In a world that's saturated with filters for the mid-sized tank, the AquaClear has been voted one of the best over and over again. Does it hold up when we take a closer look?
AquaClear is a fantastic brand for aquarium equipment. It's usually a durable product, and they're well-packaged for shipment, so you won't get a broken impeller or any cracked tubes. So—could they be the best mid-size filter for your aquascape?
It's extremely important that your filter operates every day without any issues. That's quite a long running time, so cheaping out on your filter probably isn't a good idea. (It circulates 500 gallons per hour.)
The body of the filter itself is made from hard plastic, which is par for the course. However, the toughness this product shows under load is fantastic. We've used these filters for years without any issues.
There are so many specifications that manufacturers include with their products. When it comes to filters, most of this can be ignored, except for one:
Filter volume is the most important metric for a filter.
How much media can it hold? Where is the media placed in the filter? How easily is it to access the media? These are all critical questions, and they vary greatly depending on what filter you're considering.
How much filter media can the 110 hold?
Here's AquaClear's official statement on volume:
'The filtration volume is up to 7 times larger than comparable filters'
That sounds fantastic, and to a degree; it's true. The filter holds way more media than most other filters at this price range. In testing, the Aquaclear 110 Filter can hold around 0.37 gallons of media. That's enough room for most media needs, including mechanical, biological, and chemical filter media.
Filter Media Types
The Aquaclear 110 Power Filter can hold all types of media. More importantly, you can change the order of any media to suit your tank's water conditions.
That's a critical point: some filters have one-time-use 'pads' that include chemical and mechanical, and that's it. No other sections to hold biological media, no customization of what type of mechanical media—you just use what they give you.
The AquaClear 110 isn't like that—it's got some serious customization available to you. You can even place biological media right on top of the filter outflow, as pictured above. (This is a fantastic place for media, since it's easily accessible.)
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These are a few of the features that are unique to this filter:
The AquaClear 110 has a UV filtration option on the outflow pipe. This is a great option for algae control. It has the ability to turn off for planted tanks, which makes it great for aquascapers with multiple tanks. (If you need extra filtration somewhere else, you can simply turn off the UV filter and move it where you want.)
This is a critical feature if you're doing aquascapes with the 110. You obviously don't want the full power of the filter in a tank that's at the lower end of the filter's capacity; it'd disrupt your substrate and likely distress your fish.
Instead, just lower the flow rate that's included on the AquaClear, and it'll reduce its output to match, without harming the filter's impeller. This is usually impossible with other filters, since the impeller needs a certain amount of water at any point to keep it from running dry. (This kills the impeller.)
You might also like this post on HOB filters.
Does The AquaClear work?
In short: yes, it works. Do yourself a favor and go buy one. For aquascapers that are on the fence about choosing a mid-size filter for their aquascape, you can't go wrong with the AquaClear 110 power filter.