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.

Python Water Changer (An Honest Review)

Until you discover the Python Water Changer, people are usually changing aquarium water every week the same old fashioned way everyone else does – with a bucket and a siphon.  This long, frustrating process is perhaps the biggest annoyance to having a nice, large aquarium because of the sheer amount of time and work that is required

But now with a Python Water Change System, people are able to do the job in around thirty minutes without dealing with most of the mess everyone usually has to deal with.  The Python Water Change System makes the entire process a much simpler one than the old way, utilizing a simple mechanism to both clean and refill the tank easily and quickly. 

 

image of python water changer

Lance Reyniers created the No Spill, Clean and Fill System that is the Python Water Change System and possibly changed the level of convenience for aquarium cleaning around 30 years ago.  Based in Milwaukee, Python Products sells around the world and is available on the Petco website and of course Amazon. They arrive with no assembly required and able to connect to most faucets straight out of the box.  Affordable and able to arrive at your house in the span of a few days, Lance’s product is the king of convenience in aquarium cleaning.

How to use the Python Water Changer

The simple device works by attaching the T-Pump to the faucet and then turning on the water to create the suction necessary to pull the water up the apparatus.  Then you simply drag the gravel tube through the bottom of the tank to clean out the bottom dirt in the tank and then once the water level is low enough, swap out the gravel tube for the small water hook that is easily purchased separately.  Then reverse the flow of the water on the T Pump and suddenly the same device that was draining the water is now refilling the tank. Finishing what was once a complicated and manually intense process in a simple, timely manner. Eliminating what was once a long and physical draining process.  Prior to having the Python Water Change System, you have to physical scoop water out of the tank and then scoop out the gravel from the tank, clean it, put it back and then slowly pour new water into the tank.

While the water change system doesn’t work with all faucets and you can’t disconnect it from the sink during the draining but beyond those minor inconveniences the system is compact, easy to store, easy to set up and even easier to use.  While there are a few extra pieces that buying does make the process even easier, if you decide not to, it’s still an easy process to change the water. Much easier than the old method of manually draining the tank and hand cleaning the rocks.

 

What extras come with the Python Water Changer?

When the Python Water Change System arrives at your house, it comes equipped with almost fifty feet of hose to give you some range as to how close the aquarium in question has to be to the faucet in question.  The durable, clear plastic Gravel Tube that comes with the unit is one of the smaller ones, so buying one of the larger ones is probably a great idea to increase the ease with which a tank is cleaned although the size of the tank will ultimately determine the minimum length you need.  It also comes with a Faucet Adapter that fits to most sinks, but be aware it doesn’t connect to all faucets as there are some that it just won’t fit, so on this point a little bit of research is required. There’s a faucet pump in the box, which is designed to allow you to change the direction of the water with a simple flick of the switch, making it an ease to move the water in and out of the aquarium.  In addition to the pump there’s a switch that attaches to the Gravel Tube that allows it to alternate between draining the tank and filling it. The one piece that isn’t included that greatly increases the ease of the cleaning and swapping of the water is The Hook System which is sold separately. If you purchase the hook system and the larger gravel tube, the Python Water Change System becomes the time saving, convenient and easy way to clean aquariums, large and small.

So, do we recommend the Python Water Changer?

Absolutely! Overall, the ease and convenience that comes with such a simple method of changing and cleaning an aquarium that comes in the Python Water Change System makes it an amazing value.  Saving both time and physical labor only adds to the overall value. Rather than lugging heavy buckets of water into and out of the house and then having to hand clean the gravel on the bottom, you simply install the T Pump to the faucet and run the hose to the aquarium and from there it gets even easier with The Hook System.  After cleaning the tank with the Gravel Tube and draining the water to the desired level, you simply swap the tube out for the Hook, leave the Hook on the side of the tank and reverse the flow of the water and wait.  

Kessil A360W

Kessil A360WE Controllable LED Aquarium Light

  • Dimensions: 2.96″ Length x 4″ Diameter
  • 24″ surface diameter by 3′ penetration (on average)
  • Power Usage: 90W
  • Designed for use with reef aquariums
  • External controllability in addition to its enhanced manual controllability
  • Shimmer Kessil lights are the only LEDs capable of producing a spectacular shimmer that rivals MH

Reefkeeper Lite

Digital Aquatics ReefKeeper Lite (Basic) Controller

  • Expandable – up to 4 modules (PC4s, SL1s or MLC
  • pH, ORP, and switch inputs (w/ optional SL1
  • 16 timers / 16 alarm
  • Audible / Visual alarm
  • Wavemake

The Digital Aquatics Reef Keeper Lite is a great little aquarium controller that makes programming very straight forward and easy.  The options are somewhat limited compared to other controllers on the market, however if you are looking for a simple, easy to use controller, this is a great choice.

GFO Reactor

GFO Single Media Reactor

  • Heavy duty all aluminum rust resistant construction. (New)
  • Clear double O’ring high pressure 10″ housing
  • 3/8 fittings and ports throughout to reduce head pressure and provide ample flow rates. (New)
  • Swivel 90 degree fittings on both sides of the unit for easy positioning of the tube. (New)
  • High quality 3/8″ ball valve for precise tuning.

Two Little Fishies Phosban Filter Media Reactor

  • Capacity: Use with up to a maximum of 200 grams (385 ml) of PhosBan, or a media height of 5 inches (13 cm)
  • Aquarium size: One reactor for up to 150 gallons (568 Liters). Multiple reactors may be used for larger aquariums.
  • Recommended flow rate: ca. 20 – 30 gal/hr (75 – 115 l/hr) . Too much flow can grind PhosBan
  • Connection for hoses 1/2 inch (12.7 mm) i.d. The inlet and outlet flexible 90° fittings rotate to suit your installation

GFO is a form of chemical filtration in the reef-keeping hobby today. Chemical filtration, as the name suggests, purifies water by binding up impurities at the molecular level. A GFO reactor helps initiate this process. We’ve rounded up the best we could find online, just for you guys

Algae Scrubbers

JW Pet Company 14-Inch Aquarium Algae Scrubber

  • Quick and easy
  • Removes algae, cleans glass
  • Rubber, non-slip grip, strong no-flex handle
  • Curved design for easier cleaning
  • For glass aquariums

Santa Monica Filtration HOG.5 Hang-On-Glass Upflow Algae Scrubber

  • Removes ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, phosphate, nuisance algae, CO2 from your aquarium water
  • Can’t overflow onto your floor, because it is always under water
  • You can feed some of the algae to your fish or snails!

An algae scrubber is a water filtering device which uses light to grow algae, a process which removes harmful chemicals from the water in your tank.

Kessil AP700 LED Aquarium Light

Kessil AP700 LED Fixture w/ built-in WiFi 2018 Model

  • Full Spectrum
  • Superior Color Mixing
  • Full Color Control

Kessil LED Aquarium Light

  • Built in wifi,ipad app
  • Acclimation mode, lunar cycles, weather effects
  • Beautiful shimmer, maximum coverage, full-spectrum light

The Kessil AP700 is a panel light in a powerful 185-watt platform. It has built-in WiFi capabilities and full color control options. The Kessil AP700 is perfect for tanks which are 48 inches wide or less. We’ve included a couple of options for where you can buy one of these from online.

Refugiums & Sumps

Marina Hang-On Refugium (0.5 Gallons)

This is a hang-on refugium breeder box from Marina, and is one of the best that you’ll find online. It holds 0.5 gallons so is only suited to very small fish, and would likely work best as a breeder box. The main features of this refugium include:

  • Available in 3 sizes – small, medium and large
  • Safe and secure
  • Listed as an Amazon’s Choice product
  • An average score of 4 stars from over 450 reviews

Finnex Refugium

This refugium from Finnex comes with a water pump and LED lighting, so is perfect for breeding. The main features of this refugium include:

  • Dimensions – 10.25 inches x 5.5 inches x 5 inches
  • Average score of 4 stars from over 80 reviews

Refugiums are really useful for several reasons. They can be great if you want to acclimatise a fish to a tank and keep them separate from the other fish. It can also be useful if you want to encourage fish to breed. These refugiums are lightweight and will be suited to any tank over the size of 20 gallons.

Marineland Penguin Power Filter

Marineland Penguin Power Filter (with multi-stage filtration)

This power filter from Marineland is available in 4 sizes – up to 20 gallons, 20 gallons to 30 gallons, 30 gallons to 50 gallons, 50 gallons to 70 gallons. It has a certified flow rate of 350GPH, and has an average score of 4 stars from over 2,000 reviews.

The Marineland Penguin Power Filter is generally considered to be one of the best power filters on the market, and it is also one of the most popular items on our site.