15 Best Aquarium & Fish Tank Filter (Reviews – 2021)

best aquarium filterYour responsibility as an aquarium owner does not stop at putting the fishes in the water and feeding them. There are lots of things that you need to do to help your aquatic pets stay alive longer. One of them is by keeping the aquarium clean and purified. It should be free from algae growth, dirt, and excess food or other debris that gets into the fish tank. And how would you do this? With the help of an aquarium filter.

Finding the best aquarium filter is not an easy task. You need to consider several factors before coming up with a decision. We are here to help. This comprehensive product review features 15 of the most popular and widely used aquarium filter that you can consider buying. Each product was reviewed according to its value, benefits, and what makes it unique to others.

 

Best Aquarium Filter Reviews

Below are 15 fish tank filters that you can consider to buy:

1. Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter

Penn Plax Cascade is a hang-on back power filter that provides quadruple filtration. It has an efficient self-priming intake tube, and aquarium owners can adjust the filtration easily while feeding them. As a whole, this filter is a well-designed and useful HOB filter.

This modern aquarium has a powerful filtration with three stages that provide crystal clear, filtered water for your water pets. Because of its intuitive features, setting up the filter is very easy. It includes an adjustable intake tube and adjustable flow rate that enable you to manipulate the filter to your specific needs effortlessly.

The floating particulates get trap on the poly fiber floss cartridge as also it serves as a breeding area for the helpful anaerobic bacteria. To help remove the harmful toxins, odors, discoloration, chemicals, and other contaminants from the water.

Things We Liked

  • Operates silently
  • Easy to install and use
  • Manufactured by a reputable company
  • It has an exceptional quad filtration

Things We Don’t Like

  • It does not have a bio-falls filtration system.

 

2. Fluval External Filter

The Fluval External Filter is made of high-quality materials to provide superior filtering capability. It is recommended to be used in an aquarium of various sizes and for saltwater and freshwater aquariums. It has enhanced functionality and better filtration performance to produce a healthier and cleaner aquarium. It has patented Aqua-Stop Valves features for easy disconnections of the hose.

Cleaning and maintenance are stress-free, thanks to its single-motion lift-lock clamps. The package is complete with multiple removable filtration baskets that include the necessary media used for chemical, biological, and mechanical filtration.

To make sure the filter will work at its best, you just need to follow the setup instructions carefully. You don’t have to worry about noise as this product operates quietly, with minimal vibrations as compared to others. Its multi-stage filtration process offers a premium level of quality and efficiency.

Things We Liked

  • Easy start-up feature without manual siphoning needed to get you started.
  • Its lock-in clamp will keep it in place for better functioning
  • Operates in a quiet mode which makes it very appealing
  • Has independent modules for mess-free removal of dirt

Things We Don’t Like

  • It is quite expensive as compared to other products of the same category.

 

3. NO.17 Submersible Aquarium Internal Filter

The No.17 Submersible Aquarium Internal Filter is a powerful filter 10-gallon fish tank. This filter works efficiently and with excellent quality. It circulates the water without splashing and also very easy to clean. If you are using a 10-gallon fish tank, this submersible aquarium is a good choice. It cleans the water perfectly, producing a clean and fresh environment for your fishes.

The best thing about this fish tank filter is that it comes with an adjustable 200 GPH water pump. The flow rate is 200 GPH and can pump up to 3.28 feet, maximum lift height. The power cord is 1.6M longer. No.17 Submersible Tank Filter is specially designed for reliability, ultra-quiet operation, and reliability, but you can set the water flow rate of your choice.

These multiple filter media offer a fresh and pleasant environment for your attractive fishes and turtle. The filter media comes with the filtration process. Also, the filter inside comes with easy to clean two nozzles.

Things We Liked

  • Reusable filter media
  • Easy to install and use
  • It operates in silent mode
  • Includes an amazing water pump
  • With additional small tube to increase the flow of water

Things We Don’t Like

  • The box occupies bigger space in the fish tank
  • Not enough suction cups to hold it in position

 

4. Marineland Penguin Aquarium Filter

The Marineland 350 is a functional filtration unit with a powerful and efficient unit. It is capable of filtering up to 70 gallons. With regards to the processing power, this filter can process 350 gallons of water per hour. So, if you are using a 50-gallon tank, it can process a total water capacity seven times per hour. This is quite impressive. It is not common to many aquarium filtration unit.

This filter provides easy, effective, and 3-stage aquarium filtration without having problems with air pumps, air stones or tubing, and valves. It has Convenient Rite-Size Filter Cartridges with ready to use filter, to chemically and mechanically remove waster, odors, and discoloration.

The Tetra features set the bar high in water care treatment and maintains a four-step, color-coded system. The Tetra offers all you need to keep the water in the aquarium healthy and clean.

Things We Liked

  • Quite durable outer shell
  • Best for heavily stocked tanks
  • Great three-stage filtration
  • It occupies less room in the tank
  • Excellent processing power

Things We Don’t Like

  • The intake filter requires frequent cleaner
  • Less attractive

 

5. JackSuper Aquarium Turtle Filter

This aquarium turtle tank filter from JackSuper is designed for tanks with low water levels, so amphibious turtles can live comfortably.  The filter can live upright in your aquarium tank and can draw as little as 0.6 inches of water from its base. Aside from optimum performance, this filter has an attractive pleasing waterfall effect on its outflow.

This type of filter is compact and does not produce any annoying noise, which makes it more affordable. Take note this filter does not offer biological filtration. It helps get rid of the turtle’s waste in the water. But, you still need to replace the water regularly.

Also, make sure that the bottom of the filter is submerged when operating. If not, it will burn out the pump efficiently. If in case it has a shallow water level, it can ruin the filter easily.

Things We Liked

  • Can accommodate amphibious tanks that require low water levels
  • Attractive waterfall effect
  • Less expensive
  • Operates quietly
  • Compact

Things We Don’t Like

  • Can burn out pump easily if not submerged in the water during operation
  • Recommended for very small tanks only

 

6. Aqua Clear – Fish Tank Filter

If versatility is one feature that you are looking for in a fish tank filter, we recommend Aqua Clear Fish Tank Filter. The product provides a wide selection of flow rates for various sizes of aquariums. The filter’s unique design allows you more media volume and the longest media contact time.

It has a re-filtration system feature that is recommended for sensitive fish and plants that require gentle water flow. The system lets you control the flow rate without affecting the filtration efficiency. Once the flow rate is reduced, the water in the filter chamber is processed several times.

The Cycle Guard Multi-Stage Filtration system feature offers maximum chemical, biological, and mechanical filtration. An aquarium needs beneficial bacteria. These bacteria are vital in the removal of toxic nitrite and ammonia. It can get rid of weeks of bacteria to re-colonize, which resulted in a stressful surrounding.

Things We Liked

  • Easy and fast installation
  • Manufacturer’s two-year warranty
  • Recommended to up to 20 gallons aquarium
  • It has Aqua Clear activated carbon, Biomax and Cycle Guard, and Foam for continuous filtrations and clean water quality
  • Up to 7 times filtration volume as compared to other filters

Things We Don’t Like

  • Produces annoying noise when on the operation

 

7. Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter

If you are looking for a filter that works both on saltwater and freshwater, Penn Plax Aquarium Filter is a good choice. Many aquarium owners love this brand because of its wide range of applications. The filter is recommended to be used on aquariums up to 200 gallons.

With regards to water flow, it can provide up to 350-gph. Proper maintenance is essential to make sure that it works effectively and efficiently.

Using the filter is easy, just press the button, and it has a 360-degree rotation for maximum filtration of the tank. This small aquarium filter can last longer, and it takes years before you may need some replacements.

Things We Liked

  • It has a large tank that can last longer
  • Made of durable materials that will keep your aquarium clean for a long time
  • Setting up is easy and fast and will start the filtration process right away
  • You can use it along with bio-sponges, activated carbon, and bio-floss for better filtration

Things We Didn’t Like

  • It produces annoying grinding and chattering sounds when in operation.

 

8. EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media

EHEIM Classic has been in the market for decades, and it is simple to use and lasts longer. It is not as sensitive as others in case you failed to clean it. The filter does not have cheap plastic clips and other parts that easily break, and it cleans the tank impressively. Eheim is a famous brand and has the latest filter designs with more whistles and bells.

The classic model of Eheim has a sturdy and robust built. Because of this type of construction, it is one of the favorites of many people. It is not only a few parts that have high quality. The entire unit meets the standards that customers are looking for in a filter.

The clamps are made of stainless steel to help lock the motorhead in place to prevent it from wobbling while on an operation. So, instead of using the big plastic clamps such as those found in other filters, you utilize sturdy stainless steel clamps.

Things We Liked

  • Low noise levels
  • The cleaning process is simple and easy
  • It has a low energy consumption
  • The installation process is easy
  • It does not leak even when used longer

Things We Don’t Like

  • Finding the replacement parts is hard
  • The ceramic impeller can be broken easily

 

9. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

This brand is new in the market. However, it is very competitive. Hydor is made of quality material that will last longer. You will not get disappointed. The good thing about the filter is that it is easy to set up.

The canister comes with an attractive packaging with setup instructions and recommendations on the box. It is made of sturdy, reliable parts which make it a good choice. The motor is insulated and does not create any sound.

The impeller increases the existence of the motor as it is on a ceramic shaft. The good thing about the filter is that it comes with a reliable hose and rotating hose attachment.

The size and layout of the filter media are impressive and provides you enough room to add all that you want to add. It includes filter media except for carbon, which you can purchase easily. The filter performs well and can clean your aquarium water efficiently within an hour.

Things We Liked

  • Worth your money
  • Easy to install and set up
  • Simple priming system, to help it get up and run fast
  • Includes all the needed filtration media for turn-key installation
  • Rectangular shape for better capacity

Things We Don’t Like

  • Finding a replacement to some parts is not easy
  • Maintenance is a bit difficult

 

10. Huijukon Air Driven Sponge Filter

One of the safest and effective sponge filter kits you can find in the market today is the Huijukon Air Driven Sponge Filter. It is safe to use and is specially designed using eco-friendly materials, and it can work without making any noise.

The filter can handle a water tank that contains 55 gallons of water. Position it in an area where you think it is needed the most. If you prefer, you can place it where it is not visible on the back of the tank. The package includes two suction cups.

The water is well-oxygenated with its air-powered sponge filter. The filters provide both the biological and mechanical filtration that traps floating residues and protects the baby fish from getting sucked up in the filter. It has double ten-layer sponges design to make a biofilter, having two sponges mean wider surface area for better bacterial colonization and quicker cycling. It keeps your tank clear and clean.

Things We Liked

  • Designed with high-quality food-grade materials that are eco-friendly
  • Does an impressive job in mechanical and biological filtering
  • Recommended for those with a limited budget
  • Operates silently
  • Keep the baby fishes protected from getting sucked up

Things We Don’t Like

  • No chemical filtration
  • Does not have airline tubing

 

11. Uxcell XINYOU XY-380 Aquarium Fish Tank Filter

You don’t have to spend much money to get a reliable sponge filter for your fish tank. The Uxcell Xinyou is a good option in keeping a larger tank clean and safe for your fishes. This fish tank filter can be used as a pre-filter for Hang-on Back.

It is made of high-quality material and works best in keeping the water in the tank pristine clear. The filter comes in a big size, but you can still conceal it at the back of tank adornments and aquatic plants. The good thing about this filter is that it does not trap fishes inside.

The materials used in the sponge filter are very porous. It allows the water to move into the thick pad as it traps the debris at the surface. As this filter can be too large for a fry tank or breeder, the sponge offers safe filtering on shrimp tanks that are ten-gallons or more.

This brand offers the filter in one, three, or six-packs. Since this is a sponge filter, it can provide mechanical and biological filtration for the water column. An air pump is needed in order for this tool to function.

Things We Liked

  • Easy to attach powerheads
  • Large pours for continuous water flow
  • Side channels provide a bigger surface area for good bacteria
  • Made of high-quality material
  • The filter does not trap the fishes inside

Things We Don’t Like

  • The filter unit is light and needs to be secured to the tank
  • Bulky and may use up a lot of room if you have smaller tanks

 

12. Fluval C Power Filter

The Fluval C filters are available in three different varieties. One is the C2 filters 119 GPH, best for tank up to 30 gallons. The C3 filters are 153 GPH for 50 gallons tank or higher. C4 works at a maximum of 264 GPH and is designed for tanks up to 70 gallons. Each variety is made from translucent, dark plastic with a central filtration part and an intake tube on the other side.

The filtration process passes through five stages. Mechanical filtration comprises the two stages, one for chemical filtration and the remaining two are for biological filtration. Activated charcoal, biological filtration media, and foam pads are included in the filter.

The water passing through the filter is re-filtered several times to eliminate as many impurities as possible. C-nodes is the biological media included in the package, which can be slowly replaced to preserve the good bacteria.

The intake tube remains into the tank and extended with the right tube attachment. Adjusting the flow is easy. Simply turn the knob on top and set it to low, medium, or high. Another impressive feature of Fluval C is that it has a built-in mechanism that alerts you when it is time to clean the filter.

Things We Liked

  • The filter can be rinsed out easily
  • Removes even the smallest particulates
  • Operates quietly for a hang-on filter
  • Trickle filter lessens noise as you add more biological filtration
  • Simple and easy to clean

Things We Don’t Like

  • Plastic is not as durable as you expect it to be
  • Impeller needs regular cleaning and can cause the motor to stop unexpectedly

 

13. Lee’s 40/55 Premium Undergravel Filter

The under gravel filters are not as popular as compared to other aquarium filters. However, because of its simple operation, it makes them a good option for aquarium owners who want minimal maintenance. It is placed at the bottom of the tank under the gravel.

It can build a mostly undisturbed colony of bacteria. You don’t have to change media or service to move the parts, but it is much easier to install it on an empty tank than adding it to your present setup.

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This model measures 12 x 48 inches, so it is made for reasonably large tanks. The filter for large tanks are made of durable materials, which makes it less prone to cracking and will surely last longer. It is priced reasonably. If your fish produce a lot of waste, you can use it together with another type of filters like canister filter or power filter.

Things We Liked

  • Made of durable plastic that resists splitting or cracking
  • Can be used both in saltwater and freshwater
  • Includes four activated carbon cartridges
  • Comes with multiple tube ports

Things We Don’t Like

  • Filter tubes are a bit smaller.

 

14. Polar Aurora Free Media 4-Stage External Canister Filter

This is a premium-quality four-stage canister perfect for a fish tank that carries up to 200 gallons of water. Polar Aurora Free Media has a built-in UV sterilizer that helps prevent the formation of algae. It features a powerful 55-watt pump that provides a flow rate of 525 GPH.

Polar Aurora Free media have four media trays that can handle all types of filtration. It also has an adjustable spray bar to control the water output easily. As a whole, this is a good choice since it has a self-priming pump that eliminates the need for manual siphoning. This filter has a flexible media tray and lets you add more filtration media.

Together with four media stages, it has a UV bulb to make sure you have the cleanest water in the aquarium. The bulb will likewise offer some lighting, so you can see what you are doing when performing some maintenance.

The O-ring feature Polar Aurora will make sure your filter will not leak. It goes around the circular opening once you remove the upper filter. After returning the filter cap, you can be sure that you will have a leak-proof seal and will prevent it from dripping.

Things We Like

  • Can work on a huge amount of water
  • Convenient self-priming pump
  • Easy to install
  • Reduces the growth of algae
  • Recommended for new users

Things We Don’t Like

  • Some leaking concern
  • Not powerful enough

 

15. Fluval FX4High Performance Aquarium Canister Filter

The Fluval FX4 Canister Filter is one of the filters with an impressive performance report. It is known to have a rigid exterior filter with a comprehensive filtering volume.

This canister filter is also popular for its self-pumping method. It only needs electricity and water to function. Another good feature of this canister filter is that it has a multi-serviceable feature, and they all function without modifying the setup or the fish.

Aquarium owners love the Fluval FX4 filters. It requires less time to complete the entire process and cleans 250 gallons of water. The canister filter can be used both in freshwater and saltwater tanks. If you think this Fluval filter is a bit pricey, but if you compare this amazing canister filter to other types of filters, you will realize that it has impressive features that many people would love.

Things We Liked

  • Easy to maintain
  • Operates with less noise
  • Self-pumping
  • Exceptional cleaning capacity
  • Enough space for biological media

Things We Don’t Like

  • Removing and replacing the lid is not as easy as you think it is.

 

Various Types of Filtration

Before buying an aquarium filter, it is best that you know the different types of filtration of a fish tank filter first. The filters are categorized into three major groups to make it easier for you to choose from.

Biological Filtration

Fish has the capability to produce ammonia through their gills when they breathe, and it can also be part of the waste excreted from their bodies. Ammonia is toxic and needs to be removed from the tank frequently.

With the use of a biological filtration system, it will help eliminate the fish’s harmful waste from the tank. There are instances where fish die due to the accumulation of ammonia, but this can be avoided easily.

Mechanical Filtration

Floating debris in a fish tank is normal. This is due to excess food given to the fish, and some are accumulated dust particles. Mechanical filtration is a process of eliminating the debris as well as other visible waste from the tank.

After purifying the water, the tank will now have clean, clear water that your fish prefer. This will keep your aquarium well-aerated and promotes good health.

Chemical Filtration

The water we use for cooking and drinking comes from various sources. Be careful, as some water may contain hard metals or other materials that could be dangerous to the fish. Because of this, you need a filter that can get rid of such materials from the water.

Various types of filters will apply different methods for getting rid of the impurities. Once removed, the fish will only have clean water where they can live longer.

 

Types of Fish Tank Filters

Aside from deciding on the type of filtration, you also need to think about the type of fish tank filter. Here are some of them:

HOB (Hang-On-Back)

Hang-On-Back is the most popular type of tank filters because it is easy to install and use. It is very effective in cleaning your fish tank, even if it never gets into the water. The system works by sucking the water into the tube then move it into three filtration chambers where toxins and dirt are eliminated and then returning it back to the tank. The only drawback the HOB filters have is that a good bacteria colony is removed each time the cartridge is replaced.

Canister Filters

Canister filters are set up outside the fish tank and produce pressurized water flow. This filter draws water in using a siphon and flows into other filtering sections that typically complete all three types of filtration.

Since this filter is a pressurized system that does not require gravity or air to move water, mechanical and chemical filtration is perfect for these filters, but biological filtering is restricted. Size varies in size for fish loads and tank capacity.

Sponge Filters

As the name implies, a sponge filter is a sponge in which the aquarium water is drawn. Mechanical filtration is applied, and upon maturing of the sponge and bacterial colonies has grown, biological filtration follows.

Sponges are available in various sizes and shapes and also pore sizes. This enables them to be subjected to different filtration needs. Various methods can be used, including powerheads, air pumps, or other types of filters.

Air Powered Filters

If you have a small aquarium, the air-powered filter is recommended. Because of the size, it makes them suitable for easy integration with various fish tanks. Even if they are small, they can still become very sturdy and well-built. It will keep your aquarium healthy and free from any harm in the water.

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Under Gravel Filters

The under gravel filters are found in the bottom of the fish tank underneath the gravel. The filters move the water into the gravel to create states for biological filtration to take place, where beneficial bacteria break down the wastes in the aquarium.

This type of filter is made specifically for biological filtration. But, you can also find replaceable cartridges with activated carbon needed for chemical filtration.

Internal Power-Head Filters

It is intended for fish tanks with 20 gallons or below. Internal filters are installed inside the tank using suction cups to keep them in position. They are placed at the bottom and prevents the debris from accumulating and endangering your fish’s health. For the budget-conscious, internal filters are the cheapest type of tank filters.

Sumps filter

A sump is not only a filter but a container for your filter as well as with other equipment. The primary purpose of a sump is to keep water from overflowing. It is also used to house equipment like the heater and protein skimmers.

Most of the time, the setup is used for saltwater tanks as they are reliable in keeping the water of high quality – it is also recommended for large tanks. If you have plans to buy a large tank for your freshwater environment, the sumps filter is the best choice.

You can buy a circulation pump to go with the filter or get a full sump set up with the capacity to clean your water too.

Capacity

The fish tank filter is designed to work within a specific power range. It is sometimes referred to as the capacity the filter can support or in units of power like volts. Pick a fish tank filter that can support your tank size or bigger and don’t use a fish tank filter that is designed for small tank sizes.

 

Conclusion

After reviewing fifteen of the best aquarium filters, I find Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter as the winner. One reason is that the Hang-on-back filter is considered as something that is easy to install and use. Since it is a HOB, the debris and dirt are being sucked up by the tube placed in the water. The water will also undergo three filtration process and assure you that your fish will always have clean water to thrive on. If you have questions, inquiries, or want to share some ideas about the aquarium filter, feel free to do so by making a comment below.