“ Manufacturer: Rena / Type: Fish Tank / Aquarium Filtration / Areation „
I have been using a Rena XP1 for around 7 years, along with an XP4 for 4 years-ish. I use mine on aquatic turtle tanks. This is a bit of a baptism of fire, since turtles produce upwards of 3x the mess fish do. Their waste is also a lot heavier. So my Rena filters have had their work cut out for them!
My XP1 was part of a complete setup deal, bought from Maidenhead Aquatics (4x2x1.5 Rena tank, hood, cabinet, 300w heater, freshwater master test kit, fish food, 2 light tubes and of course XP1) for the grand total of £500. I bought my XP4 for £112 including next day time specific delivery. You can get cheaper, just as efficient external filters. But I think the Rena XP are worth their weight in gold. They are simple to set up and clean, quiet running, and in my experience robust enough not to have given me any major problems in all those years. Touch wood, I have to this day never even needed any replacement parts (but they are easily available if you do, another bonus! Expensive though).
When you unpack your filter, you will see that all you have to put together is the filter inlet and outlet pipe assembly. The motor head casing containing the impeller is ready to clip onto the canister. Assembling the pipework can be a bit tricky, but patience is key (something I don't have a lot of I must admit!). You are provided with a length of tubing, which you can cut to size; care should be taken not to cut this too short, if anything cut a little longer than you need, otherwise you'll have to buy more tubing. This is easily available from any aquatics shop though.
The filter inlet pipe is grey, and is composed of push-fit sections. This allows you to alter the length to suit. It does however have the disadvantage of potential air leaks at the sections (if not tight enough, or through miniscule cracks from pressure). This happened to me, and I replaced the push fit sections with one continuous length of tubing which works a charm. Symptoms of an air leak can be intermittent flow, increase in noise, rattling sounds, and an overall reduction in flow rate. You may also see that the canister itself is not as full of water as it should be. Care needs to be taken not to place an aerator devices near this pipe also, as this can cause air bubbles within the filter, leading to the symptoms I have just described. The filter outlet pipe is black, and can be fitted with a spray bar if you wish. It is quite self explanatory how you piece them together if you just take a minute to look at all the bits, and of course you have many options depending on what 'shape/length' you want the pipes to be.
All you have to do is put together the inlet and outlet pipes as you want them, attach the tubing and then measure it against the top of the filter itself to see where to cut it. Its a good idea to have each pipe at opposite ends of your aquarium, to save filtered water being sucked straight back into the filter thus creating stagnant areas. You should avoid cutting the tubing much longer than it needs to be, as this can cause dead areas, and reduce your overall flow rate since the filter must pump the water over a longer distance. Remember to use the clips supplied to tighten up your tubing --> pipe and tubing --> tap joins. These clips are easily removable by pushing the toothed parts upward and downward respectively to unlock.
These filters come with baskets for you place your media in. It is recommended you have mechanical media in the bottom (sponges, a variation of grades is good) to catch large debris and waste. Then biological media in the middle (ceramic rings, bio balls etc) for your 'friendly bacteria' to colonise. These bacteria are probably the most important aspect of filtration, as they are responsible for breaking waste products (ammonia, nitrite) down to less harmful ones (nitrates), which are then removed via partial water changes. After the biological media, you can use chemical media. I do not use chemical media myself, but it includes things to remove ammonia and nitrite. You can also finish off with floss if you have space, as this 'polishes' your water.
The baskets make removing for cleaning super easy but personally, I don't use the baskets. I have a few sponges in the bottom then I simply fill the canister with alfagrog (used in Koi filters) as it's the best biological media in terms of performance and price. And for turtles, it's just all about the biomedia!
So now you're all set up, you need to prime. This is a lot easier than it seems, and once you do it a couple of times you'll see this. Your tank needs to be full of water, and your filter inlet (grey) pipe needs to be below water level. Your pipes will be attached to the taps that slot into the top of the filter itself by this time, you DO NOT push down the lever until after priming! If you do, you'll end up filling the canister by hand! All you do to prime, is remove the black cap on the top of the inlet pipe, and pour water into the tube. The manual tells you what volume to pour in, but you can simply pour until the tubing is full. Replace the black cap, and then push down the lever at the taps. You should hear the canister filling up through the filter inlet pipe. That's it! Once it's full you should leave it a few minutes, then plug it in.
This filter has performed admirably for me and my turtles. It is worth bearing in mind that any performance does depend on your maintenance routine, and your stocking levels. An appropriately stocked fish only tank will always be cleaner than an appropriately stocked turtle tank. Nevertheless, these filters keep my water parameters to perfection. Coupled with a fortnightly water change of 40-50% (necessary for turtles, probably not for fish) and weekly testing, I can assure you my vitals are Ammonia 0ppm, Nitrite 0ppm. I water change when nitrates reach about 30ppm, this works out fortnightly for my own tanks' volume and stocking.
This is so easy to do - simply unplug, unclip the motor head casing, and your canister is free to move around. So long as you don't need to move the inlet/outlet pipe assembly (and the inlet pipe remains underwater at all times), then you will not lose your prime. This means that when you have finished cleaning the media, you can simply reattach the pipes, push the lever down, and you're good to go. The tubing is cleanable too, I use wet kitchen roll pushed through with a plant support bamboo cane. Some people simply replace it though when it gets dirty. The impeller should also be rinsed off occasionally too, otherwise it can get jammed with grime.
So far I have needed no replacement parts, but my XP1 has lost it's self prime ability so I have to manually prime it (essentially fill the canister by hand). But it works perfectly aside from this. Also as mentioned, I have changed the filter inlets to solid tubing, to avoid air leaks. These filters are adaptable, don't be afraid to change certain bits for others, logic does apply here! If you have something the same shape that you think will work better, then try it (like my tubing vs. push fit sections, or altering how you fill the canister with media). You also do NOT need to use the Rena specific media. This will do nothing but empty your wallet faster!
About 5 years ago I was running a Fluval 4 and a Fluval 1 and then 2 in my four foot tank. Of course Fluval claims the four alone is adequate, but it is not. The filters were cleaned frequently, partial water changes regularly and the water was still less then the crystal clear I like to see. So when a workmate of my husbands offered to sell a Rena xp4 with several other accessories at a reasonable price, I jumped at it. This is the best thing I have ever bought for my aquariums.
The Rena XP4 is the same as this model but larger, and instead of one basket with filter medium, it has 4. the XP4 can filter 1,700 litres per hour. It is recommended for tanks up to 1,000 litres. A four foot tank is going to hold somewhere in the neighbourhood of 300 litres of water, so the water is going through this almost 8 cycles per hour. Even the Rena XP1 is adequate for most 36" tanks. With filters though the bigger the better. This filter keeps my water crystal clear with a small backup filter for loose debris and only need cleaning every 6 months. It is absolutely brilliant. you just set it up and leave it.
Other advantages to this are:
Relatively quiet operation - but grew louder over the years.
It tucks into aquarium cabinet so is not visible.
A quick change valve meaning you do not always have to re prime the filter. But it doesn't always work.
Price but worth it in the long run as it is very reliable and saves you from loosing valuable fish. Some of my fish would be worth up to £60 each ( although I got them as babies and never paid anywhere near that amount). Saving on a filter and loosing my fish is not a good option, plus I have had some for ten years, I don't like my fish to die.
It is an absolute ********* to set up the first time. I think it took us two hours and my husband was cursing the whole time. I will not attempt to advise on set up as it has been years, but would advise carefully researching online for how to prime this "self priming" filter. It honestly does take hours to prime and can flood if you don't get it right. Once going though, it works a charm.
Parts are very expensive if anything wears out. It may work out cheaper to just buy a new filter.
Although a Rena1 will do most tanks, I would advise getting as big a filter as possible as it means better water quality and less maintenence.
Of course if you only have a small tank a smaller filter may be the best choice, but if possible always go a size bigger.
I am currently running this on pads alone, but am thinking to add ceramic beads which are meant to improve biological filtration. Special pads, like charcoal filters can be bought for specific problems. I believe to ordinary pads will run about £11 plus postage, but these will last for a decade or more.
Uppdate: I did love this filter. it was the first completely external filter I had owned and it does making keeping an aquarium so much easier. But eventually the leakage problems got worse and any bump could cause a flood. The replacement parts were too dear, but we did own this filter for a number of years, and it was used when we bought it. Overall I do still believe it is a good filter.