“ Manufacturer: Hagen / Type: Aquarium Filtration - External Filter „
As far as aquarium filters go then the external filter is probably the most effective you're likely to encounter without getting into the specialist market. The 305 is one in a range of filters offered by Rolf Hagen; others available in the same range are the 105,205 and 405. The 305 is the most recent '30...' filter available, it's predecessors being the 303 and 304.
The fluval 305 comprises of a filtration unit with a built in motor (or water pump) to feed the filter unit and provide circulation in the aquarium itself. Itis aimed at tanks around the 300 litre mark. The 305 sits external to the tank itself, ideally beneath the level of the water if possible. For the most part I've found it fits well in most aquarium cabinets. The filter contains multiple media types which help to mechanically filter the water as well as provide a home for the beneficial nitrifying bacteria which will biologically filter the water.
The 305 is a solid filter which feels and looks well made. It comes with a range of fixtures and fittings allowing it to be adapted to most tanks. Ribbed anti-kink hosing transfers the water from tank to filter and vica versa. The ribbing allows the pipe to be manipulated easily and the anti-kink feature is a brilliant idea. Kinked hosing means the motor has to work extra hard to pump water past the kinked section, putting strain on it and also putting it at risk of over-heating or burning out. Kinked hosing is an especially disasterous occurence should you be on holiday when it happens, not only may the motor burn out but the fish will be without filtration - anti-kink hosing prevents any of these problems. Hagen provide a reasonable length of hosing which I've had no issues with for tanks up to 4ft. Tanks over 4ft may require you to purchase additional hosing which is widely available.
The filter incorporates a priming system which allows you to prime the unit, ridding it of airlocks etc, before switching it on. External filters are often difficult to start as they rely on being fed water from the tank via gravity before physically pumping the water back up to the tank. Without this initial 'syphoning' of water from the tank the filter will not start. The priming system is simple and requires the used to pump a handle up and down to start the water syphoning. The priming handle doesn't feel as well made or as substantial as it could do. Actually lifting and depressing this handle is easy, requiring little effort, but is often a lengthy process in my experience. I tend to find it requires a fair bit of work before you actually get a syphon going. With the handle feeling a little flimsy and the extended use, I often feel like I'm going to break this part of the filter. Thankfully it hasn't happened yet so perhaps my worry is unfounded! Should it happen to you, you can rest assured that the handle is available as a spare part - often not stocked in shops but easily ordered by your local store from the manufacturer.
The motor (top) section of the filter lifts up after you unlock two large, well-made clips on each side. The clips also function as something to lift this section by which I like as it allows me to carry the unit quickly and easily to the sink. This part of the filter incorporates all the electrics so I find you have to be careful not to dip the plug in the exposed water or the sink! A minor detail but something to be wary of! The impellor is housed in this section and is easy to access and clean. Very important stuff as many aquarists are aware.
The bottom filter section comprises of four large sponges on a special 'lift-out' frame and a stack of small compartments within which is housed loose media such as carbon or bionoodles (ceramic rings). The sponge's frame is an excellent idea and allows the removal of all the sponges for cleaning in one easy action. The sponges are very easy to remove and return into the frame. The small individual compartments are also easy to remove, although sometimes get stuck together if you've not cleaned the unit for a while. Not something that causes any major hassle and a sharp tug sorts everything out! Each compartment holds a fair amount of media and allows you to really customise the filter to you (and your fish's) specific requirements. For example, with discus fish you could fill one compartment with peat in order to lower the pH. This is one of the reasons I really like the fluval external filters, they allow a lot of room for adaptation which is an aspect I find essential in fishkeeping.
The 305 provides a decent amount of water flow and circulation is good throughout a 4ft tank provided the inlet and outlet pipes are postioned one either end. I've had my unit over five years now and have had no complaints at all. I had to replace the impellor a year back but that was purely because I left it on the floor during cleaning and stood on it! The filter requires minimal cleaning and I'm both impressed and ashamed to say that I can go six months without cleaning mine and experience very little drop in water flow. Power consumption is comparatively low for a filter of this size, and with no need to regularly replace any of the filter media (possibly with the exceotion of carbon if you choose to use this) this unit is very economical to run. Initial purchase price can vary by as much as £50 so it is well worth shopping around; the £90 mark seems a common retail price 'on the highstreet.'
Overall an excellent, reliable filter that requires little maintenance and is economical to run. I've given it four stars due to the flimsy priming handle and effort that it occasionally takes to get started. Otherwise I have absolutely no complaints!