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AquaClear(tm) Filters


  1. Media Bag/AquaClear Summary Post
    by (Patrick M Chase) (9 Jul 93)
  2. Aquaclear or Whisper?
    by (Tooraj Enayati) (Wed, 17 Aug 1994)
  3. Aquaclear vs. Penguin .. Any thoughts ??
    by Lise & Harold <pilasm/> (Wed, 18 Feb 1998)

Media Bag/AquaClear Summary Post

by (Patrick M Chase)
Date: 9 Jul 93

This is a summary of the responses I got to the following question (some of 
them were Emailed to me and some were culled from the newsgroup - all of them 
were trimmed and headers/signatures were removed):

"I've got an Aquaclear 300 power filter on my 30g freshwater. I was wondering
if anyone has found a suitable material for making their own media bags. I'd
like to purchase activated charcoal in bulk and stuff my own bags.

That seems simple enough... but what're those bags made of, and what's a 
substitute? The other benefit is that any other kind of media can be packed as
well... at least that's the way I see it..."
i use my wife's old stockings. could u please pass along any other
responses you receive?  thanks,
I have the equivalent of the AquaClear 200. I bought the first charcoal bag 
afterwards just cut the top open, filled it with charcoal, and sealed it with
a plastic clip. Works ok. By the way, was it worthwhile using the '300 for a
30g tank? I thought that the '200 covers up to 50g. I just got a new 20g for
my daughter and am thinking of upgrading. Do these filters still have a 
problem getting started after being plugged in? Thanks, Bill (
I am really a beginer but thought that what you might be looking for is
advertised in That Fish Place catalogue p.23 as the Power Pocket.  It
seems to be a polyester bag designed for various filters into which you
can put anything you want.  Is that what you're after?
Hmm.. I've bought media bags at pet shops.. they're threaded with string
to tie 'em made out of some sort of waterproof material, not fiberglass,
some sort of coated cloth. They do need cleaning on occasion (when they
get slimy) but typically I do this once every couple months, put 'em in a jar
with some water and bleach, sit for a day, then into a jar with water and
much amquel to kill the chlorine... Usually called 'filter bags,' don't
cost a heck of a lot. Work fine for carbon, peat moss, other filter media,
though the little strings have a tendency to pull out.
        What would work would be an old pair of nylons (wife/girlfriend?).  Or
you could use a mesh bag, most pet stores sell them, and you can put whatever
you want in them.  
        Now.....what kind of medium....hmmmmmmm......charcoal is great, 
organic stuff (especially any fishy smell), and is relatively cheap if 
in bulk.  One disadvantage is that it is "full" kind of works 
a sponge, but you can't wring it out. :)  Or pick up a bag of bio-beads (Aq.
Pharm.?) and use that, it already has a bag, and has lots of surface area on 
to get Nitros. to grow.  If you are as poor as me, you would steal some lego's
from whomever (child?) :-)  and use them, they have lots of surface area also.
Just a thought......j/k about the 'stealing them part.' *grin*
        Good luck.....and drop me a line any time if you feel like chatting
about fish or what have you.  Good fishin'!!!!
        I just slice open store-bought Aquaclear media bags and put my own
stuff in.  You just have to tie it shut.  It would seem that any fine mesh
would do the trick as a do-it-yourself bag (not sure about hole size though)
You can use any 100% synthetic(sp) cloth with an open weave.  
I have seen media bags sold separately for teh aquaclear filters.  I
would suggest an old pair of nylons, but it's my impression that the
holes ar e too small - hence the recommendation to purchase a bag.
I've been using nylons as a replacement for about a month now.  They seem 
to work just as well as the original media bags.  The apparent flow rate 
seems to be the same, too.
You can buy mesh bags with drawstrings that allow you to place media
inside and close.  These come in various mesh sizes and are available
from aquarium stores or mail order.

They're fairly inexpensive, but if you want to DIY, you can buy this mesh
material at a fabric store and sew your own bags to any size you want.
One of the Compu$erve SysOps (Deacon) recommended old nylon hose for 
a similar application.  They can get runs in them (which is why they 
qualify as "old" in the first place), but I've used them for bio material 
and the like with no problems.  And my wife thought they were only good
for holding up banks....sheesh.
        A friend of mine uses an Aquaclear, and he has mentioned using old
nylon stockings as media bags.  He says they work great!
[...]  My solution for replacement media bags for Aquaclear
filters is Whisper filter sleeves without the internal frame.  Just
remove thw clamp from the top of a frame (each box of replacement
sleeves comes with one), fill the sleeve with carbon, and use the
clamp to close it.  The bags are pretty heavy duty polyester floss,
and so can be reused multiple times.
     I packed my own charcoal inserts using the bulk stuff and old
nylon stockings (as fine a mesh as you can find). Washing the carbon
powder out became too much hassle and I gave up. IMO, if you're doing
weekly water changes, and unless you change the carbon routinely and often,
the benefits of carbon are minor.

Aquaclear or Whisper?

by (Tooraj Enayati)
Date: Wed, 17 Aug 1994

Hi Erik,

As you requested this is the summery I promissed. Feel free to edit it
to your harts desire. Can I have the address of the fish pages? I just 
got my slip connection and mosaic working. Thanks.


Some time ago I asked the "AquaClear or Whisper" question here
and I have been overwhelmed with the responses I've got.

The majority prefer Aquaclear over Whisper. Very few have had problems
with Aquaclear. There seems to be more problems related to Whisper than
there is with Aquaclear. There has been very few replies to support Whisper.
The reason that most peopel prefer Aquaclear over Whisper seem to be it
durablity, flexiblity for fliter media configuration, being less noisy,
and better filteration (biological at least). Whisper seems to clog up 
and break down easier than Aquaclear does.

The followups to my question have diverged to suggest biowheel filter
over both Whisper and Aquaclear.

I'd like to thanks everyone who replied and helped.

I have included all that I have received here (without permission form
the originators). Standard disclaimer applies: I am in no way related to
the manufacturers the filters in question except for beings a searching 
customer for the better product.

The following are the actual replies with headers and signatures
trimmed off.

Naruhisa Takashima <>

I like the Aquaclear better because it's less noisy than the Wisper.


Julie M Deroo <>

	You'll probably get varied responses to your query, but in my 
opinion, i'd go for the aquaclear....i've currently got 340 gallons 
running with them right now...i've tried Whisper too, and i'm not as 
happy with them...the good thing too about Aquaclears, is that you can 
make up our own bags of carbon etc using an old nylon, some carbon and 
some calcium carbonate for the really well...i just rinse 
out the sponge once in a while, and things look great...

---- (Terrence P Whalen)

I have used a Whisper filter for 2 years and have not had any problem
with it. I have about 20 fish and live plants in a 33 gallon tank.
I think it is the Whisper 301.



I do not know anything about the aquaclears, but I am fairly unhappy with
my Whispers.  I have a Whisper 1, 2, and 5.  They seem to clog quickly
allowing water to flow back over the inlet.  Also, sometimes they are quite
noisy even though I clean them thoroughly.  In addition the flow minimizing
knob on the top of my Whisper 1 can no longer be truned.  On a positive note,
the ability to minimize the flow is quite nice at feeding time.

vaanderi-at-benji.Colorado.EDU (Eric Vaandering)

I would recommend the Aquaclear for several reasons:

1) The sponge is very big
2) You never need replace the sponge, just wash it out.
3) If you don't want to use carbon, you don't have to.
4) You can easily put your own media in the filter.

Overall, the Aquaclear is more convenient (I think) and certainly less 
expensive to maintain.  I think this is the general opinion of the 'net.  
I know people out there use the Whisper, but I don't think I've ever seen 
anyone say they like it better than the Aquaclear.


"" <>

  Hello Tooraj! I think the Aquaclear is a better filter,I have tried them
both   in different sizes,The Aquaclears I have used filtered better,ran
quieter and   seem to last longer,others may have a different viewpoint,this
is just my   opinion,the Whisper'biobag does act like a biological filter,but
like you   stated yourself,it's pretty thin.I have been slowly converting to
Eheim   canister filters,but I still use the Aquaclears.but not the Whispers.
  Hope this helps!...BTW,what do you have for fish/tanks??

---- (Jennifer L. Wesp)

MCKENZIE  P <N7G7-at-UNB.CA> writes:
>vaanderi-at-benji.Colorado.EDU (Eric Vaandering) writes:
>>Tooraj Enayati <> wrote:
>>>I am finding it hard to decide between Aquaclear and Whisper power
>>>filters. A friend has an Aquaclear. It seems to be working quit well.
>>>I like Whisper. Although I am not sure about the tiny (thin) filter.
>>>Which one do you prefer?
>>I would recommend the Aquaclear for several reasons:
>>1) The sponge is very big
>>2) You never need replace the sponge, just wash it out.
>>3) If you don't want to use carbon, you don't have to.
>>4) You can easily put your own media in the filter.

>    There is one disadvantage/advantage which is not mentioned above.
>The waterfall like output of the aquaclear results in a large amount
>of evaporation, speeking from experience a couple of tanks running
>Aquaclear's can significantly add humidity to a small/medium room
>or appartment. This results in frequent water top ups but also
>increases the disolved O2 concentration.

It's a distinct advantage if you want a tank with amphibians and
swamp plants.  I've set up an aquaclear 400 (?? the biggest one) with
a 1.5' drop from the filter to the waterline.  The pump doesn't seem
to notice.  I had the waterfall being a waterfall-- running down a
tree branch & a rock to the waterline.  Kept the tank all steamy, and
acted as a humidifier in the winter.  ;) 

My experience with Penguins is Don't buy them.  I've had one, and been
dissatisfied.  The tank it was on didn't fully cycle until I change
to an aquaclear, and it didn't move much water.  I bought it because
it was cheaper than the comparable aquaclear-- and replaced it 2
months later with what I should have bought to start with.  


"Stephen Parry"   <Stephen.Parry-at-Forsythe.Stanford.EDU>

I guess I support what seems to be the concensus. In a previous tank
I had a Whisper and was perfectly satisfied with it. Just now
setting up a new tank I got two Aquaclears because of the extra
filter configuration opportunities. Looks like Whisper better think
about a Whisper II or Aquaclear will eat their lunch and they say
over here.


I have to put in another vote for the aquaclear.  I have an aquaclear 200
on a 29 gallon tank, and it does a great job.  I save money by packing
generic carbon into a nylon mesh bag.  It is also easy to remove the
carbon for medication if necessary.  That seems like it would be more
trouble in the Whisper filter.  There is also space for more media if you
don't use the ammonia absorbing stuff.  I have a bag of bio-chem beads (I
think that's what they're called) in the top of mine to give more surface
area for nitrifying.  That way, I can use the sponge more as a mechanical
filter and rinse it as often as I need (it keeps getting gunked up with
bits of Riccia).  With the whisper, it is harder to separate mechanical
and biological filtration. 

---- (Chris M. Richards)

I have a 10 gal. tank, I use two filters an undergravel filter and a Whisper
Junior. The combination seems to work well.


uswnvg! (Mark M. Strawn)

I have used Whispers for several years now and have had really good luck
with them. According to the literature the filter frames are etched so
the bacteria stays on the frame when you throw away the media when it
gets nasty. I only use mine for mechanical filteration though. I have
undergravel with powerheads for my biologival filteration.


Kim Kaaz <>

I have been very happy with the results of using
SecondNature model4000 on a 30 gal SW tank.

---- (Phil Barre)

     I have both the large size Aquaclear and Whisper filters running side
by side as part of the system in a 90 gal tank. Both are quiet and reliable
however the Aquaclear has at least one distinct advantage. It allows you
to modify the filter medium in the chamber to suite your needs. You may want
all sponge for max bio/mechanical filtration or use a combination of ammo-carb
and sponge or any other filter elements. The Whisper forces you to use the
thin foam sleeves with limited volume and flexibility.

---- (Dennis Lloyd)

Definitely the AquaClear. I have a AqauClear 300 and use the sponge and carbon
inserts. I also have some bio-balls in the top of the chamber for added surface
area for nitrifying bacteria. Yes, it's easy to change filters and the large
chamber enables you to customize your filtration media. There was an article in
the July issue of Freshwater & Marine Aquarium claiming that two AquaClear
200's pumped more water per hour than either a Ehiem 2211 or Fluval 103. It
also had considerably more media volume. Here it is...
                    Media            Rated
                    Volume           Hourly
Ehiem 2211          1,000 ml         79gal
Fluval 103          1,182 ml         103gal
AquaClear           1,368 ml         400gal

So go out and get one...:)

---- (Michael Kelly Larsen)

If you have to choose between the two, go with the AquaClear. The Whisper
has a much smaller surface area, and it is very limiting as to what you can
put in as filter media. My AquaClear 300 at home uses one large sponge for
biological filtration, and a bag with peat for acidifying the water (my 
angels and gourami's really like it that way ;-) ). That kind of setup
is next to impossible with the Whisper. I currently have a Whisper 2 on
my Apistogramma tank, and I have to maintain it more frequently than the
AquaClear 150 filter on my plattie tank.

---- (Wendy Katz)

I had two Whisper filters. They both died within 1-2 years. Two
Aquaclears purchased at the same time or earlier and running
continuously are still going strong.


"Mark Hebets" <>

     I have some Aquaclears (a 150 and two Minis) and a Whisper C on 
     several small tanks.  I generally prefer the Aquaclear, for most of 
     the reasons netters are giving in the articles posted.  The Aquaclear 
     has more flexible filtration, you can add media bags, etc. And it has 
     re-usable foam filter blocks, nothing to throw away.  (I use two 
     blocks, rotate them top & bottom on each cleaning, and rinse the 
     dirtier bottom one pretty thoroughly.)
     Still, the Aquaclear isn't perfect, and the Whisper doesn't come in 
     that far behind in comparison.  
      - Hagen's quality control on the foam blocks isn't too impressive.  
     Of 6 blocks I've got for three filters, one half are cut a bit small 
     in one dimension or another.  I use a piece of Whisper filter bag cut 
     to shape to fill in the gap.  The Aquaclear design looks to be a loser 
     if the water can channel around the filter blocks.
      - The Whisper bags can actually be re-used several times.  Rinsing 
     and wringing them out will stretch the media after 3-4 uses, and 
     they're a bit harder to get clean than an Aquaclear foam block, but 
     it's still not that bad.
      - The Aquaclear is very sensitive to water level.  To get water flow 
     horizontally across the surface of the tank, you will have to have the 
     water level very near the top of the tank.  As the water level falls 
     from evaporation, the water cascading from the filter will turn 
     downwards.  If the level drops a couple of cm, the return flow is 
     steeply downward, the surface ofthe water can actually be rather 
     (The Whisper has the same problem, but not nearly to the degree the 
     Aquaclear has.)
      - The Aquaclear seesm to have a lot more trouble than the Whisper 
     getting the pump primed after regular maintenance.  
---- (todd lofton)

I had a Whisper 3 for 3 years without any 
problems/repairs/replacements (except, of course, for the filter 
sleeves).  With good quality carbon it kept my 
tank water crystal clear.  Other filtration on my tank was an 
undergravel filter driven by two powerheads plus a canister filter.  
Obviously, I never considered it my primary biological filter.


From: (Michael Riehle) wrote:

: Do post the comparison summary! I'd like to know how much I missed 
: for not buying an Aquaclear. (I have a penguin bio-wheel.)

  You missed nothing by not buying the AquaClear except wet floors.  I
would buy the Whisper over the AquaClear without hesitation simply on
the basis that every AquaClear I've owned has overflowed onto the
floor at some point or another.  But I'd buy the Penguin over either.
The Bio-Wheel technology is superior in terms of biological
filtration (the need for UGF is questionable with one of these) and
the filter is designed such that, short of a broken box, it can't
overflow onto the floor.

  Stick with the Bio-Wheel.  You're much better off.

---- (Leonard Bottleman)

Preference for filters is based on personal experience: I'd never use
a Whisper or Penguin because every one I've ever owned has clogged,
leaked, or just broke within a year of purchase.  I have four Aquaclears
ranging in age from 10 to 2 years that have never had any parts replaced
or problems.

The Cascades exhibit at the Washington Park Zoo, here in Portland,
started using Aquaclears in 1985 on the smaller holding tanks (less
than 50 gallons).  As new holding tanks were added over time,
different filters were used: mostly Whispers, but quite a few
Penguins as well.  The Whispers and Penguins now rest in a box of
broken filters in a closet.  Of the ten orignal Aquaclears, only
one has needed a new part (the syphon tube), and ten more have been
added to replace the dead Whispers and Penguins.

Obviosuly not all Aquaclears last as long, nor do all Penguins or
Whispers fall apart so quickly as with those which I have used.

---- (Howard Rebel)

I agree that the penguine bio-wheel filters can be a bit of a problem
in that the wheels tend not to want to turn at times.  I do a daily
visual inspection (that means look at it) of my filters and have not
found this to be a real problem.

The penguine 300 biowheel can be had for about $20 via mail order.  I
feel this is an exceptional buy.

An even better filter system is the penguine bio wheel pro series.
These filters use a sponge filter on the input of a powerhead for
mechanical filtration.  The output flow from the powerhead is split
into two flows.  One is uses to agitate the surface of the water and
the second is applied to the biowheels under pressure.

I can find no fault with this system.

	1. The system has seperate mechanical and bio filtration 
	stages.  This is important in that cleaning the mechanical
	filter stage does not disrupt the bio filter.

	2. The bio filter (biowheels or bio contactors) never need
	cleaning (or at least not on a regular basis).  I have had
	one running since Xmass and have had no problem.

	3. This unit sprays the water under pressure at the biowheel
	so unlike earlier units once adjusted the wheels continue to

	4. The unit is not noisy.  The wheels and spray bars are enclosed
	by a cover that reduces the noise level.

End of inculded replies ----

Tooraj Enayati     Melbourne     Australia

Aquaclear vs. Penguin .. Any thoughts ??

by Lise & Harold <pilasm/>
Date: Wed, 18 Feb 1998
Newsgroup: rec.aquaria.freshwater.misc

My usual note on fine-tuning Aquaclears.  I put a small shaped sponge on
the intake to prevent sucking up babies.  I use two sponges in the unit.
Every week I take out the intake sponge and the upstream main sponge,
and *vigourously* clean them under the tap.  However, I leave in the
downstream sponge and then make it upstream.  Since doing this, the
water has never suffered a filter-change 'hit', and stays perfect.
(I had found that just rinsing the sponges in tank water was not good
enough.) Also, I inject my CO2 right into the intake tube, the bubbles
stay on the bottom sponge until they dissolve.

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