Marineland C-360 external filter

The filter includes four media trays and is compatible with a variety of biological, mechanical, and chemical media. The Marineland c360 comes with vinyl tubing, which is pretty good and very durable.

The market for external filters is so vast today that it’s easy to forget about particular brands entirely, even long-standing brands like Marineland. They have been making aquarium equipment, including filters, since the 1970s.

If you’ve been researching filters lately, you’ve probably seen its name, as I did. Wondering how their products have evolved, I decided it was time to review the Marineland c360 canister filter.

C-360 Multi-Stage Canister Filter

pros cons
  • Large filter volume
  • good flow
  • Bypass-free design
  • Well builded
  • durable hoses
  • Large, bulky, heavy
  • Packaged media leaves a bit to be desired
  • The longevity of this model has yet to be proven

One knock against many canister filters is that they allow water to bypass the filtration media, defeating the entire point of filtration and leaving your tank water much less clean than it should be. Marineland claims to have a “revolutionary design” that forces water through the media trays, meaning no bypass and much cleaner water that has been rigorously filtered.

Activated carbon, if you didn’t already know, is a very popular filter media option that resembles small rocks of carbon. It absorbs many potentially harmful chemicals from the water, including copper and chlorine. BIO Filter Balls are a Marineland product designed to provide a larger surface area for biological filtration agents (ie bacteria that filter unwanted material from your aquarium).

Things to consider before buying a filter

You are no doubt aware of all the amazing benefits that canister filters bring to owners of larger tanks. You are aware of increased flow rates, the ability to use multiple filtration media, the advantages of external filtration, and that some filters come standard with additions like UV sterilizers and the like.

However, what you and many other tank owners may not have considered is the ability to customize any filter you purchase. Filters are not static devices, as you may have assumed, and to maximize their performance, it is crucial to be able to change things about them, such as media distribution.

For example, with some adjustments, some canister filters allow you to load precise amounts of various media. Sure, you can add equal amounts of biological, chemical, and mechanical filters, but that may not work as well for your particular tank. Sometimes you may want to forego your biological media in a filter and go strictly chemical/mechanical to improve flow and distribute water to a specific outlet location in your tank that is starting to stagnate.

If your filter has large fish, on the other hand, that produce a lot of waste (which are rich in ammonia), you may need a larger amount of biological media to compensate for the high ammonia content, and mechanical media to filter out solid fish.. waste.

It all depends on your tank’s environment, so having the option to change things is something you should consider.

Appearance and build quality

As said, this is a big, heavy, sturdy filter. Chintzy is not an adjective you’ll use to describe any Marineland filter. The plastic is a thick, durable gray, and the c360’s shape, while a bit plain, is actually what lends itself to bypass-free capabilities. Everything snaps firmly into place and the hoses are thick and solid.

All of this, of course, comes with the downside of immense size compared to other filters. The c360 stands nearly 18 inches tall and weighs nearly 20 pounds on its own. Even heavier when filled with water and filter media. I hope you’re ready for a workout trying to move this thing to the sink.

The media trays are probably the most spacious of all comparable models. 3.4 gallons is a lot of room, and you can mix and match as you see fit. The Marineland also includes a number of quick release features, easy access design for filter pans and additional seals to help prevent accidents.

It’s also easy to take this unit apart (we’ll talk about mounting later). There are a number of filters that require you to summon He-Man’s force just to move the locks out of place and disarm him, but Marineland, while still having exceptionally tight locks, also makes those locks easier to pick. See the components in this unboxing video.

Setup / priming

It seems that Marineland has learned from the shortcomings of some other manufacturers in this regard. While the written instructions they’ve provided are still horrendous, they went out of their way to include a friendly instructional DVD for us. Useful, although many of you may want to head over to YouTube for their simplified tutorial.

All that said, the setup process is pretty intuitive and I daresay easy if you’ve already set up an external filter. Priming it is simple too, thanks to the quick-priming button. It quickly fills the container shell and eliminates the need for a manual siphon, also reducing mess. It is to be expected that more and more filters will begin to incorporate this function.

Since this model comes packaged with the media you’ll need, you can unbox it and get to work. However, don’t expect the best. In the future, you may want to consider investing in some new filtration media that is a bit more efficient.


Marineland wasn’t kidding when they said “no bypass”. The sealed and interlocking media trays actually force the water to move through the various filters. By providing tank water with no other way to go, Marineland ensures you get properly filtered water.

While the bypass-less system may be legitimate, the so-called silent operation needs a bit of work. It’s not the loudest filter out there, to be sure, but there’s a distinct hum that you’ll notice that isn’t present with the quieter filters on the market.

I had heard a lot about leaking issues with this unit, and although I didn’t experience any personally, I decided to do some more research. Turns out there was a production fault, but those units have been recalled and replaced, and the problem (which was with the motor head, I believe) is resolved.

The included media, while sufficient, is not the best you can get. The Bio-Balls in particular were disappointing. You’ll want to experiment with different varieties to see what works best with your tank. You have a lot of room to play with different combinations, so make sure you do it. Just don’t overfill. The latches will not engage properly if you have the trays too full.

When you have the trays loaded correctly it doesn’t impede flow rates and the Marineland c360 pumps water at a respectable rate. It is listed as having a maximum capacity of 100 gallons and a maximum speed of 360 gph. When it was running, it didn’t seem too far off those numbers, which was impressive. See it in action below.

Clean up

Once you finally get this behemoth to the sink, cleanup isn’t too big of an issue. You probably already know the drill when it comes to maintenance and cleaning. Take the filter apart, clean it with water (the tank water to preserve your beneficial bacteria), make sure nothing is clogged, then put the filter back together. It’s pretty much the same with the c360, however you’ll need to be careful not to damage or lose the gaskets that seal the pans. You can find detailed maintenance steps by watching the video below.

On the plus side, if you lose something during the cleanup, Marineland is running a top-notch customer service operation and you’ll be able to get replacement parts in no time.


Considering the power of the filter and the voluminous storage capacity, you get a good deal here at a reasonable price. There are certainly more powerful filters out there, but if this is the right price range for you, then the Marineland will be hard to beat in terms of overall value.

Alternative filters

Fluval 406 Pro

The Fluval 406 Pro will be on your radar if you are looking for a filter with a comparable maximum capacity but slightly improved gph. The Fluval is packed with extra features like a clog-proof strainer and a sound-dampening impeller that they say give better sustained use and quiet operation. However, you’ll get a reduced filter volume with the Fluval (only 2.25 liters), and the price is noticeably higher than the Marineland c360.

Fluval 406 Pro marine land c360
  • a little more powerful
  • Best starting media
  • Quieter operation
  • Best price
  • Greater filtering capacity
  • stronger pipe

penn plax Cascade 1200

If you’re looking for something a little less expensive, you can always try the reasonably priced Penn Plax Cascade 1200. It has a maximum capacity of 150 gallons and a flow rate of 315 gph, but manages to pack it into a 15-pound package that’s only 11 inches tall. More compactness that will fit where you need it.

The penn plax Cascade is easy to set up, includes push button priming and 360 degree swivel valve faucets so you can place it anywhere. Flow rate is adjustable thanks to built-in shut-off valves, and maintenance is easy as the Cascade breaks and rejoins very easily.

penn plax Cascade 1200 marine land c360
  • Best price
  • Lighter
  • more compact
  • More powerful
  • Greater filtering capacity
  • More robust

marineland c530

If you want to stick with Marineland, but need something stronger, perhaps the Marineland c530 is more to your liking? It has all the same great features as the c360, like bypass-free design, large media pans, three-stage filtration, and ease of use, but in a larger, more powerful form that delivers 530 gph to tanks up to 150 gallons. However, it is even more of a space hog than the c360.

You will need about 24” of clearance to store this unit, so if your tank is on a low table it may not be your best option. Plus, it can go up to 45 pounds fully stocked, so unless you’ve been lifting weights or have a dolly handy to haul this thing around, you’ll be in for a less than exciting time trying to get it from point A to point B.

marineland c530 marine land c360
  • Minor
  • Lighter
  • Best price

final thoughts

I hope this Marineland c-360 external filter review has helped you in your decision on which filter to use. In my opinion, the Marineland is an exceptionally strong filter, and while it is larger and heavier than similar models, the fact that it has such a large media capacity, coupled with fairly reasonable power compared to its price, solidifies it as a good buy.

If you’ve been out of the game for a while and are interested in seeing how Marineland has improved since the old days, check out this c360 external filter review.

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