Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter Review – Why It’s Underpriced!

I recently tried out the Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Filter on a 55-gallon tank, and the water has never been cleaner.

Check it out!

So I decided to share a few of my thoughts.

In this review of the Penn Plax Cascade canister filter, you’ll LEARN the three things that make the cascade canister filter worth more than it’s priced.

We’ll look at how to set it up, prime it, clean it, and what you’ll need to look out for.

I’ll also share my thoughts on the filter, including the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Let’s go.


Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter Review.

The Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Filter is a highly efficient filtration system with superior aquarium cleaning performance. 


  • Very Affordable
  • Extremely Quiet
  • Sturdy Construction
  • Customizable Flow Rate


  • Small Media Trays
  • Tubes Are Hard To Connect
  • Difficult To Prime

What We Like

Regarding what we like about the Cascade 1000, the price was very low compared to Fluval or other brands.

The filter comes preloaded with filter media to get set up fast, and it was hushed when in operation; you will never hear it.

The sturdy tip-proof base makes it difficult to knock over.

It has quick-disconnect tubing connectors that control the filter’s flow rate.

What We Don’t Like

Regarding what I didn’t like, the media trays were small but worked.

You can floss down the trays’ side to get extra filtration.

The tubes can be hard to connect, but nothing a little muscle can fix.

Lastly, the priming is the biggest issue with the Cascade canister filter, as I needed to work a little to get it going.

Comparison With Top Brands

Compared to popular canister filters like the Fluval FX6 and Marineland Magniflow, the Cascade 1000 stands out regarding flow rate, power consumption, and filter media capacity.

The Cascade 1000 boasts an impressive flow rate of up to 265 gallons per hour (GPH). 

This rate is significantly higher than the Marineland Magniflow’s 220 GPH and slightly lower than the Fluval FX6’s 563 GPH. 

In terms of power consumption, the Cascade 1000 is a clear winner. 

It consumes only 30 watts of electricity, compared to the Fluval FX6’s 43 watts and the Marineland Magniflow’s 35 watts. 

This means that the Cascade 1000 canister filter provides an efficient cleaning performance without increasing your electricity bills.

The filter media capacity of the Penn Plax Cascade 1000 is another factor that sets it apart from its competitors. 

The Cascade 1000 canister filter can hold up to 2.5 liters of filter media, significantly higher than the Marineland Magniflow’s 2.0 liters and the Fluval FX6’s 5.9 liters. 

This means the Cascade 1000 canister filter can handle more filter media, resulting in better cleaning performance and extended periods between filter media replacements.

In terms of cleaning and maintenance, the Cascade 1000 canister filter is easy to use and maintain. 

Users report needing to clean or replace the filter media less frequently than other filters they have used. 

The filter media is also easy to access and replace, making the maintenance process hassle-free.

Here are a few more canister filters for aquarium that you can also check out.

Comparable Filters

Next, you’ll find three filters that are comparable with the Cascade 1000. We’ll share a brief description and provide a small comparison table so you can see how the Cascade stack up to each filter.

Fluval FX6 Filter

The Fluval FX6 and FX4 are beasts, and they won’t let you down.

The Fx6 looks like someone took a shop vac and converted it into a canister filter; this thing is HUGE! The FX4 is pretty big as well.

So when compared to the Cascade, the FX6 wins in all categories. It has more power, more media, more options more accessories.

But it all comes with a higher price tag if you want to pay for it.

RatingCascade 1000Fluval FX6
Ease Of UseModerateEasy
PriceVery LowVery High

Marineland C360 Filter

The Marineland C360 Canister Filter is worth a look if you’re in the market for something affordable and low maintenance.

Marineland Magniflow Canister Filters are an upgraded version of the C-Series Canister Filter from Marineland, and with 360GPH filtration capacity, it’s big enough for tanks up to 100-gallon tanks.

RatingCascade 1000Marineland C-360
Ease Of UseModerateHard
PriceVery LowMid Range

Cascade 1500

If you want something larger than the Cascade 1000 but don’t want to shell out the dollars for something like the FX6, then the Cascade 1500 might be something to look into.

RatingCascade 1000Cascade 1500
Ease Of UseModerateModerate
PriceVery LowMid Range

What You Need To Know

The Cascade Canister Filter has a “LOT” of muscle, keeping the water looking great.

I recommend using this filter on a tank no larger than a 75-gallon tank because it’s typically better to provide about 50 gallons more filtration than needed.

What’s In The Box

You should find the following parts in the box when you purchase the Penn Plax Cascade canister filter;

  • The Canister
  • Preloaded media baskets
  • Two hoses
  • Two nozzles
  • Four connectable spray bars
  • Eight suction cups
  • One intake tube & 1 output tube
  • Intake cover
  • Output cover

This canister filter offers all three stages of filtration mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration, so you can keep your water clean and clear.

The floss pad removes delicate particulate matter; The activated carbon media removes toxins and impurities from the water.

The sponge creates a large surface area for proper biological filtration by promoting bacterial growth to effectively remove waste, excess food, and harmful ammonia and nitrates.

One word of caution: if you use the spray bar, ensure all the holes face down towards the bottom of the tank. 

Otherwise, you will have a lovely fountain in the middle of your house!


The Cascade 1000 Canister Filter is a heavy-duty filter rated up to 100 gallons for aquariums and pumps 265 gallons per hour (GPH).

We recommend not using the Cascade on a tank larger than 75 gallons for best results.

If you want to filter a 100-gallon tank, we suggest a filter rated 150-200 gallons, like the Cascade 1500 canister filter.

Compared to other canister filters, the Cascade looks good.

Its blue and black colors are a nice change from the standard black plastic. 

The square shape also makes fitting into the corner of your stand or cabinet easier.

The filter itself is about 17″ x 10″ x 11.5″ and weighs about 12 pounds. 

So, it’s not the smallest filter, but you should be okay with carrying this thing around when you need to do some maintenance.

The quality of construction is top of the line, with strong plastic and clamps that secure tightly to prevent any chance of this filter from falling over.

The hoses are more rigid plastic than I prefer, but it’s of decent quality.

How Does The Cascade Canister Filter Work?

In simple terms, this filter uses an intake tube to suck water out of your aquarium.

The water is then forced through various types of filter media and then pumped back into your aquarium.

How Do You Set It Up?

Cascade Canister Set Up Directions Illustrations

Below I have summarized the steps you need to follow to set up the Cascade canister filter;

  1. Attach the intake and output nozzles to the canister filter. The nozzles are color-coded for easy identification and screw-on very quickly.
  2. Attach a hose to each nozzle and screw the clamp tight. The hoses are identical, so attach a hose to each nozzle. 
  3. Now fasten the intake tube to the short side of the hard intake tube. Remember, the purple-colored nozzle is the intake tube that ensures the tight clamp.
  4. Attach the intake cover to the long end of the hard intake tube.
  5. Attach the output tube to the long side of the hard output tube. Remember the black colored nozzle is the output tube; ensure to fasten the clamp tight.
  6. Attach either the spray bar of the output cover to the short side of the hard output tube.
  7. Attach the suction cups evenly to the output spray bar and hard tube as needed. When you fasten the suction cups, do not cover any output holes on the spray bar. Also, attach suction cups to the intake tube as needed.
  8. Note: Tighten the hose clamp well to prevent air from entering the canister filter.

Here is a video that walks through all the steps above.

How Do You Prime This Filter?

Follow these steps to prime the Cascade canister filter;

  1. Ensure that the valves on each nozzle are open. You can tell the valve is open if the valve is in line with the tubing.
  2. Locate the pump button and pump as directed. This will suck water into the canister filter and will fill the canister with water.
  3. Once the canister is filled with water, plug in the filter.

Note: The hoses in this video are too long, so he has to pump so long. Your hoses should be trimmed down to at most 4 to 6 extra inches than would be needed to reach from the intake and output fixtures to the filter itself. Also, the siphon won’t start if the hose goes below the level of the filter motor.


A diagram showing how to clean the canister filter

Clean-up is effortless. 

Follow these steps;

  1. All you need to do is turn off the filter and remove the hoses using the quick-disconnect clamps.
  2. Once disconnected, I recommend removing the media trays and cleaning the media in some old aquarium water.
  3. With the filter media removed from the canister, you can then take the canister to a sink to give it a good cleaning.
  4. Once this is all done, place the media back into the canister, reconnect the hoses, prime the unit, and get it going.

How often should You clean Your Cascade canister filter?

Canister filters only need to be cleaned once every three to four months.

Of course, this depends on the stocking levels and types of fish species you have in your aquarium.

Why Do You Need Filtration?

The Filtration process helps clean your water.

It does this by providing a place for beneficial bacteria to grow. This bacteria helps remove harmful toxins like ammonia from your aquarium water.

When water passes over the various types of filter media, it comes into contact with beneficial bacteria, which remove and convert toxins into less toxic chemicals.

Filters also help remove debris and particulates from the water by using sponges and filter floss, ultimately giving your aquarium a crystal-clear look.

Price – Value For Your Money

As I’ve already mentioned, the Cascade 1000 is very competitively priced compared to other models in the same category.

With the priming, my only major complaint about this filter is three reasons the Cascade 1000 is underpriced.

The filtration from the Cascade should cost as much as a Fluval or Eheim, but it’s much cheaper.

Extremely quiet when in operation, and if you have it inside a cabinet, you’ll never hear it.

Equipped with quick-disconnect tubing connectors, you can also utilize them to control the filter’s flow rate.


In conclusion, the Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Filter is an efficient and effective filtration system that offers superior cleaning performance compared to other canister filters on the market. 

In addition, its high flow rate, low power consumption, and large filter media capacity provide an excellent value for its price. 

If you are looking for a reliable and easy-to-maintain canister filter for your aquarium, the Cascade 1000 is perfect.

Jack Dempsey
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