Polar Aurora Canister Filter Unboxed, Tested and Reviewed 2022

The Polar Aurora looks, on paper, like a reasonably priced staged canister filter.

With great customer feedback and reviews online, I wanted to get my hands on one and run it through some tests to see how it stands up to daily use and similar filters.

In this review, I’ll break down how I tested this filter, my experience using it daily, what maintenance is like, and how it stands up to other canister filters in this category.

TLDR: Polar Aurora Review Overview

I think this Polar Aurora 265 is a sturdy and economical alternative to more expensive brands, like Fluval.

I really like that this filter comes with a built-in UV sterilizer. This can help keep your tank healthier because the UV light can kill bacteria, viruses and even microalgae floating in the water column.

I do wish that this filter came with better mechanical filtration, but it’s easy to add on some of your own reusable sponges. 

Priming this filter was a challenge and maintenance wasn’t terrible, but could have been easier.

Overall, I think this filter is a great choice for those who want to try using a canister filter, but don’t want to commit to the big bucks that you’ll need to fork out for other canisters.

Polar Aurora External Canister Filter
Polar Aurora External Canister Filter

    Last update on 2022-10-05 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    How I Tested The Polar Aurora Canister Filter

    I wanted to know what it’s really like to use this filter, so I installed it on a 70 gallon (265 liter) horse trough where I’m raising a school of comet goldfish in my barn. 

    Doesn’t everyone have goldfish in their barn? Just me?

    Well, at least I’m not boring.

    Polar aurora canister filter testing

    Moving on, I ran the filter for several weeks so I could get a feel for what the real user experience is like.

    Goldfish are notorious for producing tons of waste that can really wreak havoc on filters. These guys are eating and pooping machines. So, they’re one of the best fish to use when you’re testing filters.

    If the filter can handle a bunch of goldfish, it can handle anything!

    While I was testing this filter, I was looking specifically at these criteria:

    • Installation – it is difficult to get the filter installed?
    • Priming – how hard is it to get the filter primed the first time and after maintenance?
    • Performance – how good a job does this filter do trapping solid wastes? Does it maintain good water clarity? Does it help maintain healthy water parameters?
    • Maintenance how difficult is it to break down and clean this filter for routine maintenance?
    • Noise – how much noise does this filter emit?

    Unboxing The Polar Aurora

    Polar Aurora canister filter unboxed

    There are quite a few components to unpack:

    • Canister
    • Media baskets
    • Filter media:
      • Thin white polishing pads
      • Bio balls
      • Ceramic noodles
      • Activated carbon
    • Glass tube (part of UV sterilizer)
    • UV bulb
    • Hoses
    • Spray bar
    • Intake tube
    • Instructional manual

    So, let’s take a look at the criteria I set out earlier.

    Installation

    Installing this filter really wasn’t bad, but there were some difficulties.

    Instructions for this filter leave A LOT to be desired. They’re enough to mostly get you going, but I definitely had to go through some trial and error to get things to fit together properly.

    The manual includes step by step drawings, and some poorly translated instructions, but the pictures are really tiny. Really, really tiny. Even with some serious cheater reading glasses it was very hard to figure out what the pictures were telling me to do. 

    Like most canister filters, the inside of the body of the filter is divided up by several stacking media baskets. 

    You get a nice sized bag of ceramic noodles with this filter. I was really happy with this since this is my biomedia of choice. 

    It also comes with plastic bio balls. These spheres are cut through with deep ridges that beneficial bacteria can colonize, which helps to detoxify fish waste.  

    I really like the curved intake and outflow tubes that come with this filter. I played around with them on several of my tanks and was able to get them installed on both rimmed and rimless tanks with no problem. 

    Priming 

    My single biggest gripe with this filter was trying to get it primed. I have never struggled so much to get a filter primed as I did with this one.

    There is a large button on top of the motorhead that you push repeatedly to purge air out of the system and get a siphon going that will get water flowing down into the canister.

    Priming the Polar aurora canister filter

    The instructions don’t tell you to fill the canister with water before trying to prime it, but I found that I could not get the filter to start pulling water through the hoses until after I filled the canister and replaced the motorhead.

    Once I did that, water filled the hoses very quickly. The filter then started up no problem when I plugged it in, and purged the rest of the air out of the system on its own. 

    Priming after maintenance is thankfully very easy with this filter. When you go to break the filter down, you just need to lift the lever on the quick connect valve to stop the water flowing. The hoses will stay filled with water.

    So, when you reconnect everything and open up the valve, water will automatically start flowing into the canister. Once you stop hearing the water flow down into the body of the filter, you just plug it back in, and it should start right up.

    Performance 

    GPH: 265

    One thing I didn’t like about this filter is that it doesn’t come with enough mechanical filter media, in my opinion. You only get three thin water polishing pads. Compared to the huge sponges you get with a Fluval filter, this is pretty darn skimpy on the part of the manufacturer. 

    I would recommend adding on some additional reusable sponges of your own.

    Because there isn’t as much mechanical media, this filter doesn’t trap as much of the solid wastes as some of the other canisters that I’ve tried recently.

    Although this filter didn’t perform quite as well as a ​​Fluval canister filter when it came to trapping poop, because of the UV sterilizer, it did a great job at keeping the water looking crystal clear.

    UV sterilizers destroy microalgaes in the water column (bacteria and viruses, too!), which helps the water look really clear

    My water parameters stayed steady throughout the entire time that ​​I used this filter. I was very happy on that front. 

    And I know this is somewhat arbitrary, but I do have to say that I really like the look of this canister. It has a cool spaceship design, like a stormtrooper and a canister filter had a baby.

    Maintenance

    Doing maintenance on this filter isn’t terrible, but it could definitely be improved.

    I did like that it was very easy to cut off flow to the hoses and detach their quick connect fitting from the body of the canister. The hoses stay full of water, which makes priming the filter after maintenance simple. 

    You just connect the hoses and open the valve, and the canister will quickly fill with water.

    I did not like that I was not able to carry the canister with the motorhead attached. Even with the clamps in place, it leaked really bad every time I jostled it.

    Polar Aurora leaking

    I recommend taking the motorhead off before you try to move the canister.

    I also don’t like that you have to reach down into the dirty water to pull out the media baskets. I much prefer filters that have a central handle that lets you pull out all of the media baskets at once from the top.

    Also, it seemed like the biomedia gets a lot dirtier in this filter because there isn’t as much mechanical media to catch it.

    If I were going to use this filter long term, I would add additional reusable sponges to catch debris. But I wanted to test it out using just the media that came from the manufacturer.

    Noise 

    The Polar Aurora is one of the noisier canister filters that I’ve tested. It gives off a low buzzing sound. It’s really not too bad, but it might be noticeable in a very quiet room.

    This filter puts out 56.3 decibels, which surprised me, when much bigger filters, like the Fluval FX6, only put out around 50.0 decibels. 

    Overall Pros and Cons

    Pros: 

    • Includes a built in UV sterilizer
    • Canister looks sleek and modern
    • More economical than some other brands

    Cons: 

    • A bit noisier than other canister filters
    • Maintenance is a bit of a hassle
    • Limited mechanical filtration
    Polar Aurora External Canister Filter
    Polar Aurora External Canister Filter

      Last update on 2022-10-05 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

      How Does it Compare?

      I was surprised at how loud this filter is, especially compared to the quieter Fluval FX6 which is a giant behemoth that churns out over three times as much water. 

      Now, I’m not saying that this filter is super loud, it’s really not. But, the buzzing it puts out is a little bit more noticeable than both the Fluval FX6 and Fluval 407, both of which have a higher GPH. 

      Speaking of GPH, this filter is rated at a respectable 265 an hour. So, it’s not the most powerful on the market, but it’s comparable to similar filters, like the Aqueon Quietflow.

      I definitely think it’s much easier to prime pretty much every other canister that I’ve tried out. That’s the biggest drawback to this filter. But, once you’ve got it primed that first time, the valves do maintain your siphon and make starting it up after maintenance much, much easier. 

      Getting this filter primed is not insurmountable, but you may cuss a blue streak trying to get this going the first time.

      As far as performance goes, this filter did a great job keeping the water clear. But, it doesn’t catch as much debris and waste as canisters that come with large reusable sponges, like Fluval filters do.

      But, this filter stands out from the crowd because of the UV sterilizer. None of the other filters I’ve used included this feature. 

      A UV light can destroy algae, bacteria and viruses in the water column, really helping to keep your tank healthy and your water crystal clear.

      Who is the Polar Aurora Best For?

      I think this filter is best for tanks that are 40-75 gallons (151-284 liters). This is an economical alternative to more expensive brands, like Fluval and Marineland.

      Although I’m not crazy about the mechanical media that comes with this filter, it really would not be hard to add on some additional sponges in the bottom tray. 

      You’d still have plenty of room for any biological and chemical media you wanted to use.

      This filter may be a good choice for someone who wants to try out a canister filter, but doesn’t want to foot the bill for one of the more expensive brands.

      Is this the be all, end all of canister filters?

      Nope. That moniker would have to go to Fluval, in my opinion.

      But, this is a solid little machine that will keep your water clean and crystal clear, without breaking the bank. And you can use it and decide long term if going with a canister filter is for you.

      Polar Aurora External Canister Filter
      Polar Aurora External Canister Filter

        Last update on 2022-10-05 / Commissions Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

        Katherine Morgan
        Katherine Morgan

        Hey, there! I'm Katherine from Northwest Florida. A nunchuck specialist, I've kept aquariums for over two decades, enjoy experimenting with low-tech planted setups and an avid South American cichlid enthusiast. If You'd like to see more of my tanks, check out my Instagram

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