What a treat this is — a gravel cleaner designed to be powered by either an FX4 or an FX6 Fluval canister, writes Nathan Hill.
Best of all, this gravel cleaner currently comes as a free gift when you buy a new FX filter (read our review of the new FX4 here). The bad news is that if you want one, and already have an FX filter, you can’t buy it separately at the moment. The gravel cleaner is what it says on the box, but in this case the canister filter powers it. In the package you get the gravel cleaning attachment, some hosing, a pre-filter/strainer, and some suction cups. So far, so good.
The reach of the gravel cleaner is subject to how many attachments you use (two come as standard, each 365mm long). The cleaner connects to a hose, which in turn connects to the pre-filter — a clear chamber with a fine filter bag inside. This is where the waste collection happens.
The pre-filter has a quick-fit connection at the base, which you attach to a hose leading to the bottom port of your FX canister. At this stage, you sucker the pre-filter chamber to the side of your tank, and you’re ready to start.
Operation involves closing the inflow of the canister, but keeping the return open. When you open the valve on the bottom port to which the gravel vacuum is hooked up, flow will begin, drawing water through the cleaner and returning it to the tank.
Controlling the flow is performed with a ‘thumb tap’ on top of the device. Insert the gravel cleaner into the substrate, open the tap, and it’ll lift substrate up and swill off dirt. When the gravel is clean, close the tap again and let the substrate drop back out. It’s basically the same as any other gravel cleaner in this regard.
That’s pretty much it, apart from subsequently cleaning out the bag afterwards. Hagen’s website lists two grades of filter bag — fine and super fine. In a really dirty tank, that bag will clog pretty fast, so don’t expect it to be outstanding if you’re in the habit of leaving your tank for months between cleans — which you shouldn’t do anyway.
If you’re still unsure of how to operate it, Fluval even has a pretty good ‘silent movie’ tuition video using universal hand gestures — scroll down to see it.
I really hope they start selling these and not just giving them away to new FX buyers, because eventually everyone with one of those canisters will want one of these to accompany it. Easy enough to use, and makes a fiddly job a lot simpler.
Ease of use: 4/5
Value for money: 5+/5 (it’s free!)
Price: N/A, currently a free gift for FX buyers.
More info: uk.hagen.com