. . . about a variety of subjects

Aqueon versus Aqua Clear filters

This is a re-written product review based on a response I posted at Badman’s Tropical Fish forums this morning.

The question was regarding densely packed bubbles collecting on the surface of the water.  First the what, why and how to get rid of this phenomena, if it is a sign of trouble in the tank.

The last, first;  Yes, it is an early warning sign.  The bubbling is a sign there is a protein build up due to one or more factors; poor water circulation from a dirty, clogging or exhausted filter media.  Additionally, over feeding and/ or a carcass decaying in the tank could be adding to the problem.  We have taken care of the what and a couple of whys.

How do we correct this problem?

Look at the surface of the water, can you detect less motion than you normally see after your regular water changes.  You are checking your filter, heater and so forth at that time, every time, right?  Of course you are.

If there are no decaying carcasses, on to the filter.

Turn the filter off.  Drain off a quart or so of tank water into a pail, bowl or some other wide and deep container.  Next remove your intake tube or hose.  Is your intake clogged by debris, slimy colonies, a dead fish, some (detested) pond snails you did not know you had?  Clear the intake.  Remove the filter media, wash in that tank water you just set aside.  Check the filter box for the same problems.

Do not ever wash the media in tap water. You just spent a dollar-two, ninety-eight on that bottle of water conditioner to remove all the chlorine and chloramide, remember? (yes, that is a real dollar amount, where is your sense of humor)

Reassemble all the parts, resolve not to let this happen again, or at least too frequently.  You can replace the quart of water with fresh, conditioned or aged water.

10g: with-a-view . . . of our first snow!

The Product Comparison

I have an Aqueon rated 20 on a 10g planted tank.

I also have two Aqua Clear filters.  One rated to 30 gallon on
a second 10g tank.  And one a rated 20 on a 5g tank.  The rated 30 is brand new.  The AquaClear 20 on the 5g was previously on the second 10g.

I am disappointed in the Aqueon because the tank it is on has many
more water problems than either Aqua Clear tank. I have the same
dense bubbling that the original person asked about and a persistent “pond scum” problem if I am not vigilant about yanking that cartridge in the Aqueon and rinsing it.

The benefit of “ease” of filter maintenance on the Aqueon is eliminated
by the need to yank the filter cartridge every 4-5 days and clean it after
a month of use in a heavily planted tank.
No way, in my opinion, will the cartridge insert system used
by Aqueon, last more than two months, tops in a moderate to heavily planted tank.
I am suspicious of carbon exhaustion in those cartridges; there is much less carbon in a cartridge than in the sachet of carbon in an Aqua Clear setup.  So too for the fiber encasement and there are no bio-media at all.

In my opinion, the Aqua Clear mechanical configuration
is superior to the Aqueon.  There are three filtration sachets therefore; true triple filtration capabilities.  Bio-sponge at the bottom, carbon sachet in the middle and I use a bio-tube media sachet instead of ammo sachet at the top before the water dumps out the outlet.  Additionally, of the smaller, less expensive filters, I find the flow adjustment on an Aqua Clear better suited to my tanks needs and livestocking purposes, than the fixed rate of the Aqueon.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am raising shrimp in the AC 30 tank
and have added a puff of fiber to the intake, in the event I should ever
have shrimplets.  Shrimp need super-clean water and over-kill
filtration has eliminated Grass/ghost/glass shrimp death due to
water issues.

When I have some luxury cash,  I will be swapping my Aqueon
off the first 10g and replacing it with an Aqua Clear.

If you find this information useful or you have a question, please leave us the appropriate feedback.  We enjoy hearing from you.      We use a spam filter, your comment may be held for approval if you have never commented previously.


17 responses to “Aqueon versus Aqua Clear filters

  1. vreedwrites December 1, 2011 at 1:34 pm

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  2. AKO December 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm

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  3. vreedwrites December 1, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Thank you for stopping by. The aquatic culture portion of this blog has moved to

  4. vreedwrites November 19, 2011 at 10:27 am

    We are hosted by the free web based blogging platform WordPress.com
    and are very grateful to them for their support!

  5. vreedwrites November 19, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Thank you for your comments. Those two filters are the only filters we have tested.
    There are other types for larger or different set-ups than ours. We have small
    tanks and admit 30g capacity is overkill but both the 20g & 30g have lengthened the
    time between complete cleaning. The actual blog for our aquatic content is now
    located at http://aquagillie.blogspot.com because we needed javascript capability
    not provided here.

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  8. Giypsy May 15, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Geez, after reading my long winded reply I realized I did not answer the original question. The filter box itself and intake tube should be cleaned once per month in a moderately stocked aquarium, more often if water quality problems appear, less if light bioload and stocking.

    Your aquarium health, livestock and plant health will let you know if their are problems. And you may not have to change that filter cartridge as often as once per month if lightly stocked. Remember, 80% of your beneficial bacteria you worked so hard to cultivate lives in your filter media. You need that bacteria, so replacing filter media on a seasoned, fully cycled tank is not what aquarists want to do very often.

    Here is a link to a previous post regarding cycling new tanks:

  9. Giypsy May 14, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    You are partially correct in that the manufacturer of the Aqueon recommends replacing the cartrige once per month.
    However . . .
    In the real world, cartridge replacement depends solely on how well you cycle your tank,
    how heavily planted it is and what types of livestock you plan to keep.
    For example, your 26g stocked with shrimp and nerite or malaysian trumpet
    snails would have a very low bioload, and very low polution. The same tank stocked with
    goldfish, notoriously messy poopers, hence high bioload, would have to have the
    cartridge changed more often.

    My recommendation is when you do your weekly water change, remove the cartridge
    and swish it in the tank water you just drained before you toss the tank water.
    That will extend the life of the cartridge.

    Never clean your cartridge or any other filter media [from other types of filters]
    under running tap water, especially if you live in the city. The chlorine and chlorimides
    will kill your valuable beneficial bacteria, defeating all the hard work you did in cycling your media.

    Another thing to watch for is densely packed clusters of small bubbles along the sides of the tank,
    near the intake at the water line and so forth as well as an oily looking surface. These are
    signs of protein build-up from dead fish scales and most often left over fish food you probably
    could not see. These conditions are a sign your filter media needs to be swished in some drained
    tank water.

    Finally, in a densely planted tank, decaying plant material can get sucked up in the intake tube
    and clog the filter media. Needle leaf plants are most often the culprit. Broad leaf plants show
    decay that is much easier to see just by eyeballing your tanks.
    Thanks for stopping by. Best of luck!
    ~ giypsy, aquagillie

  10. Jack May 14, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Hi. I just purchased a new Aqueon.26 gallon tank that came with a Aqueon 30. I haven’t been able to find any info about how often it needs to be taken apart and cleaned. I know the cartridge is once a month. But no info on maintenance on the actual filter.

  11. Giypsy April 27, 2010 at 8:19 am

    You’re welcome. Thank you for reading.

  12. Giypsy April 27, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Glad you found the information useful. Thanks for your feedback

  13. jjMichael April 20, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    No. But now i will. Thanks for that.

  14. Giypsy March 14, 2010 at 5:02 am

    Sorry you are disappointed. We are hobbyists, not scientists.
    Our comments are based upon our own experiences and the
    common experiences of our fellow hobbyists.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  15. Giypsy March 14, 2010 at 4:51 am

    Thank you for stopping by, I look forward to your comments in future.

  16. El Heim March 13, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Very scientific…not

    You tell me nuthin’!

  17. highvoltz February 27, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Hi, as you can see this is my first post here.
    I will be happy to receive some assistance at the start.
    Thanks and good luck everyone! 😉

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