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New Canister Filters

Posted: September 23, 2013, 2:10 p.m. EDT


By David Lass

I often hear people complain that there is nothing new in the way of equipment for aquariums, and I try to tell those folks (politely—although I have been told that tact is not one of my strong suits) that they do not know what they are talking about. Many manufacturers are coming out with all kinds of new products. In this blog we will discuss what is new in canister filters.

In addition to many new canister filters recently introduced in the middle range of size (both in terms of flow rate in gallons per hour and also in size of the canister itself), there are some interesting new filters at the two extremes. Hagen has introduced its new Fluval FX 6 canister filter, which is essentially a big brother to its successful Fluval FX 5. With a flow rate specified as 935 gallons per hour, the FX 6 really moves water through the filter medium. I have one as the primary filter on a 300 gallon planted aquarium, and it keeps the tank crystal clear.

Cobalt EXT
Cobalt EXT. David Lass

Cobalt has come out with a new canister filter that falls on the other side of the spectrum. The company’s EXT Canister Filter moves 210 gallons per hour, with the option of having the pump  in line or in the tank; the filter box itself is very compact. It has four levels of media. I have been running a Cobalt EXT on a 120 gallon tank and it is doing a great job.

In general, all of the new canister filters currently offered have similar features and benefits.

• They are more compact (the trend seems to be toward square shapes, which make sense—they use less space).
• Ease of cleaning has increased greatly. All of the good canister filters now allow the intake and return lines to and from the tank to be shut off, so the filter can be moved easily to where the cleaning is done.
• There are more levels and options for filter floss, sponges, activated carbon, resins, etc. It is very easy to remove the trays for cleaning.
• The new canister filters are more efficient in terms of electricity used to run them. The pump for the Cobalt EXT uses only 6 watts of electricity.
• The newer canisters include handles for carrying the canister that are not part of the mechanism for closing the filter top. This is much better than running the risk of picking up the full canister to go and clean it, and have the top come off in your hands—which happened to me a couple times, once splashing water all over my wife, the good Saint Janet.

The new canister filters being released on the market are excellent, and for the most part very affordable. On larger tanks, the canister option is usually the best, especially because the filter can be hidden in the cabinet or under the tank stand.

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