Review: Fluval 206 Canister Filter

Fluval's 206 canister filter outputs 206GPH, comes with 3 year warranty.

Clownfish. Via Teddy Hartanto/Flickr

I am definitely not a mechanical person. In the world of aquariums I am one notch above a lay person. Installing the Fluval 206 doesn’t require Einstein-like genius. It is easy enough, even for a girl like me. To be honest, I didn’t install it all by myself but I could have.  My boyfriend, on the other hand, has a little OCD. We laid out all of the parts and he eyeballed, examined and opened everything.

Some features we immediately noticed:

The ribbed hosing provided is a good feature – no kinking. Be really careful when cutting your hose – some canister filters have you install two separate hose – this one has one hose with the connectors on either end. So, unlike other models you can’t run out to your local hardware store and pick up some extra hose if you make a wrong cut.

The instant prime system is great – no more manual pumping to get the water flow started.  Have you ever pumped a canister filter and the water flow just won’t get started and you’re just pumping and pumping and getting irritated and then you are irritating everyone around you because you are irritated? Yeah. None of that anymore.

Fluval 206 Specs

  • Filter model: 206
  • Aquarium capacity: 40 U.S. gal/200L
  • Pump output: 206 U.S. gal/780l per hour
  • Mechanical area: 46,666 sq. yd/56K mm2
  • Biological volume: 2.10 U.S. qt/2.0L
  • Filtration volume: 4.84 U.S. qt/4.6L
  • Filter circulation: 121 U.S. gal/460L per hour
  • Max water column height: 4.75 ft/1.45m
  • Electrical wattage: 10W (120V/60Hz electrical supply)
  • Warranty: Three years

The filter pads run the entire length of the filter vertically as opposed to others where there is only one level of filter pad laying horizontally in one chamber.The carbon comes prepackaged in its own nylon bag.  So, if you use loose carbon you will need to sock it. If not, I’ve noticed Fluval carbon bags being sold in most Local Fish Stores. The chamber for the carbon is larger than we’ve seen, so if you have a bigger bioload you can add carbon.  The filter allows for mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration all in the same unit. The low level basket allows for placement of the Fluval BioFoam or your media of choice, the mid level basket enables you to load biological media, and the top level basket is where you can place your chemical filtration media such as Chemi-Pure, Purigen, or carbon.

The instruction manual is user friendly. It isn’t an Ikea drawing in Swedish. I was comfortable with the assembly. If you’ve never installed a canister filter, go slow and read the directions and the manual all the way through before attempting to install it in your system.

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The output j-tube has a projective spray as opposed to a standard j-tube drop. This is good for people who don’t have a back chamber. It sprays out into the tank instead of dumping into your sand bed and creating a mess.
Straight out of the box, the manufacturing is superior to models we’ve used in the past. Fluval designed many of the parts for ease of maintenance and function.

Another super awesome feature about the hoses and connectors: The Fluval 206  has an Aqua Stop system!  Let me tell you aquarium loving friends and neighbors, this has to be a gift from the Fluval gods.
I know from experience taking the canister out to clean it or replace the carbon and fighting the hose is the worst part of the job  (okay, second worse – the smell. . . right? The smell is worse but not by much).
The Aqua Stop valve creates a water/air tight seal that allows you to remove the canister for maintenance without fighting the hose monsters. This could potentially save your marriage. No kidding. I’m not even married and I’m pretty sure eliminating another fight over whether I am pulling on the hose or not is going to get me a marriage proposal.

There is no drip tray. We trust the Fluval gods but a drip tray might just make you sleep better at night.  It’s like having insurance or a really good watch dog. No water spills-not on my watch.
Note: I haven’t had a problem since installing it. I used an old drip tray for peace of mind but have not had one drip.  Not a single one. So, you go Fluval.

Note: This requirement didn’t affect us so it almost didn’t get mentioned. The minimum distance from tank to filter is 4.5 feet. There are so many custom made tanks these days (cough – Tanked – cough) that it is possible someone might have a really tall tank or some other configuration of a tank that might require some sort of pedestal or construction to use this filter. Again, probably not an issue for most of us – but just to let you know.

Once installed:

We noticed an immediate reduction in nuisance algae. By immediate we mean within an hour. Over the course of 24 hours the water became crystal clear.
Note: The 24 gallon nano tank in which the Fluval 206 was installed has very little bioload. Mostly coral, two small fish and a clean up crew. I also use Chemi-Pure Elite and Purigen regularly. However, even with the chemical filtration we have never seen this tank so clean. A week after installation, we would stare in the tank, as we customarily do, but for a different reason.  We were actually staring at the water. We both kept saying, “Wow. It’s so clear.”
Note:  If you have a big bioload you may want to go up a notch in capacity. Fluval offers several larger models, the Fluval 306 and Fluval 406. Go big or go home. Just saying.
I  definitely recommend the Fluval 206 canister filter. If you are going to install a canister filter do not monkey around with cheaper models. It will just cause headaches and unnecessary agitation fighting the hose. Once your Fluval canister is in place, you’re gold.
It’s not going to solve all of your maintenance problems. You still have to maintain your tank. This isn’t something you install and then grab the kids and luggage and leave on a European vacation for three weeks but it will improve the overall cleanliness of your tank.

Melissa Ramirez has been enjoying saltwater tanks and reefkeeping for several years with her boyfriend. She currently maintains a 34 gallon Red Sea Max 130 with a custom overflow and sump/refugium housing fish and coral, a 24 gallon JBJ Nano cube with nems and clownfish, and a 30 gallon nano tank with corals, a starfish, a Tridacna clam and a cleanup crew.

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Article Categories:
Fish · Health and Care · Lifestyle