Best Aquarium Filter: The Top Models to Look for in the Market Today

best aquarium filter

If you're thinking of keeping fish in an aquarium, or if you have them already, you'll know how important it is to have crystal clear water. Clean water provides the environment for your fish and other aquatic animals to live and thrive, so you'll want the best aquarium filter for your tank. Read on to see a roundup of some of the best aquarium filter products on the market and to find what you need for your fish.

Aquarium Filter Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Is an Aquarium Filter?

An aquarium filter removes particles from the aquarium water and regulates the chemical PH of the water in order to create a suitable environment for your fish. Both cold-water and tropical fish require filtered tanks. However, if you plan to keep a saltwater aquarium, the filtration process can be significantly more complicated.

2. What Kinds of Aquarium Filter Are There?

Aquarium filters come in various types, differentiated on how they filter the water. However, all filters need to remove chemical, biological, and mechanical waste from the water. This makes sure that the chemical levels of the water are maintained, that biological agents are removed from the water, as well any particles of dirt and grime. The best aquarium filter will offer a comprehensive cleaning of the tank water.

3. What Is the Best Aquarium Filter for My Tank?

In choosing your aquarium filter, you will need to consider the size of your aquarium and the types of fish you will keep in it. Some fish or creatures prefer a less disturbed tank environment and for that sort of tank, you may like to install an under-gravel filter. On the other hand, some kinds of schooling fish like a tank with currents of moving water so thrive in a tank with a strong filter output.

4. Where Can You Buy the Best Aquarium Filter?

Aquarium filters can be bought from specialist aquarium stores, pet stores, and online from retailers such as Amazon.com.

How We Reviewed

In order to bring you a roundup of the best aquarium filter products, we selected these items according to what was available on the market and how well they were reviewed by users. We have provided you with an overview of each product's features, its Pros & Cons, and its price. We have also provided you with a link to where you can buy the product.

What We Reviewed

  • Penn Plax Under gravel Filter – 4 Filter Plate System
  • Fluval 206 External Canister Filter
  • Marine Land C-Series Multi-Stage Canister Filter
  • Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter
  • Penn Plax Cascade 1,000 Aquarium Water Filter
  • Ehmfltr 2217 Classic Wm 264g
  • The Aqueon Quietflow Filter 55/75 400 Gph
  • Eheim Classic External Canister Filter with Media
  • Aquaclear Power Filter - 110 V
  • Whisper In-Tank Filter with Bio Scrubber
Penn Plax Premium Under Gravel Filter System - for 40-55 Gallon Fish Tanks & Aquariums
  • Undergravel filter system includes 4 filter plates (each measuring 11.5" X 11.5") with extra large 1 inch adjustable lift tubes.
  • Filter is suitable for most 40 and 50 gallon aquariums. Clips to hold each section securely together are included.
  • 2 carbon filter cartridges remove odors, and water discoloration by trapping the pollutants in the pores of the carbon.
  • This undergravel filter hides from view for maximum aesthetics. Safe for use in both freshwater and saltwater tanks.
  • Effortless setup and easy maintenance make this premium undergravel filter a must have for all home aquariums.  Simply place filter plates at the bottom of the tank and cover with gravel.

Features

This filter works slowly by filtering the water through the substrate of gravel on the floor of the tank. In doing this, the product uses the natural bacteria in the tanks to its advantage to create an ideal environment for fish and live plants by fostering the Nitrogen cycle. The filter is suitable for most 40-50 gallon tanks and is aesthetically pleasing as it can be hidden at the bottom of the tank. It can be used in either a freshwater or a saltwater tank as all its parts are resistant to salt corrosion.

Pros

  • Under-gravel system
  • Invisible filtration
  • Easy maintenance

Cons

  • Fragile
  • Can be tricky to install
  • Doesn't come with tubes or carbon
Fluval 206 External Filter
  • Multi-stage filtration for healthy fresh & saltwater aquariums
  • Suitable for aquariums up to 45 gallons
  • Sound dampening impeller design for a quieter operation
  • 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

Features

Many aquarium owners swear by the filtration power of Fluval Filters, claiming that they are the best aquarium filter. This Fluval 206 is suitable for aquariums of around 45 gallons and will be sure to maintain crystal clear water. Its multi-stage filtration system is able to keep your freshwater or saltwater tank healthy and free of harmful chemicals or bacteria. In addition, the filter is easy to set up and maintain. This filter also comes with a 3-year limited warranty in case anything goes wrong.

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Great cleaning power
  • Quiet

Cons

  • May leak
  • Impeller cover may fall off
MarineLand Multi-Stage Canister Filter for Aquariums, C-Series
  • Certified flow rate of 530GPHPerfect for all aquariums up to 150-GallonUses Rite Size -InchX-Inch floss and foam
  • Virtually no bypass through the filter media trays
  • Three-stage filtration process

Features

Not only does this aquarium filter remove harmful products and bacteria from your tank environment, but it also contains helpful bacteria needed for the health of your tank water. It guarantees crystal clear water even for tank inhabitants who produce a lot of waste like Cichlids and turtles. Though the good reviews of this product were very good, the negative reviews indicate that there is an element of chance with these aquarium filters. If you get one that works, everything will be great. If you don't, it's likely that you will have to send it back for a refund as users reported that the defective units were difficult to fix.

Pros

  • Available in a range of sizes to suit different tanks
  • 3 stage filtration
  • Releases good bacteria
  • Guided set-up process
  • Quiet

Cons

  • Blows air bubbles
  • Unit not reliable
Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter, 10 Gallon,
  • Fully submersible in vertical or horizontal position
  • Adjustable return flow rate
  • Direction and height of water return is also adjustable
  • Three stage filtration: dense foam for particles and debris, activated carbon for toxins, odors and discoloration and patented BioGrid for ammonia and nitrates
  • Uses Aqueon Replacement Internal Filter Cartridges

Features

This aquarium filter is fully submersible in either a horizontal or vertical position within the tank, meaning that it can be positioned easily in the optimum location within the aquarium. It features an adjustable flow rate, meaning that you can adjust the level and speed of filtration to suit the needs of your fish.

Inside the filter, there is a three-stage process: dense foam for particles and debris, activated carbon for toxins, odors, and discoloration, and patented BioGrid for ammonia and nitrates. This model is recommended for tanks up to 10 gallons. You will need to use the Aqueon brand filter cartridges, but the product does come with a lifetime limited warranty against defects and breakages.

Pros

  • 3 stage filtration
  • Very adjustable model

Cons

  • Difficult to take apart
  • Only works with Aqueon brand filters
Cascade CCF3UL Canister Filter For Large Aquariums and Fish Tanks – Up To 100 Gallons, Filters 265 GPH
  • CASCADE CANISTER FILTER FOR FRESHWATER OR MARINE ENVIRONMENTS: the Cascade 1000 (CCF3UL) has 3 media baskets, works at 265 GPH, and is recommended for Aquariums up to 100 gallons. It measures 11.5 x 17 x 10 inches.
  • STATE OF THE ART FEATURES OF THE CASCADE 1000: flow valves that rotate 360 degrees for easy maneuvering in even the tightest aquarium cabinets large capacity media baskets allow aquarists to customize to their media needs push button primer allows for a quick and easy prime of the filter includes a spray bar, tubing, directional spout for customization, and filter medium.
  • USE ANY COMBINATION OF MEDIA: floss pad for removing particulate matter and a course sponge that provides abundant surface for promoting bacterial growth (to remove ammonia and nitrites) included free with purchase
  • SEE BELOW FOR DIAGRAM, THE CASCADE 1000 INCLUDES: Flow rate control cut-off valves two independent directional 360 degree rotating valve taps swimming pool – style hose clamps quick, easy, push button self-primer extra-large capacity stackable filter medium containers with lift-up handles floss pad and coarse sponge included, free with each canister filter easy lift alignment clamps that release vacuum suction sturdy tip-proof base
  • FILTER MEDIA OPTIONS BY CASCADE AVAILABLE ON AMAZON, SOLD SEPARATELY: see below for details, sold separately is media such as: bio-floss, bio-sponge, bio-rings, filt-a-pack pro-z, and filt-a-pack pro-carb-z.

Features

This filter is suitable for tanks up to 1,000 gallons, so may be the best aquarium filter if you have a very large tank. The unit is designed to be quick and easy to set up and adjust, with rotating flow controls to adjust the valves. The flow valves can be removed easily for canister maintenance without having to remove the whole assembly from the aquarium. The filter pumps allow for a large quantity of filtration material, meaning that you can wait longer in between changes to the filter material.

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Perfect for large aquariums
  • Easy to customize filtration material

Cons

  • Intake pipe may leak
Ehm Fltr 2217 Classic Wm 264g
  • Warranty: The filter has a 24 month guarantee.

Features

This is one of the more expensive models of filters that we surveyed, but its consistently high ratings by users indicate that that is money well spent. The filter is adjusted for optimum water flow rate, meaning that the water returns to the tank not just cleaned but oxygenated. This product is one of the most reliable tracks in the trade and includes a 24-month guarantee. It is able to clean water in tanks up to 160 gallons, but owners of smaller aquariums may find that to be overkill.

Pros

  • Very good reviews
  • Aquariums up to 160 gallons
  • Reliable

Cons

  • More expensive than others
  • Flow rate not very strong
Aqueon Aquarium Power Filter
  • Provides mechanical, chemical, biological filtration plus additional assistance with the Aqueon specialty filter pads
  • Self-priming – starts up automatically after cleaning or power interruptions.
  • Certified flow rates that assure proper water circulation for improved fish health
  • LED indicator light flashes when it’s time to replace clogged cartridges by monitoring actual water levels.
  • Internal pump design helps dampen noise and eliminate leaks

Features

This is the best aquarium filter if you want your tank to run quietly. This filter is specifically designed to be quiet, and all users were pleased with its performance in this area. This does not mean that they have compromised on filtration though; the Quietflow features a 3 step filtration system and has a certified water flow rate guaranteeing that you fish will have adequate water circulation.

An LED light will flash when it is time to replace your filter cartridges so that you don't need to worry about forgetting to change them or waiting too long. As with other Aqueon products, the Quietflow will only work with Aqueon brand filter cartridges.

Pros

  • Quiet
  • LED indicator to remind you to change the filters
  • Economical

Cons

  • Sensitive to dirt and grease
  • Will only work with Aqueon brand filter cartridges
EHEIM Classic Canister Filter 2213, Classic 250 - PetOverstock
  • 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

Features

The pump head of this filter is sealed with a silicone ring which allows for easy and safe closing of the pump after cleaning. The filter comes equipped with all the filtration media that you will need to set up the filter in your aquarium. This product is available in different sizes ranging from 40 gallons to 92 gallons of filtration capacity to suit a range of aquariums. Some users found that the filtration media needed some adjusting to get it just right for their tanks, but they were happy that this adjustment was possible, and they pleased with the end result.

Pros

  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to adjust filtration media
  • Comes in different sizes
  • Users loved it

Cons

  • May take some adjustment to achieve optimum results
Aqua Clear - Fish Tank Filter - 50 to 200 Gallons - 50v
  • Refiltration system that offers superior contact time with filter media and energy efficient pump lowers operating costs
  • Quick and easy installation
  • Filtration volume is up to 7 times larger than comparable filters
  • Comes equipped with AquaClear Foam, Activated Carbon and BioMax and Cycle Guard for continuous biological filtration and superior water quality
  • 2 year warranty; Ideal for aquariums up to 50 gallons

Features

The AquaClear 50 Power Filter provides a three-stage filtration system but claims that it is able to filter more than seven times more than comparable filters. It uses a waterfall design to filter the water through and return it to the tank. Users are able to customize their filtration system by using different materials or adjusting the output rate in order to suit the needs of their aquarium. Users liked that it was a reliable filter, but some felt that it made too much noise.

Pros

  • Reliable
  • Dripping filter style doesn't disturb fish

Cons

  • Noisy
  • Not suitable for use with sand substrate
Whisper In-Tank Filter 10i with BioScrubber for 3 - 10 gallon aquariums (25816)
  • Designed for Use in aquariums up to 10-Gallons
  • Uses medium Bio-Bag filter cartridges
  • Install with a hanger and suction cup or two suction cups depending on desired placement
  • Remove bottom to access impeller for proper cleaning
  • For aquariums and terrariums

Features

This filter is an in-tank filter, meaning that the whole body of the pump and filter is housed inside the tank. The motor of the tank is fairly quiet because it is housed underwater, which deadens the sound. One of the unusual features of this filter is that it can operate in as little as two inches, making it ideal for turtle terrariums or tanks with a waterfall construction. The filter is attached to the inside of the tank with suction cups, so its height can be adjusted according to the water level. The product comes with one pre-assembled filter cartridge so that users can get started immediately.

Pros

  • Quiet
  • Can be used in tanks with a low water level
  • Available in different sizes
  • Cheap

Cons

  • Some users reported that their product did not come with suction cups
  • Not great quality

The Verdict

We surveyed a lot of good products in this roundup of aquarium filters. The best aquarium filter for you will really depend on the size of your tank and how much waste is produced by its inhabitants. We thought that the Aqueon Quietflow's rave reviews by users put it ahead of the rest of the crowd for the best aquarium filter for medium-sized tanks. If you have a shallow tank, you may be able to make do with the very economical Whisper filter, but if you have a very large tank, you may need something more expensive and heavy duty like the Penn Plax Cascade. Whatever you choose, just make sure it will suit your tank and your fish.

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