02-24-2012, 11:40 AM
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For the budget range listed, AC110. The Aquaclears arent perfect, but the mech is handled by a sponge filter, which you squeeze out and put back in.
The penguin (and emperor), tetra (which I own and use several of) and most any of the other commercial HOBs have one major draw back. And thats filter cartridges. My penguin is great, but the filter HAS to be replaced periodically. It must have a finer mesh beneath the blue mesh that gets plugged up. You can rinse it, but in another couple days the filter is running on overflow again. Same with the whisper bio bags, but at least theyre cheap (comparatively).
I would also agree that a canister is the way to go most times, but HOBs arent so bad imho. If the aquarium will not be planted nor have air stones, then maybe 2 smaller would be better than one big one, for circulation purposes. But at that point you are approaching the cost of some smaller canister filters