HOB vs. Canister Filter - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-04-2017, 03:16 PM Thread Starter
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HOB vs. Canister Filter

Long time fishkeeper, but recently wanting to get back into the freshwater hobby. I've had freshwater aquariums growing up, but they were never extreme and always had the minimum needs to accomplish what I wanted. I currently am running a 45 gallon reef aquarium, but have never been able to get the idea of a beautiful freshwater aquarium out of my mind.

My intent will be to get a 24"x24"x24" cube aquarium, low iron glass.

With being out of the hobby for so long, I'm not sure where things stand filter-wise. I've always used a HOB filter, generally an Aquaclear. However, I know there are pros and cons to both a HOB and canister. Given experience on this forum, what do people generally gravitate to, and why?

I'm going to have lots of questions coming up, so bear with me as I post different threads and whatnot in the coming weeks and months!
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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-04-2017, 03:45 PM
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I'm generally a HOB user too. Easier access and maintenance. However...I'm doing a new tank after Christmas and while I'm tempted to go with an HOB again...I want to do CO2 and I'd like to use an inline diffuser as well as an inline heater so I'm going canister this time around. I'm just getting back into things myself. I have a tank that's been up over a year but just using stuff I had...so I haven't really looked at what's new until recently and honestly...I'm not seeing much as far as filters. The biggest new thing that I see are the LED lights and how low in price they are now. Filter-wise...it's the same stuff that was around 4-5 years ago.


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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-04-2017, 03:47 PM
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For me it is a canister. For me they generally are more versatile and easier to clean and maintain. They are easier to get the desired flow and circulation. But I think its a personal preference as well.

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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-04-2017, 03:50 PM Thread Starter
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I'm generally a HOB user too. Easier access and maintenance. However...I'm doing a new tank after Christmas and while I'm tempted to go with an HOB again...I want to do CO2 and I'd like to use an inline infuser as well as an inline heater so I'm going canister this time around. I'm just getting back into things myself. I have a tank that's been up over a year but just using stuff I had...so I haven't really looked at what's new until recently and honestly...I'm not seeing much as far as filters. The biggest new thing that I see are the LED lights and how low in price they are now. Filter-wise...it's the same stuff that was around 4-5 years ago.
Thanks for the insight! Definitely the newest technology out there are lights. Right now I'm torn between the AI Freshwater or EcoTech Marine Freshwater. I'm currently running AI Hydra HDs on my reef, so I have the app and everything figured out (most people dislike the app). Doing inline stuff is an interesting concept! My goal is to have the background covered with plants eventually and should hide most of the cords. I'll just need to try and remember that when I measure the dimensions of the screen top
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-04-2017, 04:57 PM
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system FW action
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-04-2017, 05:56 PM
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system FW action
Is that for that 10g

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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-04-2017, 06:05 PM
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I don't think I'll ever run a tank without an Eheim canister filter. They're so quiet and efficient! That being said, I have had an AC50 with a surface skimmer box on my high tech 40b for a couple years now, and I love it. It runs in conjunction with my 2217 and my water is immaculate.
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-04-2017, 06:16 PM
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Some of this decision may enter areas we don't like to think about too often. How mechanical are you? All mechanical things have different quirks in the operation. So if you have trouble figuring things, a HOB is all pretty much setting there in front of you. If it leaks it will be something you can see like running over or leaking around the gasket at the bottom. A canister is not a big problem for most people but there are some things that are less easy to see. An air leak can be hard to trace out and find if you are not tuned to mechanical things. Priming gives some fits while it is easy for others to understand the way a siphon works. So there are some major differences to do some personal soul searching about?
But in general, there are some almost certain things to notice. One is cleaning. HOB is very limited so the cleaning is simple, swish out the media and clean the impeller weekly and that's pretty much done. A good canister of the correct size for the tank and load will take more to take it down, clean all the media, impeller and parts and reinstall but may not need that cleaning but every few months. So how do you fly/ Like simple weekly or prefer somewhat bigger not so often?
Noise is a big one for me. I want quiet so the canister is the way to go there. Just water splashing is too much for me.
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-04-2017, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
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Lots of great replies so far, thank you!

To answer any maintenance/concerns for understanding, not an issue. Obviously like most fishkeepers, the more I can automate and less I have to manually do, the better. That being said, I wouldn't compromise quality of water and success just to save myself a few minutes here and there.

Noise is noise. I understand there will be some sort of noise with an aquarium, so a HOB water noise wouldn't be of concern. However, a loud rumbling from a canister filter might get on my nerves, although this is probably more based on the quality of the filter.

I saw a recommendation about EHEIM, but has anyone has luck with Fluval at all? I know they have often been a gold standard for filtration, and I'd be curious if that was still the case. Especially with their new G-series filters with constant monitoring and really easy access to change out mechanical filtration components.
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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-04-2017, 06:55 PM
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As you mention, there are pro's and con's.
I'm not a HOB snob, but I'm using two AC70's with AC50 impellers on my heavily planted low tech 60g. I wouldn't trade the AC's for a canister filter. Now the Aquaclear's (like the C series and now the Seachem Tidal's) allows us to determine the media we wish to use, unlike the lame cartridge dependent HOB's that are hobby poor and marketing genius!
I can service the AC media much more quickly and easily (with it still running) than any canister filter making it very efficient to routinely get the crud out of the system. I also have no 'fears' of leaking seals. The only [sortof] downside with the AC filters is that I find that every month or two I need to remove and clean the motor/impeller as the gunk in there can prevent the impeller from turning if/when the power is off and then comes back on.

I've been in the hobby many years and after experimenting with ceramics and pumice stone (Seachem Matrix/DeNitrate) I have discovered/believe that bio-sponge material is not only an excellent mechanical media, but also an excellent bio-media...so my AC70's are now filled with sponge material (coarse, then finer) and last, a couple of filter pads (or floss) for water polishing. So I guess you could say that I have HOB sponge filters!

For even extra water clarity, following the weekly glass cleaning and water change, I run a Marineland Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter with the micron cartridge charged with diatomaceous earth. I let it run a few hours to remove dissolved organics resulting in crystal super clear water (nothing beats a periodic DE filtration).
I'm also experimenting with a DIY algae scrubber to [even] better purify the water.

Now for the turtle 'pond' in the basement, I did a 4 stage DIY trickle filter, but that's another story.

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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-04-2017, 07:40 PM
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Maybe I need to revisit hob. I always dreaded cleaning them. I can pop the valve block, pull the canister, swap the floss and rinse the sponges in less than 15 minutes and never spill a drop of water. It always seemed pulling the hob to clean the impeller and housing was a hassle. Like I said earlier, it's all personal preference and thank god for options .

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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-04-2017, 08:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Perrycox View Post
I don't think I'll ever run a tank without an Eheim canister filter. They're so quiet and efficient! That being said, I have had an AC50 with a surface skimmer box on my high tech 40b for a couple years now, and I love it. It runs in conjunction with my 2217 and my water is immaculate.
Same here. Eheim man for life. Recently tried out Hydor because I liked the look of their canisters and they are cheaper but never again. One had to be returned for leaking and the other I have had 2 nitrite spikes in a short period of time.


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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-04-2017, 09:41 PM
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I'm going Eheim classic when I do the new tank. Need to decide on the size...since I'm going to run the inline stuff I'll probably need to upsize. Maybe the 2215 on my 32g tank?
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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-04-2017, 11:20 PM
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Lots of great replies so far, thank you!

To answer any maintenance/concerns for understanding, not an issue. Obviously like most fishkeepers, the more I can automate and less I have to manually do, the better. That being said, I wouldn't compromise quality of water and success just to save myself a few minutes here and there.

Noise is noise. I understand there will be some sort of noise with an aquarium, so a HOB water noise wouldn't be of concern. However, a loud rumbling from a canister filter might get on my nerves, although this is probably more based on the quality of the filter.

I saw a recommendation about EHEIM, but has anyone has luck with Fluval at all? I know they have often been a gold standard for filtration, and I'd be curious if that was still the case. Especially with their new G-series filters with constant monitoring and really easy access to change out mechanical filtration components.
Loud noise is not a part of any canister I've used as it is all inside plastic with only the impeller and moving water. I normally put a hand on the filter can to check for running as I can't hear anything else without really trying. But it is different for each as some do want to have the output shoot hard across the surface to get differing levels of gas exchange while I inject CO2 and do not want the ripples which cause CO2 to outgas. I tend to be here much of the time but leave for as much as a week so letting the water level drift is part of the plan to have a lady drop in to feed, etc. I do not ask her to top off and water does go down which fits fine with the canister in and out.
I do not have any complaints on the newer Eheims ---except price! But the older Classic line is just not up to the top for user friendly features that make life easy. The Fluval I had is not anywhere in the same range as it had numerous defects. One is the sealing system around the top. It requires compressing the rubber between two pieces of plastic and that plastic is not thick enough and poor quality plastic which degrades with time. Most of the canisters that I have will have weak points like the impeller and shaft which may need replacement but the Fluval turned out to need the head replaced before any of the cheap parts. Price out some replacement parts for some insight on this?
Which leads me to recommend the Sunsun line. I'm finding good value in them as I am acareful user who breaks very little so that the thinner plastic is not a problem and the routine wear items are so much cheaper that I can actually repair the Sunsun rather than replace due to the high price of parts. So far none have broken but I do know all things break/wear out at some point. The HW 304 is now my main canister when adding them as it does have the features I now require. I'm no longer willing to go without media baskets and good methods of cutoff/ disconnect for cleaning.
Just getting too spoiled and still want it to be more fun than drudgery!
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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-04-2017, 11:46 PM
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I've recently become a bit of an Eheim convert, but mostly because a LFS was blowing out their stock of Eccos. Honestly, either one works, especially if you are looking at one of the more versatile HOBs like the AquaClear or Tidal. I'd much rather go with a canister at the size of tank you are looking at, though.

For me, the HOB offers up the promise of not requiring too much extra footprint. It adds some depth or width to the tank's footprint, but doesn't need space in or near the stand in the same way a canister does, and it doesn't need to be on a shelf or floor. But the Canister has more flexibility in where you can store it, meaning it is easier to hide. And the larger the tank you are working with, the larger the stand, and the more likely you have a good place to hide a canister. You also get more options for dispersing flow for fish that don't like faster moving water. Lily pipes, spray bars, and so on. Fewer options for directing and baffling output from a HOB if you need it.

Personally, I think I still like HOBs on small (under 20g) tanks in the general case, since those are more likely to be in places like dressers, bookshelves, and the like. Except if I have something like a dedicated stand, or I'm trying to put together a rimless tank where a HOB just looks weird.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nubster View Post
I'm going Eheim classic when I do the new tank. Need to decide on the size...since I'm going to run the inline stuff I'll probably need to upsize. Maybe the 2215 on my 32g tank?
I'm running an Ecco 2236 on my 23g now, and it has a similar rated flow rate to the Classic 2215. I do have to throttle it and use something to disperse the flow, but I'm also trying to keep the flow slow for the fish. It should be fine for a 32g, I'd think. Assuming you aren't trying to use the filter to create strong currents, anyhow.


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