Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Review

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penn plax cascade canister filter review

Canister filters are a great option for anyone looking for an aquarium filter system that is both powerful and quiet. The Penn Plax Cascade 1000 is a popular budget-friendly option, but does it really provide the best performance for the price?

As with every other thing you can purchase for your aquarium, the main purpose of a filter is to create the optimal environment so your fish and other aquatic plants can thrive. With careful research and years of experience, we’ve concluded a Penn Plax Cascade 1000 review to prove if this aquarium canister filter qualifies or not.

Coming on different sizes to choose from, we’ll take a closer look at what this filter has to offer and compare it to some of the other top-rated options on the market.

Spoiler alert: The Cascade 1000 is definitely worth considering if you’re in the market for a quality canister filter on a tight budget!

Penn Plax Cascade Overview

A high-quality filter captures fish excrement and other unwanted things, ensuring that your fish are always safe. As a result, a filter plays a critical function that cannot be overlooked. However, you must recognize that simply choosing any will not be sufficient; you must seek for the greatest.

penn plax cascade 1000 canister filter parts

The Penn Plax Cascade canister is an external filtration system with a variety of features and functions that make it adjustable to different needs in terms of filtration. Its durability makes it an excellent choice for home use. Although the unit does not hold the top place as the best aquarium filter out there, it is still quite affordable and effective when compared to other top aquarium filters.

Compared to other models, this one requires a little bit more setup, but it will save you money over time. It’s a popular choice for many aquariums. Its patented technology makes it easy to use and requires only a small amount of electricity to operate. This filter is ideal for small to mid-sized tanks.

CategoryPenn Plax Cascade 1500Penn Plax Cascade 1200Penn Plax Cascade 1000Penn Plax Cascade 700Penn Plax Cascade 500
TypeExternal / Canister filter External / Canister filter External / Canister filter External / Canister filter External / Canister filter
Aquarium capacityUp to 200 GallonsUp to 150 GallonsUp to 100 GallonsUp to 65 GallonsUp to 30 Gallons
Pump output350 GPH315 GPH265 GPH185 GPH115 GPH
Media capacityExtra LargeLargeLargeMediumMedium
Size11.5 x 20.5 x 12 inches11.81 x 11.81 x 19.69 inches11.5 x 17 x 10 inches11.02 x 11.02 x 14.96 inches11.5 x 13.5 x 9 inches

The Cascade 1000 canister filter is effective for both marine and freshwater aquariums. Through the combination of several filtration media, this product is capable of providing powerful mechanical, chemical, and biofiltration, all in one unit.

The pumps come with individual filtration trays, tubing for input and output, and filter media making it easy to put the filter at work immediately. Adjusting the piece to your personal needs is simplified due to features such as two rotational valve taps, flow rate valves, push-button primer, and hose clamps.

penn plax cascade canister filter results

What is in the Box?

It is important to learn what comes in the box with a product, especially in this case, where you’ll have to put the unit together by yourself.

The box includes:

  • Output cover and tube
  • Input cover and tube
  • Suction cups (x8)
  • Spray bars (x4)
  • Hoses (2x)
  • Nozzles (2x)
  • The canister
  • Media baskets
  • Penn Plax Cascade manual

Other Versions: Penn Plax Cascade 1500, 700 and 500

Now, as mentioned earlier the Penn Plax Cascade filter comes in different options to choose from. It’s important to note that all versions share most features and only differentiate on the power and size of the tank they support.

Penn Plax Cascade 500

Penn Plax Cascade 500 is suitable for tanks up to 30 gallons. Includes two media baskets that can be filled with your own filter media. The flow rate is 115 gallons per hour.

Penn Plax Cascade 700

Penn Plax Cascade 700 model is a more powerful version of the 500. Suitable for tanks up to 65 gallons. Similarly, it includes two media baskets. The flow rate is 185 gallons per hour.

Penn Plax Cascade 1500

Penn Plax Cascade 1500 is the most powerful version of the Penn Plax cascade filter. There are 5 media baskets included giving you a limited space to include any amount of filter media you want. The unit is suitable for large tanks of up to 200 gallons. The flow rate reaches a whopping 350 gallons per hour which is insane.

penn plax cascade 1000 canister filter setting up

Features Of Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter

This product comes with a wide set of features that form one of the best filtration systems in the market. And this happens because it performs incredibly by shockingly delivering incredibly clear water. This device is not only simple to use and maintain, but it also employs cutting-edge technology and is incredibly versatile. Below you’ll find the features that struck our team the most while reviewing.

Reliable Durability

Filtration systems are equipment that, due to their function, must operate frequently and need to endure the test of time. Penn Plax canister filter definitely fits into that category as a product. The body of the unit makes for a well-designed item that is certain to take little to no damage even upon being dropped. Proper maintenance of the product is the main factor in increasing its functionality expectancy.

Uncomplicated Setup

One of the most appealing features Penn Plax Cascade 1000 has is its capacity to make up for a quick and pleasant experience. It takes only a few minutes to unbox, install and get it ready for use which we guess many people will find valuable especially when their time is valuable.

Users of this canister filter tend to fear the setup process due to the amount of accompanying pieces that come in the box. However, that is more of a reason why Penn Plax Cascade 1000 is so efficient. The product comes with an easy-to-follow manual for putting it together and the features simplify the process even further by allowing you to choose how to place your flow rate valves.

Many options to pick from

The Penn Plax Cascade 1000 canister filter provides you with the option to choose between three different flow rates. That means it is designed to be suitable for tanks of various sizes. The maximum output of 350 gallons per hour makes this product perfect for large aquariums but considering it also comes in two other variations (the 500 and the 700) that are suitable for tanks smaller than 100 gallons.

Given that this model comes in several sizes, you will surely be able to find the best size variant for your tank.

penn plax cascade 1000 canister filter

Easy maintenance

Regular cleaning is crucial to elongating the life of your canister filtration system. Fortunately, this unit enables a very easy cleaning and maintaining process.

Firstly, you need to turn off the intake valve. Then, to prevent any leakage, the hose needs to be disconnected. After that simply unplug the filter and run it under the sink. The process of opening the filter itself is mentioned in the manufacturer instruction sheet. After the filter has been cleaned, you just need to connect it back and the job is done. That is simple, isn’t it?

Amazing Power

This is a fantastic water filter that’s perfect for medium to big aquariums. This incredible filter can pump more than a whopping 265 gallons of water each hour, making it one of the toughest filters we’ve reviewed.

The Penn Plax Cascade 1000 uses a high-grade floss pad to remove all of the larger debris to avoid. Combined with the activated carbon medium that removes any chemical imbalances or pollutants in the water, this doubles its effectiveness in clearing the water.

It can also fit any fish tank with a capacity of up to 100 gallons of water. It features a huge sponge surface that is incredibly coarse to match that output, making it an excellent, if not the best biofilter in the market.


You probably are convinced now that Penn Plax Cascade 1000 is one of the best aquarium filters for the money. If you are looking for the best aquarium filter around, we have to take a look at his competitors.

EHEIM Classic Canister Filter

The Eheim Classic Canister Filter will go above and beyond your expectations. This kit includes filter media, tubing, intake, return, and double isolating valves, so it’s pretty much everything you’ll need. The quality is immediately apparent; your water will be crystal in only a few hours and will maintain that clarity without difficulty.

etheim classic canister filter
EHEIM Classic Canister Filter
Easiest canister filter to use

Free filter media

Silent operation

Low maintenance

Easy to clean


Pump and filter performance is ensured by high-quality components and precisely matched features. You also get EHEIM’s legendary silent operation, long durability, and low energy usage. You will be quite pleased. There are five variants for aquariums ranging in size from 50 to 1500 gallons, each with its own set of features. Overall, this is a great alternative that will match the incredible power of the Penn Plax while also being super silent.

Fluval FX4 Canister Filter

The Penn Plax Cascade 1000 is a powerful canister filter but if you want more power than Penn Plax, we recommend the Fluval FX4 Canister Filter. It’s extremely quiet and easy to use. Coming with Smart Pump technology, energy efficient, quiet operation and on, the FX is one of Fluval’s best products. It is suitable for tanks of up to 250 gallons, utilizes multi-stage filtering, self-priming, smart pumps and so more.

fluval fx4 filter review
Fluval FX4 Canister Filter
Super quiet canister filter


Smart Pump technology

Substrate cleaning

Seamless water changes


There are four stages of filtration: a coarse filtration pad, activated carbon, biological media sponges, and a fine prefilter that removes even the smallest particles from your aquarium’s water. All of these will clean the water in your tank while turning out crystal clear water on the other side. We recommend this filter if Penn Plax is not powerful enough for you.

Fluval 406 External and Canister Filter

The intimidating price tag on this item is justifiable considering its capabilities. Fluval 406 External and Canister Filter is a filtration system suitable for aquariums up to 100 gallons. It offers super quiet three-stage filtration, with included media and simple maintenance requirements.

Fluval 406 Filter Review
Fluval 406 External and Canister Filter
Best external filter

Large media capacity

Quite operation

Instant prime

AquaStop valves


The Fluval 406 media is outstanding, and it comes with four changeable media trays to get you started. This canister filter has a three-step filtration system: mechanical, biological, and chemical, to ensure that your fish receive complete and accurate filtration. It offers a great flow rate, good capacity, and silent operation, as well as a self priming feature that will spare you the trouble of doing it all yourself.

Other similar models, such as Fluval 106, 206, and 306 might be of interest to buyers who are searching for somewhat smaller yet just as potent filters.


The Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Filter is just what you are looking for. It has a lot of power, so it will easily clear even large debris from your tank. The price tag is extremely affordable with all the features this filter offers.

This product comes with a set of features that set it apart from competitors in terms of power and effectiveness. The two main benefits of Penn Plax Cascade are: it is easy to use, and it’s incredibly strong and quiet. What more can you look for in a filter?

However, if you have more money to spend and want an aquarium filter that can handle any size tank and is extremely quiet, we recommend the Fluval FX4 Canister Filter and for a more thorough cleaning experience, the Fluval 406 would be your best bet. Either way, as we said above, it’s important to cater to your filter with your ecosystem and tank in order to ensure that everything will go well.


If you’re wondering how to set up the Cascade canister filter or how does it work, keep reading for answers to these and other commonly asked questions about this canister filter.

Q: How do I set up my Cascade 1000 canister filter?

To set up the Penn Plax Cascade aquarium canister filter you need to clean it thoroughly and dry it before setting up the filter system.

Next, you are going to set up the filtration media exactly in this order: Mechanical media basket goes at the bottom, chemical filtration basket in the middle, and lastly, biological filtration basket goes on top. (make sure that the tube of media basket gets in line with the tube in the previews media basket)

Add the filter guard on top and you are ready to seal the tube from the basket to the head of the filter with the O ring. Set up the header and you are all set.

Q: How does the Cascade 1000 work?

The Penn Plax Cascade works by using a three-stage filtration system to clean the water. It sucks in the water from the bottom throughout all the filtration media and then back out through the top back. The order that water gets filtered is mechanical filtration – chemical filtration – biological filtration.

Q: How do you open a Penn Cascade filter?

Take your filter near the sink or a bucket. Open the Penn Cascade Filter lid by unclamping the four sides and taking the motor casing off. This would likely drain water so you can sit it directly to the sink or the bucket.

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I am Mario, a experienced fish keepr and the editor-in-chief of Epic Aquarium.

At Epic Aquarium, we take our commitment to providing comprehensive and unbiased reviews very seriously. Our team carefully reviews each product, and we only recommend the very best in terms of quality. We also consult with leading fish keeper experts to ensure that each article is based on the most reliable and up-to-date information available.

Disclosure: participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for publishers to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.