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I have used the Penguin Bio-Wheels on some of my smaller tanks and
I have found that they work pretty well. I had a 10 and a 20 gallon for my
2 daughters and Penguins kept them pretty clean. The filter pads were
loaded with debris. I never measured how well the biological portion works
so I can't vouch for that. One nice feature is that if you keep the tank
water level high enough, the return flow melds into the tank and doesn't
splash, so that you won't lose CO2. The only drawback I found is that the
pad comes with charcoal in it, which can be a problem with trace elements.
I cut the plastic mesh on the back and shook the carbon out.
In wintry Ann Arbor, where we are expecting a big storm Thursday.