Penguin Bio-Wheel: hype or must-have?

armadillo

Member
HI eveyrone. I keep hearing of the Penguin Bio-Wheel. I looked it up a bit and don't really get how it works from the documentation I've seen.

- I don't get whether it's meant to be inside or outside the tank, for starters.
- Another question I have is: isn't it meant for huuuge tanks only? Would it be ridiculous to have one on my 150L (39G)?
- Do they produce a strong(ish) current? (I'd like to have more surface agitation than my current filter (which came with my Ferplast tank))\
- Are the replacement parts such as foam pads (are there foam pads, even) easy to get or do you have to order Penguin replacement stuff only.

As ever, your expert opinions are appreciated.
 

hamstermann

Member
I'd say they're mostly Hype. They're a Hang-on-the-Back filter, which means the only parts that are actually in your aquarium are the water uptake tube and possibly the underside of the water return spout if you choose to fill your tank that high. Ease of finding the replacement cartirdges depends on your local dealers, but I can find them pretty easily around me at the LFS and petsmart/co. The filters come in different sizes for different tanks. I have 2 Penguin 100's. one for each 10 Gallon Tank. personally, I don't like them because It's hard to keep the bio-wheel turning in one of mine and that limits how much bio-filtration it can do. I had to put bio-rings in it too to make sure enough filtration was getting done. the cartidges you put in them are different grades of foam on each side for mechanical filtration and have charcoal in them for chemical filtration. It's a well-planned system, but I think you'd do better with an Aquaclear filter.

as far as surface agitation, that depends on how far away from the water return spout you fill your tank. I have mine filled to the top, so it does churn the water, but it's more like a very shallow stream over rocks than the agitation it sounds like you're looking for. To get that agitation from these filters, just make sure you leave an inch or two for the water to fall back into the tank and make sure the pump on the penguin is good as that too seems to get weaker.

Like I said before, I'd rather have an aquaclear.
 
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armadillo

Member
Thanks, for that, Hamstermann. So you're not utterly convinced on the biowheel front, then. Weakening and spinning problems don't sound good indeed. Also, I don't want constant carbon filtration, but am sure carbon is optional on the biowheel too.

What I am looking for is indeed a water agitator that would create a strongish stream in the water (rather than by pouring water back in the tank from a height with a filter's outflow).

I've just looked up aquaclear and they're actually quite affordable. Bit of an eye-sore though. Mind you, so is the biowheel. But, is Aquaclear designed for water agitation?
 

hamstermann

Member
It's got the same agitation as the penguin. I think they're made by the same company, it's just that the aquaclear uses bio rings instead of a bio-wheel. If you want current in the tank, go with a powerhead. they do a great job and most of them have a flow-control so you can decide how strong your current should be. THey don't provide chemical or bio filtration as far as I know, but they do have mechanical filtration and some nice pressure. Maybe a combination of Aquaclear filter and powerhead?
 
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armadillo

Member
Oooh, I've confused everything then. You're right, what I need is a powerhead, but I thought that's what the Biowheel and the Aquaclear models were. I actually have an integrated internal filter + a small internal filter (for quick cycling of my next tank) and indeed I am just looking for something that will create a bit of a current. So that's what powerheads are for? Forgive me, I don't know what a power head is. Is it just a bit that you add to the outflow of your normal filter, or yet another whole filter unit?
 

sgould

Member
A powerhead is essentially just a water pump. They suck water in one end and shoot it out the other to create current, and some of them allow you to mix air in as well. They are not terribly expensive, and you can get them in a wide variety of outflow capacities. They have a couple of different potential uses. One is just to create current, another is to help gas exchange (when you aI'm the outflow to skI'm along the surface), yet another is to help power a UGF. They are a separate unit from a filter. I know you may not be able to order from this site given your location, but if you browse around here, you will get the general idea pretty quickly:
 
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armadillo

Member
Alright, I seee. thanks a lot for that! I've just checked the link and it sounds like exactly what I need. I just need to figure out the equivalent products here in Europe. I particularly like that rotating head that you can attach, to vary the direction of the flow! I've save the links to do more research.
 

Luniyn

Member
The bio-wheel is a great form of bio-filtration because it gets wet and then has a chance to be in the open air before getting wet again. This makes for a great place for bacteria to grow. Now that being said, I've gone back and forth for quite a long time on which I would get for my next tank (it was between that and the Whisper filter I have on my current tank) and I've decided to stay away from the bio-wheel. Generally the more moving parts any device has (not just talking about filters here) the more chances there are for things to go wrong. I've come across too many people that have had the wheels stop turning on them for one reason or another which in some cases wiped out half or more of their bacteria colonies. In my Whisper filter, I have some sponges that house all of my good bacteria and the mechanical filter can be changed out whenever I want without any mini-cycle. The only moving part is the impeller and it is spun magnetically, so even the motor doesn't have any moving parts. You can't get much more efficient then that, so it's what I will stick with. Note there are many filters that use this stationary parts and let the water do the movement type design, so Whisper, Aquaclear, whatever, it's the design that I prefer in my filters. So find one you can afford that is actually sold locally and go with that, I just happen to prefer the Whisper filters (along with the that is).
 
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armadillo

Member
But do whisper filters create current? I mean, with a range beyond 5 inches like my current filters do.

Just checked the link to Bio3. I'd seen these cartridges in shops before, and wondered what they were for. What do they fit in? What sort of a filter I mean.
 

Luniyn

Member
armadillo said:
But do whisper filters create current? I mean, with a range beyond 5 inches like my current filters do.
Depends on what you put in front of the outflow of the filter. If you leave it open it will actually throw a current to the front glass of the tank at which point it will wrap and run along the front of the glass. My fish actually had to swim hard at the front of my tank to make their way through the current. If some of the sinking pellets would fall here, it would be hard for my Cory's to actually get to them because of this current. I actually put a tall decoration to break up the current a bit so the fish could have less of a current in the tank. There is still a flow around the tank (you can watch a piece of food or some other particle slowly make it's way around the tank back to the intake of my filter over time) but now they can go where they want without a fight. So yes it can do quite well if you really want it to, but unless you have fish that particularly like that you don't need a large current in your tank. One thing to note is that most of the hang on back (HOB) filters don't come with an intake tube that is long enough. It should reach down to 1" away from the top of your substrate of your tank (3" above if you have messier fish like Goldfish). As such most of them sell extension tubes so you can reach down far enough. Otherwise your intake it right below your outflow and it kind of defeats the purpose of the filter a little bit as you will be partially filtering water that just came out of the filter.

armadillo said:
Just checked the link to Bio3. I'd seen these cartridges in shops before, and wondered what they were for. What do they fit in? What sort of a filter I mean.
The one's I linked were specifically for the Whisper filters, but they make them for the Bio-Wheel's too. I think I've seen them for others as well (just not on the Drs. website). They are for HOB filters, not in tank filters though.
 

darkwolf29a

Member
I've been reading a few things about guppies, and would assume that most fish are the same, but if the fins are long...the fish will have more issues, and hence have to work harder with more current. In fact, I have removed the powerheads from my tank and have turned the filter current way down. As well, I have purchased an EheI'm Canister filter, as that creates less current, and my sump doesn't create much at all, but I think I'm going to buy a smaller pump, just to slow stuff down more.
 
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armadillo

Member
Oh, that's funny. I want current, and you don't. It's just that there's way more water surface than in my hex, and way less surface agitation. Just bought a cheap 'powerhead' (something like 20 dollars) and it does sweet nothing. I'll have to look into something slightly bigger I think.
 

hamstermann

Member
where is your powerhead positioned in your tank and how is it angled?
if it's completely submerged, you may not see the current it's creating. if it's surface movement you want, try positioning it so it is above the water but still sucks up water and spits it onto the surface. that will create some surface aeration.

Also, check to make sure you don't have your output turned way down on your powerhead. a lot of them can be adjusted.
 
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armadillo

Member
When I put it half out and half in the water, it starts great for 1 second, then back to a trickle. It said it's supposed to churn 400L/hr, which is more than 2x my tank volume, so I guess the specs are not the problem. The output is on top right now. I don't get it.
 

hamstermann

Member
does it have a way to adjust the flow? My powerhead can be turned off or really churn up the tank, depending where I set the adjustment knob. it could be that you've just got your flow turned way down.
 
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armadillo

Member
I've got it on max. I was wondering. When yours is on max, you can definitely feel it on your finger if you're say, 2 inches away in the water, right? Because in my case, I can't! If I put my finger more than an inch or so away, I just don't feel anything. That's really not normal, then.
 

darkwolf29a

Member
I have two powerheads sitting in a box now. LOL When they were in the tank, you could feel them 1/3 of the tank away from them. They created a lot of movement.

I can look at mine and tell you what they are if you want. They're fairly big, but not huge. In fact, I talked myself out of the big ones. LOL
 
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armadillo

Member
Oh, if you wouldn't midn checking the name, that would be great. Mine's really tiny and I figured great design! Yeah right. It's meant to do 400L/hr.

OK, just checked. Mine is a Hydor BioFlo Small. Describes itself as a 'rotating water deflector and aerobic filter'.
 

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