Best Small Aquarium Filter: Compared

Home is a shelter of ultimate comfort, be it small or large. Water is the only habitat for fish. You might think smaller aquariums are easy to maintain. You might also give yourself a lazy nap thinking that your tiny aquarium does not need maintenance. Sadly, your preconceived notion is going to change.

Several points are to be maintained while keeping an aquarium and maintaining it. One of the most crucial parts is filtration. Bringing an aquarium and stuffing lots of fish in it will not suffice. Instead, keeping a limited amount of pets with a comfortable ambiance should be your ultimate goal. Here, filtration, as well as filters, play essential roles.

Why are filters essential?

Just like other well-known pets, fish also find it challenging to stay in a dirty environment. To provide them with fresh and cleaned habitat, you must install a filter.

Filters mainly clean and purify the tank water. There are three filtration processes, namely mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. By these three methods, the filters remove all the dirt in the tank water. Pollutants like debris, leftover food, dead and decaying elements are discarded when the water is filtered.

The filter also oxygenates the water in order to keep the fish comfortable. Some filters provide optimal places for beneficial bacteria accumulation, which is needed for your fish to thrive.

Types of filtration:

 Before buying a filter, you should know about the types of filtration. There are three types of filtration, namely (mechanical, chemical and biofiltration) that purify the tank water.

Sponge filters

Mechanical filtration:

 The first stage of filtration is mechanical filtration. By this type of filtration, the filter media physically traps solid wastes such as uneaten food, debris, decayed plant materials, and so on.

Most of the mechanical filter media (particularly sponge and pads) nurture the beneficial bacteria colony to catalyze the chemical and biological filtration.

Chemical filtration:

Chemical filtration is an excellent method to keep your tank water pure. It is a process by which the dissolved impurities of the tank water are filtered. The most famous chemical media include activated carbon, resin, etc.

Biological filtration:

Biological filtration is anything that promotes the colony for beneficial bacteria that break the harmful and toxic elements in the tank water by performing a nitrogen cycle.

Filters that combine the three types of filtration altogether are considered the best ones.

Types of filters:

There are a variety of filters available in the market. The predominant question that possibly arises is which one to choose?

We have a list for you to help. Before buying your aquarium filter, you must know the types of filters available in the market. The most popular types for small aquariums include canister filters, internal filters, HOB filters, under gravel filters, etc.

Canister filters:

Canister filters are thought to be the best ones in the market because of their feature of incorporating chemical, mechanical, and biofiltration. Although they are most suitable for the larger tanks (more than 40 gallons), you might find them for the smaller tanks as well.

The only drawback of these filters is that they come with much higher price tags than other filters.

Internal filters:

Internal filters are the widely sold ones when it comes to a smaller tank. The internal filter sits in the corner of the fish tank. They generally stay fully submerged. The inlet of the water must be connected to the filter. It cleans the water through coarse sponge media.

Best Aquarium Filter

Hang-on-back filters:

The HOB filters are the most effective ones with a lower price tag. They offer the three types of filtration altogether. The water is drawn from your tank, and after the three types of filtration, the fresh and purified water goes back into the tanks.

Under gravel filters:

The under gravel filters are also famous among aquarists. They sit under the substrate of the tank and quietly clean the tanks.

They can offer you both mechanical and biological filtration. But the only drawback is that chemical filtration does not happen here.

Sponge filters:

These types of filters do work in the simplest way. They consist of a sponge as the filter media, and the water passes through it, providing you a mechanical filtration.

By the time when the media matures, it provides a place for bacteria colonies that gives you biological filtration.

Best seven filters for your small tank:

Now that you have gathered a firm knowledge about filters and their functioning look at these filters that can be the best friend of your pets.

1. Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter:

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

With an excellent build quality, the Marineland magniflow canister filters can be the most suitable filter for your small aquarium. They come with canister lids that ensure a tight seal. These filters come with bio filter balls and ceramic rings that provide large multifaceted surface areas for the growth of beneficial bacteria. The black diamond carbon used in this filter removes odor as well as discoloration of the tank water. It also has a self-priming start-up system that fills the filter chamber with water.

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. Penn-Plax Aquarium Canister Filter:

Penn-Plax Aquarium Canister
  • Style: Canister
  • Dimension: 13.5 x 11.5 x 9 inches
  • Weight: 9 Pounds
  • Brand: Penn-Plax

This aquarium filter is also from the canister family. With its durable construction, it comes with flow valves that rotate 360 degrees for easy maneuvering. It has an extensive media basket that allows aqua hobbyists to customize their media of filtration. It has a  floss pad and coarse sponge media for fine mechanical filtration.

Key Features
  • Two media baskets
  • Flow valves that rotate 360degrees
  • Comes with a directional spout for customization, a spray bar, tubing, and filter medium.
  • Self-priming push button
Pros
  • Includes a spray bar
  • Fantastic build quality
  • Fold up handle for holding it
  • Offers quiet operation
Cons
  • Quite expensive
  • Not auto-priming

3. Tetra Whisper Internal Filter:

Tetra Whisper Internal Filer
  • Style: internal filter
  • Dimension:  4.88 x 5.38 x 10.19 inches;
  • Weight: 1.45 Pounds
  • Brand: Tetra

These lightweight internal filters are ideal for your tanks up to 10 gallons.  It is an all-in-one air pump and water filtration system. It stays submerged under your tank water with the help of a clip. Its dual-sided mesh purifies the water and catches wastes. It comes with an extraordinary facility of oxygenating the water. It offers you a silent performance as you’ve already guessed from its name.

Key Features
  • Bio bag cartridges
  • Air-driven design
Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Comes with a much lower price tag
  • Durable
Cons
  • Can be a little loud sometimes

4. Marineland Bio-Wheel Penguin 75 Power Filter:

Marineland Bio-Wheel Penguin
  • Style: HOB filter
  • Dimension:  5.31 x 5 x 7.56 inches
  • Weight: 1.5 Pounds
  • Brand: Marineland

This HOB filter from the trusted brand Marineland provides a powerful three-stage filtration with a boi wheel technology. It is one of the optimal choices for 10-gallon tanks because of its flow rate of 75 Gph.  It can also prevent discoloration of water and can remove odor.  With its durable construction, it comes with faster-acting Black Diamond Premium Activated Carbon for maximum efficiency.

Key Features
  • Bio wheel technology
  • wet/dry biological filtration for nitrifying bacterial growth
  • Multi-stage filtration
Pros
  • Quiet operation
  • Durable
  • outstanding biofiltration
Cons
  • The bio-wheel is relatively weak

5. AQUA-TECH Ultra Quiet Power Filter:

AQUA-TECH Ultra Quiet
  • Style: HOB filter
  • Dimension:  8.15 x 8.11 x 5.94 inches
  • Weight: 1.98 Pounds
  • Brand: AQUA-TECH

The AQUA-TECH ultra-quiet HOB filters provide excellent three-stage filtration. The cartridges in it clean and purify the water passing through it.  The activated carbon present in it cleans the dissolved pollutants and removes the odor. The extra surface area of these filters provides maximum space for beneficial bacteria growth.

Key Features
  • Three-stage filtration
  • Comes with bio-foam that removes toxic ammonia and nitrites on contact.
  • decoupled motor with dampeners for less noise
Pros
  • Pocket friendly
  • Less than 40 dB noise
Cons
  • Multiple replacements of the cartridges
  • Short lifespan

6. Penn-Plax Premium Under Gravel Filter System:

Penn-Plax Premium Under Gravel
  • Style: Under gravel filter
  • Dimension: 9.5 x 1.25 x 10.25 inches
  • Weight: 12.8 Ounces
  • Brand: Penn-Plax

The most budget-friendly filter to name is the under gravel filter. The brand Penn-Plax is a trusted brand in the filter world. This under gravel filter provides you powerful biological and chemical filtration. It comes with air Stones, adjustable lift tubes and filter cartridges, and filter plates.

Key Features
  • Carbon cartridges
  • Adjustable lift tubes
Pros
  • Provides powerful biological and chemical filtration
  • Keeps water crystal clear
  • pocket-friendly
Cons
  • Can cause noise
  • Build quality is not impressive

7. Hygger Aquarium Single Sponge Filter:

Hygger Aquarium Single Sponge
  • Style: Sponge filter
  • Dimension:  9 x 4 x 2.5 inches
  • Weight: 3.21 Ounces
  • Brand: Hygger

The hygger sponge filters come with a spare fine sponge. It gives optimal mechanical filtration. Over time, its porous structure provides space for bacteria leading to fine biological filtration. It also oxygenates the tank water, making it comfortable for your fish.

Key Features
  • Two suction cups and a spare sponge
  • Fine sponge material
  • Filter parts are detachable.
Pros
  • Multi-stage filtration
  • Easy to install and maintain
  • Telescopic outlet tube
  • Soft and slow movements underwater
Cons
  • poor manufactured design
  • Can cause leakage

Buyer’s guide:

An aquarium, irrespective of its size, needs regular cleaning and filtration. And for this purpose, choosing the appropriate filter for your tiny aquarium can be quite tricky.

Well, don’t worry because we are ready here with a buyer’s guide to clear all your doubts.

The first point to note is that all your tank water should be filtered at least four times per hour. See, how easy that is?

The size and purpose of your tank are also notable factors while buying a filter. For example, the sponge filters are thought to be the best ones in a breeding tank or a ‘hospital’ tank.

You should keep in mind that your filters also need cleaning. Do not just rely entirely on the filters and clean them every four weeks. Prepare yourself before buying one.

 General FAQs to clear your doubt:

Q1. How should I clean my filter media?

Ans. You must have known about the nitrogen cycle that happens inside your aquarium. The beneficial bacteria colony grows in the filter media, particularly in the sponge and filter pads. Do not use tap water while washing them if you do not want to destroy the bacteria colony. Instead, take a bowl of tank water and gently rinse the filter media in it.

Q2. How often should I change my filter cartridges?

 Ans. You should change the filter cartridges of the power filter once every month.

Q3. Is it essential to turn on the filter at night?

Ans. As you know, water is like air to the fish. If the filtration procedure does not continue at night, your fish might find difficulty inside. The deposition of excessive waste can lead to death. To avoid this kind of sad incident, you must turn them every moment.

Editor’s choice: Marineland Bio-Wheel Penguin 75 Power Filter

From the list as mentioned earlier, our vote goes for the Marineland bio-wheel power filter. It is a HOb filter that has advanced bio-wheel technology. Its durable construction makes it suitable for a wide variety of tank setups. It offers a quiet operation with excellent filtration. The affordable and lower price tag is the cherry on the top.

You might find it working at the same pace even after five or six years of installing. With its outstanding features and exceptionally active filtration, we suggest you go for this without thinking twice.

Conclusion:

Filters can enhance the beauty of your aquarium by maintaining the clarity of the tank water. Many aquarists think that smaller tanks do not need much attention. Sadly, that is not true. Each and every fish habitat ( natural or artificial) needs cleaning and filtration, irrespective of its size. The bigger your tank is, the better filtration system you will need.

Clogging may reduce the flow rate of your filter by the time. Since the filter is not a self-cleaning device, you will have to clean it to restore its former pace.

Understanding the problems and pains of your pets is your first duty. Cloudy and murky water can be the reason for your pets’ discomfort. That is why you must install a filter in your tank according to its requirement. Once you understand these points, your fish will love you more.

We hope the tips mentioned above helped you in finding your way out. Having said that, we wish you good luck. We will resolve your issue again when you need us.

Thank you!

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