Many pet enthusiasts are now keeping fish in their homes using small tanks that can fit in small spaces around the house.
To care for the fish and keep it healthy, your responsibilities will include feeding it and cleaning up the mess left behind. Messes might include excess food, algae growth, and dirt or other debris getting into the fish tank.
In order to clean and purify the fish tank properly, you will need the best fish tank filter available on the market today.
Choosing the right type of fish tank filter can be difficult because there are so many options available. However, not all of them can do the job perfectly so it comes down to having the right information. Before you can choose a filter system, it is important to understand how it works and its capabilities. Luckily, here you will learn all you need to know about the different functions of fish tank filters, the types, benefits, and top models available.
Table of Contents
- Functions of Fish Tank Filter System
- Best Fish Tank Filters for the Money
- 1. Fluval External Fish Tank Filter
- 2. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter Cascade 1500
- 3. Fluval Fx6 Aquarium Canister Filter
- 4. EHEIM Classic External Canister Fish Tank Filter Media
- 5. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter Cascade® 1000
- 6. Fluval Aquarium Canister Pro Kit
- 7. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter Pro Packages
- 8. Ehm Fltr 2217 Classic Wm 264g
- 9. Marineland C-Series Multi-Stage Canister Filter
- 10. Eheim Classic External Canister Filter 2215
- Types of Fish Tank Filters
- Fish Tank Filter Buying Guide
Functions of Fish Tank Filter System
Before you can learn more about which fish tank filter to buy, it is always better to start from the basics, so we will first discuss the different functions of a fish tank filter. The functions are categorized into three major classifications to help you choose the right one.
Fish produce ammonia from their gills as they breathe, and also as part of the waste released from their bodies. The ammonia needs to be removed from the tank frequently, as it is quite toxic to the fish. The use of a filtration system will help in the elimination of the fishes’ bodily wastes from the tank. Sometimes you might find the fish dying from the ammonia accumulation, but this is something that can be easily avoided.
It is common to have debris in a fish tank, due to excess food fed to the fish and other dust particles from the room. The mechanical process of a fish tank filter is meant to remove this debris and any other visible waste from the tank. Once the water is purified, the tank will contain the clean, clear water both you and your fish prefer. Having a clean and well-aerated tank will promote good health for your fish.
The water that we rely on for drinking and cooking comes from different sources. Some sources might contain hard metals or other materials which might be harmful to the fish. This creates the need for a filter that can remove such materials from the water. Different types of filters will have different methods for cleaning up the impurities. Once they are removed, the fish will be surrounded by clean water in which they will be able to thrive.
Best Fish Tank Filters for the Money
|Fluval External Fish Tank Filter||- For Fresh & Saltwater Aquariums|
- Up to 100 Gallons
|Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter Cascade 1500||- For Fresh & Saltwater Aquariums|
- Up to 200 Gallons
|Fluval Fx6 Aquarium Canister Filter||- For Freshwater or Marine Aquariums|
- Up to 400 Gallons
|EHEIM Classic External Canister Fish Tank Filter Media||- Up to 92 Gallons|
|Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter Cascade® 1000||- For Fresh and Marine Aquariums|
- Up to 100 Gallons
|Fluval Aquarium Canister Pro Kit||- Up to 250 Gallons|
|Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter Pro Packages||- For Fresh & Saltwater Aquariums|
- Up to 200 Gallons
|Ehm Fltr 2217 Classic Wm 264g||- Up to 160 Gallons|
|Marineland C-Series Multi-Stage Canister Filter||- For Saltwater/ Reef Aquariums|
- Up to 150 Gallons
|Eheim Classic External Canister Filter 2215||- Up to 92 Gallons|
When shopping for fish tank filters, you can expect to see many different models on the market. These filters are all from different manufacturers, which makes it hard to figure out which is the best filter to choose. Starting today, however, that should no longer be a problem, as you can simply reference the products included below, a list of the best filters on the market. In the end, you should be able to easily pick the right filter to handle your aquarium needs.
1. Fluval External Fish Tank Filter
This filter model provides superior filtering capability. It is ideal for all sizes of aquariums made by different manufacturers, and will work for either freshwater or saltwater aquariums. The powerful motor technology helps to speed the filtration process. These varying functionalities make this product far better than its competitors. You simply need to follow the straightforward setup instructions to get the product working as required.
- The product has an instant start-up option, with no manual siphoning required to get it started
- The product has clamps to easily lock it in place for better operation and strength while working
- The “quiet mode” of operation makes this model appealing to many people looking for filter systems without disruptive mechanical sounds
- The system includes independent modules that allow for easy and mess-free removal of dirt from the filter
- The product is quite expensive as compared to other products in its category
2. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter Cascade 1500
This filter works with both freshwater and saltwater fish tanks. This broad range of application is the reason that so many people love and are loyal to this product. This canister filter can handle different types of aquariums, in sizes up to 200 gallons. The product can provide an impressive 350-gph water flow when in use. Just make sure you keep it well maintained, so as to keep it working efficiently and effectively.
The product starts up easily, with the simple press of a button, and it has a 360-degree rotation for better filtration of the tank. Having a large filter tank means that you can use the system for a long time before replacements are required.
- The product comes with an impressively large tank, which means longer use before the filter needs to be replaced
- The filter system is built with strong materials that will keep your aquarium looking great for a long time
- The system makes it quick and easy to get set up and start the filtration process running
- The product can be combined with other media, such as bio-sponges, bio-floss, and activated carbon for a wide range of filtration needs
- The filter makes a lot of chattering and grinding sounds when in use. This is something that the manufacturer needs to work on improving. In the meantime, some users may be bothered by the noise.
3. Fluval Fx6 Aquarium Canister Filter
The filtration system is made to start automatically once the canister fills with water. No siphoning of the water is necessary in order to get the product started. This model has a purge valve drain at its base. The valve’s purpose is to help to empty the canister so that maintenance can be easily performed. The spout attached to the system can be adjusted to send multiple streams of filtered water to different corners of the aquarium. The intake of the canister is wide and round-mouthed, and such a feature helps with faster action to siphon more water into the canister more quickly.
- The canister’s intake valve is covered with a fine screen to help prevent debris from getting in
- The product is designed to offer quiet operation when in use
- The multidirectional nozzle will spray cleaner and purified water to all parts of the tank
- The system works at high efficiency, and is designed to be clog-proof
- The system has giant sponges attached that do not provide improved removal of bacteria in the fish tank
4. EHEIM Classic External Canister Fish Tank Filter Media
The product has a permo-elastic silicon sealing ring that keeps the product securely sealed while working in the aquarium. You no longer have to worry much about experiencing the leakage that has been reported as occurring with other models of fish tank filters. This filter is equipped with filter sponges and other types of loose filter media, making it easy to increase the working capability of the product. There are several accessories included with the device, such as a spray bar, hose, inlet hose, and many others.
- Additional loose filter media can be added for greater efficiency
- It comes complete with all the filter media that you need for your aquarium
- There are some parts of the filter that should be checked for durability
5. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter Cascade® 1000
This is a heavy-duty fish tank filter that is sure to provide excellent quality and durability in exchange for the cost. This product can pump 265 gallons per hour and is mostly used for 100-gallon aquariums. It is designed to deliver powerful performance, even when used continuously for a long time. Using this filter system you can expect the delivery of crystal-clear water to both marine and fresh aquariums. The product comes with a coarse sponge that will effectively remove the waste and excess food in the fish tank.
- The manufacturer includes a free filter media with each canister bought
- The whole filter system is built to be strong and sturdy to ensure that the product will continue working for a long time
- The filter will remove many contaminants, such as excess food, ammonia, and many others from the water in the aquarium
- The product does consume a lot of power when operating, as compared to its closest competitors
6. Fluval Aquarium Canister Pro Kit
This is another product from Fluval that will help to keep your aquarium clean so your fish can thrive. The product promises a faster set-up time, quiet operation, improved filtration, and less frequent maintenance. As you can see, all these features are desirable and will help keep the aquarium clean at all times. Most people do not enjoy changing the filters every few months, and this model takes that task off of your shoulders. You will simply have to watch the filtration operation to ensure that it is working properly before you can schedule a maintenance.
When you buy this model those worries are over! It’s very easy to start the filter and then you are good to go. With the added benefit of the aqua stop valves, you don’t need to worry about water leaks when performing your next maintenance.
- Improved filtration efficiency
- Less maintenance needed
- Quieter operation
- Aqua-stop valves make maintenance easy
- It is an expensive model
- Not the most attractive system design
7. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter Pro Packages
Anyone owning an aquarium would want a filter with more filtration capacity and water flow. The larger the capacity, the faster the process can safely be completed. This model provides truly impressive water flow capacity of up to 350 GPH. The same model can be used with a variety of aquariums, up to those with a capacity of 200 gallons. In order to be effective, they combine several types of media such as mechanical, biological and chemical to ensure that in the end you get clean, clear aquarium water.
The best part is that it only takes a few minutes to install this system, and the filtration process can start as soon as you have the filter installed. The manufacturer provides the user with all the necessary mounting accessories. Instead of the manual priming of the filter before using it, this model comes with a start button for the self-priming stage. It is now easier than ever for you to clean your aquarium.
- Impressive filtration capacity
- Uses powerful media for filtration
- Easy to install with all the necessary hardware included
- Operates at a very low noise level
- Intake suction needs improvement
- It has issues with the bypass
8. Ehm Fltr 2217 Classic Wm 264g
The product comes from a company known for making the best aquarium filters. First of all, it is the pump unit, which has been seen to be a highly reliable module that requires minimum service. If you are looking for a model that doesn’t require a lot of attention, this is one you can purchase with peace of mind, knowing it will do its job reliably for you.
This model has all the qualities a person would want from their aquarium filter: better technology, improved performance, and a high level of efficiency. The use of a one-chamber design makes it easy for the user to install the different types of filters with ease. You simply and easily swap them out for newer filters when it’s time to change them. For optimum operation, the manufacturer recommends you give your filter a maintenance overhaul after three to six months.
- The pump unit requires minimum service
- The one-chamber design makes it easy to set up
- Easy to perform maintenance
- It loses its spraying capability after a while
9. Marineland C-Series Multi-Stage Canister Filter
Not many canister filters could beat the flow rate you get when using this model. With a flow rate of 530 GPH, it is perfect for those who want your aquarium water filtered within as short a time as possible. With this level of efficiency, it can now be used on all aquariums up to a capacity of 150 gallons.
The three-stage filtration process ensures that nearly every speck of dirt will be eliminated from the aquarium water. The use of biofilter balls ensures that the aquarium gets a continuous supply of the beneficial bacteria each time the water is filtered. The replaceable filter media slots make it easy to perform maintenance on the various parts of the aquarium. You simply have to swap the filter media and get back to filtering your water. To help you to easily complete correct maintenance of the canister filter, the manufacturer includes an instructional DVD on how to handle the process.
- The filter has a high capacity
- BIO-Filter balls continuously deliver beneficial bacteria
- It is easy to set up
- Comes with an instructional DVD for maintenance
- The plastic covers tend to break easily
- Not an ideal choice for reef tanks
10. Eheim Classic External Canister Filter 2215
There is no way you could go wrong buying a canister filter from the Eheim Company. Over the year, this company has produced some of the best filters that we have ever used in our aquariums. This model will deliver the winning combination of excellent functionality and smooth operation that so many people are seeking in an aquarium filter. The model is also known to be highly reliable, as it does not need regular checking and servicing just to make sure it is working properly.
The model is also affordable, meaning that there is no excuse to leave your aquarium dirty when it could be sparkling clean instead. You will spend less money and still receive a better product in the end. Also, the lower power consumption rate this model provides has made it a favorite with many aquarium users who like to know that they do not have to worry about spending more on power to keep the filter running.
- Made of high-quality components
- High filtration reliability
- Smooth and quiet operation
- Low power consumption model
- Same old design. It has not been changed over the years
Types of Fish Tank Filters
Here are the different types of fish tank filters you can expect to find on the market.
Air-driven internal fish tank filter
These filters are small, making them great for compact aquariums kept in a hospital or home. Their size makes them suitable for easy integration with a wide variety of fish tanks. Even though they are small, they can still be very sturdy and well constructed. It will help to keep your small aquarium inhabitants healthy and free from any harm in the water.
These filters are placed in the bottom of the fish tank underneath a layer of aquarium gravel. They move the water through the gravel to create conditions for biological filtration to occur, where beneficial bacteria break down the wastes in the fish tank. Although the filters are designed primarily for biological filtration, some models also have replaceable cartridges. These cartridges have activated carbon to help with chemical filtration.
Power filters are a type that is widely used in many aquariums. They are relatively easy to set up, and last for a long time. Many people love them, as they provide the best performance for biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration. They are designed to easily hang off the back of the aquarium for convenience, and can be used for many different types of fish tanks. The replaceable filter cartridges make maintenance very easy, as compared to other types.
The canister filters offer all the functions you need in a fish tank filter. You can expect them to deliver on all fronts—mechanical, chemical, and biological functions. The body, which is often called the canister, is significantly larger for these filters than it is for other types of filters. Each canister will have locations to hold each different type of filter media, and the large canisters will have more filter media. This type of filter does take more effort to set up and maintain, in exchange for its power and flexibility.
These are known to be the best in biological filtration. They are designed to be a great fit for saltwater aquariums that demand effective biological filtration. These filters get the name “wet/dry” because the filter media can be exposed to both air and water. This type of filter, in general, will help to increase the beneficial bacteria that lead to effective processing of waste materials.
Fish Tank Filter Buying Guide
With the following considerations, you should be able to make the right decision and buy the correct quiet fish tank filter for your aquarium.
Recommended Aquarium Tank Size
Not all filter systems will work with all the tanks. Some have the capability to handle more than one tank size, but others will be fixed. The manufacturer will always indicate the recommended tank size in the description. Once you have the right fish tank size in mind, it should be easy to make a decision on the filter system to buy.
The Filtration Technology
The filtration technology will differ from one brand or model to another. Each company always wants to be rated as the best, depending on the filtration technology. This will prompt some companies to come up with a number of “best features” they could use for filtering the water, and some methods might not be suitable for all types of fish tanks. Take the time to learn about the different filtration systems and see what works for your current fish tank.
Water-Flow Rate for The Filter
The water flow rate is measured in gallons per hour. You want a filter that will fill your fish tank faster. Research to find this rating before making the purchase. It is better if you can compare different brands to see which offers the best water flow rate. Some brands will have a higher flow rate than others do, so always choose wisely among competitive brands.
Fish Tank Filters Brand
Brands matter a lot when choosing the right fish tank filter for your aquarium. Some brands, like the ones mentioned above, are known to offer more sustainability than the others. Using products from a brand should be a sure way of knowing that other products of the same brand will work effectively. Such top brands include companies such as Fluval, Penn Pax, and many others. Sometimes it is easy to find the top-rated brands by sorting the products by rating. This will give you the best products that are seen to deliver according to user needs.
The Fish Tank Filters Reviews
Any filter review will help to identify a good fish tank filter that you need for your aquarium. Some filter manufacturers might exaggerate the filter features that do not end up meeting the user needs. From the reviews, you can know more about the filter and decide whether it works for you or not. Some of the users of such filters will offer the useful information of helping other users to identify the best filters in the market. Make sure that you read the reviews from top rated stores and review sites as a way of finding honest reviews about the products.
As you can see, several things actually affect how the filter will work. There are new models coming to the market each other day, so make sure that you can choose the right type that works for your pet care model. The design is quite important, as it will determine if the product can fit in your aquarium or it can be adjusted for a perfect fit.
Set up and installation process is sometimes a deciding factor. Sometimes it is hard for the new users to operate the filters even with manuals supplied by manufacturers. If the product is designed to easily fit on the fish tanks, it should be easy to setup and install. Now that you know more about the best fish tank filter systems, you can choose the correct one easily.
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