Best fish tank filters Reviews and Buy Guide with FAQ. Top best canister filters. Best aqarium filters 2020 Guide and Reviews.


Filter ImageFish Tank FiltersFilter Tanks GallonsBest Price
Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter for AqariumsPenn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister FilterUp to 30, 65, 100, 150, 200 GallonsAmazon Price
Fluval-External-FilterFluval All New 07 Series 107, 207, 307, 407 Perfomance Canister FilterUp to 30, 45, 70, 100 Gallons and professional version up to 400 GallonsBuy from Amazon
Marineland-Magniflow-Canister-Filter-for-Aquariums-Fast-MaintenanceMarineland Magniflow Canister Filter for Aquariums, Fast MaintenanceUp to 30, 55, 100 GallonsBuy from Amazon
EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with MediaEHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with MediaUp to 40, 66, 92 GallonsBuy from Amazon
AquaClear, Fish Tank FilterAquaClear, Fish Tank FilterUp to 20, 30, 50, 70, 110 GallonsBuy from Amazon
Ehm Fltr 2217 Classic Wm 264gEhm Fltr 2217 Classic Wm 264gUp to 160 GallonsBuy From Amazon
SunSun Hw304B 525GPH Pro Canister Filter KitSunSun Hw304B 525GPH Pro Canister Filter KitUp to 150 GallonsBuy from Amazon

Fish tank filters types

Aquarium  filters are divided into two types: internal and external, each with its advantages and disadvantages.

Internal filters are divided into: sponge filter, internal filter with electric pump (powerhead) and filter substrate.

Sponge tank filters : This fish tank filter is classic and was used many years ago, now used mostly by fish tanks with shrimp farms. It consisted of an air stone connected to an air pump covered in sponge, but also acts as a mechanical filter and biological filter. Obviously, it is very effective in larger aquariums or densely populated fish tanks.

aquarium sponge filter

Internal powerhead aquarium filter: It has a case which contains an electric pump at the top and at the bottom a case that contains filtering materials, mostly sponges. It is suitable for mechanical filtration. If you replace the filter material like sponges with substrate siporax or pro, than it  can be used as a biological filtration. This type of filter isn’t recommended to be used in fish tanks with 100 liters capacity or larger. By using a lot amount of space, this characteristic will make it to be somehow unaesthetic.

internal powerhead filter

Substrate fish tank filter:

This kind of filter uses pipes or boards, under substrate, whereby water is pushed or pulled by a water pump. The advantage is given by substrate, that becomes a biological filter with a massive volume.  Disadvantages can include, inability to use a fertile substrate, the difficulty high enough to mount a filter (especially  for the DIY one ) and attention that should be chosen substrate (weight / grit).

Substrate fish tank filter

External aquarium filters are divided into: HOB filters (hang-on), canister filters and sump tank filters.

HOB filter or waterfall type filter: it looks like a box, that is supported above the one of the aquarium glass walls. It contains a pump that pulls water from the aquarium after it passes through the filter materials and eventually back into the fish tank. The advantage is that no longer occupy place in the aquarium and can be hidden by the wall behind the pool. Be careful though, those who have questionable quality it is possible to make a small noise ( box cover can vibrate because of the engine) .

HOB filter or waterfall type filter

External canister type filter: It is one of the most practical for our aquariums usual filters. It looks like a can or a box in which the filter material and the cover contains the motor (pump). In this model, the filter canister is located under the aquarium, water drops after that is drawn by the pump through the filter and is pushed back into the aquarium.The advantages are: do not take much space in the tank can be hidden in the cupboard under the aquarium, higher volume for the filter material, easy maintenance and less frequent than in an internal filter. The disadvantage is given by the higher price. Please note: the aquarium filter should be placed below, not near the aquarium and not above the aquarium.

External canister type filter

Sump fish tank filter: It is basically another aquarium tank located under the display, and divided into several rooms where the filter material is. The major advantage is that it has a very high volume for filter material, can hide other equipment. It is suitable for large aquariums and marine aquariums densely populated.

Sump fish tank filter

Filtration has an essential role in maintaining a healthy environment, free from toxic substances. Filtration is necessary for fish tanks with warm water (freshwater or seawater) and cold water.


Most common Freqwently Asked Questions and answers

What type of filter is best for a fish tank?

Low maintenance filters, like sponge filters or power filters, work well for tanks that aren’t overstocked or overfed. External canister filters are more effective for a tank with fish that produce more waste, as they are more powerful, but they also need more regular maintenance.

Is it OK to have 2 filters in a fish tank?

Don’t Multiple Filters “Compete” on the Fish Tank? It is true that if you use more than one filter on your fish tank, neither of those filters will perform as efficiently as it would if it were the only filter on the aquarium. This is expected, but is not a problem.

Do I really need a filter for my fish tank?

All fish tanks MUST have biological filtration; biological filtration is the cheapest, most efficient and most stable way to breakdown toxic ammonia. Mechanical filtration traps such particles as plant leaves, uneaten food, etc., allowing them to be removed from the tank before they decompose into ammonia.

Should I turn off aquarium filter at night?

It is not a good idea to turn off your aquarium filter every night. The filter plays a key role in the health of your tank, and shutting it down for hours at a time can eventually lead to problems. Second, your filter helps to aerate the water.

Can aquarium fish survive without filter?

Yes your fish could survive providing you put a lot of work in doing 30 to 50% water changes however to have a healthy tank you really should have filter, pump, plants etc. so your filter grows beneficial bacteria which will turn ammonia to nitrite then nitrite to nitrate then you only need deal with the nitrates by doing partial water changes. Do you use water conditioner when you fill your tank up with clean water as your fish won’t last 2 minutes if you don’t.

How do I choose an aquarium filter?

When it comes to freshwater aquarium filters you should consider a filter that has three stages of filtration: mechanical, chemical, and bacterial. Good quality filters offer all the stages of filtration that is needed for good water quality and healthy, happy fish.

How to get crystal clear aquarium water

Filtration is the most fundamental way that we keep aquarium water clear. Filtration can be divided into three different types – mechanical, biological and chemical, and its mechanical and chemical filtration that work together to keep water clear. 

Bacteria. Some strains of bacteria can also be added to aquarium water to help to clear it. Bacteria can carry out an infinite number of different tasks including reducing waste, which would otherwise cloud water. Unique bacteria and enzyme cultures can be added to the tank and get to work reducing mulm and debris, and clearing water. These can be added separately to start-up bacteria and for best results use on a regular basis.

Fish. Some fish are more conducive to a clearwater aquarium than others. Goldfish and cichlids are greedy, messy feeders which eat a lot of food and produce a lot of physical waste. They also dig in the substrate, dislodging fish poo and uneaten food which in turn clouds the water. Overstocking can cause cloudy, dirty water, and a lightly stocked aquarium with a few small fish will nearly always have clearer water than one which is heavily stocked, with large fish. Large, messy fish should be accompanied by suitably sized filtration, and if you keep such species but have cloudy water, a larger, more capable filter should be chosen. 

Food. The food you feed will also have a bearing on water clarity. Large, protein-rich foods like cichlid pellets, catfish tablets, frozen cockle and mussel may cause suspended particles, also called fines, degrading water quality and clarity. Be careful not to overfeed, remove any uneaten food with a net and/or gravel vacuum and match these diets to suitably large mechanical filters. A good flake food shouldn’t cloud water so if you crave clear water and the flake refers to clearwater or low waste in its literature, that’s the one to try. 

Maintenance and water changes are one of the best ways to achieve and maintain clear water. Clean filter sponges and vacuum the substrate regularly and you will remove physical waste from the system which would otherwise contribute to cloudy water. Weekly water changes also aid fish growth, keep nitrates down, and help to stabilise pH. 

Flocculants. A good, short term way to get crystal clear aquarium water is to use a flocculant. Flocculants clear water by clumping tiny particles together, making bigger particles, which can then be removed effectively by filtration. Use a flocculant and clarity will temporarily get worse before it gets better, as all those tiny particles get clumped together before being removed. You’ll need a filter too, but they are quick, easy and widely used.

Light. Have the tank light on for too long and you risk the water turning green. Tiny unicellular algae float around in the water, fuelled by light and nutrients, giving water the look of pea soup. If the cause of poor water clarity is a green tinge, it is almost certainly light and algae related, and the first thing to do is reduce the amount of light. Radically reduce the number of hours per day the aquarium is illuminated for, and if it receives direct sunlight at all during the day, if you can, move it. Ultraviolet clarifiers are widely used by pond owners to combat green water, and they can be used on aquariums too. If your tank suffers from green water invest in a UV and you won’t suffer it again. But if you want something quicker and less expensive in a single dose, use a flocculant, as recommended above.

How many times per hour should I filter my aquarium?

4 times. We generally recommend that on average, you turn over your aquarium volume four times per hour. This means that if you have a 30 gallon tank, you need a pump and filter with flow rates of around 120 gph.

Can a filter be too big for a fish tank?

You can‘t over filter the water and as such the water can never be too clean. Essentially, you can never over filter your tank. The only negative impact would be that the filters cause too much water movement for the size of the tank. This could lead to the residents of your tank being a little stressed out.

Can a filter be too big for a fish tank?

Can an aquarium filter be too big or too strong? Physical size isn’t so much the issue here, although if it is too large, it may not fit on your tank. The answer to filters being too strong is yes. The generated flow of water causes more issues than lots of filtration like fish stress due strong currents created by too powerfull aquarium filter.,Can%20an%20aquarium%20filter%20be%20too%20big%20or%20too%20strong,issues%20than%20lots%20of%20filtration.

Can too strong of a filter kill fish?

f you put the latter species in strong current it might stress them and weaken their immune system. But if you mean a “strong filter” as being a filter system that is capable of filter a much larger aquarium system than the one it’s attached to. Then th answer is no. You can‘t over filtrate an aquarium system.

How high should filter be in fish tank?

Keep an eye on how much water is in your aquarium—most filters need the water level to be about one inch from the lip of the filter. Make sure your bubble walls and/or air stones are not directly under the intake tube. If bubbles go up the main tube, it will cause a rattling sound and may stop your filter from working.

Can too much water flow kill fish?

You could leave it it will not kill your fish but today there are just way better ways for filtration. Just some stuff to think about. If you see your fish are having a hard time swimming you have to much flow, you also don’t want your plants coming up rooted.