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Whats the difference between a canister filter and a hang off the back filter?? What makes a canister filter better?? I currently have a fluval aqua clear 70 hob. Thinking of changing to a canister filter if its better, what brand should I get for my 35 gallon hexagon tank. Thanks.
 

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Ahhh the age old debate!! Everyone will give you their opinions and you have to decide what works best for you. I hate the noise of the HOB, I find the motor to be noisy/rattles and the output of water is a constant splashing noise!! And for people, many people, who don't fill their tank to the top, this can get really noisy. The HOB is by far easier to clean. I can be lazier with the canister as it is silent, out of sight out of mind! I tend to leave it longer than most would. It also doesn't hurt to have both on a tank, biological in the canister and the fiber floss in the HOB for easy rinsing. Canisters can be harder to prime to get them started... well the older ones are. Also, if they don't come with them, you can add 2 shut off valves to disconnect your canister for cleaning so that the hoses stay in/on the tank. (input and output). Once cleaned, reconnect the hoses at the valves, open them, check for leaks, plug in and start her up.

Wondering what others will have to say about this debate!!?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your input. In my case the hob filter motor is actually quiet. The only noise it produces comes from the lid rattling from the vibrations of the filter. I was able to stop that by placing an object with some weight on top of the lid. Problem solved. Now the splashing on the other hand as I am someone that also doesn't fill tank to top can get pretty annoying. But I accepted it as bearable since the splashing to my knowledge helps to aerate the tank correct?? So even if I used a canister filter wouldn't I need it to splash to aerate the water?? Especially since my tank is a hexagon tank and doesn't have a lot of surface area only 24 inches across and same 24 inches deep.
 

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I use a splash bar and it just skims the surface. But yes it must still also break the surface.

So do you think you need a canister on that size a tank? What has you thinking you should or might get one?
 
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hows are lame. i dislike them for every reason seahorse says. loud, hate water splashing noise and such. canisters are best thing ive ever used. cleaning is a bit longer then hobs but dont have to do it as much. amazing things they are
 

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they both have their places where they excel. depends on how they are being used. one reason that people use the canister is the amount of media that it can hold. some swear by sump filters.they have no bypass.
 

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Noisy is relative - you may have a super quiet HOB but it's still going to be loud when compared to a canister.

Ease of cleaning is the only area I can think of where HOBs excel over canisters. However, I don't clean my canisters more than a couple times a year, so even though it's much more involved, it's less frequently needed.
 
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I totally agree with you Jaysee. It certainly is relative and subject to what one can tolerate. Jay is very lucky to have a quiet one!!

Ya 2x a year is about it pretty much. I usually only do so when the water flow seems low. And I run VERY old 2215's on both my 75 gallon tanks. Got them for $30 each (and a ton of extra parts) on Kijiji.ca which is a craigslist type site for Canada (only way better).
You don't have to spend a lot of money if you would like to try a canister out. Eheims are workhorses of the fish world btw.
 
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Both are better, and neither are better, depending on what you want to accomplish. Work towards the strengths & weaknesses of each depending on your setup. Canisters are generally better at bio filtration, hob's at mechanical filtration.

If you've got a tank stocked with smaller community fish either one will work well. Start working with larger cichlids, cats, or other such messy fish & you're better off with one of each, set up for what it does best. Typical for this is your AC set up with a couple sponges & floss for mechanical filtration, and an Eheim set up for bio filtration. Toss a sponge prefilter on the canister intake & you'll get by cleaning it every 6 months, the HOB will need to be cleaned every week or two.
 
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Why do you feel that HOBs are better at mechanical filtration?

I don't use sponge prefilters.
 

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Higher flow rate for the media available, as you stated, easier to clean. May as well work them for what they're better suited. It's a pretty traditional tankbuster setup, let the hob's do the dirty work, don't worry about anything bio when cleaning them.
 

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I guess that's assuming a low GPH from the canister, because there's no way an HOB will outperform a canister with the same flow rate. I don't have any experience with low flow systems - my canisters turn the water over 8 times an hour, just like the HOBs. Too, HOBs are terrible for circulation which often leaves half the tank dirty if you only run one.

My tanks have never been so clean since ditching the HOBs for canisters. There's really no question for me which is better. I was never impressed with the HOBs ability to collect waste, no matter how many I ran on the tank.

The only thing I would use an HoB for now is to run carbon, of that were something I had to do. It's far easier to change it out with an Hob than a canister, that is for sure.
 
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I personally prefer my canister over an HOB. The canister holds more media and has more GPH flow rate. I honestly thought my water was clean with the HOB. But I had enough of the grinding and some how, my water got CLEANER!
With there being more media, you can hold more BB and the canisters are more adjustable. You can place the intake and output on opposite sides of the tank and the tank will get much cleaner.
I love how more customizable it is. You can place your output below your water line or above the water line. Its more of a pain to clean, but for functionality, power and cleanliness, the canister is hands down the best.

It also depends on the size of your tank. Anything larger than 50 gallons and I recommend cansiter filters. Tanks from 30-45 gallons can suffice with 2 HOBs and anything lower can suffice with an HOB rated for 10 gallons larger.

Sent from Petguide.com Free App
 

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Honestly I don't run either, pretty much come full circle with that. The problem with hob's is one of design, intake right below the output, which is generally too far off the bottom of the tank. A couple bucks spent on tubing at the hardware store makes a big performance difference. Granted, they should run well stock, but once you get to the world of media customizing you may as well customize their design a bit. I'm surprised that they haven't taken a cue from some of the canister competitors, who offer spraybar & double tap upgrades on many models. Hang the filter & run it doesn't leave much for return customers, a few cheap upgrade options would get them back in the door.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Pretty much Tolak and fishy hit it right on the head. I actually think my hob does a good job of keeping water LOOKING clean. My problem is the fact I cant customize where the intake and outflow are located. Like I stated my tank is 24 inches deep. The intake only goes a little more then half way down. And the splash where the water comes down takes the water to about the same point. So I feel like the clean water that is being filter is the water that is being pulled in again by the intake. As opposed to pulling it from the bottom if the tank. I did purchase 2 hydor circulation pumps to help circulate the water in the tank tho. A do like some of the suggestions tho. Maybe I can run both. A canister and the hob. Cant hurt right.
 

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So if I do decide to run both is there any particular brand that stands out over the rest or am I okay with any brand?? I've been looking at the api rena filstar xp2, cascade 1000, and hydor professional external filter 250. Or is there some other brand you guys recommend. Thanks.
 

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Whats the difference between a canister filter and a hang off the back filter?? What makes a canister filter better?? I currently have a fluval aqua clear 70 hob. Thinking of changing to a canister filter if its better, what brand should I get for my 35 gallon hexagon tank. Thanks.
I can only give you my experience, I started with a bio-wheel, decided I needed more filtration got an Aquaclear.

I was still dissatisfied with the results. I had extremely high nitrates which even WC didn't bring down. I couldn't find the reason for the High nitrates, Decided that the filters needed cleaning. The output edge of both filters had a thick layer of a brown slimy substance which I took to be poop. That told me that the HOB's were not doing their job. As an aside I had started to do a fishless cycle with fish food. Switched to feeding pure ammonia for the cycle. Made a mistake in calculating the amount of ammonia needed and almost killed all the live plants as a consequence. A side issue was that cleaning the filters ended up with a surplus of water everywhere since the AC needed to be primed to get the flow going which added to the water surplus. Have you ever tried to hit an opening about 1" square with water from a full one gallon jug at shoulder height?

The brown slimy stuff told me the HOB's were not doing the job. Researching the problem sold me on a canister filter. I was a bit afraid of the first time priming procedure before I bought the Fluval 206 for a 29G tank because it had separate baskets for each type of media. That turned out to be a misjudgement since I now only run mechanical and bio media in the filter. Also I liked the autovalve design (turning off input and output at the same time) of the hose connections.

Well to make a short story even longer I didn't have a problem with the priming a all just followed the instructions. I started with weekly cleanings as I did WC. Have since progressed or backslid to 3 months before cleaning the filter with weekly or biweekly WC. Cleaning the filter is a breeze, shut the Autovalve off. Open the top snaps take the top of the filter off and move the container to the bathroom, spill out the water. then do a no-no, rinse the sponges in tap water, rinse the container in the tub, reassemble the media trays and the prefilter. Put the container (empty) in the cabinet, reconnect the hoses, open the Autovalve, wait 'til the container fills, plug it back in. There is some tiny air bubbles in the output for several seconds and viola it is running again. No priming, no noise even no water noise. The media consists of the black sponge Fluval calls a biosponge, Fluval Biomax , and a fine felt filter media. I watch the intake tube and clean it when the screen seems to be dirty. the output doesn't seem to need any cleaning between filter cleanings.

This has turned out to be an essay rather than a simple recommendation, but if you need anymore info just ask.
 

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as far as favorites, for hobs it is the aquaclear which was formerly made by hagen.it was bought out by fluval.lots of room for media customization.canisters have their definite camps as far as favorites.eheim has a long reputation of excellence.renas have also been around a long time also.fluval 05 and the newer 06 series has a nice auto stop feature.i think the eheims have also adopted this.there are bargain canisters also.my favorite is the sun sun hw 300 and 400 series.it costs about half the price of the eheims and fluvals.mine has been wonderful.they have been around long enough for substantial reviews on their quality. reviews are your best friend here. they give you a heads up as to the quality,price and flaws within the canisters. it just takes a little digging.
 
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