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Hagen - Fluval Series 4 Canister Filters
I've had a Fluval 404 for less than a year. After only a few months of operation, it began leaking from both sides of each handle. I've replaced the seal ring around the motor head more than once, lubricated the seal ring, and spent many hours trying to reseat the motor head...all without success in stopping the leaks. Prior to owning this particular canister filter, I gave little thought to the potential water damage an unattended canister filter could cause to my house. Now, I place the canister filter in a 20 L bucket with the filter plugged into a float switch mounted to the inside of the bucket to turn the thing off. I am so fed up with this that I will probably always shy away from Fluvals. Last weekend I picked up a Magnum and will switch it in shortly. Prior to the Fluval, I owned a Proquatics canister filter which never leaked, but had its own set of issues. Between the Proquatics and Fluval, I would definitely go back to the Proquatics.
A Fluval 404 backflow damaged my carpet. I own a Fluval 303, lasting me 10 years and still running. But my 404 is 4 years old and last week, we had a blackout. There was a syphoning effect and water started to empty out of my 380 L tank onto my carpet at a very high rate. The water pressure is such that it lifted the head portion of the canister because the two clamps on the sides could not hold it down tight enough. I'm very upset because the whole thing is a nightmare, the time wasted plus money for a carpet cleaner, new filter, etc... 200 liters emptied before I noticed (I was upstairs and tank is downstairs). Just beware of this, it could destroy your carpet and make your house stinky. Yes, I replaced the O-ring and everything. I can actually see the top of the canister lift up because the clamp is not tight.
I have a 470 liter tank with two 404's and they both work great. Very quiet and efficient. Not sure why others report so many problems, but I haven't observed any real problems with bypass or pieces falling off. I also have a 403 (kept as a spare) and a 103 (used on my quarantine tank) and they both work very well too. The 403 is more difficult to clean and has some brittle parts, but other than that it does work well. I can't make a comparison between the Fluval and Eheim filters as I have never used Eheim. I haven't found any stores in my area that carry them. I will however say that if someone wants an easy to use, cost-effective and readily available system, I would strongly recommend the Fluval filters, especially the 404! One other contributor said an LFS salesperson told him that the 404 misses up to 80% of the water passing through. I can assure you that isn't so. I have to suspect that he was just trying to sell the more expensive Eheim units. Again, I am not knocking Eheim, just saying that there is more incentive to sell them because of their typically higher cost.
I have a Fluval 404 which I got for free as the previous owner had too many problems with it. I modified the filter by cancelling the quick couplers and the self primer, and adding a 3/4" coupling to the intake and outlet. The filter has been running with no faults or problems for a year now, I am happy with it
I have had two red eared slider turtles for 18 months. I own the Fluval 404. I have had nothing but problems. Every time I clean the tank (at least monthly) I have problems getting filter to start pumping out water. It is very frustrating and seems to take forever. I will not purchase another Fluval.
Had my Fluval 304 for 18 months and it is brilliant. A couple of suggestions though, get rid of the corrugated hoses and replace with the smoke coloured, smooth bore that (I believe) came with the 303. This does away with the grey rubber connecters on the inlet and outlet pipes. Most good shops should be able to supply it. Although the impeller well should be self cleaning, remove the ceramic shaft carefully and clean the well with a stiff brush. A baby's bottle brush does fine. This type of brush can be used for cleaning the hoses once every 6 months or so. This should stop any restricted flow. I found the bypass problem occurred when I pushed the foam pads too far down in their mounting. Leaving them raised by a good 3 cm should prevent any bypass until the pads get clogged, which in my case is about 2 weeks. The 'Aquastop' is a great innovation as I no longer have to suck and (ahem) spit every week.