7 Best Filters For Fish Tanks (& What To Look For)

Are you looking for the best filter for your fish tank? Several types of aquarium filters are available on the market. It can be challenging to determine which type is right for your tank. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of aquarium filters and what makes an ideal filter a good fit for your tank.  Read on to learn more!

Our Top Picks

  • Best Overall: Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter
  • Penn-Plax Cascade 1500 Aquarium Canister Filter
  • Tetra Whisper IQ Power Filter
  • SeaChem – Large Aquarium Fish Tank Filter
  • Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filter
  • Fluval C4 Power Filter
  • Tetra Whisper IQ Power Filter

What Are The Different Types Of Aquarium Filters?

If you’re a fish tank enthusiast, then you know that choosing the right filter to get your water crystal-clear is one of the most essential steps in keeping healthy and happy fish. But with so many filters, how do you decide which is best for your tank? Here’s a quick overview of the seven most popular types of aquarium filters:

1. Hang-On-Back Filters 

Hang-on-back (HOB) filters are a great choice for aquariums up to 40 gallons in size, and they’re super easy to install. This type of filter hangs on the back of your tank. It pumps water from the aquarium into a separate chamber, passing through a filter pad or media. The filtered water is then returned to the tank. 

2. Internal Filters 

Internal filters are an excellent choice for smaller tanks. They take up very little space in the aquarium and can be hidden behind decorations or plants. This type of filter sits inside the fish tank, drawing water from inside and passing it through a series of chambers filled with filter media. The filtered water is then returned to the tank. 

3. Canister Filters

Canister filters are perfect for larger tanks, as they offer increased filtration capacity and options for housing more types of filter media. Pipes and hoses connect this filter’s canister to the aquarium. Water is pulled from the aquarium into a canister chamber, filtered via various media, and returned to the tank.

4. Undergravel Filters

These filters are ideal for tanks up to 75 gallons in size. An under-gravel filter consists of a plate at the bottom of your tank, and gravel is spread over it. This type of filter uses an air pump to draw water from underneath the gravel and through special lift tubes that move the filtered water back into the aquarium. 

5. Diatom Filters

 A diatom filter is perfect if you’re looking for a filter to remove fine particles from the water. This type of filter uses diatomaceous earth (DE) powder, which traps tiny particles as small as 5 microns in size. Diatom filters are typically used for short-term filtration and quick cleanups after water changes or maintenance. 

6. UV Sterilizer Filters

If you’re looking for a filter to help make your aquarium water crystal-clear, then a UV sterilizer filter is a perfect choice. These filters use ultraviolet light to kill off any microorganisms in the water, ensuring it stays clear and free from contaminants. 

7. Sponge Filters

Sponge filters are ideal for fish tanks that house small, delicate creatures like shrimp or fry. This type of filter is silent and doesn’t require any electricity. It’s powered by an air pump that draws water through the sponge and returns it to the tank after passing through a filter pad or media.

What Is The Best Type Of Filter To Use In Your Aquarium?

When it comes to filtering your aquarium water, several options are available. The best filter type depends largely on the type and size of fish and plants in the tank. During maintenance, an under-gravel filter pulls debris and fish waste from the gravel, allowing beneficial bacteria to colonize the substrate. 

Hang-on back filters are often recommended for smaller tanks due to their compact design and easy installation. Canister filters are ideal for larger tanks, as they feature adjustable flow rate settings, additional trays for adding media types, and powerful pumps that keep everything clean.  

Diatom filters provide a great way to remove fine particles from the water. UV sterilizer filters help keep your aquarium crystal-clear. Tapping into the expertise of your local fish store can help you decide which filter is the best choice for your aquarium. There’s nothing like a crystal-clear, healthy aquarium for you and your fish to enjoy! 

What Makes An Aquarium Filter A Good Fit For Your Tank

An aquarium filter is a crucial component for any tank, but what makes a good fit for your home aquarium? Here are 7 things to consider when selecting an aquarium filter.

1. Size

Choose a filter that’s the right size for your tank – if it’s too small, it won’t be able to handle the filtration needs of your aquarium. A filter that’s too big can create too much water movement, which can agitate fish.

2. Filtration Capacity

Make sure the filter you choose can handle the filtration needs of your aquarium. Consider how many fish, types of fish, and other inhabitants are in the tank and select a filter with the necessary capacity.

3. Power

The filter’s power is important to consider, as you want it to be strong enough to do its job but not too powerful that it over-oxygenates the water or agitates fish.

4. Maintenance

Consider how often you’ll need to clean and maintain your filter and what kind of maintenance it requires. Regular maintenance helps ensure your aquarium is always running at its best.

5. Noise

If you want a quiet filter, look for one that’s designed to be as silent as possible. Noise can be distracting, and some fish are sensitive to it.

6. Price

Look for a filter that fits your budget without sacrificing quality or filtration capacity. The more you’re willing to spend, the better quality of the filter you can expect.

7. Features

Many filters come with additional features such as integrated heaters, pumps and other components that can help you customize the tank to fit your needs. Look for a filter with all the features you need.

What Are The Best Filters To Use In Your Aquarium?

Finding the right filter for your aquarium is essential to ensure good water quality and a healthy environment for your aquatic life. Many filters are available in the market, but some stand out due to their superior quality and value for money. Here we present 7 of the best aquarium filters that are based on the reviews of aquarists. 

1. Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter

The Penguin Power Filter from Marineland hits all the marks. It has a three-step process to filter out dirt, chemicals, and biological toxins. It’s easy to set up, so it’s an excellent first purchase for people just starting out with aquariums. It has a certified flow rate of 350GPH, suitable for tanks up to 70 gallons. This filter can be used in almost any tank; most people say it works quietly and well.

Pros:

  • Quiet operation 
  • Easy to install and maintain
  • Offers mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration 
  • Reduces odors 
  • Reliable and long-lasting

Cons:

  • Some models may require a bit more maintenance than others
  •  May be more expensive than other filters
Sale
Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter 150 GPH, Multi-Stage Aquarium Filtration
  • WITH ROTATING BIO-WHEEL: Patented Bio-Wheel technology provides excellent wet/dry biological filtration.
  • MULTI-STAGE FILTRATION: Delivers mechanical, chemical and biological aquarium filtration to maintain a clean aquatic environment.

2. Penn-Plax Cascade 1500 Aquarium Canister Filter 

The Penn-Plax Cascade 1500 Aquarium Canister Filter is an excellent choice for both beginner and experienced aquarium owners. It provides powerful mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration that can help keep the water in your tank clean and clear. With its large-capacity media trays, this filter can handle up to 100 gallons of tanks. 

Pros:

  • Powerful mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration 
  • Large capacity media trays for tanks up to 100 gallons  
  • Quiet operation 
  • Easy to install and maintain 

Cons: 

  • Can be challenging to clean if not maintained regularly 
  • May be more expensive than other filters of similar size and capacity
Penn-Plax Cascade 1500 Aquarium Canister Filter – Provides Physical, Biological, and Chemical Filtration – 350 Gallons per Hour (GPH)
  • 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!

3. Fluval C4 Power Filter

For maximum performance, the Fluval C4 Power Filter has 5 stages of filtration: 2 mechanical, 1 chemical, and 2 biological. The Fluval C4 Poly/Foam, Activated Carbon, C-nodes, and Bio-Screen pad are all included in the C4 Power Filter.The Fluval C4 Power Filter is great for aquariums up to 30 gallons and clips on. It is the ideal method for giving your fish clean, fresh water.

Pros: 

  • Quiet operation 
  • Easy to install and maintain  
  • Offers mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration 
  • Reliable and long-lasting 

Cons: 

  • Doesn’t come with a spray bar for added oxygenation. 
  • Can be expensive compared to other models of similar size and capacity
  • May require additional accessories to be bought separately in order to operate correctly.
Fluval C4 Power Filter, Fish Tank Filter for Aquariums up to 70 Gal.
  • 5-stage clip-on power filter designed for freshwater and saltwater aquariums between 40 and 70 gallons
  • Two mechanical stages trap large and fine debris, foams easily slide out for quick cleaning

4. SeaChem – Large Aquarium Fish Tank Filter

The Seachem Tidal Filter is our top choice for large, 75-gallon tanks. It has a flow rate of 350 GPH, a self-priming pump, and an impeller that cleans itself, making maintenance simple. When your filtration setup needs to be changed or checked in another way, an alert feature will let you know. 

Pros: 

  • Low maintenance 
  • Reliable and durable 
  • Offers mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration 
  • Provides excellent water flow and filtration levels 

Cons: 

  • Surface skimmer cannot be turned off, which is a pain when you have fry
  • After cleaning the media basket, throws a lot of trash
Sale
SeaChem Large Aquarium Fish Tank Filter, Tidal 55 Gallon (200 Liters) by Sicce
  • Hang on Filter for Aquariums up to 55 Gallons
  • For Freshwater or Saltwater tanks.
  • 3 Year Warranty

5. Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filter 

The Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filter is a top-of-the-line filter for up to 100 gallons of aquariums. The internal pump design of the Aqueon QuietFlow filters is a great feature. It helps reduce noise, stops leaks, and starts up automatically after cleaning or when the power goes out. Higher flow rates also mean that there is more oxygen in the water, which makes fish healthier and more active.

Pros: 

  • Quiet operation 
  • LED display for monitoring filter performance 
  • Offers mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration 
  • Reduces odors 
  • Reliable and long-lasting  

Cons: 

  • May require more maintenance than other filters of similar size and capacity
  • Can be more expensive than other models of similar size and capacity
  • Some customers claim that they lasted more than a year, but they got very loud

6. AquaClear Power Filter

The AquaClear Power Filter is an excellent choice for both fresh and saltwater aquariums. It features an adjustable multi-stage filtration system, making it the ideal filter for aquariums up to 50 gallons. Its patented AquaClear Foam Filtration technology helps reduce particulates while promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria. In addition, the AquaClear Power Filter is easy to install and maintain.

Pros: 

  • Easy to install and maintain 
  • Quiet operation 
  • Energy efficient      
  • Offers mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration 

Cons

  • It’s a pain that the top doesn’t have an on/off switch
  • Even on the lowest setting, the flow is too much and all the food goes straight to the bottom
AquaClear 70 Power Filter and Foam Inserts Bundle, 40 to 70 Gallon Aquarium Filter and Filter Media
  • Aquarium filtration system that offers superior contact time with filter media and energy efficient pump lowers operating costs
  • Quick and easy installation, we recommend that you clean aquarium filter every two weeks for maximum operation and efficiency

7. Tetra Whisper IQ Power Filter

Even if your tank isn’t very big, you should still spend money on a good filter. With an intake that can be adjusted up and down to meet the needs of your tank, the Whisper IQ Power Filter is perfect for 20-gallon aquariums. Its StayClean filtration system is simple to maintain and keeps fish healthy by removing harmful ammonia and nitrites and encouraging the growth of healthy bacteria. 

Pros:

  • Easy to install and maintain 
  • Quiet operation 
  • Energy efficient 
  • Reduces odors 

Cons: 

  • May require regular maintenance for optimum performance  
  • Some models may be more expensive than others of similar size and capacity. 
Tetra Whisper IQ Power Filter, 175 GPH, with Stay Clean Technology, 30 Gallons
  • QUIET AQUARIUM FILTER: The Tetra Whisper IQ Power Filter with Stay Clean technology contains a sound shield for quiet filtration less than 40 dB.
  • SELF PRIMING: Submerged motor starts up with no priming required.
  • CAPACITY: The Tetra Whisper IQ 30 Power Filter works in filters up to 30 gallons (175 GPH).

What Size Filter Should You Get For Your Tank

Choosing the right size filter for your tank can distinguish between healthy and unhealthy. The size of the filter is determined by factors such as the depth of the tank, the gallon capacity, and the type of fish living in it. 

A good rule of thumb to follow is to purchase a filter that delivers at least four times the circulation and water turnover needed for the capacity of your tank. If you are dealing with significant or messy fish, or your setup has multiple tanks connected, opt for a larger filter than usual. 

Always be sure to check manufacturer instructions for various filter sizes to ensure that you have purchased one that fits your specific needs. Properly keeping up with regular filtration will help keep your tank clean and balanced, ultimately allowing its inhabitants to thrive.

FAQ

Which Filter Is Best For 100 Liter Fish Tank?

The Fluval 407 Performance Canister filter is the best on the market because it works well and requires little upkeep. The latest generation of Fluval filters are more efficient than the older ones. They use only 23 watts of energy and are 25% quieter. You get a quiet filter with a flow rate of 700 GPH. 

Are Sponge Filters Better Than Regular Filters?

Even though a sponge filter can remove some larger particles from the water column, it does not clean the water, as well as a sump filter, a filter that hangs on the back, or a canister filter. The tank must be cared for regularly to keep a tank running with just sponge filters.

Are Hang-On-Back Filters Good?

Hang-on-back filters are an excellent option for beginning aquarists because of their affordability and simplicity. They have a small footprint, easy-to-understand features, and a wide range of filtration media that can be used with them. They are also relatively quiet and require minimal maintenance. 

Are Bigger Filters Better?

In terms of filtration, bigger filters are not necessarily better. A too-big filter can create too much water movement and agitation in a tank, harming fish. However, getting the right size filter for your aquarium is crucial to efficiently handle the necessary filtration needs. 

Should Aquarium Filters Always Be On?

Yes, aquarium filters should always be on. The filter helps to keep the water clean and healthy for your fish. However, if you need to perform maintenance or change out parts, it’s best to turn off the filter so that debris doesn’t get trapped in it or pump into the tank.  You should also switch off the filter for a few minutes every once in a while to let debris rise and settle into your aquarium’s substrate.  

Should You Use Undergravel Filters?

Undergravel filters can be an effective way of filtering tank water. They pull water and debris through the gravel bed, trapping particles and giving beneficial bacteria a place to grow. This helps keep your aquarium clean and livable for fish. 

Recap

An aquarium filter is a crucial component of any tank. Selecting the right one is key to having a healthy, crystal-clear aquarium. Consider the size of your tank, filtration capacity, power, maintenance required, noise levels, price, and features, which will help determine if it’s the best fit for you. Remember to purchase a filter that delivers at least four times the circulation and water turnover needed for your tank capacity. Following these tips will help you select the perfect aquarium filter to keep your fish happy and healthy in their environment.

Leave a Comment