Vintage Fluval 42 filter is a rare find indeed

I stumbled across an absolute beauty last weekend – a very nearly new Fluval 42 internal filter.

I collect old fishkeeping gear and already have some pretty impressive pieces in my collection including piston-powered airpumps, old Eheim and Dennerle from the ’80s, and old Fluvals. But up until last week I’d never seen one of these before in my life.

It popped up on facebook as a guy in one of the local fishkeeping groups was asking if anyone knew anything about it.

I’m pretty  hot on ’80s fishkeeping kit. I was there, keeping fish and visiting aquatic shops religiously, so I like to think I know/knew what was about back then.

But not this one.

The guy mentioned that it has been purchased in the ’80s, but I challenged that, and asked if it was an import (perhaps,) with a foreign plug, which hadn’t been released in the UK at that time.

Rolf C Hagen is a Canadian company, and Rolf had German roots. I also read the press release from an ’80s addition of Pet Product Marketing Magazine, talking of Hagen opening their first distribution in the UK, and I think it was in the eighties. So I was thinking non UK import, and probably from the 70s.

But the guy came back and said that it was purchased in 1986, and sure enough it is stamped, dated and even signed by a retailer from that time.

He did say however that he had asked around and others thought it was probably from the seventies, but I’m going to contact Hagen UK, who I know, to try and clear it up, and will update this post as necessary once I can find out more.

So for me, if it is from the ’80s, and it was certainly purchased then, it must pre-date the “original” brown Fluval 1,2, 3 and 4 internal filters, and I’m lucky enough to have an original, brown, Fluval 3 internal filter from that time, and an original, boxed Fluval 103 external filter, again in brown, and bought in 1988.



The box and filter itself look like new, and looking at it, it looks like it was designed to stick into the rear corner of the aquarium. It’s got 270lph output, with an adjuster to turn it down, and also includes a venturi device.

The pump itself sits down below the media cartridge, but I can’t open the cartridge and don’t want to force it, as although the unit looks new, one of the clips has been snapped off. The instructions show a rectangular foam strip inside, which again was used in the later Fluval 1-4 series.

The filter was made in Italy, but Germany is printed on the label, and it runs for just six watts of electricity. I’ve found this with old Eheims too – although output isn’t massive, wattage is very low, and easily comparable to todays small internal filters, if not better.

Collector’s item

So I’m quite chuffed to have found this one, and only a few miles from my house. I paid the princely sum of £30 (I had to have it after all,) and considering it was sold back then for £15, I’m happy to pay the extra to get my hands on it.

I may run it one day like I do with my other old filters, and if its like them it will prove to be extremely reliable. But for now it’s staying boxed.

Jeremy Gay

Author of three fishkeeping books and lifelong fishkeeper. Experience includes editor of Practical Fishkeeping magazine, editor of Pet Product Marketing magazine, multi award- winning livestock manager and aquatic store manager.