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Penn Plax Canister Filter: Cascade vs. Cascade Elite

One of the most popular canister filters in the aquarium hobby is the Penn Plax Cascade. There are two versions of the product available, a standard edition and the black elite edition. So which of these two best fit the needs of your fish tank? You can find out in this comparison guide.

Quick Summary

The Penn Plax Cascade Black Elite Canister Aquarium Filter provides a better value as it comes with replacement Bio-Floss, Bio-Sponge and Pro-Carb filter medias in addition to a Magna Sweep Algae Magnet. You most likely have to pay more if you decide to get the regular Penn Plax Cascade, the replacement filter medias and Magna Sweep Algae Magnet separately.

With that said, the two versions are identical when it comes to performance (supported aquarium size, flow rate, media baskets and more). The only other difference is that the regular Cascade comes in blue housing while the Cascade Elite comes in black. We prefer the black color as it will block out light and, thus, prevent algae from getting in your canister.

You can purchase either version of the product on Amazon with the following links:

Cascade vs. Cascade Elite Comparison Charts

Cascade 500 vs. Cascade Black 500 Elite

 Penn Plax Cascade 500Penn Plax Cascade Black 500 Elite
Dimensions 11.5" x 13.5" x 9"11.5" x 13.5" x 9"
Supported Aquarium SizeUp to 30 GallonsUp to 30 Gallons
Canister Housing Color Transparent BlueBlack
Water FlowYesYes
Media BasketsYesYes
Quick Push-Button Primer?YesYes
Directional 360-degree Rotating Valve Taps?YesYes
Flow-Rate Control Valves?YesYes
Pool-Style Hose Clamps?YesYes
Spray Bar?YesYes
Rubber Mounted Tip-Proof Rubber Base?YesYes
Magna Sweep Algae Magnet?YesYes
Bio-FlossYesYes
Bio-SpongeYesYes
Pro-CarbYesYes
Bio-RingsNoYes
Replacement Bio-FlossNoYes
Replacement Bio-SpongeNo Yes
Replacement Pro-CarbNoYes
Optional Filter Media Pro-Z

Pro-Carb-Z
Pro-Z

Pro-Carb-Z
PricingCheck price on Amazon.Check price on Amazon.

Cascade 700 vs. Cascade Black 700 Elite

 Penn Plax Cascade 700Penn Plax Cascade Black 700 Elite
Dimensions 11.5" x 15" x 10"11.5" x 15" x 10"
Supported Aquarium SizeUp to 65 GallonsUp to 65 Gallons
Canister Housing Color Transparent BlueBlack
Water FlowYesYes
Media BasketsYesYes
Quick Push-Button Primer?YesYes
Directional 360-degree Rotating Valve Taps?YesYes
Flow-Rate Control Valves?YesYes
Pool-Style Hose Clamps?YesYes
Spray Bar?YesYes
Rubber Mounted Tip-Proof Rubber Base?YesYes
Magna Sweep Algae Magnet?YesYes
Bio-FlossYesYes
Bio-SpongeYesYes
Pro-CarbYesYes
Bio-RingsNoYes
Replacement Bio-FlossNoYes
Replacement Bio-SpongeNo Yes
Replacement Pro-CarbNoYes
Optional Filter Media Pro-Z

Pro-Carb-Z
Pro-Z

Pro-Carb-Z
PricingCheck price on Amazon.Check price on Amazon.

Cascade 1000 vs. Cascade Black 1000 Elite

 Penn Plax Cascade 1000Penn Plax Cascade Black 1000 Elite
Dimensions 11.5" x 17" x 10"11.5" x 17" x 10"
Supported Aquarium SizeUp to 100 GallonsUp to 100 Gallons
Canister Housing Color Transparent BlueBlack
Water FlowYesYes
Media BasketsYesYes
Quick Push-Button Primer?YesYes
Directional 360-degree Rotating Valve Taps?YesYes
Flow-Rate Control Valves?YesYes
Pool-Style Hose Clamps?YesYes
Spray Bar?YesYes
Rubber Mounted Tip-Proof Rubber Base?YesYes
Magna Sweep Algae Magnet?YesYes
Bio-FlossYesYes
Bio-SpongeYesYes
Pro-CarbYesYes
Bio-RingsNoYes
Replacement Bio-FlossNoYes
Replacement Bio-SpongeNo Yes
Replacement Pro-CarbNoYes
Optional Filter Media Pro-Z

Pro-Carb-Z
Pro-Z

Pro-Carb-Z
PricingCheck price on Amazon.Check price on Amazon.

Cascade 1200 vs. Cascade Black 1200 Elite

 Penn Plax Cascade 1200Penn Plax Cascade Black 1200 Elite
Dimensions 11.5" x 20.5" x 11"11.5" x 20.5" x 11"
Supported Aquarium SizeUp to 150 GallonsUp to 150 Gallons
Canister Housing Color Transparent BlueBlack
Water FlowYesYes
Media BasketsYesYes
Quick Push-Button Primer?YesYes
Directional 360-degree Rotating Valve Taps?YesYes
Flow-Rate Control Valves?YesYes
Pool-Style Hose Clamps?YesYes
Spray Bar?YesYes
Rubber Mounted Tip-Proof Rubber Base?YesYes
Magna Sweep Algae Magnet?YesYes
Bio-FlossYesYes
Bio-SpongeYesYes
Pro-CarbYesYes
Bio-RingsNoYes
Replacement Bio-FlossNoYes
Replacement Bio-SpongeNo Yes
Replacement Pro-CarbNoYes
Optional Filter Media Pro-Z

Pro-Carb-Z
Pro-Z

Pro-Carb-Z
PricingCheck price on Amazon.Check price on Amazon.

Cascade 1500 vs. Cascade Black 1500 Elite

 Penn Plax Cascade 1500Penn Plax Cascade Black 1500 Elite
Dimensions 11.5" x 20.5" x 12"11.5" x 20.5" x 12"
Supported Aquarium SizeUp to 200 GallonsUp to 200 Gallons
Canister Housing Color Transparent BlueBlack
Water FlowYesYes
Media BasketsYesYes
Quick Push-Button Primer?YesYes
Directional 360-degree Rotating Valve Taps?YesYes
Flow-Rate Control Valves?YesYes
Pool-Style Hose Clamps?YesYes
Spray Bar?YesYes
Rubber Mounted Tip-Proof Rubber Base?YesYes
Magna Sweep Algae Magnet?YesYes
Bio-FlossYesYes
Bio-SpongeYesYes
Pro-CarbYesYes
Bio-RingsNoYes
Replacement Bio-FlossNoYes
Replacement Bio-SpongeNo Yes
Replacement Pro-CarbNoYes
Optional Filter Media Pro-Z

Pro-Carb-Z
Pro-Z

Pro-Carb-Z
PricingCheck price on Amazon.Check price on Amazon.

Dimensions

The dimensions are identical for the regular and elite editions of the Penn Plax Canister Filter when you compare the Cascade 500 to Cascade Black 500 Elite, Cascade 700 to Cascade Black 700 Elite, Cascade 1000 to Cascade Black 1000 Elite, Cascade 1200 to Cascade Black 1200 Elite and Cascade 1500 to Cascade Black 1500 Elite. You can find the measurements below:

  • Cascade 500 and Cascade Black 500 Elite: 11.5″ x 13.5″ x 9″
  • Cascade 700 and Cascade Black 700 Elite: 11.5″ x 15″ x 10″
  • Cascade 1000 and Cascade Black 1000 Elite: 11.5″ x 17″ x 10″
  • Cascade 1200 and Cascade Black 1200 Elite: 11.5″ x 20.5″ x 11″
  • Cascade 1500 and Cascade Black 1500 Elite: 11.5″ x 20.5″ x 12″

Supported Aquarium Size

There is no difference in terms of supported aquarium size between the regular Cascade and Cascade Elite. You can check out the specs for each model below:

  • 500 and Black 500 Elite: up to 30 Gallons
  • 700 and Black 700 Elite: up to 65 Gallons
  • 1000 and Black 1000 Elite: up to 100 Gallons
  • 1200 and Black 1200 Elite: up to 150 Gallons
  • 1500 and Black 1500 Elite: up to 200 Gallons

Canister Housing Color

The standard version of the Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter uses a blue transparent canister housing. As a result, you will be able to see little bit on the inner workings. This has some advantages and disadvantages.

The main advantage of having a transparent blue housing is that you will know if your filter is getting dirty and, thus, need to be clean. The main disadvantage is that the transparency will expose the canister to potential algae blooms. Most algae are relatively harmless unless they start to clog your filter and slow down the water flow.

The Penn Plax Cascade 700 Canister Aquarium Filter on Amazon.

The Cascade Black Elite comes with a black housing, which will block out any visibility in addition to light sources that may lead to algae blooms.

Water Flow

The water performance are also the same when you compare the 500 to 500 Elite, 700 to 700 Elite, 1000 to 1000 Elite,  1200 to 1200 Elite and 1500 to 1500 Elite. You can find the water flow ratings for each below:

  • Cascade 500 and Cascade 500 Elite: up to 115 gallons per hour
  • Cascade 700 and Cascade 700 Elite: up to 185 gallons per hour
  • Cascade 1000 and Cascade 1000 Elite: up to 265 gallons per hour
  • Cascade 1200 and Cascade 1200 Elite: up to 315 gallons per hour
  • Cascade 1500 and Cascade 1500 Elite: up to 350 gallons per hour

Media Baskets

The amount of media baskets included are also identical in the regular and elite editions of the Penn Plax Canister Aquarium Filter:

  • Cascade 500 and Cascade Elite 500: 2 media baskets
  • Cascade 700 and Cascade Elite 700: 2 media baskets
  • Cascade 1000 and Cascade Elite 1000: 3 media baskets
  • Cascade 1200 and Cascade Elite 1200: 4 media baskets
  • Cascade 1500 and Cascade Elite 1500: 5 media baskets

Quick Push-Button Primer

Both versions also come with a quick push-button primer. This will allow you to easily add water to the canister from your fish tank.

Directional 360-degree Rotating Valve Taps

The Cascade and Cascade Black Elite include directional 360-degree rotating valve taps, which will give you a lot of versatility when it comes to moving tubing around, in multiple directions, from the canister to the aquarium.

Flow-Rate Control Valves

Flow-rate control valves are also included in both products. These will allow you to control the water flow of the filter.

Pool-Style Hose Clamps

You will also get pool-style hose clamps for the Cascade and Cascade Elite. The clamps will help secure the tubing when you hang them on your fish tank.

Spray Bar

Furthermore, the two versions come with a spray bar. The optional accessory is made to help evenly disperse outgoing water from the canister filter into your tank.

Rubber Mounted Tip-Proof Rubber Base

Last but not least, a rubber mounted tip-proof rubber base is included in both versions of the Penn Plax Canister. This will keep your filter quiet, stable and prevent it from being knocked over.

Magna Sweep Algae Magnet

The Magna Sweep algae magnet is exclusive to the Cascade Black 500 Elite, Cascade Black 700 Elite, Cascade Black 1000 Elite, Cascade Black 1200 Elite and Cascade Black 1500 Elite. This tool will let you conveniently scrape off algae from your glass or acrylic panel from the outside via the use of magnets.

Included Filter Media

Both versions of the Cascade come with Bio-Floss, Bio-Sponge and Pro-Carb. Bio-Floss will trap very small particles from the water in your fish tank. Bio-Sponge is designed to trapped bigger particles as well as provide surface area for beneficial bacteria (which will help consume ammonia and nitrites, both of which are toxic to your pet fish) to grow. Pro-Carb will help clear up your water, remove any odors and unwanted chemicals.

The Cascade Black Elite Filters comes with extra Bio-Floss, Bio-Sponge and Pro-Carb in addition to Bio-Rings. The rings are optimized to provide surface area for the aforementioned beneficial bacteria. Along with the above-mentioned Magna Sweep algae magnet, you get a lot of added value with the Elite when compared to the regular Cascade version.

The Penn Plax Cascade Black 700 Elite Canister Aquarium Filter on Amazon.

Optional Filter Media

Both the Cascade and Cascade Elite also support the Pro-Z and Pro-Carb-Z. Filt-A-Pack Pro-Z will help remove ammonia from your tank water. Pro-Carb-Z is a combination of the aforementioned Pro-Carb and Pro-Z.

You can check out our Cascade/Casade Elite filter media buyer’s guide for more information of the aforementioned filter media types.

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