Best Aquarium Canister Filter of 2022 Reviews

best aquarium canister filterFinding the best aquarium canister filter for your fish requires a lot of research and thought. After all, we want the very best for our fragile pets.

Canister filters have gained a lot of popularity, as they are great in cleaning dirt, debris and unwanted particles in aquariums. They are great at retaining the clear dirt-free water that everyone wants in their aquariums. Not only that, but you also want top-notch filtration for your water buddies. Since fish are extremely fragile species, you want the absolute best for them and remove any danger that may be risky to their health.

Finding the best aquarium canister filter includes evaluating features available for freshwater aquariums and saltwater aquariums respectively. As an owner of these, you probably already know that the freshwater or tropical fish require an aquarium that is similar to their habitat of origination. Similarly, saltwater or marine fish require an aquarium that is best imitating their habitat of origination. Hence, choosing the canister filter first depends on what kind of aquarium you have.

Other than the above-mentioned differentiation, you also need to evaluate whether you have a small aquarium or a large aquarium. These are essential to keep in mind when finding the most suitable filter that aims to remove all pollutants present in an aquarium. Canister filters differ in their size and flow rate that the water pump creates.

Best Aquarium Canister Filter Reviews:

1. Polar Aurora External Aquarium Filter

This canister filter comes with a complete kit that makes it suitable for beginners. It features three trays that collect different types of media. It also comes with an adjustable spray bar that can control the output flow that you want from the filter.

However, It does not use UV light. It can be used for tanks of sizes up to 100 gallons, although it is ideal for 35-75 gallons. Moreover, the built-in pump has a flow rate of 265 GPH. It is ideal for cleaning the top surface of the water.

Things We Liked:

  • Value for money
  • Starter kit included for beginners
  • 3 flexible media trays
  • The O-ring stops leaks and slips

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • It takes 1-2 days for the water to clear the first time
  • Only suitable for fish, not turtles


2. Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter

Penn Plax is one of the most popular aquarium manufacturing companies in the world. This canister filter by Penn Plax comes with three media baskets that have a pump that has a flow of 265 GPH, also is ideal for aquariums having up to 100 gallons. Its flow valves have a 360-degree rotation, which helps get into tight corners. This filter is suitable for both saltwater and freshwater aquariums.

It features two trays with their own foams; one tray has charcoal while the other has a filtering media. Not only that, but it also comes with a spray bar. The three-stage filtration process includes mechanical, chemical and biological filtration that effectively eliminates debris, dirt, and toxins from the water.

Things We Liked:

  • Has a water injection button which aids to priming
  • It is one of the less noisy filters out there
  • Maintenance is easy because the hose is detachable
  • It can be set up easily and is easy to clean and maintain

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • The filter has pipes which are made of fragile plastic
  • Requires high power


3. Fluval External Filter

Fluval’s external canister filter offers multistage filtration for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. It provides premium performance because of its great media capacity and superior flow rate. However, it is suitable for a maximum of 100-gallon aquariums. It has noise and vibration-reducing design and is square-shaped which allows a greater water capacity (35% – 50% more) than round ones. Moreover, it comes with an intake strainer that minimizes clogging. It also features a layer foam screen for efficient filtration.

Furthermore, it features a patented stop valve by Aqua, along with multiple filtration baskets. It has class fibers that maximize strength and durability. The company also offers a 3-year warranty as well for the customer’s peace of mind.

Things We Liked:

  • Very simple assembly
  • Setup and maintenance are made easy with single-motion liftable clamps.
  • 3-year warranty
  • Has a greater water capacity as compared to round canister filters
  • Has an intake strainer

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • One of the more expensive canister filters out there


4. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

This is also an external canister filter that is set on high performance and filtration standards. It is versatile because of its priming pump. This makes it suitable for both saltwater and freshwater aquariums.

It is also suitable for small and large aquariums as the unit is quite compact. The shaft of the filter is long-lasting and is made of ceramic. Despite being compact, it has a large volume capacity. It also comes with safety locks in case there are toddlers around the house.

The filter has a gallon range from 20 to 150 so that you can choose one that is most suited to the size of the aquarium you have. In addition, the circulation ranges from 160 to 290 gallons.  It comes with a complete kit and is 10 x 8 x 19’’ in dimensions. The company is known for its high-quality products for aquariums.

Things We Liked:

  • Easy setup
  • Customer service is available 24/7
  • The size and capacity are quite generous
  • Very low noise and vibration
  • Many variations to choose from

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • The bigger the size, the lower the power


5. Zoo Med Nano External Canister Filter

These filters are ideal for aquariums that facilitate up to 10 gallons (small aquariums). They can be used in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. It is a good filter for beginners as it is customizable. It is a small, compact and space-saving unit, that does not use up a lot of space. Additionally, it has a quiet design because of its anti-vibration brushes. It runs on 80 GPH.

The Package consists of the external canister filter, mechanical filter, spray bar, carbon chemical filter, and bioceramic filter. These are all necessary for a beginner and the carbon is valuable for getting rid of chemicals from the water. It has a three-stage filtering mechanism that includes mechanical, chemical and biological filtration.

Things We Liked:

  • Easy priming system
  • Does not leak
  • Space-saving unit
  • Filter media are all included
  • Comes with a spray bar

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Creates a lot of noise
  • Impeller needs improvement


6. EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media

This external canister filter by EHEIM supports up to 10 gallons of tanks. It is one of the small aquarium filters out there. It has a flow rate of up to 40 GPH. Also, it has a three-stage filtration system that includes mechanical, chemical and biological filtration.

It is a durable filter as it has easy access and a well-sealed top for maintenance. Other than that it comes with a number of accessories such as the spray bar that leads to oxygenation, aeration, and dispersion.

Thus, it is a compact-sized external filter that does not take up a lot of space and gets the job done right.

Things We Liked:

  • Three types of filtration
  • Has a high capacity
  • Has easy access and maintenance
  • Comes with accessories
  • Saves shelf space

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • The motor is not very durable
  • Is noisy and loud


How to Choose a Best Aquarium Canister Filter?

There are a number of things that you need to look out for when choosing the best aquarium canister filter. These include:

Capacity and Flow rate

When choosing a canister filter the capacity is key. You want to opt for a filter that is similar to the gallons of the tank or aquarium. So if the tank is of 10 gallons, then the filter should also have a rating of 10 gallons. Moreover, the filter should have the ability to process at least four times the total volume of water in the tank. Thus, a safer option is to go with filters with an adjustable flow rate.

Filtration Types and No. of Media Baskets

Getting a filter that has all three filter functions i.e. mechanical, chemical and biological. All filters do not have the three filtration capabilities, hence you should look for one that has all three included. The filtration media should be of high quality and if it accommodates different kinds of media then that is ideal. Similarly, the media baskets too should be roomy, spacious and accommodating of different types of media.

Size and Mounting

The size of the filter determines whether it will fit in the tank. Some canister filters go on a shelf nearby or have to be hung, hence you need to choose an external canister filter accordingly. For instance, nano tanks generally have the hanging type.


No one likes a constant noise in the room, as it can become annoying. Choosing a filter that creates low vibration and noise is crucial, your canister filter may check out on all aspects but if it’s loud, then it will be a nuisance for you and the fish.

Spray Bar

Water that goes back into the tank has to be as clean as possible. You don’t water to disturb the fish, so a large current of the water will do just that, thus spray bars help eliminate these problems. The spray bar ensures water enters back into the tank in a way that does not damage or disturb the fish.


Benefits of Aquarium Canister Filter:

Canister filters only sometimes are the right choice for your aquariums or tanks. There are disposable filters or other fish tank filters in the market as well. The following are a list of benefits that aquarium canister filters provide you:

  • More efficient than other types of filters
  • They reduce nitrate levels, and it is widely accepted that nitrate kills fish
  • The water that is filtered goes back in the tank without causing splashes and current
  • Larger tanks require powerful filters and canister filters are generally more powerful than other types
  • Canister filters are easier to maintain as compared to other types
  • Canister filters can be fitted under, behind or inside the tanks
  • More filter media options and some are also customizable
  • Canister filters can process larger volumes of water much faster than other aquarium filters


How to Clean a Canister Filter

Canister Filters require a greater and more frequent cleaning as compared to other filters. Before starting the cleaning process, you should make sure you have the following items: bottlebrush scrub, scrubbing pad, sink, towels and Q tips. Once you have all these items, you need to first switch off the filter power i.e. unplug the filter from the switch. In addition, you need to make sure that there is no leakage.

The next step is to shut down all the valves so that the valves are off. This ensures that there is no leakage once you start cleaning. The next step is to remove all tubes and hoses. Then you need to pull apart all the housing of the filter. This involves removing all of the compartments, trays, and baskets outside. The last step is the actual cleaning. The delicate parts should be cleaned really gently so as to not damage them. A bottle brush is ideal for these tubes.

After that, you should dry all the parts and reassemble them once they are dried.



Finding the best aquarium canister filter is crucial if you want to make sure your fish etc to have a healthy living habitat. Thus, you need to make sure you know what to look for in one before making the buying decision.

This article is a buying guide and it comes with the six most recommended canister filters out there. It will help you make a more informed decision and help you select one that suits your needs the most.