Fish are an amazing best for people of all ages. Not only are they exceptionally low maintenance, but they also come in a wide range of shapes, colors, and sizes.
Owning an aquarium with a variety of fish in it is akin to owning a gorgeous piece of living art.
In order to keep your tank looking beautiful and, most importantly, keep your fish thriving and healthy, it’s important to use the right aquarium filter. For these reasons, choosing the best aquarium power filter is essential.
Table of Contents
- What is a Power Filter in an Aquarium?
- The 7 Best Power Filters for Your Aquariums
- Aquarium Power Filter Reviews
- What is the Best Aquarium Power Filter?
- How Does a Power Filter Work?
- How to Install Power Filter in Aquarium?
- How to Clean Aquarium Power Filter?
What is a Power Filter in an Aquarium?
A power filter is hanging style model that uses a pump to circulate aquarium water through the system then return it to the tank.
It uses a lift tube to pull the water out of the tank and into a filter chamber where it is pushed through various filter media. The stages of filtration vary by model.
Generally, though, there will be mechanical, chemical, and biological filters that will eliminate toxins and debris from your aquarium.
The 7 Best Power Filters for Your Aquariums
|Pictures||Power Filters||For Aquariums|
|AquaClear Power Filter - 110 V||Up to 110 Gallons|
|Fluval C Power Filter||Up to 70 Gallons|
|MarineLand Emperor Filter Systems||Up to 80 Gallons|
|Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filters||Up to 20 Gallons|
|Tetra Whisper Power Filter||Up to 60 Gallons|
|Marineland Penguin Power Filter||Up to 70 Gallons|
|Penn Plax Cascade Hang on Power Aquarium Filter||Up to 35 Gallons|
Aquarium Power Filter Reviews
1. AquaClear Power Filter – 110 V
The AquaClear Power Filter is one of the most versatile on the market. It comes in five different models and is compatible with the most popular aquarium sizes.
You can control the flow rate of the filter without changing how effective it is. This is a great feature because different fish and aquarium plants need a gentler flow. When you set the rate low, the water inside the filtration system is processed multiple times. This patented re-filtration system provides optimal results.
With some filtration systems, the beneficial bacteria are thrown away with cartridge changes. This can stress the aquarium environment until the bacteria has a chance to recolonize and get back to work. The AquaClear Power Filter is designed with that in mind.
This filter actually uses three different media for filtration. At the bottom of the canister is a foam insert, which removes debris and provides an ideal surface for beneficial bacteria to thrive to keep the water colonized. The middle layer is activated carbon that soaks up any impurities found in the water.
The top layer consists of BioMax, designed with a pore system that provides a perfect home for beneficial bacteria. These layers combined provide six times the amount of media as other filters.
AquaClear offers a lifetime warranty on any non-replaceable parts.
- Six times the filtration media of other filters
- Lifetime warranty
- Comes in several different sizes suitable for different aquariums
- Changing filter media can be a hassle
2. Fluval C Power Filter
The Fluval C Power Filter gives amazing results thanks to its 5-stage filtration system. The media has a large surface area and optimal dwell times to ensure an effective filtration process.
Stages 1 and 2 of the filtration are a poly and foam pad. These layers combined perform the mechanical filtration, removing both large and small particles and debris.
Stage 3 consists of an activated carbon insert and performs chemical filtration. This will remove impurities, odors, and any discoloration from the water.
Stage 4 is the biological filter, a screen that sits on the Trickle Chamber cover. Water is filtered through the BioScreen from an additional hydraulic circuit. Debris is removed and the water goes back into the biological chamber.
Stage 5 is made of C-Nodes. They have a surface covered in complex pores that allows the beneficial bacteria to thrive so that it can continue removing ammonia and nitrates from the water.
This filter has a re-filtration system in place if you need to slow down the water flow for the benefit of any fish or plants that need a calmer environment. Even though the water is moving out of the tank slower, it’s being filtered multiple times before returning to the tank. This assures that the water remains clear and clean.
- 5-Stage Filtration System
- Media offers large surface areas and optimal dwell times
- Re-filtration system
- Media changes can get expensive
3. MarineLand Emperor Filter Systems
The MarineLand Emperor Filter Systems hangs on the back of your aquarium. It has 2 separate water pumps for exceptional flow and filtration. It comes in one size and is appropriate for aquariums up to 80 gallons.
The filters sit side by side and are designed the same way. They work together to combine 400 gallons an hour.
The water is pressurized through the Bio-Pump and filtered through fast-acting Black Diamond Carbon which has 45% more mechanical filter area. Each side filter has two slots where you can insert a filter.
After getting filtered, the water is forced through five different holes which spin and provide water to the Bio-Wheel. The Bio-Wheel is specially designed to provide a perfect environment for good bacteria to thrive.
Although this filter is extremely effective, one downside is that it’s a fairly large size and requires 9.5 inches of space along the back of your aquarium. This isn’t a huge deal if you have a large tank but might be a little unsightly if your aquarium is on the smaller side.
- 2 separate water pumps
- Large mechanical filter area
- 2 affecting Bio-Wheels to maintain adequate bacteria colonization
- Takes up 9.5 inches of space
4. Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filters
A really cool feature of this Aqueon QuietFlow is the LED light that indicates when the cartridge is clogged and needs to be changed. The pump design helps keep the noise to a minimum, too, which is a nice feature because a lot of other filters can be noisy.
This pump is self-priming, making it really easy to set up. It’s designed to protect against leaks and provides a higher flow rate for higher oxygen content, something your fish will love. With 5 stages of filtration, this pump will give you clean and clear water to help keep your fish healthy.
Stage 1 is made of a dense floss to remove large particles and pieces of debris. Stage 2 is comprised of activated charcoal to remove what you can’t see – toxins, odors, and any discoloration.
Stage 3 is a biological filter that removes ammonia and nitrates with Aqueon’s patented BioHolster. Additional toxins are removed and more oxygen is added in Stage 4.
The final stage, Stage 5, is an optional pad that can remove any additional contaminants, like carbon or phosphate.
- 5 stages of filtration
- LED warning light
- Changing filters disrupts the good bacteria colonies
5. Tetra Whisper Power Filter
Tetra is a well-known and respected brand in the industry and has been in business for more than 50 years. The Whisper Power Filter is a great choice if you don’t have a lot of money to spend.
While this is an inexpensive filter, it’s still a great choice. It has a simple, hang on back design, an easily adjusted flow rate, and maintenance is minimal. This is a perfect choice for someone who is just getting their first aquarium. They’re not too fancy but they’ve been around for years and have proven to be reliable.
There are 5 different models that fit aquariums ranging from 10 to 60 gallons. The filter comes with everything you need to get started right away, but the included filtration media leaves a lot to be desired.
Your best bet is to invest in something of a little higher quality. This is a bit of a negative, but it does give you an opportunity to try different things and decide which media works best for your aquarium environment.
Despite the fact that it runs a little loud, the flow rate is good and it keeps the water clear and clean. You can easily change the flow with the top-mounted dial. It’s easy to clean and maintain. Overall, this is a reliable filter that won’t cost you a lot of money.
- Made by a well-known and trusted company
- 5 different models for tanks ranging from 10 to 60 gallons
- Included media isn’t very good quality
6. Marineland Penguin Power Filter
The Penguin Power Filter from Marineland is perfect for a beginner or someone who has had an aquarium for a while. It’s available in 4 different sizes that fit aquariums from 20-70 gallons.
The filtration system consists of 3 stages and provides biological, chemical, and biological filtration. The Bio-Wheel is designed to help good bacteria thrive and is effective at removing ammonia and nitrates.
The Rite-Size cartridge handles the mechanical and chemical filtration, removing dirt, debris, impurities, and discoloration with a floss screen and activated carbon. It has extraordinary water to media contact which contributes to a clean, clear tank.
One of the reasons this is a good choice for a beginner is because it’s so easy to set up. Just connect a few parts and hang it on your aquarium, making sure to prime the tubing with aquarium water first.
The flow can be easily adjusted. Maintenance is as easy as replacing the filter cartridge once a month and cleaning as needed.
- 4 different sizes to fit a range of tanks
- Easy maintenance
- 3 stage filtration
- Filter wheel can stick
- Water level has to be high for peak performance
7. Penn Plax Cascade Hang on Power Aquarium Filter
This powerful option from Penn Plax is a hanging aquarium filter with poly-fiber floss cartridge media to remove debris and a carbon cartridge to eliminate chemicals and odors from the water.
It also utilizes an internal sponge to help colonize the helpful bacteria that the aquarium needs to clear ammonia and nitrates. Maintenance is generally light and the filters are easy to change.
Another feature of this filter is the external Bio-Falls which helps the bacteria clear impurities from the water. The water output can be adjusted from high to low so you won’t have to worry about disturbing your fish with the cascade.
Penn Plax is a family-owned business that’s been around since 1959 and specializes in making quality, reliable pet products for an affordable price. This filter is available in different sizes to fit a range of different aquariums and filters 175 gallons per hour. It’s a good choice for tanks up to 50 gallons.
It’s made of high-quality plastic and gives you the option of placing it on your tank vertically or horizontally. This is a great design feature because it lets you work around any ornamental items you have in your tank.
- Well-known brand
- Light maintenance
- Can place horizontally or vertically
- Made of plastic
What is the Best Aquarium Power Filter?
The AquaClear Power Filter is the best aquarium power filter we reviewed. It’s very versatile and comes in 5 different sizes so it will fit just about any tank. It allows you to adjust the flow rate in case you have plants or fish that need a lower flow.
The three different filtration media used in this filter are really effective. The foam insert removes large debris, the middle carbon layer soaks up the invisible impurities, and the BioMax filter provides the perfect home for all the good bacteria you need to keep your tank nitrate and ammonia-free.
What puts makes this the best power filter is the way it’s designed so that it preserves the natural bacteria colonies. With most filtration systems, changing the cartridges or cleaning the filters wipes out the good bacteria and it can take some time for them to grow again. During this time, the environment inside the aquarium will be stressed which will affect your fish.
Because it preserves these colonies, the AquaClear Power Filter is a little bit ahead of the rest.
How Does a Power Filter Work?
A power filter hangs on the back or side of your aquarium. While each model looks a little different, they all basically work the same way.
A lift tube sits in the water which the pump uses to pull the water up and out of the tank. The water then enters a filter chamber where it is pushed through various types of filter media. The stages of filtration vary by model. Some will provide as many as 5 different stages. Generally, though, there will always be mechanical, chemical, and biological filters.
Mechanical filters remove larger particles and pieces of debris. Chemical filters remove any impurities, odors, or cloudiness from the water. Biological filters allow good bacteria to thrive so that they can remove nitrates and ammonia from the water.
These good bacteria are essential to the health of the aquarium. It’s beneficial to the water, plants, and fish and will not change the way the aquarium looks. The water will remain clear and the plants and animals living inside will thrive.
How to Install Power Filter in Aquarium?
Installation will vary depending on the model and brand so make sure you look at the manual for complete, specific instruction. That said, there are some basic steps to installing your power filter.
First, examine the filter when you remove it from the packaging. Make sure that you have all the pieces and that there aren’t any cracks anywhere in the system. Once you’ve inspected it, place the filter box on the back of your aquarium.
Next, rinse the filter media. This is especially important for any carbon filters because it moves the carbon around, cleans out any loose bits, and ensures effective contact with the water after installation.
Install the intake tube. It should sit toward the bottom of the tank, about an inch or so about the gravel. Usually, you can cut the tubing to allow it to sit at the proper height.
Fill the filter box with water. Once everything is ready, plug in the filter. It will take a few seconds for the filter to get optimal flow.
Again, make sure you check your owner’s manual as each model and brand is a little different.
How to Clean Aquarium Power Filter?
The specific cleaning and maintenance method will depend on the model and brand. You should be able to find detailed instructions in the manual included with your filter.
No matter what kind of filtration media you’re using, it will need to be cleaned by rinsing them to remove any debris that’s built up. Eventually, you will need to replace each filtration media.
If your filter includes a sponge, you should be able to just rinse them in the aquarium water as needed. Only when they start to show signs of breakdown or wear and tear do they need to be replaced.
Carbon media should be replaced frequently to keep the water toxin-free. If you need to add any medication to the water to treat your fish, remember to remove the carbon filter first.
If you leave it in, it will filter out all the medicine, meaning the tank won’t get treated and the filter will need replacing all that much sooner.
You will also need to clean the tubing and pump occasionally as they can stop working properly if too much debris builds up.
Finding the best power filter aquarium will help keep your aquarium water healthy and clear. They provide the essential mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration your plants and fish need to thrive.