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Marineland - Penguin Power Filters
I've successfully used twin Penguin 330's on my 200 liter tank to keep it spotless and ammonia-free for around four years without complaint. One trick I've learned is to slit the cartridge floss near the top, remove the carbon after a month, and use the baskets with new carbon thereafter, reusing the cartridges for around six months with monthly cleansings. At four years my first one just now quit on me, and thus far I've replaced one impeller with sand damage, and cracked one uptake tube - not too shabby IMHO!
I bought a 125 for my old 10 gallon and when the water level dropped it splashed a lot. I've since gotten a 38g and an AquaClear wet-dry filter, but I moved the penguin to the 38 gallon to suck up some waste in the middle area near where the feeding circle is. To combat the noise of the water dropping into the tank (the overflow kept water level too low for the 125), i pulled out a piece of plexiglass and bent it in a flattened "S" shape and siliconed it to the biowheel exit. no more spashing! Now if I can just quiet my overflow!
I have Penguin 170's and 330's. Great filters for basic mechanical and biofiltration. I have the 330 on a 280 L with a Filstar XP2 canister and a Magnum HOT with full time micron in it. As for the pads, I just rinse them in the sink. Flip the pad side down and in a fast up and down motion, beat the poly pad against the sink with water running over it. Cleans them right up and they will take this beating for months. Also, after use one can cut out a row of the black ribs on the back of a cart, and shake the carbon out and use when medicating a tank. Good with restarts and made out of a good solid plastic. As for bio-wheels and CO2 in planted tanks, I've had no issues with them depleting CO2 levels a lot. I've used them on CO2 injected tanks with the wheels and no problems. I just put a few extra bubbles out and move on.
I've had my Penguin 170 on my 147 L tall tank for about 2 months now and I haven't had a problem yet. It keeps my water almost crystal clear except for when the filter needs to be changed and the bio-wheel has never once stalled on me. My money was spent quite well on the little machine.
I have a Penguin Bio Wheel 330 running on my 175 L community tank. So far, by using this filter, I can accomodate quite a few more fish than the tank size suggests. The Filter Cartrige itself is traditional for American HOBs: A bit of blue material with carbon inside that you are advised to replace often, effectively killing your bacteria colony. The real thing that makes these things wonderful is the Bio Wheel itself. It uses the same principles of the trickle filter, allowing the bacteria to get a lot of oxygen because they are out of the water quite a bit. The bio wheel, which is always spinning because of the water flow, allows a huge area for bacteria to build up. The filters also come with 2 black baskets to hang on the back of the inside of the filter, in which you can really put anything you want. You can add in rocks that change your pH, carbon, other rock, or just leave them empty. I personally like to place in 2 Aqua Clear Aquarium Sponges. These sponges allow for much more growth of bacteria, and if you add in the fish a little bit at a time, you can keep many more fish than you could with a regular filter. I have had no problems with this filter so far, and I love it!
I had a Penguin 330 on my 280 L to supplement another filter. It probably would not have been such a major problem, but in a cichlid tank...well the fish are too messy for it to handle. It's not the worst thing, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone with more than a 150 L community aquarium as a stand alone. As a supplemental, no more than a 200 L. Also, I always had a problem keeping the biowheels moving. I upgraded to an Emperor, which is one of the best filters of its kind in my opinion and my tank is doing very well with it on there.