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Finnex PX-360 Review – All in One Compact Canister Filter | Home Fish Aquarium Guide

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Finnex PX-360 Review – All in One Compact Canister Filter

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So…. with the 10 gallon Walstad planted tank I’ve broken down and invested a meager $40 in the Finnex PX-360 compact canister filter. I had researched it and all seemed to say that this was as good a cheap filter as is available. First off, I should walk through why I decided to get a real filter for a Walstad tank. Well, when I first setup the planted tank I had read that you could run it without a filter. I felt uncomfortable just going completely natural and made a pvc pipe sponge filter with seed media from our other tank. Planted, checked ammonia – observed a short cycle and then added fish. Well, as I added fish there was a minicycle – so in went more plants and then things had stabilized, we had baby fish in the other tank and their mother was moved into the Walstad. At that point we started running trace ammonia frequently. So, I made a second pvc sponge filter to put in. Over the stretch of time from the beginning of the tank up until now the ph level had gradually changed from around 6.0 (lowest readable with the test kit) up to the now 7.0 or 7.2.

Well, one fish got moved back to the other tank. Plants have been pruned of dying leaves. Floating plants have been thinned out to get more light into the other plants. We have a lot of water sprite and its leaves seem to die at an uneven rate. I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to get little bits of brown leaf loose from the little rosette of one of our probably dozen decent size water sprite clusters. Right now I suspect it’s those dying leaves that is still keeping us in the slight green on ammonia. I haven’t seen a nitrite trace as of yet which is fortunate, but we have had a couple of occasions that I thought we may have lost a shrimp. (*If we did it was promptly cleaned up by the shrimp/fish colony.)

So, I had come to the conclusion that the two filters I made really just didn’t have the surface area to host enough bacteria to really put a dent in the issue. So…. this was the next plan.

It arrived Thursday and I unpacked it that evening. My first impression is that it was larger than expected. I had only seen pictures online, but hadn’t paid close attention to the size specs. It’s about the size of a binocular case – maybe a little less wide. One critique right off the top is that the power cord is short. We have the tank on top of a bureau of drawers and need an extension to get the chord to an outlet.

The contents of the box are a bit intimidating there is a small box with lots of little plastic pieces and a picture showing what they are and how they go together. At first glance this was a bit overwhelming. But it didn’t take long to sort through and assemble the parts. The instructions are VERY lean. I would have loved to see more than a single page (front and back) of information. I believe this unit is advertised for turtle and fish aquariums up to 27 gallons. It has a flow of 96 gallons per hour. You can either mount it on the back (exterior) of the tank or within two feet of the tank. This will not pull water more than two feet and you will likely see flow loss if you don’t hang it on the back, but that gives you one potential way to control the outflow of water.

The intake tube comes in segments and if you need to only do two instead of three segments for a more shallow tank you can. The inlet of the intake has small horizontal grooves. Platy fry would be safe without any extra treatment. I’m keeping a wary eye on it for trapping baby red cherry shrimp. I initially wrapped it with a thin handkerchief secured with a rubber band, but have since removed that. More on that in a bit.

The outlet is selectable. There is a spray bar which is in two segments and as an alternative there is a simple flow outlet.

One thing that was a bit annoying is the two different sizes of suction cup offsets. They ship with three short and three long. (Four short and four long would have been nice….) I find that I would have preferred to use four short in order to get the spacing right for the hang on the back setup. (The long offsets don’t allow it to line up exactly right for me.) That’s really a minor issue though.

The canister itself is the first I’ve ever come into contact with. There are four latches to open in order to get into it. Two large, two small. One of the small came off in my hand initially and was relatively easily worked back into place. The pump is in the cover of the canister and there’s a plastic caddy in which they have preloaded ceramic rings in the lower level, charcoal (in a pouch), floss pad and sponge in the second level. I added a bit of floss from an existing filter and some gravel from an existing tank to help preseed a bit and filled with water. The first fill, there was a good deal of cloudy water and I poured that out. Then I refilled and hooked it up to use. Hookup was pretty simple and I took off the cap and topped off before plugging it in. It is a pretty strong flow and I think for my setup I may experiment with the different flow nozzle at some point. Initially I had a handkerchief over the inlet slots.

I can’t tell a major difference in visible water quality at this point. I see more tiny air bubbles pushed into the water (which is another reason I may switch from the spray bar to the simple outlet nozzle. The fish have enjoyed it. Twice I’ve caught a couple of platies swimming in place facing the spray bar. (I think I’ve installed a treadmill for them….)

From time to time the filter will make a strange noise as air bubbles out through the filter. In fact this morning my wife woke me up to tell me it was making a strange noise and there was no water coming out the spray bar. Indeed the water level in the filter had gone done to a point where the filter was having a hard time drawing water. I immediately unplugged (running without water will burn out the pump.) I refilled and at that point decided the pocket handkerchief over the intake may have been too much and may have been making to too hard to draw water in causing it to gradually loose more than it was drawing in. I’m not certain that’s the cause though and am also suspecting that a contributing issue may be water bubbles from the ceramic rings and foam media gradually settling out.

Anyway, After refilling it has seemed fine and I’ve checked in a couple times through the day topping off very little amounts a few time. We seem to be getting fewer air bubbles out through the spray bar. It may have helped matters to fully disassemble the trays and soak things well first (squeezing the air out of the sponge and stirring the ceramic rings around.) But…. it seemed like a lot of trouble. 😉 In the future I’ll probably do that to avoid that moment of “have I burned out the motor” panic.

In general I like the sprinkling sound of water much better than the hum and bubble of the air pump. I’m hoping eventually to switch over exclusively to this filter. There is not much noise from the pump motor to speak of (we have quiet air pumps – this thing is even quieter.) It runs at 11 Watts of power and the only time I really notice the motor for the pump is when it’s first plugged in or a bit of air goes through. Other than that I hear the water trickling.

Judging by the size of the unit and the preinstalled media I’m thinking there will be plenty of surface area here for our beneficial bacteria to take hold and finally get us to a point where we aren’t running any ammonia in the water. (I hope so… those daily or every other day water changes have gotten old.) Anyway… today before the water change we were running at a bit under 0.25 ammonia (which is better than the pre-water change reading of the last few days.)

Anyway, I hope to update here in coming days and weeks as I get more time with the filter and can give more information.

Update 4-12-11

Well Saturday was the last water change and I thought things were turning the corner because it had not been running as high as it was before. (Plus I had fed the fish the night before – that usually caused it to push up at least to 0.5) Sunday came and went and it still wasn’t over 0.25. When I finally got around to checking Tuesday night late I forgot to check the test right at 5 minutes and it was more like 20 minutes, but there was just a faint hint of green. I wondered if I had let the test sit too long and it had lost color or something. So I tested first thing this morning and it was showing just a faint hint of green. By 5pm today we were all yellow. No nitrites either. So this filter in 10 days has finally got us to 0 on ammonia which I had been trying to get to for a month since the last mini-cycle started.

Admittedly I made some other changes in the last week. I changed from the sprinkle bar to the outlet flow on the filter thinking that would keep from off gassing too much co2 (plants need co2). I also removed a lot of the water sprite to try to give more light to the lower plants. Both of those changes took place about the time that things started turning the corner towards no ammonia.

That much said I really attribute this filter with a lot of that good filtering.

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April 2, 2011 - 9:47 PM
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