How To Unbox and Setup Filter Media in an External Canister Filter? What are the Benefits (Pros and Cons) of  a Canister Filter?

Canister filters are used to clean aquarium water, & remove toxic chemicals & micro-organisms that are toxic to aquarium inhabitants.

Giantz 2400 Liter per hour can provide 4 levels of filtration to trap fish waste, leftover food, dust & debris present in the water. This filter is located outside the aquarium so it is not taking up your aquarium space. It operates quietly & cleans water continuously. It is able to filter 500 liters of water at a high-rate of 2400 liters in one hour. A UV light sterilizer is fitted inside this filter which can remove microorganisms present in the water.

Giantz Canister Filter Features:

  • 2400 Liter per hour efficient canister filter that is located outside the aquarium.
  • UV sterilization is used to wipe out harmful microbe
  • It works great for tanks that can hold up to 500 liters of water
  • 3 stage filtering baskets make water crystal clear
  • This filter is available with every accessory. It is very easy to setup this filter without needing any specialized tools.
  • It uses a tight cap lock to stop water from leaking through the filter. Cap lock can help protect this filter against leaks during transportation & offers complete closure once the filter is filled with water.


Benefits of Canister Filters:

Canister filters are big in size & they are usually located outside tanks so large volumes of water should be drawn from aquarium to canister filter for best efficiency. They are very powerful filters that clean the tank much better than other filters.

Only tubing of canister filters are located inside aquariums that are used to draw dirty water from aquarium & pump clean water back to the tank. A canister filter has multiple baskets used for storing filtration media. Dirty water passes through each basket of canister filter where it is filtered & then it pumps back clean water to the aquarium.

One of the best features of a canister filter is that you are allowed to add what type of media you want to. Based on your aquarium requirement, you can add mechanical, chemical & biological filtration media. There are various varieties available when choosing biological media & you can add multiple media because there is lots of space available in baskets. Also, you can choose to add coarse, medium & fine foams which can remove solid particles from water. Mechanical filtration media is installed first in a canister filter which traps fish waste, dirt, debris & other particles from water using foams & then water passes through biological media. Note that fish waste releases ammonia, which can pass through mechanical filtration media. Ammonia is broken down into nitrites using good bacteria present on the biological filter media & then further good bacteria breaks it down into nitrates. Ammonia is highly toxic to fish, nitrites is less toxic than ammonia, & nitrates is less toxic than nitrites.

Chemical filtration is optional but you will get activated carbon for free when you buy a canister filter. You are allowed to add your own media into baskets because a canister filter offers the option of customization. Make sure you add heaps of bio media for best cleaning of water. However, adding too much media will need high maintenance which is one of the cons of canister filters.


Advantages & disadvantages of Canister Filters:

Every product has its advantages & disadvantages, & let’s look into pros & cons of canister filters.


Advantages of Canister Filters:

If you want to crystal clear your aquarium water then a canister filter is best for this job.


Lots of Filtration Media:

Canister filters have multiple baskets used for storing heaps of filtration media. Adding more media will ensure that the filter is working efficiently. Canister filters let you customize the type of media. You can add mechanical, chemical & biological filter media to clean every type of germs.


Cleaning Heaps of Water Quickly & Efficiently:

Heaps of water must be drawn from the tank into the canister filter because this filter is located outside the aquarium so it needs a powerful pump. If a large volume of water is sent to the canister filter then it means that it is cleaning water quickly & efficiently than other filters. Canister filters can handle more water in an hour than other filters. It is a big advantage of canister filters to process & clean large volumes of aquarium water & quickly remove toxic chemicals.


Canister filters are located outside aquarium which save aquarium space:

One of the best advantages of having a canister filter is that it is located outside the fish tank so it saves lots of space inside the aquarium.

The only thing located inside the fish tank is the water intake tube, along with water return tubes for water to flow back to the aquarium. Fish can enjoy more space inside the aquarium if you are using a canister filter.


Save fish & avoid water from evaporating:

Canister filters do not allow water to evaporate & they do not suck fish. Other filters can have a problem of sucking fish but canister filters only draw water. Canister filters can save your fish from jumping outside aquariums.

You will experience loss of water if you are using a power filter, but a canister filter is designed to avoid water from evaporating the tank.


Save Power:

Giantz Canister filter can save power. This filter only needs 55 watts for running smoothly which makes it energy efficient.


UV Sterilization kills harmful microbes:

After operating your filter for a few hours, you will be able to see clean water. Water entering the canister filter will be exposed to UV radiations which will kill harmful bacteria.


Disadvantages of Canister Filters:

Canister filters are expensive, bulky, & need high maintenance.



You can get a better canister filter for around $200. Even though they clean quickly, efficiently & can kill all types of germs, still the price tag will shock many aquarists.



High maintenance is required when using a canister filter. Decide the type of filtration media you are putting into baskets, & how much of it is enough. Disassemble the filter & clean every individual part. Over time your filter tubing needs cleaning too.


Difficult to Setup:

Canister filters are a bit difficult to setup because they contain lots of tubing for outtake & intake flow of water. Setup the canister by opening it & installing media in every basket. It can take some time to follow instructions & setup your newly bought filter.


Bulky & Noisy:

Canister filters are large & bulky. It does not take up aquarium space but still needs lots of space outside the aquarium. They draw heaps of water from aquariums which make them quite noisy.


How to setup a canister filter:

Read full tutorial if you want to learn how to setup a canister filter. The model of this filter reads Giantz 2400 liter per hour canister filter.

Canister filter was preloaded with biological media but it was not enough to fill these big filter baskets. So, my advice is to purchase additional biological media. I only received a fine foam with the filter. Also activated carbon comes with the filter which can be used to provide chemical filtration.

After operating the filter for a couple of days, I noticed that aquarium water looked very clean & fish liked swimming against the filter current. UV light is an extra feature which helps in fighting against harmful microbes.

In this video you will learn how to unbox & setup a canister filter:

How to setup a canister filter

Step 1: Unboxing a Canister Filter:

In this tutorial I have unboxed & set up a canister filter. Giantz Canister Filter has a model number: AQ-UVF-HW2400L


My canister filter has the following dimensions:

  • Height: 48.5 cm
  • Width: 29 cm
  • Depth: 29 cm


What is inside the box:

Inside the box you can find a canister filter, intake / outlet, 2 hoses for drawing water from the aquarium and pushing water back to the aquarium, and UV light for cleaning microbes.  

Canister filter can filter 2400 Liter of Water Per Hour

Have a look at specifications of canister filter:

  • Power: 55 Watt
  • Inlet: 19 mm
  • Outlet: 25 mm


Canister Filter Features:

Eliminate Harmful Microbe, and Bonus Filter Media


Step 2: Open a Canister Filter:

Unlock canister filter & remove the lid. Then take out all the baskets. Make sure you gently open the filter to avoid damaging any component. Filter baskets can be filled with mechanical, chemical & biological filtration media. I am using coarse, medium & fine foams for mechanical filtration. Inside the canister filter, I only found fine foam, chemical filter media, and some bio media which are not enough to fill up all baskets. To address this problem, I am using bio media from my cycled aquariums.


Step 3: Installation of Inlet / Outlet Pipes:

Additional Fittings for increasing the length. It will be easy to setup these long inlet / outlet pipes by looking at the above picture. Inlet pipe is used for suction of water from aquariums. It has small holes for drawing water only because fish can’t pass through these holes. Filtered water is returned back to the aquarium & it flows through the holes in the spray bar.



Giantz canister filter is able to efficiently clean aquariums holding up to 500 liters of water.


Step 4: Canister Filter Components:

  • 4 Baskets
  • 4 Mechanical Filtration Media (Fine Foams)
  • 2 Bio Media
  • 1 Chemical Media


My canister filter only contains fine foam, chemical media, & 2 types of bio media which are not enough. I have added coarse & medium foams that I have purchased from the market. I haven’t used chemical filtration media. I have used multiple types of bio media & about ninety percent of the bio media are taken from cycled tanks.


Step 5: UV Light:

UV light uses 9-Watt Power for eliminating harmful microbes. UV light is one of the top features of a canister filter because it can kill germs present in the water. I did not use UV light after a couple of days but still my tank is clean. If your aquarium water is dirty & your fish are stressed then it is suggested to use UV light feature.


Step 6: Inlet / Outlet Hose:

Connect a hose to the inlet connector for drawing water from the aquarium & another hose to the outlet connector for returning water back to the aquarium. Water will pass through foams & cycled media as well as UV light will kill germs before water returns back to the aquarium.


Step 7: First and Second Filter Baskets:

First Filter Basket consists of mechanical filtration media.

Use coarse, medium and fine foams in the first basket of the canister filter instead of just fine foam that comes with the filter. Mechanical filtration media can remove solid particles such as fish waste, debris and dirt. Water will pass through coarse, medium and fine foams. Coarse foam can stop big particles while small particles can escape the coarse foam and are trapped in medium foam. Minute particles can even escape the medium foam but they are trapped in the fine foam. Make sure water hits coarse foam first then it passes through medium and fine foams for best cleaning.

Fine foam and Aqua One Premium Ceramic Media are used in the second filter basket. Aqua One Premium Sub is a very porous biological filtration media & most of the filters use it. It can offer the best environment for growing heaps of good bacteria because it is porous & large colonies of beneficial bacteria grow on its surface.

Step 8: Third Filter Basket:

Third filter basket holds Bio Bakki Balls & Ceramic Rings.

Bio Bakki Balls can efficiently lower the level of ammonia & nitrates in aquarium water. Bakki balls have neutral pH & this is the reason they are best for all types of water. Many aquarists use them in canister filters & SUMP filters.


Ceramic Rings:

Ceramic Rings can offer the best bio filtration media that your tank needs. It helps protect your aquarium from toxic chemicals. They look like white beads.


Top Up:

I have added Seachem Matrix bio media at the top of bio bakki balls & ceramic rings. Seachem Matrix bio media is extremely porous & offers the best biological filtration for wiping out toxic chemicals.

Plastic biological media just offers external surface area, while Matrix offers both internal & external surfaces for removal of nitrogenous waste. The inside surface of Matrix is known as macropores which can hold nitrifying & denitrifying bacteria. This lets Matrix wipe out nitrates, as well as ammonia & nitrites from aquarium water at the same time.

Step 9: Fourth Filter Basket:

I am using fine foam and ceramic rings (which came with the filter) in the fourth filter basket.

Fine foam will even collect delicate particles & will only allow water to pass through it.

Ceramic rings will provide biological filtration.


Top Up:

I have added bio bakki balls on the top of fine foam & ceramic rings for lowering levels of ammonia & nitrates.

Step 10: UV Light:

After adding all baskets then it is time to add UV light. Gently add UV sterilizer & lock the canister filter. Attach inlet / outlet to the canister filter. 

Your canister filter is ready for operation.

Step 11: Installation:

Inlet and outlet connectors.

Connect the inlet hose to the inlet pipe. You can extend the length of the inlet pipe which helps you efficiently draw water from the aquarium. Canister filters have the advantage that they don’t suck fish and there is no water loss. 

Connect the outlet hose to the spray bar which lets water flow back into the aquarium.

Dirty water passes through mechanical filtration media which consists of coarse, medium and fine foams. Dirt, debris and fish waste are trapped while water containing dissolved chemicals pass through the biological media. Bio media breaks down toxic ammonia into nitrites and further into nitrates. Ammonia is highly toxic, nitrites is less toxic than ammonia, and nitrates is less toxic than nitrites. Clean water then flows back to the aquarium.



Fish are enjoying the water currents. The tank is pretty much clean & the canister filter is very fast & efficient in cleaning as compared to my previous filters. It is filled with different types of media which keeps water clean. UV light is doing its job well & I am pretty happy with the canister filter. I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. Please feel free to ask any question and provide your feedback in the comments section below.

Thank you. 

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