ТOP6 Best Fish Tank Filters 2018 | Comparison | Rated | Reviews

Fish Tank Filters: Peculiarities and Types

Today’s market is full of diverse fish tank filters offered by a number of outstanding brands. Each of these items is designed to meet one’s preferences and provide clean and fresh water to aquarium inhabitants. Depending on the structure and the filtration type provided, we can differentiate several fish tank filter types. But prior to describing each of them separately, it’s worth understanding what filtration types should occur in every aquarium.

  • Mechanical filtration makes water of the aquarium pass through the filter. In this process, all the unnecessary particles left in the water become caught and reduced from the aquarium.
  • Chemical filtration, meanwhile, forces toxic chemicals through the filter media or the resin. As a result, certain nutrients excessive in the water are reduced from the aquarium.
  • Biological filtration boosts the growth of beneficial bacteria. As a rule, all the waste products in the aquarium, as well as the left food and fungi start a nitrogen cycle, which leads to the emergence of ammonia. The latter is immensely harmful to fish, turtles and other inhabitants of an aquarium. Due to the biological fish tank filter system, the beneficial bacteria grow and the ammonia is reduced.

Air Driven/Sponge Filter

The simplest fish tank filter type is the sponge or air driven filter. Despite the quite simple structure, it copes with mechanical and biological filtrations quite well. The air pump of this filter type makes water pass through the sponge where it becomes cleared from debris. And as beneficial bacteria emerge on such a sponge and live in it quite long, a biological water filtration is carried out, too.

As a rule, sponge filters are great for office or hospital tanks, as well as aquariums where you breed fish or keep baby fish.

Power/Hang On Back Filters

Hang on back filters are the most frequently used filters among aquarium hobbyists. This popularity is due to the amazing chemical, mechanical and biological filtration that this type of filters provides.

Being fastened in the back wall of an aquarium, the filter forces the water pass through its siphon tube. Once the water reaches the floss or pad, it becomes cleaned from the debris (mechanical filtration). Then it flows through the carbon and gets rid of chemicals and toxins (chemical filtration). What refers the biological filtration, the latter occurs right inside the filter’s cartridge. Beneficial bacteria grow here, where the oxygen amount isn’t limited.

Canister Filters

Canister filters are quite popular, too. They are intended for aquariums with 40 and more gallons. As compared with all other tank filters, these are impressively larger. A canister filter provides excellent chemical, mechanical and biological filtration. They are especially suitable for saltwater, cichlid and planted aquariums. Due to the every canister 100-gallon fish tank filter pressurized structure, the water undergoes keen mechanical and chemical filtration. However, biological filtration in a canister filter is not much efficient because of the lack of contact between oxygen and water.

Internal Filters

The small size of internal filters makes them efficient only for 20 gallon or smaller aquariums. As a rule, a mini fish tank filter sticks to a side of an aquarium and performs mechanical, chemical and biological filtration. There are internal filters which also require an air pump with a connected airline. This way, it can make the water move up through the filter and dissipate in the top.

Under-Gravel Filter

Under-gravel filters are widespread and offered by various manufacturers including Fluval, AquaClear, Aqueon, KEDSUM, Marineland, etc. An under-gravel Fluval fish tank filter produces only mechanical and biological filtration. As a rule, the filter is placed under the gravel forcing the water pass through the gravel and the uplift tubes. To avoid detritus buildups, the substrate should be cleaned on a regular basis.

Comparison Chart of the Best Fish Tank Filters


AquaClear Power Filter - 110 V

AquaClear Power  

Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filters

Aqueon QuietFlow 

Marineland Penguin Power Filter w/ Multi-Stage Filtration


Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter With Quad Filtration System Cleans Up to 50 Gallon Tank

Penn Plax Cascade 

Whisper In-Tank Filter with BioScrubber for aquariums

Whisper In-Tank 

KEDSUM 4.8W 25GPH Submersible Aquarium Filter 3-in-1 External Hanging Fish Tank


Type Hang on Back Hang on Back Hang on Back Hang on Back Internal Hang on Back
Product Dimensions 7.1 x 13.9 x 9.1 inches 9.5 x 4.9 x 8 inches 9.5 x 6.2 x 8 inches 7 x 5 x 7.5 inches 5.1 x 5.9 x 10.5 inches 11.4 x 6 x 1.5 inches (tubes not counted)
Gallons per Hour 500GPH 200GPH 200GPH 200GPH 170GPH 70GPH
Recommended Aquarium Size Up to 110 Gallons Up to 45 Gallons Up to 50 Gallons Up to 55 Gallons Up to 40 Gallons Up to 25 Gallons
Mechanical Filtration Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Chemical Filtration Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Biological Filtration Yes Yes


Yes Yes Yes


Interesting Facts About Fish Tank Filters

First Aquarium 1805

  1. The invention of an aquarium dates back to the beginning of the nineteenth century (1805). It was created by Robert Warrington. It was built from glass sheets that were held together with steel.
  2. Even the best filter for fish tank can’t keep the water of an overstocked aquarium fresh and clean for its all inhabitants.
  3. To help your aquarium filter operate properly, the cartridge is to be cleaned every month. Before you work on a filter, make sure it is unplugged.
  4. Regardless the type, a fish tank filter is to run all the time. Otherwise, beneficial bacteria will die, while the harmful anaerobic bacteria will emerge.
  5. Taking care of fish and the aquarium enhances the hobbyists’ mental and physical wellbeing.

How We Chose and Tested the Best Fish Tank Filters

Picking up a fish tank filter is a responsible task if you care for your little speechless pets. Whether the water in an aquarium is fresh, clean and healthy or not depends particularly on the filter. Therefore, it’s better not to skimp on a good filter. But which to choose? What is the best fish tank filter worth your trust? To answer these questions, our investigative team made a research and a survey among aquarium hobbyists, and aquarium fish sellers. We picked up several most praised models and tested their effectiveness. All the filters were tested for quiet operation, lifespan, effectiveness, easy installation, easy maintenance. Every top fin fish tank filter we have picked up effectively processes the waste generated in a fish tank.

The Best Fish Tank Filters

To make it easy for you to pick up the right fish tank filter, we have gathered the best fish tank reviews. Each of these models is built with quality and effectiveness in mind. None will be a waste of money or let your pretty little fishes down! Just check them out yourself.

AquaClear Power Filter - 110 V

AquaClear Power Filter — 110 V

It’s not a secret that AquaClear has been making some of the most powerful and durable fish tank filters since the foundation of the company. It’s a versatile external fish tank filter, which is sure to meet the most scrupulous aquarium hobbyists’ demands. Though small, the item is perfect for aquariums with a capacity of 110 gallons or less. It is able to pump up to 500 gallons per one hour. The filtration capacity of this item is remarkable, while the noise produced is barely noticed. Due to the flow control technique the large fish tank filter features, the water flowing effect is easily reduced. What makes the model unique, is its appropriateness for multistage filtration. This way, you get sure the beneficial bacteria in your aquarium won’t be affected by the depletion. Besides the biological filtration, this fish tank features other advantages including keeping the impeller and motor of the aquarium safe, as well as easy installation. However, along with these pluses, there are certain minuses stated by consumers. First of all, it’s quite difficult to clean the filter. And then, it tends to burn itself out quickly if you have constant problems with power loss.

Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filters

Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filters

Designed for aquariums up to forty-five gallons, this small fish tank with filter offered by Aqueon popular brand is quite a powerful model. It stands for biological, chemical and mechanical effective filtration. Opting for this model, you may feel calm for your little fishes’ health, as the proper water circulation is guaranteed. And whenever there is a power interruption, the filter will start up automatically due to the self-priming feature. The manufacturer ensures a quiet operation of the fish tank filter, as the unique design of the internal pump will dampen the noise. Besides, it will reduce any water leaking.

Nevertheless, the small fish tank filter by Aqueon has certain disadvantages, either. Consumers state the filter is quite noisy when there is nothing turned on in the room. Some people keeping turtles in their aquariums inform the bottom of the pump is dissembled easily whenever the animal hits it.

Marineland Penguin Power Filter w/ Multi-Stage Filtration

Marineland Penguin Power Filter w/ Multi-Stage Filtration

Perfect for up to 50-gallon aquariums, this model by Marineland is made sturdy and durable. It provides easy filtration of three types including chemical, mechanical, and biological. The filter cartridges remove the unpleasant odor, discoloration, and waste. Most consumers take this model as the best filter for small fish tank as it’s reliable and efficiently working. The BIO-Wheel system stands for effective nitrite and toxic ammonia removal. The vented covers, meanwhile stand for quiet operation. However, some customers state the filter starts producing loud working noise within a week after every time they clean it. In fact, this is quite a serious issue for most aquarium hobbyists.

Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter With Quad Filtration System Cleans Up to 50 Gallon Tank

Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter With Quad Filtration System Cleans Up to 50 Gallon Tank

Designed for aquariums with 35-55 gallon capacity, this hang-on fish tank filter provides 200 gallons of fresh and oxygenated water every hour. The maximal oxygenation is achieved due to the special filtration system. It removes any nitrites and ammonia making the water clear for your fish. With the help of activated carbon cartridge, all types of contaminants including discoloration, odors, toxins and harmful chemicals are successfully removed from the aquarium. This model can be used equally on saltwater and freshwater aquariums.

Nevertheless, although manufacturers claim the filter is proper for up to 55-gallon aquariums, consumers state it’s too weak for that capacity. Instead, it can be used as an efficient 30-gallon fish tank filter. Besides, the operation of the filter can’t be described as quiet.

Whisper In-Tank Filter with BioScrubber for aquariums

The fish tank filter by Tetra brand is best for up to 40-gallon aquariums and terrariums. This model doesn’t hang from the outside of an aquarium like most other filters do. Instead, it hangs from the inside. The tank flush is fastened against the aquarium wall. As the motor is kept under the water, the operation is impressively quiet. Additionally, the filter can operate even if only two inches are under the water. Hence, you can freely use the item in your turtle tank. This way it will also create a pretty waterfall inside the tank.

With the help of the filter’s adjusts, it is possible to easily regulate the water level. Besides, every filter features a Bio-Bag filter cartridge. According to this cheap best fish tank review, it’s overall very efficient, yet looks massive inside a tank and causes too much water movement.

KEDSUM 4.8W 25GPH Submersible Aquarium Filter 3-in-1 External Hanging Fish Tank

KEDSUM 4.8W 25GPH Submersible Aquarium Filter 3-in-1 External Hanging Fish Tank

This fish tank filter manufactured by KEDSUM is designed for aquariums with 15-25 gallon capacity, yet consumers find it’s effective only with smaller tanks around 10 gallons. It’s rather a 10-gallon fish tank filter. It makes three functions including water filtration, clearing oil-film, and enriching the water with oxygen. It ensures quiet, nearly noiseless operation. So that the filter fits well the aquarium, it needs to have 1.1-inch thickness. The maximal flow rate of the filter is 25 gallons per hour. This means, your tank will be filled with 25 gallons of fresh, oxygenated and cleared water every hour. This best 10-gallon fish tank filter, though intended for up to 25-gallon tanks, is great for glass cylinders and fishbowls.

What concerns the disadvantages of this fish tank filter, it’s flow rate is quite low. Besides, it produces quite much vibrating noise.

Aquarium Filter Maintenance

Performing constant maintenance on your fish tank’s equipment is sure to enhance its performance and lifespan. Adhering to the original manual provided with the filter, you will know both how to set up a fish tank filter and how to take proper care of it so that your aquatic environment is healthy and your fish thriving. Nevertheless, we would like to give you some important recommendations about cleaning fish tank filter and the aquarium.

The first component of appropriate aquarium maintenance is water change. You should change the water (not more than 15% ) of your aquarium every two weeks. The issues how often and how to clean a fish tank filter, meanwhile, depend primarily on the filter type.

Mechanical Filtration

The regular maintenance of a system of mechanical filtration implies the cleaning of the pads or sponges from the debris collected. The cartridges are to be washed only in the aquarium’s water so that the beneficial bacteria is not reduced. How often this should be performed is determined by the stocking level of the aquarium and the nitrates present in the system. Generally, once a week will be enough.

Chemical Filtration

The most widely used chemical media is the activated carbon. It not only removes any unpleasant odor or coloration of your fish tank water but also effectively absorbs all the medications and dissolved organics. As a rule, activated carbon preserves its efficacy within a month or two.

Biological Filtration

Once you have implemented a mechanic and chemical filtration, a biological media should be placed. It will keep the water free of harmful nitrites and toxic.

However, prior to applying extra chemical and biological filtration, you need to clean the filtering equipment you have in your aquarium. This includes removing the impeller and cleaning it and the impeller housing from all the debris stuck. Other parts of the filter involving the pipes (both intake and outlet), housings, and the body are to be carefully washed, too.

Concluding Thoughts

As you must have learned from this article, there are different fish tank filter types to choose from. Which you pick up eventually depends on your specific requirements and expectations. And whether you are a seasoned aquarium hobbyist or it’s your first tank, you need a quality equipment that will serve well and long. And now, after a thorough research, it seems that we have found out which is the best fish tank filter of 2018. And this is AquaClear Power Filter — 110 V!


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