Canister Filters For Saltwater Aquariums!? Why Not? Sicce Whale Aquarium Canister Filter

The Sicce Whale Canister filters are a great choice for saltwater applications because Sicce really paid attention to what matters most in real-world applications of a canister filter. It is easy to use meaning maintenance will not be such a pain and being Sicce, you can be confident the built-in pump assembly will withstand the rigors of a saltwater environment.

Sicce Whale Canister Filters Specifications

Plumbing Sicce Whale Canister Filters

The Sicce Whale comes complete with all the necessary plumbing to pull water from your tank, into the filter, and back. This includes the intake and outlet fittings, strainer, water deflector, thick wall flexible tubing with hose clamps, and suction cups to secure everything.


As for ease of use, once you get the Whale assembled and attached to your tank, the one-piece removable valve stem assembly makes maintenance really easy. Just unclip the valve stem assembly which detaches the canister itself from the plumbing. You can leave both the tubes and intake/outlet assemblies in place on your aquarium and quickly remove the canister out from under your tank to maintain it. When the time comes to fire it back up again, just use the included priming plunger to create some suction and draw water into the canister before turning it on. No manual priming is required and should allow for mess-free media swaps.

Sicce Whale Canister Filter Exploded View

Assembly is pretty easy and straightforward. The diagram above shows an exploded view of all the parts and you can also download the Whale Canister Filter User Manual from Sicce's website for more details.

Filter Media For Canister Filters

The internal media baskets are large and it comes complete with your initial set of media. The square shape makes it really easy to cut bulk filter pads and filter foam to fit right inside the baskets. You can use carbon, resin, or any other chemical filter media of your choice as well, just be sure to use a filter bag when necessary to contain the media granules.

The order is important when it comes to placing media in your canister. The exact media type your use will change per your preference and tank type but generally speaking you want your mechanical filtration on the bottom, chemical media in the middle, and your biological filtration on top.

Traditional Canister Filter Media Order

The water flows bottom to top meaning it will encounter the filter sponges and pads first. This gives the filter a chance to remove physical debris before it can get caught up in your chemical and biological media. Sticking to this media order will help prevent premature clogging and avoid creating nitrate traps.

Canister filter on traditional framed aquarium

Use and Maintenance On A Saltwater Tank

Canister filters are popular for freshwater tanks as they don't take up as much room on the lip of your tank and hidden away down below the tank. They often provide more efficient filtration than your classic HOB power filter as well. While it might be controversial, using a canister filter on a saltwater tank is possible, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You just have to be smart about the application and media choices.

Canister filter on traditional saltwater aquarium

First and foremost, you want to oversize the flow rate per the manufacturer's recommendation for tank size. Saltwater tanks require more flow so getting that larger pump and media capacity is essential. There are two scenarios in which a canister filter will be useful on a saltwater tank. Either as a biological filter boost or an intermittent water polisher and each has a specific use and media requirements.

Canister Filter Media For Biological Filtration

Biologicial Filter Boost

When used for biological filtration support the filter will run 24/7 to support the existing filtration on your tank. This is great for AIO aquariums, quarantine tanks, or traditional tanks using hang-on equipment that need a bio-boost. You can then install in-line heaters or UV sterilizers using the canister filter plumbing should you need it.

In this case, you do not want to use chemical filter media such as carbon, GFO, or any resins and do away with any fine filter pads. Chemical media will exhaust very quickly and fine filter pads will clog up almost overnight on a saltwater tank. By eliminating these media types, you won't have to open it up for maintenance every few days and you can let it run for 2-4 weeks without issue. Just run your coarse foam sponge on the bottom and fill the remaining media baskets with ceramic rings, Seachem Matrix, or similar biological media.

Canister Filter Media For Water Polishing

Intermittent Water Polishing

Water polishing is designed to be a short run of filtration to remove detritus and give your water that next level clarity. The idea is only to run the filter for a day or two maybe even just overnight, remove it, toss the media, and store it away for next time. This is great to do after water changes and heavy cleanings or when you want the tank to sparkle for visitors.

In this case, you won't need biological media but you do want to use carbon and fine filter pads. Chemical media like carbon will work great to remove any yellow color from your water and help adsorb any odors. A fine filter pad is alright too but just be sure to monitor flow rate and if you notice it clogs up before your done polishing, open it up and remove that fine filter pad because it can certainly affect the overall performance.

If you have space, double up on your coarse filter sponge on the bottom, follow it with a fine filter pad in the middle and then run some high-quality carbon on top as the final stage. Monitor performance but usually you won't run media like this any longer than through the weekend or a similar time frame, especially on a reef tank.

Shop Sicce Whale Canister Filters

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