Canister Filters: Canister filters are a viable, inexpensive way to filter a reef tank. True or False?

BRS

Canister filters are a viable, inexpensive way to filter a reef tank.

  • Agree

    Votes: 374 50.1%
  • Disagree

    Votes: 194 26.0%
  • Not Sure

    Votes: 156 20.9%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 22 2.9%

  • Total voters
    746

M Stein

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You can use a canister filter for everything you mentioned you use reactors for. And changing any of the Media is as simple as changing a light bulb. Your idea of a canister filter being primarily for nitrifying bacteria is completely wrong and you know it, if not stop speaking about canisters. If you used one, you would know how they actually work and how easy they are to take care of. Just like a sump these things will get dirty, if you don't like cleaning your equipment then that's your issue not the canister or sumps problem. Stop hating on something you obviously have no idea whatsoever about.
I've used a canister filter.
And I still stand by what I said.
If canisters work for you, and you don't find dealing with it to be to much of a chore then by all means, go with it.
 

StPatrick89

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That's fair, canisters are super quiet and add more volume. But easier to clean? Come on now...
Dude, I literally unplug my canister, take it from under the tank, open it, lay down my towels, take out the trays, ring out my sponges in the water inside the canister, pour the dirty water out, rinse out the canister, replace the sponges that need replacing if needed and then put them back in. Literally 10 minutes. Why are people making this into Discrete Math? Lol
 

fishface NJ

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Using a canister filter gives you more water volume. It's just as easy to clean, Removing and replacing media , if not easier. I had a HOB filter and can see absolute differences. The flow is directional.
"canister gives you more water volume" .....not a true statement. The FX6 held a lot of water but no where near the quantity in my sump. I have a 40B as my DT and a 40B has a sump.
 

fishface NJ

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Dude, I literally unplug my canister, take it from under the tank, open it, lay down my towels, take out the trays, ring out my sponges in the water inside the canister, pour the dirty water out, rinse out the canister, replace the sponges that need replacing if needed and then put them back in. Literally 10 minutes. Why are people making this into Discrete Math? Lol
The many years I used my FX6 filter, it was a big chore to take it out from under the tank, to open up and clean. It took a good 20-30 minutes to get it up and running again. The FX6 kept my water clean but it is no where as easy as a sump
 

Ashish Patel

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Funny, I see people with Sumps who’s pipes leak. There will be a story on both sides.
funny I don’t have problems starting mine and I don’t even use Fluval
Not saying canisters won't work, everything works as long as the hobbyist is good! I know the designs have improved greatly, mine had a removable large o-ring and it did not help there was no online support. The benefits for me in having a sump I was able to cramp a refugium, cryptic zone, dosing, ATO container, skimmer and heater in it and these things I consider a must have given I do 2-3 month waterchanges.

sump.jpeg
 

mattybecks

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I use SunSun 304B's canister filters on my freshwater and Marine tanks.
I have had them all (5 sunsuns in total) for 4 years now. Never had issues, easy to take apart and clean.
I rinse out the media every 6 months (no less than this, it 'disturbs" the organisms that grow inside.
Takes about 5 - 10 min for each filter.

Cleaning out my marine cansiters out is always interesting. They seem to develop their little ecosystems inside if you dont disturb them to much. I had a quite a few different little crabs, snails, sponges and worms that were very happy living in here. I am thinking they probably helped in keep things clean in there too.
 

Ashish Patel

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Dude, I literally unplug my canister, take it from under the tank, open it, lay down my towels, take out the trays, ring out my sponges in the water inside the canister, pour the dirty water out, rinse out the canister, replace the sponges that need replacing if needed and then put them back in. Literally 10 minutes. Why are people making this into Discrete Math? Lol
Its still dirty maintenance work, so if its difficult to do = we are less likely to do it. you are a rare one sir!
 

UK softy bloke

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Today let's talk about canister filters and if you would agree or disagree with the following statement:

"Canister filters are a viable, inexpensive way to filter a reef tank."

1. Do you agree or disagree?

2. Do you run a canister filter on your reef now or have you in the past?



Thanks @adittam for the QOTD idea!
Screenshot 2021-09-03 at 10-52-11 FX6 Canister Filter - Fluval.png
I've always used a fluval for chemical filtration, I put in a poly filter and gfo. I can't say I enjoy the monthly clean out though.
 

Freenow54

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I have used a canister filter ( fluval ) for years on me 40 gallon, I do use different media in it however, ammonia removal gravel , differant sponge, charcoal bags. disassembles very easily. Mind you I also use a hang on the back skimmer. This all before any education on reefing. I see no reason to change my set up. However since I started using RO water with a DI filter there was a marked difference. Now my new tank has a sump I personally see no advantage unless I start throwing money at it ie hundreds, as compared to one filter costing about 300. The one thing I like is that I do all my water changes in the sump, as opposed to disturbing my residents. If someone could point out anything I am missing it would be appreciated. Currently in sump is sock, skimmer, media filter, algae, and some live rock.
 

schooncw

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i assume that it means canister filter only? That would be horrible. I live both worlds of salt and fresh, I don't even use canister filters for my freshwater tanks. They are horrible. Maintenance on them is a pain. Taking apart a fx5/6 with the 50,000 knobs that breaks as soon as you over tighten just a bit. I had three fx5 on my 350g Tanganyikan tank. I would have to spend 6hrs a month cleaning them. They build up so much crap. Because there was no surface agitation, i had to add air stones to oxygenate the water. I couldn't get rid of that tank and filters fast enough.

For non canister filter users, the reason i mention the fx4/5/6 is because they are the gold standard when it comes to canister filters. Please don't mention Eheim canister filters.... what a piece of crap.
you should have gone with Eheim.
 

VR28man

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You can use a canister filter for everything you mentioned you use reactors for. And changing any of the Media is as simple as changing a light bulb. Your idea of a canister filter being primarily for nitrifying bacteria is completely wrong and you know it, if not stop speaking about canisters. If you used one, you would know how they actually work and how easy they are to take care of. Just like a sump these things will get dirty, if you don't like cleaning your equipment then that's your issue not the canister or sumps problem. Stop hating on something you obviously have no idea whatsoever about.

Gotta agree with this. Further, people are taking the Fluval, Eheim or Marineland as standards. They are viable designs of course, but are not far from ancient designs sold in big box stores made by the lowest bidder. (that lowest bidder may be the same factory, and that same factory may also make the sunsuns on ebay)

There are definitely ways to tweak the design. The link I posted above shows one person -obsessive about aesthetics and low maintenance - with an apparent newer design. That design basically runs puts the prefilter/sponge in its own compartment and makes it easily removable, eliminating one of the complaints about canister filter sponge prefilters being hard to clean. It has the same effect as runing the output through a removable filter sock.

Video:

(note the dude has the canister filter output go to a chaeto reactor, for denitrification and phosphate removal)

FIlter (us link):
https://store.oase-usa.com/collections/aquarium-external-filters


And as others have said, there are many different ways to achieve the same result - sump, AIO, canister, media reactor, HOB filter - with pluses and minus to the method as well as to the implmentation.

The canister filter is basically a media reactor with a prefilter, designed to be easily attached to an aquairum in a mass-market design sense. Whether a filter sock and media storage area (for carbon? nitrifying bacteria media? GFO? Purigen, etc.?) is your thing or if a canister filter of similar size for the same media is your thing won't make a difference.

That being said, either approach has its pluses and minuses: the canister filter is literally an off the shelf solution while the sump requires some DIY work and tweaking, even if you buy a sump. A canister's drawback is that it's not as customizable as a sump, and it will neither store denitrifying media (requires low flow though maybe you could make such an area) nor be an ATS/chaeto reactor.



Either way, this is a good exercise for me at least: to systematically look at what I need in a tank (functions) and my options. A list for filtration might look like: (note that the options are not always mutually exclusive)

Detritus and removal from DT: surface skimmer or overflow box or occasional "storms" or diatom filter or suction and bucket tube system

Detritus catching: filter sock, canister's prefilter, cryptic fuge

Nitrification method: all live rock or media that flows through

Nitrification media: seachem matrix, seachem pond matrix, bright well X, zeovit, and many many others.....

Dentrification method: low flow area for denitrifiying bacteria or ATS or macroalgae reactor or refugium

Denitrification media

Phosphate removal: GFO, macroalgae, ats, refigium

doc/gunk removal from the water: skimmer or ozone or UV or cryptic refiguim (this is not exclusive)

Pod growth: in refugium?
 

VR28man

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Not saying canisters won't work, everything works as long as the hobbyist is good! I know the designs have improved greatly, mine had a removable large o-ring and it did not help there was no online support. The benefits for me in having a sump I was able to cramp a refugium, cryptic zone, dosing, ATO container, skimmer and heater in it and these things I consider a must have given I do 2-3 month waterchanges.

sump.jpeg

Very nice. Do you describe in more detail somewhere how you set up your sump?
 

VR28man

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I use SunSun 304B's canister filters on my freshwater and Marine tanks.
I have had them all (5 sunsuns in total) for 4 years now. Never had issues, easy to take apart and clean.
I rinse out the media every 6 months (no less than this, it 'disturbs" the organisms that grow inside.
Takes about 5 - 10 min for each filter.

Cleaning out my marine cansiters out is always interesting. They seem to develop their little ecosystems inside if you dont disturb them to much. I had a quite a few different little crabs, snails, sponges and worms that were very happy living in here. I am thinking they probably helped in keep things clean in there too.

Sounds like you have what they call a cryptic refugium in your canister filter. Very interesting - and yes to keep it going you definitely need to disturb it as little as possible.

Of note, they supposedly thrive on detritus.
 

StPatrick89

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I use SunSun 304B's canister filters on my freshwater and Marine tanks.
I have had them all (5 sunsuns in total) for 4 years now. Never had issues, easy to take apart and clean.
I rinse out the media every 6 months (no less than this, it 'disturbs" the organisms that grow inside.
Takes about 5 - 10 min for each filter.

Cleaning out my marine cansiters out is always interesting. They seem to develop their little ecosystems inside if you dont disturb them to much. I had a quite a few different little crabs, snails, sponges and worms that were very happy living in here. I am thinking they probably helped in keep things clean in there too.
So you can’t even wash the media in the water from the canister without disturbing the organisms?
 

Ashish Patel

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Very nice. Do you describe in more detail somewhere how you set up your sump?

Thanks, I didnt have a build thread for this tank but have most of the info on below link. If you have any questions hit me up. This is a side shot with ATO reservoir and UV filter on top, along with wire management.

wire management.jpeg


 

Lowkey reefing

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I run a 150 mixed reef on 3 canisters. Hw3000 i use alot of Sechem matrix in all 3 plus phosphate pads, Carbon and chemipure blue.

Been up a year no issues. No water changes, no skimmer.

The reason i went with canisters is because i was big African cichlid keeper. I love canisters, i know them lol sump had me at odds.

In all, i have to do canister maintenance every 3 months. The tank does run higher nitrates at 0.15 and higher Phosphate at 0.25. Yeah sounds odd but my LPS love it, acros and softies too. I see the most growth out of wall hammers, leather, zoas, and montipora.

If i had to do over again... i think I'd stick with canisters for the 150 gal. If i had a 200 plus then a sump would be drastically cheaper.

Over all the bigger the tank the higher cost per canisters vs sump i think.





16308876859213404583063195448185.jpg
 

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