Customer Reviews: Fluval FX5 External Canister Filter
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on December 5, 2010
I've had my Fluval FX5 since summer of 2008 and have been running it non-stop since then on a 125 gallon freshwater aquarium. In 2009 I added a Coralife Turbo-Twist UV Sterilizer (36 W) and my water has been absolutely crystal clear for months at a time (I highly recommend this addition). The few times I've noticed it get a little murky (when the curtain was open and sunlight enhanced algae growth) it was totally clear within 12 hours.

The Fluval FX5 is a great filter but requires regular cleaning (every 1-3 months full filter clean). However, you don't need to replace all of the media each time you clean the filter (which can get really expensive). Instead, you can use a garden hose or similar very strong spray to clean the main filter sponges (around the edges of the filter) and the blue filter pads. The white polishing pad should be replaced regularly. I rinse the bio media in tank water and dechlorinated fresh water to get rid of any chunks of things.

As others have said, expect a tiny bit of water when you close the valves and remove the hoses to move the filter, which makes sense since there's about 2" between the valve shut off and the filter. I keep a towel wrapped around when I remove the hose and have never had an issue with getting my hardwood floors wet.

The filter, when full of media and water is heavy but not too bad. It weighs around 40-50 lbs like that (depending on your media).

I suggest having tube cleaning brushes on hand to clean out the intake and output tubes (the ones in the filter - no need to remove the filter tubes from the filter to the aquarium). Otherwise a sponge will clean the inside of the filter perfectly and a strong spray will clean everything else.

When it's running it is incredibly quiet. And as others have said, it's good to note that when you first turn it on it will run for 2 minutes then shut off for 2 minutes then will run for about 24 hours then shut off for two minutes and turn back on. It will do that every 24 hours to remove air in the system.

A few things to note:

- This filter has incredible suction, it's made for a 400 gallon tank. Don't place plants or bubble makers anywhere near it or it will suck the plants against and in and the bubbles up (that will make your filter noisy).

- If you are breeding anything in your tank, expect to find babies in the filter. I find Corydora catfish in the filter all the time. They're alive and fine, but need to be moved to the main tank rather quickly so clean the filter every month. Thin skinny fish like loaches may be sucked up into the filter if they can't swim fast enough so you may want to put a breeding basket around it to keep them away but not hinder the filter intake.

- The media is expensive, but you can make your own rough filter pads (open hole filled black filter media), and carbon bags much cheaper than buying the premade media. However, the rest you'll want to buy real Fluval parts (search for best prices).

- Remember to fill it until it's about 1-1.5" from the top before attaching to to the hoses. You don't want the filter to have to work too hard to finish filling. It is self priming but needs that much help to make it work effectively.

- If you hear it struggling after you hook it up (and you added enough water) it's because there's too much air in the system, turn it off, wait about 15 seconds, turn it back on. You'll see a huge mass of bubbles come out then it will work fine.

- Remember to open the valves once you have it hooked up to the hoses - before plugging it in. Yes I've plugged it in and forgotten to open the valves.

Overall I highly recommend this filter for any tanks 100 gallons and greater.
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on May 22, 2009
I've been running the FX5 on a 125 gallon turtle setup for about two months now. Setup is very easy, especially if you have previous experience with canister filters. I saw another review that stated that the filter was noisy, but mine is pretty quiet even when the tank stand's door is open and the filter is exposed to the room. My flowrate has been relatively high, especially considering that it is packed with biomax and polishing pads. It is important to note that unlike other Fluval canisters, this beast actually filters water from top down, so you'll want your finer media like polishing pads in the bottom basket.

I docked a star because I am not a big fan of the design of the internal media baskets, nor do I like the cheap plastic 'T' rods that are used to pull them out. Also, despite the stop valves on the intake and outtake hoses, be ready to clean-up water when detaching for routine cleaning.

Although the Eheim Professional Canister Filters are arguably better for certain purposes, you aren't going to beat the value of the Fluval FX5. The features and specs you get are equivalent to several much more expensive filter options.
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on September 6, 2010
I'll keep it short and to the facts.

The FX5 does everything it is advertised to and is very quiet. I am using it on an 85 gallon freshwater tank stocked with 7 3-4 inch African Cichlids, 10 2 inch clown loaches, 10 tiny convicts, one 6 inch plecostomus, and 2 one inch rays. I only add aquarium salt to the tank and treat the tap water with Aquasafe during 25% water changes once a week; no other chemicals. After running the FX5 for 3 days I tested the water for ammonia (0 ppm), ph (7.5), nitrite (.5 ppm), and nitrate (40 ppm); all within tolerances for an established community tank, albeit a little low for the cichlids.

My conclusion? The FX5 rocks and is well worth the money.

My long journey to this conclusion (in short form)-

I read all of the reviews and ordered an Eheim Pro 3 2180 a couple of months ago. Sent it back immediately because I use salt in the water and that would destroy the internal water heater and subsequently the pump (according to the Eheim technician).

I then ordered an Eheim Pro 3e 2076; it came, it leaked profusely at the pump-to-canister seal (made an incredible mess), tried all of the solutions mentioned in the troubleshooting section of the documentation, called the tech line to no avail, returned the pump for full refund.

I then ordered an Eheim Pro 3e 2078; it came, it leaked profusely at the pump-to-canister seal also, became disgusted at the product quality, returned the unit for a full refund.

I then ordered the Fluval FX5; it came, it worked as stated, I'm very happy!

Hope this helps.
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on January 28, 2008
I got one of these from my local F/S, and it works great. It is very large though, which to me is a good thing. More Water volume which is always a plus with saltwater aquariums. It comes with a DVD that tells you how to set it up. You don't really need the DVD, because it is quite simple to set up and get started. It comes with more than enough hose to do the job. I have the hose coiled around in the bottom of my stand it is so long. Every night it shuts off to let the air bubbles escape and then turn back on. You don't have to do anything to start it. So far their have been no leaks or mechanical failures.
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on August 5, 2010
Update after 30 months: Still working perfectly. No problems what so ever. The tank is still clean and the filter is still working like the day I installed it. The only issue is that it is heavy even when it has pumped out most of the water in preparation for cleaning it out. But what do you expect with a huge filter. Sealing has not been a problem. Nor has cleaning, it just takes a little while to service a filter this big.


I have had various filters before, several different ones in this tank. I use an Eheim 2227 wet and dry filter for digesting ammonia into nitrates but I need a good mechanical filter too. I also have a UV sterilizer, so anything that would grow in the water gets sunburn and dies. The tank contains four large african cyclids and a very large plecostomus. Between them they make a mess and the plec is always stirring up junk which then floats around for ages.

In the past I have used Marineland Magnum 350s and a Fluval 304. Neither of those really caught all the particles that were circulating in the tank. Neither of them had fine enough media to capture everything, they just recirculated the fine stuff. Adding the polishing filter to the 350 reduced the water flow substantially and resulted in an expensive and blocked filter element in the garbage after a few days, it did not provide any sort of long term solution.

Am am looking to move up to a bigger tank, something like 120-200 gallons from my current 65, so I was willing to consider filters that would be overkill. If there is such a thing. I had been looking at the FX5 for some time but had discounted it as too large. Reading other reviews I saw that although the headline flow rate is 925gph the rate drops to more like 600gph when stuffed with media. Well that's not that unreasonable for a 65 gallon tank. Finally, last Sunday I moved a few things in the tank and it ended up cloudy again. I had disturbed the gravel to add some plants and now the particles would be floating around for ages. The combination of under gravel filter and mechanical filter just weren't catching fine material. Short of washing all the gravel I didn't have a lot of options.

So I ordered the FX5 on Monday. By Tuesday afternoon it had been delivered, so much for 2nd day delivery, it took less than 24 hours to cross more than half the country.

I thought the A218 was the kit of the FX5 plus the pre-filter and biomax media, but those weren't mentioned so I also ordered the fine filter, polishing filter and the two boxes of media.

Assembling the filter body is easy. I took off the lid and removed the filter stack then washed all the foam blocks and replaced them. I rinsed off the pre-filter and biomax material and added them to the top and bottom baskets. I also added a media bag full of carbon above the biomax. In the middle I added a stack of fine mechanical filters, I put the polishing pad at the bottom, then hand cut two pieces of phosphate and ammonia absorbing material I had to hand for the middle and added the fine pad to the top. I re-stacked the baskets and returned them to the housing. After adding 2 gallons of water to give the pump something to work on, as stated in the instructions, I put the lid back on and secured it.

The supplied pipe should be enough for most normal installations, though having said that I only ended up discarding about two feet. But my tank and stand are fairly tall, probably 5'6" from the floor to the rim. I attached the two cut-off valves to the pipe then connected them to the filter which was in its intended location. I ran the pipes up to where they would enter the tank and cut them to the required length. I then clipped them to the tank lip fixtures and jammed the inlet and outlet on the end. The bottom of the inlet pipe has two suction cups to keep it in place, so I secured it to the inside of the tank.

OK. Ready to go. When I plugged in the filter it began slowly pumping out a mixture of water and fine bubbles. Oh... that's not what I hoped for. But they said it needed to prime and I expect there was about 3 gallons of air in the body, so let's leave it and see what happens. A few minutes later it stopped making noise and bubbles, moments later it belched out a stream of bubbles and the water level dropped a few inches. Ah. So that's the priming. A few minutes later, with one final large bubble, the filter started for real. No more bubbles and no sound that I could hear over the PC.

At this point my tank was a soupy mess. I had taken the opportunity to clean out the other filters and pump heads and that had disturbed a lot of fine particles that my other filters would not have caught. Ten minutes later it seemed to be improving. An hour later there wasn't much sign of anything floating in the water. This morning the tank is crystal clear.

In summary this filter works the way they all should. The pump is at the bottom, so it doesn't get noisy and cavitate when there is any air in the system, any bubbles that are present will mostly sit a foot above the pump at the top of the housing and cause no problems. Even those are allowed out by the daily purge.

One down side for the fish is that if they don't eat what I feed them then the filter will.

There are no real down sides to this setup. When it is full of water it is heavy but they provide two ways to drain it for servicing. The pipes all fit together well and all joints seal properly. The valves and connectors are easy to operate. The main pipe connectors have a double 'O' ring seal. The area of the first level of filtration is huge, basically the inlet water flows all round the outside of the stack of three baskets and filters in towards the core. Once through the foam filters it flows up to the top of the container and is sucked down through the three media baskets. At the bottom it is sucked in to the pump and that drives it up and out of the outlet. There's no way for any significant amount of water to pass through unfiltered.

Loaded the way I have it the flow rate is maybe 600gph. That isn't too much for this size of tank, though it's a lot more than most people use. The fish don't have any problems finding a relatively quiet spot, but there's a lot less chance of things actually stagnating than there used to be with my old units.

I considered this against the Eheim 2080. In the end I chose the FX5 because it flows more water and has larger mechanical filter area and I already have the biological side covered with the Eheim 2227. For me this was a good choice. If I find any issues in the long term I'll report back.
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on February 25, 2011
7/20/2015 - Works great- still using the same filter that came with the box.
Clean it 2-3 times a year, unit runs on a 30 Gallon tank with close to 100 guppies and two gold fish (had two big koi that got too big for the tank before)
So far - Im very satisfied.

There are some reviews out there that try to make this unit flawed, from "I dont like the cradle handle", "some water spilled when the connector is detached" to just about anything they can think off.

Honestly, I might not be a perfectionist, but for someone who is a realist, you wont fine anything to Really Complain about, unless you just really want to.

The FX5 came with a installation video and even if you dont watch the video, the installation is so easy to follow through the manual that within 15 minutes, you are up and running.
some things to note, make sure you plan on your installation before you start cutting, moving and modifying your aquarium setup. Make sure you have enough room at the back for the hose and you might want to have an extension cord for the FX5, for easy cleaning (i wish they make the power cord detachable from the base of the unit) other than that, its hard for me to complain about the performance of the unit.

The cost of the FX5 is much higher compared to other units sold on your local store but, you only buy it once and you got a lot of room to expand your aquarium if you decide to upgrade. the fx5 is rated for about 400 gallons.

Another good thing about having a filter that is rated higher than what your aquarium is, is that you dont have to clean your aquarium often and you can over feed the fish and the water would still be okay (if you let lots of food float around the water and let the food rot in there, then, thats another story.)

The first time I started the filter, I started with a dry filter (no water on the canister, and just open the valves and let the water fill the filter up and start the motor)
the amount of infused oxygen the canister produced was just amazing, it turn the entire aquarium water almost white. I said, "WOW, thats the power of the filter" and it filled the aquarium white almost within 10 seconds and stayed white for about 2 minutes.

Right now, I got my filter for about 2 months now, cleaned it twice not because the water is getting cloudy but just because I wanted to see and check what the filter got.
The water is almost crystal clear in the aquarium and with a clean glass and clean lights, its just awesome.

In short, I think anybody who installs this filter would be delighted that they did and will surely find it useful as they upgrade to bigger aquarium in the future (future proof).

I use a FX5 polishing pad and ultra fine pad and biomax on two trays and carbon/ammo mix for the first tray.

Good luck, I know you will like it and your fish will thank you for it. :0p cheers
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on November 17, 2011
I am so impressed with this filter....there is almost no noise and the pressure is very strong. Great product and well made. They thought of everything, it even has a purge valve.

****** UPDATE *** November 2013. Well, just short of two years now I am starting to have major problems. I keep the maintenance up and take great care of my system but the motor is cutting on and off by itself like it's over heating. Keep in mind that I only have a 125 gallon tank and this filter is suppose to handle 400 gallons. It still has a one year warranty left and I am jumping through hoops trying to get an exchange or a repair. HORRIBLE AND I MEAN HORRIBLE CUSTOMER SERVICE FROM Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp. FOR SUCH AN EXPENSIVE ITEM! YOU WOULD THINK THEY WOULD EXCHANGE THIS NO PROBLEMS AND WITH NO COST TO ME.WRONG! After an entire week of emails back and forth the only thing they will do for me is... FOR ME to remove the motor and ship it to them at MY COST, YES MY COST. THEN, they will decide whether to repair or replace and it comes with a 3 year warranty against defects. I am now having to do manual water changes and have to wait until Monday TO call these people. There is absolutely no abuse to this system and its in a tank that is 1/4 of the size it is suppose to handle. I am very disappointed with their customer service and unless I can get a better resolution for my problem I don't recommend buying this right now, as they don't stand behind their product. Such a shame because when it's working it's a great product...BUT A PRODUCT IS ONLY AS GOOD AS IT'S CUSTOMER SERVICE! I changed my rating from 5 stars to 3 because it is a good product but customer service stinks. Will update after my phone call. =(
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on August 6, 2010
I own four of these filters, the oldest one being in operation and going strong for over 6 years with no issues, noise or otherwise. If you've had problems with yours, you probably got a lemon and should've returned it during the return or warranty period.

These filters have a lot of flow and the motor runs very quiet (remember, I own 4 of them). I use one for a 75 gallon Loggerhead Turtle tank, a 90 gallon Mata Mata tank, a 110 Puntius Barb tank and a 300 gallon monster fish tank in conjunction with sump filtration. If you've ever kept turtles, you know that they are even messier than the largest of fish. But the FX5 keeps my turtle tanks crystal clear and am so glad that they exist. I also own an Eheim Pro3 2080 which I bought around the same time that I bought my first FX5. Eheims are the luxury cars of canister filtration and like luxury cars, you'll pay a premium for them. They'll last you for decades with virtually no problems...unless you get a lemon. But for the money, you cannot beat the Fluval FX5 and it outdoes the Eheim Pro3 in flow and mechanical filtration. The Eheim equivalent to the FX5 is the Eheim 2262. The 2262 is a powerhouse...even more so than the FX5. But.....this filter ranges in price from between $400 and $500!!!

So, if you're on a budget and you need mega filtration, for the money, the FX5 is the filter to consider.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 9, 2012
Having been keeping fish for close to forty years I've tried dozens of filters and with the exception of eheim have usually ended up disappointed. The build quality, pristine filtration and years of dependable service have been impressive and I remain a die hard fan.

Enter the FX5 one powerful beast of a filter. I have tried other Fluval filters and found the workmanship and over all quality marginal at best and without exception they were either returned or retired. That said the FX5 is a welcome and surprising surprise in both it's power, ease of use, efficiency and cost both up front and long term energy consumption.

Out of the few filters than can compete I took a look at the specs of my eheim Professional 1200XL filters and here's the comparison:

eheim 1200

* Dual Intakes
* Certified flow rate of 450 GPH
* Holds a whopping 6 pounds of media (3.5 gallons)
* Flow Control
* Electronic metering
* 30 Watts

Fluval FX5

* Single Intake (excellent design)
* Non Certified flow rate of 950 GPH
* Holds 1.5 gallons of media
* No Flow Control
* 50 Watts

If both filters were in the same price range my personal preference would be the eheim. GPH is often over touted and un substantiated. Used as a marketing ploy consumers respond better to claims of faster and more powerful it's appealing and a lot sexier then selling on say the colonization of nitrifying bacteria. That said, a god rule of thumb is cut any GPH claim by 50% and then 50% once you add media and 20% less after the filter is seeded and established.

However it's the quality of the media you use and the filters capacity for holding media that ensures both efficiency and providing the optimum amount of positive and good bacteria to keep your tank healthy and water parameters stable and pristine.

As for cost the eheim runs close to $500 and add $175 for the media kit so you're looking at a $700 investment.For the Fluval FX at $245 and about $100 in media - it's bargain you just can't over look. Sorry eheim but in this case the winner is the FX5 - hands down.

The FX5 offers some wonderful bells and whistles. It has to be one of the easiest filters to assemble I've ever seen. Packaging is superb and includes a step by step DVD featuring each phase of set up as well as break down for cleaning. The filter features a lower release valve at the base for draining out gunk - all you need is some 16/22mm tubing and a bucket.

Most all self priming filters range from arduous to a nightmare not the FX5. It's effortless to Prime. Simply fill with two gallons of water and gravity along with the Fluval circuitry for air release and pump control will do the rest and does it with lightening speed. Output is sensational, the filter is whisper quiet and the unique multi directional out flow allows you to direct current according to the needs of your tanks inhabitants. It won't provide the extra aeration you would get with a spray bar but you can easily create enough surface turbulence to draw in plenty of extra oxygen.

I hooked my first FX5 up to a 75 that houses some huge show quality ornamental Goldfish (I keep Cichlids, Fancy Goldfish, Salt Water and specific single specimen tanks) In this case the filter works beautifully. The more filtration the better for these guys (they're beautiful but slobs) and within a few hours the tank looked like I had just polished the water with my Diatom - it's just gorgeous.

Because the FX5 is limited for media space in relation to the size and power of the filter I would suggest using the very best, time proven media you can. Remember the top basket doesn't have a foam overlay so to avoid loose media getting caught in the impeller assembly make certain you use quality nylon media bags - this applies to the top basked only.

The Fluval XF5 is a superb filter and an equally outstanding value at Amazon price. If you need a filter with these kinds of specs you can stop looking because you've found it. I can assure you there is no other filter with these specifications at this price point.

Suggestions for Media would be eheim's Substrate Pro - small sphere shaped media made of Sintered glass. It encourages rapid colonization of nitrifying bacteria and virtually lasts forever. Match this with either ehiems Mech (ceramic rings) or the Fluval Biomax rings by Hagen.

If you need Peat, or PH buffers like crushed coral these are easily added as well.

The Fluval is an impressive machine ( I have purchased 4 from Amazon to date and not a sinle problem with any of them) we expect a delivery of a custom 250 within the next few weeks and I have every intention of running the tank with a few Fluval X5 filters. A stronger recommendation than that I can't give.

You'll find this filter efficient and effortless to set up and use. Plus, the price is a steal and if you're Prime member you get two day Free shipping to boot.
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on July 2, 2011
This filter does an excellent job with its amazing capacity as it works well in our 250 gallon tin foil barb tank. However as the last year went, the clamps on it started coming apart being poorly manufactured. There's issues with the plastics of it that crumble. That being said, it allows a bit of air into the canister not fully sealing. You cannot just simply replace the plastic pieces and instead have to by an entire new clamp which are $10 or more adding up quickly as they crumble apart in a few months. I cannot get the air out of my canister no matter what I do. It's also a pain to clean compared to several other canister filters I've used over the last couple decades. I'd recommend it to get your large tank started but as something permanent, go with one of the larger box filters.
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