The Fluval hanging aquarium filters – buyers beware

Fluval C4 hanging filter for fresh water aquariums

First off, let me say that this review is strictly from my experience with the products that I purchased. Having said that, here’s some background info on my fish keeping endeavors. Every since I can remember, we’ve always had at least one fish tank in our household. These tanks, be it a breeding tank, hospital tank or main tank range from 10 gallon to 100 gallons. By no means am I an expert nor am I a noob when it comes to setting up a normal fish tank for your run of the mill, fresh water, decorative fish. I also remembered Hagen/Fluval products to be reliable, pricey but reliable. All of this experience has been in North America, and I feel I have to mention this because I’m currently in Asia (Singapore) and product issues aren’t as easy to resolve here and this is where my story starts.

Fluval C4 hanging filter unboxed

So it seems that the canister filters I’ve been using (asian brands that I’ve never used before) break down roughly every year and a half or so, so I figured, I should spend a bit more to get something a bit more reliable. So I went shopping and saw that a large pet retailer, Pet Lovers, had a sale on Fluval filters. On sale, this Fluval C4 hanging filter set me back $90 plus dollars whereas the bigger “asian” canister filters were in the $80 region. The C3 was also on sale so I bought that one as there weren’t any C4’s on the shelf. It’s a bit small for my tank but I needed one right away and could always use this as a spare or even run 2 units if I needed to. Other than being larger the C4 is identical to the C3. I have to say, I was very impressed with the C3 after almost a month of usage. Most impressive is the little knob that pops up indicating the need to clean the filter! Then the crap hit the fan, I woke up one morning and the filter wasn’t working. The motor unit was extremely hot so I unplugged it from the wall outlet, filled the filter with water and let it sit for a few minutes. After it felt ok to touch, I plugged it back in but nothing happened. I have no idea why it stopped working. I removed the motor from the filter to see if the impeller was broken, it was not, nor was there any obstruction that I could see. I couldn’t find the receipt so I just went to buy another one. I chose to buy the C4 because I was impressed by the C3 and a bigger version should be even better, right? In hindsight, maybe I should have switched back to canister filter or even the top filters. Oh Well.

Note: the tank below is a spare I use as a hospital / breeding / photo taking etc.

Two C4’s and one C3

Here we go with my Fluval C4 ordeal. This first one I bought lasted roughly 3 weeks if that. Again, woke up one morning and it wasn’t working. Motor unit was too hot to handle, no water in the filter and this time I noticed that the tube feeding water into the filter wasn’t seated properly. So I’m guessing the motor couldn’t create enough suction to keep water flowing in, but the tube can be moved to change the water flow. At this point I’m thinking maybe it’s my fish fighting and dislodged the tube. Anyways, I need to do a better job in keeping my receipts organized as I couldn’t find this one either, so I went and bought another C4 with the plan that I would buy a replacement motor. This time, for Fluval C4 number 2, I kept the box and the receipt in storage. Thank goodness I did because this one didn’t last 2 weeks! The intake tube wasn’t dislodged as far as I can tell  but was shifted to a lower flow rate. I emailed the pet store and they told me to bring it in for an exchange so I did. When I got to the store they were saying that I had to leave it with them so that they can test it and IF it is a manufacturers defect they will get another one from the dealer but not sure how long the process will take. So I asked them to call the lady who emailed me, they did and hesitantly did the exchange. Now, on to third C4. This time I taped the intake tube so that it would not move out of the strongest setting, and set the tube to the shortest length This unit lasted roughly 2 weeks! Enough is enough, right? No matter how much I like the filtration system and efficiency of the Fluval C3/C4 units, this is just ridiculous!

Fluval C4 hanging filter removable motor

Fluval C4 hanging filter flow switch

I decided to email Hagen/Fluval regarding my issue and to see how much replacement parts will cost. I sent the first email on Jan. 25, 2019 and got a response the next day basically saying I needed to contact their distributor in Malaysia for assistance and it was bcc’d to someone with an email address (don’t ask me why I was able to see the bcc but is shows and in red font too). I got a response from the on the 29th saying that “my mail will be attended shortly”. I have yet to receive any info up to this day, it is now Feb. 11, 2019. Oh I also decided to loop in the retailer I purchased the units from (and who performed the exchange) on the 4th of Feb. I’ve only received the auto generated msg of receipt of my email.

Now since the C4’s all died, I purchased a canister filter, the Fluval 306. Yes another Fluval from the same shop. I really like the size of this canister filter and it has the flow stop feature on the tubes which makes cleaning the filter so convenient, the asian brand filters I’ve used previously don’t have this feature so I’d have to take the hoses out of the tank every time I needed to clean the canister or change media.

So during all this, my catfish died. I’ve had him for almost 2 years! I can’t say for sure if it’s due to the bad filtration issues (I don’t think so because my Cichlids are still alive) or if its because I can’t find the plastic clip that sticks out of the suction cup that holds the intake tube straight down. It was rather flimsy but I didn’t think anything of it, most certainly didn’t think it would get eaten. Now my catfish is dead. But again, everything is mere speculation on my part and I’m recounting events in hopes this info can help others avoid potentialities.

I don’t know if my Fluval issues are going to get resolved or not but I will keep this post updated if it does. If you’re planning on buying a filter for your tank, consider the issues I’ve brought up. I would highly NOT recommend this filter if your fish are big/strong.

Consider following me for updates to find not only my other toys and collectibles posts but also my travel bloopers, blunders and shenanigans posts, photography related news/reviews posts and the occasional contest entry.

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Thanks for viewing and best wishes!

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5 thoughts on “The Fluval hanging aquarium filters – buyers beware

  1. I run C4 and C3 filters. The filter did not kill the catfish. RIP…. I have yet to have anything fail on a Fluval unit except for impellers. They do require more due diligence in maintenance. I keep backup parts, spare motor and impellers. I’ve had one case crack, my bad. I fixed it using JBweld on the outside and Crazy-Glue on the inside of the case. I have been doing this for 10 years now. Hope you have better luck with the canister.

  2. Hey! I got the same problem. I had the Fluval C4 and even after cleaning and maintainence, it finally died on me after 1 year. And I thought that investing in a more expensive filter will last longer. I have another HOB filter that lasts even longer…sigh… Any idea how much the impeller replacement will costs?

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