Review: SunSun HW-302 External Canister Filter
What are the Benefits of a Canister Filter?
The three main components of canister filters are: the filter, the intake tube, and the output bar. Leaving only the two smallest pieces of equipment, an output and intake, inside the tank – the canister filters main benefit is keeping your aquarium looking equipment free.
By design the canister filter’s best asset is keeping your tank equipment free. But canister filters offer several other key benefits. They are often the only suitable filters for tanks larger than 50 gallons. For example, hang on back type of filters just can’t provide the adequate gallons per hour that larger tanks require. In addition, canister filters also offer several varieties of inline accessories. Due to the construction and design of canister filters, one can choose to include inline heaters, UV sterilizers and CO2 diffusers all outside of the tank. No other type of filter design offers that ability to hide other pieces of equipment.
The SunSun HW-302 Spray Bar and Intake are black, blending perfectly with my black background.
Running inline (outside of tank): heater, and CO2 diffuser.
What is SunSun?
The SunSun Headquarters in Zhejiang, China
SunSun is a Chinese Corporation that was founded in 1985. SunSun specializes in aquarium and aquatic equipment as well as gardening equipment and hotel supplies. While the name SunSun does not have the same recognition as EHEIM or Fluval in the United States, SunSun has been growing since the 1980s in China and currently offers over 120 different products in over 500 specifications. At the moment SunSun is best known in the Aquarium Market for offering aquarium supplies at extremely competitive and affordable prices.
Once again I chose to make my equipment purchase from Amazon. Not to knock my local fish stores but Amazon offers a much wider variety of products at prices that my local shops just can’t compete with. My SunSun HW-302 arrived extremely quickly and well packaged. I was under the impression that because SunSun is based out of China I would be waiting a few weeks for my filter to arrive. However, the item is available for Prime shipping, and arrived from it’s US shipping center in just two days.
This filter was going to be used for my 40 gallon breeder tank, so it was important that I chose a filter that would adequately filter that quantity of water. The general rule of thumb is that all of the water in your tank should pass through the filter at least four times per hour. The tank I was using is 40 gallons, that means I was looking for a filter that cycles over 160gph (gallons per hour). The SunSun HW-302 is rated for 264gph, and tanks over 75 gallons, more than enough for me.
After reading many of the positive 90+ reviews on Amazon, I was hopefully optimistic but prepared to perhaps receive a low quality product at my door. To my surprise the first thing I noticed was the professional labeling and boxing the filter had. After unboxing the SunSun HW-302 filter I was again surprised to find that this filter has some serious weight to it! I think there is a really bad misconception that many Chinese products are knockoffs and as such are flimsy, poorly made and prone to failing. This is certainly not the case with this filter. Immediately it is apparent that this filter and parts hold some serious weight and are made to be used. SunSun is seriously positioning themselves to take a large piece of the filter market with this line of products.
After unboxing the item I was eager to begin setting up the filter. This is where I ran into some trouble. It was apparent that the included instructions were poorly translated into English. In fact, some of the translations were just down right hilarious. For example, the intake tubing is labeled as “dirtiness entrance”. Now, this might not be a problem for experienced aquarists, but for a beginner setting up their first canister filter they might have some difficulty.
Click the image for high resolution SunSun HW-302 Instructions and Packaging
Installing the SunSun HW-302
Despite the poor instructions, installing a canister filter is fairly straight forward.
How to Install and Setup Your SunSun Canister Filter
- Open box, and unpack all parts.
- Rinse all parts and media with water
- Open your filter and place the SunSun Filter Media Set inside.
- Using the included suction cups place the spray bar and intake in your desired location.
- Run a section of hosing from your spray bar to the output of your canister filter.
- Run a section of hosing from the intake tube to the intake of your filter.
- Trim any excess hosing to the desired length.
- Include any inline accessories.
- Open the filter and fill the canister with dechlorinated water.
- Close and seal your filter.
- If your fish tank isn’t fully filled, fill it now.
- Prime your filter and hoses by depressing the large button on the canister filter several times.
- Once the filter and hoses are primed, plug the filter in.
- Check for leaks.
Using the above method, I was able to setup my first external canister filter in less than an hour. I didn’t run into any ill-fitting or broken parts. As a matter of fact I was excited to see that the SunSun filter came with what could be considered as extras – like a protein skimmer and extension pieces for the intake tubing and spray bar. It also comes standard with 3 draining trays for your filter media. At the time of purchase filter media was not included so I picked up the SunSun Filter Media Set. It is a three pack of filter media including: bio balls, ceramic rings and carbon. However, presently, Amazon is selling the SunSun Hw302 264GPH Pro Canister Filter Kit which includes the Filter Media Set at no additional cost.
After 5 Months with the SunSun HW-302
In the 5 months I’ve had the SunSun HW-302, the filter has been running nonstop and I have had only one problem. A case of green water algae. This however, was remedied quite easily with The Green Machine UV Sterilizer, you can find that review here. After the first three months of use, I felt it was necessary to open and clean the filter for the first time. I’m happy to report that disassembling and cleaning the filter was a breeze.
How to Clean Your SunSun Cansiter Filter
- Unplug your filter.
- Pop up the intake/output lever on the canister filter (this stops water from running through the hoses and keeps the suction).
- Open the filter and clean your media and filter with dechlorinated or tank water (don’t forget to wipe down the inside).
- Replace filter media and fill the canister with tank water.
- Seal the canister, return the hoses and release the lever.
- Quickly turn the filter back on and prime the filter a few times by depressing the button on top of the canister (this should recreate the necessary flow of water through the canister).
- Check for leaks.
In my first attempt at cleaning a canister filter I made a big beginners mistake – I forgot to refill the canister filter with tank water. As a result, when I sealed the filter, released the hose valve and turned on the filter I had no suction. Priming the filter without water in the system was nearly impossible and I had to disassemble the filter again, and fill it with water. The filter could really use a better priming feature or a more in depth instruction manual with maintenance instructions included.
Aside from that minor quip, I found few problems during my experience with the SunSun HW-302. I found the filter to be of the most silent in my home. It is no doubt much more silent than any of the hang on back filters in my home. The only time it makes any sound at all is when the water level drops below the height of the spray bar. Then you are treated to a splashing sound. However, with proper tank maintenance one should never have to deal with such sounds.
What SunSun is offering with the HW-302 is in my opinion, an absolute steal. The bottom line is that the big name competitors are selling similar products at prices more than double what SunSun is. Currently on Amazon the SunSun Hw- 302 (264gph) Pro Canister Filter Kit is selling for $53. In comparison the Cascade 1000 (265gph) Canister filter is selling for $99, and the Fluval 306 (303gph) Canister Filter is selling for $141.
However, the SunSun Hw-302 is missing some of the extra bells and whistles that the more expensive competitors offer. For example the Fluval offers an instant priming feature and a quick cleaning mechanism, both designed to make water changes simpler and faster. In addition, the HW-302 and does not come standard with a UV sterilizer, but one is available in the higher models.
In conclusion, the SunSun HW-302 is your bare bones, bells and whistles free piece of equipment. It does what it is required to do, nothing more nothing less. What you can expect is a competitively priced filter, that does exactly what you need-filter your fish tank water.
I will continue to update this review as my time with the SunSun HW-302 goes on. Check back for more.
- If you’re on a tight budget SunSun offers a great line of aquarium filters
- Setup and maintenance are a breeze
- Silent, sturdy and keeps my water clean and clear
- I recommend purchasing an inline heater to go along with your canister filter
- Works well with my pressurized CO2 system
SunSun offers filters at a fraction of the competitors costs.