The 13 Best Fish Tank Filters for Hygienic Environment in Aquarium

Aquarium Filter image

Fish tanks create a positive vibration at home. These aquatic friends in the tanks deserve a premium lifestyle with clean and fresh water to live in. To achieve this, we have to use a water filter for fish tanks. The various benefits of using water filters are removing ammonia, nitrates and cleaning water of dirt and debris to make it a viable environment for fishes to thrive. With small tanks, cleaning is possible by pet owners themselves. In case of larger fish tanks, cleaning might not be that simple and will require strenuous work hours. To reduce this burden, we often install filters in the tanks to clean periodically.

It is best to leave the tank filter on for the entire day. Since fishes might produce waste, cleaning is essential daily. Otherwise, ammonia content in the tank will increase and also render surroundings not liveable for fish. There are many aquarium filter types for easy usage. They are mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. We are going to see many brands that produce filters for tanks that cover these basic types. Also, the major advantages of using aquarium filters are outlined in the forthcoming sections.

Best Aquarium Canister Filters Reviews by Experts

A list is ready with the best brands that make aquarium filters for your convenience. We are also going to share our findings after usage of every single brand product listed out here. This section will majorly focus on the features and specs of a fish tank water filter. With help of this segment, we will help you find a suitable filter type for your tanks at home.

The 13 Best Aquarium Filter for Sale in 2023


Marineland Penguin 350 Power Filter image

MarineLand Multi-Stage Aquarium Filter

  • 3-Stage Filtration
  • Easy to Maintain
  • Patented Bio-Wheel technology
Pets Stars Image

Average Review 9.9


Tetra Whisper Ex Silent Multi-Stage Power Filter for Aquariums image

Tetra Whisper Ex Quiet Mutli-Stage Filter

  • Multi-Stage Power Filter
  • Supports Maximum Oxygenation
  • Clean and Easy to Change
Pets Stars Image

Average Review 9.8


Tetra Decorative Reptofilter terrarium filtration image

Tetra Decorative ReptoFilter

  • Dramatic Focal Point
  • Keeps Water Clear
  • Dual Function Lid
Pets Stars Image

Average Review 9.8


Cascade CCF1UL Canister Filter for Large Aquariums image

Penn-Plax Cascade Canister Filter

  • Cascade Canister Filter
  • 360 Flow Valves
  • Easy to Use Push Button
Pets Stars Image

Average Review 9.7


Tetra Aquarium Filter image

Tetra Whisper Filter for aquariums

  • Ultra-Activated carbon
  • Space Saving Design
  • 3 Stage Filtration
Pets Stars Image

Average Review 9.7


AquaClear Fish tank filter image

AquaClear Power Filter

  • Energy efficient
  • Ideal for 20 gallon aquariums
  • Re-filtration System
Pets Stars Image

Average Review 9.6


Aqueon QuietFlow E Internal Filter

  • Easy to install
  • Economical & Efficient
  • Biological Filtration
Pets Stars Image

Average Review 9.5


Marineland Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter

MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter

  • Internal Canister Filter
  • Versatile Filtration
  • Micron Water Polishing
Pets Stars Image

Average Review 9.5


Fluval Fx4 High-performance Aquarium Filter image

Fluval FX4 Aquarium Canister Filter

  • Anti Clog Telescopic Strainer
  • Utility Valve with drain hose
  • Multi-Stage Filter Pumps
Pets Stars Image

Average Review 9.4


Aqua-tech Power Aquarium Filter image

Aqua-Tech Power Aquarium Filter

  • Bio-Tech Biological Grid
  • Removes impurities
  • 3-Stage Filtration
Pets Stars Image

Average Review 9.3


Aquaticlife 115 Mini-internal Protein Skimmer image

Aquatic Life Mini-Skimmer

  • Simple to Install
  • Compact for Nano Tanks
  • Removes Organic Waste
Pets Stars Image

Average Review 9.2


Azoo Mignon Filter image

AZOO Mignon Filter 60

  • Small compact design
  • Queit operation
  • Ease of maintenance
Pets Stars Image

Average Review 9.1


Fluval Performance Canister Filter image

Fluval 07 Series Canister Filter

  • Ergonomic design
  • Removable media baskets
  • Redesigned system
Pets Stars Image

Average Review 9.0

1. MarineLand Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter

What We Like?

  • Two-piece vented cover for easy access to change the cartridge 
  • Removes odors, waste, ammonia, nitrate, and discoloration 
  • Adjustable mid-level intake to improve water circulation 
  • Patented Bio-wheel for all stage filtration
  • No noise noticed during operation

Marineland Penguin 350 power filter is the best filter available for sale on Amazon. With 350GPH, we got this filter to suit fish tank capacity of 50-75 gallons. Other filters from same brand for smaller capacity tanks are also available. This best aquarium filter for large tanks has a patented bio-wheel, which is a rare feature in other filters. According to it, we get both wet/dry biological filtration. Also, the filter’s features do not stop here. Other basic types of filtration, like mechanical and chemical, are also done. The manufacturer’s advice is to use the product only with Marineland Rite-size filter cartridges for an excellent fit.

As mentioned, this filter is available for smaller size tanks with lesser GPF values like 100, 75, 150, 200 GPH. A chart showing the capacity corresponding to GPH value is given from the brand. We could use it for both fresh and saltwater aquariums at home. This best filter for 55 gallon aquarium provides three-stage filtration to remove odors, colors, and waste. Along with this, tanks’ toxic ammonia and nitrate also vanish. We found a two-piece vented cover for easy cartridge changing and access. It gave a super quiet operation and will never create any disturbance to fishes. We should compulsorily maintain a good water level for the filter to work effectively. The filter we got was 3.52 pounds and 15.25 X 6.12 X 8 inches in size. It will help in deciding the correct one for your home tanks.

2. Tetra Whisper EX Silent Multi-Stage Power Filter for Aquariums

What We Like?

  • Water moves continuously for maximum oxygenation
  • Multi-stage filtration with Tetra Whisper Ex filter 
  • Bio-scrubber removes ammonia and nitrates 
  • Filter cartridge carries to reduce drips
  • Quiet motor operation in a filter 
  • 3-steps installation process

Tetra Whisper Ex Silent Multi-stage power filter for aquariums is the best filter in this range for 10-20 gallons of water tank capacity. The other variants from the same brand are 20-30, 30-45, and 45-70 gallons. Choose the correct item according to your tank size. There are medium carbon filters called Whisper Ex carbon filters. With a time strip technology included, it is one of the right out-of-the-box use type filters. This small fish tank filter gave a multi-stage filtration process involving mechanical, biological, and also chemical. Tank filter is only 1 pound in weight and 5.56 X 6.06 X 9.19 inches in size. The filter’s cartridge is placed in a special carrier, so no need bother about dirty hands while taking that out. Also, unwanted drips of dirt is collected and protected from further falling due to this barrier.

The specialized carbon filter makes sure to pass the water through floss levels to get rid of particles. Along with this, we saw our tank was clean from odor, discoloration, and dirt. In the 20 gallon fish tank filter, a bio-scrubber removes ammonia and nitrate that otherwise causes a toxic environment in the tank. Also, the Tetra Ex whisper operates with minimum sound while rotating continuously. This made sure water remains oxygenated for fishes to breathe well. Another versatile nature of the tank is the use in turtle tanks as well. There were certain specific instructions with respect to turtle tank usage, and we followed them for best results.

3. TetraFauna Decorative ReptoFilter Terrarium Filtration

What We Like?

  • Easily replaceable bio-bags for keeping water odor-free
  • 3 stage filtrations with Whisper filter technology 
  • Serves for aquariums up to 55 gallons 
  • Suitable for frogs, newts, and turtles
  • Locking cover to keep reptiles out

Tetra Decorative ReptoFilter terrarium filtration is a 2-in-1 filter for decorative purposes as well. It had a waterfall that is best as a decorative addition to fish tanks. As with many other brands, this internal aquarium filter passes the water in tank through a 3-stage filtration process. Along with an instant waterfall from a decorative piece, we got the best filtration for turtle, newt, and frog tanks at home. With a dramatic piece added, the fish tanks look more beautiful and blends well with all other stones, rocks, and vegetation inside. By filtering out water in 55-gallon aquariums at maximum this one becomes the best filter for shallow water.

This filter is 2 pounds in weight and 8.75 X 12.75 X 10.65 inches in size. We also got a dual-function lid on the filter that became a basking platform for smaller aquatic species. Also, the lid protects the reptiles very well. We installed the filter without any difficulty, and we could also clean the filter occasionally easily. The water levels to maintain in tank are an indication on side of the filter. The filters work well when the water filling is up to the mark. Whisper filtration takes place with this 50 gallon aquarium filter, and we were happy that our tanks remained clean and free from any odor due to ammonia or nitrates. Intake holes on the filter were large, and we noticed no clogging due to this feature. There is no discoloration of water, and we observed that the tanks at home are always fresh and clean.

4. Penn-Plax Cascade 500 Canister Filter Series

What We Like?

  • Swimming pool type valves that rotate and flow controls also available 
  • Removes discoloration and impurities with types of media chosen
  • 2 media baskets, bio-floss and bio-sponge, given with a pack
  • Push button for a primer for quick setting up
  • 30 gallons suitable and comes with 115 GPH
  • Multi-stage filtration for fresh and saltwater

Cascade CCF1UL Canister filter for large aquariums works for large aquariums up to 30 gallons, and it has a filtration capacity of 115GPH. This cascade aquarium filter has two 2 media baskets and measures 11.5 X 13.5 X 9 inches. We found flow valves on this filter that canto rotates 36, which helped us fit even in tightest aquarium cabinets. Both the media baskets have a large capacity, and a primer button is available for priming function easily. Many other features are the inclusion of spray bar, tubing, the directional spout that is customizable. It was our choice to select the media. We could choose between aquarium filter floss, especially for removing particles, and another sponge to give more area for bacterial growth to remove ammonia and nitrates. Both the media options are given to use free with purchase.

The filter medium containers had easy lift-up handles, and alignments clamps to release the vacuum. We also got a base that was tip-proof and did not move over with water pressure. The flow valves that are swimming pool type are easily removable for maintenance. We could easily set this filter up with basic instructions from manufacturer. With a wide variety of media possible, we can remove all impurities in the tank for a viable environment. Also, we never noticed any noise during operation, and this kept our surroundings serene.

5. Tetra Whisper 1-4 Internal Filter for Aquariums

What We Like?

  • 4-gallon water capacity tanks suitable, 27GPH pump
  • 2 stages of filtration- mechanical and chemical
  • Two-filters in one for removal of all impurities
  • Hinged lid for easy filter access and changing
  • Water level adjustment possible 
  • Space-saving design

Tetra aquarium filter is the best budget pick among many filters. We go for a 4-gallon water tank, and it is available in many other variants like 10, 30, 40-gallon capacity. This whisper internal power filter has only small cartridges, and water level adjustment is present. The pump with filter can take in 27 GPH and cleans a 4-gallon aquarium for 6 times at least. This best small aquarium filter has two filter media in one for more effective cleaning. It has a combination of cartridge floss and an ultra-activated carbon filter. The first one removed ammonia and nitrates from fish tanks that occurs from the waste produced by the fish. Carbon filters help in keeping the tanks odor free and clean by avoiding any discoloration.

The size of the filter was small, and hence we could hide it behind décor. Also, even if your aquariums are flush to the wall, this filter will fit in snugly. We got a hinged lid, tank clip, internal filter body, and cartridge with one purchase. With one filter cartridge, we got two stage filtrations like mechanical and chemical. The hinged lid made sure we clean the submersible aquarium filter and change the cartridges easily. The clip we got is for water level adjustment. Our choice of filter was 8.78 ounces only and 3 X 3 X 7.38 inches in size. With all accessories included in the box, the installation was a breeze, and within less time of setup, the filtration process started.

6. AquaClear Hagen Power Filter

What We Like?

  • Unique waterfall design for noiseless working and oxygenation 
  • Maximum filtration efficiency for three-stage filtration 
  • Installation and maintenance are easy and quick
  • Flow control measure to change water levels
  • Many accessories gave with box 
  • 7 times better filtration capacity

AquaClear Fish tank filter came with 5-20 gallons tank capacity compatible, and other options are available to choose from Amazon. The same brand even makes a best filter for 110 gallons tank capacity also. The aquarium filter pumps had efficient working to reduce its operating costs. Within less time, our tanks became clean and fresh. Simple installation steps to follow, and we were told to clean the filter at least every 2 weeks for correct operation for long. All three main stages of filtration happen with this filter. Along with the filter, we got other accessories like AquaClear Foam, Activated carbon filter, BioMAx, and cycle guard for better water quality after every cleaning session. We got better removal of dirt, ammonia, nitrate, and fish waste with all the accessories.

We also got an assurance that the filtration volume is 7 times larger than many other filtration systems in the market. This is the ideal fresh water aquarium filter for 20 gallons of fish tanks, and we also got a lifetime warranty for usage without hesitation. All the instructions to be followed for proper maintenance of the filtration system is available along with the purchase. For example, we have to change the activated carbon filter insert at least every month and BioMax inserts at least every three months. We chose the filter that is 1.4 pounds and 4.5 X 7 X 6.5 inches in size with a patent re-filtration mechanism. The filter also has a waterfall design to continuously circulate the tank’s water for better oxygenation.

7. Aqueon Quietflow E3 Internal Power Filter

What We Like?

  • Suction cups and clips available for hanging easily 
  • Carbon filter for discoloration and odor removal
  • Noiseless operation with QuietFlow technology 
  • No priming required; motor starts on its own 
  • Three-stage filtration guaranteed
  • 3-gallon capacity water filter

Aqueon QuietFlow E Internal Power filter takes a position in our list due to the varying features that we found were impressive. We chose the extra-small 3-gallon capacity. Filter gives an effective cleaning and filtration of water in the tank. This filter came with QuietFlow filtration technology, and it did operate according to the name. We were never disturbed by the noise. The installation was simple, with suction cups/hanging clips also given along with a pack. We could use this filter for both frameless and framed aquariums. It is a mini aquarium filter, and it has an auto-starting pump that works well without priming. The various advantages include the addition of a carbon activated filter to remove discoloration and odor from water.

We found out that replacing the correct cartridges with Aqueon replacement accessories is an addition for better working. Also, as per the advice, it is best to change the filter once every 4 weeks to keep the aquarium safe and clean. With carbon addition, we got a three-stage filtration process in every cleaning session. All the pollutants that might render the aquarium water not good for fishes to thrive go away when filtered with this filter. The filter cartridge size that is suitable for replacing the carbon filter aquarium is XS size. Also, the pump is auto start after a power outage happens and is restored after some time. The filter is available for sale with the same features for larger tanks as well.

8. MarineLand ML90770 Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter

What We Like?

  • Two filter media with floss sleeve and carbon filter added in pack
  • Removes dirt, debris, ammonia, nitrates, odor, and discoloration
  • Canister filter for tanks up to 97 gallons with 290GPH working 
  • Along with filtration, a filter can help in water polishing as well
  • 3stage filtrations happen

MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister filter has a submerged motor for easy startup. There are two aquarium filter media that is fillable with the user’s choice. One media is the carbon filter that clears odor and discoloration from water in the tank. We also got a micron-cartridge to give good efficiency polishing, and the cartridge is the added accessory with the pack itself. This filter is suitable for larger aquariums that hold up to 97 gallons. According to best aquarium canister filter reviews, the motor pump is the best for recycling water with higher GPH. The motor in this filter type can clear impurities off water with a range of 290 gallons per hour.

There is also a sleeve in this filter that takes care of dirt and debris. We get a three-stage filtration process as with other filters here also. Along with this, water polishing also takes place to make water crystal clear. It is best to charge the cartridge with diatomaceous earth To further increased the efficiency of the micron-cartridge. We just had to follow two simple steps for the filtration process to begin. Another two more steps were only needed to convert the filter for a water-polishing role. Both the floss sleeve and carbon filter are given with the pack during purchase. It is also best to clean the filter every 3-4 weeks and the polishing cartridge every month for better results.

9. Fluval FX4 A214 High Performance Aquarium Filter

What We Like?

  • Rubberized feet for sturdy hold and quiet operation 
  • Compact tall design to fit most aquariums 
  • Self-starting motor, no priming required
  • Media baskets removable and stackable 
  • All three-stages filtration takes place
  • Utility valve for flushing of canister

Fluval FX4 high performance aquarium filter is the largest filter we have used for aquarium capacity of 250 gallons at least. It is a canister-style filter, and it has a multi-stage filter for better cleaning of the tank. As for very large aquariums, the motor pumps almost 700 gallons per hour. The pump in this filter for 175 gallon fish tanks comes with micro-chip technology to make the pump work better and faster. We didn’t have to prime the motor in this model, and the filtration process will start within three simple steps. Also, as per our knowledge and product info, trapped air would be automatically evacuated after every 12 hours.

We no longer had to lift heavy buckets to change the water level in the tank. Just plugging the hosing to the output, and its pump did the rest. All the media baskets are held up to 1 gallon of water at any time, and they are stackable and removable. This is the best underwater filter for aquarium and takes a superb place in the tank to perform all three filtration stages. All the required media is included in the pack. Aqua-stop valves with leak-proof were present in this filter design. As the filter stays at the bottom, rubberized feet help in non-movement and quiet operation. We can use it in both fresh and saltwater aquariums. A strainer was also there to make sure no clogging of water took place.

10. AQUA-TECH Power Filter for Aquariums

What We Like?

  • Molded and rigged back for more carbon filter contact 
  • Mechanical, chemical, and biological
  • 30-60 gallons aquariums suitable 
  • No clogging of water noticed 
  • 3-stage filtration process
  • 2 years warranty

Aqua-tech power Aquarium Filter is best suitable for 30-60 gallons aquariums. We get 3 stage filtrations with help of this filter, and all dirt, debris, odor, discoloration, ammonia, and nitrates vanish after every single filtration session. The pack includes all three filters to have a clean and ammonia-free tank every day. We also get a 2-year warranty with this 60 gallon aquarium filter. Along with the pack, we also got one AQUA-TECH EZ-change #3 filter cartridge. The filter sends maximum water to the carbon filter stage for increased water purification. A variety of other sizes are available for sale from the same brand for aquarium capacities.

The last stage filter that is the bio-fiber, does not require changing at all. Also, a special option is present in the filter to prevent water clogging, and maximized water flow is only sent to the filter for continuous operation. With this purchase, we got a good water filter that gives fishes a clean and fresh environment to thrive. According to the size of aquarium, the cartridges in the filter part will change. Our filter was 2.78 pounds and 6.19 X 14.31 X 7.81 inches in size. It meant the installation process was very easy with the required steps outlined by the manufacturer. The entire in tank aquarium filter has a molded and ribbed back for maximum carbon contact. It is better to clean the filter every 2-3 weeks to get optimal performance.

11. Aquaticlife 115 Mini Internal Protein Skimmer for Saltwater Aquariums

What We Like?

  • 8 watts impeller pump for maximum air to water contact
  • 2 types of mounting techniques in aquarium frames 
  • Suitable for sumps with quiet operation
  • Quick-lock design for easy maintenance 
  • Good for up to 30 gallons aquariums
  • Clear plastic collection cup

AQUATICLIFE mini-internal protein skimmer/filter is the best choice for nano and small tanks. The filter is compact and perfect for placing inside the aquarium. This nano aquarium filter can also be kept in the filtration department in small 30 gallons tanks. Wherever placed, our filter gave a noiseless operation for comfortable environments. We also got a needle-wheel design to get more air-to-water contact. There were also quick locks in the filter so that we could open the cartridge casing and change it easily. Cleaning was also effective due to this feature. Installation of filter was easy, and two methods are suggested with the purchase.

We could either hang it on the walls with brackets or use suction cups to place it inside. All the suction cups provided were strong enough during operation for a non-slip feature. This one is the best salt water aquarium filter system, and once it is kept inside, noiseless working is guaranteed. Water flow changes with turning of a single knob, and this aquarium sump filter had a collection cup that was clear for viewing. It was 1.55 pounds in weight and 3.25 X 3.5 X 10.63 inches in size. The pump wattage was 8 watts, and the power cord length was 4.5 ft. Also, we got a built-in channel to hide the grounded power cord. We got to fit all aquariums perfectly with all accessories provided, and all tanks within 30 gallons got the cleaning done with an easy filtration process.

12. AZOO Mignon Filter 60

What We Like?

  • Easy maintenance with see-through spaces
  • Inlet strainer added for safety of aquatic life 
  • Compact design for small and nano tanks
  • Water recovery after a power outage
  • Adjustable flow control dial
  • Good quiet operation

AZOO Mignon filter is the smallest hang-on filter and is the perfect addition for our homes with small fishes and shrimps in tanks. Even this filter is suitable for nano tanks. There is a sponge filter near inlet, so the aquatic life does not go towards the filter at any cause. Since this is suitable for a small fish tank with filter, it has a motor that has a flow-rate that is adjustable to 16 gallons per hour. Also, we could monitor the filter cartridge with no smokescreen feature. There was an opening to have a clear view all the time.

Mignon filter also has a patented automatic water recovery to help start the filter after power outages. We also had an adjustable flow dial to maintain the best-dissolved oxygen levels for fishes to thrive well. Our filter was just 1.6 ounces and fit small tanks perfectly. Also, it came in 3.25 * 3.75 * 6 inches size. For the filtration operation to happen, water goes through an intake and moves into the filer section. Then again, back through the spillway. We were also not disturbed about the noise created from filters. This was a noiseless filter. The cleaning and maintenance were easy as well. Surely this is one of the quietest aquarium filters we had seen.

13. Fluval 07 Series Performance Canister Filter for Aquariums

What We Like?

  • Rubber feet at the bottom for non-slip operation 
  • AquaStop valves for smoother working 
  • Lift-lock motorhead clamps present 
  • Quick primer for effortless startups
  • Media baskets are removable
  • Vertical pre-filter

Fluval performance canister filter came with an ergonomic design and raised lip for better operation. There were dual locking clamps for quick release and installation. A center handle on the entire filter to make sure the media stack is easy to remove. From previous options from the same brand, this filter is better with 25% quieter performance creating a peaceful environment around. Also, robustness, energy efficiency, and flexibility are usage has increased multi-fold. We can use this saltwater aquarium filter for both salt and freshwater fish tank. Also, we were happy with the noiseless performance, and our tanks got exceptional filtration systems placed underneath.

There were valves just like in swimming pools, and this was a better system to make sure only lesser pumps were there for the filtration process. Also, with media baskets that can hold a good amount of water, filtration was good with all dirt, debris, ammonia, nitrate, odor, and discoloration going off after this filter was in work. It made our tank a viable environment for fishes to thrive well. The filter removes the waste emitted by fishes to keep them growing better. Also, the carbon filter in the media makes sure all odors from ammonia and nitrates vanishes. We got this filter with 3.31 pounds weight and 7.09 X 7.48 X 16.54 inches size. The pump took around 207 gallons per hour for filtration.

The Buying Guide of Best Water Filter for Fish Tank

It is mandatory to get at least cheap fish tank filters that work well and keep our spending within the budget. It is best to get three-stage filtration to remove all impurities. Now it is time to focus on a buying guide that will shine a light on basic and generic questions about aquariums and filters to keep them clean. This guide will help choose the best filter to create a thriving environment for fishes and other aquatic life.

What is an Aquarium Filter?

Fish tank filters for freshwater or saltwater filter remove dirt, debris, discoloration, odor, ammonia, and nitrate through a filtration process. The Best Fish Tank Filter will remove all the impurities mentioned with a 3-stage filtration process called mechanical, chemical, and biological. By use of filters, maintenance of tanks at home is simplified.

Why to buy a Fish Tank or Aquarium Filter?

  • A fish tank filter is best to use for saltwater and freshwater aquariums in common.
  • We need to remove toxic ammonia and nitrates from water due to fish waste emitted. Also, debris, dirt, odors from ammonia waste, etc., is mandatory for removal with a filter.
  • Manual maintenance of cleaning tanks by hand is almost minimized for users.
  • Filters help in removing uneaten food, plant waste, etc., from water.

How does a Fish Tank Filter work?

Filters such as canister types contain a pump. This helps in taking water by high-pressure into a filter media. Sometimes, water from the under-gravel filter is redirecting to another canister filter for double filtration process. During this, we will notice that these best fish tank filters remove all impurities from the tank or aquarium in place.

How to setup a Fish Tank Filter?

The steps for setting up a small fish tank with filter are:

  • Choose the best type of filter that will suit your water type and tank capacity.
  • In case of an underwater gravel filter, you must install it before adding the water to tank.
  • You can also choose external filters so that it fits well outside or on a cabinet. We have to make sure that the inlet and outlet tubes are straight and not bent for easy water flow without clogging.
  • Also, external filters have to be full of water for priming the motor to get going immediately.

Best types of Fish Tank Filters

Air-driven Internal Fish tank filter

Aquarium air filters or UV filter aquarium type work using bubbles that come out of an air pump to create water flow. For this filter to work, the water enters into a box that is see-through and goes through filter media, usually made with carbon filters, floss sleeves, and bio-filter to bring out all impurities. Then water comes out through air-lift tube back to the tank.

Under Gravel Filters

As the name suggests, under gravel filters use gravel for the filtration process. This type of filter usually comes in the form of plastic trays that keep the gravel from touching the tank’s bottom. Also, with gravel, we get mechanical and biological filtration. We can use this type for small tanks for beginners.

Power Filters

Power filters are the best and most widely used type where a cartridge powers the filter to take up the filtration process. We have to change the fish tank filter cartridge every month to make sure the filters work fine. Also, these types of filters hang on back of aquarium wall. Usually, a waterfall filtration style happens in these hang-on filters that are budget-friendly.

Canister Filters

Canister filters are the best choice for larger aquariums that have a lot of fish. This filter works by taking water into a canister for best filtration through mediums and then sent back to the tank. If maintained correctly, these external aquarium filters are best for large tanks with mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration.

Wet/dry Filters

Designed specifically to maximize biological filtration by removing ammonia and nitrates, a wet dry filter for freshwater aquarium has the filter media above the water. This makes sure water is oxygenated well. Wet/dry filters work well with saltwater aquariums at large and work for freshwater types too. Sometimes, a mechanical filter is also present to remove debris and dirt from water.

Under Gravel Filter vs. Power Filters

Under gravel filter work by air-pumps and performs biological filtration only most of the time. This type of filter is installed before adding water and substrate. Best suited for 30 gallons tanks at most. Power filters work with an impeller and give mechanical and chemical filtration. It is easy to install at back of tanks and ideal for smaller capacity tanks.

Who Makes The Best Aquarium Filters in The Market?

Fluval Fish Tank Filter

Fluval is a leading brand in making the best filtration for large tanks like canister filters. They have successfully created a 125 gallon aquarium filter and other options like internal, external, skimmers, etc. All their products are of top-notch quality. There are branded replacement parts available for effective functioning always.

Whisper Aquarium Filter

Whisper is all about power filter types. They are more suitable for smaller tanks. Their 10 gallon fish tank filter has been the most sought-after product to get perfect filtration with cartridges. All these filter systems are in a way to hang from the sidewalls of tanks.

Tetra Aquarium Filter

Tetra has made many internal filters suitable for nano and small tanks. These filters adjust easily according to low or higher water flow. All their filters save space and hang on with clips from tank top itself. We do not have to find a separate space in the cabinet to make them work.

National Geographic Aquarium Filter

National Geographic has been a pioneer in creating canister filters for huge tanks with a lot of aquatic life. Also, special aquarium filter foam as part of their replacement parts removes phosphates from water in particular. Their successful product has been the canister filter type.

Functions of Fish Tank Filter System

Biological Filtration

This filtration process mostly happens last and is probably the main component of any 3-stage filtration process. Using this stage, we can remove ammonia and nitrates from water. A simple filtration does not suit the removal, and hence a special biotype filter medium is put to use.

Mechanical Filtration

There will be a solid waste in the aquarium due to uneaten fish food, fish waste with dirt and debris. We have to use a common filter to stop these impurities from passing through filter medium. This process is termed mechanical filtration and is the first step in a 3-stage process.

Chemical Filtration

The second step in any 3-stage filtration process is chemical filtration. In this, activated carbon filters are present as a filter medium. With this, we can remove odor and any discoloration in the water due to waste and uneaten fish food. Also, decaying tap water or algae can cause discoloration and odor. This kind of filtration is mandatory before we proceed to biological.

How Often to Change Aquarium Filter?

In case of tank filters like hang-on type, it is best to change filter every 3-4 weeks at least. Also, make sure to wash off the filter casing during each replacement. All the filter media works better with full efficiency when cleaned frequently as well. There are filter media that do not require a change at all, like foam filters.

Maintenance, Problems, And Fixes Of Aquarium Filters

  • Change the cartridges when needed. There are battery operated fish tank filters that require the same methods of maintenance as well.
  • Clean the sponges or pad in the filter housing frequently twice a week at least.
  • In case of the impeller, we can use some filter floss to remove all dirt and debris gathered to have better functioning.

The most common problem in a fish tank filter is the clogging of water in tubes. Even if the filter motor is running, there is no visible suction. You can also disconnect the air pipes. The best solution is to fix the clog by removing the debris and dirt, stopping the water flow. In case of disconnection, make sure to plug them back correctly.

How to Clean a Fish Tank Filter?

The steps in cleaning the best filter for goldfish and other aquatic life are:

  • In case of an aquarium sponge filter, it is mandatory to clean to have good working always.
  • Take out about two cups of water from tank.
  • Make sure to unplug the filter.
  • Remove the sponge pad from the filter housing.
  • Remove all impurities off sponge by using the tank water.
  • All the tubes need cleaning also. Scrub them off to remove algae, dirt, and dust.
  • Return the sponge to the casing and switch on the filter.

How to Choose a Best Aquarium Filter?

As you know enough about the product, here are the main considerations to check on before finalizing the aquarium filter. Every solution is unique for different problems, so choose a filter as per your need according to the following features.

Filtration Stages

Any filter that we get should clean the tank’s water using a 3-stage filtration process. The first process is mechanical filtration for removing dirt and debris. The next stage should involve a carbon filter to remove all odor and discoloration in the water. The third and final stage is to remove ammonia and nitrates that occur from animal waste. All these three stages, when used, make the best freshwater aquarium filter. The same applies to saltwater also. There are other filters on the market that have an extra water-polishing feature to get crystal clear water.

Size Of Filter

The size of the filter we get plays a significant role. It is best to get a water filter for our home tanks that can accommodate the correct gallon capacity. For example, if we have small tanks, it is best to get a suitable filter for smaller gallon capacity and even nano tanks. 10 gallon aquarium filter comes in this category. There are canister filters that are specifically for bigger tanks. There are even 175-gallon fish tanks that require a bigger GPH filter to get effective cleaning. GPH(Gallons Per Hour) depends on the motor pump capacity. Bigger gallon tanks need bigger GPH motors in the filters chosen.

Ease Of Installation

With the pack we buy, it is best to get suction cups to install the filter directly on the tank wall. Also, there might be clip-holders to place them right from the top of an aquarium tank. Other aquarium bottom filters might have adjustable brackets to make the filter stand firmly on the sides of the tank. All these accessories for installation should be available in the box itself. If all the items are present, we can quickly make the installation within minutes to get the filtration process.


A see-through plastic place in the filter is better to know the water collected and its quality. Also, the filters will come with cartridge cover to protect them to avoid unwanted spillage into water again. We should be able to remove the filters from the top with easy-to-open locks. All the parts present for cleaning are the main points where accessibility is a must. If not, then every three weeks, cleaning becomes tough. The three-stages filter parts should be easy to remove for changing as well.

Accessories In Box

The filter we chose should have all three-stages filter parts like a carbon filter, floss sleeve, etc. If we have to implement three-stage filtration with the bio-filter fish tank, it is best to present all the media styles with the box itself. Another good addition will be an extra-cartridge in the box to change the filter when it runs out. We might get many other options like valve tops, tubing, power cord, all required for easy installation.

Quiet Operation

The filters must ensure the operation is noiseless. If not, the tank’s surroundings will become too noisy, thus disturbing fishes’ lifestyle. Also, we will not be comfortable with the tanks making too much noise during the day as the filter is on for the entire day. Sometimes, QuietFlow technology is added to the design of filters to make sure they make less noise than many other noisy filters in the market. A planted aquarium filter should give best water filtration in the tank and a serene environment for both fishes and residents.

Frequently Ask Question

How to run multiple fish tanks on one filter?

We can run multiple fish tanks on one filter by connecting the tanks in series and not parallel. The filter intake is in the first tank, and filter return goes into the next tank.

Why Fish Tank Filter Not Pumping Water?

If the filter’s air pipes in the fish tank are clogged or disconnected, there are chances of stoppage water pumping. After connecting or clearing the clogging, the filter will work well.

Why My Fish Tank Filter Not Working After Cleaning?

Your tank filter may not work if suction in the filters reduces or power surge causes the filter to stop working completely. It is time to maintain it or change it fully.

How Long Does Carbon Last In Aquarium Filter?

Carbon-activated filter lasts for around 2 to 4 weeks in the filter we get. If our aquariums are too dirty, they will last shorter.

How To Reduce Flow Of Aquarium Filter?

Decorative items will help in reducing the water flow in aquarium filters. Also, there might be a valve to restrict flow otherwise.

What Is The Best Aquarium Filter?

Marineland Penguin 350 Power Filter is the best filter from Amazon. This one is with the best features and different shipping charges for varying locations.

How Much Is A Filter For A Fish Tank?

Aquarium Filters range from $10 to more than $250 on Amazon. There are filters according to varying tank capacities.


This aquarium filter review gave information on all types of filters that clean the tanks completely of ammonia, nitrates, dirt, debris, odor, and discoloration. We have to buy a 3-stage filtration process to make sure the tanks are always clean. It is best to get compact filters for nano or small tanks to take up much space and is less bulky. Use the buying guide to understand more about fish tank filters in general. We are sure this write-up will help get the best model from Amazon to keep your fish healthy and thriving.