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Eheim - Professional III Canister Filters
Personally, I think that this filter is a little tricky to use. The people at my local Aquarium shop recommended it to me saying it's the best filter on the market. It does have good flow rate and the media is quite easy to clean, but all of the extra features aren't really that necessary in the long run. For example, I've never changed the flow rate or used the wave maker feature. If you are thinking of buying a filter, I'd suggest sticking with an Eheim Classic because they offer everything you need and they are definitely more affordable.
I have two tanks, one with an Eheim Classic 2217 and one with a new Pro III E. They are both very quiet and decent filters. If you are buying a new filter, however, I would certainly recommend the Eheim Classic. I just don't think that the Pro III is worth an extra few hundred dollars, to be honest. As Jay said, it has a lot of cool features but you just don't end up using them all. If you think about it, the more features a filter has the more there is that can go wrong with it and I think simple canister filters do the job just fine. The Pro III doesn't produce cleaner water than the classic it just has more features to play around with. The Eheim Classics also have a very long lifetime. I've had mine for around sixteen years and it's still going strong. I'm not sure if the gadgets on the Pro III will last that long without any problems. The only case in which I would recommend a Pro III is in a reef tank, because the wave maker feature would be useful in creating a natural wave effect.
Since this was my first filter I read up a lot about filters and setups etc, and the number one thing I found is "don't skimp on the filter", because it is the one thing that will keep your tank water livable. From my experiences the PRO3 E is an excellent filter. The build quality is brilliant, the design is nice and easy to use. Also it was quite nice on the eyes. This filter is the most quiet thing in the world, the only exception is when you are priming it. From my experience it is one of the best out there and if you can afford it go for it, it won't let you down.
This by far is the best filter on the market. It has been engineered by the best, with the best electronics/media there is. If price is the issue - well if you collect dole payments! Then go for a Fluval or Aqua One filter that needs to be cleaned 3 times more than a Eheim does, uses twice as much electricity and forever slows down! An Eheim Professional III will pay for itself by using less electricity, keeping a healthier tank (=less fish loss), not as many water changes will save on chemicals and also water! You do the math.
The features that come with this filter are very handy if you have a Discus or saltwater aquarium. You can set up the flow at a minimum during the day and it will automatically switch to a high flow at night. For a Discus aquarium this is a plus. For Saltwater it has a wave maker. I had many types and brands of filters before and, even knowing that the Classic is very nice, it's still a pain in the neck to clean and prime. Eheim also fixed the leaking problem that the Pro II has in the primer mechanism. It's very quiet, and cleaning this unit compared to the Classic is breeze. The priming is very unique, it will pause and continue until all air is out of the filter. Also, the filter will readjust the flow depending on the amount of sediment inside. In other words, it never loses flow strength. After six months it reminds you that it's time to clean the filter with a beeping sound. So as my opinion, this filter is a great unit for those who have Discus or saltwater aquariums. Anything else, buy a Classic or a Rena XP series filter.
I must have got a lemon. I had to add an in-line pump to get the filter to move any water at all. Actual flow was less than a fourth of rated capacity. Customer service at Eheim was entirely unhelpful as they refused to put down the script and actually talk; they just kept repeating the rated capacity like saying it one more time would somehow increase output. The Eheim now does a fair job with the in-line pump. I bought a Fluval FX5 for my other tank and it absolutely filters circles around the Eheim, is much easier to break down and clean and sponges & pads are much easier to find.