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I'm getting back into the hobby after a 5 year hiatus. I used to have a 20 gal breeder with a HOB and for my new tank, a 40 gal breeder, I'm considering canister filters.

I thought that price would be the deciding factor, but it seems like the difference between an Aquaclear 110 and an Eheim 2215 / Sun Sun 304b / Penn-Plax 1000/ Fluval 207 is only about $40 more.

Despite this, I've seen videos on Aquarium Co-Op and such stating that canisters are overpriced, over-hyped, and unnecessary. The guy in that video goes on to talk about how much of a pain it is to clean them (really doesn't look that bad) and how they're the "Ferrari" of filters that not everyone needs.

Has the opinion on canisters changed since I was around where they provided better filtration more quietly? It doesn't seem like the price difference is enough to be the main reason to not have one.

Addition question: Are these canister filters I've listed above appropriate for a 40 gal planted tank?
 

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If you are just trying to get a bio-filter and mechanical filter going, you could do it with a sponge and a pump. In fact, all of my biological filtration is being done by my tank (substrate and surfaces). An HOB would be fine, as well, and give you the option to ad various chemical media if you wish (like Purigen or AC).

I use a canister, but it is mainly for the external pump to move water through both a UVS and Griggs reactor, while supplying enough laminar flow in my tank via a wand. It is also doing mechanical filtration but, as I said, no biological filtration, which can all be done by the tank, itself.

As far as whether or not those filters will work, you have to consider how much flow you need in actual GPH (which is always much lower than rated GPH). As an example; the UVS, reactor and path length for my setup required that I get a filter rated higher than my tank size.
 

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Aquarium co-op sells sponge filters as well as air pumps and other air pump related equipment. I like the videos they put out but they are trying to run a business, you should definitely take anything they say related to products they sell with a large grain of salt.

Canister filters are fine filters. So are hang on back filters, and for that matter so are sponge filters. Each have their pros and cons. Canister filters don't have water falling into the tank so they will be more quiet than a hob when water change day nears.

To figure out what size canister filter to buy you should consider strength of flow assuming you plan to use only the canister filter and not additional powerheads. All canister filter companies cheat with listed flow (their numbers are based on the canister filter running empty without media, and with no head pressure). So take their listed gallons per hour and cut it in half. After that we want something that will produce 4 to 8 times turn over per hour. I chose canister filters on 2 of my 3 tanks because I can run them with lily pipes and the aesthetic is better than anything else.

Good luck!
 

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I am no fan for canisters which have external plumbing prone to leak, it’s PIA to clean, and being a closed system is susceptible to anaerobic condition in power outage.. I prefer HOB because it is an open system, easy to clean, and has no external plumbing to leak.

That said, Canister is most popular with planted tank folks because it can be hidden out of sight, and hook up to a CO2 reactor. HOB is ugly but I can live with it as my priority is safety and ease of cleaniing. I run multiple Penguin HOBs on my 125g and 75g situated in my living room and they must be easy to clean, and have zero chance of leak. Cost-wise, you can buy 2 to 3 HOBs for the price of one canister and multiple filtration works better and more dependable than one.
 

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I, personally, run 0 canisters currently. I have used canisters and don't have anything that bad to say about them. Yes, cleaning them is a lot more difficult than HOB, sponge and internals and when they leak it tends to be worse than when a HOB does but they have tended to last longer for me than HOB. I currently only run internal filters in my small tanks (40 gallon, 30 gallon, 10 gallon) and pond filters/ water falls in large applications (2 person hot tub and 800 gallon).

With all that said, if I were looking into doing a stylized high tech tank I would absolutely use (and have in the past) canisters for co2 dispersal.

Definitely take everything you hear with a grain of salt when it comes to youtubers with monetary incentives. Take a look at pics of tanks that are attractive to you and compare specs on filtration units- I guarantee you you can find something in your price range that will perform similarly.

I don't really have any experiences with prejudices towards or against different types filtration. I know it's been a hot button topic for some hobbyists in the past but I think I was too busy in the thick of running my breeding operation at the time so I think I missed it. I'm just getting back into the hobby side of it again and, IMO, the battle seems to have settled into a live and let live period 😂
 

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With all that said, if I were looking into doing a stylized high tech tank I would absolutely use (and have in the past) canisters for co2 dispersal.
I run two high tech 125 and 75g and purposely looked for a CO2 dispenser that does not require canister drive I tried to avoid. When a canister or external dispenser leaks, it can drain the tank and lead to flooding if not discovered early. I am frustrated that nearly all commercial dispensers run on canister but I am happy to find one, a German made Tunze dispenser, that is driven by a power head.


Internal filters are even safer, cheaper and works as good as but uglier than HOBs. The overflow type HOBs such as AC can drip by overflow, so I prefer the cartridge style but save money by cutting my own filter pads from polyester batting.
 

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I run two high tech 125 and 75g and purposely looked for a CO2 dispenser that does not require canister drive I tried to avoid. When a canister or external dispenser leaks, it can drain the tank and lead to flooding if not discovered early. I am frustrated that nearly all commercial dispensers run on canister but I am happy to find one, a German made Tunze dispenser, that is driven by a power head.

Definitely worth looking into. Thanks for the heads up.
 

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I have sponge filters in all my tanks and while they have many benefits they do not provide strong current that can be beneficial (dependent on your fish and fish load). I dislike aquaclear hob because of the concentrated disruptive flow (I have not used others - my understanding is marineland and sachem have interesting models but i can't comment on them). In some of my tanks i just have hamburg matter filters and they actually do provide strong flow but a bit less oriented. In my large tank i have a eheim 2217 and fluval fx6 canister. I find the fluval easier to clean than the 2217 and it has about 2x the flow (maybe more). I prefer the canister filter over power heads (though one could imagine a 'properly' designed power head as an alternative to the canister filter for flow). In my newer tanks (450) i will be using sumps with multiple pumps. The sump will be a bit easier to clean than the canister filter and offer more flexibility but of course this is a much larger system that will cost a bit more $$$. I've seen alternative where you drill holes in the tank and use the pumps to provide flow without any sort of real filter and it works well but it works best when you drill the bottom of the tank - something i will not do (i'm want to minimize leak points).
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Hobs have a lot of advantage of simplicity (and some fishes even like swimming them; whether you want them to or not); but for me they are too disruptive (at least the aquaclear) but for you they might be perfect.
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If you don't need the flow just get a sponge and air pump.
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Btw for the record i mostly use swiss torpical sponges.
 

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16g rimless cherry shrimp, 20g cube dwarf cichlid, 40g breeder nano community.
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I'm currently running 1 tiny hob, one tiny sponge (from Aquarium Co-op) and several Oase canisters. I like canisters because they are quiet compared to hobs, I can over pack the media and I have less equipment to look at on a daily basis. They can be difficult and messy to clean, though the big Oase Biomaster line has a convenient prefilter. I moved one yesterday and the one of the lines came off and made a big mess. Not that big of a deal in my basement "fishroom", but I'd have been in big trouble with the little lady if that happened on her hardwood floors. Personally, I think, it comes down to what you want to spend your money on.
 

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If I'm not running a sump, I'm using a canister. I might consider a sponge filter in a super low-tech system, but if I were keeping one of those I'd use a UGF run by a powerhead.
 

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I have sponge filters in all my tanks and while they have many benefits they do not provide strong current that can be beneficial (dependent on your fish and fish load). I dislike aquaclear hob because of the concentrated disruptive flow (I have not used others - my understanding is marineland and sachem have interesting models but i can't comment on them). In some of my tanks i just have hamburg matter filters and they actually do provide strong flow but a bit less oriented. In my large tank i have a eheim 2217 and fluval fx6 canister. I find the fluval easier to clean than the 2217 and it has about 2x the flow (maybe more). I prefer the canister filter over power heads (though one could imagine a 'properly' designed power head as an alternative to the canister filter for flow). In my newer tanks (450) i will be using sumps with multiple pumps. The sump will be a bit easier to clean than the canister filter and offer more flexibility but of course this is a much larger system that will cost a bit more $$$. I've seen alternative where you drill holes in the tank and use the pumps to provide flow without any sort of real filter and it works well but it works best when you drill the bottom of the tank - something i will not do (i'm want to minimize leak points).
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Hobs have a lot of advantage of simplicity (and some fishes even like swimming them; whether you want them to or not); but for me they are too disruptive (at least the aquaclear) but for you they might be perfect.
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If you don't need the flow just get a sponge and air pump.
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Btw for the record i mostly use swiss torpical sponges.
I have air lift sponge filters in my basement fry tanks. They are cheap and effective, but too noisy and ugly for show tanks, and not good for planted tank as rising bubbles can strip off CO2. If you are not pleased with the current from your filters, you can install wave makers which come in all size and magnetic attachment that let you to move around to optimize flow distribution, and so silent that you wonder if it were operating. I dislike AC overflow sponge design that can pop up and drip over, and prefer cartridge style HOBs such as Marineland Penguin (not Emperor) for simplicity and ease of cleaning. I’m running 3 Penguin 350 on the back of my 125g along with a wave maker on the side that provide cross current no sump or canister system can match.
 

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I've tried a couple of wave makers but again have not found one that makes me happy. Again i find the wave point to local (I want something that is closer to a spray bar at the top of the tank) to give a more gentle but spread out current - with the waver maker it disrupts the plants too much at point of injection.

install wave makers which come in all size and magnetic attachment that let you to move around to optimize flow distribution, and so silent that you wonder if it were operating.
 

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I've tried a couple of wave makers but again have not found one that makes me happy. Again i find the wave point to local (I want something that is closer to a spray bar at the top of the tank) to give a more gentle but spread out current - with the waver maker it disrupts the plants too much at point of injection.
You need a nano stream wave maker for gentle flow such as this.


But most wave makers are made for strong flow which I need to direct flow across my 6 ft long tank. I keep rough cichlids, mostly tough texture plants with a a few soft stems located on the far end away from the wave maker, and like to see plant movement.
 

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You need a nano stream wave maker for gentle flow such as this.


But most wave makers are made for strong flow which I need to direct flow across my 6 ft long tank. I keep rough cichlids, mostly tough texture plants with a a few soft stems located on the far end away from the wave maker, and like to see plant movement.
I agree, that's a good unit for that tank, especially since you're using HOB filters.
 

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Can you suggest a model? I've been looking for one for a while. I have a hydor 240 gph (smallest they make) and it is far too powerful. The link you provided had even stronger models i didn't see anything weaker than the hydor.

You need a nano stream wave maker for gentle flow such as this.


But most wave makers are made for strong flow which I need to direct flow across my 6 ft long tank. I keep rough cichlids, mostly tough texture plants with a a few soft stems located on the far end away from the wave maker, and like to see plant movement.
 

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I now just use one canister, an old eheim 2013, in one tank. I have a functional Rena XPL now sitting in storage.

I have gone full circle, graduating from complicated canisters back to simple hob's and sponge filters.

I like being able to quickly and easily change out the media in my Tidal 55 or other hob's with each water change.

Canisters can get funky over time and become nitrate factories if not regularly serviced.
 

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Can you suggest a model? I've been looking for one for a while. I have a hydor 240 gph (smallest they make) and it is far too powerful. The link you provided had even stronger models i didn't see anything weaker than the hydor.
The Tunze Nanostream Electronic has a controller to throttle it down to 53 gph, about the gentlest flow I’ve seen. I use wavemaker to increase current, so I don’t know much about nano flow. You may find some nano internal filter that generates low flow, and if you let the filter clog up, it will slow down even further.

I now just use one canister, an old eheim 2013, in one tank. I have a functional Rena XPL now sitting in storage.

I have gone full circle, graduating from complicated canisters back to simple hob's and sponge filters.

I like being able to quickly and easily change out the media in my Tidal 55 or other hob's with each water change.

Canisters can get funky over time and become nitrate factories if not regularly serviced.
Not only it can become a nitrate factory, a clogged up canister can become anaerobic and emit toxic gases after a power outage.

The one advantage canister has is esthetic and silence, which are important to aquascapers who maintain nearly fishless setup. I keep cichlids that produce ton of waste, and frequent and easy cleaning is important. Canister just hide waste under the rug, and procrastinating cleanin is bad for plants and fish.
 

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The Tunze Nanostream Electronic has a controller to throttle it down to 53 gph, about the gentlest flow I’ve seen. I use wavemaker to increase current, so I don’t know much about nano flow. You may find some nano internal filter that generates low flow, and if you let the filter clog up, it will slow down even further.
Which one? I looked at the 6015 and it is fixed speed. The 6044 min speed is 400gph (it is adjustable).
 

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The one advantage canister has is esthetic and silence, which are important to aquascapers who maintain nearly fishless setup. I keep cichlids that produce ton of waste, and frequent and easy cleaning is important. Canister just hide waste under the rug, and procrastinating cleanin is bad for plants and fish.
Those are actually two separate advantages ...and they are very big advantages. I have a lot of fish and, to me, these are important pluses. I've also used the propeller-style pumps (Hydor Koralia), but I now have 6 of them sitting in my basement, because I grew tired of all the hardware in my aquairum.

I've had a lot of HOB's in my life and I don't see a big advantage in ease of cleaning vs. a canister. It takes me about 5 minutes to clean my canister every two weeks, with each water change. However, I only have a little filter floss in them, so it's probably easier than most with layers of various media. No nitrate impact at all, but cleaning every two weeks will do that.

I would have to say that the primary reason to select any filtration type would come down to the two aspects of esthetics and silence, other than what I need it for, which is the pumping action.
 
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