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High-flow filter options for >200l tanks (2021)

Milopapa

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26 Jan 2021
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Sződliget, Hungary
Hi everyone,
I've been researching filters for the last few weeks for my upcoming 240l and seeing how some other people are in the same boat, thought to open this thread to have my findings and considerations in one place.

Things I've considered:​

  • advertised (and real-life) flow rate
  • filter media space
  • operating volume (noise)
  • hose diameters (standard being 16/22mm)
  • quality of life features (eg. pre-filter, integrated heater, water change help)

My findings​

Eheim Professional filters:
This is where I started as I already own an Eheim Pro 4+ 250 operating in my 75l and I'm generally happy with it. The considered model is either the
+reputable, well-known brand
+quiet operation
+spare parts are available
-recent generation of Eheim filters have taken a step back when it comes to build quality and don't live up to the legendary reputation
-quite pricey for what they deliver

AquaEl Ultramax filters:
I've come across this brand just recently but it looks very convincing.
+exceptionally high flow rate for its category
+quiet
+large capacity canister (space for biomedia)
+prefilter (easier cleaning)
+inexpensive (for its capabilities)
-the largest model (Ultramax 2000) has unorthodox piping (19/25mm), difficult to match with standard lily pipes, spray bars, piping etc

Fluval FX4 series:
For a time I thought this was only available in the US but found it in a few shops here, so looked into some reviews. My main deterrent here is the nonstandard piping and relatively small media capacity.
+very high flow rates
+extra plug for fast water changes (through filter)
+automatic start/stop to get rid of air bubbles
-relatively small capacity for biomedia (most of the space is taken up by coarse sponge filters)
-huge outer dimensions
-proprietary, ribbed hosing (difficult to integrate with existing piping)

Oase Bio Master filters:
This is the most recent contender. Similar to Eheim although a more recent arrival to the aquarium filter scene (original background in ponds).
+reputable, high quality
+pre-filter (easier cleaning)
+built-in heater (Thermo models) for a premium
+standard piping
-quite pricey with built in heater
-maximum flow is 1500l/h (for 850 model)

Summary of specs:​

BrandModelFlow (as advertised) l/hMedia capacity (l)Hose diameter (mm)Additional comments
Eheim2274 Pro 5 35015004.516/22
Eheim2076 Pro 5 4501700616/22
Eheim2078 Pro 5 7001850816/22
FluvalFX426503.9nonstandard ribbedeasy water change (extra connection)
FluvalFX635005.9nonstandard ribbed
AquaElUltramax 150015007.616/22pre-filter
AquaElUltramax 200020009.519/25pre-filter
OaseBiomaster 8501550816/22pre-filter, T version has heater built in

Current thinking:​

My current thinking is getting either the AquaEl 1500 or the Oase 850 to get to 1500 l/h, and then later potentially getting a second filter if the flow rate proves to be insufficient. That would also give me better options for overall flow in the tank (from 2 opposing sides), as well as some redundancy. It would also help me add a UV filter (should I decide to invest in one) and run that with a lower flow.

Feel free to add your thoughts if you're also looking at buying external filters in the near future. I'll also keep adding new items to the table (maybe leveraging @The grumpy one 's excellent table).
 

Paul Kettless

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17 Aug 2015
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Lowestoft
I shall follow this with interest, u have collated some good information there. The AquaEl is the head runner for me also at the moment, and as I understand it they are made in Poland. My only concern is how readily spare parts are available, if you are running on of these filters with no backup, this could be problematic.
 
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Gloucestershire
Hi Both I will put in my two penneths worth. Hope you don't mind?

For my modest 80l tank. I keep changing my mind between:
Fluval 207 real turnover 4.2 l/h 9 - I don't like to Fluval ribbed pipe with the odd size to it.
JBL CristalProfi e902 real turnover 4.8 l/h - pipe only 12/16
Aquael ultramax 1000 real turnover 5.3 l/h - I have been reading on here and other forums that people are having issues with reliability, faults and breakages.

Just to keep things going:
1611853948226.png
 

Paul Kettless

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Lowestoft
Over the years I have been a big fan of the JBL filters, they are very reliable, silent running and low energy. However, they can be a pig to prime, and no pre filter is the only reason thats putting me off the e1502
 

Milopapa

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26 Jan 2021
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Sződliget, Hungary
Good point about the spare parts on AquaEl. I'm from Hungary and Poland is a lot more accessible from here than in the UK - I've seen AquaEl products in multiple shops here, so I'm guessing parts or service shouldn't be so painful, but you never know.

On JBL, i've also been eyeing the e1902, the hose size is what put me off there too (19/25mm).

@The grumpy one - is there a way to share that file so we could keep adding to it and perhaps contribute? Maybe on Google Drive? I see you keep updating the records, well done.
 

Wookii

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I would just get the Oase 850T and be done with it. None of the others have an integrated heater as far as I’m aware, and the Oase prefilter is literally worth its weight in gold unless you have a particular love of filter maintenance.

If you are planning on planting fairly heavily, you will be unlikely to need the additional biological filtration as the 850 holds a lot of media, so adding a second filter will just be more filter maintenance. Instead you could also consider mini power heads/stream pumps to achieve the flow and distribution you need. I can thoroughly recommend the AI Nero units.
 

Paul Kettless

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Lowestoft
I would just get the Oase 850T and be done with it. None of the others have an integrated heater as far as I’m aware, and the Oase prefilter is literally worth its weight in gold unless you have a particular love of filter maintenance.

If you are planning on planting fairly heavily, you will be unlikely to need the additional biological filtration as the 850 holds a lot of media, so adding a second filter will just be more filter maintenance. Instead you could also consider mini power heads/stream pumps to achieve the flow and distribution you need. I can thoroughly recommend the AI Nero units.
Im sure we would all love to buy it if we all could afford to spend £300 on a filter without even having to think about it, but the majority of us most probably have heaters already. The AquaEl Ultramax 1500 for example is nearly half the price., and does have a pre-filter albeit not so easy to get to. If we are suggesting that the Oase is better, is it that much better to spend double the cost. Dare I say it but I believe the Oase's are the trendy buy right now and over hyped and quite expensive for what they are.

In my research over the past couple of weeks I have seen loads of people complaining about priming, leaking and noisy Thermo filters.
 

Wookii

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Im sure we would all love to buy it if we all could afford to spend £300 on a filter without even having to think about it, but the majority of us most probably have heaters already.

Paul, I was replying to the OP in a thread he created in which he gives a list of filter choices, of which the 850T is one? Had the price been an issue, I’m sure he wouldn’t have even suggested it. In any case it can be purchased without a heater, but has the flexibility to add a heater later on.

The AquaEl Ultramax 1500 for example is nearly half the price., and does have a pre-filter albeit not so easy to get to. If we are suggesting that the Oase is better, is it that much better to spend double the cost. Dare I say it but I believe the Oase's are the trendy buy right now and over hyped and quite expensive for what they are.

In my research over the past couple of weeks I have seen loads of people complaining about priming, leaking and noisy Thermo filters.

You don’t need to do much searching to read all the issues being experienced with the Ultramax filter . I’m sure @CooKieS can give you his thoughts and experiences.

I don’t believe it’s a matter of Oase filters being “trendy”, but more that they are well made, well engineered and designed, and easy to use and live with that makes them so popular.
 
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Sammy Islam

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Im sure we would all love to buy it if we all could afford to spend £300 on a filter without even having to think about it, but the majority of us most probably have heaters already. The AquaEl Ultramax 1500 for example is nearly half the price., and does have a pre-filter albeit not so easy to get to. If we are suggesting that the Oase is better, is it that much better to spend double the cost. Dare I say it but I believe the Oase's are the trendy buy right now and over hyped and quite expensive for what they are.

In my research over the past couple of weeks I have seen loads of people complaining about priming, leaking and noisy Thermo filters.
Also has up to 4 years guarantee which is great. Their customer service is decent and parts are fairly cheap and readily available if you were to buy them.

The prefilter is great, i clean it weekly and it catches a lot detritus aswell as saving about 30 shrimp every week. I also like you don't have to completely take off the pipes to clean them as you can twist the adapter.

The whole filter is solid and weighs loads when filled up. So easy to take apart and clean, and it just seems to work very well. I've had no problems with the primer and i push it multiple times every week for a year so far.
 
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Paul Kettless

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Paul, I was replying to the OP in a thread he created in which he gives a list of filter choices, of which the 850T is one? Had the price been an issue, I’m sure he wouldn’t have even suggested it. In any case it can be purchased without a heater, but has the flexibility to add a heater later on.
Fair comment, I was talking generally aswell, as we both had communication in a previous thread over filters in general.
You don’t need to do much searching to read all the issues being experienced with the Ultramax filter . I’m sure @CooKieS can give you his thoughts and experiences.

I don’t believe it’s a matter of Oase filters being “trendy”, but more that they are well made, well engineered and designed. and easy to use and live with that makes them so popular.
Agreed, I have seen that thread, My point was that they have just as many issues as others. However, I do believe Eheim and Oase have very clever and expensive marketing strategies and also sponsor the right influencial people. Working in the retail industry I see this everyday.

Btw regarding the AI nero, couldnt agree more have seen the 5 working on a friends reef tank and it is a fantastic, almost silent pump that shifts a lot of water.
 

Paul Kettless

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Also has up to 4 years guarantee which is great. Also their customer service is decent and parts are fairly cheap and readily available if you were to buy them.

The prefilter is great, i clean it weekly and it catches a lot detritus aswell as saving about 30 shrimp every week. I also like you don't have to completely take off the pipes to clean them as you can twist the adapter.
Oh Im not ruling it out at all, im just doing my homework first, If i think something is worth spending that extra for then will gladly do so.
 

Wookii

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Agreed, I have seen that thread, My point was that they have just as many issues as others. However, I do believe Eheim and Oase have very clever and expensive marketing strategies and also sponsor the right influencial people. Working in the retail industry I see this everyday.

Agreed, they like their marketing - I've lost count of the number of YouTube scapers sponsored by Oase. To be honest I had high hopes for the Aquel units when they were released, as the pre-filter appears to be even more accessible and sensibly designed than the Oase - which can be tricky to remove if it's inside a cabinet - and I almost bought one, but the frequency of reported issues with them for a relatively low userbase vs the larger userbase of the Oase with relatively lesser issues swayed me along with the heater point.

I moved from a 20 year old Eheim 2080 which was a rock solid filter, but if I wanted to keep the levels of detritus and organic waste down on a high tech tank, it meant disassembling the entire filter at least bi-weekly which wore thin fast (I'm not a maintenance fan). I agree though all filters seem to have their issues and teething problems. Even the Oase has some foibles that you have to work with, or around, to make life simpler, it seems there is no perfect filter surprisingly.

It does amaze me to be honest that across all the companies that make filters there are so few rock solid fully comprehensive options - there seems to have been very little innovation in the past 20 years, with the exception of the one or two filters we are discussing here. The fact that the likes of Eheim, JBL, Fluval (now their 12 year old G series has been discontinued) - or even big OEM pump manufacturers like SICCE - haven't come up with something truly innovative, is surprising. I can only assume there simply isn't the market for it. I mean - why isn't there a filter with an integral CO2 reactor?!

Btw regarding the AI nero, couldnt agree more have seen the 5 working on a friends reef tank and it is a fantastic, almost silent pump that shifts a lot of water.

Yeah, I have the Nero 3, and it's superb. When I clean it I can't believe how tiny it is, but it pushes out a huge amount of water - I run it at 30-40%, which is still a huge amount of flow, but because the resulting output is such a wide cone it reaches right to the bottom of the tank without being overpowering. I'm also a sucker for app control, and the fact I can do things like pulse the output between 30% and 40% to simulate the ebb and flow of current.
 

Paul Kettless

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You know I might need to eat some humble pie here, but the more I look at these biomasters the more I like them, Im guessing an 850 would be just be too much on an ea900 though
 
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ForestDave

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I'm sold on Wookie's recommendations!
I am though just at the final stages of my 200l tank build and opted for a second hand Fluval FX6 as I thought that's more than enough flow in one hit. I forked out on 25mm pvc tubing and fittings similar to Zeus's set up and made a full width spray bar. That costed more than I had hoped and I also had to purchase a anti vibration floor mat to quieten it down a bit, (Mottez Shock-Absorbing Floor Mat Grey / Blue 620 x 620mm). The mat is great and halved the noise but it's still louder than I would like so I am going to soundproof half of my cabinet for the filter to reduce the sound some more. It will be great when it's all set up and having seen the CO2 bubbles the flow gets to all areas of the tank. Wookies system is better and easier to set up but would probably cost another £200 or so. The FX6 is a beast though and super easy to use, just fill it up and turn it on, no priming necessary at all. I used to have a FX5 for about 5 years and that also never let me down.
 

Milopapa

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You know I might need to ear some humble pie here, but the more I look at these biomasters the more I like them, Im guessing an 850 would be just be too much on an ea900 though
Was there anything specific that swayed you, Paul? I'm still in between AquaEl and Biomaster. The T version is basically twice the price, so basically could get two of the Ultramax 1500s for the price of an 850T. That's nothing to sneeze at.
 

Nuno Gomes

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You know I might need to eat some humble pie here, but the more I look at these biomasters the more I like them, Im guessing an 850 would be just be too much on an ea900 though

I don't think it will be too much, my tank is just a bit bigger than an Aquascaper 900 (60cm deep instead of 50) and I'm using a Hydor Professional 600 plus an Eheim Pro4 250.
To be honest though, even though I disliked them in the past, Jbl filters are extremely affordable and work wonders, there's no bypass at all and the pumps are very powerful. I'd just get an E1502 and an external Hydor heater, spend the rest on plants, hardscape or whatever else you might need.
Keep in mind that a big part of owning a filter is being able to source spares whenever you need them, and at least where I live, spares are easy to find for Jbl and Eheim but it's almost impossible to find a fluval or hydor spare. Oase is probably just as difficult since it's a new trendy brand, not very well established yet.
 

Siege

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You know I might need to eat some humble pie here, but the more I look at these biomasters the more I like them, Im guessing an 850 would be just be too much on an ea900 though

Im testing the eheim pro 5 600T at home on a EA 900. Flow is rated at the same as the BioMaster 850. Flow isn’t too much using a lily pipe outlet.
Id say that the flow in real life is slightly higher than the biomaster but the motor is really really loud compared to the biomaster (which is near silent), so much so that I’ve had to turn it down just to reduce the noice. There is a firmware upgrade coming soon to help with this.....

For my input on an EA 900 I’d go with either of the Biomaster 600 (course prefilter sponges) or the 850. With no inbuilt heater the eheim Pro 4 600.

Cant use the EA skim glassware with the 850 though as it’s too powerful. Instead something like Viv skim glassware works well as the bottom slots are bigger.

Im unsure of Aquael quality but never used one.

Hope that helps.
 

dw1305

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Hi all,
where I live, spares are easy to find for Jbl and Eheim
Spares are the killers with filters, I used to have a loft full of filters that would have worked, but needed a missing bit. Eventually I bit the bullet and threw them away and started buying second hand <"Eheim Classics">.

cheers Darrel
 
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