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Penguin 330 - Power Filter Tricks
by William McReynolds

Performing these steps will convert this relatively inexpensive, (humble?) little power filter, into a high performance, biological filtration monster! The trick to accomplishing this feat, is aeration of the customizable media trays. Creating a 'reverse action', mini-sized, wet/dry trickle filter!


Instead of the standard wet/dry filter method of water trickling and splashing DOWN over (dry) rock media - air is pumped and bubbled UP inside the media trays through the (wet) rock matrix media of the Optimized filter!


  • (1) Pair of Scissors
  • (1) Single Edged Craft Razor


  • (Length) Of Regular Sized Air-line Tubing
  • (1) Air-Line Tubing 'Tee' Fitting
  • (1) Small Container of either Seachem, De-Nitrator Matrix or Eheim, EHFI Substrate
  • (1) Supreme Made, Mag-Drive Submersible Pump Foam Pre-Filter for Models 2 thru 5
  • (1) Small Capacity (quiet!) aquarium air pump

Optimization Steps

  1. Remove the 2 blue colored filter foam/plastic filter screens from the power filter. Using the Single Edged Craft Razor, carefully cut a slit down one side of the blue foam for each filter screen. Dump the carbon granules inside each screen into the trash if they are wet, or save unused carbon in a zip-lock bag for later use elsewhere, if desired. Rinse used filter screens in de-chlorinated water, then re-fill each filter screen with pre-rinsed matrix rock. Re-Install both filter screens.

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Grey Wood Font Twig Electric blue
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Grey Wood Font Twig Electric blue

  1. Pull the box intake off of the intake tubing. Replace with Mag Drive Model 2-5 Submersible Pump, Foam Pre-Filter. The plastic insert that comes with this foam pre-filter will fit onto the intake tubing of the Penguin 330 power filter almost perfectly.
  2. Note: The box type intake can be utilized if desired, but a pre-filter for it must be hand crafted to properly fit the standard intake from a block of pond filtration foam.
  3. Pull both empty media trays out of the filter. Place a small air stone connected to a length of airline tubing down in the bottom of each media tray. Fill each tray with pre-rinsed matrix rock - simply bury each air stone under the matrix rock in each media tray.

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Grey Wood Font Twig Electric blue
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  1. Both lengths of airline tubing are simply routed up and out through the vent slots in the cover of the filter. Connect the two lengths of airline tubing with the 'Tee' fitting. Then connect and run a single airline tube from the 'Tee' fitting on down to where the aquarium air pump will be placed.

Safety Note: Use of an airline check valve placed on the single airline between the air pump and the 'tee' fitting is a good safety idea to keep water from being siphoned out of the tank unintentionally from the airstones placed inside the filters.

Operation Of The Optimized Penguin 330

  1. The Foam pre-filter must be carefully cleaned in de-chlorinated water with each water change to insure high rates of water flow through the filter.
  2. Clean the Blue Foam/Plastic Filter screens foam periodically to insure high rates of water flow through the filter. Frequency of required cleaning of this power filter will vary considerably with the bio-load of your aquarium, water chemistry and other factors. Over time, (months?) the blue foam on the filter screens will become worn and due for replacement. Replace the filter screens with new ones when this occurs - But, NEVER discard the matrix rock inside the filter screens! Simply dump the rocks out of old screens and put the now filtration bacteria-colonized matrix rock into the new blue foam/ plastic screens, (After the new screens are slit with razor and carbon granules are dumped out).
  3. Periodically clean and rinse in de-chlorinated water the matrix rocks inside the media trays. NEVER discard or replace this media! Replace or clean the air stones inside the media trays when air flow becomes restricted and there is no longer vigorous air bubbling noted through the rock matrix in each media tray.

Responsibility Disclaimer: By performing any of these alterations or modifications to your power filter, you agree that the Author and Cichlid-Forum are NOT Liable for any problems or damage that may occur as a result. Manufacturers should be contacted first prior to any modification or alteration being performed to this equipment if doubt exists concerning the ultimate proper and safe operation of aquarium filtration equipment modified from the manufacturer's original specifications.
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