Aquarium, what a lovely piece of stuff! It brings the perfect ambiance in any place. It is beautiful and so much adorable to aquarists. Bright and lively fish in the aquarium delights any class of people, either kid, adults, or elderly. Besides, it also has surprising health benefits. In this stressful world, spending time over an aquarium helps calm you down and lowers your anxiety.
An aquarium filter is one of the basic things you need to keep your water fresh and vibrant. A good aquarium filter should be efficient in filtering, easy to maintain, and noise-free. But, the best aquarium filter is such a filter that perfectly matched your demands.
The extent of filtration depends largely on aquarium sizes, fish density, and how you maintain your aquarium. Probably, you may have tried several aquarium filters. However, you didn’t get the desired output. Likewise, still looking for a filter that suits your needs.
Yes, you’re lucky! We all know it is a tough job to pick a suitable aquarium filter! Hence, to make that easy for you, we surface with the review, contains the best aquarium filters, which we found the most effective working.
We looked into the many products available in the market and selected ten aquarium filters of notable features. While choices are different, keeping in mind, we picked aquarium filters that can fulfill the diverse needs of the individual.
An aquarium is a small containment, a closed volume of water, and high fish density, unlike pond and river. Fish produces garbage from poop and respiration. Leftover foods also contribute to wastes. There’s no easy way out to clean that from the aquarium. If not cleaned, those will decompose to forming enemies to your fishes!
Protecting your lovely fishes and establishing a decent tone in your aquarium, you have to consider some crucial factors.
Firstly, the right water temperature for your fish to live in. Aquarium fish susceptible to harsh conditions. Therefore, the temperature can be your friend or enemy, depending on how you maintain.
Secondly, the water must be free of waste materials and contaminants. Removing that is the key to having clean water. Moreover, by removing those you can prevent decomposition of the waste materials so that harmful elements can’t build up. Also, you can get the stability you need between acidity and alkalinity.
Thirdly, oxygen is essential for your fish to survive. You have to aerate the water to provide sufficient oxygen for your fishes to breathe in.
For the wellbeing of your fish, let’s know the main rivals in detail!
Waste materials that decay form ammonia, which is highly toxic to fish. Ammonia is the single largest cause of fish mortality. Bacteria convert ammonia into nitrites. Later, it turns nitrites to far less toxic nitrates. Plants take the dish nitrates as appetizers. When bacteria can’t produce Nitrates, it’s a warning sign. So, it’s the best practice to test the ammonia and nitrite level in your tank regularly.
pH, the other vital parameter to check. It does not get proper attention, as it should be. Fish and aquatic critters require optimum pH levels in the water they live in. Too low or too high pH is detrimental to fish health. It makes them sick, even can kill them. The ideal pH for the fish is 7. Keeping the pH at a precise level, you have to optimize the dissolved solids in the aquarium.
Now let’s talk about the arsenal, the filter, the best one you can get. What can it do against them? Apart from the temperature, an aquarium filter can tackle the majority of these by doing the job of cleaning up and circulating the tank water.
A good aquarium filter removes the wastes and contaminants. Therefore, prevents the accumulation of poisonous ammonia and nitrate. Additionally, the aquarium filter offers oxygen enrichment by moving the water in your fish tank. Most importantly, it delivers water stability and a perfect balance between acidity and alkalinity, that is necessary for the comfort of your fish.
For an ideal water temperature in your aquarium, you need to use an aquarium heater. Those are available in the markets with varying sizes and features. If you want to buy one and need some guidelines, read our post on the best aquarium heater.
Three types of filtration process available, your job is to make sure the aquarium filter you are buying combines all three categories of the filtration process.
Biological: It uses media for bacteria to grow. Bacteria do the rest of removing ammonia and nitrites.
Mechanical: This excludes solid wastes (uneaten foods, feces, and debris) by using materials like foam, sponge, etc.
Chemical: Airborne dust, cigarette smoke, household cleaner, etc. remain in the water in a dissolved form, which is more difficult to remove. Chemical filtration utilize activated carbon materials to eliminate the suspended contaminants.
In this best aquarium filter review, we picked filters that can do all three tasks, not less, but more. Besides, suitable to use both in fresh and marine water aquariums.
Probably, you don’t like a loud aquarium filter. Do you? If you want quiet operations, this filter is for you. Moreover, if you are currently using a noisy aquarium filter, replacement with this one will eventually get you a big thank you from your fish. They will be able to get better sleep!
The company has introduced new noise dampening materials and state of the art technology to ensure frictionless rotations. Sometimes, you may wonder whether it is running or not, since this aquarium filter creates almost zero noise.
Pump, in this aquarium filter, is mighty. It can generate very high (303 US gallons per hour) pumping power and pressure. Although very powerful, it didn’t compromise with efficiency. The electrical energy it consumes is somewhat equivalent to a single 15W LED light bulb which is very minimum for a filter.
Media trays of this aquarium filter, fit superbly inside the canister, following no leakage of water. Moreover, handle in the media basket allows us to remove all at once, rather than remove them one by one. This aquarium filter also has a broad filter element selection option, you can employ based on your call.
Giving you an extra bit of time enjoying your aquarium, The Fluval 307 Canister Filter designed in a way so that it takes less effort in maintenance. It has no self-priming option, although you may prefer that. However, the primer handle is very smooth to operate. You just needed less than 05 strokes to start it.
This aquarium filter works best for 55 gallons tanks and is suitable for use in 40 to 70 US gallon fish tank. It is a complete package, comes with all the essentials you need to set it up for the first time.
All in all, it is such a fantastic unit to keep your fish tank water sparkling clear. In terms of overall performance, it is the best aquarium filter in our sense. We picked it from Fluval 07 series. If you wish, you can also have a look at other models available on 107/207/407. Filters in this 07 series can be used in various sized aquariums ranging from 10 to 100 gallons, depending on the model you selected.
Are you on a budget? Or already spend some money on aquarium kits and other accessories? So you are now planning to buy a filter but looking for an affordable one with high performance! Here you go! This aquarium filter is especially for you. Moreover, it’s a great one to start with for beginners.
The Polar Aurora Canister Filter has a unique specialty. No need to bother about algal growth in your tank. Thanks to the built-in UV sterilizers, emit a lethal dose of ultraviolet lights that can destroy harmful parasites, viruses, and prevents algae spores.
This aquarium filter is relatively cheaper compared to its high capacity (525 GPH) and the ability to filter the water. However, filter elements are not free with the box; you need to buy separately. The Polar Aurora Canister Filter offers a self-priming pump that will do the priming job for you. You just need to press a button and wait for the pump to run.
This aquarium filter fitted a spray bar with the outlet tube. The spray bar is a decent piece that improves aeration within the tank. Additionally, it can be applied to adjust the output flow from the filter. Drip-free shut-off valves and smooth lifting of media basket will expedite your cleaning job. Moreover, a variety of media suit in this aquarium filter.
The Polar Aurora Canister Filter is one of the best aquarium filters for large tanks and is ideal for managing a huge volume of water (200 gallons). Credit goes to media trays holding huge internal capacity. The makers extend other models of varying sizes (265GPH / 266GPH / 370GPH) as well. You can also check out those if you wish.
Fluval FX4 Canister Filter is one of the popular filters among the aquarists. This is mainly because of some smart and amazing traits this aquarium filter has. Moreover, it delivers a powerful and consistent performance.
This aquarium filter can tackle a large volume of water (700 gals/hour). And, it produces superior pump performance. Smart Pump Advanced Technology is in action to monitor and optimize the performance so that the pump can give the best output.
Fluval FX4 Canister Filter auto evacuates the air that builds up over time in your tank. Every 12 hours, the filter will pause and allow air to escape. It is for maximizing filtration efficiency.
Smooth water change options throw-outs lifting heavy buckets. Water refilling and draining can be done by using the smart pump and multi-functional utility valve. Aqua stop valves and purge valves assure the least effort maintenance for the aquarium owners.
The Fluval FX4 Canister Filter does multi-stage filtration. All the accessories inserted inside the box for installation. It is very silent, with no humming sound, rubberized feet ensures the soundless operation.
This aquarium filter is very compact in its design and also small height (21’’), which allows it to (only 21’’) fit in almost all aquariums. However, due to compactness, filter media space is limited to some extent.
Fluval FX4 Canister Filter is intended for use in a fish tank up to 250 gallons. You may need an aquarium filter for an extra-large tank, look at its “big brother,” Fluval FX6 canister filter. You can set it for 400 gallons of a fish tank. Although we didn’t include in this review, it is also a worthy aquarium filter, so definitely it takes place in our best canister filter list.
Those who don’t have enough space for setting up a filter, but as usual, want clear water in the tank, this AquaClear Power Filter is the answer. Just hang it on the back of the fish tank (wherever you want).
Few find installing an aquarium filter is a difficult job, or don’t want to put that extra effort. This filter’s simplicity and easy to install features, allow a couple of minutes set up and make ready for filtration service. In the package, everything added, including the necessary media to get set and go.
Another specialty of this AquaClear Power Filter is adjustable water flow, which makes this aquarium filter even more attractive. Sensitive fish and plants might require a gentle water drift. Without compromising filtration quality and doing any harm to the motors, you can fine-tune the flow to adapt your fish need.
This aquarium filter has presented with a re-filtration system. Up to 50% of the water will be processed multiple times, while the flow is low. Therefore, it improves contact time with the filter media. The company demands it is seven times more efficient than the filters of the same class. This can also be used efficiently in different conditions, both in cold and tropical settings.
The maintenance frequency of the aquarium filter is quite high. It is recommended to clean up every two weeks for better output. Sometimes, it may create some noise, but it depends on the frequency and the quality of the maintenance. Properly managed filter doesn’t make too much noise.
Although it may not be suitable for all, indeed, the AquaClear Power Filter is the best aquarium filter in terms of effectiveness and easy-to-use function. This one is perfect for aquariums up to 110 gallons.
Let’s mention, AquaClear filter comes in multiple sizes and also has different versions, Aqua Clear 20/30/50/70/110. Among them, the Aqua Clear 110 is our best pick. But, as always, you should select a filter, according to your size of tank and filtration power you want.
Another canister type aquarium filter that takes place in our best aquarium filter list is Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Filters. Comparatively cheaper, although very effective. It can deliver a high flow rate (265 GPH) and applicable in large aquariums, up to 150 gallons.
The Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Filters highlighted with ultra-modern flow rate control cut-off valves. Moreover, attached two-valve taps can rotate 360 degrees, which serves to maneuver flow smoothly in the aquarium cabinets.
This aquarium filter offers excellent comfort by providing a self-priming pump. Simply push the prime button a few times. After that, the filter will blow out all the air & the pump will start over.
Large capacity media baskets of this aquarium filter permit you to customize and use any combination of filter media. The installation of this filter takes almost 30 minutes to finish. The filter packet arrives with all required belongings for setting up and start filtering.
Air-tight seal of the Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Filters ensure the right flow rate while maintaining silent operation. Cleaning up is simple, attached quick disconnect hoses ease the dismantling of the filter.
Three-stage filtration of the Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Filter will provide the quality of water you desired. However, keep in mind, don’t use it for a tank, that is way much larger than Cascade 1000 can tolerate.
If you are a newbie in the aquarium endeavor, this aquarium filter gives you the perfect balance between factors such as capacity, cost, and ease-of-use. Therefore, no doubt, the Cascade 1000 filter is the right choice, although power consumption is slightly higher, requires a hefty 27 watts for functioning.
Another canister filter that we suggest is EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter. It is because of its components & basic features that guarantee the best filter performance. This aquarium filter is well capable of keeping the aquarium in the best shape. This German-made aquarium filter designed for use in aquariums that holds water, no more than 92 gallons.
The pump flow rate is 164 gallons per hour, providing an exact balance needed between mechanical and biological for long-term filtration. Also, it provides better water circulation and maximum oxygen enrichment in your aquarium. Therefore, it results in an optimum condition for your lovely fish to flourish.
This canister filter is simplistic in design, but efficient and permits flexibility in media selection. Both coarse and fine filter pads you can use. However, some users find coarse one works better. If you use fine pads, you need to do frequent cleaning.
The EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter is a complete package including filter media, quick disconnect valves, spray bars, and accessories.
Overall, The EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter is durable and well known for its long service life. Moreover, it is pleasantly calm and spends only 15 W of energy.
If you want to buy an aquarium filter at a reasonable price and at the same time provide excellent filtration, we highly recommend this one.
This aquarium power filter is for fish tanks, ranging from 50 to 75 gallons. Pump capacity is 350 gallons per hour, which is sufficient enough to circulate the water in the aquarium. The mid-level strainer of this filter is for adjusting the flow rate if you want.
Without the need for valves and tubings, the MarineLand Penguin 350 BIO-Wheel Power Filter provides effective 3-stage filtration. As the name suggests, this aquarium filter equipped with rotating bio-wheels. Bio-wheels, proven the best for biological filtration and removing ammonia from your fish tank water.
50% more surface area for beneficial bacteria growth is gettable with bio-wheels, compared to other aquarium filters of its kind. While it rotates, it exposes bacteria to the air, therefore, secures the best bacterial function and keep your fishes away, from the attack of ammonia.
Similar to other power filters, maintenance is super simple, which makes it loveable to aquarists. You don’t need to shut it down during cleaning up the media, lift the filter cartridge, wash them, and put again into the slot, while still running. In respect of ease of maintenance, we mark it as the best aquarium filter.
This one is another canister type filter we find worthy of considering into the best aquarium filter list. Like any other aquarium filter in our list, this Marineland Magniflow canister filter also provides basic three types of filtration and suits in both fresh and saltwater aquariums.
In addition to that, this aquarium filter has water polisher in its media stack for enhanced water clarity. Water in your aquarium will pass through the media layers, where all the impurities will be excluded, and finally, you will get the water that is ideal for the living of your beautiful fish.
Provisions of quick release valve blocks, allow easy maintenance of this Marineland Magniflow canister filter. It helps in doing spill-free maintenance. There is a self-priming pump, a button assigned for priming on the canister body. This feature makes this aquarium filter so lovely to those who want to avoid the hassle of manual priming. Maintenance also easy; it will become easier more you get habituated with it.
You may need to go very close to hear any noise since this aquarium filter is impressively quiet. This aquarium filter model comes in different sizes for use in various fish tanks starting from 30 to 100 gallons. Whatever your need is, the Marineland Magniflow canister filter will deliver the best output, depending on how well you maintain it.
The MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter is another affordable filter, made by Marineland. It is not the external canister type, but an internal one, with a submersible motor in operation.
Although typical internal filters usually handle small volumes of water, this aquarium filter can manage as much as 97 gallons. Moreover, it has a filter capacity of almost 290 gallons of water per hour. Such a fantastic capability of this internal aquarium filter drives us to add it to the best aquarium filter list.
As stated earlier, the MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter has a submerged motor. It eliminates the need for priming, either manually or using a push button.
Very easy and quick startup of the filter, it places under the water. However, clogging up is also very common for this, sludge or any other fine materials accumulate inside the pump. You need to clean them up, for keeping your filter in good shape, although the cleaning of this aquarium filer is least of effort and time. Additionally, if you shut off the motor for routine maintenance, no backflush occurs, debris remains in place, therefore, leaving the water clean.
The MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter cleans your fish tank water, with its three-stage filtration and with a micron cartridge for additional polishing. Moreover, the micron cartridge of this aquarium filter can be charged with diatomaceous earth (Diatom) to boost the filtration efficiency. Some users, even the most veteran aquarium owners, rate this feature highly since Diatom helps to minimize algal growth.
This aquarium filter developed by Fluval is a well-established name in the manufacturing of aquarium products. Astonishing features of the Fluval C Power filter captured our interest instantly.
It is attractive among hobbyists for some of the distinctive qualities of this aquarium filter. When to clean a filter is not always easy to know; usually, you do after you find dirt’s in the water. Imagine if you have something that tells you exactly when to do so, then you may stay headache-free on your lovely fish wellbeing.
The Fluval C Power Filter has an indicator that will pop up when it’s time to wash the foam and polyester filter media. This works as a reminder so that you don’t miss any single maintenance when it’s due.
This aquarium filter also used different compartments for each filter medium, which means you can able to just pull out one media without disturbing the other.
Maintaining this aquarium filter is also very easy; you can lift the filter media allows doing the upkeeping job with ease. It has a low cleaning frequency, recommended to clean the motor every three months and the impeller assembly once a year. You have to clean filter media usually once in a month, though some may require cleaning up in six months interval.
The Fluval C power filter applies to 40 to 70 gallons of the aquarium, depends on the model you choose. The filtration ability of this filter model is 264 gallons per hour. However, you can adjust the water flow rate as per your demand.
It has a re-filtration technology, if you reduce the flow rate from the aquarium filter, then some of the water (max 50%) will be refined multiple times, this will allow more dwelling time with the media & enhance the efficiency of filtration. So, reduce flow doesn’t mean a reduced filtration.
The intake tube comes with this aquarium filter suits in different water parameters and aquarium depths. Setting up is very convenient, since this is a power filter, hanging on the back of the tank will be sufficient, and it doesn’t require much time to do that.
Power consumption also very low, around 3W. Apart from all the benefits of this aquarium filter, some users noticed that it is not quite, over time noise gets louder
We outlined the essential criteria, which will influence your choice of buying the best aquarium filter.
The most crucial criterion is the size of the aquarium. If you have a 50-gallon tank, you can’t buy an aquarium filter intended for 40 gallons. The manufacturer always specifies the recommended size of the fish tank.
A good habit is to buy a bigger size filter. So that, it is capable of filtering more than the water your aquarium holds. If you do so, you will get additional benefits in terms of water clarity and less maintenance.
All sorts of aquarium filters are not suitable for you. There are numerous types of them, like Power filter, Canister filter, internal filters, etc. They perform the same filtering job differently. Moreover, they have distinct features, advantages, and disadvantages.
The best aquarium filter for large tanks is the canister type filter. Furthermore, it is applicable in all size of the aquarium, but a bit expensive. For small and medium-sized tanks, peoples usually go for power filters or internal filters because of affordable prices.
Which aquarium filter to buy also relies on the number of fishes you have. A general rule is you can host two neon tetra size (3.5 cm) fish in every gallon of water. If you have a 10-gallon tank, you can keep 20 fishes, which will be optimum. If you add more fishes, then you need a bigger filter than specified for a 10-gallon tank.
Materials used to filter the water are called filter media. Usually, the aquarium filter includes the media cartridges with the package. However, some of the brands also offer the freedom to select filter media according to your demand. This option is likable to many aquarists.
Another critical criterion is the flow rate of the filter. The flow rate means the amount of water a unit can filter in an hour. Aquarium filter with an appropriate flow rate is imperative to choose which suits your aquarium size.
A flow rate three or four times higher than your fish tank volume is better to buy. If you have a 20-gallon tank, you should buy a filter of capacity 60 to 80 gallons per hour. Too high flow rate might cause discomfort for your fish and if it’s too low, that will be insufficient to clean the water.
Aquarium filters, if not quite enough, can be irritating for you, although it is natural to produce some noise of the rotating machine. Some users also find, when the filter becomes old or clogged, it starts to generate sound.
Proper maintenance is necessary for keeping your aquarium filter noise-free. If you do not like a resonant filter, search for a filter, which is well known for low noise levels.
Effortless maintenance is enjoyable for all aquarium owners. Some filters are not easy to maintain; conversely, some are pretty simple.
Manufacturers always pay attention to this point. They are emerging with new user-friendly maintenance option to take away the burden of doing that. So, go for aquarium filters offering straightforward maintenance.
How spacious room you have will influence your choice of aquarium filter. A power filter or internal filter is the best option for small rooms since it sits inside the aquarium. If you have large enough room, canister filters which placed outside of the tank may be the right choice.
Reasons for cloudy water mainly are gravel residue, dissolved constituents, and bacterial blossom. But, it is easily solvable. In a new tank, improperly washed gravel and high alkaline water are the likely causes of cloudy water. So, first clean the gravel, if the problem still exists, replace your aquarium water with RO (reverse osmosis) water. Bacterial blossom occurs, weeks, or months later of installation. Usually, it resolves by itself when bacteria colonies established. Decaying plants and uneaten food removal, regular gravel cleaning, and partial water changes will suffice in most cases of bacterial bloom
More filtration is not a bad thing at all. It will help you to maintain clear water for a more extended period. Since you are using a filter that handles more water than your aquarium holds. However, with big filters usually come with a higher price and a strong current. As long as you can afford an aquarium filter of larger size or your fish can able to tolerate the current, then it is better to use that. Some aquatic pets are sensitive to strong current, and they love gentle flow. In that case, bigger size aquarium filter will not add any value, rather cause problems to you.
Replacement of a fish tank filter doesn’t require until it stops working. Nonetheless, you have to change the filter media on a regular interval. Biological, Chemical, and Mechanical filter media put inside the aquarium filter body. If you buy a filter with a specification that perfectly suits your fish tank, you had better follow the guideline provided by the manufacturer for the replacement of the media. Some filter media require partial or full replacement.
If you get a bigger or smaller size aquarium filter than your fish tank requires, then you have two options. Either change it on a pre-planned schedule or decide based on filter media conditions. Generally, chemical media need to change once in a month or at least once in two months. Biological or Mechanical filter doesn’t require frequent change, usually once in six months or when it starts to fall apart.
You should choose an aquarium filter with a flow rate three or four times higher than the volume of your aquarium water. If you have a 20-gallons tank, the flow rate of the filter you need to buy is at least 60 to 80 gallons per hour.
Bacteria is vital for keeping the water ammonia and nitrite free. Without bacteria, fishkeeping wouldn’t be possible in the fish tank. During replacing the biological filter media, you can lose all the good bacteria. But, there is a trick to prevent that happening. You should change the biological filter media always in half portion. If you change in full, you are ruining all of them. It requires time for bacteria to grow. If you lost all, at that time no bacteria present in your aquarium, this could be lethal to your fish. If you change in half, you are allowing bacteria to develop in the newly replaced portion. By doing so, you can preserve the beneficial bacteria.
Carbon or activated carbon works as a chemical filtration media. Carbon filtering works by absorbing pollutants in the pore structure of a carbon media. It removes many contaminants such as chlorine, sediment particles, odor, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), etc. and keeps the aquarium water clear.
Almost all aquarium filters constantly circulate and enrich the water with oxygen. So, no need for an extra air pump to oxygenate the water. The filter which doesn’t move the water, such as sponge filter, in that case, an air pump is required.
So, what type of aquarium filter is best? Now, you already know, there is no best single filter. An aquarium filter can only perform best if you select one that perfectly matches your aquarium needs. You need to choose an aquarium filter wisely. Size of your tank, number of fishes you have, filter capacity, cleaning frequency, and ease of maintenance are the predominant criteria for selecting an aquarium filter.
Hopefully, you are confident enough to select the best aquarium filter on your own. Sharing the load with you, in this review, we have carefully chosen ten filters that we find worthy. Also, we discussed all the features, pros, and cons in detail. You can pick one of them which you find appropriate for your aquarium.
Aquarium filters need some time to adjust to the aquarium you have. During this time, levels of toxic substances may escalate quickly. When you set up a new filter, have a strict eye on your tank. Keep in mind, when maintaining your aquarium, whether it is water temperature, pH levels, or any other factor, moderation is always the key. The extreme environment is not favorable for the fish to thrive in. A well-balanced, clean, and clear environment will keep your fish healthy and delighted.
Hello, everyone! Welcome to my aquarium blog. Fishkeeping is my passion, and I started this fascinating hobby back in 2006. Besides my engineering profession, I deeply studied many fishkeeping topics since I started building my home aquarium. I researched effective aquarium filtration and lighting of planted aquariums. I am keeping 20+ species of freshwater and saltwater fish as my aquatic pet collection. I successfully experimented with a complex ecosystem inside the aquarium, biotope aquariums, aquaponics, etc. I would love to share some learnings from my hands-on experience of the last 14 years. Hopefully, my sharing will be somewhat helpful to make your aquarium journey awesome!
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