(If you want skip all this and just get to the bolded paragraph below where I get to my review)
I have a 125-gallon tank. I previously had 3 filters running on it.
1) Aquaclear 110
2) Emperor 400
3) Fluval 404 canister
The fluval died about 3-4 weeks ago and the tank has just been running w/ the two HO filters. They're rated at 110 and 90 gallons respectively (200 total), but I tend to put sponges and pre-filters on the intakes which slow the flows down and I also don't buy that either could honestly filter effectively at the levels they're marketed as being able to handle.
I've noticed since the doom of my fluval that my ammonia went from zero to varying between 0 and .25ppm. Same with nitrites but sometimes I've seen it at 0 and ranging as high as .5ppm. Lately closer to zero on each count (when my fluval died, the tank had just been moved and the other two filters may not have fully been cycled as they'd been added and replaced a retired Magnum 250 HO. Only the fluval had really been running for awhile).
Last night I treated myself to an early x-mas present and bought an Eheim 2215 at a LFS. I could have gotten it for $100 on amazon.com but I like to support the local guys when I can and it was only $139 which wasn't that bad of a markup. I admit, I was annoyed that as I checked out they attempted to talk me into a JBJ Reaction 4-stage filter. I've read those actually have decent reviews, but it was actually priced higher than the Eheim and, come on. I'm guessing they were over-stocked with them and were told to push them. It actually kind of annoyed me, I felt like I wasn't being treated right and they were just pushing stuff on me -- while here I was supporting them locally over the amazon.com option which would have saved me money. So I dunno, I'm kind of irked about it.
The Review Itself
The Eheim 2215 classic. It's the middle one of them, just under in size from the 2217. It's rated for aquariums up to 90 gallons.
First off: As anyone who has owned an Eheim probably knows: The instructions don't tell you anything. Fortunately, it's fairly intuitive but if you get one, you might want to research a little on youtube or somewhere to make sure you know how to put it together.
- It comes with the following filter media:
1) Some blocks to place at the bottom to block larger particles.
2) Blue sponge which goes on top.
3) Bio-balls which look eerily like cocoa puffs
4) White filter pad & black carbon pads to top her off.
5) Couple trays to help divide the media types
I dumped the carbon immediately. I'd also purchased 2 extra blue sponges to help block more crud. I simply used less of the bio balls, actually placing the ones I did not use in a cereal bowl as I loaded the canister which led to my epiphany of them being mirror images the cocoa puffs.
The intake is on the bottom of the canister and the output is at the top, which is different than most. The bottom will swivel around a lot and there is a plastic accessory they give you which helps bend the hose. I actually did not use it but it was very easy to set up.
They have two connectors for the water flow which are, to me at least, pretty awesome. The hose connects on one side and you cut a little hose on the output them which is then slotted right into the canister. Both connectors are identical and it doesn't matter which is used for input and output on the canister itself. Each connector is comprised of two parts which easily screw together to form the whole. Moreover, each half has it's own shut-off valve. It's going to make shutting this thing off to clean an absolute breeze. I only have the Fluval 404 to compare it to - but with that sometimes snapping on the top (w/ the intake/outtake hoses) was a pain and usually there was some water spillage. Here: You just turn it off, then shut off both sides of the connectors for both the intake and output hoses and then unscrew them and you're done.
I'd read online that the initial priming involved you sucking it to initially prime and I had visions of me spilling water all over the place and making a huge mess. Not even close. The shut-off valve made it stupidly easy and priming was fool proof. I primed. Waited until I didn't hear any glugging and turning it on. It runs quiet. I checked the flow of the spray-bar to confirm it was working. It was.
Quibbles: They give you very little 12/16mm hose and being metric, it's not a simple task to go to the hardware store to get hose of the right size if you need more. I did need more, probably about an extra 4 or 5 feet (I think they give you 8 or 10 to start with).
I ended up using 5/8th, which was a tad larger, and 5/8-inch connectors. The Eheim 12/16mm hose fit snuggly in the connectors and I used hose clamps all around to lock it down. I checked for the first few hours for any signs of drops or leakage. None. I also checked this morning and there was none. So far so good but in the next couple weeks I'm going to order 20' of the eheim hose from dr. foster and smith or something and just re-do it entirely, I think.
Overall: Easy set up, engineered very nicely. Seems a lot more intuitive than the Fluval, for sure. The flow rate on it seems very slow (I did place a fluval edge sponge in the intake which might be slowing it a tad). I'm not too worried since it's rated up to 90 which means I'm probably getting more than enough to get adequate filtration with my set-up, since I had pretty decent filtration already.
-- I'll probably come back here and update again in 3months or maybe before to talk about the filter once I see it in action more and have to clean it once or twice.