API Filstar XP-L Review: A New Take On A Classic Filter

The API Filstar XP-L Canister Filter has been around for awhile as the Rena Filstar XP3, and is still one of the best-selling canister filters out there.

API bought the Rena brand in 2012, bringing over 50 years of experience in aquarium products to the production of this classic filter.

And not much has changed, which is a good thing. The Filstar line is still just as great as it always has been, and the XP-L is probably the best bang for your buck for tanks between 100-175 gallons.

In our API Filstar XP-L review, we go over the features, benefits and drawbacks of this filter. Read on to find out if the Filstar is right for you!

Further Reading: Need Help Finding A Canister Filter? Our Guide Can Help You Find The Best Canister Filter For Your Aquarium And Your Needs. We’ve Reviewed All The Top Brands From Fluval, Ehiem, API, Marineland, And More.

Quick Overview API Filstar XP-L Canister Filter

API FILSTAR XP FILTER SIZE L Aquarium Canister Filter 1-Count Box

Get The API FILSTAR XP FILTER SIZE L Aquarium Canister Filter

The Best Features Of The API Filstar XP-L

  • Durable and well made, these things just keep running, no matter what you throw at them.
  • Great value for your money the affordable price puts it squarely in the sweet spot.
  • Large media trays, with media included. 
  • Quiet and efficient operation.

What You Need To Know About The API Filstar Canister Filter

[The Filstar XP-L has many design features that ensure the best filtration possible for your tank.

The three media trays are completely flush against the sides, meaning water cannot bypass the filtration media.

The Filstar also intakes water from the bottom and outputs it at the top. This upflow design lets gravity do the work of sorting out larger particles and settling them at the bottom of the filter, which makes cleaning and maintenance on this filter much easier.

With its 350 gph flow rate (187 gph filter output with media), the Filstar XP-L can easily handle tanks up to 175 gallons.

API also offer several other filters in the Filstar line for different size tanks:

All the models in the Filstar line of canister filters offer the same features and design.


  • Durable and well-made so it lasts a long time
  • Easy to prime so you can get it up an running fast.
  • Quiet operation, though louder than some other canister filters
  • Quick disconnect valve for easy cleaning and maintenance
  • Large media trays with media included
  • Great value for the money


  • Tubing is stiff and difficult to place into the disconnect valve
  • Tubing comes in multiple pieces that you have to connect
  • Not enough media included, so you still have to buy some
  • No included spray bar

Hands On API Filstar XP-L Canister Filter

The API Filstar  has just about everything you need inside the box, including canister, tubing, inlet and outlet tubes, a 30 ppi foam pad, a 20 ppi foam pad, and Bio-Star Chem Stars biological filtration media.

Despite coming with filtration media, we found that there was not enough biological media included, so we still had to buy our own for this filter to be at its most effective.

The Filstar is relatively simple to set up; just check out this review by palmer aquatics.

What we really like about the API Filistar

First, the media trays are a simple square shape. No odd shapes or unique cutouts here, which means we can save money by cutting our own media to size.

The build quality is excellent. The canister and connections are made of heavy-duty plastic, and the impeller shaft is stainless steel for increased durability.

This filter is also incredibly easy to prime. Many filters on the market claim to have easy-to-use self-priming systems, but the Filstar actually lives up to its promise. And, the quick-disconnect valve design means you can keep the filter primed even while cleaning it.

No more constant re-priming every time you clean your filter.

When it’s running, the FIlstar is also much quieter than your typical HOB Filter, though it is a bit louder than some other canister filters on the market. It’s still pretty quiet, so if you don’t want the constant hum of a filter disturbing your serene fish tank, this is a great option.

The biggest downsides of this filter are the hoses and hose connections. The hoses are stiff at first, and it can be difficult to get them onto the hose connections. You may have to soak the hoses in hot water or use aquarium-safe grease to get them on.

The included hose clamps are made of plastic and run a little small, so you may want to buy sturdier metal hose clamps.

The Filstar also doesn’t come with a spray bar, and API doesn’t make one. But, there are some options from other manufacturers, or you can find old Rena XP3 accessory packs that come with spray bars.

Buy The API Filstar XP-L Canister Fitler

This API Canister Filter is probably the best option for tanks between 100-175 gallons. Fluval doesn’t really offer anything in this range, and you’ll end up paying much more for an Eheim filter with this capacity.

The API Filstar XP-L (formerly the Rena Filstar XP3) has been around for a long time, and for good reason. This is a high-quality filter that’s quiet, easy to maintain and will keep your tank clean for years.

Jack Dempsey
Follow Me