Fisherreel is audience-supported. When you buy through links on this site, we may earn an affiliate commission that we use for site maintenance. Learn more


10 Best Aquarium Filter In 2023 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

During breathing, fish produce toxic ammonia through their gills. Uneaten food, decomposing plants, and waste from fish can generate toxic gases in the fish tank. These toxic gases make the aquarium unsafe when its concentration builds up with this artificial habitat.

So, fish tank filters are ideal for removing the toxicity of gases produced by the excrement and respiration of our finned pets. Every aquarium needs a filter to enhance the living condition of pet fish and the quality of their habitat.

Many factors promote the longevity of fish that’s being raised in the aquarium. Usually, new aquarium owners that have daily busy schedules often wait till the weekend to do some cleaning up.

However, after developing interests in aquariums, I learned that good water quality is consistent when you use an aquarium filter. Naturally, it was easy to ensure better health of my pet fish with the use of proper filtration tools.

Apart from ensuring a safe habitat for my finned friends, it impacted on the odor of my room positively. There was no offensive odor because I used the best aquarium filter for my needs to eliminate ammonia from the fish.

Additionally, when a fish dies because of excess ammonia, it signifies the absence of a proper filtration system for your aquarium. It’s something that could have been avoided easily. You can learn more tips about fish tank filters by following this buyers’ guide.

This article will also help fish owners to understand what type of filter they need for any tank. Our experts researched and tested premium aquarium filters to assist you in choosing the best aquarium filter for your fish tank.

Best Aquarium Filter for Large & Small Fish Tanks

1 Marineland Penguin Power 50-70 Gal, 350 GPH (Our Top Choice)

Marineland Penguin Power Filter

The Penguin Power from Marineland comes with a multi-stage filtration system that makes fish-keeping successful. This model applies a three-stage aquarium filtration process to reduce the level of discoloration and odors in water.

Rite-Size Cartridges: It has built-in Penguin BIO-Wheel power filters in its cartridges. As part of its 3-stage filtration system, the biological filtration process helps to remove toxic nitrite and ammonia. Also, the BIO-Wheel provides about 50% more surface area for tanks sizes of between 20 to 70 gallons.

The 3-stage Aquarium Filtration: Its mechanical filtration has the Rite-Size filter cartridge floss that tracks floating debris. This stage of filtration ensures maximum water to activate carbon contact with its ribbed back component.

Impurities in fish habitats often lead to odors and discoloration. The chemical filtration system uses its Black Diamond Activated carbon to separate impurities from the aquarium’s water. Additionally, the Penguin BIO-Wheel controls this filter’s biological filtration system. It helps to build beneficial bacteria for biological filtration and discharge waste when fish respire.

Easy Installation Process: Penguin Power filters are easy to set up and beginner fish keepers will find this model very user-friendly. The package comes with an instructional manual that shows how to connect the device to your tank’s back. Before switching this filter, you’ll need to prime your filter with water after installation.

Low Maintenance: Penguin Power filter is easy to maintain. After setting up, you can adjust the water flow rate with a mid-level strainer. After running this device for one month, conduct preventive maintenance by replacing its cartridge. With an adequate water level in the tank, this Penguin Power filter’s mechanism will operate with low noise.


  • It comes with water polishing options, and a variety of water-flow rate designs like the Penguin 100, 150, 200, and 350 GPH
  • Its biological filtration system uses the BIO-Wheel that offers 50% surface area coverage
  • Its built-in motor runs with low noise


  • During maintenance, replacing the Rite-Size cartridges are often

Our Verdict

It is a large model that needs at least 3.75 inches of space between the tank and wall before it can be installed. We figured that this would be the best aquarium filter for those who have enough space left between their tank and the wall.

Eliminating toxic ammonia, nitrite, discoloration, and odors from fish tanks has been made easy with this Marineland Penguin Power Filter. Usually, this type has more functions but they require low maintenance. This is ideal for fish keepers that need power filters with efficient activated carbon.

2 Penn Plax Cascade Canister (Top Canister Choice)

Penn Plax Cascade Canister

Do you want your finned friends to enjoy water purity? The Penn Plax Cascade for freshwater and marine habitats. Typically, Cascade canister filters provide different filtration processes. Cascade 1500 has a water flow rate of 350 GPH, and it’s designed for aquariums with a maximum size of 200. Let’s discuss some unique features of this model.

Easy to Prime and Maintain: It is easy to set up and requires low maintenance. The primer button is user-friendly during installation. You can prime it through its hoses with aquarium water, but don’t switch on the device without priming it. Also, removing the flow valves for cleaning or replacement during the maintenance of this product is seamless.

350 GPH Flow-rate Control Valves: With a rating of 350 GPH, Cascade 1500 canister from Penn Plax can handle aquariums with capacities of 200 gallons. This filtration device has five large media baskets, and rotating valves with impressive flow controls.

The Cascade 1000 comes with 3 media baskets that are good for 100 gallons. These rotating flow valves offer 360 degrees of maneuvering and can work in the tightest fish tank. Additionally, the air-tight sealed valves ensure efficient flow rate and low-noise operations.

Multi-stage Filtration: To enjoy clean water, your filter should offer mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration processes. This multi-stage filtration system uses stackable media trays and inserts like bio-sponges, bio-floss, and activated carbon.

Extra Accessories: This package comes with accessories for your aquarium filtration needs. You’ll find accessories like the tubing, directional spout, spray bar, and filter medium.


  • Easy to set up and you’ll enjoy its powerful, 3-stage filtration process
  • It comes with five large media baskets that can give customized filtration
  • You can use it in aquarium cabinets with tight space because its built-in 360-degree rotating valves offer adjustable flow controls


  • You’ll need to re-prime it after every cleaning exercise

Our Verdict

Are you looking for canister filters with large-capacity, stackable media trays? This canister choice from Penn Plax offers multi-stage filtration and comes with 360-degree rotating taps for crystal-clear aquarium waters. It’s an easy-to-maintain item that will improve the health of your fish.

3 Fluval Fx6 (400 Gallon) (For Large Tanks)

Fluval Fx6 (400 Gallon)

Are you in search of a decent canister filter for large fish tanks? It comes with a built-in pump that pauses after a 12-hour cycle and allows for the discharge of trapped air from the aquarium. Generally, the Fluval Canister FX6 ensures optimum efficiency for your aquarium always! Here are some striking features of this model.

Multi-Stage Filtration: In terms of purification, this is one of the best aquarium filters for freshwater out there. To protect your fish and tank’s water purity, this FX6 ensures mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration for freshwater and saltwater habitats.

Smart Pump Technology: The Fluval FX’s performance relies on a smart pump that’s monitored by an electronic circuit board. This technology ensures the start of an automatic filtration once it has sufficient water. It results in efficient and simple routine maintenance.

Clog-Proof Intake Strainer: In Canister FX6, there’s an intake strainer with a wide, rounded mouth. The design ensures a quick siphon of water, and this strainer is protected by a fine screen.

It’s the screen that traps floating debris and prevents any accumulation of solid particles. This process makes the intake strainer clog-proof, and prevents debris from impeding the flow of water.

Purge Valve and Output Nozzle: It comes with a purge valve drain at the bottom of its filter. When it’s time for maintenance, this part helps fish-keepers to empty the canister with ease.

Also, users can adjust their output nozzle to send multiple streams of clean water to every corner of the tank. This multi-directional output nozzle is a unique feature that uses water currents to dissolve wastes and send them to the intake strainer speedily.


  • It supports automatic filtration, and self-priming; simply, fill it with water, plug the device and switch on
  • There’s a built-in maintenance reminders indicator dial. It helps aquarium owners to remember the date of previous maintenance and water change.
  • The FX6 has an impressive design that makes fish-keeping more convenient than using regular filters.


  • Unlike lightweight models, this FX6 is heavy and needs to be handled with care during installation

Our Verdict

The Fluval FX6 is the top aquarium filter for expert fish keepers eager to grab the best fish tank filter out there. You’ll never forget the next date of maintenance when your aquarium uses this product from Fluval.

Beginner fish keepers will find it easy to adhere to the monthly maintenance date because this filter comes with reminder indicator dials. No wonder why it’s one of the best aquarium filter models on our list. It’s an ideal brand for fish enthusiasts that have aquariums with sizes of 400 gallons.

4 Aqueon QuietFlow 10 LED PRO

Aqueon QuietFlow 10 LED PRO

When you buy a fish tank with a bright LED indicator light, it will be easy to keep up with maintenance schedules. The Aqueon QuietFlow PRO features four stages of advanced filtration systems. Apart from removing particles and debris from your aquarium, here are other top features that come with this filter.

High Water-flow Rates: This model comes with a range of options for different tank sizes. The smallest flow-rate capacity is 100 GPH, while the 400 GPH model is for larger tanks. Generally, Aqueon filters have impressive flow rates that ensure proper turnover for purified water. It also increases the chance of dissolved oxygen content for your finned pets to stay healthy.

4-Stage Filtration System: The filtration technology that comes with this power e internal power filter is advanced. It combines a dense floss for debris removal, while the activated carbon (chemical) eliminates discoloration and odors. Also, the Aqueon Bio-Holster removes toxic gases like ammonia and nitrites. Additionally, its extra filtration system is a diffuser grid that increases the concentration of oxygen for your fish.

Low-Noise Pump: The design of its internal pump comes with seals that prevent leaks, and dampen noise. It results in a silent operation of the pump, and continuous flow of waters.

LED Indicator Light: When you miss the date of maintenance, it could impact on your aquarium filter negatively. So, this device comes with LED indicator lights that flash when the replacement of clogged cartridges is due. Also, it’s pump monitors the water level and sends signals when low.


  • This model doesn’t need priming when you restart it, after power interruptions, cleaning, or installation
  • Its LED indicator light reminds you when it’s water level drops, and the replacement of clogged cartridges is due
  • It has a thin body profile and its internal pump runs smoothly


  • The impeller unit heats up and goes bad when grease and debris accumulate on the magnetic shaft

Our Verdict

It will be nice to experience the optimal performance of this HOB Aqueon QuietFlow in mini aquariums. Unlike regular models, this filter doesn’t need priming at setup or during maintenance. Instead, it’s internal pump works with low noise, and reduces any chance for leaks. Apart from its self-priming function, the Aqueon Quiet Flow PRO uses LED indicator light to remind you to change it’s clogged cartridges in due time.

5 Aqua Clear 60 -110 Gal (110v)

Aqua Clear 60 -110 Gal (110v)

AquaClear filters are designed as versatile hang-on-back filtration systems for fish tanks. Aquarium hobbyists will find this large filter useful because it provides superior water quality. Here are some high-end features that come with this 60 to 110 Gal filter.

Easy Installation: This AquaClear product may be large, but it’s quick and easy to install. It takes a maximum of twenty minutes to set up the inserts and parts. Also, it doesn’t require high operating costs while its energy-efficient pump runs quietly. It is one of the quietest filters available in the market.

The BioMax and Cycle Guard: Apart from its inserts, it contains BioMax ceramic rings. The multi-stage filtration system supports continuous mechanical, chemical, and biological processes. With the Cycle Guard, it’s easy to grow the beneficial bacteria that will help to reduce the presence of toxic ammonia and nitrite. Also, Cycle Guard uses a cartridge filtration system that maintains superior water quality in the tank.

Versatility: As a versatile hang-on system, this product comes with a range of options for different sizes of tanks. The five models have different flow rates designed for these tank sizes. These 5 to 20 gallons, 10 to 30-gallon, 20 to 50-gallon, 40 to 70-gallon, and 60 to 110-gallon models contain six times more media volume than regular models.

Stress-free Maintenance: It takes about three months after using the AquaClear filter to replace its BioMax insert, while it takes one month to change the activated carbon, and foam filter inserts respectively. Also, the manufacturer recommends cleaning the unit every two weeks to enhance its efficiency. These maintenance processes are stress-free.


  • These models use low-noise, energy-efficient pumps that run smoothly
  • The filtration volume of this brand is six times more than regular filters
  • It comes with the BioMax and Cycle Guard that supports biological filtration


  • Its energy-efficient motor does not often self-prime. This condition can trigger power outages and continuous resetting to default mode

Our Verdict

Although being a cheap aquarium filter, this AquaClear model uses a refiltration system that runs with a low-noise, energy-efficient pump. Novice fish keepers might need filters that have low operating costs and offer enhanced contact time with media. So, fish enthusiasts on a budget can save money with a cheap and reliable fish tank filter like this.

6 Fluval 406 External Filter

Fluval 406 External Filter

The Fluval 406 is mounted on the external part of aquariums that have capacities to handle 100 gallons of water. Aquarium enthusiasts that need bottle shaped canister filters with enhanced functionality will find this very useful. Here are some of the reasons why this Fluval 406 made our top picks.

Redesigned Impeller Cover: The impeller unit is a part of the device that sends water into the chamber. The Fluval 406 has been redesigned with a strong impeller cover that can withstand wear and tear. Also, the cover will prevent the accumulation of debris and grease that could cause damage to the unit.

Low Noise Operation: Its pump has a sound-dampening impeller design that allows for smooth and quiet operation. The bearing component minimizes impeller vibrations and reduces noise. While ensuring continuous water flow, the Fluval 406 cleanses the aquarium efficiently.

Multi-stage Filtration: The multi-stage filtration media includes the mechanical, chemical, and biological processes of complex cleansing actions. Unlike regular filters, it holds between 35 to 50% more water, and it’s ideal for 100-gallon sized aquariums.

Aqua-Stop Valves: Maintenance is simple because its Aqua-Stop valves and hose can be disconnected easily. Also, the filter media comes with large filtration baskets and single-motion lift-lock clamps that are adjustable.


  • You can adjust the water flow rate, and optimize contact with the filtration media
  • It comes with a dual-layer foam screen and clog-proof intake strainer
  • Our Fluval 406 model has a square-shaped canister design, and it holds about 35 to 50% more water than rounded canister filters


  • Its installation process is more complex than normal canister filters

Our Verdict

The Fluval 406 offers improved functionality and filtration media that clean your aquarium water, and promote the health of your fish. Unlike normal fish tank filters, it has a range of extra features that will reduce your maintenance cost making it easy to clean the fish tank filter all by yourself.

It’s the right canister model for fish-keepers that need to preserve the high-quality of their freshwater and saltwater tanks.

7 EHEIM Classic 350 External Canister Filter

EHEIM Classic 350 External Canister Filter

Filtration media has many benefits, and the Eheim Classic 350 offers more advantages. This model can handle 95 (US) gallons of water in the aquarium, and you can customize its media. However, it’s a premium product that comes with the following features.

Water-flow Rate 164 GPH: With a water flow rate of 164 GPH, the pump output provides crystal clear aquarium water. Its inlet and outlet valves enhance the circulation of water, and dissolved oxygen for fish to enjoy. Its pump has a promo-elastic silicone sealing ring that reduces the risk of leakage.

Filtration System: Its chamber has media and sponges provide mechanical and biological long-term filtration for your aquarium. However, the filtration system allows you to customize and use (chemical) activated carbon or other media. Also, it does not use cartridges but gives optimum performance.

Complete Accessories: In this package, you’ll find complete accessories like the inlet pipe, spray bar, hose, coarse and fine pads. These accessories make both the canister filter suitable for freshwater and saltwater applications.

Oxygen Enrichment: You can increase the level of oxygen in the fish tank by using a filtration process that grows beneficial bacteria. The biological purification process helps to enrich the tank water with breathable air for fish to enjoy.


  • The package comes with kits of complete accessories like spray bar, hose, and pads
  • The water flow currently is very strong, and the pump runs with low noise during operations.
  • Its water flow-rate is 164 GPH


  • It doesn’t support the automatic priming feature

Our Verdict

The EHEIM Classic 350 is a premium model for starters in fish-keeping. It’s easy to operate, maintain, and install on both freshwater and saltwater tanks respectively. This low-budget 95-gallon device has a flow rate of 164 GPH. It’s ideal for fish-keepers that need filters with high water circulation and oxygen enrichment capacities.

8 Sunsun Hw304B 525GPH Pro with 9-W UV Sterilizer

Sunsun Hw304B 525GPH Pro with 9-W UV Sterilizer

A large-sized aquarium comes with more surface area than smaller habitats. The SunSun HW-304B Pro has a capacity of 525 GPH, and it comes with a 9-watt UV sterilizer (lamp) bulb. This unit is ergonomically enhanced, and efficient. Let’s discuss some of its interesting features.

The UV Lamp: Its 9-watt UV sterilizer bulb helps to kill bacteria and algae spores by raising water temperature inside the aquarium. This sterilizing action also promotes crystal clear water for fish to thrive.

Water-flow Rate: With 525 GPH capacity, it pumps water at the rate of 2000 liters per hour. This is great for a large tank since its 55-Watt pump can send strong currents of water to every corner of a 150-gallon aquarium.

Filtration System: It has four flexible media trays, a blue coarse-pad, and three white filter pads. Its ceramic rings are porous that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria for fish. It also has Bio-balls that support gas exchange and boosts the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the tank.

Generally, these media trays reduce discoloration and odor while maintaining water clarity. You can even add SunSun’s activated carbon media for chemical filtration.

Easy Installation: The HW-304B uses the self-priming pump and makes maintenance easy. After rinsing and placing your media in the filter, switch on the device, and watch the activity. You can install this model on freshwater and saltwater aquariums.


  • It’s a premium model that comes with a 9-Watt UV sterilizer lamp for killing algae spores and bacteria.
  • The flexible media trays allow for the customization of other filtration methods
  • It’s designed for large fish tanks that have a maximum holding capacity of 150 gallons.


  • The grey latch beneath the filter has a poorly-packed gasket and ‘O’ ring seals. So, you might experience water leaks after using this model for many months.

Final Verdict

Our SunSun HW-304B Pro Filtration Kit is a great model that made our top picks. It’s a great choice for beginners to buy. Also, it brings a great way of reducing discoloration, and odor in aquariums. Its media trays are flexible and allow you to add SunSun’s bio-balls and activated carbons for biological and chemical filtrations respectively.

9 Hydor Professional External Canister Filter 450 to 320 gph

Hydor Professional External Canister Filter 450 to 320 gph

The Hydor Professional 600 is ideal for 150-gallon tanks. This high-end model helps to improve the environmental conditions of fish. During its filtration process, you’ll notice strong flows of water from the thick, wide hoses and adjustable bar spray bar. Here are the features to enjoy if you decide to give your tank an upgrade.

Unique Design: Its rectangular body profile is attractive and well-constructed. Also, this canister’s housing can fit under an aquarium cabinet or tank conveniently. Its sleek rectangular shape is designed to swap or hold large filtration media trays.

External 345GPH: It comes with an efficient motor and sound-dampening pump that runs with low noise. When it is installed in a 150-gallon tank, you’ll experience its impressive water-flow rate of 345GPH. This powerful flow rate ensures that your device clears up the water with speed.

Filtration Methods: It supports multi-filtration and is designed with telescopic intake tubes for easy priming. It provides biological, mechanical, and chemical filtrations for saltwater and freshwater tanks. This filtration system will boost the health of your fish by eliminating nitrites, and increase oxygen levels in the water.

Versatility: This Hydor product comes in five sizes. The smallest model has a water-flow rate of 190 GPH for 40-gallon tanks, while the 225 GPH is for 75-gallon tanks. However, the largest model is the 600 series with a capacity of 345 GPH for 150-gallon tanks.


  • The Hydor device offers a powerful flow rate and its efficient pump works quietly
  • Its rectangular body profile is ergonomically designed for holding a large quantity of filtration media
  • It has an easy priming system after installation


  • The seal at the base is not leak-proof

Our Verdict

The Hydor Professional 600 has a capacity of 345GPH, and it makes a complete ecosystem purifier. You can adjust the flow rate, strainer, and thick hoses to siphon debris out of your aquarium. This is ideal for professional fish-keepers that need unique aquatic experience for their fish.

10 MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter (ML90770)

MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter (ML90770)

Marineland is a reliable name in the industry of aquarium filters. The Magnum ML90770 has a water-flow rate of 290 gallons per hour. Its polishing pad enhances the removal of tiny, floating debris. You can find other benefits of this item in the next segment of this review.

Water Polishing Pad: It comes with flexible, stackable media trays that provide multi-stage filtration for your tank. However, it has a reusable cartridge that leaves aquarium water crystal clear. By adding a micron cartridge to its internal media chamber, your fish tanks will be free from fine debris that could affect its performance.

Three Stage Filtration: The replaceable media trays offer multi-stage (three) filtration, and keeps the aquarium water clean. Insert the foam gasket and add other filter media to the dual internal media chambers. It’s not necessary to prime after installation. Simply switch on the device to ensure water clarity.

Its Black Diamond Premium activated carbon conducts the chemical filtration that eliminates odors, and discoloration of water. Also, you can promote the growth of Bio Spira (beneficial bacterium) through biological filtration, and ensure mechanical filtration with its Rite-Size floss sleeve.

Versatility: With a flow capacity of 290 gallons per hour, this device can send a stream of water to clean every part of the tank with impurities. It ensures complete water contact for effective clean-ups. Also, it’s a versatile aquarium canister filter that ensures thorough cleaning of tanks (97 gallons) for fish to survive.

Easy Set Up: This package comes with an instructional manual that shows first-time users how to install it. During routine maintenance, the adjustable media separator can be cleaned and replaced easily. Also, the handle that allows for media swap is user-friendly.


  • The dual-chamber design offers biological filtration for the growth of beneficial bacteria. Also, it can cover a large surface area of 153 square inches
  • Its submerged motor is quick and doesn’t need priming before it becomes active
  • It comes with a high-efficient polishing pad that works well with its multi-stage filtration process


  • This model doesn’t have a Bio-wheel design for biological filtrations

Our Verdict

Magnum ML90770 works very well for aquariums that can hold 97 gallons of water. With a flow rate of 290 gallons per hour, you are confident of enjoying high water clarity and successful fish-keeping activity.

Best Aquarium Filter Reviews [A Comprehensive Buying Guide]

Best Aquarium Filter Buying Guide

Catching fish and keeping them are two different things, but you can always apply homemade solutions in both cases. You can use a DIY filter for your aquariums but we suggest you buy one for better water quality. There are factors to consider while buying fish tank filters; like the size, and type of aquariums. Also, keep in mind the versatility, capacity, and type before making a choice.

1. Types of Fish Tank Filters

  • Internal

Internal filters are air-driven and ideal for small fish loads. Their small design makes them compact and a suitable choice for small aquariums. Buyers with less than 20-gallon aquariums can use this type. Usually, internal filters have suction cups that attach to the top corner of your aquarium’s internal part.

This type has cartridge-carrying activated carbon (chemical filtration), and small, mechanical sponges that siphon air. After drawing air from the filter’s base to aerate the tank’s water, dissolved ammonia is eliminated, and the fish tank becomes clean. Additionally, these low-flow filters are easy to mount and maintain.

  • Under-gravel

You’ll need to devote time and attention when using under-gravel filters. Generally, under-gravel types are mechanical filtration systems, but some brands come with chemical filtration systems that use activated carbon.

Also, you’ll find gravel substrates at the base of fish tanks. They go underneath this portion where bacteria have high concentrations. The under-gravel type works well for smaller tanks and requires high maintenance.

  • Canister

Unlike other types, they have large bodies and offer all the functions (mechanical, chemical, and biological) that aquariums need. Usually, the installation is outside the tank and they have different filter media.

They work with pressurized flows of water through separate filtration segments. This type is preferred because it’s powerful and flexible.

  • Power Filters (Hang On Back)

Their design ensures that power filters can hang on the back of aquariums, and have low maintenance. Usually, many people install these behind their tanks for fish to enjoy mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. They are easy to install and can work continuously.

Buyers often prefer this type because they are durable and suitable for different fish species. But they are often disturbed by strong water flows.

  • Wet Dry

Trickle filters are called wet-dry filters; they are versatile for reef tanks, and saltwater aquariums. The wet-dry kind has two parts that support a biological filtration system. The outer part on the tank siphons water and sends it through a tube to the interior filtration part.

They don’t provide chemical or mechanical filtration processes, but the biological process of reducing bacteria in the water. Also, they require less maintenance cost and are suitable for large water bodies with many fish and algae.

There are other types of filters too such as Diatom filters, Trickle filters, Airlift filters, Algae filters, Fluidized bed filters, and Baffle filters.

2. Tank Size

You can know the right filter for your tank side by reading the specifications of water capacity (in gallons) on its packaging. This detail is necessary when shopping and you’ll see the GPH (Gallons Per Hour) value too.

Filters with ratings of ’60/85′ value can handle between 50 to 75 gallons of water. Additionally, the GPH value is the volume of (gallons) water that the filtration system can process in an hour. Get the right size for your 20-gallon aquarium. There should be a minimum of 1-inch size fish in every gallon of water. So, a 20-gallon tank can accommodate ten units of 2-inch size fish conveniently.

3. Aquarium Filtration Media

The aquarium media comes in different types of materials. You should be careful about the materials as only a few are suitable for a good filtration system. Synthetic filter wools consisting of nylon or polyethylene terephthalate, foams or synthetic sponges, igneous gravels, ceramic and various sintered glass, and silicon are the prime elements of a mechanical filter. And, plastic bio balls make the best biological filter.

4. Water-Flow Rate

The flow rate is a measured value of how much (in gallons) filters allow water to pass through per hour. Every product has its rating and you can find this value of the packaging box before purchase. Additionally, filters with high water-flow rates are impressive, and fish tank faster than regular products.

5. Functionality

So, what is the best aquarium filter in terms of functionality? We usually recommend multi-functional filters for healthy fish. The combination of multiple filtration systems in a filter varies from one model to another. Also, some filters have limited functionalities while others are suitable for all species of fish. It’s the quality of your filter’s functionality that makes it a good product.

6. Ease of Installation & Maintenance

You can save time and the health of your finned friends by using high-end filters that support all filtration processes. However, not all these filters have low maintenance ratings. There should be space for canister filters if you choose them for your fish tank. Usually, the size of canister filters is large, while the under-gravel filters require more maintenance. This is why canister filters are ideal for sump type aquariums.

7. Noise

The high-end models produce little noise during operation. You need to consider a low-heat emitting filter to keep fish relaxed in the aquarium. Generally, finned pets love cool water areas, and a noisy overhead waterfall filter can scare them or increase water temperature.

8. Durability

So, in terms of durability, which filter is best for aquariums? Generally, a fish tank filter can handle waste from your fish stock without reducing the tank’s water quality. However, an ecosystem of plants and the size of your aquarium will determine its durability. You’ll need a premium product if the stock of fish requires strong filtration systems.

Why Your Aquarium Needs Proper Filtration

An aquarium filter is an aquatic device that helps remove fish or turtle waste, algae and plant debris from the water in fish tanks. This filtration system ensures the tank is well-aerated, safe, and contains purified water for fish by managing the nitrogen cycle properly.

Also, the accumulation of hard metals and the presence of soluble chemical waste in fish habitats can reduce the quality of their living conditions. These three types of aquarium filtration systems can help your fish survive in any condition.

1. Biological Function

Ammonia is produced as waste when fish breathe and excrete in the tank. There will be accumulations of nitrite bacteria when these wastes remain inside fish tanks. So, this process involves a biological filtration system that breaks down the bacteria inside fish tanks. Biological filtration requires the time and dedication of aquarium owners to ensure a healthy habitat for their pet fish.

2. Chemical Function

Chemical filtration helps enhance the water’s quality by helping to track impurities and hard metals like chlorine. Generally, when your fish tanks depend on tap water as its source; the hardness of tap water may cause pollutants.  So, you can eliminate pollutants in water through a chemical filtration process.

3. Mechanical Function

The remains of fish food and dust from a room with an aquarium can reduce the concentration of oxygen in the water. A fish tank filter can create a mechanical process of removing visible wastes. So, this mechanical filtration system helps to flush water through its strainer, and catch particles that float in the water.

There are different methods of removing impurities from your pet fish habitat. Also, your filtration system must match with the water quality preferences of an aquarium if you keep picky pet fish. It’s when the fish is surrounded by clean water that it can thrive.

Aquarium Filter Cleaning & Maintenance

Even when you use a 10-gallon aquarium filter, there is still a need for routine maintenance. When cleaning and changing aquarium water, ensure to use non-corrosive reagents to avoid poisoning the fish in your aquarium. However, there are different cleaning tips for all types of fish tank filters.


Sponge filter maintenance depends on the type you use before you adopt a cleaning pattern. Unplug the power head or air pump before you clean the unit. Carefully, brush the impeller unit and air filter and use a toothpick to clear any accumulation of debris.

However, you might consider replacing the sponge filter if it’s necessary. When cleaning, don’t fail to soak the sponge in a bucket of water and squeeze to clear solid debris. Also, the water will prevent your sponge filter from drying out.


It’s the rule of thumb to unplug the filtration system before attempting to disassemble them from your tank. Before cleaning your canister filter, place it in a filled bucket of water to preserve the accumulated beneficial bacteria. Be careful with the impeller unit, inserts, and hoses as you wipe off debris with a soft-bristled brush.

Avoid incomplete cleaning of canister filter components because it can trigger leakage from the bottom seals. After cleaning, you can reassemble every part. Then fill the canister chambers with tap water before switching the device.


The basic cleaning tips for hang-on filters is a mix of the recommendations for sponge and canister filters. Usually, the Bio-wheel and other biological filtration components should be soaked in water. This technique prevents filter media from drying out during cleaning. Then disassemble the other components of your hang-on filter. Scrub the impeller unit, valves, sponge, and intake tubes with care.


Usually, vacuuming the gravel is an effective method for cleaning this type. Don’t use very hot water when cleaning. Instead, siphon tank water into the filter bed as it goes through the gravel. Empty the water back into the fish tank, and replace with fresh water. Under-gravel vacuuming ensures the clearing of solid particles on its substrate.

Using bleach or soap to clean your filter and the tank’s organic deposits is not recommended. Always maintain a cleaning routine as recommended by the manufacturer of your filter.

Wrapping It Up

After subjecting each of these filters to practical tests, our team of expert fish-keepers is satisfied with their performance. They also made a comparison with their reviews and other reviews found on the internet. However, none of these models is perfect, but each one of them will make a great choice.

We recommend the EHEIM Classic 350 for starters. New fish keepers will save more money with this filter model because its pump comes with a permo-elastic silicone sealing ring. Also, this model has a flow rate of 164 GPH and can flush every corner of the tank that is dirty. Professional fish-keepers with a large tank capacity of at least 150-gallon will find the Hydor Professional 600 useful.

This filtration device comes with a rugged pump and an attractive canister housing that can hold large filtration media trays. The Hydor 600 is a durable model that meets the demands of large fish tanks. It supports aquatic life with its multi-stage filtration processes.

Regardless of your choice from our in-depth review, ensure you provide basic, routine maintenance when it’s due. A good model will save you the hassles of early replacement and offer dependable performance. And, you can also use a homemade filter system for your aquarium.

I am glad that after reading this article, your choice of filters will be an effortless task. However, it will be nice to read your experience after buying the best aquarium filter.

About the author

Simon Michel

The plight of life sometimes takes you to extremes of nature and guess what, you learn the best lessons in your most difficult times. As a keen sea explorer with several years spent in yachts business, I had damn busy schedules throughout 13 years of my career. I used to free my mind from my mundane days in the sea with extreme fishing expeditions when this became not just a fun activity, but a life saver. You could say, I employed most types of fishing techniques but nothing felt better than fly fishing. That drew my whole attention for a good number of reasons. I mean, it’s an amazing feeling when you are in a light mood with buddies munching snacks and casting the fishing road. I look forward to making the most of my leisure time with this fantastic sport.

Leave a Comment