Same any other tank owner, I have spent time trying to find the right filter to use for my aquarium. I’ve discovered that canister filters work best for me, but even going between two different model filters from the same company, and you can sometimes find a good deal of variance.
Commonly, people had been telling me about SunSun, so I figured a SunSun canister filter review was to see what the buzz was about.
- High capacity
- Multi-stage filtration
- High media storage
- Includes UV option
- A bit noisy
- Only a bit of media included
- Instructions aren’t much help
You’re probably already well aware of how important a filter is to keep your tank healthy. Keeping your tank water clean and filtered means your fish will have fresh oxygen and don’t have to bear the burden of swimming about in their waste.
When heading out to get a canister filter, though, there are a few things that you’ll have to keep in mind, as canister filters function a bit differently than your run-of-the-mill box or gravel filter.
Canister filters are the big boys of filtration systems. If you’re interested in one, you probably have a larger tank, so getting a filter that can purify large amounts of water at high speeds is essential. The max tank volume and GPH are going to be two significant numbers for you.
Because you have such a large amount of water in your tank, a filter that has multiple methods of treating the water is necessary. For you to consider any canister filter, it should at least provide you with the big 3: chemical, mechanical and biological filtration.
You’ll also want to consider additional details, like power consumption, ease-of-use, and the size/weight of any potential filter. If you have a smaller tank or aren’t prepared to drop more money, you should probably consider going with a box, gravel, or power filter instead.
LOOK & BUILD QUALITY
This filter is somewhat plain in terms of looks. The shape is functional but lacks flair, and it’s constructed from a flat white plastic that further accentuates the antiseptic feel of the device. Of course, that might be just what you want from a machine that’s designed to clean water!
The durability is on par with other models out there. Sturdier brands like the Eheim are out there, but the difference isn’t so great that it counts against the HW-304 in any significant way. The locking mechanisms are robust, and it locks on multiple sides to ensure security.
There are 4 of them, which means you can load them up with the filtration agent of your choice for the precise clean you need for your tank.
As mentioned, the filter is somewhat bigger, weighing about 17 pounds, (causing some hassle when it’s time to move it and clean it), but being an external filter, you can easily set it on the floor and out of the way until it’s time to do so. You can get a good look at the filter, and it’s components here to judge for yourself.
The instructions included with this filter are, quite simply, terrible. If you don’t have any experience with canister filters, you’re going to be in for a rough time. Fortunately, in the digital age, YouTube is your friend. There are some good setup tutorials online, but it still might take you a while to get the hang of it.
Like some other filters, those hoses can be a bear to work with at first. Once you get them more pliable though (the hot water method works pretty well), they do their job as intended. If you’re more of a pro, you can go with some custom made tubing and eliminate the need to work with the stock hoses.
The self-priming feature works pretty well and takes a lot of the hassle out of the operation of this unit. You might not ever need to do any manual priming. If it becomes necessary, though, just a few pumps on the priming button, and you should be good to go.
I’ve heard others say these filter runs whisper quiet. That was not my experience. It’s not the noisiest filter around, but it does make more sound than just a whisper. This is exacerbated if you experience leaks or issues with the flow from the hoses, but there is a simple fix if you find yourself in such a situation.
As far as the pumping power, it works well, as advertised. Of course, the GPH dips once you have all of the media installed, but you can use this to control the flow rate (since there’s no flow rate nozzle attached). Pack in the amount of media you want for the desired GPH. Once everything is set up as it should be, this filter will continue to run. You can operate it continuously with few to no problem.
Speaking of the media, they do a great job of keeping the water clean. The carbon pads catch hold of tiny particles to remove them from the water, while ceramic rings and bio-balls handle the chemical and biological filtration, respectively. Swapping media out is no hassle, just slide the trays out and put in/take out what you need.
The addition of a UV filtration light is a definite bonus. A UV light is well known for its ability to purify water, removing algae spores and harmful bacteria. The 9 watt UV lamp on the HW-304 has excellent output and operates well in 2-hour shifts.
The spray bar is included, and the tubes it uses are multi-length, so you can combine them to customize the direction and to position the way you see fit.
SunSun is really giving you a lot of filters for your dollar. A high-power canister filter can easily cost several hundred dollars, but the HW-304 comes in at a reasonable price. Sure the setup is a bit tricky, but once you have it running, it works at a level comparable to many pricier filters and comes with the bonus of a UV filter as well.
This part is a breeze. Just take your filter to the sink, and get to washing. Make sure you use tank water to rinse your filters to preserve all of the good bacteria that help promote filtration. You can disassemble the filter into its component pieces to get every part as clean as possible.
Reconnecting everything once you are done should be a snap since you’ve already loosened up all of the hoses and know the assembly process by this point.