13 Best Fish Tank Filters

Are you looking for the best filter for your fish tank?

If yes, then you are in the right place!

Having a good quality fish tank filter is not only necessary for cleaning purposes but is essential to your fish health!

So, let’s explore the 13 best fish tank filters that you should definitely KNOW about!

13 Best Fish Tank Filters

ProductWater TypeSize 
Marine land Penguin Power Filter w/ Multi-Stage FiltrationFreshwater and Saltwater50 to 70-Gallon
Aquatop CF Series FilterFreshwater and Saltwater4-pack
Tetra Whisper in-Tank Filter with BioScrubber for Aquariums Freshwater and SaltwaterUp to 40-Gallons
Marineland Multi-Stage Canister Filter for AquariumsAll water types5 to 20 US Gallons
Aqueon Quietflow E Internal Power FilterFreshwater and Saltwater3 gallon

13 Best Fish Tank Filters

1. Marineland Penguin Power Filter w/ Multi-Stage Filtration


 Key Facts
  • Brand: Marine Land
  • Size: 50 to 70-Gallon, 350 GPH
  • Mechanical and chemical filtration.

Marineland is well known to provide the most innovative aquatic environment and equipment for more than 40 years!

Their Marineland Penguin Power Filter is one the best filters available, as it has a Multi-Stage Filtration system.


It can be used for both saltwater and freshwater tanks!

It not only removes odors, impurities, and discoloration but also removes nitrate and ammonia.

It has a Bio-Wheel that is specifically designed to grow beneficial bacteria that is healthy for the ecosystem of the fish tank!


Marineland Penguin Power Filter is available for different aquarium sizes from 20 gallons to 70 gallons, along with certifies flow rates from 100 GPH to 350 GPH.


  • It includes Bio-Wheel that is designed to remove toxic ammonia and nitrate from the tank
  • The filter cartridge helps to clear out debris and dirt of the tank
  • It is designed to help grow beneficial bacteria that is required for biological infiltration


  • It requires a lot of maintenance, in terms of keeping the filter clean
  • It does not have an adjustable water flow system therefore it is not recommended for a tanks under 10 gallons.

2. Aquatop CF Series Filter


 Key Facts
  • Brand: Aquatop
  • Size/Dimensions: 4-Pack – 6.8 x 0.8 x 5 inches; 0.8 ounces
  • Pre-assembled cartridge

The CF series by Aquatop is among the most preferred canisters available these days.

The CF series by Aquatop is among the most preferred canisters available these days.

The UV sterilizer that forms a part of these filters has contributed to this popularity significantly.

This model is provided with quite a solid and sturdy construction; some parts are made from plastic.

The UV sterilizer that is contains works to get rid of microorganisms including parasites, bacteria, and algae from the water.

And another thing:

Setting it up is easy for those who have worked with a canister filter before; newbies might find it a little complicated.

The unit has a flow rate of 370 GPH, and you can use the model for tanks with a capacity of up to 175 gallons.

It does not take long to clean the tank, ensuring that you get rapid results.

And we don’t stop there; it has a 4+1 Stage filtration system in place for providing the fish with clean and pure environment.


  • They are designed with operational ease; therefore, beginners can use them easily!
  • They meet the highest standard of water purification
  • They are long lasting and can be re-used just after rinsing them


  • The cartridges have to be changed after 2-4 weeks for best results
  • The quantity of charcoal is less than as required for filtration

3. Whisper In-Tank Filter 40i with BioScrubber


 Key Facts
  • Brand: Whisper
  • Dimensions: 5.1 x 5.9 x 10.5 inches; 1.5 pounds
  • Bio-Bag Filter Cartridges

Whisper In-Tank Filter 40i with BioScrubber provides an ultimate filtration experience with quality and performance which is better than an external filter.

It is not only convenient to use but also functions quietly


It is designed to work in medium sized aquariums, as well as turtle tanks that have as little as 2-inch of water.


  • It is easily adjustable to high and low level of water in the tank, with brackets and suction cups.
  • It does not cause any disturbance to the fish as it is unusually quiet.
  • This filter can be easily mounted inside, which is convenient and easy to maintain


  • The hook to hang the filter on the tank may come off easily
  • It takes a lot of space inside the fish tank

4. Marineland Multi-Stage Canister Filter for Aquariums


 Key Facts
  • Brand: Aqua Clear
  • Size: 5 to 20 US Gallons
  • Different filter media placements

This model is the perfect option for all the hobbyists out there.

This model is the perfect option for all the hobbyists out there.

The best thing; it is available in four sizes. Thus, you can use this canister filter for medium to large sized aquariums easily.

It is particularly suitable for large tanks with a capacity of more than 74 gallons.

This multi-stage filter will ensure that your fish get a perfectly healthy environment that is devoid of all dirt and bacteria.

These canister filters are designed to undergo three stages of filtration, ensuring that the water is cleaned chemically, mechanically and biologically.

The model is also provided with bio-filter balls that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the water.

This is not all; there is no bypass. Thus, you can be sure that no residue of any impurity is left behind.

The three stages of filtration along with the absence of bypass ensure that your aquatic life gets the best environment possible.

Setting up the unit is easy and detailed instructions are provided for the same.

Maintenance will also not give you a difficult time.

Once you notice the water flow slowing down, you should take it as an indication that maintenance is required.


  • Impressive design with ease in handling ensured
  • Cleaning the tank is easy owing to the media trays
  • Detailed instructions make setting up easy
  • Remarkable performance with a production of clean sparkly water


  • The plastic plumping tends to feel a little flimsy.

5. Aqueon Quietflow E Internal Power Filter


 Key Facts
  • Brand: Aqueon
  • Size: 3 Gallon
  • Automatic pump

Aqueon Quietflow E Internal Power Filter does not only help in eliminating odor and discoloration through a carbon cartridge filter

But also:

Has a fantastic water flow that is gentle and keeps the tank clean as well!

Above all:

As the name suggests, it functions super quietly and has a low water flow, which makes it easy to maintain.

It also includes suction cups and hanging clips that make it easy to install.


  • It includes suction cups and hangers that can be used for both, frame-less and framed aquariums
  • The filter includes replaceable cartridges that makes chemical filtration process, more efficient.
  • It is easy to install, economical and efficient filtration system


  • The flow of water cannot be adjusted that makes it difficult for maintenance
  • It functions loudly that can cause a disturbance in the tank

6. Fluval C Power Filter


 Key Facts
  • Brand: Fluval
  • Size:Between 20 and 50 gallons, 200 GPH
  • Three-stage filtration

Fluval C3 w/ Multi-Stage Filtration is a fantastic choice as it operates without the hassle of tubing, valves or air pumps.


 It includes BIO-Wheel that helps to remove nitrate and ammonia in the aquarium.

The three-step filtration removes odor, waste, and discoloration.


It is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater fish tanks

And, perfect for aquariums up to 50 gallons!

It also provides three-stage filtration; mechanical, biological and chemical and has a two-piece vented cover for quiet operation and convenient filter cartridge access.

It has adjustable Mid-level intake strainers for improved water circulation.


  • The filter cartridges are easy to install and clean as well. Also, there are two slots hence two filter cartridges can be used as once.
  • It keeps the tank clean by screening out dirt and debris
  • It includes BIO-Wheel, which is designed to grow beneficial bacteria


  • It has a frequent complaint of making lots of noises after using it for a few months
  • The filters require adjustments and modifications over time

7. Polar Aurora 3-Stage Filter


 Key Facts
  • Brand:Polar Aurora
  • Bio-Bag Filter Cartridges

This is another worthy contender of the list of the best external canister filters.

Suitable for fish tanks with a capacity of up to 75 gallons, the unit has a flow rate of about 265 GPH.

It features a 9-Watt UV sterilizer that leads to removal of bacteria, algae and other microbes from the water.

Thus, your fish get an optimally clean living environment to thrive.

Three media trays are provided with the unit.

Thus you can use the media you like. An adjustable spray bar also forms part of it.

You can adjust the output flow from the filter with ease.

Best of all; the model is provided with a self-priming pump.

Thus, no manual siphoning is required, making setting it up quite convenient.

It also features a single valve disconnect for easy maintenance.


  • The filter is quiet and convenient to use, even for beginners!
  • It includes suction cups brackets that make it easy to adjust to different water levels
  • The bottom of the filter can be removed to access the impeller for cleaning
  • It makes a fantastic waterfall that is ideal for turtle tanks


  • It takes a lot of space inside the tank

8. EHEIM Classic External Filter with Media


 Key Facts
  • Brand: EHIEM
  • Size: Up to 20-Gallon, 100 GPH
  • BIO-Wheel

This EHEIM classic external canister filter can easily be called one of the most preferred ones available on the market currently.

The model is constructed with a solid and sturdy build. Thus, you can be sure it will last for a long time.

This filter comes as a relief for all those who did not approve of plastic clamps.

EHEIM makes use of stainless steel clips for locking the motor; thus ensuring that the motor is optimally secured.

You can fix the permo-elastic silicon sealing ring on the pump head to close it safely once you are done with the cleaning.

Setting up might be a bit difficult owing to unclear instructions.

If you are worried about your energy bills hitting the roof, this is just the right option for you.

As it turns out; it is energy efficient. Thus your overall power consumption remains within control.

The flow rate is impressive owing to which is considered among the most suitable options for goldfish tanks.

The filter can be used for tanks with varying capacities depending on the model you use.

It does not produce a lot of noise and is known to be quite versatile..


  • Secure sealing
  • Offers a quiet operation
  • Energy efficient
  • Versatile- can be used for a variety of marine life and tanks


  • The instructions are unclear making setting up somewhat tedious
  • Priming can be a bit difficult at times

9. AA Aquarium Green Killing Machine Internal UV Sterilizer with Power Head


 Key Facts
  • Brand: AA Aquarium
  • Patented sealed UV Bulb
  • UL Safety Tested UV, Kit
  • Four pieces of sponge pre-filter and pumps rated 220L/Hour

The Green Killing Machine does not only keep the tank clear but also keeps fish healthier with its advanced UV System.

The best things about it:

It eliminates algae and helps remove impurities through UV light technology

Also prevents the growth of unwanted microorganisms


It keeps aquarium crystal clear, by clearing green water and cloudiness that too without any chemicals!


  • It clears green water or cloudiness in the aquarium within days
  • It is easy to install and set up
  • The entire process of fighting bacteria and yeast in tank water is done without chemicals


  • There are complaints regarding the design of the product; a lot of cables in the tank.

10. Aqua Clear – Fish Tank Filter – 60 to 110 Gallons – 110v


 Key Facts
  • Brand: Aqua Clear
  • Patented water flow control feature
  • Size: 40 to 70 US Gallons
  • Multi-stage filtration system
  • patented Re-filtration system

The Aqua Clear Fish Tank Filter is known to be one of the most versatile filter system available as it ensures in maintaining a stress-free environment in the aquarium.


It’s a multi-stage filtration system that provides mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration.


It is known to have filtration volume up to 7 times larger than other comparable filters!

It is highly recommended and ideal for aquariums up to 70 gallons.


It is equipped with AquaClear Foam, Activated Carbon and BioMax and Cycle Guard for continuous biological filtration and superior water quality!


  • It provides optimal biological, chemical and mechanical filtration that keeps the aquarium healthy
  • It helps with debris removal and provides optimal water distribution patterns
  • It has a gentle water flow that is suitable for delicate fish and plants


  • Regular cleaning of the filter is required for efficient and maximum filter operation
  • It has frequent complains of being noisy

11. Tetra ReptoFilter for Terrariums


 Key Facts
  • Brand: Tetra
  • Size: 90 GPH
  • Three stage filtration system

Tetra ReptoFilter for Terrariums is one of highly recommended filter for terrariums.

It caters to shallow-water environments that are suitable for turtles, crabs, frogs, and newts


It removes debris and odor from the tank, along with discoloration and ammonia

It also has a top lid to keep reptiles away from the filter chambers.

Above all:

It creates waterfalls that enhances the overall aquatic experience of the terrarium!

It is best suited for terrariums up to 20 gallon


  • It keeps the water crystal clear
  • It does not too much space in the terrarium
  • It operates quietly hence does not cause any kind of disturbance to the reptiles


  • It is difficult to clean, and it requires weekly cleaning for optimum results
  • There are complaints regarding the filter making noise

12. PENN PLAX World Aquarium Filter, Small


 Key Facts
  • Brand: Penn Plax
  • Size: up to 5 Gallons
  • Three-stage filtration

PENN PLAX World Aquarium Filter is ideal for small habitats such as fish bowls, betta bowls, and any aquarium less than five gallons in size.

It has a comprehensive filtration system that is designed to provide crystal clear water!


It successfully removes harmful gases, odors, and ammonia from the aquarium.


These filters keep your small aquarium healthy and looking beautiful as they attach easily to any air pump.


  • It fits in almost any small aquarium with an easy to replace disposable cartridge filter.
  • It keeps the water crystal clear by eliminating contaminants and maintaining a healthy environment for fish and plants.
  • It does not have or require a motor or moving parts to operate.


  • It does not clear out cloudiness from the aquarium
  • It makes a loud bubbling noise
  • The filter cartridge requires replacements that can be costly

13. API Filstar XP


 Key Facts
  • Brand: API
  • Anti-airlock system

If you want to make sure that your fish gets a clean and pure environment, this is another option that you can take a look at.

This unit offers quite a powerful performance to give your aquatic life the living condition they deserve.

It features self-priming along with the option of the quick disconnect.

Thus, the model can be stopped with ease safely when maintenance is required.

An anti-airlock system forms part of it to ensure that the filtration does not stop unexpectedly.

It is also provided with an anti-noise feature that prevents vibration and creates minimal sound.

The filter has been provided with a large capacity for media.

This is not it; the media along with strong flow rates make sure that the water is cleaned optimally.

As it turns out; the filter can be used for both saltwater and freshwater with ease.


  • Features a large media tray ensuring that no bacteria are left behind and optimal performance is provided.
  • Starting it up is easy owing to the self-priming feature; no manual siphoning is required.
  • Feasible maintenance owing to centralized control of the functions for removal of canister
  • Quiet operation with minimal vibration
  • Three stages of filtration that makes sure that no impurity is left behind.


  • The tubing is somewhat stiff making it difficult to place it into the valve.
  • Not enough media is provided, and thus you have to buy it.

What Does A Fish Tank Filter Do?

A fish tank filter keeps the aquarium clean by removing chemicals, decaying organic matter, fish food excess, and ammonia.

If these toxins are not filtered out, they can harm fish in the tank, resulting in them poisoning themselves and eventually dying.

Are Fish Tank Filters Necessary?

At first, it might just seem like an extra cost, especially after filling your aquarium with tons of fish!

It is:

However, necessary to maintain the ecosystem of the aquarium along with the health of the fish, including the plants.


It can be really time-consuming to clean out the fish tank daily, that too all by yourself!

Sure, it will be fine cleaning out a small tank


Bigger tanks require a lot of effort and time; hence, filters make life easy by doing ALL the work!

What Are The Different Types of Filtration Methods?

There are three filtration methods,

  • Biological Filtration
  • Chemical Filtration
  • Mechanical Filtration

Let’s explore them in detail below!

Biological Filtration

It converts the fish waste into less toxic substances

Fish excrete the food they eat in the same aquatic environment they swim in


This waste has to be either removed or filtered or else it becomes toxic for it.

This filtration system converts this toxic ammonia into nitrate, that is relatively harmless.

Chemical Filtration

It is done by chemical resins or carbon that filter out all the toxins from the aquarium water.

An activated filter carbon aggressively removes all the chemicals from the water until the carbon becomes saturated


It is essential that activated filter carbon is changed frequently

Also, it is vital to keep a check on the water flow and chemical load while chemical filtration takes place.

Mechanical Filtration

This is provided by pushing the water through some form of filter media that acts as a strainer, which helps to catch any kind of free-floating particles


Fail to pass through the openings in the media.

The media can make aquarium gravel, special filter pads, a sponge, or even a filter floss.

Are There Different Types of Aquarium Filters?

There is a variety of aquarium filters that one can easily find, we found the most common ones!

Let’s take a look at them in detail,

  • Power filters – They are well-known filters as they provide biological support to the tank through Bio-wheel. Also, they are easy to use and are affordable as they come in a variety of price ranges.
  • Canister Filters– They are suitable for large tanks as they are known to provide excellent water filtration.
  • Under-gravel filters– These are placed under the layer of gravel at the bottom of the tank. They rely on the power-head or an air pump to operate and also include replaceable filters at the end of the tube for chemical or mechanical filtration.

What to Keep in Mind While Choosing A Fish Tank Filter?

Hundreds of fish tank filters are available that promise the best filtration services


There are some tips that you should keep in mind before purchasing one!

Let’s take a look at them in detail below

The Size of The Tank

You cannot just end up buying any filter you like, as there are different filters suited for the functioning different sizes of aquariums.

Type of Filter

Every filter has its own capacity, size, features, and function. Therefore, it is necessary to research before buying one that is the most suitable one.

The Price of the Filter

It is essential to look at the prices of the filter before buying one. Also, the thumb rule is never compromised quality for the price.

It is, however, also not necessary that only an expensive one will be the best one as it depends on its features and functions.

Seek Professional Advice

It is recommended to seek assistance from your fellow aquarists for the function and durability of the filter according to their prices or aquarium size.

Do Your Research

Even if you are a beginner or not, you should always do your research by reading reviews and blogs related to highly recommended filters and their pros and cons.

 How to Set Up An Aquarium Filter?

If you are worried, then don’t worry, because we have got you covered!

There are some simple steps that you have to follow, and Voila you’ll be good to go!

Follow the guide

It should be read thoroughly before the installation as the instructions clearly state the placement of the filter.

The filter will have to be attached either inside, outside of the aquarium’s wall or might need to be placed on under the gravel.

Wash the filtration system

It is recommended to wash the filtration system and its components thoroughly once with clean water, before installing it.

Prime The Pump

It is vital to ensure that the pump of the filter is primed, as running a filter without water will burn out the motor.

Most aquarium filters, especially freshwater filters, come with a priming button. In case, there isn’t any then it is recommended to follow the instructions included with the filter.

Do Filters Require Maintenance?

Fish tank filters are NOT maintenance free as they require cleaning too


They tend to clog up that can cause havoc in the aquarium if not taken care off.


The filter cartridges need to be replaced monthly depending on the on the type of filter, the number of fish, and the size of the tank.

As larger tanks with fewer fish may not need to be changed as often, it is vital to maintain the correct balance in the tank.

The weekly or monthly cleaning of the impeller is highly recommended for the health of the fish and aquatic environment in the aquarium.

Can Filters Harm Fish?

They can cause harm ONLY if you end up buying a filter that is incompatible with your aquarium size and setting.


It is highly recommended to do your research while buying the most suitable filter for your tank


The second most important thing is being attentive towards the functioning of the filters so that you don’t end up losing your favorite fish.

Does A Fish Tank Require Cleaning, Despite Having A Filter Installed?

It is recommended to clean your tank after every two weeks, even with a filter.

Being a fish keeper, your aim should be to provide your fish a clean and safe aquatic environment.


It is crucial to take into account that the filters require regular maintenance too


It will depend on how stocked up your aquarium is with different types and numbers of fish, plants, and rocks.

As small aquariums and terrariums don’t require much physical cleaning as large aquariums.

Is it Essential to Maintain Filter: Fish Ratio?

At times due to over-crowding of fish in the tank, the filter fails to function


It is necessary to maintain the Filter: Fish ratio so that filter can keep the water clean and ammonia free.


In order to maintain a large aquarium or even a small aquarium, it is highly recommended to buy a filter that caters to the specific size of the aquarium and number of fish.

Related Questions

What is the right time to install a filter?

As soon as you plan to set up your own aquarium, it is recommended that you buy a filter while buying your fish.

Installing the filter initially will eliminate exposure of toxins to the fish and the plants

It will not only help in maintaining it but also keeping the environment of the aquarium; stress- free.

Can fish survive without a filter?

There are certain species of fish that can survive without a filter

These include,

  • Zebra Danios
  • Betta fish
  • Wild-type Guppies.
  • Regal White Cloud Minnows.
  • Corydoras
  • Blind Cave Tetras


It is better to be safe than sorry, as no matter what fish are at risk to ammonia and toxins in the aquarium.

It depends on how many fish are in the tank; less number of fish do not need a filter for survival but regular cleaning.

How often should a filter be changed?

It primarily depends on how heavily is your aquarium stocked with fish. Usually, small tanks don’t need frequent filter changes as compared to a bigger tank.

Are aquarium filters easy to maintain?

Filters are easy to maintain, and they just require regular maintenance such as cleaning or replacing them monthly, that too if needed.

How long does an aquarium filter last?

The life of a filter depends on the quality of the filter and the number of fish in the tank.  It is however recommended that the filter is replaced or changed after every few weeks.

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