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Marineland - Penguin Power Filters
I'd have to say that god made this filter himself... I have a 330 on my 30-gal, and all I have to do is change the cartridges monthly! And with the BIO-basket... I filled it half with some bio-media (Seachem Matrix).
I just got a 125 for my new 20 gallon tank - so far I love it! I am not having any problems with it like I have had with other filters! I do not find it to be too noisy, but then again I sort of like the sound it makes (unless the water level gets too low).
I bought a Penguin Mini two days ago, an upgrade from a Top Fin 20 due to the inclusion of the Bio-Wheel. I was surprised at how much noise the falling water made with the Penguin Mini. Here's how I stopped the noise: I cut a section of plastic mesh about 20 cm long and as wide as the wheel. I cut a piece of particle-filter mesh about 15 cm long and as wide as the wheel. I wedged the plastic mesh under the filter at the edge of the tank, and wrapped it over the spout and up over the filter housing, wedging the filter floss in between the plastic mesh and the filter housing. Then I held it in place with twist ties (like you use to close garbage bags) attached to the plastic mesh and the grating in the filter lid. I can remove the filter lid to change the cartridge without disturbing this 'water diffuser'. No more noise. The water passes easily through the filter floss and plastic mesh, the Bio-Wheel is not impeded at all. Maybe I'll come up with a better idea later, but this does the trick!
I have two Penguin 330's on my 270 liter and have been very pleased with their performance the past two years. Very quiet, no problem with the wheels or flow. To save on cost, the Regent Aquatech cartridges are the exact same size as the Marineland cartridges for these filters and work fine.
I have my entire breeding setup with Penguin 330's on breeder 150 liters and I love them. Why do I love them? Their price point. You can get them for US$20 each online and they run on 9 watts of electricity (nothing). For multiple tanks, they rock. I was especially glad I did individual filtration on my tanks when one tank got popeye. Just think if I had a central wet/dry hooked up. All these Penguins have done is save me money. Make a note: the Emperor 400 is over twice as much and the directional and adjustable spray tubes are nonsense.
I've had a Penguin 170 on my 20 gallon for about a year now. I don't have experience with other filters, but I love that the biowheel can (should in theory) provide so much more biofiltration than submersed media. In the beginning, the biowheel would come close to stopping, but then I figured out how to clean it and haven't had any problems. I take the wheel off, and run my finger on the filter housing where the ends of the wheel rub against the black plastic. Not at the axis, but where the large gray plastic from the wheel touches the black plastic from the filter housing. I've done this about once a month and havenít had problems. Also, I rinse and rub the blue filter cartridge about every other water change (so every two weeks except when I'm lazy). I never replaced the cartridge and don't see why I should. The filter still provides mechanical filtration, and now probably has some biofiltration too. I love my Penguin and will probably buy a 330 when I upgrade to a larger tank.