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Hagen - AquaClear Power Filters
If the power goes out your unit may burn out from running dry. This happened to me when our power went out and I was not home. Otherwise I have not had problems with this filter.
I've had my AC 200 for my 100 L tank for about 2 years now and everything is still running smoothly. I recently took out a cheap peice of driftwood from my tank, and when I did I realized how dirty the wood was. I can't imagine using any different filters and getting the filtration I did with my AC under those conditions. I haven't had any problems, so I recommend this filter to anyone who is looking for a power filter.
Well with all the hype and all the folks that said they loved their AC's...I bought an AC500 for my 450 L tank. I took that filter off and sent it to somebody that liked them. Thin cheap plastic. Look down in it and you will see that it has a built in bypass port. Built in bypass? Why rate it for 500 GPH? And the "I'm going to flood you out" always looming in the background was scary. Also the restart problem. Living in Oklahoma spring can be quite active. With power blinking off and on during storms, the AC would NEVER restart without a fight. Also, the intake tube is way too short out of the box and the spill ways are too shallow. Even with the tank level plum full if it dropped any you had the water fall sound. I just found it to be cheap and otherwise near useless. So after 2 weeks I got rid of it. Gave it to somebody that loves them. As far as I know it's still running. But the lid has busted. It's overflowed and still dosen't start after a power outage. I suggest moving on to an Emperor 400 or even an old Danner Super King.
If you use the Aquaclear 500 and are looking to customize the filter media a little; I recommend buying the empty net bags that are found in most pet stores. The brand names escape me, but they are numerous. Getting to the point...they are great for adjusting your filter media to suit your needs. You can fill one with ammo-carb and one with small bio-filtration material, like bio-balls or even straight activated carbon. I have found empty replacement bags to be a lot more cost effective than buying the pre-filled aquaclear filtration media. I've been playing around with the Aquaclear line since 1998 and they are perfect for tanks up to 280 liters. Happy filtering.
I recently bought an AC 500 and it does an unbelievable job on my 450 L tank. I also have a large canister (Resun) mainly for biological reasons. Without a doubt though, the AC is responsible for getting most of the suspended matter out of the water and leaving it crystal clear. I do have two quibbles with it though: 1) The suction on them is incredible and neons are stupid. I was wondering why my fish were dying as I was finding them stuck to the intake. Then by chance I was watching them one day and as they swam past, two got sucked on to the inlet. I got the tube off within seconds but they both died later that night. I now use a sponge to cover it, which looks quite ugly. 2) I also bought an AC surface skimmer attachment to plug onto it, but for some reason the tube to the impeller vibrates quite noisily, so I only use it on occasion now. Other than that, a choice bit of gear!
The Hagen Aquaclear is quite a reliable filter; I've had one for 8 years. Just remember to carry out proper filter maintenance (cleaning, changing the carbon, etc.) and it should do a pretty good job. One of the problems, though, is that it needs to have water poured into it after you shut it off and want to start it up again, but otherwise is an easy-to-maintain filter. Use old toothbrushes to clean the tubes and remember to keep the water level up to reduce any excess noise...but the bubbling water can sometimes be relaxing to some people. I may want to switch to an Emperor Bio-Wheel filter because the AquaClear couldn't handle the load of my goldfish tank.