As you know, keeping your aquarium water clean is an important task that needs to be maintained consistently. But how will the tank stay nice and clear if there isn’t a filter? Keeping up with this crucial chore can feel like a battle sometimes – so many filters on the market! So which one should I choose?
This article has compiled information about some of my favorite filters for 55-gallon tanks.
But I don’t just list off features without giving it all context – each option comes complete with pros and cons from both sides of the fence. So you’re sure to find at least one model that sounds perfect for your situation in no time!
Keep reading and get the best 55 gallon aquarium filter!
Quick Overview: Top Three Picks
- For Freshwater or Saltwater tanks
- Adjustable leveling device
- Self priming pump and self cleaning impeller
- Adjustable intake flow
- Fluval eTEC (Efficient Technology) construction employs cutting-edge design, materials & manufacturing methods to...
- Powerful motor generates constant pumping power and pressure that endures over time and re-engineered, precision-crafted...
- Energy-efficient – some 07 series filters draw as little energy as a single household LED lightbulb
- Ergonomic AquaStop valves with raised lip for smoother operation; single action dual Lift-Lock motorhead clamps for...
- The Fluval 407 Cannister Filter is suitable for freshwater and saltwater aquariums up to 100 gallons (500 L)
- INTERNAL CANISTER FILTER: Submerged motor for quick and easy startup.
- VERSATILE FILTRATION: Two refillable chambers house carbon or customizable filter media.
- MICRON WATER POLISHING: High-efficiency polishing with the micron cartridge (included).
- FOR aquariumS UP TO 97 GALLONS: Capable of filtering 290 gallons of water per hour.
- Included Components: Marineland Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filer (Ml90770)
Why Do I Need A Filter For My 55 Gallon Aquarium?
It can indeed be challenging to keep a fish tank clean on your own. That’s why you need a filter! A good aquarium filter will help you eliminate all the bad stuff in the water, like ammonia and nitrates. You’ll also have more oxygen in the water because of water circulation. Here are some main points:
Primary Home of Beneficial Bacteria
Fish excrements at some point start building up in the water due to their natural metabolic functions, including urinating (peeing) and defecating (pooping) into the aquarium.
Wastes sink and start to decompose on the bottom, which becomes toxic – to be specific; it is deadly ammonia! Then a natural process occurs – the nitrogen cycle that breaks down ammonia in aquarium water into harmless products – thanks to nitrifying bacteria!
The filtration system provides room for colonies of nitrifying bacteria that persuade the nitrogen cycle. These colonies, made up of millions of beneficial bacteria, detoxify your aquarium and make it safe so your fish can live there!
Tips: Establishing a nitrogen cycle in the aquarium is very crucial. For a more detailed discussion, I suggest you read another article here.
Fish tanks need many beneficial bacteria to be healthy and thrive, but only filter media that comes with the box can’t provide a good home.
So aquarists address this problem with special porous materials known as bio-media by adding them into their filter setup.
Biomedia is like a microscopic skyscraper for beneficial bacteria, with tons of tiny rooms and cracks that make their perfect homes. Biomedia might not be as big or flashy as the city’s high rises, but it does its job well by providing additional housing for those friendly clitters.
With a sound filtration system, you should have the liberty to add bio-media as much as it becomes adequate.
Removing Solid Wastes
Aquarium filters use foam to trap debris and particles, but a sponge can also be used. A sponge has pores open enough for water to pass through them while trapping larger solid objects like uneaten food or feces in its net-like structure.
So filters remove unsightly waste such as fish poop, sludge, and other particles from the water to keep things clean! Thus they help aquarium water turn clear so that we can continue gazing at our beautiful aquatic friends without obstruction.
Providing Chemical Filtration If Needed
The use of chemical filters in aquariums is mainly related to short-term problems. For example, they help remove medications after they have served their purpose and purify tap water before it goes into a tank.
Activated carbon does an excellent job at this task with little environmental impact, but if the tank is healthy, there will be no need to rely on these chemicals.
Best 55 Gallon Aquarium Filter Review
1. SeaChem Large Aquarium Fish Tank Filter (Best HOB)
- 250 GPH flow rate
- Internal motor
- Surface skimmer
- Adjustable flow
- Heater holder
- Filter media basket
- Bottom-up flow design
- 3-year warranty
The Seachem Tidal is one of the best hang-on-back filters available because it’s so energy efficient. In addition, the motor stays inside and never needs priming, which means it won’t run dry by auto-starting after a power outage.
The filter also comes with dual water intake with a surface skimmer, adjustable flow, maintenance monitor, self-cleaning impeller, and a filter basket.
The Seachem Tidal has an extensive media basket that can be filled with whatever media you want, which is excellent to me. It already comes with a reusable sponge for mechanical filtration, and the rest of the space in the basket could be used as well – maybe with some bio-media or carbon if desired.
This HOB filter features a patented flow control valve that allows you to adjust the amount of water flowing into the filter and, this way, the amount of water being filtered. For example, you can change it to only a trickle of water comes out or flows at total capacity. Flow control is helpful if you have an understocked tank with sensitive fish.
I don’t like the surface skimmer of the Seachem Tidal aquarium filter, as it can suck in things you didn’t want to be sucked up (like food). Also, there is no cover for this part, so fry or shrimp might get caught too!
- Large bio-media capacity
- Adjustable flow
- Suitable for both freshwater & saltwater
- Not suitable for shrimp and fry
2. Fluval 407 Performance Canister Filter (Best Canister)
- 383 GPH flow rate
- Vertical mechanical media
- Three-tier media chamber
- Quiet operation technology
The Fluval 407 is a powerful canister filter that provides superior filtration for aquariums up to 70 gallons. In addition, the Fluval 407 features advanced engineering solutions that work cohesively to produce a fluent operation that is up to 25% quieter than before.
It features several new design refinements that reduce the effort and time involved in maintenance, so you can spend more time enjoying your aquarium and less time working it.
It features a big enclosure that holds mechanical filter media, and unlike other filters, it’s kept upright for even filtration- you’ll never have any dirty water bypassing your sponges!
After the vertical filter media for coarse and medium particles, this fantastic product has three trays for other media – fine mechanical, carbon for chemical filtration, and bio-media. Because of that, I believe this is one of the best canister filters for the 55-gallon aquarium.
The Fluval 407 canister aquarium filter is energy-saving and also compact in design. This filter is pretty pricey but worth it in the long run! You can read my detailed review on the 407 canister filter here if you like.
- Large media capacity
3. MarineLand Magnum Polishing (Low Maintenance)
- 290 GPH flow rate
- Internal filter / Operates inside the aquarium
- Large media compartment
- Micron water polishing
MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter is a revolutionary new design that provides effective aquarium water filtration.
The filter body contains layers of mechanical filter media, which can be cleaned and reused for years to come. However, there is a chamber to place activated carbon for chemical filtration and biomedia for biological filtration in the center.
The Marineland aquarium filter is slightly different from all the rest canister filters since it’s an entirely internal filter – every part of it sits inside the aquarium. As a result, its motor will always be submerged in the water; there’s no need to prime it.
This provides for not only the quiet operation but also practically zero maintenance.
Besides the three layers of filtration, the Marineland Magnum Polishing aquarium filter has a reusable pleated micron cartridge that removes fine debris, leaving water crystal clear. The best part about this? It’s so easy to maintain!
The Magnum PI Canister Filter provides a wide range of versatility and options for your aquarium through its innovative design. But you may dislike the filter because it is a little bit of an eyesore in the tank, and you have to give some extra effort to hide it -behind plants or decors!
- le in the aquarium
4. AquaClear Hagen Power Filter
- 300 GPH flow rate
- External motor
- Adjustable flow pump
- Large biomedia capacity
AquaClear Hagen Power Filter is an excellent choice for anyone who needs to keep up with their fish tank maintenance without too much effort on their part. It’s got excellent flow capability to keep all your water moving nicely!
This filter comes with AquaClear Foam, Activated Carbon Filter, and BioMax, which provides optimal mechanical, chemical, and biological filtrations. It also features an energy-efficient pump at a lower cost.
AquaClear Hagen Power Filters are a quick and easy way to keep your fish tank running at its best. Simply clean the filter every two weeks for maximum efficiency and filtration!
The filter won’t start if it is not primed. However, the primary problem of this filter is concerning external motors, as sometimes, after a short power failure, it doesn’t start on its own.
- Large biomedia capacity
- Safe for shrimp or fry
- Easy installation
- Reuseable sponge media
- Starting problems after power failures
5. Penn Plax Cascade 700 Canister Filter
- 185 GPH flow rate
- Easy push-button self-primer
- 360-degree rotating valve
- Flow rate cut-off valves
Penn Plax is the name of a company that produces aquarium products. Their most popular product, Cascade Series Aquarium Filters, offers high-quality and user-friendly features for freshwater or saltwater tanks.
Cascade 700 canister filter is suitable for aquariums up to 65-gallon!
The filter can be used with saltwater or freshwater tanks, and it comes equipped with an adjustable flow rate cut-off valve. The filter features a push-button primer, which allows for easy priming during startups.
Large media baskets hold up an adequate amount of filter media to ensure that the water in your tank stays clean over time.
The tip-proof rubber base of the Penn Plax Cascade Canister filters is what makes it so hard to knock over. You won’t hear any sounds come out with an airtight seal, and this unit operates quietly.
I’ve found only one downside about this filter: the power consumption is slightly high compared to other filters.
- Easy to install
- Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater
- Adjustable flow
- High power consumption
6. Fluval C4 Power Filter
- 264 GPH flow rate
- External motor
- Five stages of filtration
- Biological trickle chamber
When you want to get serious about aquarium maintenance, then the Fluval C4 is for you. This filter has five chambers that force water through different media.
The Fluval C4 is an efficient 5-stage power filter designed for freshwater and saltwater aquariums. The included Activated Carbon and BioMax media remove harmful toxins by chemical and biological filtration.
The easy-to-clean Foam Filter provides mechanical filtration, while the pre-filter prevents clogging. In addition, the adjustable flow control allows you to customize the output based on your specific needs.
The only downside? Although they do dedicate some space to biological filtration, it isn’t enough if you’re an advanced hobbyist looking for more versatility with bio-media.
- 5-stage filtration
- 2-stage mechanical filtration
- Easy to set up
- Small biomedia capacity
- Not self-priming
7. SunSun Hw303B Pro Canister Filter Kit
- 370 GPH flow rate
- Canister style
- Large media baskets
- UV sterilizer
The SunSun Pro Canister Filter Kit is a complete filtration system that contains everything you need to start enjoying clean, healthy aquarium water.
The 370 GPH flow rate is perfect for aquariums up to 55 gallons.
The canister filter features premium filter carbon and ceramic rings for effective chemical and biological filtration, while the UV sterilizer helps keep your aquarium free from algae and bacteria.
Reusable pads ensure coarse, medium, and fine mechanical filtration.
This kit includes one set of bio balls which provide an ideal environment for beneficial nitrifying bacteria to grow. What more do you need from an aquarium filter?
I haven’t many gripes about this filter but the difficulty of operation – which is true for all canister filters, sadly! Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully while setting it up.
- UV sterilizer
- Multilayer mechanical filtration
- Large biomedia capacity
- Tricky to install
8. Aqueon QuietFlow Canister Filter
- 200 GPH flow rate
- Spray bar
- Water director and water polishing unit
- 3-stage filtration
The Aqueon QuietFlow Canister Filter is a complete aquarium filter system engineered to provide superior filtration for both freshwater and saltwater fish tanks.
The canister is pre-loaded with biological, chemical, and mechanical media to remove waste and harmful toxins from water. Additional replacement filtration media is also available.
The Aqueon QuietFlow Canister Filter is a great choice for any aquarium environment. The filter’s pump locking head and quick disconnect valves make it easy to connect hoses, making the filter simple to install.
This 3-stage filtration unit includes a water intake/output connection, hoses, and filter media – activated carbon, coarse foam, bio-balls, and bio-ceramic rings.
It also features a spray bar for additional aeration and a unique hang on the backwater polishing unit.
But to be frank, I haven’t found any practical use for this water polishing unit – it seems unnecessary to me.
- Large media capacity
- Easy to clean
- No practical use of the water polishing unit
9. Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter
- 300 GPH flow rate
- Adjustable flow knob
- Double-sided media cartridges
- 3-stage filtration
This Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter is a simple and effective way to keep your aquarium clean and healthy.
It has an adjustable flow knob that allows for increased or decreased water flow at will, which is extremely helpful for sensitive fish species like Betta, or you can adjust it whenever you need to.
The hang-on design is constructed for safe mounting. In addition, this Cascade filter features disposable, double-sided media cartridges that contain Activated Carbon and Poly Fiber Floss.
The activated carbon cartridge removes harmful chemicals, toxins, odors, discoloration, and other contaminants from your aquarium water.
It also has an internal sponge that optimizes colonization of beneficial anaerobic bacteria, and poly fiber floss cartridge performs mechanical filtration trapping particulate matters.
But The Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Quad filters do not have a bio-falls filtration system found in other models of the same manufacturer.
- Unique quad filtration
- Easy to operate
- No bio-falls filtration system
10. Supreme EZ Clean External Filter
- Patented All-In-One Filter
- Dual Cartridge System
- Built-in Gravel Vacuum
- 3-stage filtration
Get rid of the hassle and mess of your aquarium maintenance routine with Supreme’s EZ Clean External Filter.
This easy-to-use, patented external filter features a dual cartridge system with replaceable media that allows you to maintain a healthy aquarium environment!
The EZ Clean Aquarium Filter is ingeniously designed with a built-in gravel cleaner that removes debris and fish waste without the need for an additional siphon.
The water change feature, which uses only the filter’s motor to perform this function, makes changing aquariums easy by removing all of the dirty water inside and replacing it with fresh, clean tap or bottled water at your desired level!
The drawback of this uniquely designed filter is the substrate vacuum system cannot eliminate fine silts effectively.
- All-in-one filter
- Built-in gravel vacuum
- Suitable for freshwater and saltwater
- Not adequate to eliminate fine particle
Things To Consider Before Buying The Best Filter for 55 Gallon Aquarium
I went to the pet store and was overwhelmed by all of their options. I had no idea how I would ever choose between them! Luckily, there are some factors you can look at before making your decision that will help guide you in what’s vital for you when selecting a filter for your aquarium.
It is so important to have the right filter for your fish tank. There are various filters, like power filters and hang-on-back types, but they all vary in price and effectiveness.
The most expensive one-the canister type-is definitely worth it if you want an effective filtration system that will work with any size aquarium!
Still, HOB filters are okay for a 55-gallon aquarium with a low bioload.
Also, some people use HOB filters as a secondary filter in large tanks with a canister filter.
Aquarium filter media is the backbone of your aquarium filtration system.
Aquariums need a reliable filtering system but don’t worry about doing all the work yourself because many filters come equipped with package deals.
But if you want to be in charge of every step for your fish tank’s health, including which cartridges go where- some brands offer that freedom too!
Filter flow rates are important for the health of your fish. Three or four times higher than your tank volume is a good rule. Of course, it can be even higher, but too high a rate may cause discomfort to them (especially if they have long fins).
A 55-gallon aquarium needs 165 – 220 gallons per hour, and you should always buy one that suits the size of your aquarium.
For keeping sensitive fish species in the tank, having filters with adjustable flow rates is an excellent idea.
The sounds of aquarium filters can be a nuisance for you if not within a tolerable limit, although it is natural to produce some noise from the rotating machine.
The noise can be irritating and if it matters to you, look into well-known brands that produce less obnoxious noises than others.
Ease Of Maintenance
For all aquarium owners, the effortless maintenance of their tanks is a joy. Some filters are not easy to maintain; conversely, some are pretty simple.
With low-maintenance filters, you can enjoy your tank without any hassles!
A good filter is vital to a healthy and happy tank. I hope that this article has provided you with some helpful information when it comes time for you to select the best filter for your 55-gallon tank.
SeaChem Large Aquarium Fish Tank Filter is my top choice, and if you prefer using a power filter (HOB), this one would be the best.
If you have decided to use a canister filter, you could go for the Fluval 407 Performance Canister Filter.
MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter is a unique canister-style filter that is entirely internal. You can choose this one too, and you’ll be pleased as this filter demands less maintenance.
Please let me know what questions are still left unanswered in my research here so that I can do more digging on your behalf!
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- Top Aquarium Filter Review for 20-Gallon Tank
- Comprehensive Guide On The Best Filter for 10-Gallon Tank
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