This is a review of the GRECH GW-302 canister filter, typically available on eBay and/or some specialty stores online. You’ll rarely ever see this product taking up real estate in your local fish store or one of the big box stores, like Petsmart or Petco. This is one of those off-brand, made in China (well, isn’t everything now days?), run-of-the-mill, cheap (read: more affordable) aquarium canister filters. Round of applause! No? Very well… allow me to woo you.
You won’t find very much about this brand online… especially in this product category. Most people turn up their nose to off-brands, like SunSun or Grech (same filters, different name). They’d rather spend the big bucks on name brands they feel comfortable with and which have a plethora of reviews and warranties swirling about. Fish keepers certainly enjoy their sleep, just as any other, and would prefer not to worry, endlessly about whether their filter is going to go haywire and break into a million pieces, leaving a 75-120 gallon flood in their living room or basement. And let’s not forget the dead or dying fish. Stupid filter…
Alas, there is no such horribly ending story to be found on this page, my friends. For I have come to tell you… nay, scream at the top of my air-engorged lungs, “There is another way!”
So! Let’s get started…
Make: GRECH (Green Ecology Home)
Model: GW-302 Canister Filter (Same as SunSun HW-302)
Voltage: 220V/50Hz & 120V/60Hz
Pump Power: 18w
Rated Output/Flow (w/out media): ~264gph/1000Lph
Tank Size: <= 75 Gallons
Filtration: 3-Stage Canister (3 baskets w/ handles)
Max Height: 4.6ft
Weight (empty): 7.7lbs
While not the most powerful pump in the industry, it’s certainly enough to compensate for secondary filtration. I already have a Penn Plax Cascade 1000 running on the 75gal planted tank this is going on, so I wanted something to up the ante a bit and double the filtration capacity. I would say that while this filter is rated for ~75gal tanks, it’s probably more likely a 55-65gal filter. That, of course, would make it perfect to suit my needs, giving me almost exactly 2x the suggested filtration for my tank.\
Included with model:
1 x Canister Head w/ Built In Pump/Impeller
1 x Canister Body
1 x Extendable Intake Tube w/ Strainer
1 x Optional Skimmer Intake for Surface filtration
1 x Outtake Tube
1 x Extendable Spray Bar
3 x Media Trays w/ extendable handles
2 x 5′ Transparent green intake/outtake hoses
1 x Quick Disconnect (which connects the hoses to the canister head)
3 x White Cotton Filter Floss pads
4 x Suction cups (w/ short/long attachment points)
I purchased the Grech GW-302, knowing that it came with quite a few options. Sure, it came with all of the standard canister filter features, like a built-in pump in the head, intake/outtake tubes, two hoses, filter media baskets and the actual canister body. However, unlike some filters, it does come with a spray bar, in addition to the outtake tube, as well as a skimmer for the water surface.
I’ve not seen a skimmer listed for any canister filters yet (at least in my experience with Penn Plax Cascade and Rena Filstar), so that was an added bonus. Of course, I’m not sure how the skimmer performs yet, as I’ve only been running this filter for a few days, but I’ve decided to use it to see if it makes a noticeable difference.
All of the components are made of plastic, like most filters. At first touch, the canister body seemed to be a little more flimsy, per se, than most. It’s still sturdy, but thinner, perhaps, than a Filstar. The tubes also seem like they’re a little thinner than the other’s I’ve dealt with, but they’re fine for what they’re made for.
Everything else is pretty standard. The canister head has a priming pump and connection handles much like the Penn Plax Cascade and a quick disconnect like the Filstar XPs. The hoses are transparent green, like Eheim, and just as sturdy.
I loved that it came with the varying attachments for the suction cups. Everyone has a different setup and for mine, the outtake tube required a shorter suction cup attachment, while the intake tube required the longer ones. A seemingly insignificant, but actually quite handy option.
The packaging was actually quite impressive. I bought this from someone on eBay, which I feel is the main source for these types of filters. I had no real expectations, because I wasn’t buying from a notable retailer (that I know of). Notable on eBay, perhaps, with a 99.7% positive feedback rating w/ 4,323 feedback comments, and a top rated plus seller, but still unknown to me.
The filter arrived in very new condition (a box packaged inside another plain cardboard packing box). It was a perfect fit and when removed from the outer shell, there in waiting was a much more colorful, very clean GRECH branded box. A picture of the filter, along with verbiage that touted several features and a promise of a 6 month guarantee, rounded out the front cover. The verbiage, at first unnoticeable, was soon found to be grammatically inferior. Turning the box on its’ side, where the outer instructions were outlined, unveiled even more humorous verbiage. It was clear that the packaging was translated from another language into “English” (or more appropriately, “Engrish”). The obvious assumption would be that it’s translated from Chinese to English, given that it’s “Made in China.”
Engrish aside, the box was still pretty. So, onward I went!
Unpacking the box was equally as organized and “clean.” Like most boxes, these days, there were several hinges keeping the box together, in addition to an optional plastic handle in the lid, should you wish to make carrying it around more convenient.
Upon opening the top of the box, there laid two items: 1. A third, smaller cardboard box and 2. the whole canister filter engulfed by bubble wrap. “Holy crap! Did they take packaging this thing seriously, or what?”
I removed both items from the box and laid them out. I then jumped into the third box to see all of the wonderful goodies that I outlined above. Most of the components in the box were encased in sealed, plastic bags. I absolutely love the care this company places into their packaging. They certainly ensure that their items arrive in perfect working order and look just as good as the day they manufactured it. The only things not in plastic, were the two 5′ flexible hoses. They were tied in coil-wrap fashion.
I ripped into the bags and laid all of the components out. Everything was there and in perfect condition. I then ripped into the bubble-wrap engulfed canister and inspected all of the elements of the most integral components of the item in question, and why we’re here in the first place. Again, everything appeared to be in perfect condition. Inside the canister was a little dirty, but nothing to write home about – looked like remnants of piecing this thing together at the warehouse or manufacturing/distribution plant.
I decided to rinse everything down in cool water, before putting it to use. After rinsing all of the essentials, I inspected the impeller/impeller chamber. It’s a pretty solid impeller, but the chamber is very tightly sealed. Maybe it was me, but it was a chore to get it sealed back up, after having opened it. Additionally, the magnet that keeps the impeller in place was very strong… that thing isn’t going anywhere.
Let’s not think of it as an instruction manual… let’s just call it a picture book. And by book, I mean a four page (including the front/back cover) little pamphlet. If you thought the box had bad Engrish, you haven’t seen anything yet! The manual is nearly unreadable. Save yourself the trouble and if you need to use this thing, just look at the pretty pictures, recount your old experiences with other canister filters and move on. In fact, if you ever have difficulties, just go online (come here, if need be), and ask some experienced users your questions. I, for one, would be happy to help in any way.
Luckily, this filter is very easy to use and works like most other canister filters on the market. If you already have experience, this will be a peace of cake for you.
Honestly… the most difficult thing about putting this sucker together, was figuring out which extension tube to use. They give you several different options for intakes/outtakes, and they all have extension tubes which are similar in size (save for the spray bar, which is easily discerned by the holes). Either way, this wasn’t very difficult, either. It took a few seconds to figure out which tube goes with which extension, etc.
There were a couple of things I was unsure of… or a little hesitant about. First, the skimmer intake just slides onto another tube. It feels flimsy that way, like it’ll fall off at any moment (and will, outside of the tank), but it’s made like this on purpose. It doesn’t get affixed to anything, because it must constantly adjust with the water’s surface. If you have evaporation, it must be allowed to fall with the surface, or rise when you fill it back up during your water changes. It makes complete sense and when you see it at work, you feel much better about its’ design.
The second item I was hesitant about, was the intake tube. The extensions are fine and fit appropriately, but the collapsible tube (which allows it to extend to the depth of your tank) is very collapsible. It seems pretty flimsy (again, outside of the tank). Inside the tank, it’s working flawlessly… but when you’re fooling around with it, it feels like it’s just going to drop down to the bottom or something to that affect. Of course, after a few days, I’ve seen absolutely no difference in the setting, so again… much to worry about nothing.
The 5′ hoses are very sturdy and supposedly do not kink. I don’t see how they could, unless you were trying really hard, but either way, they’re good hoses, much like you’d find for any of the big name filters. Attaching them to the intake/outtake nozzles were quite easy and seal completely. They seal like the Penn Plax, in that you bring the hose over the nozzle ribs, and screw a nut onto the hose until it’s relatively tight. I tested the hose connections from the canister to the output/intake and there are no drips/leaks. It’s a seemingly flawless connection, as you’d expect from a filter that pushes hundreds of gallons of water through those hoses every hour.
As for the canister, itself? Very easy to piece together. The clamps are simple to work and seal the head to the body. Prior to that, however, I added the filter media to the baskets. At the time of receiving the filter, I only had 250mL of Seachem Matrix to add for biological filtration, and two sponge filters to seed it. The canister only came with 3 pads of filter floss and no sponges or bio media, so I made do with what I had. There’s certainly plenty of room for a plethora of filter media, though, and I’m now awaiting 2L of Matrix and 2 coarse sponges to arrive. As soon as they get here, I’ll be adding them to the canister. I’ll probably add all of the 2L of additional Matrix to the filter and use about 1L of that seeded media on another filter down the road.
One thing that threw me when getting the actual canister ready, was placing the media baskets (and basket cover) back into the cavity of the canister. Of course they all need to be aligned for the pump entrance point, but the canister head can only fit onto the canister body a certain way, so you need to make sure the baskets are in the correct orientation and then fit the head on the body. Easy enough.
After the baskets, filled with your media of choice, and head are back on the canister, attach the quick disconnect (with hoses affixed) to your canister. All you do is plug that sucker into the appropriate holes and push the lever down to affix it to the head. There’s only one way in which the quick disconnect attaches to the canister head, but an easy way to tell is to look down into the holes of canister head. One of the openings has a plastic flap. That flap only opens in one direction, which is out (away from the head). This is the outtake. When the pump stops, the clear, plastic flap will seal the tube, preventing water from getting back into the canister, trapping water in the hose. Once the quick disconnect is sealed, you’re good to start priming.
The essential priming is relatively easy. It works in the exact same way as the Penn Plax Cascade, in that you press the priming pump on the top of the canister head a few times to get the water flowing into the canister. After you notice the water moving on its’ own, just sit back and watch. It’ll take a couple of minutes for the filter to fill up and the air bubbles to move through the hoses (in and out). After it’s done priming, you might want to press the primer a few more times to ensure that all of the air is out. If it’s not, that’s fine. It’ll probably take a half hour or longer to get all of the excess air out and then you’ll be fine for a good while until you need to clean it (like most other filters).
That’s it! You’ve put the thing together and are ready to go. Piece of cake.
After you’ve assembled and primed the filter, you’re ready to plug it in. There’s no on/off switch, so when you plug it in, it’s all or nothing. You should hear the impeller begin to churn and water should begin to flow. Many times, this is easily witnessed by watching the transparent hoses, because you can see some air bubbles flowing through them. You can also tell by the bubbles spitting out of the outtake tube/spray bar. Another way to tell is by surface agitation/breaking of surface tension or flowing plants. Once you see this, you know you’re in working order and everything’s functioning as it should.
With the amount of filter media I have in the canister right now, the flow seems about perfect (maybe a little more than I need). I use the outtake tube and point it toward the center of the tank, where the surface agitation is taking place by my other filter’s spray bar. That filter’s intake is on the other side of the tank, so pushing water over there will create circulation and will ensure optimal filtration, due to water distribution.
As far as sound goes… this canister barely hums. I’m actually very surprised at how quiet this thing is, especially considering the quality of the plastic. It’s much more silent than my Penn Plax and so far has performed very well.
In comparison to running just the one filter on this tank, I can say that I already see a difference in clarity. It makes such a difference to use two canister filters on a 5ft long tank. You’ll never get the suction needed to get all of the dirt/scum from the other side of the tank, so having both sides filtered really covers all of your bases. So far, I’m very impressed with the performance of this filter and I’d say that it certainly gives the Penn Plax a run for its’ money.
While the GRECH GW-302 loses marks for lack of an indepth manual in English and some build quality, it makes up for it in performance, ease of use, options and price. It also gets some marks for awesome packaging. I’ve never seen something as carefully packaged… unless it was a live animal.
The useless manual really doesn’t deduct much on the whole, since if you know how to use one canister filter, you’ll be able to figure them all out. It’d be nice to have something for newcomers, but the diagrams do help to an extent. The Engrish can be read/understood, but it may be a chore for some.
The build quality isn’t a huge issue. They use some thinner plastics, but it’s still structurally sound. I’m not sure how it would stand up to being dropped or having something dropped on it, but I don’t intend to test it out. As long as you treat it with care, it should provide you with years of good, quality filtration. I’d prefer some stronger/thicker plastics, like the Filstar, but I’ll accept the cheaper materials for a more affordable filter that performs just as well.
If you’re used to Penn Plax, Filstar, Eheim, Marineland, etc., then you’ll find that this filter is simply easy to use. There’s really nothing to it and GRECH makes it a simple task to detach the hoses for quick/easy cleaning.
From what I’ve experienced, in terms of options for filters, again… GRECH out performs. The inclusion of a spray bar and optional skimmer is something that other, top tier brands have skimped on. With them, you’re paying a high premium for seemingly less. The only thing I would have preferred is if GRECH included more filter media. Filter floss is great and all, but I like using coarse sponges and bio media, as well. Even a pack of carbon would have been nice.
The pump power leaves a little room for wanting, but not much. Even with only an 18w powered pump, the canister does push a lot of water through with ease. Though, had it come with something a little stronger, it might leave at least Penn Plax and maybe the Filstar in its’ dust.
As for price? Nothing comes close in price/performance ratio. This canister is one of the most silent filters I’ve used, primes easily, cleans easily, and pumps a healthy amount of water per hour. $50 is pittance in comparison to the performance you’re receiving. It’s actually a steal and you’d do yourself a grand disservice to not give Grech or Sunsun a shot for your next canister filter. If I had to assign a number grade from 1-10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best, I’d have no reservations assigning an 8-9 to this filter for overall value. Stronger plastics, a more powerful pump and better instructions (well, you can toss the instructions – I don’t really need ’em) you’d have yourself a 9-10 rated filter. Of course, that might raise costs… thus lowering the value accordingly.
So, it’s been two months since I wrote the above review. After having received two responses to it, I decided people should know how it holds up under heavy usage. Trust me, my 75gal yields a healthy amount of waste, due to my Gourami and SAEs – non-stop bowel movements. Not to mention that plants do lose bits a pieces here and there (and my tank is fairly heavily planted).
Anyway, the Grech GW-302 Canister filter is still performing flawlessly at the two month mark. It’s putting out nearly as much (if not as much) water as it was, when it wasn’t completely full of filter media. I filled it up with a good amount of biological filter media, along with filter floss, and it still runs smooth as silk. You literally can’t hear this thing run, unless you put your ear up to it. I have to check the output every now and then, just to be sure it’s working appropriately – rest assured, it is. Now that my Water Sprite have grown out considerably, it’s much easier to check the water flow, because this thing will push it to the right side of the tank. ;]
Cleaning is still a piece of cake and boy, does this thing pull out a lot of nastiness in the tank. Here’s a helpful note for filter users: place a sponge on the intake (doesn’t matter what kind you use, as long as it’s porous, flexible and you can put a hole in it). This will keep your filter from getting gunked up, so you won’t have to clean it out as regularly. You’ll just have to wash out the sponge every now and then.
I honestly don’t know if the skimmer actually provides any true benefits yet, but I’ve been using it since I got it. It does pull in water and the occasional floating plant, so I know it’s working, just not sure if it’s beneficial or not. I suppose my Gourami approves of it, since she’s an Anabatoid/labyrinth fish (which, if you didn’t know, means she goes up for air, unlike most fish, who extract dissolved oxygen from the water).
Something else to note? This primes easier than the Penn Plax (and it doesn’t suck in a ton of air, like the Penn Plax). I’m fairly certain the Penn Plax is a flawed design, because it’s given me this air bubble problem for quite a while now… even after only a couple of months of use. Maybe I will replace it…
All in all, I’m still in love with this very affordable, extremely quiet and nearly flawlessly functioning piece of machinery. I’ll update in another couple of months to keep you apprised of it’s condition, in terms of functionality. Some filters (like my Penn Plax) will begin to degrade after only a short while of use. They become noisier, harder to prime, etc… even with a strict maintenance schedule. So far so good for the Grech, but we’ll see in another couple of months.