I've got several models of Eheim canister filters. Do you have the Classic filters or the Eheim Ecco or Eheim Pro filters? Ecco and Pro filters have self priming. On the Pro II's, you have to press the prime button a few times. Make sure you don't close off the tubing, so water can flow through. On the Eheim Eccos, you need to close the handle half way, which would start the prime. You may have to do it again. Just make sure you have the canister filter full of water first, before you prime it, otherwise, you will have to prime it allot of times in order for the canister filter to get filled up.
I'm going with Eddie. I fill all my Eheims up at the sink. Completely full and the press the tops down. If you've never set it up you'll need to prime the lines as well. The easiest method possible is to take the return line, hold it lower than the tank and suck on it like you are starting a gravel vac. The line will fill up the can and then rise up through the return line. If you have the valves close the one on the return side. Put the return back where it goes. Open the valve and let it run. I have 7 Eheim cans and ever since I bought my first, I have sworn off anything else.
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