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I am a big goldfish lover, pretty much that's all I keep lol. As most of you know goldfish are huge waste producers so I wanted a cheap but good HOB filter for mainly bio filtration. But I recently got a penguin 350 by marine land on sale for 50$ at Petco and was wondering how effective and how much surface area is available for beneficial bacteria to colonize on them?And is it possible to add extra media in the filter like ceramic rings?

Ive read in a article that they are not that effective

http://www.aquarium-pond-answers.com/2006/12/do-bio-wheels-really-work.html
 

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I have a penguin 75. I think the biowheel is a good idea, but I didn't use mine for the first month (newbie at that time) because it made way to much noise. You can't do much with the biowheel such as added filtration.
I had a sponge in one of the available area for more filtration and it kept blocking the wheel. I suppose you could forget the normal cartridge and put some ceramic rings and foam in there instead?
I think it great if you lower the water level for super oxygenated water (I've seen what it does during water changes). So that's my experience with my biowheel kit. Also, I found that sometimes it wont work if you clean out the tube and stuff for about 10min after you finished. It seems really picky about filling it up before starting it, I've not enjoyed the scratchy hissy noise it can make if the water level drops. Sometimes I've poured half my tank in the filter in effort to make it be quiet and work with little success. It does get the job done in the end though.
 

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I have a few of the Penguin 350's and they are a good little filter. Some of mine have been running for over 7 years and I have never had to change out the bio wheels. Sometimes the wheels will slow down but just cleaning the gunk in the bushings that hold the wheel in place seems to help. However, as stated above, it's kind of hard to add ceramic rings without interfering with the movement of the wheels. I have foam blocks and a cartridge filled with floss in mine. But if you want the option of using ceramic media I think the Aquaclear filters are great for that. There's lots of room to add media and they push a ton of water. I had an AC500 (now called the AC110) and it was a great filter. So you may want to consider that option. It's a bit more expensive than the bio wheels but worth it.
 

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I think you need to pick your battles with a bio-wheel. I'm currently running 4 penguin 150B's and as long as they are maintained properly they perform well.

If you have a heavily plated tank and injecting Co2, a bio-wheel is not necessarily a good idea.

From what I gather the author isn't saying bio-wheels are bad, it's just that sponge filters perform better. In fact he goes out of his way to say the a bio-wheel is better than any cartridge only filter.

One big plus with a bio-wheel is you can remove the cartridge from filter and squirt it out with a garden hose to clean it without disrupting your cycle because the majority of the beneficial bacteria is carried on the wheel.
 
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