Fluval 406 Review: Should You Consider Buying It?

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fluval 406 external filter review parts

Fluval has been the keyword of filtration systems for quite a while now, and they have different series out in the market. One of their best products though would be the Fluval 406. You might be a little caught aback by the price tag. However, it totally justifies it due to the incredible flow rate and the amount of water it circulates.

Now, the 06 series has been upgraded to the 07, so if you’re looking for something with more fancy features (keep in mind that the power is almost identical), your best bet would be the Fluval 407. But if you’re just looking for a strong and durable filter that can handle your 100 gallon tank without a problem, you’ll be more than happy with the Fluval 406.

After spending weeks researching and testing this product, we’ve come up with the ultimate review of Fluval 406.

CategoryFluval 406Fluval 306Fluval 206Fluval 106
TypeExternal / Canister filter External / Canister filter External / Canister filter External / Canister filter
ColorBlackBlackBlackBlack
Aquarium CapacityUp to 100 GallonsUp to 70 GallonsUp to 45 GallonsUp to 25 Gallons
Suitable forAquariumsAquariumsAquariumsAquariums
Filter Circulation245 GPH206 GPH121 GPH95 GPH
Filtration TypeMulti-stage filter Multi-stage filter Multi-stage Filter Multi-stage Filter
Media Capacity 2.2 gallon1.7 gallon1.2 gallon0.8 gallon
Pump Output383 GPH303 GPH206 GPH145 GPH
Filter media includedMechanical, chemical and biological Mechanical, chemical and biological Mechanical, chemical and biological Mechanical, chemical and biological
Head height7.5 ft5.8 feet4.8 feet4.8 feet
Size10 x 8 x 20"10 x 7 x 18"8 x 7 x 18"8 x 6 x 15"

Fluval 406 Overview

Overall, the 406 has quite a few improvements from the equivalent on the last series, Fluval 405. That includes better filtration and less noise when operating as well as less maintenance time. To be fair, this product got quite a lot of hype when it came up, and the hype still continues regardless of the improved one on the market. 

Fluval 406 External Filter Review

This can mean two things. Either this one was so good that people didn’t feel the need to upgrade, or the upgraded product didn’t have enough features to consider it. Personally, if I already had the Fluval 406, I wouldn’t consider the Fluval 407 just because of how good this one already is and how similar both products are. 

There are definitely upgrades that are worth it on the Fluval 407, but if you find the Fluval 406 more accessible, you won’t be missing out on much. Either way, if you lean more towards the Fluval 406, there are quite a few things you need to be aware of, starting from what comes in the box.

What is in the Box?

There are quite a few things that come in the box, each of them serving a particular purpose. Included with them is also the Fluval 406 manual, which will help you sort everything out without a problem.

  • Max Bio-Foam
  • 70 g carbon
  • Cup of suction (30 mm)
  • Basket for pre-filtering
  • Bio-foam
  • Quick-Clear
  • Bio-Foam+
  • Basket for media
  • Handle for the media basket
  • Cover for the media basket
  • Hosing with ribs
  • Connectors on the rim
  • Intake strainer and input stem
  • Tube for taking in air
  • Strainer for the intake
  • Nozzle for the output
  • AquaStop shut-off valve
  • 2 hose connectors made of rubber
  • Instructions
Fluval 406 Canister Filter Review Parts

Features Of Fluval 406

The Fluval 406, like all filters should, comes with a 3 step filtration: mechanical biological, and chemical to ensure complete and correct filtration for your fish. It might not look like it, but fish are susceptible to water quality and flow, so the quality of filtration and the pump are of utmost importance. 

Luckily, this filter comes with all the above features and many others that we’ll review below.

Flow Rate and Capacity

As aforementioned, the flow rate is an essential factor for your fish. This filter uses a very efficient method called bottom-top filtration. This means that after the water goes in the filter, through the inlet, it will go past the filtration media and then through the other side. 

Fluval 406 External Filter Review Overview

To help with the flow rate, a hydraulic motor and an AquaStop valve are installed in order to decrease the maintenance while increasing the rate of filtration. The motor helps the rate, while the valve helps to reduce maintenance since you don’t have to disconnect the main supply pipe anymore. As for the capacity, this is a perfect choice for a 100-gallon tank, and it can support tanks from 75 gallons and up as well.

Large Internal Media Capacity

What most people fail to understand is that the media is the main component of a filter. It’s the most important part of the whole operation for it’s the one responsible for the filtration. The Fluval 406 media is exceptional, and it includes four removable media trays to get you started. 

Fluval 406 Canister Filter Review Unboxing

You have all the space you need if you want to personalize the media blend, and it will all have maximum contact with the water flow path that’s built in the four-tray design. Generally, external filters like this one tend to have a round shape, which restricts capacity. 

Due to the square shape on the Fluval 406, the water capacity is 30-50% higher than other canisters that are round. This results in a higher media capacity as well as 2.2 gallons.

Self Priming

If you paid attention, you might’ve noticed that included with the Filter, there’s a self-primer. That means that priming will turn to a simple task rather than hard work since you’ll only have to pull up and push down the handle a couple of times. 

However, you need to be mindful of the way you’ve set the whole thing up because even the most minor things like a bad o-ring seal might cause priming to be a hassle.

Silent Operation

One of the most famous traits of the Fluval 406 and all Fluval filters is the peace and quiet it offers. Mostly the quiet. Designed in a sound-reducing way, this one is sure to stay silent regardless of how much work it’s doing. 

You’re going to have to be really close to it to actually listen to it work. If you’re at work, home office, or even living room because someone wants a constant humming on their ears when watching TV, this filter will be perfect. It’s around 15% quieter than other filters in the market, and although there’s room for improvement, it’s too good to notice.

Other Versions of 06 Series: Fluval 106, 206 and 306

The 06 Series came as a direct result of the success with the 05 series but was upgraded and redesigned to fit your needs better. This means that almost everything is a level higher, and we’ll go through each model’s specifications individually.

Fluval 402 Canister Filter Review

Remember that the features are the same through every version and change only in size and capacity.

  • Fluval 106: Comes with two media baskets, one 70g carbon, one 120g BioMax and one polishing pad. It manages around 25 gallons of water and has a flow rate of 145 GPH.
  • Fluval 206: Comes with three media baskets, one 70g carbon, one 120g BioMax, one Bio-Foam, and one polishing pad. It manages around 45 gallons of water and has a flow rate of 303 GPH.
  • Fluval 306: Comes with three media baskets, two 70g carbon, two 120g BioMax, two Bio-Foams, and two polishing pads. It manages around 75 gallons of water and has a flow rate of 325 GPH.

Alternatives

The Fluval 406 is a great filter. However, it may not be exactly what you’re looking for. There’s a couple of other filters from the same company that might suit your needs better.

Fluval 407

Because of the re-engineering done for your convenience by limiting all maintenance requirements to a minimum, Fluval 407 series is 25% quieter and energy-efficient, among other changes. Although it has the same flow rate and power, this one has Fluval eTEC implemented and an optimized design to make everything a little bit more accessible and manageable even with one hand. 

fluval 407 external and canister filter review
Fluval 407
Most energy efficient filter

Powerful output

Ultra quiet operation

Extra features

All media included

Check Latest Price

So if you’re one of those people that want the best they can get, this might be a better choice for you. Personally, if I had to choose between the two, I’d go with the Fluval 407 since it’s a newer model and has a few more features that offer a change, although a subtle one. 

However, if I already had the Fluval 406 or if it’s more accessible to me, I’d go with the Fluval 406 and not regret it all. The differences are mostly for people with attention to detail, yet they might not be able to tell the difference unless they have both filters running simultaneously. 

Anyway, just consider all options and go with the one that’s easier for you to purchase. Your fish will be happy either way.

Fluval FX4

The Fluval FX4 is a beast of a filter and was made for tanks larger than 100 gallons. While the two options listed above value quality over quantity, this one seems to value both, for it’s insanely powerful (around double as either of the other options) and comes at an acceptable price point. 

fluval fx4 filter review
Fluval FX4
Super quiet canister filter

Powerful filtration

Smart Pump technology

Substrate cleaning

Seamless water changes

Check Latest Price

Just remember that you don’t have to buy the most powerful filter out there. After all, your fish might get overwhelmed if the flow rate is too much. This filter will be your best friend if you have a big fish tank that needs a really tough filter to work unless you’d be wasting its potential and power for a task that requires half the power put on. The Fluval FX4 is fantastic, to the point that it might be genuinely overqualified for tanks under 100 gallons.

Fluval 406 Setup, Maintenance, and Cleaning

You’ll be okay with just reading the manual and following the instructions from there for the setup. It’s simple to read, and the illustrations certainly help to assure you’re doing the right thing. However, be mindful of what you’re doing, for a wrong setup can cause problems on usage afterward. 

Fluval 406 Canister Filter Review

Not mentioned in the instructions though is to:

  1. Make sure to cut the output hose shorter than the intake one.
  2. Using silicone grease (tank-safe) to lube the o-rings in order to ensure an adequate seal to avoid leaks.

As for cleaning and maintenance, due to the new redesign, you won’t spend too much time on either. For cleaning, you’ll just need to flip the valve, detach the hose and remove the top of the filter to access the media trays and clean them usually. 

Cleaning should be done only when necessary and not often either. As for maintenance, there’s not much to do besides cleaning and what was mentioned earlier, so just make sure you set it upright, and you won’t have much to deal with rather than 10 minutes whenever you have to clean it.

Conclusion

In the end, it’s important to know that a good filter like the Fluval 406 should do two things really well. Filter well and stay quiet. Thankfully, this one does both really well due to the way it’s designed and the little amount of time you spend on it yearly. You indeed won’t have to worry about this one in terms of simplicity and practicality. 

However, if you dig a fancier option, the Fluval 407 will be the choice for you. Either way, don’t feel pressured and keep in mind the fact that the specs are the same and it’s only the features that have improvements. If you need almost double that though, the Fluval FX4 can handle anything you throw it at, at a really affordable price. We recommend first checking the size supported by each filter and if it matches your tank, and from then, it’s simply a matter of preference and accessibility.

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I am Mario, a expert aquarist who is sharing his knowledge with everyone.

Keeping innocent fish and aquatic plants safe and healthy is my daily routine. With my experience and my passion for aquatic life, I will advise you through the long run of keeping an aquarium.

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