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I have never had canister filters until now. I just bought 3 Aquatop cf500 w/uv. 1 is on my 40b, the other 2 are on my 75g. Setup was painless. But what do I need to know for the future? Cleaning them? Media? Any tips?
 

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I just bought one of this too from Amazon to use on a 150 gallon. Read a lot about the Aquatops and have had canisters over the last 15 years. Excited to try it and will add another if it works well.
 

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Canister filters are pretty easy to care for you only need to open them a few times a year depending on the bio load in your tank.
I normally give the initial setup at least a month running before i open it to inspect it for the first time, at that point I'll see how much debris has been caught up in the filter pads and assess it from there if it really gunk'd up I'll rinse the first pad in some old tank water and replace it. again rinse out the canister body with old tank water don't need to scrub it or anything just rinse out the mulm at the bottom of the canister. Replace everything into the canister close it up and refill and prime (this is easier if you refill the canister body about 3/4 full with old tank water) at this point I place a post it note on the outside of the canister with the date and an estimate of when I think I'll need to inspect it again.
 

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Two months ago I just went from HOB to canister filters for the first time myself. And boy it is a sweet sweet transition! You will never go back to your old filters!!! I personally went with the Eheims but I think just about any canister filter outperforms HOBs.
 

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I would suggest going just a bit further when cleaning. Most filters will collect a certain amount of grime on the impeller. If this is left it will build up and one day the filter will not restart. I've not looked at your model but most are easy to access and clean. It is one way to make the canister last much better as it doesn't have the constant wear on the impeller. The impeller and shaft are often the most likely item to wear out and I have heard stories about some of the knockoffs being really bad on replacing parts.
 

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My main piece of advice is never open the filter without quick disconnects closed. Learned that the first day, flooded my room. I never open my filter under the stand for that matter, move it to where it can spill. Also, always use the disconnects when removing the filter so you maintain a siphon. Lastly, I like to fill my filter up with water (declorate first) so it primes more easily, and air leaves more quickly.

As for maintenance, depending on your bioload, you may not be cleaning much at all. You may or may not see a reduced amount of flow over the first 2 weeks to a month. It just depends on your bioload. Nothing to worry about. Now, you will get steady flow for awhile after that. Once it slows, again, that's when I tend to clean mine. On some tanks, it may be more than a year for me. Actually, it's often over a year as i don't stock my tanks heavily. I actually have been pulling my filter for cleaning at about a year, just to find out it's not dirty. So now I just wait until the flow is reduced. It all depends on your bio load.

I only clean my mechanical filtration (pads). I don't even touch my biomedia. I use to rinse it in tank water but I don't really see the benefit now that I stopped doing it. Even though you will see stuff in the filter, it's really not going to do much to rinse it. It is perfectly fine to do so, just do it in tank water.

I will brush out the impeller and that general area once a year or so, whenever I clean. If I had a high bio load where I had to clean ever 3-6 months, I would still probably only do it about every 3 cleanings.

Lastly, I tend to reduce the amount of mechanical filtration and add bio-filtration instead over time. So, lets say my filter has 3 pads. I do 3 pads for about 3 months, then take one out, adding bio media in it's place. 3-6 months later, take another one out. It may clog quick so if it does, I put it back. If it doesn't, I stay with one for the rest of the life of that tank. This is a technique some of us use but many do not.

Remember, everyone does things differently. I have found the way I have outlined gives me the best trade off of long maintenance intervals, quick cleaning, and good flow. Some people clean much more often to be at the peak of their flow, I just buy a bigger filter so I don't have to. Once a year cleaning that takes 15 min or less is great for me. Other people tend to do more than I do, nothing wrong with that.
 

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What about the flow rate/dwell of the Aquatop, does it match with a 9w UV to give more than just level 1 algae sterilization? Or do you have to reduce the flow?
 
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