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Hagen - AquaClear Power Filters
I have an Aqua Clear 50 (formerly AC 200) on a 140 L tank. Originally I purchased it to supplement a UGF, which gave me crystal clear water. After my air pump died, I decided to convert my tank to a planted tank and removed my UGF. I found that the intake stems were absolutely not long enough for my tall tank and was not adequately moving the water, hence my tank was extremely cloudy. I purchased 2 additional intake stems to correct this problem for about $2 a piece. The tank is definitely clearing up. I like that you can modify the media to suit your filtration needs. I think that the AC is extremely quiet and think that the water noise is relaxing - it is minimal and can be corrected by simply adding water to your tank or you can adjust the flow. The output seems pretty strong, altough I have not officially measured it. My betta enjoys swimming into the water stream for a little exercise. I would recommend the Aqua Clear for the beginner hobbyist.
I have been in the hobby for a couple years now and have experienced many different types of power filters. The Aquaclear is my choice for many reasons. First, the filter volume for bacteria is huge and makes my water crystal clear. The engineering design is by far the best concept on the market. It is easy to maintain, the sponges last forever and you can buy bio-balls that you can wash and reuse, thus eliminating virtually all maintenance costs! The best part is the perfect waterfall that comes out of the filter even with buildup on the surface. It will never go into overflow/backup mode because of the design. The waterfall is always quiet because it is always consistent. Simple design concepts go a long way. Thank you AquaClear. And as to the priming issue, I do not agree with any of the people that say it is difficult to prime. An Aquaclear 50/200 will prime in less than ten seconds. A 70/300 will prime in less than 20 and I would say about 30 seconds for a 110/500. I have unplugged these filters and plugged them back in many times, and they usually start up in 2 seconds. The filter volume in the box can actually be quite low and it will still siphon water. I would never worry about a temporary power outage as mentioned in some reviews above as that was most likely a rare case. There is no better filter on the market, Bio Wheels are annoying and sooner or later they all stop spinning. The giant filter box of the Aquaclear is the way to go. Try one if you're going for a power filter, you won't ever buy another brand.
The best aspect of the Aquaclear is its simplicity. No complicated setups, weird wheels or anything. The priming problem, which people seem to have experienced, is fairly easy to fix each time it happens. Just pour some aquarium water into the filter several times and it starts working after that. The AC is really easy to clean, too (not that it needs it to operate smoothly). For aesthetics, I just take an old toothbrush and twirl it around inside the intake tubes, which pop apart with a slight pull. One thing you should watch for, though, is the small plastic tab in the back that regulates the tilt of the filter. I've had the AC for a while and somewhere along its lifetime the tab broke. I ended up with water dissappearing from the tank and onto the floor. So just make sure the tab is sticking out enough so that the top of the filter is perfectly horizontal. A great filter.
These pages have enough comments to give the reader a basic idea on the topic. Further comments are still very welcome (through the site's contact form) as long as they provide new and/or advanced information not yet discussed in the existing ones.