Fluval 404 MSF and Marineland Magnum 350 Review - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-26-2004, 06:45 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, as many of you know I collect a lot of loaches. Loaches, by the very nature of their diet wreak havok on the biological filters in my tanks. mechanical filters also get clogged pretty quickly as the loaches like to prune leaves sometimes.

Anyway, before my 135 Gallon tank sprung its leak I was filtering with a Fluval 404 (MSF) and a Marineland Magnum 350 Pro (its the 350, with a pair of biowheels, and quick disconnect valves). I'll start by reviewing them both and listing their pro's and con's. You'll see very quickly why I became frustrated with the filters for my particular application.

Magnum 350 Pro

I was actually pretty happy with this canisters overall performance. It ran relatively quietly, was extremely easy to clean, and was totally self contained (the motor housing to drive the impeller was in the base and had no exposure to the water at all, a great idea, but had some drawbacks that I will discuss later).

Things I liked

1.) The canister body (the part that holds the media and the water) was seperate from the base where the mechanical components were. This greatly reduced the risk of leaking from around the impeller assembly (some other canister suffer from this symptom if they are too far below the tank, etc)

2.) The Canister body simply slid off the motor base for cleaning, and the canister shape, and media basket design made it a breeze to clean.

3.) Rim Clamp!! Yes this canister uses a rim clamp for the intake and outlet. I loathe suction cups as they never last more then 2 weeks in my tanks. The loaches have developed a taste for them so they will bite at them untill they no longer are capable of holding a seal

Things I did NOT like

1.) The impeller is mounted in the bottom of the canister. Of course it needs to be at the bottom for the other design aspects of this canister to function, however, it has a severe flaw. The impeller sits in the impellers well at the bottom of the housing. This well has a groove that is "supposed" to capture any minor debris that could make its way into the well. This does not work very well. I have had to replace my impeller 3 times since I purchased this canister 3 years ago. 2 due to snails that fell in, and one to a single grain of sand that worked its way in and carved a groove around the impeller magnet.

2.) This canister has a very limited media capacity. Its very easy to replace though. I mainly used this canister for water polishing with a micron cartridge.

3.) Replacement parts cost a fortune. I never like spending over $30 for an impeller. I only paid $180 for this canister filter, so spending $30 a few times a year to replace a part that frequently wears out seems a little excessive. I wouldn't mind so much if they it didn't require frequent replacement.

4.) Frustrating to Prime! This canister can get airlocked fairly easily, but it won't damage the motor because the impeller is always under water (its at the bottom). When the canister fills it often would fill from the outlet side so when it would start the air in the inlet tube could break the syphon and you would have to spend a fair bit of time "burping" the canister.

Fluval 404 MSF

This canister has recieved a lot of bad reviews. Some points are valid, but many of the good points have been completely missed by several reviewers.

Things I liked

1.) This canister has a relatively solid design with a fair bit of media capacity. There are 4 seperate trays that you can fill with whatever media you choose, and 4 sponges that act as an internal prefilter to prevent larger pieces of waste from making their way into the main trays.

2.) Built In quick Disconnect valve. This is the handiest feature for cleaning your canister filter. You simply close the flow valve, and open teh locking mechanism and the assembly that your inlet and outlet hoses connect to simply pops off the top of the canister. This is actually fairly well designed, although I would recomend keeping a spare one around (more on this later).

3.) This is a pretty quiet canister filter. Even after 2+ years of service (so about 8-9 cleanings) I have not had to replace any worn impellers (although I did have to replace an impeller shaft I dropped down the toilet, but thats another story)

4.) Simple design. Sometimes less is more, and this canister really takes that into consideration. There are no O rings to worry about keeping lubed (I am still using my original), there are few moving parts, and they are very easy to remove and clean.

5.) Replacement parts are cheap, and sometimes even free! I had one of my locking clamps snap because I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing and Hagen sent me a new one in 2 days.

Things I did NOT like

1.) The ribbed hosing that this canister uses builds up a lot of sludge. When the filter starts up again after it has been stopped it can blow this debris into the tank making a real mess of a tank you just meticulously cleaned.

2.) There is a priming plunger that this canister uses to start the syphon. It works for about a month before the plunger gets worn and can no longer hold a seal strong enough to prime properly. You can replace this part, or prime the filter by filling the intake hose.

3.) The plastic that the Quick Disconnect valve and the locking tabs is made of is fairly soft and can bend or break fairly easily. This is not a big deal if you attentive and pay attention to what you are doing, but I have broken locking tabs if I tried to lock the top before lining it up properly.

4.) The intake and outlet hoses are fastened inside the tank using suction cups. I have already explained my distaste for suction cups so I will not bore you with that explanation again. There are also these snap on little elbows that bend the ribbed hosing into a corner so you can get it over the tank wall. All in all I have never felt that the hoses were secured adequately in my tank.

Last night I retired the Magnum Canister. I will be adding CO2 soon, so the Biowheels had to be removed, and the impeller was shot again anyway. I did however attach the Magnums Rim Clamp to the Fluval hosing. This has proved to be a fantastic improvement to the fluval... After I cleaned the hoses and canister and connected it to the Magnum Rim Clamp I can actually feel confident that the setup is secured and loach safe!

I am re-writing this review for my web site that will have pictures illustrating my points here.[/list][/b]

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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-26-2004, 07:50 PM
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Great review Gareth! So overall would you recommend a Fluval over a FilStar? Or you don't have expierence with one?
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-26-2004, 08:06 PM Thread Starter
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I don't have experience with a Filstar yet, so I can't really say!

I'm trying to have a demo unit sent to me so I can evaluate it but so far I have not heard a response. I may just buy one ;-)

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-27-2004, 03:29 PM
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GDominy, I use Magnum, Filstar, and Eheim. Owned the Fluval but threw it away. I agree with what you said about Magnum except that you can do something about it actually to avoid those trouble.

I agree that the debris can escape to the impeller. But those debris come directly from the media canister. What I do is I cover the middle tube section of the Media canister with a small media bag (the one people use for their AC power filter). Since then, nothing escape to the impeller. I've been running that MAgnum 24/7 for 7 years and never bought any impeller.

Also, I never have to prime it. You're right that it fills thru the output. What you should do it to turn it on for 20second (there will be a lot of air). Then turn it off for 5 seconds. IT will release the air thru the output. Then just turn it back on.

Those are the tricks I do for Magnum. For the Fluval, I just gave up because it's just not long lasting (both 03 and 04 model).
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-27-2004, 06:40 PM
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Good Review. I have a Magnum 350 and agree with the pluses and minuses. I've learned a few tricks with the Magnum that I thought I'd share.

1) If the impeller magnet becomes worn, wrap it with a thin layer of teflon tape (the stuff used to seal pipe joints). Since doing this I've had zero impeller problems.

2) When using the media compartment, I pack it with filter floss. This has worked better than anything else I've tried.

3) After cleaning the Magnum, I refill it with water in my sink before reattaching. I fill the last bit through the hose ports with the cover on to get all of the air out.

4) It makes a great CO2 reactor!

5) The blue filter sleeves on the Magnum 350 can be cleaned and reused just like the micron cartridges: in a bleach bath.

The Magnum 350 has been a good performer for me, and I've been happy with it. The principle problem with it, as pointed out, is its small media capacity. Other than that, I really like it.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-27-2004, 11:14 PM Thread Starter
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Those are some pretty good idea's for the Magnum! I have however, retired it. I will use it for polishing water from time to time (like after a water change) because it really does a pretty good job for that purpose. I need the extra media capacity that my Fluval has.

I have used filter floss in my Magnum but it would clog in 3 days. This got pretty expensive to constantly replace. It all comes down to the loaches, they eat a lot of meat, so I have to be able to keep up with their insane bioload. I seriously doubt I will ever be able to have a heavily planted loach tank (with the number of Loaches I keep anyway) because of my filtration requirements. RIght now I"m just filtering with an Aquaclear 500 and the Fluval. I will probably be replacing both of these with a pair of Eheim 2128 Thermofilters.

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-28-2009, 02:04 AM
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Great reviews GDominy!

46G Bowfront:

Lighting: 78 Watts T5HO (1.7 watts per gallon)

Substrate: 80 lbs Eco-Complete.


5.5 Gallon ADA Nano: Fish need to be restocked.

Plants: Background of Marsilea Minuta, Myrio Simulan and a random Anubia.

Lighting: 13W 6500K Jebo.

Heating: Non-Brand Name 100W 8" glass heater (sounds crazy but great heater)

Substrate: Pond soil from a landscaping store; 1/2 inch of Eco-Complete on top.
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