Bio-wheel vs. aquaclear Why Not?

  • #1
Since these seem to be the most used and popular and also the best HOB filters why not everybody say why people think the bio-wheel or aquaclear is the better filter.

I personally have not used the aquaclear but my friend has but I use the bio-wheel and it has three step filteration too. Filter floss, then carbon, then bio-wheel which collects beneficial bacteria that just grows and grows cleaning the water. The newer designs are quieter and have large areas for filter media. Just my two cents


p.s. If this becomes helpful maybe pin it so people considering the filters can easily view it

  • #2
Bio-wheel wins in my opinion all the way. You never touch the bacteria bed and can change the other media without disturbing the beneficial bacteria at all. With other types you SWISH the pad out in used tank water or have to worry about "seeding" the new pad, or such. Nothing like that with a Bio-wheel, just remove the old cartridge or media or whatever when you need to and put the new in and the little wheel where ALL the bacteria resides is NEVER touched and never REPLACED. It just keeps rolling along. You do not have those awful mini-cycles unless you put some odd or awful chemical in that would kill the bacteria in ANY filter.

And yes I have tried the AquaClear and it works, just not as well as the Bio-wheel for the above reasons. Too much hassle.


  • #3
And now the democratic response.

I have used both and prefer the Aquaclear.
Same size units push a lot more water than bio wheels.
And, in an established tank, media will reseed and be back to full tilt in less than a week max.
Unless the tank is grossly over stocked, this should not be a problem.
But that has been my experience, your's may differ, should as it has with Rose.

Neither opinion is an absolute, as no two tanks ever have identical conditions.

  • Thread Starter
  • #4
Do they really push more water Dino, I didn't know that. Which one seems to have more room for filter media?
  • #5
If I remember corectly, as it has been several years since I owned a bio wheel, the aquaclear has more media area.

  • #6
I've never owned any bio-wheels, but I do own an Aqua Clear. So the most I can do is comment on Aqua Clears, as I have no experience with bio-wheels. The "verdict" (lol) is this: For tanks smaller than 75 gallons I'd never use anything but an Aqua Clear. And if I couldn't get a canister filter for a larger than 75 gallon tank, I'd go with 2 or 3 Aqua Clears instead. I LOVE THIS FILTER. It has NEVER failed me so far. It's quiet, robust, and there is no bypass of water, so any water that gets in, it gets filtered through all the media. There is a thick sponge, thick activated carbon pouch, and a sizable bag of bio-cubes. I never replace the sponge and I never replace the bio-cubes. All works perfectly fine. You don't even have to use the activated carbon if you don't want to. My tank is temporarily overstocked and the filter handles the job very well - never any ammonia and/or nitrite spikes. Should I go on ... or maybe stop right here? LOL ...


  • #7
The AquaClear DEFINITELY holds more media that is 100% certain. The cartridges for the Bio-wheels are quite small as they have no need to be more than a bit of carbon and some kind of material to catch foreign debris. But I will say that I do agree that for sheer ability to have clear water, the water clarity with an AquaClear is beautiful.

  • Thread Starter
  • #8
I'm not sure on that one, my water is crystal clear with my bio-wheel 200 though I really want a aquaclear to try it out. I don't use the filter inserts, just stuff a huge wade of filter fiber in and it works great.
  • #9
I've used both very recently. Same sized filter on my 55 gallon. I started with a BIO-Wheel - if more than a little gunk was stuck in the filter, the wheel would stop. I'd clean it every week so the wheels wouldn't stop. It got to the point where unless everything was perfectly clean (brand new filter pads, empty intake, and no algae) it wouldn't move the wheels. At that point the wheels were useless. I had an ammonia spike after the filter choked up while I wasn't around and I prompty bought an AquaClear. No problems yet...
  • #10
I don't know about others but my Emperor 400 has never stopped rotating in many years without any maintenance to the dual biowheels. The only maintenance I do is to the spray bar pipes that gets partially clogged once every few months which slows down the wheels. It takes only a few couple minutes with a pipe cleaner and it's done. The slide out media baskets are really convenient. I use them for carbon. I don't use the carbon that's prepackaged into the cartridges. I cut a horizontal slit at the top of the two cartridges and dump the carbon out and just use the filter floss/wool on the cartridges as a mechanical filter.


  • #11
I've never tried an Aquaclear, but just today bought a Bio-Wheel (Penguin) for my 20 gallon. I had a dinky "up to 20 gallon" Aquatech filter, and it was just not doing a very good job. The Bio-Wheel is for tanks up to 50 gallons and has improved my water quality in a matter of hours. Took poor Myst (Betta) a little while to adjust to the stronger current, but other than that it's doing great.

  • #12
Well, I run them both in various tanks. On one of my tanks I used an UGF along with an aquaclear. The UGF eliminates any mini-cycles and the aquaclear keeps the water crystal clear. The only thing I didn't like about the aquaclear was small biologic area and the aerator and waterfall were a little noisy. Very happy with performance though, filter clogging hardly bothered it and it always started right back up after a power failure as long as I didn't let my water level get too low.

On my latest setup I went with no UGF and a Magnum 350 running two Bio-wheels. On this setup I used a T before the outflow to split off to the bio-wheels bringing part of the water to the bio-wheels and the rest out a standard outflow. This eliminated any restriction from the bio-wheels. This setup also seems to keep the bio-wheels turning very well. It uses the spray arms to turn the wheels, and since there is much more flow coming off my canister than the bio-wheels can use even if the filter gets clogged up I still have plenty to run them. Bio-wheels have enough surface area that cleaning the filter does not upset the biological balance. Also runs totally silent, this has been my favorite setup so far.

On my other bio-wheel tanks I have problems with the flow if the filter starts to get clogged or the water level gets too low. I have the check it at least once a day to make sure it is turning. Those ones are the type where the water flows under the bio-wheel to turn it. With no UGF this can crash my tanks real fast. These have all had about the same filter capacity as the Aquaclear (Going by the filter inserts size compared to the flow rate). Same noise level as the Aquaclear as well. Works very well if you don't mind checking it daily.

Hope that's helpful to someone.

  • Thread Starter
  • #13
wfosborn. Too keep your bio-wheel spinning instead of using the inserts buy filter floss or filter fiber and stick a big ball of that in, I made a post on how to do it in filters board. It keeps mine spinning and keeps my tank aboslutely clear and I'v never had a problem. I do agree if you let too much junk build up it slows it down, reason to keep it clean.

I just bought a aquaclear for my Saltwater tank and I haven't used it yet but it doesn't seem like there is that much more media room, though it's easier to choose what you want but you can buy the aquaclear bags, fill them with what you want and use them in bio-wheels.
  • #14
I am just getting back into the game, and have two bio-wheels on my 75 gal. They are both Penguin 350, and seem to run just fine. I had just one to start, but on the advice of a member on this site, I added the second. Glad I did, it made a big difference.


  • #15
Sounds like you have plenty of filtration now. On your other threat today you had an ammonia spike. Did you do anything unusual to the filters in the last few days? Take media out and clean it etc?? Just a thought.

Fish in the Frozen North
  • #16
Gotta go with the biowheel. They just seem like they do a better job with filtration.
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
So far after setting up my aquaclear I would have to say I like the bio-wheel better overall. It's quieter and easier to fit on the tank, you don't have to worry about cutting the plastic thing. The filter inserts are nicer in the aquaclear but you can just buy them and put them in the bio-wheel which is what I did since I don't use them in a Saltwater tank. The aquaclear rattles some on the tank too, it's annoying. :-\ And I don't think it has more room for media just my opinion.

would have to go with bio-wheel after using them both
  • #18
I agree bio-wheel all the way. I have been using the filter inserts and have not modified anything. I agree you have to clean it once and a while to keep the bio-wheel moving but I would not trade it for any other pump. I have Penguin 100 and 150 one on my 10 gallon and 29 gallon tank. Best Filtration out there in my opinion.


  • #19
My AquaClear 70's like to rattle... Seems the new ones are a little finicky with the U shaped tube placement. So I spend about 10 seconds moving it around a bit and the rattles go away. They also quiet down A LOT after they have been running for a couple of days. I have 2 aqua clear 70's on 2 tanks and they work GREAT!!

One is on a turtle tank and it does a fantastic job on that tank. If you have ever owned a turtle you would know this is no small feat! The other one has been running for 3 months now on my 29 community tank. I pulled the carbon a month ago and she is still just moving along. No clogging and not need to even clean it at this point. Levels are maintained perfectly and when it is time to change the media you just pull the bag of Bio material out and put it in you tank until you are done cleaning the filter.. I have NEVER had any type of minI cycle that was mentioned earlier. I have done this type of cleaning on all of them without issue. (Have an aqua clear 20 as well that requires more frequent cleaning).

One the other hand... Never used a penguin... The aqua clears have never let me down so I have never seen the need to try something different.
  • Thread Starter
  • #20
I agree, aquaclears take awhile to break in a quiet down and they do rattle a bit with the intake tube. Both are pretty good, doesn't really matter too much.
  • #21
After reading everyone's opinion of the aqua clear vs. the biowheel, I see no clear cut consensus. So what about using both of them on my 75 gallon freshwater discus - Angel tank? Would these be a bit of an overkill? Thanks
  • #22
You certainly could use each...there is no danger in "overfiltering" a tank. However, if 1 filter provides the appropriate flow for your size tank, buying 2 filters just for the sake of buying 2 filters is probably overkill and a waste of money. The fact that you are not seeing a consensus on which brand is "best" is a good indicator that both are fine, just pick one and rest comfortably knowing that you have a good filter either way.


  • #23
I have no experience in either these products but as a matter of course I have a secondary filter in my tanks. The second one is always a cheap one, though, so indeed, I guess you still have to take your pick between those two good ones, but I would recommend getting a small cheap secondary one as safety measure, for extra water agitation, and for a readily available cycled filter medium for those new tanks.
  • #24
So, just to throw this out there, are Tetra Whisper pumps even in the running? I happen to run one and am fairly impressed with it, though I'm debating on upgrading to a bio-wheel as my 10 gallon is a little overstocked... perhaps use both? the whisper as a purely mechanical filter and the penguin as the chemical (when needed) and bio filter?
  • #25
Whisper filters are good too. I have 2 of them.
  • #26
I've had too many problems with Bio Wheels. It's canisters for me.


  • #27
I have three aquaclear filters running in tanks right now. I really do like them and never have any noise coming from them. If the water level is low, then you will hear the waterfall affect. For me they are easy to take care of and use. I have a whisper 3I minI in one of the betta tanks and really hate it! uggh... the water pumps funny and has a constant thump thump thump noise of the water coming up the tube. Plus I don't like the in tank filters like the whisper. I found a great HOB minI filter that resembles the aquaclear on DFS site that is only 5.99! couldnt believe the price. Of course its for a tank up to 5gals and I want to use it in the 2.5 betta tank. Its in my wish list there, since shipping cost up to 50.00 is 9.99 I'm waiting to add a minI heater to the order and maybe a few items like filter media etc etc. But right now any extra funds are going toward the other tanks at the moment. But will be ordering that asap.
So yes.. I prefer the aquaclear for a HOB filter. On the 55 gallon tank I have a topfin filter which is ok.(came with the set up)...alittle bit of noise, but will have to do for now til I can afford a larger aquaclear for that tank.
I am intrigued by the biowheels tho.. as it seemed to be something new to me. I like how the filter is hidden in the hood. Its an interesting concept. Just never could figure out how they work til I read up on them here in the forum. Guess it all comes down to personal preferences on which one to go with, I'm sure they all work as good as the other...
  • #28
Not all whispers are in tank models...the 2 I have are HOBs. Good to know about the noise level with your in-tank variety though...I'll avoid those! I also have an aquaclear running on a new sw tank. It seems to be a great filter. I have read some people have problems with noise from them until they get "broken in", but mine has been very quiet right out of the box.
  • #29
likewise. My Whisper is a HOB model power filter. I love the amount of noise it doesn't make (virtually silent other than the water-fall noise). Also, it is a very simple filter that has few moving parts and is easy to fix if there are problems. the whole thing is driven by a magnet system.
  • #30
I am interested in how you folks feel about HOB filters (all kinds described to date) vs. canaster filters. I know how most feel about under gravel filters, though I differ there and feel they have their place, but say for a larger tank, like the 125 I'm setting up, wouldn't a canaster be better than a HOB?

Fish in the Frozen North 8)

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