A filter is an essential component of aquarium equipment. Contaminated water is not just unaesthetic; it is harmful to fish and other aquarium habitats. Algae, fish food and other kinds of organic waste tend to accumulate very quickly. The degrading organic waste emits dangerous toxins, which make water unhospitable.

Most fish keepers choose canister filters, thanks to their numerous advantages. They have impressive flow rates and provide an excellent quality of water purification. Besides, they suit for all types of aquariums and allow multi-stage mechanical and chemical filtering. Finally, they are reliable, quiet, and easy to maintain.

The “hero” of our review is Fluval 406, which is definitely one of the best canister aquarium filter options around. Keep on reading to know about is performance and the benefits offered.

Table of Contents:

Fluval Canister Filter at a Glance: What Is It?
Fluval 406 Canister Filter and Its Rivals: a Comparative Chart
Fluval 406 Canister Filter Unboxing and Package Supply
1. Fluval Canister Filter: a Detailed Review
How to Set up the Fluval External Filter
How to Prime Fluval External Filter
The Bottom Line

Fluval Canister Filter at a Glance: What Is It?

All canister filters have a similar mechanism of action. They are external units, consisting of several filtering media trays, a pump, and tubes, which deliver the contaminated water to the filter and transfer purified water back to the aquarium.
Fluval is one of the trusted brands in the market of aquarium equipment. Fluval 406 is the largest option in the -06 product line of canister filters offered by the manufacturer. It features all the benefits of a classic canister filter and comes with a 3-year warranty.

Fluval 406 Canister Filter and Its Rivals: a Comparative Chart


Tank size (gallons)


Filtration media included

Pump power


Noise level


Fluval External FilterBUY NOW AMAZON100383+25 WBothLow3 years
Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter for AquariumsBUY NOW AMAZON100360+35 WBothMedium3 years
Filter Aquarium Tank Polar AuroraBUY NOW AMAZON200525+55 WBothLowN/A
EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with MediaBUY NOW AMAZON6679.25+15 WBothLow1 month
Hydor Professional External Canister FilterBUY NOW AMAZON100280 +N/ABoth Medium2 years
SunSun HW-302 3-Stage External Canister Aquarium Filter 264GPHSunSun HW-302 3-Stage External Canister Aquarium FilterBUY NOW AMAZON75264 

18 W

BothLow N/A
Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium FilterPenn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter BUY NOW AMAZON100  256+ 28.5 WBoth Low 3 years 

Fluval 406 Canister Filter Unboxing and Package Supply

Fluval 406 comes with all the necessary accessories and one set of filtering media. The latter includes a polishing pad, a sponge, bio-rings and activated charcoal wrapped in individual packs. Unboxing takes just a couple of minutes, after which you need to assemble the unit, install, and prime it. We recommend using the manual (included) to set up and adjust the filter correctly.

Fluval External Filter

Fluval Canister Filter: a Detailed Review

Fluval 406 is an upgraded version of the well-known Fluval 405 filter. Its distinctive features are a high flow rate of 383 GPH and ultra-quiet performance. The latter becomes possible thanks to the innovative impeller with the feature of sound dampening. The unit contains four square-shaped media boxes, which hold more filtering media than conventional round trays. Also, thanks to the square shape, water passes a more complicated way inside the boxes, which improves the quality of purification.

Additionally, the filter features patented AquaStop valves, which prevent leaking and help detach hoses easily. Thanks to it, the filter is very easy to clean. The primer located right under the handle allows to prime the unit without the need for manual siphoning.

What we think

Fluval filters are famous for their excellent build quality. Fluval is no exception: it is made of durable high-grade plastic and comes with a 3-year warranty. The square boxes are space-saving and capacious. All in all, this is a very good filter.

When it comes to downsides, we are slightly disappointed about the lack of a spray noddle for the water release hose. The quality of the native tubing is average. Firstly, the hoses are non-transparent, which makes it impossible to check the level of water and see possible clogs. Secondly, because of their ribbed walls, they tend to collect debris, which can result in clogging.


  • quiet performance;
  • ergonomic square-shaped media boxes;
  • a high flow rate;
  • AquaStop patented valves;
  • easy to assemble and clean.


  • no spray bar;
  • the tubing is not great.

How to Set up the Fluval External Filter

Setting up Fluval 406 is pretty straightforward. The entire process takes around 20 minutes. After unboxing, take away the media trays, rinse them in pure water and wipe with a towel. Unwrap the filtering media supplied (or take your own media) and fill in the trays. Then stack the boxes according to the instruction. The tray with a sponge should be placed on the bottom. The next one is the tray with ceramic rings. The top tray is the one filled with charcoal. The polishing pad is placed over the top tray.
Unwrap the tubing and attach the hoses to the canister. Place the spare ends of both hoses in the water tank and position the canister, making sure that the release hose is some shorter than the water intake hose.

How to Prime Fluval External Filter

Priming is a mandatory stage of setting up a canister filter. In simple terms, priming is filling the canister with water before switching on the device. Fluval filters feature a dedicated primer on the top. It helps to avoid the need for siphoning the water manually. As soon as the filter is assembled and adjusted, lift the primer up and down 4-5 times. After that, you may turn on the device.

The Bottom Line

The quality of aquarium water influences the health and well-being of aquarium fish greatly. It’s impossible to keep water clean and fresh without a good aquarium filter. Fluval 406 canister filter has a lot to be loved for. It combines a silent performance with an increased flow rate of 383 GPH. If you need to clean up a large aquarium (of up to 100 gallons) quickly and efficiently, the Fluval 406 is just the thing. This a versatile, powerful, and reliable device, which comes with a 3-year warranty.

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