40 Gallon Tank 38 Gallon Filter Reviews: Penguin 200, Ac50, Tidal 55, Fluval C4, And Fluval 306

rmurray

Filter review for my 38 gallon bowfront in 2 years of ownership. The tank has been problematic with filtration since it’s 26” deep.
Let me just say I’m not paid by anyone for this review and I brought all of these with my money.

To summarize I’m a fan of fluval and highly recommend their canister line or the C line of HOB filters. I hope this can save someone some money in the future.

Marineland penguin 200.
Well the biowheel seized and the motor burnt up in under 6 months. I still have cartridges for it and I’m unsure if I’ll ever purchase another marineland product. I also had the heater that came in the kit get stuck on and cook three cories and stress everything else.

Fluval aquaclear 50
Wasn’t a huge fan. The media seemed to get bipassed by the flow after minimum clogging. I ran this in conjunction with the marineland 200 for a while then with the seachem tidal 55.
Down the road I upgraded to the fluval C4 because it appeared to be a much improved model. I accidentally damaged the tray for this filter while it was in storage after making the switch. I will purchase another tray and keep it as my primary backup. Great flow and tons of media storage. Requires proper maintenance intervals.

Seachem tidal 55
Not a bad filter, the surface skimmer was a great idea but didn’t seem practical or useful in my tank. The filter was constantly getting clogged and it would need to be ran at a lower level or have constant weekly maintenance. I tried to pack it with purigen and extra bio from the beginning and it just couldn’t handle it. I still have it and may try it again in the future. If I do I will try the seachem sponge, filter floss, and bio material.

Fluval c4
I’m just going to say wow. YouTube has hundreds of great reviews mines consistent with theirs. Minimum maintenance and to be honest I don’t follow the recommended intervals. This filter is a beast. The only thing I wish it had was self priming. It features tons of practical media space so you can really pack it with bio and mechanical filtration.

I actually just ordered a C3 to replace my quietflow 20 on my 20 gallon fry tank.

One thing I really enjoy about these fluval HOB is all the extra bio material they can store, they make seeding new tanks incredibly quick and easy.

With my seachem tidal 55 just not cutting it and a decent bioload with a severe tank depth (26”) I needed more flow especially near the bottom. Well I upgraded...

Fluval 306
I’ve been running the 306 for almost a year now with the fluval c4 and this tank has some flow. The c4 keeps the top half circulating and the 306 keeps everything circulating. Great media options, quiet, and massive amounts of flow for a 38 gallon. This filter can easily handle this 38 gallon alone I keep the c4 running for seeding bio material and just to increase my maintenance interval on the canister.

Other filters I’ve used on other tanks include:
Sponge filters: efficient and cheap I like them, but they can be little noisy from the air pump and bubbles. The surface disturbance is a plus for tank health.
Fluval U4: I’ve never ran it solo but it has great flow.
Aqueon QuietFlow 10 and 20 good kit filters but often just not enough for the tanks they come with. (I like the self priming, hate the cartridge set up, but they work)
Fluval FX6: Absolute beast of a filter. I do a cleaning every 6 months or so. Still on the original impeller after 2 years and a snail infestation.
 

fish 321

I hate catridges too so I replaced the catridge in my aqueon 30 quietflow pro with ceramic media and am going to get a sponge for it.
 

rmurray

I hate catridges too so I replaced the catridge in my aqueon 30 quietflow pro with ceramic media and am going to get a sponge for it.

Mine was clogged and I already ordered the C3 so I just packed in a layer of filter floss, the BioMax, then filter floss and an ac50 sponge to keep it all in. It’s working well.
 

Islandvic

Thanks for the write up!

Next time you clean the Fluval C4, will you post some pics please
 

rmurray

Thanks for the write up!

Next time you clean the Fluval C4, will you post some pics please

I actually did an 80% one last night. What are you interested in seeing?
 

Islandvic

No rush, maybe some pics of the empty media trays out of the reservoir, pics of the trays loaded with you media then how they go back into the reservoir.

Occasionally I see them on sale online, and wanted to see some reference pics of the C-series

So if I need another HOB for a future tank build, I can have more options.

I use Aquaclears, sponge filters and 1 canister for my different tanks at the moment. Always open to something different.

Thanks
 

rmurray

No rush, maybe some pics of the empty media trays out of the reservoir, pics of the trays loaded with you media then how they go back into the reservoir.

Occasionally I see them on sale online, and wanted to see some reference pics of the C-series

So if I need another HOB for a future tank build, I can have more options.

I use Aquaclears, sponge filters and 1 canister for my different tanks at the moment. Always open to something different.

Thanks

I use the fluval media for the C series. With how little I actually throw away media I don’t mind the price. Instead of carbon I fill that section with BioMax or purigen though.
 

jonnyroton

Thank you for the great write up. So from what I can tell you are recommending the C4 over the Aquaclear? I am dreaming of a 55 Gallon tank and am trying to figure out filtration. Canister filters are out of my price range, and scare me LOL. I will have a sponge filter or two in there and want a great HOB. Thanks again for the review!
 

rmurray

Thank you for the great write up. So from what I can tell you are recommending the C4 over the Aquaclear? I am dreaming of a 55 Gallon tank and am trying to figure out filtration. Canister filters are out of my price range, and scare me LOL. I will have a sponge filter or two in there and want a great HOB. Thanks again for the review!

You’re welcome. I would absolutely recommend the c4 over the ac55/70. The ac line is cheaper for media though since it’s more customizable. But I just rinse the sponges anyways and I don’t use carbon usually. If you put 2 sponge filters on the end you can probably get away with 1 C4. You could always upgrade to two down the road. Or if you have high flow fish an ac110 would do great. The ac filters are still great in my opinion the C line is better though.
 

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