Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Rena SmartFilter 55, UP TO 55 Gallons
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Size: Upto 55-Gallon|Change
Price:$22.23 - $49.85
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on June 4, 2010
"It's the 1980's Jaguar of filters...great design, but you better own 2 because one will always be in the shop"

I've owned the 55 for less than two months when the motor failed. I tried calling Rena for help, all you get is an answering machine. They called me back two days later and told me that I can box up the filter and send it back for warranty. I said "hold on, this is my filter, I can't run w/o for a week or more" I asked if I could buy a replacement motor or if they could do an advanced replacement, I'd happily have paid for that. At that point the guy got rude and told me they "they weren't going to just ship out an expensive piece of equipment to me and if I considered my filter to be so important that I should own a backup."

I wish I could recommend this product, but having it fail in under two months and then being told I should have bought two is just unacceptable. I wish I would have read the other reviews first...

don't buy from Rena
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on June 25, 2012
update read the bottom i really hope some one from Rena reads this or a hole different company sees what could be done with this product

what a major difference between this filter and any other fish tank filter I have ever used ... I read all the other reviews every 1 posted on this and figured i would take a chance and im glad i did ....the only bad thing i can say is the plastic flippers that level the filter on the back bottom are a joke like other ppl said in there reviews no big deal rip up a small peace of cardboard problem solved ... the quietest filter iv ever used and i do fish tanks for a living ... the box filter setup is very smart and very well thought out the price of the filters are up there but u can get replacements at petsmart ...it moves a lot of water and because the spillway is 12 inch wide it puts a lot of o2 in the water it took about 4 days for the filter to set up and the milk to go away
..if this filter holds up I will get 10 to 15 more and suggest them to my clients ..if it takes a dump on me I will post that in my review .... take it from a pro this filter is far better then anything out there
6-5-2012

10/25/2012

has became noise and very hard to restart i would not buy another 1 until Rena updates this and fixes whats wrong with it ...its a real shame because its a sound idea works good the flow could be better im sure it would cost them all of 15 cents to fix the problems with this and put on the package new and improved next time i need new filters i will be putting the hole thing in the trash
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on October 16, 2009
Bought the Smartfilter 55, but has same motor as this product 7 months ago. Recently started sounding / performing horribly. Emailed customer service to which the only answer was mail in unit at my shipping cost both direction and they'd 'fix' unit. When I asked for a unit to be sent to me upfront since this was in a working aquarium got the runaround. Called and got same result with the 'you should always have a backup pump'..... no I should have bought a product that works and is reliable. Will never buy another RENA project again.

Bad product, horrible customer service... AVOID
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on February 19, 2013
This is one of the flimsiest, worst designed pieces of junk I have ever had the misfortune to purchase. I've been keeping fish for over 41 years, have bought a few filters in my time, & this is god-awful. The leveling pegs on the filter do not lock into place, & I found this out when HALF OF MY 55GL TANK EMPTIED OUT ONTO MY FLOOR, as the filter tilted forward overnight. The motor/impeller housing is supposed to come out easily for cleaning; it does, but falls apart & does not go back together easily. It also is made with very cheap plastic, & feels like it would break if I squeezed it w/ my hand. Very poor design, which shocks me, as Rena usually makes a great product. Rena dropped the ball on this one, I would recommend anyone thinking of purchasing this crap to steer clear.
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on April 16, 2013
This might be the filter for some people, but if I could go back, I would have bought a different type.

To start with the positive, it is really, really simple to use and keep up with. Cleaning it takes just a couple minutes because all you have to do is swap out the filter cartridges. It's a walk in the park compared to replacing the media in my other filter which is sometimes an hour long process that always seems to end up involving getting gross aquarium water, used charcoal, and globs of algae/grossness all over my living room and kitchen. The Rena is totally simple, mess free, and quick.

On the negative side of that, the replacement filters/cartridges are overpriced, in my opinion. If you can handle the mess and labor, you'll save a lot of money just buying media for a canister type filter and replacing it yourself as needed. The replacement filters/cartridges also aren't available at all pet stores.

For another positive, it lets out a lot of water through a wide opening vs a smaller jet of water like some aquariums. This really helps oxygenate the water with out being too loud. With my other filter, I had to use an airstone to keep my fish breathing well and happy. With this one, enough oxygen gets mixed in just by using the filter.

Next on the list of cons - like many filters, if something goes wrong, this thing can empty your aquarium onto your floor pretty dang quickly. There's no seal whatsoever and the legs that keep it perched upright (which prevents the water from leaking out of the back) are sufficient, but nothing more. Any pressure will cause them to give way, changing the angle that your filter is sitting at. One day my cat jumped onto the top of my aquarium and ended up standing on this filter and it was enough weight the the legs slid out a couple notches. That left the filter hanging at a slight angle which was JUST enough for water to leak out over the back of the aquarium and all over my floor. When I came home, there were 10 or 15 gallons beneath the aquarium. I realize that having a cat sit on your filter above your aquarium is not typical or expected use, but it's still something to note.
I once also just didn't mount it horizontally enough and for the same reason, that caused a slow leak out of the back that I didn't notice right away. So even with normal/regular (well, maybe SLIGHTLY careless) use, this is something to be careful of. It's worse if you're a bit too lax on replacing the cartridges as recommended because they get kind of gunked up making the water back up a bit and if it backs up too much, out the back of the filter and onto your floor it goes.
Again, not a problem if you're a perfect, responsible aquarium owner/maintainer, but I feel like a lot of us probably aren't so beware of back leaks!
Now I make sure that the filter is angled slightly downwards towards the aquarium instead of the perfectly horizontal, just to be safe.

My last significant issue with this filter is one that I can't entirely explain. Basically, the filter all the sudden got REALLY loud. It made strange water/air noises like there were pockets of air trapped somewhere in there in addition to some kind of motor rattle. It was terrible. I tried emptying and refilling it and cleaning out the motor area and a few other maintenance things but nothing would fix it. I even tried calling Rena since I had just bought it somewhat recently, but they couldn't help. It got to the point that I could only turn it on when nobody was home, which kind of defeats the purpose of a filter. Between that and being paranoid about leaks, I finally stopped using the filter even though it was basically brand new. Just recently, my aquarium got a little overstocked so I decided to add this filter back in addition to my second one. The noise was still there so I just ran it when nobody was home and at night (and really, it would be too loud for night too if your bedrooms are anywhere near the aquarium) but after months of use, the noise has finally just gone away again. Not sure what that was or if it's going to come back, but it seriously made the filter un-usable.

Also, I'm a bit skeptical that the filter has enough media to really handle a fully stocked 50 gallon aquarium, but I might be wrong about that. My tank is a bit overstocked so I keep a second filter running anyway, so I can't know for sure.

Lastly, not a problem for some people, but the filter is longer than most aquarium filters so it might interfere with some aquarium lids or hoods. I had to just remove part of the lid that came with my aquarium to fit it. But aside from that, it's a good looking filter that isn't too obtrusive on the back of your aquarium.
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on April 13, 2013
I have used this filter for a few months and it is so problematic I am now looking for a different branding. The filter leaks even though thorough examination shows no cracks or otherwise problems with the canister. I clean the filter cartridges faithfully thinking if they get clogged that would compel the water to leak. The filter is perfectly even and we can see no real reason for the leaks. Sadly, my flooring has taken a beating from the leaks and now I am looking at a greater epense to fix that as well. I should have researched more thoroughly prior to the purchase since it appears I am not alone with this troublesome filter. I will not buy Rena again, period.
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on April 19, 2012
I've had a pair of these Rena SmartFilter 30 units in continuous operation for a couple of years now without any failures. I was originally very impressed with the features of this design; however, my enthusiasm has waned due to a few "shortcomings" that have become apparent over time. As with most products, there are both positive and negative points which I will try to cover in my observations below.

1.) This Rena SmartFilter utilizes a fully submerged self-contained pump. I've owned a variety of other rear hanging filters over the last 30 years with the majority of them employing a design whereby the impeller is driven by a motor attached to the bottom of the filter unit. In my experience, these units generally ended up being noisier than I would have preferred, so when I came across this Rena unit with the fully submerged pump I had to pick one up to give it a try. Sure enough, this submerged pump design results in impressively quiet operation and the units I have still operate just as quietly today. While there have been occasional annoying vibration noises noted after re-assembling the unit following a cleaning, I've always been able to eliminate these with small adjustments to and/or reseating of the lids/covers of the unit.

2.) There is an available heater that can be substituted in place of the intake tube. This is another really cool innovation/feature that saves space in the tank, looks cool, and generally results in a more secure mounting of your tank heater when compared to a standalone unit simply attached to the tank with suction cups alone. Combined with the previously mentioned quiet operation this feature ultimately convinced me to purchase my second unit for my other tank.

3.) The filter cartridge design is pretty unique and incredibly easy to maintain/service. The only downside here is that the cartridges are a bit pricey... and, of late, the local pet stores seems to have stopped carrying them. So I've been forced to purchase filters online, which wasn't all bad as I discovered that they may be purchased in a more economical 12-pack as opposed to the 6-packs the local stores carried. Unfortunately, this 12-pack seems to have become somewhat scarce online lately as well. It's unclear whether this is simply a temporary shortage or not as API seems to have repackaged these filters under their brand name. For folks having trouble finding filters for these units, look up the API BioChem Size 4 filters which would appear to be the same thing as what was originally sold under the Rena brand. Bad news is that the biggest pack I've seen under the API packaging is qty 4... which, again, makes these filters somewhat expensive to purchase. I've purchased and confirmed that these API BioChem Size 4 filters do work with the Rena SmartFilter products. As a matter of fact, on the API BioChem Size 4 packaging, it actually states that the filters are for use with the SmartFilter units. Anyway, this may be a sore point if the 12-pack goes away completely...

4.) This filter unit has "snap adjustable" standoff legs at the bottom that are used to help position the unit so that it is level... and herein lies my biggest complaint with these units. It appears to me that there is very little margin provided at the top of the unit with respect to the operating water level such that if the unit leans back much at all water begins to drip out of the unit at a pretty steady rate, thus soaking whatever lies underneath the filter unit and continuing to do so until you happen to notice the problem. This problem also seems to be compounded by the lids/covers of the unit seemingly being designed to fit over the outside of the filter reservoir and, again, if the rear of the filter unit is a little below level, then condensation that forms on the inside of this lid would also seem to roll back and down the outside of the filter reservoir, adding to the problem. Again, this really shouldn't be a problem if the filter is maintained in the proper position. Unfortunately, the "snap adjustable" standoff feet on the two units I have cannot be readily secured against accidental unintended changes which might occur during servicing of the unit. Which means that once or twice a year I get a surprise when I discover that the standoff settings have somehow been disturbed and the filter has been leaking for a number of days prior to me catching it. This has happened enough times with bad enough results that I've become downright paranoid about checking to make sure the filter units are not dripping. At this point, I'm resolved to replace these units once I've used up my remaining supply of filter cartridges. I've never before had a rear hanging filter be so prone to concerns of leakage and it's really quite disappointing given how good this filter unit could have been with just a little more attention to detail.
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on June 4, 2010
"It's the 1980's Jaguar of filters...great design, but you better own 2 because one will always be in the shop"

I've owned the 55 for less than two months when the motor failed. I tried calling Rena for help, all you get is an answering machine. They called me back two days later and told me that I can box up the filter and send it back for warranty. I said "hold on, this is my filter, I can't run w/o for a week or more" I asked if I could buy a replacement motor or if they could do an advanced replacement, I'd happily have paid for that. At that point the guy got rude and told me they "they weren't going to just ship out an expensive piece of equipment to me and if I considered my filter to be so important that I should own a backup."

I've read on many sites that they have a great product unless it breaks, then you're just screwed because Rena doesn't care about their customers.

I wish I could recommend this product, but having it fail in under two months and then being told I should have bought two is just unacceptable.
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on December 29, 2011
I've owned my filter for about 2 years now and when I first plugged it in my water was crystal clear. It has excellent filtration capabilities, but is marred by poor quality and poor customer service. Within a few months my filters outer casing cracked and was leaking water so I contacted Rena and they wanted me to ship it back to them at my cost and leave me without a working filter. I had another filter, but that's besides the point. They should've just sent me the broken part. So I used aquarium safe silicone and caulked the crack on the inside and haven't had any leaks since then.

The filter cartridges are overly expensive and I've found quite a few that have tears on the seams reducing the filtration capability. It does have some areas where the intake gets clogged easily if you have plants. The ability to purchase a heater that works as the intake tube is an awesome idea and it works perfectly. I've had problems with it siphoning recently even when everything was clean. So I purchased a Fluval C3 filter which is smaller, filters more water, and was less expensive then the SmartFilter 30. I will never purchase another Rena product.
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on May 4, 2014
This filter has several flaws, the worst being it only lasted 60 days before it failed. I also experienced an irritating leaking problem, the leveling legs on the bottom of the filter do not stay in locked in place against the side of the tank and the filter would tilt back and start a slow leak. One leg moved too easily and the other required considerable force to get it to move at all. Didn't matter, neither would stay locked in place. I think this is caused by pump vibration. No way to adjust the tension on the legs, either. Second it is noisy, the power head/pump section would rattle and vibrate occasionally. It did a decent job the short period of time it worked. Aquarium filters are like most other things, you usually get what you pay for. Lesson learned.
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