The Aquatic Gazette

Eheim AquaCompact

In Filtration on November 21, 2011 at 20:32

The popularity of the nano aquarium in recent years, has drawn the attention of major aquarium companies such as Aqua Design Amano, Eheim, Dennerle and Fluval. These companies have launched products that cater exclusively to this market segment and we now have much more choices than previously possible. In this article, we will be looking at Eheim’s latest filter for the nano aquarium, the AquaCompact.

When it comes to aquarium filters, Eheim is an established legend, having pioneered the cannister filter in the 1980s. Their classic cannister filters are so effective, efficient, genius in maintenance and simple in operation, that they are still in production today, fuelled by continual demand.

Click to view our review of the Eheim Classics, 2211 / 2213

The Eheim Classic 2211 is Eheim’s smallest cannister filter, measuring a mere 29cm in height and 11cm across. When it comes to filtering nano tanks with a cannister filter, the Classic 2211 is the top choice of many. Aqua Design Amano which makes the highly desirable SuperJet filter, uses the Classic 2211 for their nano tanks.

As hang-on filters became widely popular and accepted for the nano aquarium, Eheim developed and launched the Liberty series of hang-on filters some years ago. This hang-on filter is by far, one of the best hang-on filters today, its build quality, filtration capacity, ease of use and superb filtration pump are top notched.

Although the Liberty series are such great hang-on filters, these cannot be compared to the filtration capacity of a cannister filter due to their physical design limitations and hang-on nature.

Click to view our review of the Eheim Liberty 100 / 2040

This year, Eheim launched the AquaCompact, a marriage of a cannister filter body, with the head of a hang-on filter. Why it has done so, makes sense.

Although the Classic 2211 is perfectly competent for nano tanks, some hobbyist have shunned it because of the need to use Eheim’s ugly and conspicuous, green tubing, filter inlet, spray bar or jet pipe. The Liberty on the other hand does not utilise any green parts and its presence inside the aquarium can be very well hidden with some creative aquascaping. However, its filtration effectiveness is nowhere near that of the Classic 2211.

When pictures of the AquaCompact were first released, some commented it was an ugly design, arguing that no nano aquascaper will house such a ‘huge’ filtration head within the already space-challenged nano aquarium. We admit that we had the same initial thoughts, but that changed when we got our hands on a unit.

The graphics on the AquaCompact’s box gives an insight to who Eheim hopes this filter will cater to. The foreground of the box is filled with a famous iwagumi aquascape by Takashi Amano, or bearing a very similar resemblance to it. Pictures of shrimps and flora fill the top part of the box and it is obvious that Eheim hopes the AquaCompact will be embraced by the aquascaping community.

The first impression of the AquaCompact is the superb, and excellent build quality that Eheim is known for. Unlike many other aquarium equipment today, the AquaCompact is still made in Germany and that accounts greatly for the build quality as the Germans are famous for producing high quality goods.

Every plastic part, each clasp, joint and tubing are of quality. Even after handling multiple Eheim filters over the years, we still appreciate the high quality feel of the AquaCompact. It is also good to see that Eheim has not slacken in their high standards.

The AquaCompact uses the same excellent filter media as all other Eheim cannister filters, included in our AquaCompact was Eheim’s filter media for a two stage filtration.

Mechanical Media | Eheim Coarse Blue Sponge
Biological Media | Eheim Substrat Pro
Polishing Media | Eheim Fine White Sponge

Eheim’s Subtrat Pro

In the AquaCompact’s unique filter inlet, a custom fitted blue coarse sponge is used as a pre-filter. The incorporation of this pre-filter sponge is Eheim’s official acknowledgement to many aquascapers who have slipped a pre-filter sponge unto their filter inlets. This inbuilt pre-filter sponge should prevent dead flora and shrimplets from being sucked into the main filter compartment.

As evident by the power cord, the AquaCompact’s impeller is housed in the filter inlet, rather than the filter body as traditionally found.
All the necessary parts and tubing to get you started

Besides Eheim’s trademark rain bar, a jet output and a round output are also included, an indication that Eheim has noticed the reduced usage of their rain bar among aquascapers. The jet and round output not only has a smaller profile than a rain bar, but will also result in stronger flow. These will be the outputs of choice for many aquascapers.

Eheim has made the AquaCompact avaliable in two models, the AquaCompact 40 and the AquaCompact 60. The only difference between the two models is that the AquaCompact 60 has a cannister volume of 1.5 litres, while the AquaCompact 40 has a cannister volume of 1 litre. Both models has the same output at an approximate of 350 litres per hour. Actual output will vary because of water resistance caused by the filter media, or how clogged the filter is after a period of operation.

The manual clearly shows the height difference between the 40 and the 60
Click to enlarge

At 350 litres per hour, the output of the AquaCompact is quite the sweet spot, falling between the outputs of the Classic 2211 and the Classic 2213. For the normal aquascaper, the output of the AquaCompact for your nano aquarium is going to be sufficient. But for those that believe in high outputs and want double the filtering capacity, we still see them purchasing the Classic 2213 instead.

AquaCompact 40 with jet output on the left, AquaCompact 60 with rain bar on the right

The filtration head is not as big as we thought it would be. And being in a nice greyish-black colour, it will be less striking than Eheim’s green pipes. For aquascapers that use any other filtration pipes, the AquaCompact will not work as the impeller is in the filtration head, not the filter body.

Rain bar in operation

Pictures of the AquaCompact do not convey how well designed and small the filter really is. We were also pleasantly surprised with the design and quality of the entire product. As we went through the filter in detail, it was easy to see that Eheim did invest the effort into creating a filter that will cater to the needs of the nano aquascaper.

The AquaCompact is not going to be for everybody, it is not going to be a filter that replaces the Eheim Classic. However, the AquaCompact is a filter designed with a specific purpose. It effectively filters the nano aquarium using a cannister filter body, without the need to use filtration pipes or a third party pre-filter. Also, it is designed to be placed beside your nano aquarium and not inside an aquarium cabinet.

If your nano aquarium needs for a filter fits what the AquaCompact delivers, then grab the AquaCompact because we are certain you are going to be in love with the it for a long time to come.


credits: AquaCompact statistics and diagrams | Eheim Asia Pacific


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