Penn-Plax Cascade Canister Filter

Updated August 12, 2019
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
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The Cascade canister filter manufactured by Penn-Plax, comes in five different types:

We tested the 700 series Cascade Canister Filter with a 55 gallon aquarium. Inside the canister are two large stackable containers for housing your filtration media, such as filter floss, activated carbon, zeolite, ceramic bio-rings, etc. We used filter floss, activated carbon and the ceramic bio-rings in our filter. The 700 series came with two options for returning the filtered water back into the aquarium. The first option was a regular return chute like you see on many power heads. The second option included was a spray bar. The spray bar is about 12 inches long with small holes about an inch apart. We chose the spray bar so we could get more surface agitation.

Setting up was straight forward with the included directions and we had it ready to go in about 20 minutes. Once you have the Cascade Canister Filter hooked up, but before you plug it in, you need to prime the canister by pushing the primer button a few times. Water will flow from the aquarium into the canister. Once it sounded like the canister had filled with water (took about 30 seconds) we plugged it in. At first there were some noticeable air noises coming from the filter but they quickly subsided once all of the air was pushed out of the filter. After a minute or so we could barely hear anything coming from the filter. It is extremely quiet.

Maintaining the Cascade Canister Filter is a breeze. It has a water shut off valve on each of the hoses attached to the canister. You simply close the valves and then unscrew them from the top of the canister. Carry the canister by the handle to your sink or bathtub and pop open the top to get to the stackable media trays. Replace your filter floss and activated carbon but leave the bio-rings alone. They contain the beneficial bacteria needed in the nitrogen cycle. Hook up the two hoses, turn the water valves back to the open position, prime the pump, then plug it back in. That's it.

About 12 hours after hooking up this Cascade Canister Filter we noticed a visible improvement in the clarity of the water in the tank.

The replaceable filter media does seem a little on the pricey side. Here's a tip: buy the big bags of filter floss and boxes of activated carbon. Get those re-usable bags and use them for the activated carbon. Doing this will save you some money when you need to replace the filter media.

Cascade Canister Filter Positives

Cascade Canister Filter Negatives

Overall, we give this aquarium canister filter 4 stars

Cascade Canister Filter Directions

Rating Information

Review Title: Penn-Plax Cascade Canister Filter
Reviewed by: Mike FishLore
Summary: Review of the Penn-Plax Cascade Canister Filter.
Description: We tested the 700 series Cascade Canister Filter with a 55 gallon aquarium.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Cascade Canister Filter Comments

From: R. Crawford
I bought the 1000 after reading your article, excellent filter and would agree with your description, but where did you get the ceramic bio-rings?
Any bio-rings that will fit in the media basket of your canister filter should work. We picked ours up at a local Petco and they were made by Penn-plax. Try a google search on product id: CCF236 and you should be able to pull up the penn plax page with the bio rings on it.

From: Jim
I have the 700 and also use the spray bar. Should there be any visible bubbles coming from the spray bar? Mine does not and when I hold my fingers over the holes, I do feel water coming out but really not that forceful. Is this normal operation?
If you've placed the spray bar under the water line (in the water) then you won't see any bubbles. The 700 is on the lower end for gph and is rated at 185 gph. Packing your filter baskets too tightly with media may restrict flow somewhat.

From: Riley
I had the smallest model and was very pleased with it for about 6 months. It was very easy to setup and maintain. However, at about the six month mark it developed a leak that I could not fix. It was leaking around the top seal where the top clamps down onto the body. It was a slow leak but became very annoying and I had to replace it with a different filter.

From: Ed
I have several of the cascades. I run two of the 700 models on a 75 gallon tank for cichlids. I also run a 700, as well as a 1000 on a 125 gallon community tank. I simply love them. Easy to set up, easy to clean and maintain, easy to get parts for. Unlike the fluval I had to replace.

From: J. Rizzo
I own a 700 series and I'm very satisfied with it. My water PH and chemical makeup always test correct. The water gets very clean within hours and is very clear. My water gets so clear that sometimes it seems that water is not in it. This has been attributed to the overall beauty and luster of my panted 29 Gallon. I have recommended a friend to pickup one up who has a 55 gallon tank. I actually recommended that he get a Cascade 1000. Great product, simple and easy to use. Build your own carbon packs and zeolite packs if you decide to.

From: Mike C.
I have a 60 gallon aquarium I have owned for years. I struggled to keep the water clear in it and had friends tell me about the cascade. I went to my local superpets and they had the 1200 on clearance. It didn't matter because I was going to get one regardless. I took the filter home and in about 20 minutes had it installed. It replaced a whisper 30-60 that couldn't keep up. It took 45 minutes for this filter to make a murky tank crystal clear.

I do have a question though. I have had this wonderful product for about a week and now I notice air bubbles comming out and its now constant. There is plenty of flow and I made sure the tank was full but it just recently started this and do you have any suggestions how to stop them.
For the air bubbles it sounds like there could be air trapped inside the canister filter or in the lines. Did you cut the flexible hoses so that you don't have any loops? They should go away after awhile. You could also be introducing bubbles if you place the canister filter intake port near an air bubbler in the tank or if it's not placed low enough in the tank.

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