Jeremy Gay finds peace of mind in a name synonymous with quality when he samples the latest German techno-thoroughbred aquarium filter.
There’s something reassuring about Eheim filtration that enables you to sit back sure in the knowledge that you are doing at least part of your hobby right.
My fascination started as a boy, when the nearest I got to Eheim products was staring at them through locked glass cabinets in my local aquatic centre.
Since then I’ve owned and ran many, from the early external power filters to powerheads, internal filters and even hang-ons. Expensive they may be, but they simply run and run.
This is the company that still produces and sells one of its earliest external filter series — the 22s — which is at least 20 years old now, and this can still lock horns with all manner of technological gadgets from rival manufacturers.
However, alongside the tried and tested models has emerged newer technology. These include the Thermofilter, the “Wet and Dry” and now the 3e — the world’s first external filter with a brain.
That feature, a microchip, enables output control, increased flow as the filter starts to block, stream function, and a 12-hour biofunction (a timed night flow reduction) service indicator which shows when the filter needs cleaning and the ability to purge its own system of air build-up.
All this can be controlled on the filter’s head unit, although it’s better to fork out for the USB connection and disc and get full displays, control and monitoring on your PC.
I drooled over the 3e when it was launched, yet after more than a year of thorough testing I can’t help feeling that some features just aren’t necessary. Why would you want to reduce flow at night? Do rivers reduce at night? What about the excess of CO2 after hours in a planted tank?
The stream function (alternating water flow) seems superfluous in a freshwater system too.
The only feature I genuinely use is the manual flow control if I move the mature filter to an aquarium with fish of different flow requirements
This is my only gripe for, as you would expect, the inner workings have behaved impeccably and I am sure this filter would run for another trouble-free 20 years.
Enter the new 600T. It’s a hybrid of microchip technology with Thermofilter technology, resulting in a clever thermofilter. It is recommended for freshwater aquariums to 600 l/132 gal in volume, with a controllable output of up to 1,850 lph for an energy consumption between 10-35w.
The wattage of the built-in heating element is on top of that of course, at 210w, and it sits in the bottom of the canister looking not unlike the element in a kettle.
On the front is the Thermocontrol 3, a digital temperature readout which can be controlled at the push of a button. It can be preset between 18-34°C/64-93°F and also display water temperature.
The benefits of a built-in heater are obvious. There’s no heater or thermostat in the main tank, so is aesthetically better and safer with fish and rocks, and, being built in to the filter, you get all-round even heat distribution. Note the heater comes with its own power cable so this combo will need two sockets close together.
Other features include 8 l/1.8 gal of filter volume and a canister height of 54cm/21”, not including any pipework.
This filter will appeal to planted tank owners, Discus keepers, cichlid keepers and anyone else who likes to combine technology with reliability and crave just a little bit of the pose factor. Like me, though, I’m not sure that anyone will use all of its features and benefits…
So is this better than the Fluval G6? Well, it’s bigger and comes with the all-important heating element. However, despite its price tag, it still doesn’t come with any biological media, which is sold separately.
The G6 has the world’s first conductivity reader and displays the filter’s vital signs on the unit itself, which is handy as, despite Eheim’s PC control option, I happen to work on a Mac.
Just as I thought that Eheim would counter Hagen’s Fluval G6 with a total reinvention of the filter “wheel” the convenience of media cleaning on the G6 has changed my view for ever, and for the better.
Despite all its other bells and whistles, you still need to turn off the Eheim’s filter, shut off the pipes, unlock the head unit and remove the filter baskets to get to the blue sponge and while polypad mechanical media.
All in all there’s something undeniably German about Eheim’s new offering. It’s good, very good, and, like BMW or Mercedes, the company justifies its higher than average price tags with higher than average quality.
Yet, as with those cars, everything is sold on top as an extra. The media pack will set you back about £35, and more flexible modular inlet and outlet pipes are extra too. This one just comes with a basic inlet and outlet, and short spray bar. You really do that need that PC control — and a PC!
However, when I open that understated packaging and peer in at the dark grey and glossy green filter, that brand loyalty takes me back to childhood — as does the feeling that it’s probably never going to go wrong.
Product: Eheim Professionel 3e 600T, product number 2178010
PC control: £38.70
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