClear Power Filters
I have been using a Aqua-Clear 300 on my 29 gallon marine tank for about 7 months now without any problems. I like the ease of use and maintenance. I can use a nylon bag to place my carbon and phosphate sponge in the filter and the biofilter is easy to clean. This is not my primary biofilter so I do not worry to much about the function of the biofilter. I hate Canisters, because it is not as easy to observe any flow problems. I know at a glance that my Aqua-Clear is working and it takes very little time to remedy any flow problems.
I like my Aqua Clear mini, I have never had a problem with it restarting or overflowing. One thing I do is put a folded washcloth in between the filter and the back of the tank. That way it tips the outlet into the tank and helps keep the water level down more in the filter. These filters use very little electricity, are very inexpensive to maintain, and are very dependable. If used properly the plastic will not break! some people I have known to be very rough when taking apart and cleaning their filters. I always use gentle care and take my time when cleaning it and I have never had any problems. I highly recommend these power filters over all others. Considering their price, the good dependable job that they do, and the fact that they use very little electricity. You can't beat these filters.
I have found these filters to be very good and a pleasure to maintain. The priming problem does occur, but can be "solved" by leaving the flow control on maximum (60 seconds and it's back to normal). I would love to buy a big canister filter for my 130 gal, but settled for a AC 500, as I feel you get value for your money.
Aquaclear filters are cheap, easy to maintain and run forever...filter will restart after a power failure if the tank water level is not lower than the impeller of the filter, so it doesn't drain out, completely, during the failure. Skip the carbon bag and add a second sponge instead...I never use carbon in my tanks...carbon doesn't just remove bad stuff, it removes good stuff as well...once the biological aspect of the sponges kicks in, the bad stuff the carbon removes is handled by the bacteria anyway. On a scale of 1 to 10, considering all aspects of filter operation (initial cost, ease of maintenance, longevity etc.) I would give the Aquaclears an 8.5. The only thing I would add is that you should probably use one size larger than the recommended size for you tank size as I believe that the capacities stated on the filters are extremely optimistic, I'm not saying that they are intentionally misleading but they do seem to only consider flow rate and not media capacity in their calculation of appropriate tank size.
I have to say, I love the Aqua-clear for many reasons, the first being that I don't have to keep buying filter cartridges. I also like the ample amount of carbon in the carbon sack included. Minor gripes include high purchase cost, cleaning the intake tube, and the priming issue. Also, I am limited to having an Aqua-clear only on my 20 gallon because my other aquarium has a wide brim, and when I try to put the intake tube on, it doesn't fit with the dimensions of the brim of that tank. I think Hagen should correct this problem; if they would I would certainly buy another Aqua-clear.
I have 2 Aquaclear filters, a 200 for my 25 gallon community tank and a mini for my 5 gallon betta and mollie tank. I like them because the inserts (foam, charcoal, etc) are cheap and widely found in petstores, even out where I live. The only problem I have with them is that the mini on my betta tank doesn't have the option to flow softly enough to not bug the betta, but some modifications to it solved that problem. As to the restarting after a power failure issue, the mini never has that problem, and the 200 has only failed to restart a few times.