Long term Review – Hagen Marina Style 160

The Style 160 aquarium as the name may suggest is a 160 Litre tank.
It comes in a nice big box containing everything you need to get started with (excluding a  stand which has to be purchased separately).
In the box:

  • Tank
  • lid with 2x light fittings in it
  • 2x bulbs one sun glo bulb and one aqua glo bulb
  • a 150 watt heater
  • 2x back mounted filters that hang on the back of the tank
  • 8x filter media cartridges 4 for each filter
  • black plastic base tray thing to make the bottom of the tank look pretty.

3 months ago I realised my main sailfin common pleco was starting to out grow his current tank rather than donate him to a friend with a bigger tank I decided to bite the bullet and buy a bigger tank myself.
My requirements were quite simple. The new tank had to last me about 12 months before I upgraded again.  I had no idea of size or make just that I didn’t want to be buying another one within the next 12 months nice and simple.
I began looking around and scouring ebay as you usually do when looking for a bargin.  Then one day I got a call from the local fish shop “hey I’ve got 2 of these 160 litre tanks in with stand if you want one come get it”.
So I went picked the tank + flat packed stand up and headed home.

The stand I picked up was the matching stand for the tank so it was as you would expect the perfect fit.  Building up the stand took about 20 minutes as you would expect from flat packed furniture.
I only have one comment about the stand really the cupboards suck! The stand is in a T shape as the top is rather long but the vertical section with the cupboards is very narrow (far from the full width of the tank) coupled with the lack of shelving within the cupboards and its made them pretty useless as storage out of the box.

Moving onto the tank its self the tank is about 3 foot wide by 1 deep by 1.5 high.  I say about as I haven’t measured it exactly but you get the kind of idea.
The glass is of a reasonable thickness and is untinted on all sides.  Sealant around the edges for the most part was clean and tidy with only a couple of stray strings coming from it.  A big improvement over most other new tanks sealants which require some tidying up!
The one thing I would have liked to have seen on the tank its self is perhaps another 3 inches in height as it really is quite a long shallow tank which won’t suit all fish or plant types.

I quickly placed the tank in its black plastic base and onto the stand it all fits millimeter perfect as you would expect and immediately out of the box looks quite a nice tank.  I proceeded to put in some gravel and my bog wood log then prepared to fill the thing with all the filters and heaters required.
This is the part things started to go “wrong”, well I suppose you could classify them as sloppy rather than wrong.  Certainly not up to the standards I would expect from a supplier like Hagen.

The supplied heater has a min fill / submersion line as you see on most heaters. The only problem?  With a rather skimpy 2cm of substrate in the bottom of the tank the heater when placed vertically in the tank is taller than the tank!  Yep that’s right they supply a heater that you have no option but to fit it side ways across the back (not the sides as its taller than the sides are wide too!) this creates its own issues due to the filters which we’ll come onto next.
The 2nd problem with the heater is there is no temperature setting marker so you have no clue at all what temperature you have the thing set up at.  The final problem with the heater is that it simply isn’t powerful enough for the tank size + its lack of circulation – more on this later – taking 2 days to raise the entire tank level by 1 degree centigrade. I think a far better solution would have been dual 100 watt heaters that were short and dumpy to allow for one at each end of the tank to create an even temperature rather than having one hot end and one cold end.

Next up the filters.  These are the hang on the outside of the tank style heaters they have a feed arm and pump head that sits inside of the tank and a little waterfall that hangs over the edge to recirc the water into the tank.  The main issue with these heaters is their lack of circulation. The input pump head sits directly next to the feed in waterfall so all they do is recirc the water they’ve just filtered anyway you do not get full tank circulation not even close.  The other thing is they both sit next to each other on the back of the tank leaving both ends of the tank with no flow at all.  If you’re intending on growing plants or creating a current from these filters forget about it.
Positional adjustment of the filters is achieved by a little wheel which pushes into the bottom of the filters which is a great idea until you actually try positioning the filters, its at this point you realise that if you adjust the filters position from the back of the tank the pump head pushes on the glass inside of the tank and makes a right racket so in effect they’re useless.  While I’m complaining about the filters the concept of the waterfall drop is nice but due to the depth of the waterfall overhang into the tank it means you can’t fill the top 3 inches of tank with water meaning you loose a large quantity of your litre capacity for the tank.
Finally their flow rate is horrible, in a 160 litre tank you should be aiming for at least 2x capacity turn over in a planted tank you should be aiming for a 10x turn over so in a 160 litre tank at a minimum you’d be expecting a 320 litre turn over upto a possible 1600 litre turn over per hour.  These filters provide perhaps 100 litre an hour combined between both of them, no where near enough for a healthy tank.
The filters are by far my biggest bug bear with this tank and have massively let me down in this review so much so I’ve had to acquire a stand alone external filter to supplement them and provide some much needed water movement throughout the tank.

The final part of the installation is the lid.  This is arguably the best part of the installation it comes with the 2x fittings + bulbs which provide a perfect amount of wattage per litre for the size tank even if you wish to grow plants so there’s no worries here about providing enough lighting for your growth.  The back of the lid is nicely cut out to exactly the right size for all the pipes / fittings / filters etc that needs to fit through and even comes with a couple of additional blanking plates that can be cut out to provide some extra room should you need it for things like external filtration spray bar and feeder pipe loops.
I was also caught out by the addition of some handy little cable clips built into the lid which keeps the power cable for the lighting tidy and secured to the lid on the right hand side.  A nice little surprise.  The lid fits snugly and with very little movement and slip around the tank.  Starters for the flo tubes are easily accessible via 2 little access hatches on the inside of the lid should you need to change them.
My only argument with the lid is it gathers condensation around its feeding/access hatch on the front when you open/close the lid this can create a few drips down the face of the tank its nothing major though and is easily resolved with a piece of kitchen roll just to give it a quick wipe down.


All in for the price as a hobbyist tank its not horrible.  Its cheap and cheerful and will be fine if you just want to keep a few neon’s, mollies, swords, platties and other simple common and undemanding fish.
That said if you are serious about planted tanks or are keeping some more demanding fish that require water with a current or high levels of filtration and even temperature though you will end up throwing away all but the tank and lid from this setup and bolting in some external filtration and additional heaters.

Its not a bad looking tank and it does work just fine it just has some serious flaws which the designers of the setup seemed to have not thought about when designing the tank and filtration systems.
Not the worst tank ever but far from the best tank.  Worth considering if you’re trying to achieve some additional space which looks good and have a limited budget.

Suggested Improvements

More vertical height on tank.
2 heaters of 100W + variety but with a shorter length
Heaters should contain temperature settings
Complete rethink / design of the filtration system

13 thoughts on “Long term Review – Hagen Marina Style 160”

  1. Your assessment, while I can see what you mean…..A: Bogwood don’t dump in a great lump of it unless its treated to Boiling water to filter out the Brown liquid that’s currently flowing into your tank….
    B: filtration your observations is that 2x filters with 4x carbon and 4x mesh covering an each end of the tank is not sufficient for a tank this size which is a point of view. Throw some statistics in and backup your “assessment!” with filtration issue evidence…..all in all for £250 this tank for me ticks some boxes that 450£ Fluval doesn’t, time will tell but for me even if the single heater is limited……learn to turn the adjuster at the top……..Thanks.

    1. a) That would depend if you like the look of tannin stained water I personally do as it makes the tank look more natual
      b) The golden rule/rule of thumb is 10x turnover either for marine or tropical on certain fish ie: cichlids since they’re messy fish you go for even further over filtration the standard filters are woefully inadequate. The statistics are obvious they don’t even turnover the entire tank once an hour let alone 10x an hour thats from simply looking at the pump ratings on them.
      c) Never ever ever adjust your heater to the top the adjuster knob isn’t a “power” output button its a temperature cut off button if you put it up to 30 degree’s the heater will stay on constantly then when the weather gets slightly warmer it won’t cut out next thing you know you have 30+ degree water and cooked fish. Worst advice ever a second complementary heater is the only real solution for the issue.

  2. Okay Dave, thanks for your help & all the best.
    I’ll probably take another look at the aquael range, both the classic & the aludekor. The classic is only £30 more than the style & a little bigger in volume, the aludekor also comes with T5 lighting, just like my Brillux.
    I’ve not ruled out the style 160 but I’m not too keen on the hood windows, which I think are a bit gimmicky. If there were no competitors then I’d definitely go for the style 160, but thankfully there is competition.

    Whichever Tank/Cab I go for, I’ll take your advice & get another external – probably another e700 (discontined) for £50 new. The lph figures as is typical it seems are misleading to put it mildly. The figures 700+lph are without ANY media in place, let alone media that has matured – hmm…More like half that figure in normal use.

    1. Yeah as I say in the review its a good little tank but it has some serious design flaws which Hagen need to address. There are alot of other tanks out there which are equally nice many without the same design flaws though I think personally from now on I’m only going to stick with either custom made setups or things like the TMC Signature range.

      Hagen if you’re reading this feel free to get in touch and I’ll help you design a proper aquarium system 🙂 you can call it the “Dave signature range”! 🙂

  3. Sorry, I can’t see the albino bristle nose plecs on my laptop as the pic is too small, but I’m sure they’re fabulous fish & well looked after.

    I wonder, might it be best to run the two supplied filters with my external?
    Though I wouldn’t be prepared to accept the water level 3″ below top that you mentioned in your excellent review. When the hood is on, how much below that hood rim is the water level when using those filters – I’d guess around 2″ ?
    It’s a shame that in this day & age that reasonably priced products too often come with serious design faults, at least in the fish keeping industry.

    Though there is a competitor in the Aquael classic 100 with cabinet (£250 approx), which includes a basic internal filter & bi-metallic heater, which won’t be used. The tank is rated at 200 litres capacity because it is taller than the style 160, I think. But unlike the style 160 & my Brillux it’s a non floating base tank, which is a bit odd. Instead using slightly unsightly braces along the top front & back panes.

    Anyway, within the next month I’ll bite the bullet & make a few decisons

    1. I’d be tempted to try and pickup another external of a similar size and just chuck the hang on backs in the bin. Cichlids are pretty messy creatures so you’ll ideally want 2 filters on there anyway (or one massive one)

      If you do away with them you can raise the water level right up in the tank. I actually have the water level above the lowest part of the hood trim so you can’t see the surface its probably 1cm at most from the actual top of the glass much better.
      Can’t do that with the hangons though so needs to be externals you’ll use.

  4. I’d use my jbl cristalprofi e700 external filter (free from pfk mag) with this tank IF the cabinet could accomodate it. Could you possibly tell me what the internal width is of the cupboards? I’ve contacted hagen for this info but have had no response. Thanks

      1. Thanks for that, the Jbl will just about fit – thank goodness. I still haven’t had a response from Hagen though, but for the money looks good value with that cabinet, except for as you say the filters & the heater. I’ll probably connect an inline external heater from Hydor to the external filter.
        Is your style 160 still okay?
        I was also wondering about the light windows in the hood? Are they a distraction at all?

        1. Yeah its still running nicely I’ve completely changed the filtration it has a tetratec IN1000 on it now for high internal flow and runs an external aqua one 1200 canister filter filled with alpha grog.

          The little front windows aren’t that off putting / bright the picture below was taken in a completely dark room its more the light coming out of the back thats the major issue since I removed the hang on filters and cut away a little plastic to allow for the external pipes to go through. All in though very happy with the tank for what it cost its a nice little tank.

          ps: ignore my snail infestation 🙂

          Updated tank shot

          1. I see what you mean about the rear lighting effect. Would a background sheet to the back pane be a partial solution? It would also help hide some of the internal equipment. Are you using the tank for an exotic snail selective breeding programme, lol?
            Hopefully mine, when I get it, will work out as either a nice aquascaped tank lightly stocked with suitable small fish OR a cichlid species tank with few if any plants – I’ve not yet decided.
            I’ve recently purchased an Aquael Brillux 60, which I’m working on & which is situated in the b/room. I replaced the internal filter with another brand which allows more flexibility with regard to filter media & have also replaced the heater with one of Aquaels better heaters – the neoheater. The originals will be kept for backup purposes. The Brillux is a floating base (like the style 160, I think) tank & appears very sturdy, with great T5 lighting with all equipment contained in the tank, because of its location.

          2. Background sheet won’t help really (I have frosted the back pane too) its purely out of the cut outs in the lid where the hang on back filters were. You could get some black acrylic off ebay and silicone it over the cutouts that’ll fix it or bodge it with some black painted on one side and foil coated on the other side cardboard and either silicone or tape it over the cutouts.

            The tank actually has a breeding pair of albino BN plec’s in there you can just see one hiding under the right hand corner of the wood. Its also got about 4 dozen assassin snails in there to attempt to eat the normal rams horn snail outbreak (hint it isn’t working 🙁 ) When I get back from hols I’ll be stripping the tank down anyway as I’m going to move it to a different room so I’ll clean everything up and hopefully that’ll deal with the snail issue.

            The marina uses T8 lighting not T5 which is a little let down but tbh the tubes are more than bright enough there’s 2 of them and in that picture they’re over a year old and still going strong.
            I filled my floating base with foam sheets cut to fit think it helps keep the heat in a little 🙂

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