Cleaning your fish tank is inevitable. It is crucial that you clean it well so that you do not experience issues with the health of your fish. Also, a clean aquarium will always have clean and clear water, which is quite attractive.
The best hang on back filters for aquariums have gained popularity over the years. Many people are now using them, as the installation is easy and they deliver excellent performance.
From the name, we understand that the installation process involves simply clipping the filter onto the back of the aquarium and it is all done.
Table of Contents
How to Choose the Right HOB Filter for Aquarium?
The Flow Rate
The flow rate is often a deciding factor when the user is choosing whether or not to use a particular model.
Your specific needs for a great filter will vary depending on the aquarium size. It is crucial to get a model that delivers a higher flow rate so that the filtration can go as quickly as possible.
The filtration media is used to remove the impurities from the water. Having more filtration media doesn’t always mean better filtration—rather it is the type of media used that is important.
Even if a model has more filtration media than another, make sure that it uses only the best type and quality of media. There is no need to have filters that might not help with the filtration at all.
Maintenance of the Filter
Cleaning and maintenance are inevitable with any filter. What matters now is the amount of time and effort you will have to spend on doing the maintenance.
Different models have different methods and instructions for cleaning; always choose a model that will be easy to clean and maintain.
In order to try to impress customers, manufacturers often try including new technology into their filters.
The new technology is intended to enhance the functionality of the filter and make it more efficient than other comparable models. You should always take the time to check out the differences between models before you choose which to buy.
Not all brands will always deliver a high level of filtration that users want today. Some brands are known within the filtration industry to be better than others.
You should be looking at brands such as Fluval, AquaClear, Aqueon, and others of their level of quality.
Read reviews about models you’re considering in order to understand more details about what you will be getting with each model.
The 10 Best Hang On Back Filters For Aquariums
|Pictures||HOB Filters||For Aquariums||Links|
|Aqua Clear Fish Tank Filter||Up to 20, 30, 50, 70, 110 Gallons|
|Fluval C Series Power Filter||Up to 30, 50, 70 Gallons|
|MarineLand Penguin BIO-Wheel Power Filter||Up to 10, 20, 30, 50, 75 Gallons|
|MarineLand Emperor Bio-Wheel Power Filter||Up to 80 Gallons|
|Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filters||Up to 20, 30, 45, 50, 90 Gallons|
|Tetra Whisper EX Silent Multi-Stage Power Filter||Up to 20, 30, 45, 70 Gallons|
|Aqua-Tech ML90740-00 Power Aquarium Filter||Up to 15, 20, 40, 60 Gallons|
|Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter||Up to 7, 10, 20, 35, 55, 100 Gallons|
|Whisper IQ Power Filter for Aquariums||Up to 10, 20, 30, 45, 60 Gallons|
|Tidal Power Filters||Up to 55, 75, 110 Gallons|
HOB Filter Reviews
1. Aqua Clear Fish Tank Filter
The model represents a company that has been making the best HOB aquarium filters for some time now. This model is designed to be highly versatile so that it can meet the needs of a variety of users.
In this series, you get five different models that deliver different flow rates. This means that you simply have to choose the one that will work best in your tank.
The unique design incorporated into this model gives it an impressive filtration capacity compared to other models in its category. The use of the flow control technique helps to reduce the effect of the flow in order not to harm the motors or impellers.
The model also comes with a re-circulation grid that allows water to be passed through the filter a second time to ensure that the water quality emerging at the end is the best possible.
The design of the multistage filtration process is crucial to the beneficial bacteria needed for the aquarium. You will no longer have to worry about a sudden depletion in beneficial bacteria.
This should ensure that the biological filtration of the filter remains optimal at all times.
- Installation is quick and easy
- The volume of filtration offered is up to seven times greater than other models
- Its design keeps the biological filtration always at an optimal level
- It has a reduced flow pressure to avoid harm to the motor and impeller
- It makes a grinding sound during operation
- It is not easy to clean and you might just end up breaking it
2. Fluval C Series Power Filter
When you see that a filtration system comes from Fluval, you know you can be confident that there will be nothing disappointing about it. This model in particular is engineered to have superior features that significantly improve the quality of water it processes.
With the five-stage filtration process, you can always expect an exceptional result in the end. The filter has a larger surface area overall, so that you get a very thorough filtration process.
For those who have delicate fish in their aquariums, this model’s re-filtration system could be just what you need. With the re-filtration system, you now get to control the water flow rate. Controlling the flow rate will not in any way affect the water filtration efficiency.
What you do have is the option to have the water processed through in the filtration chamber multiple times. With this method, you get to filter out more impurities, leaving you with a healthy tank.
Of course, you might have to clean the filter to keep it working properly. The cleaning process should be easy if you have used one of these before.
It is recommended that you clean the impeller cover at least once a year and the motor every three months. Make sure to follow the instructions as given in the manual to get the job done faster.
- A strong water flow
- It comes with a five-stage filtration media for better performance
- The bio media included in the model is easy to clean
- The re-filtration system helps to increase water cleaning efficiency
- The foam pads included need to be replaced every few months
- The crevices in the impeller sometimes make it hard to clean
3. MarineLand Penguin BIO-Wheel Power Filter
Sometimes when you are a beginner aquarium owner, you might discover that the water filter you purchased was not a good choice.
With the Marineland Penguin power filter, even a beginner or hobbyist can handle it perfectly well.
The model comes in four different sizes, so you can choose the one that is perfect for your aquarium. No matter which size you use, this model does an overall superior job, thanks to the bioload included in it.
The leftovers from the fish food and other organic matter will easily disappear in no time thanks to the high-quality filter cartridges. In the end, you will find you have created the best and cleanest environment for aquarium life.
This model comes with an easy and efficient three-step filtration process, and all three important filtration media are included when you purchase: mechanical, chemical, and biological.
The bio-wheel found in this model will give you the beneficial bacteria that is so important for the filtration process to be complete. The tank will now be free from toxic nitrates and ammonia.
- This filter delivers a powerful performance
- It is made using an amazing durable construction
- It has a long operating lifespan
- The biofiltration media is excellent
- The bio-wheel feels fragile
- The filter needs more frequent cleaning than comparable models
4. MarineLand Emperor Bio-Wheel Power Filter
This model is quite a powerhouse when it comes to the process of aquarium water filtration. It has the capability to handle a flow rate of 400 GPH and is still suitable for an 80-gallon aquarium.
That is a strong indication of the excellence you’re getting here in terms of service delivery. The inclusion of the bio-wheel is important in order to deliver water free from any harmful material that could affect the fish and make it sick.
One thing that many people would want to know for sure before buying an aquarium filter is the amount of noise it will make. This model has a low noise level. It is very quiet so that it does not disturb the fish in the aquarium tank.
You still get a revolutionary two-pump design with this model, which means that the flow and filtration rates completely outshine the competition. There is no doubt that if you select this model, your tank will get a quality cleaning job.
The two-pump design is what enables the model to deliver the most gallons of water per hour so you can filter more water in less time.
- You get two bio-wheels that offer impressive biological filtration
- The high flow rate is in high demand for the bigger aquariums
- It is made to be highly durable and efficient
- The model is quiet when operating
- The spray bars often get clogged with debris, thus preventing the bio-wheels from spinning
5. Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filters
Everyone wants a better filtration process, and that is what you get when choosing this model. It offers you a four-stage filtration process that will always deliver clean and clear aquarium water.
These filtration stages will include passing the aquarium water through mechanical, biological, and chemical filters, and a wet/dry diffuser grid.
With the high flow rates, you can always be sure that the dissolved oxygen will get to the fish in no time. This leads to healthier and more active fish.
This model is also designed with an internal pump, which dampens the noise of operation, eliminates the causes of leaks, and will restart automatically in case of a power interruption.
- Can be used for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums
- It comes with four-stage filtration system for better performance
- It has a higher flow rate to ensure more oxygen is dissolved and delivered to the fish
- The internal pump will help dampen the noise
- It does not have the best durability as it is made from lower-quality materials
6. Tetra Whisper EX Silent Multi-Stage Power Filter
This whisper-quiet filter from Tetra provides a continuous flow that keeps the water moving to avoid the buildup of debris and increase oxygenation. Filters provide mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration, removing particles, odors, impurities, ammonia, and nitrates.
Setup is really easy. It’s ready to go right out of the box with no priming required. Filter changes are simple to do and the filter cartridge carrier prevents any dripping and keeps your hands clean and dry. Plus, the included times trips let you know when to change the carbon filter. When it turns red, it’s time for a new one.
This filter comes in various sizes appropriate for tanks ranging from 10 to 70 gallons. It can be used in a turtle tank, too, as long as the water remains above the minimum water level line about three to four inches from the top of the tank.
- This filter runs quietly and provides continuous water flow to help oxygenate the water and prevent the buildup of debris
- Setup and maintenance are easy
- It’s available in a wide range of sizes appropriate for tanks from 10 to 70 gallons
- Special filters are required
7. Aqua-Tech ML90740-00 Power Aquarium Filter
A great choice for a hang-on filter is this model from Aqua-Tech. It’s designed for tanks from 30 to 60 gallons and uses three-step filtration to remove debris and impurities. An EX-Change #3 filter is included so it’s ready to set up right out of the box.
One of the reasons this filter is so effective is because it was designed to work with the filter cartridges to provide maximum contact with the carbon. The longer the contact, the more effective the filtration.
This filter is covered by a two-year warranty. The filter cartridge should be replaced every month. As for the included Bio-Tech Biological Grid, it never needs replacing. The unique design allows beneficial bacteria to grow without clogging.
- This filter fits tanks from 30 to 60 gallons
- The three-step filtration system removes debris and impurities. One filter cartridge is included
- It’s covered by a two-year warranty
- This filter can be loud at times
8. Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter
This filter from Penn Plax has an adjustable flow knob that allows you to slow down the filtration speed for feeding or when needed. Then, simply turn it back up to increase the rate when you’re done.
One of the cool things about this filter is the Bio-Falls Quad-Filtration system. It encourages the growth of anaerobic bacteria to help maintain appropriate levels of ammonia and nitrate. Plus, it increases oxygenation to keep your fish thriving.
The Cascade filter is available in a wide range of sizes that work with tanks as large as 100 gallons. It can be used with both saltwater and freshwater tanks and has a self-leveling case and adjustable intake tube length so it works with all aquariums.
- The adjustable flow knob lets you slow down the speed for feedings
- It filters out debris and contaminants and also maximizes oxygenation
- The self-leveling case and adjustable intake tube make it compatible with tanks of different shapes and sizes
- Some people found it a bit loud
9. Whisper IQ Power Filter for Aquariums
Another great product from Tetra, this filter is easy to set up. When the motor is submerged, it self-primes and starts right away. A sound shield keeps the noise below 40 dB and vibration dampening makes sure it’s whisper-quiet, too.
This filter was made using better materials and an upgraded impeller so it was designed to last. It uses stay-clean technology to maintain healthy pH levels and a bio-scrubber to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.
There’s a nice range of sizes available, too, for tanks between 10 and 60 gallons. The filter and cartridges are color-coded so you always know which is the right size when it’s time to reorder or pick up more.
- The self-priming filter is easy to set up and maintain
- It uses a sound shield and vibration dampening so it operates as quietly as possible
- The upgraded impeller and better materials mean this filter will last
- The motor does not sit flush with the housing to cut down on noise but some people don’t care for this part of the design.
10. Tidal Power Filters
There are a lot of great things about this filter from Seachem. The surface skimmer captures any debris floating just below the surface to keep the water as clean as possible and the lid features aeration slots for maximum gas exchange to make sure your water is fully oxygenated.
Maintenance is easy, too. The automatic alert lets you know when it’s time for a new filter cartridge and you can remove the filter basket so cleaning and swapping out the filter is mess-free.
You can adjust the intake pipe and flow to work for your setup. It’s self-priming, has dual water intake, and is safe for fresh and saltwater. Plus, it includes a clip so you can attach a heater if needed.
Hang On Back Filter FAQ
What’s the Best HOB Filter for a Saltwater Aquarium?
You could opt for the Aqua Clear Power Filter model. It is designed to be multifunction, thus can be used in either freshwater or saltwater aquariums. With a multi-stage filtration system, it should be able to easily handle your saltwater aquarium needs.
How to Set up Hang On Back Filter?
When you buy a hang-on-back filter, the manufacturer will often send you all the parts needs to assemble it. Usually, you will start by assembling the filtration material.
You can start with the bio wheels, and then proceed to the others. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the sequence of setting up the filtration media.
The next step will be installing the intake sump so that it can suck up the water and deliver it to the filtration media. Mount your filter on the back of the aquarium and get ready to turn it on.
Before you do, you usually will want to fill it with water. This helps avoid the grinding sound of a dry filter. After filling it, you should be ready to turn it on and leave it to do the filtration.
How to Clean Hang On Back Filter?
Cleaning the hang-on-back filter could be easy or hard depending on the model. However, there are some common methods that apply to all the models. Here is how you do it:
- Start by unplugging the filter so that you can easily remove it from the back of the aquarium
- Proceed to remove the top lid and take out the filter basket. This is where your filter media is located. You are likely to find a sponge, biological media as beads, and a carbon bag.
- Clean the beads and the sponge in the old aquarium water in a bucket. This should help preserve the materials and make it easier for water filtration the next time.
- Most manufacturers would recommend that you change the carbon bag about every three weeks.
- Check the other parts such as the motor and impeller. Clean them as specified or make replacements whenever necessary. As for the motor, ensure to add a lubricant to keep it working smoothly.
- Proceed to reassemble the filter and hang it on the aquarium again for filtration to continue.
There is no reason why your fish should be suffocating when there is a chance to give them a healthy option today. All the hang on back filters mentioned above will deliver the right amount of filtration to keep the aquarium water clean.
You need to make sure that you choose the one that can handle your aquarium size and the amount of water in terms of flow rate. The best thing to do would be comparing between different models just to make sure it is what you actually need in the end.
Related Buyer’s Guides and Aquarium Adviser Lists:
The Best Filter for Your Turtle Tank
The Best Substrate for Planted Tank
Zachary Tomlinson says
I like that you pointed out that maintenance can help a lot with how effective your filters are. In my opinion, it’s good to find an installation company that will install your life support system with quality and convenience. I’m looking to include a terrarium in the house I plan to build, and I appreciate the clarity in this article.
Richard Wightman says
When using a hang on back filter is it safe to leave the betta tank uncovered? My cover doesn’t fit with the larger filter.
Richard Wightman says
It is a 1.5 acrylic tank.
Christie Crosby says
What size HOB do you have? Most are way too big for a 1.5 gallon tank. Plus you risk your Betta jumping out with no lid. I had one jump out and it HAD a lid on it. 🙁
My betta is in a large, unheated bowl with rocks and a live plant. He seems happy, makes bubble nests, etc. He’s nearly 3 years old.
My Blood Red Dragon lives in a dirty toilet bowl and can easily take him. He has by many years of discipline training! …. MORTAL COMBAT!!!….MORTAL COMBAT!!!
acrylic plexi-glass selling stores can custom make a cover for you
I have an 80 litres aquarium, can you please tell me how many gallons it is?
Christie Crosby says
Roughly 21 gallons.
John Le Blanc says
Measure: aquarium length, width, and depth in inches.
Then multiply length X width X depth.
then divide by 231.
= aquarium volume in Gallons.
I currently have 2 tanks set up (125gal & 55gal) I use two Aqua clear 110’s on the 125gal and I use a cheap whisper 70 and a Aqua clear 300 on the 55gal. I can speak from experience when saying that Aqua clear filters are excellent products they’re made of very high quality plastic the motors are silent when running. If you have any form of air that gets into the intake you will hear some cavitation. Just make sure that any bubbles are away from the intake. As far as cleaning is concerned I have been using these filters for over 12 years now. I replace all 3 media once every couple years. And that’s just because I want to not because it’s necessary. Cleaning is a pain but then again cleaning any filter is. The advantage to Aqua clear is that there is no replacing or cartridges to use. I have a cheap whisper filter that is equally as much work to clean and all that requires is new filter cartridges. Overall I highly recommend Aqua clear filters when a hang on back style filter is required. They run quietly, they move a ton a water and last forever. They are definitely worth $79.99 for the 110.
Thanks… Key point for me is ‘no cartridges to use’. It is hard to find this info on OTB comparisons.
my experience over many years aqua clear start making noises after a short while.
All forms of bio life in an aquarium will cover anything they come in contact with making cleaning very important.
filter charcoal media cannot properly function unless replaced after about a week the activated carbon openings are no longer effective, polyester used for bio media bedding overrun everything with various aquarium microbe life forms, bio media pads likewise also clog and need cleaning at least monthly to maintain their life sustaining mission
david fisher says
aqua clear 110 are great filters but they don’t self prime , if your not home and you power goes out you will have to buy a new 110 and they are not cheap, if they would self prime no filter would equal them , there are other hob filters that self prime not as much power as the 110s but almost the same plus they self prime.
Jim Story says
Would be very interesting to see where the new Seachem Tidal HOB
filters would rate against the 5 mentioned in the article.
I agree with your comment. I have a Tidal 110 and love it. It’s quiet, self priming and easy to clean (don’t have to take hob out of tank-has a removable insert)
Jean Filion says
What about the Seachem Tidal ? Think it can be the number 1 or 2…
number 10 on list
I agree with Jim and Jean- even though you use the SeaChem Tidal picture for the article, you have not reviewed it.
How about an update?
Johnny B says
I have a aqua clear 110 its noisy the clip broke off in the tank that holds the media basket in broke off and they would not warranty it. And they were gonna charge as much for the part as almost as a new system. Plus they were out. Bad customer service. I recently bought a 55 gallon tank it came with a aqueon 75 pro its quiet pumps 400 gallons a hour self priming and best of all it has a lifetime warranty enough said. I’ve had it 2 weeks and so far will see. I’m tired of the hob filters claim there the best but they dont stand behid them.
It is my opinion that the AquaClear (AC) comes second to the Seachem Tidal Filters for the self priming and surface skimming ability. If AC would fix these issues they would be highly comparable coming down to the construction material in which Seachem would once again have the edge with the ridged yet durable plastic construction over the acrylic which is highly unforgiving to any sort of impact.
Bella Smith says
Aqueon QuietFlow is a great filter. It sits on the outside of the tank so doesn’t consume a lot of space inside leaving more room for your fish. There is a hum to it, however. It is not silent but not disturbing…for me anyhow.
Bella Smith says
I’ve been using this Aqueon filter for over a year and until now, it still run smoothly and I’m very satisfied with this.