The Penn Plax Cascade 1000 is a heavy duty external filter for use with large fish tanks. Similar to the popular fluval FX6 external filter, it offers the desired combination of mechanical, biological and chemical water filtration.
Cascade 1000 Canister Aquarium Filter
If you’re a longtime fish enthusiast like me, you probably prefer to stay up to date with all the tools and equipment needed to maintain your home aquarium. After all, the trick to keeping your fish tank running smoothly is having quality equipment that works well.
The most important function of most aquarium equipment is to keep the water clean. With that in mind, I decided it was time for a Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister review.
Although the Cascade 1000 can only handle a 100 gallon tank max at 265 gallons per hour, compared to the FX6’s 400 gallon max at 563 GPH, it’s a definite step up from the Cascade 700, which could only do a tank of 65 gallons at 185 GPH.
This might not be your speed if you want the most powerful external filter on the market, but if you want to upgrade to a solid mid-tier filter, this could be the option you’ve been looking for.
penn plax Cascade 1000 also comes equipped with pipe connectors that can control filtration rates and a series of locking clamps to ensure a secure and airtight fit. Each filter purchase also includes the necessary filter media.
Why do you need filtration?
Keeping your tank clean and healthy is the best thing you can do for your fish. You can’t keep a healthy tank without a good filter, and all the threats that dirty water poses have a potential negative outcome on your mini aquatic environment.
Dirty water puts undue pressure on fish, increasing disease rates and leading to erratic behavior. There is less oxygen in a dirty tank, which increases the chance that the fish will suffocate. Toxins that can poison fish build up without proper filtration.
Also, a tank riddled with algae is just an eyesore. You have the aquarium so it looks good and your fish are happy, right? A good filter is an essential item for all fish tank owners, but you can’t just run out and buy whatever is available.
It is important to select the right filter for you and your tank. You want to make sure you get a filter that provides mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration of the tank for maximum cleanliness. You need to consider what type of tank you have and what style of filter will work best.
The types of filters you can purchase are also varied, from box or gravel filters for smaller tanks, to power filters for medium-sized tanks that need a good filtration mix, saltwater drip filters, or canister filters. great for large aquariums.
Appearance and build quality
Good looks might not be the first thing you care about inside a filter, but compared to some of the others I’ve seen, Cascade looks pretty slick. It may be because I’m a bit partial to blue, but the actual form is a far cry from some of the less pleasant monstrosities you’ll find.
Compared to other models I’ve tested, the Cascade holds its own when it comes to build quality. Locking clamps secure firmly and the base unit will not easily tip over. This also extends to accessories. I’ve had hoses that seemed like one quick move away from breaking, but that wasn’t the case here.
It is neither the largest nor the smallest unit, measuring 17” x 10” x 11.5” and weighing around 12lbs. It is a good balance between size and durability. You don’t want your filter to fall apart quickly, but you also want to be able to take it to the sink on your own to clean it.
Setup / priming
The instructions offer only some vague hints in terms of setting up your filter. Fortunately, that’s all you’ll need because the process is pretty straightforward. Even if you’ve never assembled an external filter before, I’ll bet it won’t take you more than 20 minutes to do so.
I had a bit of a problem with some of the hoses being a little inflexible at first, but letting them soak for a bit first fixed the problem quickly. If you are confused with the setup process, there are plenty of YouTube tutorials with helpful step-by-step instructions.
When it’s time to prime the filter for use, all you have to do is press the priming button a few times (7 in my case) and the filter will pump out all the air and go to work. I’ve heard of others having issues with air leaks and hose issues at this stage, but I didn’t experience them either.
I have to give it to Penn Plax, this unit runs at the maximum capacity they advertise. Even with all the filtration media installed, it was moving at what seemed to be a fairly constant GPH and without much distracting noise.
Speaking of which, this is one of the least noisy filters I’ve ever tested. If you need something other than a huge noisemaker you have installed, this might be the right unit for you as they haven’t sacrificed filter strength to make it whisper. calm.
If the flow rate is not the desired speed, you can use the quick disconnect tubing connectors to modify the pumping speed. The spray bar, if you choose to turn it on, works very well and is a good option for adding a bit of disturbance to your tank’s water surface.
It comes with the filter media pre-installed, so after the initial setup of your device, you can start using the filter. The floss pad does a good job of trapping fine particles in the water, while the carbon media removes impurities from the water and the sponge provides a nice surface for beneficial bacteria to remove debris from the tank water.
When it’s time to replace the filter media, it’s easy to open the filter trays and load in new pads and sponges. The filter pans aren’t the largest (about 6”x4”x1.5”) but there’s enough room to pack a bit more if you need to.
Overall, it’s easy to use and gets your tank water pretty clean as long as you don’t try to use it in a tank that’s too much for the Cascade 1000 to handle. The wattage is enough for most medium-sized tanks, but it does consume a bit of power, requiring a whopping 27 watts to run.
Very easy. Simply turn off the filter, remove the hoses (quick disconnects, remember?) and take that bad boy to the sink where you can give him a good clean. He reconnect the hoses and you’re done. The filter is very easy to transport thanks to the built-in carrying handle.
If you’re one of those people who likes to get into every nook and cranny for a spotless clean, you might be a little disappointed as you won’t be able to disassemble the head to get to the motor and other moving parts. However, you can still renew it enough to continue working with good efficiency.
This is where the Cascade 1000 really shines. Compared to high-flying models like the Fluval and Marineland, this filter is a steal. Sure, there’s a little more setup involved, but that’s more than offset by the money you save that can be reinvested in more equipment for your aquarium.
river filter FX6
If you are interested in a strong filter for your tank, you can also try the Fluval FX mentioned above. It’s like the FX5 on steroids, which can pump enough water for tanks up to 400 gallons in volume, at a rate of 563 GPH.
You’ll pay more up front for the Fluval, but it comes out of the box a stronger unit, requires a little less maintenance, and has a number of nifty features for slightly lazier tank owners, like an auto-start system, reminders monthly maintenance and “Smart Pump” technology to keep the filter operating at peak efficiency for longer periods of time.
|Cascade 1000||fluval FX6|
|Easy to use||Moderate||Easy|
Marineland c-360 filter
The Marineland c-360 is a direct competitor to the Fluval FX6 and also boasts an impressive 360 GPH flow rate, though only at a maximum capacity of 150 gallons. It’s a balanced option price-wise, being more expensive than the Cascade, but less than the FX6, but the biggest selling point is probably the jack-of-all-trades status of this unit.
No outstanding strengths, but no obvious weaknesses either. Still, it’s not as easy to use as a waterfall and is more of a tool for aquarium veterans than beginners or hobbyists.
|Cascade 1000||marineland c-360|
|Easy to use||Moderate||Hard|
Of course, if you have your heart set on a Cascade but need a little more power, you can go for the Cascade 1500. It doesn’t have the raw stats of the Fluval yet (200 gallons max/350 GPH), but it does have filter pans larger ones that allow more filter media to be run for a longer period of time.
It’s a bit more expensive than the Cascade 1000, but not much, and certainly less than the FX6. If you’re looking for more power while remaining budget-conscious, this is a definite model to consider, coming in at nearly half the price of its more expensive competitor.
|Cascade 1000||Cascade 1500|
|Easy to use||Moderate||Moderate|
Choosing a filter is a necessary step in aquarium ownership, and there are many great options that will keep your tank water fresh and healthy for a long time. If you’re a first-time aquarium owner or need to balance factors like power, price, and ease of use, the Cascade 1000 filter is a good place to start.