Penguin Bio-Wheel 100 HOB vs. Top Fin 30 HOB review..


Superstar Fish
Jan 11, 2013
East Aurora, NY
The Penguin bio-wheel filter came included with my Marineland 10 gal kit. It's a nice little unit. The Rite-Size filter cartridges are very sturdy and have a slotted plastic backing, which I presume offers some housing for beneficial bacteria. The only thing downstream of the filter cartridge is the bio-wheel itself, which has been happily paddle-wheeling along since I put the unit online. The flimsier filter cartridges on the Top Fin do not have as positive a fit. The Top Fin has a thin section of black sponge downstream of the filter for BB build-up.

The motor and filter housing are integrated on the Penguin, as opposed to separate, serviceable units on the Top Fin. No way to get the two apart should you have a problem with debris in the motor portion on the Penguin. I suppose this makes for a simpler(cheaper) and more leak free design.

They both appear to be pumping a lot of water and are both relatively quiet so far.

IMO, really the only major downfall of each of these units is basically no flexibility in what you can stuff in them and still have them operate correctly. You're basically stuck with filter cartridges, which IMO, isn't that bad. You can rinse and reuse them.


Superstar Fish
Mar 4, 2012
I like the marineland filters my self. Technically you shouldn't count on filter cartridge to house any bacteria, though it might, it is meant to be replaced every month or so. Their design specs claim all the bacteria that you'll need will be housed on the bio wheel. I actually do that and have found that refreshing the activated carbon does make a difference in water clarity. Not sure about the penguin 100 but the emporer 400 has an extra slot on each side for more filter media. I have failed however to figure out what that specifically is inteded to be. But I suppose you could add more activated carbon or rig up some sort of bio filter media. The space is actually there to jam in some bio balls if you want.


Superstar Fish
Apr 30, 2006
i like the penguins. i have a 200 on my 20 gallon, and 350 on my 2 30 gallons and then 2 350 on my 55. they are quiet and run like a champ. also there is no way to get anyhting in the motor. the impelar is magnetic and the electric motor is more or less just creating a turning magnetic field to spin the magnet on the impellar. so the electric parts are completly isolated from any water and is safe. the impellars are pretty cheap to replace as well on amazon. the only reason u would need to replace them that i know of is if ur tank has sand like mine with active fish that kick up the sand alot. other then that there is no real way to hurt anyhting inside the filter at all.