Angel Fish Inside Aquarium

Fluval 406 Review

Fluval 406 Canister Filter

The 406 is built on the success of the 05 Series filters, but with improved functionality and performance. The unit offers ample filtration for your fish tank thanks to its flow rate of 383 GPH.

For aquariums over 100 gallons, a high-quality filter is key for maintaining good water quality. Tanks of this size and above benefit from canister filters, especially for large species of fish.

On your search for a canister filter for your large aquarium, you might have stumbled across the Fluval 406 canister filter. Fluval are considered a reputable, reliable brand among the fishkeeping community, and for good reason.

They create an array of outstanding fish tank filters which are praised for their performance and quality. The 406 is a beast of a filter, boasting a flow rate of 383 GPH and other impressive features like a noise-dampening impeller and patented AquaStop valves.

These aspects come with a steep price tag, so is it worth the cost? To help you decide whether the Fluval 406 is a worthwhile investment, I’ve taken a detailed look at its features, positives, and negatives.

What to Consider Before Buying a Canister Filter

In large setups over 40 gallons, it’s common practice to use a canister filter. If your aquarium is over 100 gallons, I’d highly recommend using this variety of filter over any other types.

Planted Tropical Freshwater Aquarium with Fish
Planted Tropical Freshwater Aquarium with Fish

How Canister Filters Works

A canister filter is exceptionally powerful and advantageous for big species of fish with heavy bio-loads. The way this filter works is by pulling water up through a lift tube and pumping it into an external filter chamber via a pump. 

This water is then pressed through filter media before being deposited back into your tank through another tube.

Canister filters are commonly used in large aquariums as they’re far more powerful than other filter types…

Canister filters are commonly used in large aquariums as they’re far more powerful than other filter types. If you own certain species of fish, especially those with heavy bio-loads, a canister filter is also ideal. 

A canister filter works by drawing water up through a lift tube and pumping it into an external filter chamber using a pump. The water inside the chamber is then pressed through filter media before traveling back into the aquarium through another tube.

Drawback

One of the main drawbacks with a canister filter is its cost. They are typically expensive, especially in comparison to internal and HOB (hang-on-back) filters. Additionally, if you’ve never used a canister filter before, their setup can look a little complicated and challenging.

TIP

Most external filters come with assembly instructions to help you get to grips with where everything goes. If you install the product incorrectly, then it may leak water or perform ineffectively. 

Fluval 406 Canister Filter 

The 406 is built on the success of the 05 Series filters, but with improved functionality and performance. The unit offers ample filtration for your fish tank thanks to its flow rate of 383 GPH. 

Compared to previous models, the Fluval 406 has enhanced filtration, less maintenance, faster setup, and quieter operation. It includes biological, chemical, and mechanical filter medium to get you started, as well as all the necessary parts to get the unit up and running.

Pros
  • Quiet operation
  • Durable, strong design
  • Large filtration baskets that are already stocked
  • Easy maintenance and setup
  • Effective 3-stage filtration
Cons
  • The impeller is prone to developing problems
  • Can leak after a few months

If you want a more in-depth analysis of the Fluval 406, then I’ve gone into detail regarding these positives and negatives below.

Features

3-Stage Filtration

The filter provides three-stage filtration, so it’s capable of keeping the water in large aquariums at pristine quality. The mechanical stage helps trap excess food, waste, and other particles of dirt. 

The filter provides three-stage filtration, so it’s capable of keeping the water in large aquariums at pristine quality…

The biological stage uses various Bio-Foam sponges to give your beneficial bacteria an area to live and thrive. The mechanical stage comes with activated carbon to get rid of any foul odors, discoloration, and other impurities in your water. 

Does The Fluval 406 Come with Media?

The filter comes with all the basic water filtration media needed in aquariums. It includes Bio-Foam Max, Bio-Foam, carbon (70g), and Bio-Foam+. You also get a bottle of Fluval Quick Clear to polish your tank water and remove any cloudiness.

You can house all of this filtration media in the large basket the product comes with.

AquaStop Valve 

The patented AquaStop valve makes maintenance and cleaning the filter very easy. This valve lets you stop the water flow rate without needing to disconnect the hoses, which should save on the amount of water spillages!

Sound-Dampening Impeller

The Fluval features a sound-dampening impeller for quieter operation. It’s surprising how little noise the unit makes, especially considering its size and power.

If your aquarium is in your bedroom, then this is useful as you don’t need to worry about the device making any distracting sounds.

Large Media Baskets

You get four large filter media baskets with Fluval’s 406 filter, which are stocked with a wide range of filter media for convenience.

As you get multiple baskets with the unit, this enables you to store a huge amount of filter medium. The baskets also provide a lot of space for beneficial bacteria to grow on.

Capacity 

Fluval’s 406 canister filter has a water flow rate of 383 GPH, so it’s a suitable option for aquariums over 100 gallons. You don’t need to be concerned about the quality of your tank water, as this unit is more than capable of keeping everything pristine clean.

Its powerful filtration will offer even fish with heavy bio-loads a clean, fresh environment to swim in.

Installation

Setting up the Fluval external filter isn’t too difficult. The unit comes with an instruction manual that provides you with a step-by-step guide on how to assemble it. 

If you’re not familiar with canister filters, then the setup can seem a little intimidating. However, once you get to grips with things, installing the Fluval 406 should take no time at all. Learn how to set-up the Fluval 406 Canister Filter in the video below.

Fluval 06 Series Canister Filter Overview and Set-up

NOTE

To make installation a little easier, the Fluval 406 has a self primer. To use this feature, pull the self primer lever 3 or 4 times until you see water start to flow. It’s a good idea to make sure the output nozzle is above the waterline for maximum effectiveness. 

I really like how easy the self primer is to use. Other similar types of filters with a self-primer can take a lot of time and patience to get working. It’s great that Fluval’s 406 self primer is a breeze in comparison. 

Additionally, the self primer only requires 4 pumps to get working, whereas some other external filters need numbers in excess of this. 

Durability 

The design of this Fluval filter is strong and visually appealing. You can tell that it’s built to last. The unit comes in a square shape, which gives it the power to handle a lot more water than some other filters with a round, cylinder design. 

The design of this Fluval filter is strong and visually appealing…

The square design is also beneficial for your filtration media as it allows for maximum contact with your aquarium water. This gives your Fluval 406 canister filter even better filtration performance. 

In general, Fluval filters should last you for many years to come. 

Warranty 

The Fluval 406 includes a three-year warranty, which covers any faults or defects with the device from normal everyday use or the quality of the material.

If your Fluval 406 canister filter breaks down, then Fluval will repair or replace it free of charge. The warranty begins from the day you bought the device, so be sure you don’t throw away your receipt.

Bear in mind that the warranty is voided if you damage the filter due to carelessness, such as poor maintenance. 

Accessories 

The Fluval 406 comes with a plethora of accessories. Here’s the full list:

  • Bio-Foam Max
  • Bio-Foam
  • 70 g carbon
  • Quick-Clear
  • Bio-Foam+
  • AquaStop valve
  • Ribbed hosing
  • Rim connectors
  • Intake tube
  • Intake strainer
  • Intake Stem with intake strainer
  • Pre-Filter basket
  • Basket
  • Basket cover
  • Basket handle
  • Suction cup (30 mm)
  • Output nozzle
  • 2 rubber hose connectors
  • Instruction manual

The Positives

Quiet Operation 

As I mentioned earlier, this Fluval filter comes with a sound-dampening impeller to ensure noise is not an issue. Compared to existing models, the Fluval 406 canister filter has much quieter operation in general.

The sound of a filter can be irritating, especially if your aquarium is located in a room you don’t want any distracting sounds in. It’s great that you don’t need to worry about noisy performance with the Fluval 406.

Easy Maintenance and Installation

The Fluval 406 is relatively easy to maintain, clean, and install. It even claims to have less maintenance frequency than other filters. so you don’t need to worry about losing countless hours trying to figure out how to assemble the unit.

The filter’s self primer feature and patented AquaStop valve all help make sure you can get the unit clean and set up in no time…

The filter’s self primer feature and patented AquaStop valve all help make sure you can get the unit clean and set up in no time. Furthermore, the AquaStop valve lets you halt the water flow without having to disconnect the hoses.

The Fluval 406 filter comes with a detailed instruction booklet, which is helpful for assembly. See a sample of how to maintain a Fluval 406 below.

Fluval 406 Maintenance

Longevity

Fluval’s 406 canister filter has a decent lifespan and can last a number of years. Less expensive filters are likely to break sooner than this, which means you’ll have to replace them frequently.

The product is much more long-lasting than existing models, with a stronger impeller cover and more efficient self-priming system. The design of the unit is well-made and heavy-duty, so it shouldn’t have any issues with flimsiness.

Customer Service 

The Fluval customer service department is great, with helpful and attentive advisors that are happy to assist you with any queries. This is especially useful if your Fluval 406 canister filter is broken and you need to speak with someone regarding its warranty.

Large Media Baskets 

Fluval’s 406 filter includes four spacious media baskets, which are already stocked with medium. The baskets provide you with plenty of room for storage of your media. They also give beneficial bacteria a lot of space to colonize.

Fluval’s 406 filter includes four spacious media baskets, which are already stocked with medium…

It’s convenient that the unit comes with filter media as you don’t need to purchase it separately. Some filters don’t include medium, which can be frustrating when you’ve already spent a hefty sum of money on the unit.

The Fluval 406 doesn’t have this problem as a wide range of media is included with the filter.

The Negatives 

Problems with the Impeller

The impeller on the Fluval 406 can break prematurely and develop a few issues. One of these issues is regarding noise. 

Over time, the impeller can become a little loud and emit a grinding noise. Not all models suffer from this problem, but it’s something to be aware of.

NOTE

Thankfully, the product comes with a three-year warranty so you can resolve these faults if they occur.

Tendency to Leak 

Unfortunately, the item can have some problems with leaking after a few months. This obviously isn’t great for your floors, as you don’t want water spilling everywhere.

It’s not certain what causes the unit to leak, but it can happen during maintenance and just with general wear and tear. It might be best to place the filter in a bucket to be on the safe side so you don’t wake up one day to a flooded room.

Alternatives 

If the Fluval 406 canister filter doesn’t seem like a good match for you, then here are a few similar alternatives.

Polar Aurora External Canister Filter

The Polar Aurora canister filter has a water flow rate of 525 GPH, it’s more powerful than the Fluval 406 and more affordable.

Polar Aurora External Canister Filter

The Polar Aurora canister filter has a water flow rate of 525 GPH, it’s more powerful than the Fluval 406 and more affordable. It includes a 9-watt UV sterilizer, four media trays, an adjustable spray bar, and filtration media.

It shares a lot of similarities with the Fluval external filter as it has self primer and single-valve disconnect pump to make cleaning and installation easy. However, maintenance of the unit can take a long time. It also isn’t as durable or long-lasting.

Pros

  • Cheaper
  • Higher GPH
  • Includes a UV sterilizer

Cons

  • Not as durable or long-lasting

MarineLand Magniflow Canister Filter

The MarineLand canister filter is quite a bit cheaper than the Fluval 406. It has a flow rate of 360 GPH, which is slightly lower than the 406. If your tank requires a lot of filtration, then this something to keep in mind.

MarineLand Magniflow Canister Filter

The MarineLand canister filter is quite a bit cheaper than the Fluval 406. It has a flow rate of 360 GPH, which is slightly lower than the 406. If your tank requires a lot of filtration, then this something to keep in mind.

Like the Fluval filter, MarineLand’s filter is fairly quiet during operation. It also includes large media baskets and an assortment of filter medium.

The product is made from flimsy material, which is most noticeable on the output and input tubes. These output/input tubes can leak air and water as a result. 

In addition to this, the filter is complicated and difficult during cleaning and installation, which is made worse by the not so clear instruction booklet. 

This also likely entails a higher maintenance frequency for the unit, so you might need to clean it more regularly than Fluval’s filter. 

Pros

  • Cheaper

Cons

  • Time-consuming maintenance
  • Flimsy tubes
  • Lower GPH

Penn Plax Cascade 1500 Aquarium Filter

This Penn Plax 1500 aquarium filter is cheaper than the 406. It has a water flow rate of 350 GPH, so it’s ideal to use in a 100-gallon setup. However, this flow rate is slightly lower than the Fluval 406.

Penn Plax Cascade 1500 Aquarium Filter

This Penn Plax 1500 aquarium filter is cheaper than the 406. It has a water flow rate of 350 GPH, so it’s ideal to use in a 100-gallon setup. However, this flow rate is slightly lower than the Fluval 406.

You get big filter media baskets with the unit, as well as filter medium. The product performs rather quietly like Fluval’s filter.

Unfortunately, the filter suffers from a few maintenance faults. For one, it can be time-consuming to clean. Secondly, it has poor-fitting tubes which have a high chance of leaking water. This might be due to the price of the product, which is considerably lower than the Fluval 406.

Pros

  • Cheaper

Cons

  • Time-consuming maintenance
  • Flimsy tubes
  • Lower GPH

Conclusion 

Overall, I think the Fluval 406 canister filter is a great product that is definitely worth its price tag. The number of features you get with the unit make it good value and a worthwhile investment.

The filter is easy to maintain and install thanks to its patented AquaStop valve and self primer. It also doesn’t need to be cleaned as regularly due to its lower maintenance frequency. If your tank is located in your bedroom, the 406 filter is ideal as it makes a minimal amount of noise, unlike some other filters of a similar type.

Design

I really like the design of the external 406 filter, as it looks high-quality and visually appealing. Its square shape design also improves its water filtration as it allows for maximum contact with filtration media. 

For aquariums up to 100 gallons, the 406 filter is a great option. It has a water flow rate of 383 GPH, which is plenty of filtration for a tank of this size. Compared to existing models, performance of the filter has been improved to ensure it keeps your aquarium sparkling clean.

Unfortunately, the Fluval 406 filter does have a couple of flaws. It can be prone to leaking after a few months, and the impeller can develop some issues. Fortunately, the filter includes a three-year warranty so you can sort out any of these problems if they do occur.

Fluval filters offer excellent filtration performance, and the Fluval 406 is no different.

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