Best Aquarium Filters

Owning an aquarium is a fun and relaxing endeavor most of the time, obviously the regular cleanings are the exception, and the thing that makes it possible to relax and enjoy an in-home aquarium is the filter.  The purpose of a filter in an aquarium is to ensure there is enough oxygen in the water for fish to be able to breathe as they hang out in their manufactured aquatic wonderlands. There are several types of filters from an internal filter, to a canister filter to a hanging on the back filter there are good filters and bad filters, these are the best filters.

A canister filter is usually much larger than a hang on the back filter and actually pulls the water out of the tank through a sieve or tube of some kind and into a large filter media that cleans the water before pouring the water back into the tank by a stream or waterfall of some kind.  The top canister filter is the Fluval FX6. While it’s massive filter media capacity and ability to service up to a 400 gallon tank means it isn’t ideal for small aquariums, it’s ideal for any medium and up size tank. Equipped with a three year warranty, this energy efficient and simple to start self-priming filter is the top of the canister category.  

If you have a smaller tank and are looking for a hang on the back filter, so called because they literally hang on the back of the aquarium and are also called power filters, then you’re looking for a Marineland Emporer 400 Power Filter.  Able to effectively filter tanks up to 80 gallons of water, the extremely efficient biological filtration system is designed to be incredibly quiet while running and can accommodate up to four filter media types. The adjustable flow rate is a great feature on the smaller and simpler device than the Fluval, giving Aquarium enthusiasts a smaller option for their tanks.

For those who are enjoying an even smaller tank and are therefore looking for an internal filter, the best option is the Aqueon Quietflow 30.  Internal filters are designed to function inside the tank and therefore it allows your smaller tanks to be able to be placed flush against the wall however even the top of the line filter like Aqueon Quietflow 30 can only handle 30 gallons of water.  This quiet filter can function in as little as two inches of water and is designed to be placed discreetly inside the tank making it a convenient choice for the small tank enthusiast.

For those who aren’t sure or are looking for other brands there are a few runner ups in each category.  In the Canister style, there’s the Marineland Magniflow canister, Cascade CCF3UL canister, the SunSun HW-302 Canister, the Fluval 406 Canister, the Eheim Classic Canister, the API Filstar XP-L Canister, Hydor Canister, and the Eheim Pro 4+ Canister filter.  In the Hang on Back or Power filter category the Aquaclear 70 Power filter, the Fluval C4 Power Filter and the Tetra Whisper Power Filter are all excellent options. If someone is looking for another internal filter option the Rio 90 Mini is another solid choice in that category.  

Each filter type has is its own pros and cons, and are limited by the size of the aquarium in question, the more water that is needed to be filtered the more likely it is that it will require a canister filter.  With the best power or hang on back filter’s able to handle up to 80 gallons of water meaning much more water than that and you will need to be in the canister category. While Canister filters are the best of the three types for both mechanical and chemical filtering and are designed for larger fish and saltwater, the larger size also limits where a tank can be placed in regards to a home and also the price tag, with canister filters usually being more expensive than their smaller counterparts.  The hang on back or power filters provide awesome filtration partly because over time within the filter media good bacteria begins to build up during the filtration process making the filter more efficient, however whenever it’s time to clean and swap out the filter media those good bacteria colonies are obviously lost and have to regrow in the new media during use. Another common complaint about power filters, although it has improved over recent years, is the noise, they are known as the loudest of the filter types.  For those with an even a smaller tank, the better option is the Internal filters because they are designed to produce oxygen bubbles with their air pumps and air hoses that benefit a small tank, something to remember is the smaller the tank the faster the toxins build up in the water and while internal filters are great they only are recommended for the smallest of tanks.

There are other filtration options, such as a sponge filter designed for even smaller beta fish displays and things of that nature, of those the Hydro Sponge Pro Filter is the number one pick.  The complicated and rarely recommended undergravel filtration systems, of which the Penn-Plax Premium Undergravel filter is the leading choice.  

Obviously there are tons of choices for filters for an aquarium enthusiast to choose from, deciding which one is determined by a couple of things.  Filters are required to remove the solid and organic waste as well as any biological waste from the water as it pulls it through a series of filtration media, or as it flows through, depending on its design.  Ultimately though the leading factor in deciding what type of filter that should be used in any tank is the capacity of the tank for holding water and how much maintenance the owner is willing to do. If someone isn’t sure or is new to the aquarium experience research and help are recommended in setting up a first tank, however ultimately its up to the tank owner to decide what system is going to work best for them.


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