Two Aquaclear 110s Vs Fluval Fx4

Discussion in 'Filters and Filtration' started by FishMich, Apr 12, 2018.

  1. FishMichValued MemberMember


    We are getting a new to us 90 gallon tank this weekend, yippee! It does come with a Rena Filstar canister filter (not sure exactly which size, but it looked to be possibly a large?). We are thinking about getting new filtration for the tank. We’ve only had small tanks before, so I’m only familiar with HOBs.

    I would love to try the Fluval FX4, but it’s quite pricey. My husband is hoping we can do two Aquaclear 110s instead. I’m a bit worried with the depth of the tank, that HOBs won’t be as effective? What do you think? What are the pros and cons?
  2. FishywifeValued MemberMember

    I lengthened the tube on my aquaclear 110 using canister filter hose, onto a sponge prefilter, its possible to do, plus you can buy extensions on Amazon. I did mine the cheap way as I needed the filter in a hurry. Canisters are great, but a pain to clean. Mine takes about 2 hours to clean properly. My aquaclear takes only about half hour to dismantle, clean and prime.
    What you could do, is run the canister alongside an aquaclear, then decide which one you prefer.
  3. FishMichValued MemberMember

    That’s a good point. I’ve been reading up on the maintenance of canister filters, and it’s making me a bit nervous. Not sure if I’m up to the task?

    We’ve got an AC 7o for a 29 gallon tank, and I just ordered an extension tube for the intake. What prefilter sponge do you use on your AC 110? I’ve been using the Fluval Edge prefilter sponge for my AC 20 and another small HOB. I don’t think it’ll fit on the AC 70/110 as their tubes are wider?

    Do you think two AC 110s would work well for our 90 gallon with the extension tubes? I believe the tank is about 24 inches deep. Or should I suck it up and learn to use/maintain a canister? Which filter would be better for the tank?
  4. oldsalt777Well Known MemberMember

    Hello Fish...

    Avoid the canister filters. They're pricey and complicated to service. They're not any better than the HOBs. The idea of the Hagen filters is the better one. Remember, filters don't clean the tank water very well, they just mix oxygen into the water by moving it at the surface. To maintain good water conditions, you should remove and replace at least half the water weekly. This will remove the dissolved waste material and dilute what's left to a healthier level. Do this every week and you'll have no tank problems.

  5. FishywifeValued MemberMember

    I bought mine from Amazon
    Filter-Max III Prefilter by Aquarium Technology

    I actually have 2, they have multiple fittings and I have the second one on my canister filter. They clog quick if you have plants, I generally squeeze mine out into tank water on water change days. Saves your main filter from getting clogged up quickly. I generally clean my filters once a month.

    Canisters are easy, just get a self priming one and you're all set. If you get one with baskets, and it cleans from the bottom up, then my method of media stacking is :

    Course, medium then fine sponges in bottom basket and a purigen pouch (I have pot scrubbers and ceramic hoops in the very base for particulate holding and even dispersion of water. Then second tray up I have polyfil, and ceramic hoops. Third basket I have polyfil, seachem matrix and crushed shells for buffering (I have snails) 4th basket I have polyfil, matrix and another purigen pouch for water clarity. When cleaning I chuck out all the polyfil and replace it. I swish the bags of matrix gently in tank water. Same with hoops. Sponges get a good wringing out til I cant see poop in them, in tank water too. Potscrubbers the same. Its easy enough, just time consuming. I normally use about half the 55g tanks water when cleaning but my canister is a monster 304bhwsunsun. Cheap, cheerful but works like a dream. I've used eheim in the past.

    Edit: my canister cost less than my aquaclear 110 to buy. Cost more to fill though.

    Aqua clears are good too, and take less time to clean. I cycled mine instantly with ceramic hoops from my canister but the 40g my aqua clear is on only has 2 Angel's 2 juvie Raphaels in and a bumblebee cat.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2018
  6. FishMichValued MemberMember

    Thanks, Old! It’s good to know that the performance won’t be lacking with just the HOBs. We currently do 50% water changes weekly on our little tank. Was wondering if the larger tank would need the same perecentage of water changed. Cheers!

    Ok, I see, so it’s just about opening it up and rinsing the media mostly. Do you have to scrub the tubing as well for your canisters? Is that hard to do? Darn, that link to amazon looks like they don’t have that prefilter for the Canadian site.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2018
  7. FishywifeValued MemberMember

    You can get a hose brush for about 3 bucks. I dont do my hoses every time, every 3 months or so
  8. FishMichValued MemberMember

    Great! Thank you, the maintenance doesn’t sound that scary now. We are still on the fence on what to get. It’s nice to know that the AC 110s would do the trick, be easy to maintain. Still curious about the Fx4, is it really the bees knees of filtration? It would be more cost effective for us to go with the ACs.
  9. DarkOneFishlore VIPMember

    Petsmart has a sale on Fluval canister filters. Not sure if they're in Canada though.

    The best feature of the FX4 is the utility valve. Makes water changes a breeze if you buy some 1/2" ID hose to reach your sink or toilet. I fill a 32g Brute garbage can to treat and the FX4 sucks water out of it to fill the tank.
  10. FishMichValued MemberMember

    We just got a python water changer, so I think we’ll use that. So if we don’t use the utility valve, is the Fx4 worth it? What do you like/dislike about yours?
  11. DarkOneFishlore VIPMember

    It can hold tons of bio media which makes for a more stable tank. I really can't think of anything I dislike about it. It's on a 75g and flow is very good. I think it's better than 2 large HOBs. I have the rear of the tops cut out so very minimal space for any fish to jump out of.
  12. TLeTourneauValued MemberMember

    I don't really agree with Old, canister filters can be the quietest and most efficient way to filter a tank outside of a wet/dry system or sump but they can require more work. I use a FX6 and FX4 on our 150 gallon and the only thing that I would consider doing differently is using a sump instead of canisters but that involves its own challenges.
  13. oldsalt777Well Known MemberMember


    Yes. They do. Water that's constantly moving through a filtering system will go through some chemical changes in just a few days. Elements in the water will change, especially those that are affected by oxygen in the air and nitrogen (fish waste) in the water. These elements are needed by the fish and the plants. By changing out a lot of tank water regularly, you remove pollution and replenish normal water elements. The 50 percent or more changed weekly will guarantee a steady water chemistry.

  14. FishMichValued MemberMember

    Ok, so I’m guessing you can fit more biomedia into one FX4 than two AC 110s? What do you do for surface agitation? Does the FX4 do it all? Do you need to install a spray bar? Or a back up sponge filter? Sorry if I’m over thinking this, I just want to make the right choice before we spend a couple hundred dollars.

    I’ve only ever used HOBs and all I’ve done is rinse the media in old tank water and my husband has rinsed and cleaned the intake tube as best he can. How much more work is the maintenance on the Fx4 in your opinion?

    That all makes sense! I’ve been seeing recommendations of smaller water changes, but I can really see my fish enjoy the fresh water and the parameters always hold steady. I will continue to change 50% of the water weekly with confidence. Thank you!
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2018
  15. TLeTourneauValued MemberMember

    It is more involved but they hold significantly more media. There are some YouTube videos out there that will give you an idea of what is involved, here is one:

    We clean our filters every other week and do 20% water changes monthly on our 150. Our tank is heavily planted and we also use re-mineralized RO water.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2018
  16. FishMichValued MemberMember

    Wow! That video is super helpful, thanks so much for sharing. It does seem to catch a lot of junk. The cleaning didn’t seem too overwhelming. I see that the biomedia is not bagged, just loose in the trays. Would using media bags restrict the flow through the filter?
  17. DarkOneFishlore VIPMember

    The FX4 comes with an adjustable output nozzle that you can direct. I have one pointing upwards to agitate the surface.


    If it's too much flow, you can buy the output from a FX6. The wider openings will slow the water output.

    Maintenace is more involved than an HOB but you only do it once a month or every other month depending on your stocking. I know some guys go 3-6 months before cleaning their FX4/6. I've only had mine for 2 months and I haven't cleaned it yet. You really need to clean a HOB every week.

    There's 2 schools of thought about large water changes. My issue is that if the water chemistry or parameters are different than your tank, a large change can shock your fish and possibly kill them. I generally do 15-30% changes for all my tanks. This also depends on the stock and water quality in the tank. I was doing 50-75% changes every other day in my 20g fry grow out tank because fry need pristine water quality. Most normally stocked tanks only need 25% changes weekly.
  18. FishMichValued MemberMember

    Fantastic, I am learning so much! Thanks for the photos too, helps me understand what to look for. My tap parameters have always been steady, so perhaps that’s why my fish have enjoyed the weekly 50% water changes. I can see how that could turn deadly though, if something were to suddenly change.
  19. DarkOneFishlore VIPMember

    One tip from a water utility worker was to do water changes at night because if they add anything to treat the water supply, it's usually done in the morning and flushes out by evening.
  20. SwampgorillaValued MemberMember

    I would not agree that you should avoid canister filters. I am a big fan of both HOB's and canisters and have BOTH on all my tanks ... except the fry tank where I have neither (I have only sponge filters or internal air-powered media filters).

    HOB's are great ... but if you get a good one like the AquaClear - you WILL have to clean it more often than the canister. However, as stated, they are a bit easier to clean.

    Cannisters ... when it comes to surface area of biomedia - I don't see how you can beat them other than with a sump or a wet-dry filter.

    Example - I like all my filters to be extremely clean. I have two canisters and one AC 110 on a 72-gallon tank with four large goldfish.

    I have to clean the AC 110 every week and a half at least and, since I only clean on weekends, that means I clean it every weekend.

    The canisters will last three weeks before they need cleaning - and now they may actually last months since I put "filter boosters" on the input of each one. Filter boosters are essentially very large prefilters that resemble small canister filters. However, they have no moving parts and only sponge and other types of mechanical media. THEY ARE EASIER TO CLEAN THAN HOB's. And since all the mechanical filtration is done in the filter booster - I fill my canisters with nothing but BIO-MEDIA. Certain types of biomedia will actually reduce nitrates, if you have enough of it ... like a whole canister filter filled with it or, like me ... TWO canisters full of it.

    Canisters give you flexibility that you simply can't get from an HOB.