Eheim Classic canister filters - a guide to setup, maintanence & tips and tricks


HI all,
I've had a search of the forums, and there are similar topics, but I figured with the popularity of these filters, I'd share my tips and tricks of using one (2213, but applies to all Classic filters) and the things I've learned.

Positioning of the tubes
So my philosophy on water filtration is as follows: Water enters the tank from the top and travels around the aquarium, then gets sucked back into the filter from the bottom, therefore:

1. Intake Tube (with strainer)
Note: the intake tube connects to the bottom connection on the canister
I position mine with the bottom of the strainer about 1.5cm (0.5"-0.75") above the substrate. If I had a sand substrate, I would raise this to 2.5/3cm (1-1.5") above the sand to reduce the chances of sand entering the filter and damaging it. I would also consider putting some cut up, brand new, never seen detergent panty hose over the strainer to stop sand from entering.

2. Return Tube (spray bar)
Mine is positioned across the back of the aquarium, and sprays water from the back to the front. You could also run it length ways.
The spray bar is positioned about 5cm (2") below the water surface, and is angled toward the surface, just enough to create movement on the surface. There is no need to have it 'splashing' water back.
I position it there so that with evaporation, I don't get splashing, maintaining a more silent tank.
Note: it is only necessary to have the surface moving/rippling to conduct gas exchange. Splashing does not help, and can upset some of the more peaceful species.

3. Canister location
The filter relies on gravity to feed the water to the canister, contrary to popular belief, the pump/impeller does not suck water out of the tank persay, it only forces it back up the tube.
With gravity in mind, the canister must be located below the aquarium to ensure optimum siphon effects. Note: pay attention to the hMax rating, this is the total height that the filter can return water to (generally 1.5m, or 5ft)

Flow control
If you find your filter is producing too strong a current, the best advice is to take the spray bar and drill the holes wider. This is similar to the effect of putting your finger over the end of a hose, the smaller you make the hole, the greater the pressure it comes out, as you release your finger, the pressure is much less.
Note: Whilst you can turn the taps down, I do not recommend this approach. It can restrict the flow of water, ultimately over-heating the motor.

Arrangement of media
The Eheim canisters work on a bottom to top system - this means that the water enters the bottom and travels up the filter and returns to the aquarium.

So how should you consider this when deciding on media layout, well the first thing you want to happen is for the water to be pre-filtered, then mechanical, then biological, then polished, and finally chemical (if required).
For more info: 3 Stages of Filtration and What They Do.

The below shows (what I believe) the most efficient layout of media in the Classics. (Note: the descriptions on the right are in the reverse order to how it appears in the canister - pay attention to the numbers, you can't go wrong) [note: came from a now broken link to an old Eheim site ]

Carbon in the Classic - Carbon is generally considered un-necessary unless you are trying to clear odours, discolourations or medicines. If you require carbon in your filter, I suggest placing it on top of the white filter floss (it also makes it easier to remove )

Understand your Classic - noises
The Eheim Classic filters are super silent, and in my experience, there are two types of noises made by the Eheim Classic.

1. Water Rushing sounds - normally indicates the presence of air in the system. This can be alleviated by gently rotating the canister on its sides until all the air is expelled.

EDIT 2019: If the water rushing sound is sporadic, it could also be a blocked intake strainer and/or a exhausted(clogged) fine filter sponge.
Check and clean strainer, and/or replace fine filter pad and see if that helps.

What causes this?
The most obvious cause is during maintanence and allowing air into the system.
Secondly, it could be a sign of a fatiguing o-ring, or a small air leak from one of the connections.

2. A 'rattling' sound - it sounds almost like the little impeller inside is banging against the sides.

What I suggest you do is first - with the power still on, turn off (or partly turn off) one of the taps. If the rattling gets worse (louder), then there is most likely something blocking and/or inhibiting the flow on one or both water paths. I recommend doing this anyway, so you learn what the sound of restricted flow sounds like

What causes this?
Most likely, this is caused as a result of the impeller being 'starved' of water.

1st : broken impeller or impeller shaft, check and replace if necessary

2nd, check your strainer on the intake - is it all blocked up? Yes - clear the strainer see if that helps.

3rd, and most likely, clogged tubes and pipes. Take a look at the tubes, are they all brown and 'gunky'? Yes - get the pipe cleaning brush out and fully clean all hoses, including plastic tubes. Rinse with hot water to remove any last pieces of 'gunk'.

4th, blocked inlet/outlet on the canister - use a pipe cleaner brush to clean out the inlets/outlets.

5th, blocked media sponges.
Check your blue coarse sponge, and clean in old tank water or dechlorinated water if necessary/
Check you white filter floss sponges - are they 'black'? replace if necessary.

Generally, the Classic filters are easy on maintanence. This will depend on your tank though.

A good indication your filter is in need of a clean-out is when the flow rate slows to nothing more than a trickle.

1. Replacing media
I only replace the white filter floss sponge, I do this once every 6-8wks. Your mileage will vary. The rest of the media is only rinsed in old tank water.

2. Cleaning pipes
I have only had to do this once in 4 months of owning it. I wait until the filter starts making the rattling noise.

3. Cleaning media
Again, I only do this once every 6-8wks, your mileage will vary.
Whilst the Classic filters have a back flow (reverse flow) cleaning function, I personally prefer to remove the media from the media basket and rinse in old aquarium water. I find this to be more effective.


I hope this helps others to better understand their filter.

If you have any other questions/comments, please feel free to add to this thread. :;co

I will do my best to keep the main post updated with everyone's feedback.


Awesome! Thanks Ryan, I was seriously just thinking about starting a thread on the eheim classics asking pretty much for all this info you have just provided The detail is great, exactly what I wanted to know. I'm planning for a bigger tank (75gal-90gal), and these filters are on the top of my research list I'm assuming the 2217 would be very similar, if not the same but a little bigger


Yep, exactly the same in all Classic filters Rhan

Have edited the original post


I have an Eheim on my 55 gallon but it's really new. This is Super helpful! Thank you!!

And as a side note...I would recommend this filter to anyone! Easy to use and so quiet. I'm in love!


You're more than welcome

Note: info about positioning and flow control has now been added.


Thank you for posting a great guide, ryanr.

I'm just having to troubleshoot my 2215. I've done a through maintenance 2 weeks ago on my 2213 & 2215, and they were doing great, but now the flow has diminished to trickling. I checked the media and impeller, looked fine, plugged it back on, and it was making the rushing sound for a while. The sound went away eventually and it's running quiet ( I do hear the motor humming a little), but the flow is still weak. After reading your guide I suspect an air leak somewhere, so I will look into that again today. I've had this filter for a little short of a year, and I don't think the o-ring should wear out so soon though. Likely a leaky connection somewhere? Any other ideas?

Thanks agian for taking you time to come up with your guide--a lot of people will appreciate this!

Edit: By the way, 2213 has a media basket, but 2215 doesn't have a basket.


HI Yuko,
Did you clean the spray bar holes out? Is the little grey stopper at the end of the spray bar?
You could possibly have an air leak. Have you tried shaking the canister a little? This would expel any air in the system and point you toward an air leak.
By thorough maintanence, did you also clean the tubes and pipes, the tap connections and the motor head?
Other than that, I don't know what else it could be.


Thanks ryanr,
Yes, I cleaned all the holes, pipes, tubes, taps. I thought I was gonna get blisters from unscrewing/rescrewing all the connections!
About the motor head, I pulled out the impeller, cleaned it, axle and caps, and checked it spins and whatnots, but is there something else more involed than that?
Oh well, I'll try taking it apart again once my slender fingers feel better


About the motor head, I pulled out the impeller, cleaned it, axle and caps, and checked it spins and whatnots, but is there something else more involed than that?
Oh well, I'll try taking it apart again once my slender fingers feel better

Umm, what about the actual water path through the motor head? Did you clean that?

It's kind of hard to clean thoroughly, I used cotton-wool sticks (the kind you clean your ears with) and then ran hot water through it.

If you've done all that, then maybe something has worn out in the magnet system between motor and impeller


Yea, did the path too. Something isn't right still and I can't figure out what. Hmm. Thanks ryanr for your help!

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