Fish are fantastic pets, however, they are not the cleanest creatures on the planet. Whenever fishes do their business, everything will be left floating around their tank for you to see. So, if you want to keep your aquarium clean and make sure that the water is healthy for your pets, you will need the best fish tank filter.
Fish tank filters come in various sizes and shapes and they are the known as the lifeblood of any aquarium and tank. Get the right filter and your aquatic pets will be healthy and happy. Get the wrong one and you are likely to wake up and find them floating at the surface.
With lots of models available in the market today, choosing the best one can be confusing. So, we have filtered out only the best ones and brought together this list of the top 10 best fish tank filters:
- Top 10 Best Fish Tank Filters
- Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter
- Marineland Penguin Power Filter
- Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter
- Eheim Classic Series External Filter
- Aqua Clear Fish Tank Filter
- Penn Plax Cascade Hang-On Aquarium Filter
- Aqueon QuietFlow LED Pro Power Filter
- MarineLand MagniFlow Canister Filter
- Fluval 06 Series External Filter
- Tetra Whisper Power Filter
- Important Factors To Consider When Buying Best Fish Tank Filter
Top 10 Best Fish Tank Filters
Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter
The Cascade Series of Canister Aquarium Filter from Penn Plax is a reliable workhorse which will keep the water of your aquarium clean and clear with just minimal maintenance. Siphon suction heads and tubing help to create filter pressurization with the tube heads rotating 360 degrees for directional access to the water.
It comes in a variety of models suitable for various tank sizes— the smallest rated for 30 gallons while the largest rated for up to 200 gallons of capacity. The elite models are all black with regular ones in blue. Elite models come in more customization and features.
- CASCADE 1000 CANISTER FILTER: Without effort, the Cascade 1000 Canister Filter quietly delivers crystal clear water throughout the tank. This filter cycles water at 265 Gallons per Hour, and is recommended for aquariums up to 100 gallons. It’s compatible for both freshwater and saltwater fish tanks, and is also great for turtle habitats!
- STATE OF THE ART FEATURES: In addition to the push button primer that allows for a simple and quick prime, this Canister Filter also features two independent valve taps that rotate 360°. This makes for easy maneuvering, even in the tightest aquarium cabinets! The 3 stackable, large capacity media baskets give aquarists the ability to customize filtration.
- FILTER MEDIA: This Canister Filter comes standard with 3 Poly Fiber Floss Pads, 1 Coarse Bio-Sponge, and 1 Bag of Activated Carbon. In addition to optimizing the colonization of anaerobic bacteria, this filter traps floating particulate matter, removes harmful chemicals and toxins, clears up discolorations, and reduces foul odors from your aquarium’s water.
- ITEMS INCLUDED: 2 Independent Valve Taps, Push Button Primer, Flow Rate Control Cut-Off Valves, Swimming-Pool Style Hose Clamps, 4 Easy Lift Alignment Clamps, Sturdy Tip-Proof Base, 3 Large Capacity Media Baskets, 3 Poly Fiber Floss Pads, 1 Coarse Bio-Sponge, and 1 Bag of Activated Carbon.
- MEASUREMENTS AND OTHER USEFUL INFO: The Cascade 1000 Canister Filter measures 11.5” (W) x 10” (D) x 17” (H). Additional Info = 110 Volts / 60 Hz / 28.5 W.
Regardless of what size you choose, the filter offers chemical biological and mechanical filtration with elite versions including algae magnets in order to keep your tank cleaner. Each filter kit includes ceramic rings, bio floss, bio-foam, and pro carb for a complete tank cleaning.
Marineland Penguin Power Filter
For over 40 years, Marineland has been committed to successful fishkeeping. And this model series, the Penguin Bio-Wheel Filters help deliver an easy, three-stage filtration without the trouble of air stones, tubing, valves, and air pumps.
Furthermore, its three-stage Bio-wheel filters are suitable for both saltwater and freshwater aquariums. Useful Rite-Size Filter Cartridges come ready to use with every filter in order to chemically and mechanically remove odors, discoloration, and waste.
- WITH BIO-WHEEL TECHNOLOGY: BIO-Wheel technology provides wet/dry biological filtration.
- MULTI-STAGE FILTRATION: Delivers mechanical, chemical and biological aquarium filtration to maintain a clean aquatic environment.
- COMPATIBILITY: Use with Marineland Rite-Size C Filter Cartridge.
- SIX SIZES: 100 (for up to 10 gallons), 125 (for up to 20 gallons), 175 (for up to 30 gallons), 275 (for up to 50 gallons), 375 (for up to 75 gallons), 450 (for up to 90 gallons).
- FLOW CONTROL: Flow control up to 375 GPH.
The Penguin Power Filter needs virtually no setup, which makes it suitable for beginners and pro fish keepers alike. Plus, it includes an instruction manual that is super easy to understand. Also, you can choose from 4 sizes to choose the perfect one for your fish tank.
Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter
Suitable for small to medium-sized aquarium, the Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter can accommodate tanks of up to 3 – 40 gallons capacity. For your ultimate convenience, these filters can be mounted on the inside of your aquarium, instead of hanging from the outside, which makes it possible to place the tank against a wall.
Furthermore, this in-tank filter is extremely quiet because the motor is under the water. The filter can also function in as little as 2 inches of water which makes it suitable for turtle tanks or even creating a waterfall inside a terrarium.
- UNIVERSAL DESIGN Tetra Whisper 10i Internal Filter is an all-in-one air pump and water filter system
- INTERNAL FILTER Mounts on the inside of your aquarium with clip (included)
- CATCHES DEBRIS Dense dual-sided mesh filters debris and fish waste
- AERATES WATER Air-driven design filters up to 80 GPH while oxygenating water
- CONVENIENT DESIGN Uses medium easy to change Bio-Bag cartridges filter mounts inside aquarium making it possible to place tank flush against the wall
Furthermore, the filter can be easily adjusted to low or high levels of water with its mountings bracket and/or suction cups. Each In-Tank filter comes with a pre-assembled Whisper Bio-Bag filter cartridge.
Eheim Classic Series External Filter
The Eheim Classic Series Canister Filters are among the most popular external filters on the market today. It comes in various sizes that are suitable for 40 – 92 gallons tank so you can find the right one for you.
Equipped with permo-plastic silicon ring, this filter will be sealed securely while doing its work in the aquarium. Furthermore, it is equipped with filter sponges as well as other types of loose filter media which make it easy to increase its working capability.
- Permo-elastic silicon sealing ring fixed on the pump head for easy and safe closing after cleaning
- Equipped with filter sponges and/or loose filter media
- Accessories included: spray bar, inlet pipe, hose and installation accessories
- Comes complete with filter media (EHEIM Mech & Substrat Pro) and valves
- Permo-elastic silicon sealing ring fixed on the pump head for easy and safe closing after cleaning
For easy installation, Eheim included an easy to understand instruction manual. The filter itself is super quiet with very strong flow to create a good circulation of oxygen. Furthermore, the filter has included several accessories such as inlet hose, spray bar and many more for your own convenience.
Aqua Clear Fish Tank Filter
A hanging external power filter from Aqua Clear, you can choose from 5 models in order to accommodate tanks of varying sizes. You can choose from the lowest capacity of 5 – 20 gallons to the more powerful ones of 60 – 110 capacity.
Your tanks will get the needed chemical, biological and mechanical filtration with this filter. There’s also space inside for 3 cartridges, one for every type of filtration media. Also, the space provided to cartridges offers a large surface area for better biological filtration.
- Aquarium filtration system that offers superior contact time with filter media and energy efficient pump lowers operating costs
- Quick and easy installation, we recommend that you clean aquarium filter every 2 weeks for maximum operation and efficiency
- Provides optimal mechanical, chemical, and biological filtrations
- Comes equipped with AquaClear Foam, Activated Carbon Filter and BioMax and Cycle Guard for superior water quality
- Filtration volume is up to 7 times larger than comparable fish tank filters
Cartridges can be replaced individually, so you get to choose what to put in each slot. The filter includes an Aqua Clear Biomix filter with ceramic rings, activated carbon and foam insert for complete filtration. You can also adjust the flow speed in order to customize its performance and accommodate fishes that do not fancy a higher flow rate.
Penn Plax Cascade Hang-On Aquarium Filter
The Penn Plax Cascade Series also comes in Hang-On Aquarium Filter models that can accommodate both saltwater and freshwater aquariums. Available in various sizes and capacity— from Cascade 20 of up to 7 gallons capacity to Cascade 300 for 55 – 110 gallons capacity— you can choose the right one for your tank.
Designed to offer a comprehensive filtration in most modern aquariums, it features 3 stages of filtration offering a healthy and crystal clear water for your pets. Despite its robust power, this filter still manages to work quietly and efficiently.
- QUIET & EFFICIENT: The Cascade 300 Power Hang-On Filter quietly delivers crystal clear water throughout the aquarium. This filter pushes water at 300 Gallons per Hour (GPH) for tanks up to 100 Gallons in size. It’s great for Freshwater and Saltwater aquariums.
- ACCOMMODATING: The adjustable flow knob allows for increased or decreased water flow at will, which is extremely helpful during feeding times, or use it as needed. The hang-on design is constructed for safe mounting. The lift tube extends between 8. 25” (min) and 12. 25” (max).
- EXTREMELY BENEFICIAL: This Cascade filter utilizes disposable, double-sided media cartridges that contain Activated Carbon and Poly Fiber Floss. The included cartridge traps floating particulate matter, removes harmful chemicals and toxins, clears up discolorations, and reduces foul odors from your aquarium’s water.
- REVOLUTIONARY: The Cascade 300 Power Hang-On Filter features a Bio-Sponge cartridge that optimizes colonization of anaerobic bacteria, and is independent from the first stage filter media. In addition, our Bio-Falls system enhances water oxygenation, and aids with removing ammonia and nitrate.
- OVERALL MEASUREMENTS: 8. 25” (H) x 11. 25” (W) x 6. 25” (D)
Furthermore, the filter comes with intuitive features like adjustable intake tube length, adjustable flow rate, and self-leveling system, making it ready to use right out of the box. Featuring Bio-Falls Quad-Filtration system offers efficient filtration with an anaerobic bacteria for added nitrite and ammonia removal and offering maximum oxygenation.
Aqueon QuietFlow LED Pro Power Filter
The Aqueon QuietFlow LED Pro Power Filter has 5 stages of filtration— biological, chemical, mechanical and specialty filter pad for the healthiest, clearest and cleanliest water for your pets.
Its filter cartridges are super easy to replace and contain at least 25 percent more activated carbon than other brands in order to remove dirt and dissolved organic waste material more effectively. Higher flow rates also mean higher dissolved oxygen content for more active and healthier pets.
- Certified flow rates that assure proper water circulation for improved fish health
- High flow rates for optimal dissolved oxygen content to promote healthier, more active fish
- Provides mechanical, chemical, biological and optional, additional specialty pad filtration
- Self-priming filter pump will auto-start initially or restart if power is interrupted and restored
- Internal pump design helps dampen noise and eliminate leaks with self-priming feature
Furthermore, the internal pump design eliminates leaks, dampens noise for quiet operation and automatically starts up after cleaning or during power interruptions. There is also no need for priming during setup or restarting the filter.
MarineLand MagniFlow Canister Filter
The Marineland Magniflow Series Canister Filter offers 3 models that can accommodate varying tank sizes. It has a multi-stage filtration for both saltwater and freshwater aquarium.
It has a top-sealing gasket for a durable seal with easy-to-remove lid for an all access to media baskets. Flow and stack filter trays force water through media layers for a completely biological, chemical and mechanical filtration.
- 3-STAGE FILTRATION: Water flows through media layers to filter water and ensure a clean aquatic environment.
- VERSATILE: For freshwater and saltwater aquariums.
- EASY MAINTENANCE: Valve block for quick release to shut down water flow – separates from housing for quick, spill-free maintenance.
- THREE SIZES AVAILABLE: Comes in 160 GPH, 220 GPH and 360 GPH sizes.
The filter also features a quick-prime button that fills the filter chamber with water, while the quick-release valve block helps shut down water flow instantly and separates easily from the motor housing for a spill-free and quick filter maintenance.
Fluval 06 Series External Filter
The newly refined Fluval 06 Series of external filters features a more powerful motor which adds convenience to the already powerful Fluval filtration line. Each 06 filter is more user-friendly that ensure tank filtration is super easy to set up and customize according to your needs.
Furthermore, each filter can hold 35 – 50 percent more volume than previous Fluval filters and even directs filtration through a complex flow path in order to maximize contact with its filtration media. The Fluval 06 Series comes with the patented Aqua-Stop Valve which allows the hose to disconnect with one-motion, easy to open lock clamps for a super easy cleaning and maintenance.
- Multi-stage filtration for healthy fresh & saltwater aquariums
- Suitable for aquariums up to 70 gallons
- Sound dampening impeller design for a quieter operation and head height (max.) is 5.8 feet
- Equipped with a clog-proof intake strainer and a dual layer foam screen
- Built with a patented Aquastop Valve, multiple filtration baskets, and rim connector assemblies; 3 year warranty
It also comes with filtration baskets that are packed with the necessary media for biological, chemical and mechanical filtration. Rim connectors are also included in order to keep the intake and output of hoses in place. It is also fully equipped with clog-proof intake strainer plus a dual layer foam screen. Fluval also includes a sound dampening impeller design for quiet operation.
Tetra Whisper Power Filter
The Tetra Whisper Power Filter is designed for use in smaller to medium sized aquariums. You can choose from 4 different tank capacity— 20 gallons, 30 gallons, 40 gallons, and 60 gallons. The top of the filter features a closed-off design which offers it a sleeker look as well as reducing noise from water movement.
- QUIET & RELIABLE The Tetra Whisper Power Filter uses 3-stage filtration to create clear clean water – PF 60 treats aquariums up to 60 gallons
- ABSORBS ODORS Ultra-Activated carbon removes both odor and water discoloration
- CATCHES DEBRIS Dense dual-sided mesh filters debris and fish waste
- INNOVATIVE CLEANING POWER Integrated Stay Clean technology reduces buildup on glass and binds small dirt particles to make them easier to filter
- CARTRIDGE REFILLS Change cartridges monthly uses large-sized Tetra Whisper Bio-Bag Cartridges (refills sold separately)
It uses 3 Whisper Bio-Bag Cartridges and 3 filter mechanism— chemical, biological and mechanical filtration— in order to provide your pets healthier and cleaner water. All the filter inserts needed for the initial setup are already included with the kit. Furthermore, you can quickly replace any filter media and arrange them as you please.
Important Factors To Consider When Buying Best Fish Tank Filter
For water, we have 3 different types of filtration:
- Biological Filtration
Targets and filter microlife inside your fish tank. This include waste and toxic byproducts from fish and other life form.
- Mechanical Filtration
It removes particles from the water and keeps the water clear and free of debris or floating particles.
- Chemical Filtration
Deals with unwanted, toxic, or harmful chemicals in your water that affect the water quality.
Types of Fish Tank Filters
Fish tank filters are available in various types depending on its intended use. The most common type include:
- Internal Filters
Meant for fish tanks with less than 20 gallons of capacity, internal filters are mounted inside the tank with suction cups to keep them in place. They sit at the bottom and prevents debris from building up and putting your fish’s health at risk. For the budget minded, internal filters re the cheapest type of fish tank filters.
- Hob (Hang-on-back) Filters
This is the most popular of all filters due to its super easy setup and use. It does a great job in cleaning your fish tank, although it never gets into the water. The filter works by sucking the water up a tube then moving it through 3 filtration chambers where dirt and toxins are removed and then sending it back to the tank. HOB filters do have a disadvantage though, good bacteria colony is always removed whenever the cartridge is replaced.
- Canister Filters
These are installed outside the fish tank and creates a pressurized water flow. Canister filters draw water in with a siphon and runs it through separate filtering sections which typically accomplish all 3 types of filtration.
Since it is a pressurized system which does not need air or gravity to move water, chemical and mechanical filtration are great in these filters, however biological filtering is limited. Canister filters have a variety of size for fish loads and tank capacity.
- Under Gravel Filters
These filters rest underneath gravel substrate and work by drawing water through slots on the top. They may use either low flow suction tube or an air tube in order to bring water and waste into the filter. Under gravel filters usually focus on mechanical filtration instead of chemical or biological filtration. It is only great for smaller tanks and requires more maintenance than other kinds of filters.
- Wet/Dry Filters
This one comes in 2 parts— an internal and external part. Water is siphoned into the internal part and sent through the tube out to the external part section. This kind of filter do not provide a high level of chemical or mechanical filtration, however their good access to oxygen makes it great for biological filtration.
Ease of Installation
Internal filters and HOB filters are the easiest to install. Under gravel filters are a bit more labor intensive and needs to be installed before filling the tank. Wet dry filters and canister filters are typically reserved for larger tanks with a capacity of over 100 gallons and are far more complex to install.
Fish tank filter are created to work within a particular power range. The strength is sometimes written as the capacity the filter can support or in actual units of power such as volts. Choose a fish tank filter which can support your tank size or bigger and never use a fish tank filter that is intended for small tank sizes.