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Best Aquarium Filters: Our Top Picks 2023

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Every aquarium needs to have a good aquarium filter, and that’s exactly what we’re here to find today. Let’s not waste any more time and take a look at the top five best aquarium filters that the market has to offer. 

Best Aquarium Filters

Top 5 Best Aquarium Filters: Reviews

Here are the top five best aquarium filters that your money can buy.

1. Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter: Our Top Pick!

Sale
Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter 150 GPH, Multi-Stage Aquarium…
  • WITH ROTATING BIO-WHEEL: Patented Bio-Wheel technology provides excellent wet/dry biological…
  • MULTI-STAGE FILTRATION: Delivers mechanical, chemical and biological aquarium filtration to maintain…

This is a multi-stage hang-on-back aquarium filter that engages in all three major types of filtration. It delivers mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. All of the filtration media comes in the form of filter cartridges, therefore making everything very easy to maintain and replace.

This filter excels at biological filtration, as it comes with an additional bio wheel for added ammonia and nitrate removal capabilities. Something that also stands out about a filter like this is that the water cascades down into the tank from above, therefore providing some additional water movement and aeration.

Hang-on-back filters like this are also very easy to set up and maintain, plus they don’t take up any tank space. This particular model is rated for aquariums up to 30 gallons, and it can process up to 150 gallons per hour. However, there are also much larger models, with the biggest one processing 350 gallons per hour and being ideal for tanks up to 75 gallons.

Pros

  • Surface agitation and aeration
  • All three types of filtration
  • Excels at biological filtration
  • Doesn’t take up internal tank space
  • Easy to set up

Cons

  • A bit noisy

If you’re looking for a simple yet effective hang on back power filter, this is one of the best ones to consider.


2. Penn-Plax Cascade 500 Canister Filter

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Penn-Plax Cascade All-in-One Aquarium Canister Filter – Up to 30 Gallons (115…
  • CASCADE 500 CANISTER FILTER: Without effort, the Cascade 500 Canister Filter quietly delivers…
  • STATE OF THE ART FEATURES: In addition to the push button primer that allows for a simple and quick…

Here we have a canister filter, which is automatically beneficial for many people, because it does not take up any space inside of the tank, therefore reserving valuable real estate for your fish. This particular model is rated for tanks up to 30 gallons in size, and it can process up to 115 gallons per hour. However, there are also much larger models available.

What is beneficial about a filter like this is that it features stackable media baskets on the inside, therefore allowing you to customize the type of media you use for your aquarium.

However, it does come with some media included, including a coarse bio-sponge, a fine sponge, and activated carbon, which together allow for effective mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration.

This unit also comes complete with a push button primer for a quick start, 360 degree rotating independent valve traps, an adjustable flow rate, and much more. Worth noting is that this unit is also built with very high quality and durable materials, and is therefore built to last for quite some time.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Customizable media baskets
  • All three types of filtration – media included
  • Very easy to maintain
  • Doesn’t take up tank space

Cons

  • A bit pricey

If you need a super efficient aquarium filter that won’t take up interior tank space, this is probably your best bet.


3. Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter

Opposite of the canister filter we just looked at, this is an internal filter, which means that it sits inside of the tank, as opposed to taking up space outside of the tank. For many people, this is beneficial, especially for those who have limited space to spare.

Furthermore, because this filter is submerged in the water, it’s also much quieter than other models. You can barely hear it running.

Keep in mind that this filter is rated for tanks up to 40 gallons, as it can handle up to 150 gallons of water per hour. This is also a three-stage filter that uses simple filter media cartridges for easy replacements. It engages in mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration, which should result in crystal clear water every time.

This filter is also very easy to install and mount thanks to the suction cups included. You can easily place it on the interior of your tank, and it can be mounted both vertically and horizontally, depending on your needs.

Pros

  • Doesn’t take up space outside of the tank
  • Very quiet
  • All three major types of filtration
  • Easy to maintain
  • Affordable
  • Good flow rate for its size

Cons

  • Not the most rugged of units

If you’re looking for a very quiet filter that you won’t hear running, this is likely your best bet.


4. AquaClear 50 Power Filter

Sale
AquaClear 50 Power Filter, Fish Tank Filter for 20- to 50-Gallon Aquariums…
  • Aquarium filtration system that offers superior contact time with filter media and energy efficient…
  • Quick and easy installation; we recommend that you clean aquarium filter every 2 weeks for maximum…

Here we have a super efficient hang on back aquarium filter designed for tanks between 20 and 50 gallons in size. It features a flow rate of 200 gallons per hour, which should be more than enough for any medium sized aquarium. Let’s not forget that this unit works for both freshwater and saltwater tanks.

What’s really nice is that this unit comes complete with a wide variety of filtration media. This includes mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration media. Even better is that the filtration volume of this unit is up to seven times larger than with other fish tank filters of a comparable size.

This unit is also very easy to maintain thanks to the simple top access lid, plus it’s also very easy to mount thanks to being a simple hang on back unit.

Being a hang on back filter also means that it doesn’t really take up internal tank space, which is beneficial if you have a relatively small aquarium. You might also like how it cascades water down into the aquarium, as it allows for some surface agitation and aeration.

Pros

  • Surface agitation and aeration
  • Very efficient
  • Good flow rate
  • Ideal for most moderate sized tanks
  • All three major types of filtration
  • Good price

Cons

  • Can be a bit noisy

This AquaClear Hang on back filter is likely one of the best of its kind!


5. Hygger Double Sponge Aquarium Filter

hygger Aquarium Double Sponge Filter, Comes with 2 Spare Sponges (S)
  • 【Multi-filtration functions】this sponge aquarium filter combines bio-filtration, oxygenation and…
  • 【Filter Demension】plus the sponge filter with media balls takes up no more room. Small filter is…

If you need an aquarium filter that excels at mechanical filtration, a sponge filter like this one is probably your best bet. This is a very special type of filter that comes with sponges specifically designed to maximize mechanical filtration capabilities. It actually has dual sponges for double the power.

Furthermore, there are also some small media chambers located below both of the sponges, and you get biological media balls included with your purchase, although you can place any type of media inside that you see fit.

This is a very simple type of filter, and it’s also easy to mount thanks to the included suction cups. Just keep in mind however that those sponges require a good deal of cleaning and maintenance, but they are very efficient.

Something else you might appreciate is that this type of filter is also extremely quiet, and barely makes any noise at all. That said, it’s not the number one choice if you need extremely efficient biological and chemical filtration.

Pros

  • Great mechanical filtration
  • Some bio or chemical filtration
  • Very quiet
  • Affordable
  • Easy to operate and set up

Cons

  • Requires a good deal of maintenance
  • Not the best for biological or chemical filtration

If you need primarily mechanical filtration with some added power, then this sponge filter is always a good option to consider.


Aquarium Filters Buyers Guide: What To Look Out For

There are a few important things to look out for when choosing an aquarium filter, so let’s take a quick look at what these might be.

Type

There are three main types of aquarium filters to consider. These include internal filters, hang on back filters, and canister filters. They each have their specific advantages and disadvantages to consider, so I recommend doing a little more research on this front. They’re each ideal in their own ways.

Aquarium Size

Always consider the size of your aquarium compared to the size rating on the filter. Many filters will have a range, such as between 20 and 50 gallons. 

For instance, if you have a 20-gallon aquarium, it is a good idea to get a filter that can handle at least a 30-gallon aquarium, particularly if you want very clean water. 

Getting a filter that is rated for a larger aquarium than yours is fine, although getting one that is rated for a smaller aquarium can cause problems.

Flow Rate

You always need to pay attention to the flow rate, as this dictates just how much water the filter in question can process. 

detail of an aquarium filter output of a tropical freshwater aquarium with blurred background

If you have a 20-gallon aquarium, getting a filter that can handle at least 60 or even 80 gallons per hour is recommended. 

A good filter should be able to process the entire water volume up equilibrium at least three times per hour, if not more.

Media Types

You also want to pay attention to what kind of media the filter in question can use. Generally speaking, every aquarium needs to have all three major types of water filtration. 

This includes chemical, biological, and mechanical filtration. If one of these is missing, your aquarium might start running into some issues.

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