Purchasing Aquarium & Pond Equipment via Amazon

Purchasing Aquarium & Pond Equipment via AmazonRevised 8/28/19

Amazon is sometimes NOT an honest place to purchase aquarium equipment from or at the very least a not a good place to purchase aquarium equipment and expect to support those in the hobby/industry dedicated to good research, information, and cutting edge products.
At the very least your purchase via Amazon does NOT support small to medium size businesses and expect them to be there in the future to help you or provide innovation!!

Here are just a few reasons before I go into more detail:

  • Amazon sells equipment from the same manufacturers as more knowledgeable aquarium supply outlets, HOWEVER they often sell stripped down versions that often render the product useless for what it is deigned for.

    Examples include the SunSun Submersible UV Sterilizers that have NOT been adjusted for the CORRECT flow rate for level 1 sterilization. None of these include the important pre-filter to lower turbidity inside the UV, making more efficient UV sterilization.

    Another product is the SunSun Canister filters (303B, 304B, etc.) which are NOT sold by Amazon with the necessary filter media or retrofits of the connecting pieces which prevent a leaking filter later down the road.
    As well the UV lamps often supplied are not HO low pressure UV lamps, rather just 7-14% UVC medium pressure lamps, which are much less costly

    This filter is one I have clearly seen the differences and why it should ONLY be purchased from reputable professional dealers.

    This could be said for many other products sold on Amazon.

    Then of course, there are many high end premium product manufacturers that do not allow their products to be sold on Amazon, so when you shop Amazon, you are not going to find these products. Examples include manufacturers of the best aquarium/pond UV Sterilizers, FSB filters/Reactors, RO filter systems & much more

  • When you get your information from a brick & mortar store, or some of the few top notch aquarium information web sites such as “Aquarium/Pond Answers”, then purchase on Amazon, you not only are hurting small business, but you are stifling the growth of innovation, good service & information.

    Many of the better products for your aquariums come out of small business research since these guys/gals are generally much more involved in the hobby in a hands on and research sort of way.
    Products line such as TMC AquaRay & FSB Filter, AAP Wonder Shells, and Clay Neighbor’s Custom Fish Foods are all good examples of lines of top quality and/or innovative products that would not exist if all your purchases for aquarium products were made via Amazon.

  • Amazon sells products that clearly are not what they are meant for.

    Example here would be the Green Killing Machine. It’s sold as UV Sterilizer when in reality it CANNOT maintain level 1 sterilization and thus is ONLY a UV clarifier.

    Often so called UV Sterilizers are sold with the same model number but are missing critical parts such as the pre-filter sponge resulting in high water turbidity, resulting in low UVC exposure.
    Also many of the Amazon UV Sterilizers are sold with medium pressure UV bulbs instead of of low pressure UV bulbs, which cost considerably less, but also have only a fraction of the UVC output for true level one sterilization.
    Frankly only a fool would purchase a UV Sterilizer via Amazon, as odds such a person would likely get a UV clarifier at best and often it is a piece of equipment with a short lifespan too!

    References:
    UV Sterilizer Use, Sterilization Basics
    Actual UV-C Emission from a UV Bulb; Aquarium or Pond

  • Amazon will use whatever listing is first made to represent all future sales of a given product.

    This means, no matter how inaccurate, misleading, or simply lacking proper information to better educate the future buyer, the information WILL NOT BE CHANGED!

    A good example is the Wonder Shell made by Weco. The information published by the manufacturer is incorrect as per use resulting in those following this information using this product incorrectly and/or for the wrong reason (such as for alkalinity)

  • Most manufacturers of “high end” aquarium LED fixtures will not even sell on Amazon!
    YET, by reading reviews of low end LED fixtures sold on Amazon such as the Fluval LED and Current Satellite one might think these were great lights, which even remedial investigation shows these lights are NOT as their PUR is poor at best.

    The problem is since there is no comparison to LEDs that reflect optimum known science in aquarium lighting as well as the anecdotal natural of most Amazon reviews, one cannot get a real scientific assessment of what is best to get if in the market for LED aquarium lights.

    Here area couple of sources that better explain why the two lights I referenced are not at all a quality build, from daisy chaining of emitters to poor PUR and more:
    Current Satellite LED Review
    Fluval LED Review

  • Amazon provides poor product support for correct directions. Since Amazon relies on community driven reviews and no true knowledge of the product. Often products are sold with customers purchasing the wrong unit for their aquarium.
  • Amazon uses unfair trade practices including not paying the hidden fees that all small business pay when shipping including paying carbon taxes.

    In fact as of 2017 via a UPS representative of a friend who ships via his small business, UPS has greatly increased dimensional weight (often doubling some larger box costs to small to medium shippers).
    What has this to do with Amazon?
    The facts are Amazon has set agreements with the only two shippers of note [FedEx/UPS] where they pay a flat fee so that Amazon can ship as efficiently as possible utilizing often over sized boxes filled with air pillows and not pay any extra for dimensions, etc.

    This has resulted in losses for UPS/FedEx which have recently decided to pass this on to their small to medium shippers.
    The result is every time one of these shippers ship a box of much dimension at all they are subsidizing Amazon so that Amazon can provide low or free shipping.

    I ask any person with integrity; HOW IS THIS FAIR??

    So any time you purchase ANYTHING via Amazon, some other non related business is subsidizing your purchase.
    If this does not bother you at all, well I guess you have no morals whatsoever!!!

  • As well Amazon allegedly violates monopoly laws and the DMCA laws in use of copyrighted material. Amazon also uses Black Hat SEO methods to further push out small business.
    Reference: Amazon & Google in Bed, Black Hat SEO; Search & Adwords Dishonesty
  • In the end, regardless of price, everything you purchase from Amazon something you could have purchased from a professional seller, you are further eroding innovation, true knowledgeable customer service, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, you are insuring that on products that can compete in a discount environment will all that will be left such as junk sponge filters instead of 4-5 times the bio load Sponge Filters such as the AAP Hydro Sponge.
    As per the Hydro Sponge Filter, these are NOT authorized for sale on Amazon and as from feedback from others in the industry, most of these sold via Amazon are clearance and sometimes missing parts. As well most models such as the excellent professionally recommended Hydro Sponge Combos are not available at all via Amazon.

    There have now been many casualties due to Amazon, including the maker of highly efficient T2 Aquarium Lights, Fusion Pumps, the Smart Filter, Ancient Mariner, Via Aqua, & many many more as vendors make the bad choice to sell on Amazon, only to be destroyed by their practices.
    THINK ABOUT THIS NEXT TIME YOU ATTEMPT TO SAVE A FEW BUCKS BY PURCHASING FROM AMAZON!!

While the title of this article is about why one should not use Amazon for their aquarium/pond supplies.
Even worse though, is to not use their community generated reviews which are horribly inaccurate.
The reviews are often based on a one time use of the product, often incorrectly based on lack of time, lack of controlled testing, or incomplete parts. As well science such as PUR in lighting is never even mentioned.
My observation is based on continued use, often in controlled comparisons, correct installation, and suggestions from other professionals in the aquarium keeping field.

I should note that the reason for this post came from an email thread that was forwarded to me by another pro in this industry.

This began when a ‘friend of a friend’ and I were astounded at the person who sent the emails. They had lack of logical thinking or integrity in his thinly veiled compliments that were in reality attacks on the person receiving the email.

I was so taken a back by this email thread that I quickly asked for and received permission to comment publicly on this email thread.

Frankly after reading the entire thread a couple of times I wanted to vomit as to the senders total bully BS and more.

The person writing; James W, starts off with disguised compliments, then questions the review of the AquaClear by author who wrote in the thread, with words such as “perplexing”. He based his opinions on his use of ONE Aqua Clear.

Since I know of the author and I too have used dozens of these filters as well, I can vouch that this filter does have a higher than average problem with the impeller. Which James was perplexed why the authors noted there of its higher than normal failure rate. The author who brought this to my attention was making additional suggestion, which James also didn’t like.

He started to make other complaints, but was confused based on Amazon reviews.

The author was clear with the information he used to back up his claim, but James never did look at the references provided.

This is just one case where reviews from Amazon got the best of people.

Another issue with Amazon user reviews
As a user and wholesale purchaser of the Rena Smart Filter, I can also state categorically that the reviews over at Amazon are totally off base, but then Amazon irresponsibly sells these filters without the proper knowledge and parts that is required.

See also my comments about TaoTronics Aquarium LEDs, often purchased at Amazon due to less than accurate information and reviews at Amazon:
TaoTronics LED Light Reviews

The email sender goes on about the costs of purchase. Well, since I and a number of other persons know the costs not only to the retailer, but to the wholesalers such as Central Pet. The facts are that Amazon is selling below cost and more importantly below MAP pricing (manufacturer agreed pricing), which tells you a little about Amazon’s honesty.

Then, reading how the Amazon CEO treats his employees provides, anyone with any morals, can even more have a snap-shot of why this is not the company to purchase your aquarium/pond supplies from.

More importantly, which went right over Jame’s head is, Amazon is 100% community driven, with no expertise at all in what they sell.

I know from the numbers that many high end retailers could cut their staff by 75% and still sell, but then not provide any of the free information and intense product support that they do.

This is why sellers such as Tropic Marine Centre prohibits their retailers from selling through Amazon. No real support.

This James fellow (email sender) has the audacity to get offended by the email recipient for calling him out for his many purchases of products such as SeaChem Matrix based on his free advice through Amazon rather returning the favor via his website.

The sender also seems to think the recipient is too stupid to figure out if he spends his valuable time answering questions he already addresses in his articles that he will then finally purchase a filter he claims is already sold at too high a price via the high end aquarium supply retailer.

REALLY??? Everyone I have already spoken with who have read this email thread were quite taken aback by this guys at first disguised and then blatant rudeness and moral cluelessness.

The FACTS ARE Amazon does not sell this product (Rena Smart Filter) with the correct equipment to work properly, so how can you expect an accurate review.
Yet, James seems to think he is entitled to very thorough personal explanation on filters, so he can likely then go back to Amazon and purchase!!!!
This guy is a real piece of work!!

As the email recipient correctly pointed out, if everyone behaved as this guy does, their will be no accurate, science based information in the future. In the end, every thing will be community driven with no real knowledge.

The analogy used in the forum thread was analogous to reading all your medical information at Amazon or Yahoo Answers and then purchasing at Amazon for your medical needs (including your surgeons/doctors).

God forbid if this bully/clueless individual every had cancer in such a world where Amazon & their terrible community reviews is where he would have to get his cancer treatment.

Unfortunately though, with people thinking and purchasing as this person does, this is the world we are coming too.

The email senders final comment: “So, it is ok for you to be condescending, but when someone takes offense you don’t like it. And still a refusal to answer questions directly I truly wished I’d never wasted my time. Another keyboard tough guy” is really out of line.

First the email recipient was never condescending, and second his article clearly answered his questions, which he was vague on up until the second to last email.

As for a “keyboard tough guy”;
REALLY???

So it is OK for him to take from the email recipients basket of eggs for his family, but not OK for the recipient to defend his time and expertise? Wow, frankly what a selfish jerk!!!!

BTW, here is a quote from the recipients web page (Aquarium Filtration Information) about the product which clearly answers the email senders questions, he just felt even though he never made a purchase that he was somehow entitled to and expanded response and that the email recipients time was not valuable:

QUOTE: “What is sad, is the uninformed anecdotal reviews (such as at Amazon) that permeate the Internet condemning this filter for what is actually a positive. As noted earlier this filter is so efficient, that it can clog easily; this is NOT a flaw, rather users simply should be aware of this and maintain this filter accordingly and add a pre-filter as recommended by aquarium professionals!

It is noteworthy that there is NO PROBLEM with the leveling feet, rather it is the lack of use of a pre-filter as previously noted that can cause this filter to leak out the back due to clogging.

Unfortunately Amazon has “no skin in the game”, provides no service or scientific knowledge to the products they sell and most importantly since they have no knowledge of how the Rena Smart Filter should be properly set up, do NOT sell this product with the correct pre-filter. Resulting in the irresponsible and incorrect reviews.

Reading reviews on Amazon and then purchasing many aquarium products there is akin to doing the same for your medical needs!”

Please note, my friend who forwarded this email has asked me not to link to the email recipients web page or name.

The bottom line is:
One;
you should not be purchasing from Amazon or any of the disguised aquarium/pond supply retailers such as My Fish Place, Pet Mountain, etc.

Two; you cannot believe the reviews from said places such as Amazon where by the filters were not sold with the complete products to even set up correctly (also in part why the lower price).
This is analogous to purchasing a Ford without a transmission and then stating their cars/trucks do not work correctly. Unfortunately many Amazon Aquarium products reviews do JUST THIS such as with the Smart Filter!

Recommended Reading:

*Fish Beginner
*For information about a company that truly supports the aquarium hobby;
Tropic Marine Centre
*Another company that supports the aquarium industry and monitors their MAP pricing to places such as Amazon:
ATI Sponge and Pre-Filters
*An interesting blog about alleged dishonest Amazon business practices, I found this an EXCELLENT MUST READ!!
Ford Offers Amazon Gift Card

Must Read Aquarium Information Websites

This is certainly not a complete list of aquarium help/information, but these are ones I CAN vouch for their sources.
Admittedly two websites (Aquarium Article Digest and Aquarium Supplies & Resources) have cited/interviewed me among others as their source of information.
This does not take away their credibility, as I know one website in particular (Aquarium Article Digest) uses dozens of resources and even guest authors (whom I do not know).

The other websites I recommend are based on what I view as simple yet good information.

I should also note that I started this website only recently to counter all the misinformation I find via customers who make me aware there-of.
I am far from an expert in websites (as the amateur quality of the website design shows), and in fact I am rare online. Much of my time online is ONLY after I have a client tell me about the “lasted thing they read online”, for which I investigate.
For this reason I am not always aware of all the good websites either, only the “bad” ones I am made aware of by my clients.

Since this blog over all often has a negative tone based on the reasons I get online in the first place (to explore strange advice my clients repeat to me that they found online), I felt having a positive post about websites I can recommend was long overdue.


Aquarium Article Digest

This article is especially excellent for its articles on lighting, such as “LED Aquarium Lights, Lighting Information“.

 


Aquarium Supplies & Resources

This article has a great listing itself of many top notch articles in this article: “Unique Aquarium Articles

 


Sponge Filter; Information

While not a flashy website, I found the articles simple and “spot on”

 


Aquarium Medications

Great accurate article about the use of aquarium medications and treatments, as well as where to get them.
Again I found this website spot on with the article about Furan 2 interesting since this is a product I often find useful.

 


Fish Beginner

A client stumbled upon this neat little gem and told me about it.
I especially like this article from this website:
Aquarium UV Sterilizer Use; Choosing & Maintenance– This article includes simple but accurate information about choosing a replacement UV bulb

Are UV Sterilizers Good for an Aquarium?

Are UV Sterilizers Good for Aquariums Question; Are UV Sterilizers Good for Aquariums?
As a generalization, this is a question that really should not be asked anymore based on research of the benefits of Level 1 Sterilization that includes disease prevention & control, fish immunity based on redox balance, and water clarification.

However while there are few reasons not to have a UV Sterilizer on your aquarium, most of the reasons NOT to have one of these devices is based on myths that simply will not go away despite verified controlled use of these devices.
The other reason to NOT have a UV Sterilizer is the plethora of low cost quality “Category C” UV Sterilizers which in truth are only UV Clarifiers made by companies such as AquaTop, Jebo, Green Killing Machine, and others that simply do NOT provide level 1 sterilization; ONLY clarification.
You need to look for a “Category A”, or at the very least a “Category B” UV Sterilizer if you want to see some actual Sterilization results beyond clarification.

Social media and internet users need to beware that most supposed UV Sterilizer Review web sites are nothing more than Amazon Affiliate sites where by publishers write web pages reviewing products sold via Amazon. These writers have NO professional experience whatsoever and in many cases have absolutely no idea what they are talking about!!
An example would be “7 Best UV Sterilizer for Aquarium – Top Picks (2019 Reviews)” [aquariumadviser.com/best-uv-sterilizer-reviews/].
5 of the 7 reviewed are not even true UV Sterilizers, rather Category C UV Clarifiers.
Even more worthy of note is the fact that the AAP Terminator/Advantage Category A UVs are missing. Why is this? the reason is quite simple, the AAP Terminator/Advantage IS NOT ALLOWED TO BE SOLD BY DISCOUNTERS INCLUDING AMAZON!!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Back to the subject of this article, I will then look at based on my aquarium service business observations, as well as feedback from others I know in the business as to what are the positives and the negatives. With the negatives I will also look at negatives that are caused by UV Sterilizers of poor dwell time design, poor over all construction, poor quality, and simply poor installation.

UV STERILIZER POSITIVES (based on science and professional use, not here say)

  • At flow rates of 20-25 gph, depending upon dwell time inside UV Sterilizer, a UV Sterilizer will kill or render helpless most pathogenic bacteria
  • A UV Sterilizer will NOT kill beneficial bacteria since these aerobic bacteria reside in the substrate and filter media in a healthy established aquarium
  • A UV Sterilizer will NOT kill copepods in a marine reef aquarium.
    Simple use proves this, as well, the science behind how a UV Sterilizer shows that when correctly plumbed, the UV Sterilizer would not be powerful enough nor would a copepod even get into the UV Sterilizer chamber based on how and where they live and correct pre-filtration prior to water entering the UV.
  • A UV Sterilizer WILL improve Redox Balance resulting improved fish immune response
  • A UV Sterilizer can help slow or occasionally even stop Oodinium, Ich or other single cell aquarium parasite infestation.
    Level 1 Sterilization will slow many of these parasites, if only by improving fish immune response. Level 2 can even kill some single parasites, although not always completely.
    However I should caution a prospective buyer that even the best UV should not be purchased with the belief this will put an end to future Ich, Velvet, Oodinium or related infestations. Purchase a UV as a tool to aid in control and prevention (keyword: TOOL)
  • A UV Sterilizer will clarify an aquarium with cloudy or green water

UV STERILIZER NEGATIVES

  • A UV Sterilizer is NOT a cure all to poor water chemistry as per Redox, over crowding often resulting in poor water clarity, poor disease prevention, and other poor aquarium maintenance management
  • If not correctly installed AFTER filter inline or in a sump loop, too high a flow rate, poor dwell time, poor UV Sterilization chamber design; you often will have useless piece of aquarium equipment.
    This unfortunately happens way too often.
    I have made countless “house calls” where a customer incorrectly installed the UV Sterilizer or purchased one of the countless junk UVs such as the Jebo or AquaTop and then would tell me the UV did not improve my fish’ health. This resulted in this customer stating ALL UVs are useless, when in fact they made this anecdotal opinion based on incorrect installation or use of poorly designed UVs that are NOT capable of Level 1 Sterilization.
  • A UV should not be used while planktonic foods are added to the water column. This is common in many reef aquariums.
    However the UV Sterilizer can still be used and should be placed on a timer so that it is run two hours after the introduction of these foods.
  • Many UV Sterilizer have ballasts that do not last (such as the Coralife), or gimmicks such as baffles, twists, wipers, that do little or even lower UV irradiation efficiency.
    Do not waste your money on these UVs, otherwise you may end up with a poor opinion of what a good UV can do for your aquarium.

Here is an excellent video by ReefGrrl that many might find very helpful too:
Reefgrrl UV Sterilizer Review
Got UV? I Do! Let Me Tell You a Little Bit About It

Here is another excellent video showing how the AAP/TMC large aquarium or pond UV is superior over the still excellent Aqua Ultraviolet UV of the same category [due to longer dwell time, price, and parts availability]:
Aqua UV versus TMC UV Sterilizer
Aqua Pond UV vs TMC AAP Pond UV Clarifier Sterilizer

What is also important to know is lamp/bulb maintenance.
To purchase a UV Sterilizer, including a better model such as the TMC and then to rarely if ever change the lamp will slowly result in a device that does nothing for your aquarium.
With 24/7 use, these lamps will already be at 50% in just 6 months, which is when they should be changed. After a year of continuous use the lamp is mostly useless.

The other issue in our competitive marketplace, is that many if not the majority of online and sellers, especially Amazon and Ebay, sell medium pressure and cold cathode UV lamps so as to make a better profit all the while keep the selling price lower than the wholesale cost of the better high output replacement lamps/bulbs.
To make the mistake of purchasing one of these lamps like so many do based on my home and office visits where the aquarium service client is complaining that their UV no longer works as well or that the fish are getting sick more often, is to purchase a UV lamp with 1/4 to 1/3 the useful UVC output! In my opinion this is self defeating!!!

For more on this subject, I STRONGLY suggest reading this article:
Actual UV-C Emission from a UV Bulb; Aquarium or Pond

Before just taking my word and observations, I suggest reading these resources on this subject:

*Aquarium UV Sterilizer Use
*Redox in Aquariums
*UV Sterilizer Review
UV Bulbs; Problems of Quality?

An amateur/anecdotal article about UV Sterilizers to AVOID that shows a complete lack of real research that unfortunately has been circulated:
blog.marinedepot.com/2017/03/the-truth-about-uv-sterilizers-and-reef-aquariums.html

Here are a few UV Sterilizer that I know from practical use work well and reliably.

*AAP/TMC Vecton, Advantage
*Aqua Ultraviolet
*Emperor Aquatics UV
*Gamma UV

Of the four above, I have had the highest longevity, least gimmicky features, and the highest dwell time with the AAP/TMC Advantage & Vecton UV Sterilizers.

Here are a few Economy UV Sterilizer that I know from practical use work reasonably well; at least level 1 sterilization and reasonable reliability:

*Via Aqua Terminator [discontinued]
*AAP/SunSun CUP Series (not the JUP series which do not provide level 1 sterilization)

UV Sterilizers to Avoid; either due to poor level 1 sterilization and/or poor reliability

*AquaTop
*Jebo
*Most SunSun other than the upgraded AAP CUP Internal UVs
*Coralife Turbo Twist [while a Category B UV, the reliability of the power supplies as tested by professionals make these over priced UVs ones to be avoided]
*Green Killing Machine

Fluval FX 6 or 5 OR Fluidized Filter

Fluval FX5 Aquarium Canister FilterFurther Revised 1-18-2014

Canister Filters have been around for many years, long before I got my start professionally (working for an aquarium service company in 1986).
Eheims, Fluvals, Marineland Magnums, Rena Filstar, are just a few of the brands I have and still use.

Unfortunately these filters can occasionally be a nightmare in priming or loosing their prime due to connections, air bubbles, etc.
I managed these problems well since a leaky filter is something my clients pay me to NOT have.
However I also get many calls (as did my previous employer) from non-clients who request one time service calls for canister filters purchased elsewhere that they simply cannot get started or re-started.

This brings me to the point of this review; while canister filters are awesome for their capacity (assuming proper set up), these filters often can be be nitrate factories for high bio load fresh & saltwater aquariums.
As well, these filters are easily the number one cause of aquarium “headaches” based on my experiences with regular clients and one time service call customers.

One of the problems (among many) is the motor on the top which often gets an air bubble in the impeller well resulting in the filter stopping.
The Fluval FX5 addressed this problem with a bottom/side pump, which is by far the main improvement this filter offers in my experience (I emphasize experience, not just opinion).
The Fluval FX5 has many other features as well including what Hagen (the manufacturers) calls “Smart Pump™ Technology”. Personally I find this feature more of a gimmick as well as most of the other so-called features which are not much more than any other canister filter, except this filter retails generally for over $300 compared to much less for otherwise comparable filters.

As with ALL other canister filters, changing this filter is often a chore, despite some of the claimed “new features”.

TMC Fluidized Sand Bed Aquarium Filter, connected to pump, sponge This brings me to my comparison with a Fluidized Sand Bed Aquarium Filter.
These filters when properly set up (also assuming manufacturer) have a bio capacity that the Fluval FX5 or any other canister filter simply CANNOT match.
As well the simplicity is mind boggling when compared with ANY canister filter, since the filter is essentially self cleaning due to the abrasive action of the the sand in liquid suspension.

These filters also beat a wet/dry filter hands down on bio capacity and for planted freshwater aquariums are a no brainer when compared to a wet/dry since these do not “scrub” CO2 nearly as much as a wet/dry filter can and does do.

Part of the problem these filters have not “taken off” in my opinion is the fact that the aquarium hobby is very anecdotal and unwilling to think outside the box much of the time. This includes how to set up a Fluidized filter.

The picture to the above left displays a top of the line TMC V2 1000 Fluidized Filter mated to a water pump (SunSun JBQ 3500), then a Hydro Pond Sponge Filter attached to it. The Hydro Pond #4 by its own rights can handle an aquarium over 100 gallons, so when added to a Fluidized Filter that can handle 20 lbs of fish bio load (this is a lot of fish for an average aquarium under 200 gallons), you have a filter system second to none.

The negative of this set up is the large and sometimes obtrusive Hydro Pond #4, for which I generally prefer the vastly smaller Filter Max Pre-Sponge Filters (4 inches by 2.75 inches).
The other somewhat negative is the general lack of chemical filtration, however this is easily overcome by placing filter saver nylon bags of your favorite chemical media (such as carbon) behind the sponge pre-filter in the area of highest flow.
As well the use of products such as NPX Bio Plastics can be added directly to the Fluidized Sand Bed Filter which then aids in nitrate and Phosphate removal.
So you can see this second negative really is not a negative.

Back to positive, the ease of rinsing the sponge filter is so much easier than the cumbersome task of opening up a canister filter, and changing a small nylon chemical filter bag (if needed) is simple as well.

As to the Fluidized Bed Aquarium Filter itself, I have many types and have found TMCs V2 Fluidised Sand Bed Aquarium Filter by far the best due to the excellent fluidation and ease of adding additional sand or other media (this is where the popular Lifeguard model fails in my experience).

The other feature I like about the TMC over other designs is the ability to add Oolitic Fluidation sand which during its action in the chamber aids in buffering water for essential mineral cations and pH; this is a major plus for Liverbearer fish, African Cichlids, and of course any saltwater fish or reef tank, often taking the place of a Calcium Reactor when calcium needs are low to moderate.

The final feature I like is, as noted earlier, the use in planted freshwater tanks (using standard silica media) where this filter does not strip CO2 the way many other Hang on or canister filters can do. This makes this the filter of choice for any planted freshwater aquarium.

In summary; while the expensive Fluval FX5 is an improvement over older Fluvals and some other canister filters, for my money it is an over priced piece of equipment that is more than 50% more than a Fluidized Filter, Pump, and Filter Max Pre-Filter combination that can easily out perform it, all the while being a simpler filter system to maintain.

See Also:
Aquarium Fluidized Sand Bed Filter Review

Sponge Filters for Aquarium , Sump, Pond

AquaTop Hang On UV Filter Review

Hangon UV Filter Review:
PF-15, PF-25, PF-40, & PSE1 UV Hang-On Filter as well as IL5-UV & IL10-UV

PF40-UV Hang On Filter With UV SterilizationI felt this should be my first post based on what I have read and questions I have had asked of me by clients.

First these are a nice idea, that at first glance appears to be well made.

I will first start with the positives I do see:

(1) Simple to operate

(2) Compact Design

(3) Efficient Filter design for an economy filter

(4) Performs very basic water clarification (via UVC Sterilization)

Now the Overwhelming Negatives:

(1) No true Bio Filtration since there is no room for a Bio Sponge, Grid, etc.
This can be a major negative since aerobic bio-filtration is an essential aspect of aquarium filtration.

(2) Due to the nature of how an HOB power aquarium filter works, it is common for calcium deposits to build up on the quartz sleeve, slowly degrading what little actual UVC actually reaches any possible algae for clairifcation.
Eventually even the ability to perform UV Clarification is lost yet alone level one sterilization which this UV/Filter never truly attains, even out of the box.

(3) Now that these have been out for a while, I can comment on the “well made” aspect of these UV units.
The simple answer is leaks and ballast failures are all too common after 6 months to a year.

(4) As per the advertised UV Sterilization by the manufacturer and some sellers, this is where I really find the advertisements misleading as they claim these filters “aids in the health of your aquatic creatures by eradicating free-floating parasites”.

The FACTS are free floating parasites are only achieved by Level 2 UV Sterilization, and this filter cannot even truly perform Level One Sterilization (which is all most aquarium users require).
Level Two Sterilization requires a flow rate under 8 gph for most UVs, although some well designed UVs such as the TMC Vecton, True UV Sterilizer can perform this in under 12 gph.
Further Reference:
TMC Vecton UV Sterilizer Review

This brings me to another point; this is not a well designed UV, not because of any specific design flaw, but only due to this concept, as this concept WAS attempted 20+ years ago (by Nektonics), despite manufacturer claims.

The concept of a UV Sterilizer built into a Hang On (HOB) Aquarium Power Filter simply cannot have a good dwell time!

The dwell time of this filter is under 1.50 watts of UVC energy per second for this filter.
Compare this to 1.95 watts of UVC energy per second for the “Terminator 13 watt” versus 2.08 watts of UVC energy per second for the “8 Watt Vecton“.

What this boils down to is this is a blatant lie, as to parasite eradication; if the manufacturer would only state “Effective for Water Clarification” I would have less of a problem.
The bigger picture problem here is that over the years many aquarium UV Sterilizer manufacturers have made similar claims and then aquarium keepers have purchased these products based on these claims (example; Green Killing Machine, Submariner).
The Result? These persons then go on to state in forums, Yahoo Answers, or even me how UV Sterilizers are “Crap” as their fish continued to get sick after installing these types of UV Devices.
The end result is the continued “cut & paste” of misinformation that UVs are useless, when in fact it is what was purchased or how they are installed that makes the difference.

This would be analogous to purchasing a mini pickup to pull a 10,000 fifth wheel trailer and when it fails complaining about all pick ups, when in fact this person should have purchased a 350/3500 full size pick up truck.
There simply is a reason a UV such as this can have a filter and UV and cost less than $70 while a quality UV sterilizer (without any other gimmicks) of similar wattage costs about $125

Finally, I might add that before I push Level Two Sterilization,; for most aquariums Level One Sterilization is all that is necessary for disease prevention and fish immunity, via Aquarium Redox Balance.
However this Filter cannot even perform Level 1 Sterilization and thus should NOT be purchased if this is what you need for your aquarium.

Further Reference: Aquarium Redox Basics

The bottom line is ANY True in-line UV Sterilizer is better than these essentially decorative UV light emitting devices. This does NOT mean the low quality AquaTop IL5-UV or IL10-UV which although better than the AquaTop Hang On UVs, these still have poor dwell times and construction that is prone to leaks and ballast failures.
Simply put, from my use of many AquaTop products, they are a company to avoid , in particular for their line of so-called UV Sterilizers!!!

Better yet would be a high Dwell Time UV such as the TMC Vecton (see the link below)

Recommended Reading:
TMC Vecton & Advantage In-Line UV Sterilizer Review