Best Aquarium Filters For Your Lovely Mates [Honest reviews with pros and cons]

Don’t you like a clean and fresh home? Your fish might think the same. If you are planning on bringing home a fish tank or even thinking of it, the first and foremost duty of a fish parent is to keep the glass world of your fish clean and fresh to keep them healthy, happy, and lively.

There are a few aspects you need to consider before buying a filtration system for your aquarium. All filters may not be appropriate for every tank. The size of your fish tank, the types of fish, and the requirements of your fish play important roles when it comes to an aquarium filter.

Choosing the appropriate filter from various products might be difficult if you are new to the fish world. Well, don’t be confused, now that we are here. Read the article below to clear all your confusion regarding the filtration systems for your aquarium.

Why is it important to choose the right filter for your aquarium?

In simple words, your aquarium is an artificial miniature model of the underwater ecosystem. Due to the compactness (lots of plants and fish) inside, your tank water may get polluted quickly. In the natural habitat, the water is cleaned, balanced, and cycled naturally. But when it comes to the aquarium, providing a natural environment and comfort is solely your duty.

Top Canister Filter

Since the aquarium is not a self-cleaning device, it demands an external cleaning method. A subtle change in your tank water due to dirt and filth may cause the death of your precious pets. Filters are the external cleaners of the tank water. 

They clean, refresh and balance the water that is required to maintain your aquatic pets. Installation of an aquarium filter can reduce your headache of taking care of pets, although that should not be your excuse for not cleaning the tank yourself!

Need To Know:- Glass Vs Acrylic Aquarium

Types of filters:

There are a variety of filters available in the market depending upon the three types of filtration (mechanical, chemical, and biological). Filters that include the three types altogether are the best ones. The most popular filter types include canister, hang-on-back (HOB), sponge filters, and under gravel filters.

Canister filters:

Canister filter

Canister filters are the most suitable choice for larger aquariums of more than 40 gallons. You might find them for the smaller tanks as well. This type of filter provides the best cleaning process, amalgamating the mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. The water goes through fine material to filter the smaller particles. It is a wonderful choice for aquariums with koi and cichlids as well as plant and saltwater aquariums. However, they can be a little expensive to afford.

Guide:- Take Care of Your Koi Fish

Hang-on-back filters:

The-hang-on back filters are the most popular ones among aqua hobbyists because of their simplicity and ease. The HOB filters likewise work effectively in cleaning your fish tank. They draw water from your tank. After the three types of filtration, the pure water goes into the tank again. You can easily maintain these filters without putting your hands inside. The only problem is that the good bacteria colony is also lost every time you wash it.

Sponge filters:

Sponge filters

These pocket-friendly filters are the most basic ones. They don’t do chemical, biological, or mechanical filtration. They are run by an air pump that cleans the water with a sponge material. These types of filters are applied in hospital tanks or tanks with smaller fish. 

Under gravel filters:

These filters are set under the substrate of the aquarium. They clean the water by applying mechanical and sometimes biological filtration. Chemical filtration does not happen here.

Top 10 Aquarium Water Filters:

Choosing an appropriate aquarium filter from a wide range of products can be confusing. Are you in a dilemma about which one to purchase? Here is a definitive solution to your inquiry. Let’s look into the comparison and review section below to clear all of your doubts.

1. Fluval 107 Performance Canister Filter

Fluval 107
  • Style: Canister
  • Dimensions:  0.39 x 0.39 x 0.39 inches
  • Weight: 2.2 Pounds
  • Brand: Fluval

These types of filters are the best in the market. The ergonomic design and raised lip have been included for a smoother performance. The all-new design requires fewer pumps. It comes with larger vibration-dampening feet stabilizers for filter case protection. For quick release, it has incorporated fiber-reinforced lift lock clamps. It has also introduced new EZ-Lift media baskets for quick access and less mess. The new 30% larger pre-filter surface area offers better filtration. The fiber-reinforced quick primer makes it relatively easy to use. The size of the filter can be determined accordingly.

Key Features
  • EZ-Lift media baskets
  • 30% larger pre-filter surface area
  • Fiber-reinforced quick primer
  • Generates 145 – 383 US Gal/h
Pros
  • Easy to use
  • 25% less noise
  • Robust, energy-efficient, flexible
Cons
  • Not for tanks less than 30 gallons
  • Quite expensive

2. Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter for Aquariums

Marineland Magniflow Canister
  • Style: Canister
  • Dimensions: 12.2 x 9.17 x 13.62 inches
  • Weight: 10.15 Pounds
  • Brand: Marineland  

This particular filter is a pocket-friendly canister filter that provides a compact filtration process. It comes with a canister lid to seal the water tightly. It has a polishing filter pad that removes fine debris from your tank water. The black diamond carbon has been used in the filter to remove odor and water impurities. It also offers bio-filter balls and ceramic rings, ensuring a large surface area for bio spires’ growth. You can choose the size of your filter accordingly.

Key Features
  • Flow rate : 160- 360 US Gal/h
  • Bio-filter balls and ceramic rings
  • Comes with black diamond carbon
Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Powerful filtration
  • Excellent build quality
  • Pocket friendly
Cons
  • May cause leakage sometimes
  • Overweight

3. MarineLand Penguin Power Filter

MarineLand Penguin Power
  • Style: HOB
  • Dimension: 15.25 x 6.12 x 8 inches
  • Weight: 2 pounds
  • Brand: MarineLand

The MarineLand power filter comes in various sizes for a variety of fish tanks, starting from 10 gallons to 70 gallons. It offers a three-step filtration process that includes mechanical, chemical, and biofiltration. With its rotating Bio-Wheel technology, it provides excellent wet/dry biological filtration. It comes without the inconvenience of air pumps, valves, or tubes; it gives an excellent filtration. This compatible filter comes with an affordable price tag, making it suitable and popular.

Key Features
  • Bio-Wheel technology
  • 75 – 350 Gph flow rate
Pros
  • Three-step filtration
  • 75 – 350 Gph flow rate
  • Quiet performance
  • Easy to set up
Cons
  • Can cause noise if not cleaned
  • Needs careful cleaning of the bio-wheel

4. AquaClear Power Filter

AquaClear Power
  • Style: HOB
  • Dimension: 4 x 9 x 8 inches
  • Weight: 1.69 Pounds
  • Brand: AquaClear

This pocket-friendly and lightweight filter can offer optimal mechanical, chemical, and biological filtrations. This type of filter uses AquaClear foam, activated carbon filter, and bio max and cycle guard for superior cleaning and fostering the good bacteria colony. The unique waterfall design of these filters enables the filtered water to go back to the tank silently. You can also control the flow rate of the filter according to the requirements of your aquarium. AquaClear offers a wide range of filters, starting from filters for 5-gallon tanks to 110-gallon tanks.

Key Features
  • Larger filtration volume
  • Comes with AquaClear foam
  • Activated Carbon filter and BioMax and Cycle Guard
Pros
  • Offers three types of strong filtration
  • Lightweight
  • Pocket-friendly
  • Quiet performance
  • Easy to install
Cons
  • Needs frequent cleaning of the impeller box
  • The AquaClear media can cost a bit high while replacing

5. Aquarium Technology Hydro sponge Filter:

Aquarium Technology Hydro sponge
  • Style: Sponge filter
  • Dimension: 6.2 x 4.4 x 4.1 inches
  • Weight: 9.59 Ounces
  • Brand: Aquarium Technology

This lightweight sponge filter is made of Proprietary Patented Sponge Foam to provide excellent mechanical and biofiltration. It comes with a one-inch diameter lift tube that allows high-volume water flow. The waste materials are trapped with the hydro sponge. You may use this filter in a vertical or horizontal position. These sponge filters are available for tanks less than 10 gallons to tanks with a 125-gallon capacity. You can also expand the flow rate by using an aquarium powerhead.

Key Features
  • One-inch-diameter lift tube
  • Heavier base with a raised bottom
Pros
  • Finest foam material
  • Can offer an almost silent performance
  • Can be used with powerheads
Cons
  • No chemical filtration is done
  • Beneficial bacteria colony lost if washed in tap water

6. Hygger Sponge Filter:

Hygger Sponge
  • Style: Sponge filters
  • Dimension: 8.43 x 6.93 x 2.83 inches
  • Weight: 1.35 Pounds
  • Brand: Hygger

The hugger double sponge filter comes with a technology that offers you biochemical filtration. To culture beneficial nitrifying bacteria, it gives a multi-dimensional filtration. It comes with a media container with a ceramic filter that helps in doing away with harmful bacteria. It comes with four sponges, so you can replace two sponges for cleaning purposes. It increases the oxygen level of the tank with the combination of air pumps. These types of filters can purify the water noiselessly with the help of the telescopic lift tube.

Key Features
  • Dual sponge filter
  • Biochemical filtration
  • Ceramic filter media
Pros
  • Quiet performance
  • Affordable
Cons
  • You cannot modify them
  • You may need more than one filter for tanks above 55 gallon

7. Hikari Bacto-Surge High-Density Foam Filter:

Hikari Bacto-Surge High-Density Foam
  • Style: Sponge Filter
  • Dimension: 5 x 5 x 6 inches
  • Weight: 0.8 Ounces
  • Brand: Hikari USA Inc.

These foam or sponge filters can be appropriate for your freshwater tanks. The brand provides premium-quality sponge in the filters. The porous surface of the sponge maximizes the accumulation of beneficial bacteria. You may modify them by putting an airstone inside for noiseless filtration.

Key Features
  • Highly porous sponge
  • Soft sponge designed for longer life
Pros
  • High-quality foam
  • Easy to clean
Cons
  • No chemical filtration

8. Penn Plax Premium Under Gravel Filter System:

Penn Plax Premium
  • Style: Under gravel filter
  • Dimension: 11.5 x 2.5 x 11.5 inches
  • Weight: 2.02 Pounds
  • Brand: Penn Plax

If you have a small aquarium (up to 50 gallons), these types are the most suitable ones for you. They come at an affordable price, offering chemical and biological filtration. These filters include four filter plates with extra-large 1-inch adjustable lift tubes. This one can remove odor with the help of carbon filter cartridges. It can also prevent water discoloration by trapping the waste particles. You can use these for both saltwater and freshwater aquariums.

Key Features
  • Extra-large 1-inch adjustable lift tubes
  • Two carbon filter cartridges to remove the odor
Pros
  • Offers chemical filtration
  • Easy to use
  • Used for both saltwater and freshwater tanks
Cons
  • Build quality is poor
  • Can cause noise

9. Lee’s 10 Premium Undergravel Filter:

Lee's 10 Premium Undergravel
  • Style: Under Gravel filter
  • Dimensions: 17.63 x 3.13 x 16.5 inches
  • Weight: 1 Pound
  • Brand: Lee’s

This under gravel filter easily supports the weight of the substrate of your aquarium. It has fewer plates in number because of the enormous size of the same. It is made of premium quality plastic that prevents cracking or splitting.  

Key Features
  • Larger plate size
  • Strength of the UGF plates
Pros
  • Easy to install
  • Minimal maintenance
  • Budget-friendly
  • Strong build quality
Cons
  • No air pump is supplied

10. Aquarium Equip ISTA Undergravel Filter:

  • Style: Under gravel
  • Dimension: 7.6 x 6.61 x 2.28 inches
  • Weight: 7.2 Ounces
  • Brand: Aquarium Equip

These under gravel filters provide expanded surface area for the cumulation of the beneficial bacteria. You can increase the flow rate by attaching them to an air pump, filter pump, submersible powerhead, and hang-on filter. The excellent quiet performance can provide you with the flexibility of using it in both freshwater and saltwater tanks.

Key Features
  • Adjustable lift tube
  • Comes with a feature to connect with an air pump, filter pump, submersible powerhead, and hang-on filter
Pros
  • Efficient filtration
  • Comfortably used in both freshwater and saltwater tanks
Cons
  • No powerhead or pump included

How to purchase the right filter:

Stone For filter
Stone For filter

Buying a suitable filter for your aquarium involves considering some essential factors. It would be best if you put a little bit of thought before you grab a filter for your aquarium. Choosing the appropriate filter can make your pets love you more.

1. Filtration type:

There are three types of filtration, namely mechanical filtration, chemical filtration, and biofiltration.

Filters that amalgamate three of them are thought to be the best ones.

2. Aquarium size and flow rate:

Another crucial factor to note is your aquarium’s size. It plays a vital role in choosing a filter. All the water in your tank should be filtered four times per hour. For example, if you have an aquarium of 50 gallons, your filter’s flow rate should be 200 Gph (Gallons per hour). Seems pretty easy to calculate, isn’t it? 

Aquarium C02

Also, the larger your tank is, the better your filter should be. The external filters can be the ideal choice because they are generally bigger.

3. The purpose of your tank:

The purpose of your fish tank is an important aspect to look at. For example, tanks that are used for medicating fish or for breeding purposes usually require sponge filters. 

You should also note the types of your fish. Some fish and plants need powerful filtration, for they produce an excessive amount of wastes.

Five general FAQs you might look into:

  1. Should I rinse my aquarium filter?

Ans. You should clean your filter and follow a proper maintenance schedule to ensure the proficiency of your filter. The filter media should be taken care of because it might get clogged. Gently rinse the sponge or filter pads. Do not rinse the filter media with tap water if you don’t want to destroy the beneficial bacteria colony. Take a bowl of tank water and gently rinse the media in it. 

  1. How often should I clean my aquarium filter?

 Ans. The general rule is to clean the filter and your filter media every four weeks (a month). However, to adjust your fish to your tank’s new environment, you should wait at least a week from your last cleaning session. 

  1. Where should a filter be placed in a fish tank?

Ans. The position of your filter depends on the type of filter. The simplest sponge filter or the air-powered unit should be below the water level. You must ensure the rise of enough bubbles for proper filtration.

An under gravel filter is relatively easy to place because it remains under the substrate of the aquarium. However, the perforated plates only go under the substrate; the tubes and the air pump never do. 

The HOB or hang-on-back filters are generally placed at a higher position than the water level.

If you have a canister filter, its output must be placed 1.5-2 inches below the water. It should be fully submerged. Otherwise, it can cause noise.

  1. Why does the flow rate drop in my aquarium?

Ans. The flow rate might drop because of a clogged filter. There might be a blockage. So, the filter foams and media need to be cleaned. 

Rinse them gently in the old tank water. Also, if they are not in proper shape, you might need to replace them.

It is better to replace the cartridges of the filters monthly to restore the flow rate.

  1. How long should my aquarium filter run?

Ans. Considering the fact that your aquarium filter cleans and purifies the water in your tank, you should turn them on every time.  Shutting down the filter for a couple of hours might not give you a fruitful result.

You might know that the filter cleans the tank water, removes leftover food, fish waste, and acts as the colonies where the beneficial bacterias stay. They convert the toxic chemical wastes into less harmful chemicals. The filters also oxygenate the water of your tank to keep the fish alive. If you turn down your filter, these subtle details would not be maintained. So, you must keep your filter on every time for the sake of your pets’ health.

Who is the winner?

Considering all the qualifiers mentioned earlier, we have shortlisted our winner of the race.

As you might have understood by now, that the filters amalgamating the three types of filtration are the best ones.  In this context, the canister filters are said to be the best ones. We would recommend that you prioritize these filters. 

The Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter can be a good option because of its efficient performance. Along with the durable construction and noiseless operation, these filters come with a much lower price tag than the other canister filters available in the market. 

Although the canister filters come with a higher price tag, they are one-time investments. You may expect your filter to run for a minimum of 15-16 years without any complication. We would recommend you invest in a filter that is worth every penny. And to sum up, we would suggest you grab the Marineland Magniflow Canister without much hesitation or second thought.

Final Verdict:

Aquariums are the world for your pets. You must take care of them in the most precise way possible. The tools for your aquarium include heaters, filters, light, lid, substrate, and many more. The filter’s function is easy to understand. It purifies the water that your fish thrive in. it removes the dirt (leftover food, decaying bodies, toxic chemicals) from the tank water, making it healthier for the fish to live in. They also oxygenate the tank water to match the needs of your pets.

Keeping the habitat of your loved ones cleaned is solely your responsibility. Installation of an efficient filter does not mean that you should excuse yourself from cleaning it. Checking the filters and grooming them to restore their usefulness is necessary. 

Consider a number of factors before bringing home an aquarium or even installing a filter for it. At times, it becomes challenging to pick the right one. With the above article’s help, you will definitely find it easier to choose an appropriate filter for your aquarium.

Good luck!

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