fluval canister filter review

at 6:55 pm

The Fluval Multistage 05 series is a continuation of a line of filters that has been around for many years. My personal view of these filters is they are overpriced, overdesigned, poorly designed, with limited media capacity (when compared with rival filters), and are not dependable, suffering from the inevitable “Fluval Restart” issues. My Fluval is currently sitting in a closet, unusable.

The “Fluval Restart” problem is an issue that arises in this line of filters whereas they will not properly re-prime following maintenance, forcing you, as the aquarist, to struggle through the attempted restart, pumping the priming button, shaking the filter, whatever, trying to get water to flow again. The issue starts out small, where it does not take too much to get the water flow restarted, then increases in difficulty over time. My filter made it three years before it completely failed, but the restart problems started within 3 months of purchase. For every Fluval that has been in extended use, there is another that has failed because of this problem.

I can be quoted as saying, this line of Fluval filters are designed by Satan and manufactured in the depths of hades for the express purpose of making lives miserable. There are much better (and less expensive) options available.

FeaturesFluval 105Fluval 205Fluval 305Fluval 405
Pump Power9 watts9 watts15 watts21 watts
Flow Rate (max)125 gph180 gph260 gph340 gph
# Baskets233 (divided)4 (divided)
Filter Capacity3.2 L (3/4 gal)4.6 L (1-1/4 gal)6.94 L (1-3/4 gal)8.94 L (2-1/4 gal)
Foam Sponge1111
Carbon Filter Media1
BioMAX Filter Media1234
Aquarium Sizeup to 25 gallonsup to 40 gallonsup to 70 gallonsup to 100 gallons


  • At 450gph, the flow rate is above respectable.
  • The split design of the trays allows for increased flexibility of the media employed. Even after my Fluval completely died, I considered purchasing another one just for this feature.
  • The “quick disconnect” design is the best on the market. Very easy to use


  • Reliability is a significant concern
  • The filter is oddly overpriced. For some reason, the price increased by almost $100 between the 04 and 05 line, when the only difference in the filters is the color.
  • The priming mechanism is not well designed or made. Especially with the restart problems, it is only a matter of time before it becomes useless.
  • Filter is prone to leaks from the motorhead (the motor head can get a slight lift as pressure builds up in the filter). I had to use silicone tape wrapped around the motorhead, right on top of the seal ring, to maintain a leak free filter.
  • I don’t know what purpose the long sponges serve. I never removed much gunk from them when cleaning the filter, certainly nothing compared to what is removed from the first layer sponges in the Marineland C-Series (on the same tank) or even the Eheim 2217 sponge (with an Eheim 2217 replacing my failed Fluval, on the same tank).
  • I’ve tried everything to resolve the “Fluval Restart” issue, replacing every replaceable component. At best, the results were temporary. There are far to many reports of this issue for it not to be a symptom of a faulty design.

Recommended Maintenance Procedure:

  1. Fill two buckets with tank water
  2. Unplug the filter
  3. Engage the shutoff and disconnect the valve block
  4. Carry the filter to the sink
  5. Unhook and remove the motor seal head.
  6. Remove each media container, dumping the contents, one at a time, into the first bucket (this becomes the “dirty water” bucket, swirling the media around by hand to clean it, then placing the media back into the tray, placing the tray into the second bucket.
  7. Remove the sponge filters, rubbing them clean in the bucket of “dirty water”
  8. Carefully remove the impeller cover and the impeller
  9. Rinse the impeller clean, scrubbing it with a toothbrush
  10. Using a toothbrush, q-tip, or rag, clean the impeller housing
  11. Reassemble the filter, placing the motorhead back on and latching it down. For the last two years, to get the filter to restart, I had to overfill my filter with dechlorinated water prior placing the motorhead back onto the filter, instead of allowing the autoprime to work.
  12. Carry the filter back to the tank, reconnect the valve block and disengage the shutoff
  13. Pump the primer a couple of times to force water into the impeller housing (another effort to limit the “Fluval Restart” problem)
  14. Light some incense and perform some buddhist prayers, hoping the filter is going to pump water
  15. Plug the filter back up and see if your prayers have been answered.

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