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22 Best Aquarium Filter (2023 Reviews)

A filter is the heart of every aquarium and also a great way to keep fish happy and healthy.

Fish produce a lot of pollution from defecating and breathing, and if left untreated, this pollution ends up killing fish as they find it difficult to swim and thrive in their waste.

As such, aquarium filters help clear molds and debris, eliminate toxic waste, and aerate the water, thus creating a conducive environment in which fish can grow and thrive.

The specific filter you choose to buy will more likely depend on your budget, experience, and the type of fish you’d like to breed.

In this guide, you’ll learn about the benefits of aquarium filters, the types of filters around, and how you should go about choosing the best aquarium filter for your fish tank.

[amazon table=”7905″]

The Best Aquarium Filters – HOB

1. Aqueon QuietFlow LED Pro Aquarium Power Filters

[amazon box=”B000SP65OC”]

This HOB filter from Aqueon has proven to be one of the most popular choices for those who want maximum performance from their filters.

The secret to the success of this filter is its use of a 4-stage process for cleaning up water: mechanical, chemical, biological, and wet/dry. This results in water that’s not just clear-looking, but also clean enough for your fishes to live in.

This filter also comes with an enhanced water flow rate to maximize water cleanup and creation of dissolved oxygen. It also features an internal pump design that requires no priming or restarting in the event of a power interruption.

An LED indicator is present to tell you when it’s time to replace the cartridges. It also comes in different sizes, ranging from 10 gallons to 75 gallons.


  • Comprehensive cleaning mechanism
  • Water filtration is as good as advertised


  • Impeller may be prone to seizing

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Video: “Aqueon | QuietFlow – Power Filter: Set Up Instructions”

2. Aqua Clear Fish Tank Filter

[amazon box=”B00020SVDG”]

This HOB filter from Aqua Clear also boasts a multi-stage filtration system that promises thorough cleaning of water. It has a patented flow control design that processes water quietly and cleanly, while also maximizing filter performance.

As for the filter itself, it comes with activated carbon, Aqua Clear Foam, and BioMax. When combined with Aqua Clear’s other filtration technologies that are sold separately, it results in water that is as clean as it gets.

The Aqua Clear filter is equipped with a re-filtration system that allows you to control the flow rate without sacrificing filtration efficiency. This is done to ensure that you can use this device safely even when you have delicate life forms at your aquarium.

This filter is offered in sizes ranging from 10 gallons to 110 gallons. An abundance of replacement parts allows you to get stocks of spares when you need them, and the filter itself is covered by a lifetime guarantee.


  • Lifetime guarantee for both the filter and replacement parts
  • Great cleaning performance and can be upgraded


  • Some find it noisier than others

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Video: “PetSolutions: Aqua Clear Power Filters”

3. Tetra Whisper Power Filter for Aquariums

[amazon box=”B0002DHY6I”]

This filter performs the functions of 3 different ones. It combines a Bio-Bag filter that helps in capturing floating particles from your aquarium, an activated carbon filter that removes particles that can cause water odor and discoloration, and a Bio-Foam that attacks ammonia and nitrite buildup.

This combination results in water that is consistently sparkling clean, allowing your aquarium creatures to thrive.

The filter itself can be installed at the back of the tank in minutes. Its construction is also uncomplicated, which makes for simple maintenance and care.

It also comes with a flow regulator that helps in controlling water flow, which can prevent clogging and promote longer filter life. It is available in multiple sizes, ranging from (Up to) 20 gallons to (Up to) 60 gallons.


  • Great power for cleaning water
  • An abundance of spare parts


  • Proper installation is a must to get its best performance

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Video: “PetSolutions: Whisper Aquarium Power Filters”

4. Tetra Whisper EX Silent Multi-Stage Power Filter for Aquariums

[amazon box=”B001CHSJZS”]

Fast, clean, and easy filter changes: this is the primary selling statement of the Tetra Whisper EX Silent Multi-Stage Power Filter.

Like most of its competition, it utilizes a multi-stage filtration system that allows for thorough cleaning of water. It eliminates particles, bacteria, ammonia, and nitrites to keep your water clear, smelling good, and non-toxic.

This filter is also designed to keep water flowing at all times, which results in optimal oxygen content for your water. It also comes with Tetra’s Timestrip technology which lets you know when you need to replace your filters to maintain optimal performance.

It is safe to use for water plants and fishes, and it can even be used for aquariums with other water creatures such as turtles. Multiple sizes are available, ranging from 10 gallons to 70 gallons.


  • Very simple to use and maintain.
  • Filtering is as good as advertised


  • Noisy operation

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Video: “Whisper EX Power Filter”

5. Fluval C Power Filter

[amazon box=”B003SJXTIU”]

Another one of the best aquarium filters, the Fluval C Power Filter is, to quote Fluval, designed to “create superior water quality”. It utilizes a 5-state filtration system to ensure that water stays clean at all times.

This filter catches both coarse and fine solid particles, removes impurities that cause discoloration and odor, and eliminates ammonia and nitrites. This ensures water that is livable even by the most sensitive of water creatures.

The Fluval C Power Filter is available in 3 different sizes, 30 gallons, 50 gallons, and 70 gallons.

For easy maintenance, this device comes with an indicator that shows when you need to clean up your filter and/or other parts of your filtration system. Replacement and maintenance of the filter is made simple by its uncomplicated design.


  • Relatively affordable replacement parts
  • Effective in keeping the water clean with an effective filter and consistent water flow


  • Some find the operation quite loud

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Video: “Fluval C-Series Aquarium Filter Maintenance”

6. Penn Plax Cascade Hang-On Aquarium Filter with Quad Filtration System

[amazon box=”B0002DJ7ZY”]

The Penn Plax Cascade is a water filter that is making waves for its outstanding capability to filter water.

The highlight of this device is its Quad Filtration System that utilizes anaerobic bacteria to keep the water clean and remove ammonia and nitrites that can poison your pets. Facilitating the presence of these helpful microbes is an internal sponge that encourages colony growth.

An adjustable flow knob allows for control of flow rate when needed. It can also be used for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

There are multiple sizes of this filter available, with compatibility ranging from 7 to 100-gallon aquariums.

It is simple to assemble, and a self-leveling case allows for a seamless fit in just about any type of aquarium. All Penn Plax filters are covered by a 3-year warranty.


  • Very reliable filtering mechanism that gets the job done
  • Multiple sizes available for different aquariums


  • The filter seems low-quality compared to its counterparts

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Video: “How To Set Up a Penn-Plax Cascade Hang On Filter”

7. Marina Power Filter

[amazon box=”B0032GFZWW”]

If you want a simple filter for your small aquarium, then the Marina Power Filter can be one of your better options. It has a compact design that fits seamlessly with most aquariums; it takes up less space and gives your aquarium a much cleaner look.

Beyond the aesthetics, it has an effective filtration system highlighted by the presence of Ceramitek, a material engineered to optimize biological filtration.

Setting up this filter is remarkably simple because it does not need priming. Just install it in your aquarium and it is ready to go right away. Also, with the turn of switch, you can adjust the flow rate for optimal filtration when you need it.

This filter is available in 3 sizes, with the smallest one designed for 10-gallon tanks and the biggest one designed for 20-gallon tanks.


  • It provides great performance for its price range
  • It can be easily customized for improved performance on specific aquariums


  • Size options are limited

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Video: “Marina Slim Filter S15 runs”

8. AZOO Aquarium Mignon Filter

[amazon box=”B005VEWCMO”]

This HOB filter’s main selling point is its simplicity. It has an uncomplicated design that allows for simple installment and operation. It mainly goes back to the basics; it has a simple construction and a filter that is armed properly to get the job done.

It provides good aeration for your plants and fish, cleans up solid impurities that may be present in the water, and remove ammonia and nitrite that can poison water creatures.

The AZOO Mignon is available in 2 sizes, the first one can filter up to 60 gallons per hour (good for 3-5 gallon tanks), and the second one can filter up to 150 gallons per hour (good for tanks up to 30 gallons).

Depending on the type of filter you will use, cleanup is easy and maintenance is minimal. It is safe enough to be used for aquariums that contain other creatures such as shrimp and betta.


  • Fits seamlessly with just about every tank
  • Provides a lot of room for potential modification


  • No variant available for really large water tanks.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon (up to 3 1/2 gallon)

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon (up to 30 gallon)

Video: “azoo mignon 60”

9. MarineLand Penguin BIO-Wheel Power Filter

[amazon box=”B0009IODZ6″]

The MarineLand Penguin is a filter that consistently ranks high on HOB filter reviews. It has an innovative design that eliminates the need for air pumps, tubes, and valves. In spite of this, it is capable of thoroughly filtering water.

It is capable of filtering both fine and coarse particles, eliminate nitrites and ammonia, and remove chemicals that cause bad odor and water discoloration.

The Penguin requires literally no set-up time. All you have to do is connect the parts according to the manual, put it in the aquarium, and watch it work its magic. You can then adjust the water flow using the mid-level strainer.

Once set up, maintenance is all about replacing the filter cartridge every month and clean the filter itself as needed. It is also available in different sizes, ranging from 20 gallons to 70 gallons.

The 100 GOH rated version is for 20-gallon tanks and has a Rite-Size A filter cartridge.

For slightly bigger tanks, there’s the 150-GOH rated version with the Rite0Suze B filter cartridge.

The 200GOH rated version is ideal for 50-gallon tanks and has the Rite-Size C filter cartridge.

The 350GPH rated version is for 70-gallon tanks and has 2 Rite-Size C filter cartridges.


  • Innovative design eliminates the use of tubes
  • Setup is easy and maintenance requirements are minimal


  • Needs some fine-tuning from time to time

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Video: “How to Set Up and Install a Marineland Penguin Filter”

The Best Aquarium Filters – Canister

1. Penn Plax Cascade Aquarium Canister Filter

[amazon box=”B0002DJ9NY”]

If you prefer a unit with “quiet operations” the Penn Plax Cascade is one of your best options. You won’t hear any beep sounds coming out of it when it passes all bits of air through the 3 filter media baskets it comes with.

The Cascade comes in 9 different versions and is recommended for tanks up to 100 gallons.

Positioning of the flow valves even in the tightest cabinet is trouble-free. The valves can be maneuvered for a full 360-degree turn.


  • Setup is easy, thanks to the clear instructions.
  • Since it has 3 large-size media baskets, you have a lot of options for your desired chemical, mechanical and biological filtration setup.
  • Convenient maneuvering


  • You need to be careful detaching the hoses from the canister since water can easily leak out of them and drench the underside of your tank stand.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Video: “PetSolutions: Cascade Canister Filters”

2. Fluval External Filter

[amazon box=”B005QRDDM4″]

Another best aquarium filter to recommend is this Fluval model. It comes in different sizes with capacities ranging from aquarium sizes 25 to 100 gallons.

Aside from the water capacity, check out the media stages they feature. In case you’re looking for a three-media filtering stage rather than just one with only mechanical and biological filtration.

Note the height, as some of these models stand 14” inches tall without the levers and rigid outputs on top. With these parts on, the entire thing stands about 18”, so take note of that.


  • This is easy to install, with no problem with water flow on startup
  • Multi-stage filtration for clean and healthy water


  • You might have some difficulty with cleaning the hose. The water intake/output hose is ribbed rather than smooth. Still, with the hose, you might need to cut it to fit, so make sure you will not make it too short.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Video: “Fluval 06 Series Aquarium Canister Filter Overview & Setup”

3. Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter for Aquariums

[amazon box=”B010PLGI5O”]

For a few dollars additional you can get a good alternative for the Penn Plax Cascade and that’s the fast-maintenance model from Marineland.

The difference in price might be the extra filter stage. This unit has all in all 4 stages that ensure a cleaner and healthier environment for your pet there.

With this model, you get something that’s quiet and also easy to setup. Choose from 4 different sizes, with the biggest able to pump 360 gallons water per hour on a 100-gallon tank.


  • Cleaning the unit is really easy, and maintenance gets a lot easier as you become even more familiar with the unit.
  • Canister filter lid ensures tight fit, yet is easy to remove to access media baskets.


  • Make sure that you check all connections carefully, and be careful all the more with the hose, which can get loose and twisted in different directions.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Video: “Marineland Magniflow Unboxing & Product Review | Big Al’s”

4. API Filstar XP

[amazon box=”B000260FX4″]

Here is one model you can get if you’re looking into having an aquarium with a large size. Aquarium capacity that this filter can service ranges from 45 gallons to 265 gallons with its different sizes, small, medium, large and extra-large.

With these high-end API Filstar XP units, your aquarium is assured of powerful filtration ensuring crystal-clear water and healthy surrounding.

Just make sure that you use the right size suitable for the size of your aquarium. The strong water flow can stress out your fish.


  • It comes with self-priming & quick disconnect features that allow easy and safe stop and start of the filtration when cleaning is needed.
  • It has an anti-noise system that prevents vibration against external surfaces such as floor and cabinet.
  • It can remove substances that carbon alone cannot remove.


  • Flow can be too powerful.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Video: “PetSolutions: API FilStar XP Aquarium Canister Filters”

5. EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media

[amazon box=”B0002AQXTA”]

You may be an aquarist that puts lots of importance on having crystal clear water, then the EHEIM might be the perfect one for you. Within just a few hours after set up, you’ll an amazing difference in the quality of the water.

Now, take note of using the polishing filter pad that this canister filter has. It gets clogged very quickly and restricts water flow when it’s already clogged. This will diminish water quality.

Thus, unless you intend to clean your tank frequently, don’t use this white pad and instead put on a 2nd coarse filter pad.


  • Since these units are round-shaped, it is so easy to maintain and clean.
  • Replacements for the pad are easy to buy and they are cheaper compared to other brands.


  • This filter comes with a manual with horrible instructions that can result to first-time users having problems priming

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Video: “EHEIM Classic 150 – quick overview and initial setup | External Filter”

6. Polar-Aurora-External-Canister-Sterilizer

[amazon box=”B00NDYRZV2″]

This filters are sold under different brand names like Polar Aurora, Sunsun or Flexzion beside of the brand name they are all alike

With a price comparable to the cheaper models listed here, you might opt for this unit if you think there’s nothing much you can shell out for a canister filter.

Nevertheless, it is still a great option just like the other cheaper ones, as it comes with a high flow rate, which is nice if you’re up to something that can provide a good amount of current in your aquarium.

The Polar Aurora is also one good unit for new users who don’t want to grapple with the setting up and would like to have an easy time cleaning.

Because it can be powerful, check if your fish is comfortable with the current. Some fish would stay at the quiet space while others would take a strong current just fine.


  • Powerful yet quiet
  • It comes with a large pump
  • Maintenance is a breeze


  • You have to buy filter floss and media as the ones that come with the unit are of low quality.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Video: “How to Set Up a Sunsun Canister Filter”

7. Fluval FX4/FX6 High Performance Aquarium Canister Filter

[amazon box=”B00N45GLZQ”]

Thinking about a canister filter that has an automatic pump system and will not require you to lift heavy buckets when changing the water. If so, this is it.

Available for a 250 (Fx4)– or 400-gallon (FX6) maximum aquarium capacity, these units can pump up to 700 gallons of water per hour and come with the Smart Pump advanced microchip technology.

These units are by far some of the most expensive units, and clearly a contender for the best aquarium filter.

So if you’re trying to really have the most convenient filter system you can ever have, you might as well you begin saving for it now.

Installation is easy; just add water, plug the unit in and the Smart Pump system will take over.


  • Big capacity for aquarists with large tanks
  • This unit has several stages of filtering capacity that pumps large amounts of water every hour.
  • Automatic start


  • You might hear irritating sounds.
  • It’s way more expensive than other models.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon (FX4)

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon (FX6)

Video: “Fluval FX6 Aquarium Canister Filter Overview & Setup”

The Best Aquarium Filters – Sponge

1. Uxcell Xinyou Xy-380 Aquarium Fish Tank Biochemical Sponge Filter, 4-1/2-Inch

[amazon box=”B0051XIN78″]

This product is a high-quality sponge filter that works as an efficient biological filtration device. It can be installed in a tank of up to 20 gallons.

And though it is pretty big, it can be easily hidden behind plants and some aquarium decorations. With its dense and high-grade foam, it can be used for longer periods. It comes with a weighted base, so it will definitely sink into the bottom of the aquarium tank.


  • Efficient biological filtration due to its size which can support large bacterial populations
  • Dense and high-grade foam for longer use
  • Safe for small size fish
  • Has weighted base so it automatically sits at the bottom of the tank


  • Due to its size, it may be a challenge to hide it and maintain overall tanks aesthetics
  • Purely a biological filter because the sponge is large celled.
  • Produces huge amounts of bubbles, the tank’s air return system must be well regulated

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Video: “Sponge Filter Modification // Silencing the XY-380 Sponge Filter”

2. Upettools Aquarium Filter, Ultra Quiet Aquarium Biochemical Sponge Filter

[amazon box=”B07J4JYC5Y”]

This Upettools Aquarium Sponge Filter provides both mechanical and biological filtration. Effective in trapping debris without harming small fishes.

It comes with two ceramic biofilter media inside which can easily filter harmful substances, and at the same time increases the level of oxygen inside the tank. This aquarium filter can be easily installed with an air pump.

It is designed for use in a tank with maximum of 20 gallons capacity.


  • Superb filtration – it works both as a biological and mechanical filter
  • Sponge filter can be easily cleaned
  • Looks good
  • Can be easily installed


  • Weak water flow, ceramic balls within seem to block water flow. You may need to install a quality air pump for better function.
  • Built-in sponge is biodegradable and is likely to deteriorate soon after use.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Video: “Upettools Aquarium Bio Sponge Filter,Ultra Quite Aquarium Biochemical Sponge Filter.”

3. Huijukon Air Driven Sponge Filter Aquarium Filter Sponge Shrimp Fry Fish Tank Filter

[amazon box=”B06ZZMHCBY”]

This type of sponge aquarium filter provides both mechanical and biological filtration. It is air powered and keeps water well oxygenated.

This product comes with an aquarium air pump, standard airline tubing, and a check valve which helps prevent backflow that may damage the pump. It can be used for tanks with maximum capacity of 55 gallons.

It has a double 10-layer ribbed sponge design. Also, it has two sponges which means more surface area for bacterial colonization, efficient cleaning and better tank oxygenation.


  • Has large capacity which means better filtration
  • Easy to set-up
  • Comes with complete tools needed to functions at its best
  • Low noise air pump, which will not disturb your work and sleep
  • Easy to clean


  • Takes up too much space in your tank
  • The pump does not have high suction power

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Video: “Unboxing Huijukon Double Sponge Filter: Review + Set Up”

4. Xy-2831 Air Pump Sponge Filter For Aquarium, Tank Size 10-Gallon

[amazon box=”B0056XVF82″]

Relatively small and cheap sponge filters which provide both mechanical and biological filtration. It’s surface area provides a good spot for bacterial colonization which helps maintain overall biological system inside the tank.

This filter is suitable for use when breeding and spawning small fishes such as discus, dwarf cichlids, guppies, and killifish. It’s can be installed to tanks with maximum capacity of 10 gallons.


  • Due to its compact size, it will not take much space of your tank
  • Attracts tiny particles
  • Perfect use when breeding shrimps
  • Has steady water flow, does not create disturbance with the current
  • Easy to install
  • Quite inexpensive


  • Additional items are needed to get this working such as an air pump and airline hose
  • Low water suction
  • Cannot filter larger particles
  • Not ideal for larger tanks with more fish

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Video: “Cheap Sponge Filter Review and How-To”

5. Hydro-Sponge V Filter For Aquariums Up To 125 Gallons

[amazon box=”B000NP8W84″]

Lustar-Hydro-Sponge IV Filter is a low-maintenance filter that allows a high volume of water flow. Its foam has great mechanical filtration capacity and bio-capacity perfect for use for tanks up to 125 gallons capacity. Mounted with a heavier base, so it generally sinks at the bottom of the tank.

Aquarium Filter Hydro-Sponge IV by Lustar provides both mechanical and biological filtration. The surface area of this filter is ideal for aerobic bacterial colonization which helps facilitate the nitrogen cycle.

Also, the hydro-sponge can trap larger waste particles, cleaning the tank water efficiently. This produce larger water flow.


  • Easy to clean
  • Can be used in vertical or horizontal position
  • Weighted base, sinks automatically at the bottom of the tank
  • Larger sponge which can clean bigger tanks


  • Over filtering, filters even larger particles
  • Due to its size, it consumes larger tank space

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon (Hydro I 10 gallon)

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon (Hydro II 20 gallon)

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon (Hydro III 40 gallon)

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon (Hydro IV 80 gallon)

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon (Hydro V 125 gallon)

Video: “Sponge Filter ATI Hydro Sponge Foam Set Up”

The Best Aquarium Filter – Undergravel

Penn-Plax Clear Free Undergravel Aquarium Filters

[amazon box=”B005Q4900Q”]

This is basic ground filter providing your tank with clear filtered water. It helps you maintain your tanks effortlessly as it requires a lot less cleaning of the tank. This is considered more economical compare to other types of filtration.

This filter has 4 versions: a 10-gallon, a 20-gallon, a 29-gallon and a 40 to 50-gallon.


  • Economical, with minimal maintenance
  • Product includes heavy duty filter plates with locks for stability, and adjustable rise tubes for a custom fit
  • Easy installation, will only take five minutes to assemble
  • Filter is safe for use both for freshwater and saltwater applications
  • Includes two carbon block cartridges to deal with odor, pollutants and discoloration


  • Tube pieces are thin and fragile.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon (10 gallon)

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon (20 gallon)

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon (29 gallon)

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon (40/50 gallon)

Video: “How To Set Up a Penn-Plax Clear-Free Undergravel Filter”

Benefits Of Aquarium Filters

A Fish-friendly and Healthier Option

There’s no easy way around it. If you don’t invest in a good filter, you’re more likely going to have to clean the inside parts of your fish tank regularly.

This means that you’ll be tasked with constantly removing and placing your fish aside somewhere so that you may give the tank a good scrub.

The frequent shifting and returning of fish back to the aquarium can take a huge toll on fish, making a filter a much friendlier and healthier option.

Low Maintenance

Most fish tanks tend to get dirty rather quickly. If you haven’t yet purchased a filter, you’ll have to clean the fish tank often to keep the water clean and also create a favorable setting in which your fish can thrive.

This frequent cleaning and shifting of fish can be overwhelming and daunting for a person, hence the importance of investing in a good quality filter.

Although a filter may require some occasional maintenance, at least they can significantly improve your aquarium cleaning tasks to a whole new level. Make sure you install one in your system to enjoy its benefits.

Healthier Fish

Filters play an important role in reducing the risk of ammonia stress in fish. This often occurs from high levels of toxins that build up in a fish’s body, especially when waste inside the fish tank hasn’t been cleaned in a while. And as these levels of ammonia stress grow more persistent, this may result in ammonia poisoning and be deadly to fish.

Aesthetic Appeal

Having a filter will dramatically improve the overall appearance of your aquarium a great deal.

The fish tank’s water will also look clearer, and the glass appearance will look much cleaner than you think once you fix a high-quality filter in your aquarium. More importantly, the occasions of unpleasant smells emanating from your fish tank will also become a thing of the past.

Types Of Aquarium Filters

HoB Filter

Also known as Hang-On or Power Filter, the HoB (hang on back) filter is among the most widely used filtration systems among hobbyists to clean small tanks.

These filters work by pulling water in and out through a pump to allow for mechanical, biological and chemical filtration.

Aquarium owners love this filter because it’s easy to maintain, cost-effective, readily available, and requires low maintenance. The only setback associated with this type of filter is that when the media is changed, a great deal of healthy bacteria also gets lost in the process.

Canister Filter

This type of filter is specifically tailored for larger aquariums and is usually fixed underneath the fish tank to provide mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. These filters are highly efficient and employ more media than other filters.

They are also very quiet, which means you can use them in the workplace or any other setting where silence could be a top priority. Unfortunately, canister filters are quite expensive, difficult to install, and require higher maintenance than most filters.

Sponge Filter

Also known as Air-Powered filters, sponge filters are the most basic and cheapest type of filters around. They comprise a sponge-like material that’s fully submerged in water.

The filter works by pumping water through the sponge using either a water pump or air stone to allow for a very smooth and effective mechanical and biological filtration. Nevertheless, sponge filters are readily available in many different shapes and sizes and are long-lasting, hence a great value for money.

Undergravel Filter

This filter is tailor-made for larger fish tanks and is usually fixed underneath a layer of gravel. It works by pushing water through the gravel to allow for effective mechanical and biological filtration where healthy bacteria can thrive.

Although these types of filters require regular cleaning, their maintenance is rather straightforward compared to other setups.

Some wastes that appear to collect on the substrate surface usually come off easily after siphoning. Undergravel filters are also easy to maintain, cost-effective, and usually provide sufficient growth of nitrifying bacteria.

Finally, because a person shouldn’t over-filter, it’s important that you choose a bigger filter for better performance. Although filters that are specially designed for large fish tanks may appear rather expensive, at least many allow for optimum health care of fish.

On the other hand, if you have a small fish tank, an internal power filter that’s specifically tailored for small aquariums would work great for your fish too.

How To Choose The Best Aquarium Filter

Choosing the best aquarium filter for your fish tank might be a bit overwhelming. There are so many options in the market to choose from. Even though each aquarium filter type works well, they have different roles that can make or break the ecosystem in your fish tank.

You might have to consider what your fish tank needs.

Now that you’ve read about the different types of filters, which one is perfect for your aquarium? Which one should you buy? Here are some steps you should do when choosing your filter:

Choose a filter based on your tank’s size

The amount of water in your aquarium has a huge effect on your choice when buying a filter. The general rule is that all the water contained in your tank can pass through the filter at least four times an hour.

For instance, if your tank contains 20 gallons, your filter should be capable of making the 80 gallons of water flow per hour.

Some suggestions to keep in mind:

  • Canister filters best function in tanks that can hold 30 gallons of water or more. These filters are usually large which is good for bigger aquariums. With these filters, you can get a flow rate of 120+ gallons of water per hour.
  • Power filters are also known as HOB or Hang-on-Back filters. They are especially recommended for tanks that can hold less than 30 gallons of water. This filtration is gentle and can suck water into the filter without hurting the fish.

Consider the type of fish you’re keeping

The best aquarium filter depends on the kinds of fish types you intend to keep (i.e. whether it’s a pure saltwater or pure freshwater tank).

Saltwater aquarium hobbyists prefer wet/dry filters. For freshwater tanks, you may use canister filters as well as wet/dry filters. If you have reef aquariums, you may need a combination of mechanical filters and protein skimmers.

If you’re planning to breed other fish, sponge filters are the most suitable for your tank. This type of filtration is gentle because it has no moving parts so it ensures the safety of newly-hatched fish.

Consider your budget

Some filters might be costly. Undergravel filters are one of the least expensive filters and can work just as well. The only disadvantage is that it might not be aesthetically pleasing. These types of filters use big pipes so they may seem ugly to the eyes.

Always remember that your fish and tank’s requirements should be met. Some filters might look good and small while others might look too bulky or ugly. However, don’t be fooled by their appearance and focus on what they can do for your fish tank.

Knowing the right filter that works for you can keep your pets alive and healthy. After keeping these steps in mind, you can narrow down the right filter that you want to buy.

To make the process easier for you, we have scoured the market for the best aquarium filters. Check out our lists of the best HOB filters, the best canister filters, the best sponge filters, and the best undergravel filters in the above sections.

[amazon table=”7905″]


Thanks to technology, aquarium filters have helped people in raising their favorite fish breeds in fish tanks with the help of filtration.

However, not all aquarium filters are for everyone. Each tank setup is different because the configurations may differ fish breeds to the size and features of the aquarium.

Since each tank varies, you must be careful when making decisions on which filter to buy. Aquarium filters have an impact on the fish tank and its inhabitants, so take your sweet time first before buying that first filter you see online.

You can’t go wrong in picking any of these products as your filter of choice. Just make sure to select the filter that’s most appropriate to your tank’s dimensions and pick the setup you’re most comfortable working with.

After reading this article you should now be able to choose the best aquarium filter for your fish.

Aaron Boyd
Aaron Boyd

Hello, I’m Aaron Boyd, the proud owner and author behind Aqua Movement. I hope my article was able to answer your questions. If you want to learn more about me, click the home icon above.

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