Random Bits of Projects

January 16, 2011

Review of Tetra, Whisper Filter (EX 30, 45)

I was cleaning my fish tanks out today and was grumbling about a few of my filter systems like I normally do when I clean them when I realized that I have never updated any review for the things in my sad, neglected blogs.

So here goes.

I have had the Tetra, Whisper Filter systems for 2 years (already?)  now. Size EX 30 and 45. When I posted on how to convert the filters to something less expensive and customizable, a reader had asked if I noticed a difference in their performance when compared to older models. At the time, I thought I had but I had not had them long enough to be sure. Well, now I can definitely say. I do not like them. I continue to use them along with the older models since I already have them, but I would never use them alone.

I am comparing these to the use of Whisper 10-20, 30, and 40, as well as one TopFin 60 in fresh water tanks. These filter are also for the budget conscious.

I tend to use as many filter systems as the tank can hold and not blow the fish out of the water. I have recently added canister filters, that I like very much (but that is another post if I ever get to it these days).

For the Whisper Filter (EX 3o and 45):


  • It will self prime upon start up and pull water in by itself. You do not have to pour water into the filter to get it to get going.
  • I suppose it looks pretty. All curvy instead of boxy. If you care for that sort of thing. Not what I look at when I see tanks, personally. I would rather not notice them.

Cons (In no order of preference):

  • Does not perform nearly as well as the old model.
  • Dismantling for cleaning is difficult.
  • Hard to put back together without something coming off.
  • If you want to do a full cleaning of tubes without taking the filter unite itself off of the tank, you will get wet.
  • Does not sit right on the tanks.
  • Expensive filters.
  • The pretty lid often pops off when you open it, so what is the point of the pretty lid.
  • The little indicators (extra cost) that you can insert to show you that enough time has passed between changes feel like a gimmick and will give new people a false sense of when to change the filter if they have messier fish than the usual (gold fish, Oscars…).
  • The plastic thing for growing bacteria does not work as well as the sponge.

I have placed these filters in different areas of the tank to take into account that I often feed in the same areas, other filters that are nearby, and water flow. Each time, they do not have near the amount of crud captured as the others, yet they still back up as if they are over loaded.

Maintenance is a pain. I cannot easily pop out the tubes for a quick cleaning. Pulling the filter out is annoying. They designed the filter cage to capture water dripping off of the wet filter as you carry it to the sink (or wherever you clean) but it really does not work all that well.

For quick cleaning where I have managed to pull the tubes out without taking the unit off of the tank, you have to get your arms in the water, the tubes (especially the “U” shaped tube) does not want to snap back easily and often result in a water fountain. The impeller case rarely snaps back properly (this is in the tank). It is a dreaded struggle most of the time. Not good when you have several more filters and tanks yet to go.

Both filter units have had to get something wedged between the glass and the unit to get them to sit right for proper flow back into the tank.

I have several of the other Whisper models between various tanks. They all still work after many years (10+ in some cases). I have only had one wear out. They are basic and simple. Less to break and easy to customize the media. So what if I have to take one extra tiny step of pouring water into them when I restart the units. Less work than keeping the new model clean. And I do not have to go through converting the filter inserts.

The filter inserts themselves are expensive. Not bad in general, though the unit does a poor job bringing in crud to capture. But besides the expense, you cannot customize the media.

You have the option of buying little inserts that change color over a set time to remind you to change the filters. I can mark a calendar just as easy. If you know your tanks, you know when to peek in and keep an eye on them anyway. Each tank has its own rate of getting filthy. I feel this is just something else to waste money on, but this is just preference.

This is just me. Many of you may love them. But here it is if you are researching what filter units to buy that hang off of the back of a tank. Whatever you get, always get more filtration than the minimum suggested. Your fish keeping experience will be more enjoyable.

Maybe the durability of the old models were causing the company to lose money because you do not need to replace them as often or buy other frilly accessories.

Have a good day!




  1. I can add that the the filter clogs far too easily and then the water flows over the flow tube resulting in no filtered water. The worst problem of all is the motor, If there is a power failure the motor will not start on its own when power is restored unless you vigorously shake the flowtube.

    Comment by John Thomson — January 17, 2011 @ 12:11 pm | Reply

  2. Hi, I stumbled upon your website when looking for a cheap stand idea. Really like the cinderblocks and plan on trying it when I move to a new place in April. Like the review I agree. I am currently running 20+ tanks in my place and the whisper was the first tank that I got when I started out. it is a pain to clean and is annoying that you need to purchase new cartridges for it. I now use Aquaclear Filters almost exclusively on most of my other tanks. It is nice that you get to choose the media.

    Comment by jeff.l — February 27, 2011 @ 11:55 am | Reply

  3. Nice write up.
    I was curious to know how well the newest line of Tetra’s HOB performed.(EX models)

    According to you, the quality has sunk. That’s what I was afraid of.
    I still have a Tetra 40 powerfilter and it’s going strong.

    I hated the Penguin hob’s: too loud with inconsistent splashing noise into the tank. I could never get used to the sound so I stopped using them. Even without the biowheels, it made a racket.
    Aquaclears have a potential for self-priming issues. This would especially suck if you’re away on vacation and your filter can’t prime itself. As far as I know this issue is still present to this day, which is pathetic. They also come at a premium.

    So, it seems like one must choose from a selection of lesser evils. Great…

    Comment by Rick Jacobs — November 11, 2013 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

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