Best Small Aquarium Filter: Review & Buying Guide

Best Small Aquarium Filter Review

Looking for the best small aquarium filter? You’re in the right place! In this blog post, I’ll review some of the best filters on the market today and help you decide which one is right for you. 

I’ll also give you a buying guide to help make sure you get the perfect filter for your aquarium. So, whether you’re looking for a new filter or just want to learn more about nano aquarium filters, read on!

Best Power Filter
Aqueon QuietFlow 10 LED PRO Aquarium Fish Tank...
Best Canister Filter
Penn-Plax Cascade 500 Aquarium Canister Filter –...
Best Internal Filter
NICREW Aquarium Internal Filter, Submersible Power...
Best Sponge Filter
XY-2831 Air Pump Sponge Filter for Aquarium, Tank...
Best Under Gravel Filter
Penn-Plax Clear-Free Premium Under Gravel Aquarium...
Aqueon QuietFlow 10 LED PRO Aquarium Fish Tank...
Penn-Plax Cascade 500 Aquarium Canister Filter –...
NICREW Aquarium Internal Filter, Submersible Power...
XY-2831 Air Pump Sponge Filter for Aquarium, Tank...
Penn-Plax Clear-Free Premium Under Gravel Aquarium...
Price not available
$58.49
$17.99
$7.21
$10.29
-
2,215 Reviews
-
1,240 Reviews
836 Reviews
5,491 Reviews
Best Power Filter
Aqueon QuietFlow 10 LED PRO Aquarium Fish Tank...
Aqueon QuietFlow 10 LED PRO Aquarium Fish Tank...
Price not available
2,215 Reviews
Best Canister Filter
Penn-Plax Cascade 500 Aquarium Canister Filter –...
Penn-Plax Cascade 500 Aquarium Canister Filter –...
$58.49
-
-
Best Internal Filter
NICREW Aquarium Internal Filter, Submersible Power...
NICREW Aquarium Internal Filter, Submersible Power...
$17.99
1,240 Reviews
Best Sponge Filter
XY-2831 Air Pump Sponge Filter for Aquarium, Tank...
XY-2831 Air Pump Sponge Filter for Aquarium, Tank...
$7.21
836 Reviews
Best Under Gravel Filter
Penn-Plax Clear-Free Premium Under Gravel Aquarium...
Penn-Plax Clear-Free Premium Under Gravel Aquarium...
$10.29
5,491 Reviews

Why Does A Small Aquarium Need A Filter?

Aquarium maintenance is easy enough when you understand the basic precipices. One of these key elements is filters for aquariums – so important that they can be considered crucial even if your fish school is small and includes various types! 

The three-in-one filter device is a must for any small fish tank because it cleans the water and ensures beneficial bacteria are present. So, the mechanical, chemical & biological filtration methods help maintain the high quality of your aquarium’s habitat by removing waste products.

How Does An Aquarium Filter Work?

Almost all aquarium filter works on the same principle to keep fish healthy. Let’s know the three stages of how an aquarium filter works.

Mechanical Filtration

Mechanical Filtration

Mechanical filtration is the way that you can ensure your tank stays healthy by removing solid wastes like uneaten foods and feces from water passing through them with foam or sponge-like media before letting things pass back into circulation again!

Chemical Filtration

Chemical Filtration

In addition to mechanical filtration, you can also choose a chemical filter for your aquarium. Chemical cleaners use molecules as purifiers, and one of the most commonly used systems is activated charcoal which removes airborne dust, unused medication, etc., from aquarium water. 

Biological Filtration

Biological Filtration

Aquarium biological filtration uses media for beneficial bacteria to grow. Bacteria do the rest of the removing ammonia and nitrites, which are two common toxins in an aquarium!

Also Read: Nitrogen Cycle In A Fish Tank – What It Is And How To Cycle A Fish Tank

Best Small Aquarium Filter: Review

Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Power Filter

Aqueon QuietFlow 10 LED PRO Aquarium Fish Tank...
2,215 Reviews
Aqueon QuietFlow 10 LED PRO Aquarium Fish Tank...
  • LED indicator light flashes when water cannot pass through the cartridge, generally indicating it's time to change the...
  • Self-priming filter pump will auto-start initially or restart if power is interrupted and restored
  • Provides mechanical, chemical, biological and optional, additional specialty pad filtration
  • High flow rates for optimal dissolved oxygen content to promote healthier, more active fish
  • Internal pump design helps dampen noise and eliminate leaks with self-priming feature

The Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Power Filter is the best way to keep your aquarium clean, clear, and healthy. The quiet flow power filter provides mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration to remove dirt and debris from your water while promoting a healthy environment for fish. 

The built-in flow control valve allows you to choose between high-flow or low-flow settings so that you can customize the filter based on your tank’s size, inhabitants, and desired water movement. 

The Aqueon QuietFlow LED Pro Power Aquarium Filter is a high-flow filter that provides optimal dissolved oxygen content for healthy, vibrant fish. In addition, this aquarium filter features a unique internal pump design with self-priming capabilities to help dampen noise and eliminate leaks. The QuietFlow aquarium filter fits fresh or saltwater aquariums up to 20 gallons.


Pros

  • Self-priming filter.
  • Four-stage filtration.
  • Very quiet.
  • LED indicator lights. 

Cons

  • A little bulky.

Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter

Sale
Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter 100 GPH,...
34,310 Reviews
Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter 100 GPH,...
  • REPLACEMENT FILTER CARTRIDGE: Pack of 3 cartridges fits Marineland Penguin PRO Power Filters 100, 125 and 175; also fits...
  • EASY TO INSTALL: Pre-assembled cartridges slide easily into place, providing mechanical and chemical filtration and...
  • THREE-STAGE FILTRATION: Mechanically filters water through a pad of double-thick poly fiber. Chemically filtered through...
  • OPTIMUM WATER-TO-CARBON CONTACT: Ribbed backing ensures even distribution of carbon for sparkling clean water.
  • COLOR-CODED PACKAGING: Rite-Size packaging makes it simple to choose the right size replacement cartridge for your...

The Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter offers a unique mechanical and chemical filtration combination. The pre-assembled cartridges slide easily into place, providing mechanical and chemical filtration and making replacement fast, dry and effortless. 

Mechanically filters water through a pad of double-thick poly fiber. Then, chemically filtered through Black Diamond Premium Activated Carbon. Ribbed backing ensures even distribution of carbon for sparkling clean water.

The marine land penguin power filters are perfect for most small fish tanks and have many different features! The Marineland Penguin also provides biological filtration using BIO wheel technology, which helps regulate pH levels. In addition, it has an easy color-coded packing to ensure you get the correct size replacement cartridge when necessary.


Pros

  • Easy-to-maintain.
  • Reliable.
  • Color-coded packing.
  • Helpful customer service.

Cons

  • Not self-priming.
  • Replacement cartridges are pricey.

Fluval 106 External Canister Filter

Fluval 106 External Filter
2,687 Reviews
Fluval 106 External Filter
  • Multi-stage filtration for healthy fresh & saltwater aquariums
  • Suitable for aquariums up to 25 gallons. Sound dampening impeller design for a quieter operation
  • Equipped with a clog-proof intake strainer and a dual layer foam screen
  • Built with a patented Aquastop Valve, multiple filtration baskets, and rim connector assemblies
  • 3 year warranty

The Fluval 106 External Canister Filter is a multi-stage filter with a patented Aquastop Valve and dual-layer foam screen. It’s designed to be used with aquariums up to 25 gallons. 

The Fluval 106 canister filter features an adjustable flow rate and three different filtration baskets that are removable for cleaning or replacement.

The benefits of using Fluval 106 External Canister Filters are immense. With the AquaStop valve, you can stop and restart your filter without ever having to turn off water flow. This means that maintenance tasks are more accessible than ever before!


Pros

  • Very affordable.
  • Easy to maintain.
  • Versatile.
  • Very quiet.
  • Lightweight and compact.

Cons

  • Built with a bit economical materials.

Penn Plax Cascade 500 Canister Filter

Sale
Penn-Plax Cascade 500 Aquarium Canister Filter –...
  • CASCADE 500 CANISTER FILTER: Without effort, the Cascade 500 Canister Filter quietly delivers crystal clear water...
  • STATE OF THE ART FEATURES: In addition to the push button primer that allows for a simple and quick prime, this Canister...
  • FILTER MEDIA: This Canister Filter comes standard with 2 Poly Fiber Floss Pads, 1 Coarse Bio-Sponge, and 1 Bag of...
  • ITEMS INCLUDED: 2 Independent Valve Taps, Push Button Primer, Flow Rate Control Cut-Off Valves, Swimming-Pool Style Hose...
  • MEASUREMENTS AND OTHER USEFUL INFO: The Cascade 500 Canister Filter measures 11.5” (W) x 9” (D) x 13.5” (H)....

A canister filter is a perfect choice for a beginner aquarium. The Penn Plax Cascade Aquarium Canister Filter features an easy installation and uses all biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration to provide maximum protection against dirt in your tank.

This means that if you want quality water with no problems, this product will do just fine!

The Penn Plax Cascade 500 Canister Filter is a powerful, long-lasting filter designed for aquariums up to 30 gallons. This convenient canister filter has 2 media baskets and works at 115 GPH. 

It comes with a spray bar, tubing, directional spout for customization, and push-button primer for easy priming. In addition, the Cascade 500 includes large-capacity media baskets that allow aquarists to customize their filtration needs.


Pros

  • Suitable for freshwater and saltwater aquariums.
  • Beginner-friendly and straightforward to install.
  • Three-stage filtration with the directional return.
  • Adjustable flow rate.
  • Very quiet in operation.

Cons

  • The push-button primer can sometimes malfunction.
  • Power consumption is a bit high.

Tetra Whisper Internal Filter

Tetra Aquarium Filter (AQ-68056),Up to 4-Gallons
15,723 Reviews
Tetra Aquarium Filter (AQ-68056),Up to 4-Gallons
  • FOR 4 GALLON aquariums: This Whisper Internal Power Filter uses small filter cartridges and adjusts easily to high or...
  • 27 GPH PUMP: The internal 27 GPH pump cycles a 4 gallon aquarium more than 6 times per hour.
  • TWO FILTERS IN ONE: Cartridge floss catches debris and fish waste, while Ultra-Activated carbon removes odors and...
  • SPACE-SAVING DESIGN: Your aquarium can be flush to the wall with the internal filter designed to clip on your tank wall...
  • EVERYTHING YOU NEED IS INCLUDED: This pack contains the hinged lid, tank clip, internal filter and filter cartridge.

Tetra Whisper Internal Filter uses small filter cartridges and adjusts easily to high or low water levels. In addition, cartridge floss catches debris and fish waste, while Ultra-Activated carbon removes odors and discoloration.

The Whisper Internal Power Filter is a silent but powerful friend to your tank. Not only does it make the water sparkling clear and oxygen-rich, but this filter also provides the ultimate peace of mind for any fish owner with its low noise operation that you can barely hear unless right next to or touch!

This Tetra Whisper Internal Filter is designed to clip on the back of your aquarium and be hidden by décor. This internal filter features a convenient hinged lid, allowing you to conveniently access it. It also includes an adjustable flow control valve for precise water movement control.


Pros

  • Very effective to oxygenate the tank.
  • Easy-to-install.
  • Affordable.
  • Reliable filter.

Cons

  • A bit bulky in look.

NICREW Aquarium Internal Filter

NICREW Aquarium Internal Filter, Submersible Power...
1,240 Reviews
NICREW Aquarium Internal Filter, Submersible Power...
  • Provides effective and thorough biological and chemical filtration, creating superior aquarium water environment
  • Activated carbon and fine filter foam trap debris and fish waste, absorb odors
  • Enable to generate abundant air bubbles and water flow, optimal for oxygen supplement and water circulation of aquarium
  • Equipped with adjustable air regulator that distributes a gentle flow of water, making it safe for delicate fish or...
  • Quickly assembles and disassembles, comes with four suction cups for secure in-tank installation, suitable for both...

NICREW Internal Filter is a kind of biological and chemical filter that can effectively and thoroughly remove harmful substances in aquarium water. 

With the help of activated carbon and fine filter foam, it can trap debris and fish waste, and absorb odors to create a superior aquarium water environment. In addition, it generates abundant air bubbles and water flow, optimal for oxygen supplement and water circulation in the aquarium.

The NICREW Aquarium Internal Filter provides a gentle flow of water, which is perfect for shrimp or delicate fish.

The internal filter quickly assembles and disassembles for easy cleaning and maintenance. Four suction cups secure it in place within your tank so that you don’t have to worry about it falling over or moving around while trying to clean your aquarium.


Pros

  • Quiet filter.
  • Easy-to-install.
  • Inexpensive.
  • The spray bar is helpful.

Cons

  • No easy flow adjustment option.

XY-2831 Air Pump Sponge Filter

XY-2831 Air Pump Sponge Filter for Aquarium, Tank...
836 Reviews
XY-2831 Air Pump Sponge Filter for Aquarium, Tank...
  • Sponge filters provide both mechanical and biological filtration
  • Provides the ideal location for bacterial colonization.
  • Does not trap fish fry. Suitable filter when breeding and spawning Discus, Dwarf cichlids, guppies, and killifish.
  • Dimension: 5"L x 1.8"W x 5.5" H
  • Max Tank Size: 10 Gallon

XY-2831 Air Pump Sponge Filter for Aquarium provides both mechanical and biological filtration, which is perfect if you want your aquarium to be stocked with beneficial bacteria. Because this new generation of filters can help provide an established bacterial colony in freshwater or saltwater environments.

This sponge filter can be used to breed Discus, Dwarf cichlids, guppies, killifish, and other fish species. It doesn’t trap fish fry, and it’s suitable for small tanks. It’s also useful as a supplement when natural filtration becomes low. 

XY-2831 Air Pump Sponge Filter provides a perfect environment for your fish by using the natural power of bubbles. It’s Not only decorative and beautiful but also highly efficient in creating an ideal water flow that is great to swim around for fish!


Pros

  • Helps maintain the nitrogen cycle.
  • It doesn’t trap fries.
  • Suitable for mechanical filtration.
  • Easy to operate.

Cons

  • Weaker suction cups.

Lefunpets Sponge Filter

Sale
Lefunpets Sponge Filter Breeding Fry Betta Shrimp...
4,623 Reviews
Lefunpets Sponge Filter Breeding Fry Betta Shrimp...
  • Perfect for Use-Sponge filter provides filtration, works great and for longer life.
  • Soft Sponge Material-Unique cylindrical shape 6 vertical stripe sponge design, traps floating debris and won't suck up...
  • How to Use-Using an air hose, connect one end to you air pump and the other end to this filter, and equipped with a...
  • Easy to Set up-All parts of the sponge filter are detachable so as to clean, simply squeeze the sponges in tank water.
  • Max Tank Size-Fits for 5 to 10 Gallon freshwater or saltwater fish tank.

Lefunpets Sponge Filter is a new product that has been designed for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. This filter is easy to use, clean, and maintain. It provides the filtration your fish need for longer life and a healthier environment. 

The filter comes with 6 vertical stripe sponges, cylindrical in shape, providing effective filtration to keep your fish healthy. In addition, these sponges are soft, so they will not suck up your beloved pet fishes as other filters do.

These filters clean the water and oxygenate it while removing waste that can reduce both Ammonia levels or Nitrites in a tank. They also provide areas for beneficial bacteria to grow, thus enhancing biological filtration even more!


Pros

  • Very affordable.
  • Simple in design.
  • Provides gentle water flow.

Cons

  • Needs frequent cleaning. 

Penn-Plax Clear-Free Premium Under Gravel Filter

Penn-Plax Clear-Free Premium Under Gravel Aquarium...
5,491 Reviews
Penn-Plax Clear-Free Premium Under Gravel Aquarium...
  • NOTHING LIKE OLD SCHOOL: The Clear-Free Premium Under Gravel Filter is air driven and utilizes an Air Pump (not...
  • BIOLOGICAL, CHEMICAL, AND PHYSICAL FILTRATION: As air is pushed through the Air Stones and rises through the Lift Tubes,...
  • ALSO AERATES YOUR TANK: Since the Clear-Free Premium Under Gravel Filter is air driven through the use of Air Stones and...
  • ITEMS INCLUDED: The Clear-Free Premium Under Gravel Filter includes 2 Filter Plates, 2 Adjustable Lift Tubes, 2 Straight...
  • MEASUREMENTS: Each Filter Plate Separately = 9.5” (W) x 9.5” (D) / Filter Plates Together = 19” (W) x 9.5” (D) /...

Keep your tank looking crystal clear with the Penn Plax Clear-Free Premium Under Gravel Filter. This aquarium filter provides powerful biological and chemical filtration, keeping your fish healthy and happy. 

The included lift tubes allow for easy installation within any aquarium or terrarium. The adjustable lift tubes will enable you to adjust the height of the filter if necessary, while the included air stones help aerate water in smaller tanks or bowls. 

The clear-free under gravel aquarium filter uses a patented design that keeps the area around your fish clean with no algae growth. 


Pros

  • An adjustable lift is beneficial.
  • Easy to set up.
  • Very affordable filter.
  • Long-lasting product.

Cons

  • Doesn’t include an air pump and air tubing.
  • No mechanical filtration.

Imagitarium Undergravel Filter

Petco Brand - Imagitarium Undergravel Filter, 10...
81 Reviews
Petco Brand - Imagitarium Undergravel Filter, 10...
  • Works freshwater and saltwater tanks
  • Compatible with 10-gallon size tanks
  • Two filter cartridges included
  • Compatible with Penn Plax Filt-a-Carb replacements filters
  • Compatible with Penn Plax Ammonia-X replacement filter

The Imagitarium Undergravel Filter is a must-have for freshwater and saltwater fish tanks. It’s compatible with both 10-gallon size tanks and other standard small aquarium sizes. 

Two filter cartridges are included, which are durable. The filters are also compatible with Penn Plax Filt-a-Carb replacement filters and Penn Plax Ammonia-X replacement filters, making them easy to maintain.

This under gravel filter is the perfect solution for any tank! It can be hidden beneath your substrate and keeps things cleaner with two easy-to-change filter cartridges.


Pros

  • Versatile aquarium filter.
  • Affordable option.
  • Cartridges are compatible with other brands.
  • Low maintenance is required.

Cons

  • No air pump is included.

Best Small Aquarium Filter Buying Guide: Top 5 Things To Consider

A good way is by understanding what qualities make up the best filters out there to help choose one for yourself!

Ease Of Maintenance

It’s crucial to find the right type of filter for your aquarium. Some require a lot more maintenance than others, so it is best if you can get one with straightforward care instructions and minimal fussing needed on behalf of yourself. 

How do you know which small filter will require less maintenance? Read our review, and also, you can read customers’ reviews from different e-commerce sites!

Fish Density Of The Tank

The type of aquarium filter you need also depends on how many fish are in your tank. You always should maintain the optimum fish density in the tank, but if you want to keep the density towards the higher side, you need a more oversized filter!

Noise Levels

Aquarium filters can be noisy for those who do not like the sound of running water and the rotating machine. If you want to avoid this, search for a low noise level filter that better suits your needs!

Flow Rate

Another critical criterion is the flow rate of your filter. This means how much water it can process in an hour – so make sure you choose wisely! The flow rate three or four times your fish tank volume is ideal. For example, if you have a 10-gallon tank, you should buy a filter with a capacity of 30-40 GPH. 

Related Article: Best Filter to Buy for A 5-Gallon Fish Tank

Filter Type

With all the different types of aquarium filters, it can be hard to know which is right for you. For instance, Power Filters (HOB), Canister Filtres (External), Internal Filters, and more! The only real difference between them lies in their features and advantages/disadvantages.

Conclusion

It’s easy to get lost when trying to find the best small aquarium filters. But with this list of high-quality products, you’re sure not going wrong! Remember that all brands have their various pros and cons – the final decision is all yours!

We hope this was helpful, and we would love to hear your feedback below. Also, if you have anything more to know, please leave a comment below!

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