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Eheim - Classic Canister Filters
Well there just simply isn't a better filter on the market. With the intake on the bottom and the exhaust on the top, there is simply no place for water to bypass the media and hence the filtration is far more efficient. I hear people talking about the difficulty in cleaning filters but most of them seem to do it far more often than is necessary. One of my tanks is a heavily planted, heavily stocked community tank with an EHEIM 2213 on it. This filter has been running for me now for just under 10 years and I have never had a failure yet. As far as cleaning goes, once every six months is the most I have done it but currently this filter has been running for eight months since the last time I have opened it up. Since there is no bypass, you know from the flow rate wether or not the media is plugged, and you can also see into the canister to see if the media is plugged. Fluvals, well at least the old style were not too bad but there was quite a bit of media bypass, still they worked quite well...the new Fluvals don't even come close. Any one who has one try this little experiment....open it up, take the lid off of the last filter media tray, place a piece of plastic wrap over the tray and reinstall the lid...reassemble the filter and fire it up...you will be very surprised by how much water still runs through this piece of "equipment". Once you see this you will run right out and buy an Eheim..they seem more expensive than Fluvals but in the long run, they are actually cheaper as they don't break down, the media is almost infinitely reusable and they are extremely efficient...remember folks Gunther Eheim invented the canister filter. Try to get the classic style though, as they are the least expensive and ultimately the most efficient. You can actually trust their tank size ratings.
I've used most types of filters over the years, and about ten years ago I bought an Eheim canister filter. If you spend any time thinking about the filtration on your tank, get an Eheim - you won't have think about it any more. They are almost completely silent (there's no moving parts), they are very reliable and filter extremely well (especially after the bacteria get established in the media), and you have complete flexibility in filter media - no proprietary cartridges to buy. There's no problem if the power goes out (which has been happening with greater frequency around here), and I never worry about it leaking. I usually clean mine about once every six months, but last time I did it had been over a year and the filter was still working fine. I'd never consider a different type or brand of filter after owning the Eheim.
I've been fishkeeping for almost 10 years, learning most things the hard way. Nowadays I don't buy Canister Filters anymore. To me they are the worst at almost all types of filtration except chemical filtration. They are the most difficult to take care of. Don't take my amateur word for it; read as much as you can about the various types of filtration needed for the kind of tank you have, and also read various expert reviews of the various filters. After all that, and you still want to buy a canister filter, well go for it...I did. I've had 2 Eheims, the first one I don't remember the type but the other was the model 2013 rated for 390 liters an hour (that's roughly 100 gallons/hour). I tested it myself when I got it new and later on; it was actually closer to 50 gal/h after I loosely placed filtering pads and carbon in the canister. I think that the chemical filtration capabilites of this filter are excellent, as mentioned in another review. The water must circulate through the media prior to returning to the tank. It's capabilities for mechanical filtration are poor. Though it can weed out every thing it sucks in, if you have it on a 55 gallon tank, you are not even turning over your water once an hour which is far less than you need. Canister filters do almost zero biological filtration. This is perhaps the most important of the filtration needs of your fish. I am partial to various wet-dry sump filters and some power filters because they really do a great job with biological filtration. There are many brands that can do nearly the same thing. My opinion is that your success as a fishkeeper has more to do with your patience and knowledge of the fish, aquarium, and whatever filtration you have on your tank, rather than the kind of filtration you buy. If you use canister filtration as your main filter, you will fail unless you have it correctly dimensioned for your tank size and population. Currently, one of my tanks is a freshwater planted 40 gallon long aquarium. I use an Emperor 400 as my main filter, UG filtration, plants...and my Eheim 2013 to polish the water!
I have a 60"x24"x24" tank. My filtration is an Eheim 2217 and a 2008, and a SONAPAR 1100L/H, which is basically a CO2 injecting power head. My tank is quite heavily planted and has a lot of large fish, such as black sharks and severums. I find that the versatile media set up is ideal, and can be set up for anyone's needs. It has excellent biological and mechanical filtration. When I bought fish from the shops and put them in my tank, they turned brightly coloured in just days due to good water conditions. I will always trust Eheims and think that they are the best. All my tanks have an Eheim and I wouldn't recomend anything else for pure sufficient filtration.
I currently have the Eheim 2215, I can't wait to get rid of it. I have read how wonderful these filters are and what a great job they do of filtering. The bottom line is, it's made poorly and extremely frustrating when cleaning and reassembling. The latches on the side are useless, they keep popping open when the siphon starts and water pours out from any opening. The flow rate is also not impressive, It's been running for about 2 years and by now the water is trickling out. I have manipulated the media and moved it around to fix this problem to no avail. There are better canister filters at a better price on the market, I don't believe the hype on these.
Eheim classics are indeed one of the best canister filter in the market. No doubt cleaning the filter is quite a headache but it can be easily solved by fixing a double taps (also from Eheim) onto each in out hose. Once the taps are switched off, you can dismantle the filter without a single spill. One double tap only costs about 15 Singapore dollars. A definite good bargain.