7 Best Canister Filters For Your Fish Tank!

Choosing the right canister filter is crucial for maintaining a clean and healthy environment for your fish. In this article, we’ll learn everything about canister filters and take a look at the best options to find the perfect filter for your aquarium. 

So, keep reading to find out everything you need to know!

Our Top Picks:

  • Best Overall: Fluval FX6
  • Marineland Magniflow 360 Canister Filter
  • SunSun HW-304B Aquarium Canister Filter
  • Penn-Plax Cascade Aquarium Canister Filter
  • Fluval 107 Performance Canister Filter
  • Eheim Classic Canister Filter
  • Aqueon Quietflow Canister Filter

What Is A Canister Filter?

A canister filter is a type of aquarium filter that helps keep the water in the fish tank clean and clear. It works by pulling water out of the tank through a tube or valve and running it through filter media inside a sealed canister. 

This filter media traps dirt, debris, and harmful substances, making the water healthier for your fish.

To explain the process in simple steps, first, the canister filter takes in water from the fish tank using an intake tube or valve. Then, the water is forced through the filter media, where impurities get trapped and removed. After that, the filtered water is pumped back into the fish tank through a spillway or spray bar.

Canister filters are quite efficient and can handle large volumes of water. They’re placed outside the aquarium, saving space inside the tank for fish and decorations. Moreover, canister filters often come with a strong water pump that allows them to clean the water thoroughly.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Canister Filter?

When it comes to keeping your aquarium clean and healthy, a canister filter can be a real game-changer. Let’s explore why this gadget is a must-have for your fish tank.

1. It Cleans Really Well

First off, canister filters do a top-notch job of cleaning your aquarium. They work three ways – mechanical, chemical, and biological – to make sure the water in your tank is safe and clean. And the best part is larger canister filters also have room for other types of filtration like water polishing and ammonia removers.

2. It’s Quiet

Secondly, canister filters are quiet. No more noise that ruins the peaceful feeling you get from watching your fish. Of course, some of this will depend on the brand of filter you buy, but genuinely, you can store them further away from the tank itself reducing the noise.

3. It’s Versatile

What’s more, canister filters can be adjusted to fit your needs. You can change the media they use to target specific problems in your tank. So, if you need to tackle a particular water issue, the canister filter can be customized just for that.

4. It’s not Distracting

Lastly, canister filters won’t mess with the look of your aquarium. They’re usually placed out of sight, under the tank. This means you get to enjoy the beauty of your aquarium without any distractions.

What Factors Should You Consider When Buying A Canister Filter?

If you’re thinking of buying a canister filter for your aquarium, there are a few key things you should keep in mind. Here are the important factors to consider.

1. Size of Your Aquarium

Firstly, you need to consider the size of your aquarium. Different filters are designed for different tank sizes. A filter that’s too small might not keep your tank clean, while one that’s too big could create too much water flow for your fish.

2. What Type of Fish You Have

Secondly, think about the type of fish you have in your aquarium. Some fish require specific water conditions. Make sure the canister filter you choose can create the right environment for your fish.

3. The Filter’s Cleaning Power

Next, consider the cleaning power of the canister filter. It should have all the necessary filtration to keep your tank water clean and healthy for your fish.

4. Noise Level

Another factor is the noise level of the filter. You want your aquarium to be a peaceful place. A quiet canister filter can help maintain a calm environment for you and your fish.

5. Ease of Maintenance

Finally, you’ll want to consider how easy the filter is to clean and maintain. Some canister filters are easier to take apart and clean than others. Look for one that doesn’t require a lot of complicated maintenance.

Is A Canister Filter Right For You?

Whether or not a canister filter is right for you depends on a few factors, including the size of your aquarium, the type of fish you keep, the ease of maintenance you desire, and even the amount of money you are willing to spend.

Canister filters are typically best suited for larger aquariums, as they can hold more filtration media and provide more efficient filtration. If you have a small aquarium, you may be better off with a different type of filter, such as a hang-on-back filter.

If you keep fish that produce a lot of waste, such as goldfish or cichlids, you will need a filter that can handle the extra filtration. Canister filters are a good option for these types of fish.

Canister filters are relatively easy to maintain. The filter media can be easily removed and cleaned, and the filter itself can be easily cleaned. However, they require more maintenance than other types of filters. So, if you’re not comfortable with regular maintenance, you may want to choose a different type of filter.

Canister filters are typically more expensive than other types of filters. However, they offer a number of advantages that may make them worth the investment.

What To Look For In A Canister Filter?

When shopping for a canister filter for your aquarium, it’s important to consider a few key aspects to ensure you get the right one. Here’s what to look for.

1. Capacity

Firstly, consider the capacity of the canister filter. It should match the size of your aquarium. A filter designed for a larger tank will not work as efficiently in a smaller tank and vice versa. Check the manufacturer’s recommendation for tank size to ensure it suits your aquarium.

2. Types of Filtration

A good canister filter should provide mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. Mechanical filtration removes solid particles from the water, chemical filtration removes toxins, clears the water and stops it from smelling, and biological filtration breaks down harmful substances through beneficial bacteria. Make sure the filter you choose is capable of all three.

3. Noise Level

Another factor to consider is the noise level of the canister filter. Some filters operate more quietly than others. If noise is a concern for you, look for a filter known for its quiet operation.


Also, think about how easy it is to maintain the canister filter. Some filters are more user-friendly than others when it comes to cleaning and changing the filter media. Look for a filter that is easy to disassemble and clean.

5. Customizable Media

Lastly, consider whether the canister filter allows you to customize the filtration media. This gives you the flexibility to adapt the filter to the specific needs of your tank. For example, you may want to add more chemical or biological media depending on your tank’s requirements.

Best Canister Filter

With so many products on the market, choosing the best Canister Filter for your tank may be challenging, especially as a beginner. So, here are some of the best Canister filters voted most popular by fishkeepers to help you decide!

Fluval FX6

Fluval FX6 High Performance Aquarium Filter, Canister Filter for Aquariums up to 400 Gal.
  • Multi-stage filter pumps out 925 US Gal (3,500 L) of water per hour, Smart Pump advanced microchip technology continuously monitors and optimizes pump performance

The Fluval FX6 takes the lead in this list with its impressive array of features. It’s powered by advanced motor technology that ensures the smooth and quiet operation of the filter, maximizing flow rates and enhancing filtration capabilities. 

What sets the Fluval FX6 apart is its Smart Pump technology, which continually monitors and optimizes pump performance for efficiency, thereby reducing energy consumption.

Moreover, the Fluval FX6 offers customizable media trays, allowing you to tailor the filter media to suit your specific needs, providing targeted filtration and promoting a healthier and cleaner environment for your aquatic pets. Although it comes with a higher price tag and may seem a bit complicated for beginners, its performance and versatility make it worth the investment.


  • Advanced motor technology ensures strong flow rates and efficient filtration.
  • Smart Pump technology for optimized filter performance and reduced energy consumption.
  • Customizable media trays allowing you to select the best filter media for your specific needs.


  • Higher price point compared to some other canister filters.
  • Setup may be complex for beginners.

Marineland Magniflow 360 Canister Filter

Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter For aquariums, Easy Maintenance,Black
  • 3-STAGE FILTRATION: Water flows through media layers to filter water and ensure a clean aquatic environment

The Marineland Magniflow 360 also garners significant appreciation for its solid performance and reliability. It provides excellent filtration through its three-stage process – mechanical, chemical, and biological, ensuring a healthier aquatic environment.

Its quick-prime button is a helpful feature, allowing for easy self-priming, and the tight-seal lid ensures no water leaks during operation. Some users may find the design a bit bulky for smaller setups, and the instructions might require a bit of deciphering. However, the superior filtration process and sturdy design make it a good choice.


  • Excellent filtration through mechanical, biological, and chemical processes.
  • Quick-prime button fills filter chamber with water for self-priming.
  • Lid creates a watertight seal when tightened.


  • The design may be bulky for smaller aquarium setups.
  • The user manual might not be easy to follow for some users.

SunSun HW-304B Aquarium Canister Filter

Sunsun Hw304B 525GPH Pro Canister Filter Kit with 9-watt UV Sterilizer
  • HW-304B Pro Filtration Kit, Good for up to 150 gallon aquariums

The SunSun HW-304B stands as a budget-friendly alternative with a commendable performance. It includes a UV sterilizer, a feature often not found in canister filters in its price range, which helps in eliminating harmful bacteria and algae spores. 

Its media trays offer diverse filtration options. However, the SunSun HW-304B might not be as durable as the Fluval or Marineland models, and its UV light may need frequent replacement. Still, its affordability, coupled with the feature set, makes it a viable option for hobbyists on a budget.


  • Affordable compared to other canister filters with similar features.
  • Has UV sterilizer for eliminating algae spores and harmful bacteria.
  • Multiple media trays for diverse filtration.


  • Construction may not be as durable as the other two models.
  • UV light may need frequent replacement.

Penn-Plax Cascade Aquarium Canister Filter

Penn-Plax Cascade All-in-One Aquarium Canister Filter – for Tanks Up to 200 Gallons (350 GPH) – Cascade 1500
  • CASCADE 1500 CANISTER FILTER: Without effort, the Cascade 1500 Canister Filter quietly delivers crystal clear water throughout the tank. This filter cycles water at 350 Gallons per Hour, and is recommended for aquariums up to 200 gallons. It’s compatible for both freshwater and saltwater fish tanks, and is also great for turtle habitats!

Penn-Plax Cascade is renowned for its multi-stage filtration capabilities and flexibility, making it suitable for both freshwater and marine environments. The unit houses large filter trays, which mean you can use a variety of filter media to achieve optimal water purity and clarity. 

It also comes equipped with a self-priming button and adjustable flow rate control, giving you the flexibility to optimize filtration according to your tank’s specific needs. The robust construction and quiet operation round out the key selling points of this popular filter.


  • Multi-stage filtration capability
  • Large filter trays for varied media
  • Self-priming button
  • Adjustable flow rate control


  • The setup can be a bit complex for beginners
  • The seal can occasionally leak

Fluval 107 Performance Canister Filter

Fluval 107 Perfomance Canister Filter for Aquariums up to 30 Gallons
  • Fluval eTEC (Efficient Technology) construction employs cutting-edge design, materials & manufacturing methods to deliver powerful pump performance, reduced energy consumption and ultra-quiet operation

The Fluval 107 is praised for its robust performance and energy-efficient operation. This filter offers advanced motor technology that results in improved water flow and reduced energy consumption. 

With its multi-stage filtration system, the Fluval 107 promotes a healthier and cleaner aquarium environment. It is also designed to make maintenance easier, featuring a redesigned, easy-to-use Aquastop valve.


  • Energy-efficient
  • Improved water flow
  • Easy maintenance with a user-friendly design


  • Smaller capacity might not suit larger tanks
  • The media baskets can be tricky to clean

Eheim Classic Canister Filter

EHEIM Classic Canister Filter 2211, Classic 150 – PetOverstock
  • Permo-elastic silicon sealing ring fixed on the pump head for easy and safe closing after cleaning

The Eheim Classic Canister Filter is known for its high-quality construction and time-proven reliability. With a simple yet efficient single-chamber design, this filter allows for a balanced mix of mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. 

One of its key features is the permo-elastic silicon sealing ring, which ensures easy and safe closing after cleaning. Despite its modest appearance, users appreciate its quiet and efficient operation.


  • Proven reliability
  • Simple and efficient design
  • Easy maintenance due to the sealing ring


  • Does not come with a surface skimmer
  • The hoses can be stiff and challenging to maneuver

Aqueon Quietflow Canister Filter

The Aqueon Quietflow stands out with its higher flow rates and versatile filter media options. This filter promises to keep your aquarium water crystal clear with its multi-stage filtration process. A standout feature is its unique water polishing unit, which is designed to remove fine debris and ensure optimal water clarity. Moreover, it is engineered for quiet operation, living up to its “Quietflow” name.


  • High flow rates
  • Water polishing unit for extra clarity
  • Quiet operation


  • The instructions are considered to be less than clear by some users
  • Some difficulty in priming the filter


What Size Canister Filter Do You Need?

The size of the canister filter depends on how big your fish tank is. A good rule is to pick a filter that can clean the water in your tank 3 to 5 times per hour. For example, if you have a 20-gallon tank, you’ll want a filter that can handle 60 to 100 gallons of water per hour.

Do Canister Filters Make Noise?

Canister filters are usually quiet because the motor and parts are inside the canister, which muffles the noise. But some can make a little noise if they’re old or not set up correctly.

Are Internal Filters Better Than External Filters?

It depends on what you need. Internal filters are small and go inside the tank. They work well for small tanks but may not clean big tanks as effectively. External filters sit outside the tank and can clean larger tanks better.

Is Fluval The Best Canister Filter?

Fluval makes good canister filters, like the FX6 model. Some people think it’s the best, but it depends on your tank size and needs. There are other good filters too.

Is A Canister Filter Overkill?

Using a big canister filter for a small tank might be too much. It could create too much water movement and stress the fish. It’s always best to use the right-sized filter for your tank.

Are Canister Filters Worth It?

Canister filters are absolutely worth it for bigger tanks or if you want good filtration. They keep the water clean and help your fish stay healthy.

Are Canister Filters The Best Filter?

Canister filters are great for many tanks, but it depends on what you need. There are other filters that work well for smaller tanks too. Choose the one that suits your tank best.


Picking the right canister filter can turn your aquarium into the most comfortable home for your fish. Remember to think about your tank size, what your fish pals need, and what fits you best. With a smart choice, your aquarium will be a cozy and clean home for your fish. 

Tropical Fish A-Z

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