If you’re looking for the best aquarium filter, you’ve come to the right place.
Aquarium filters are a must-have product for marine and freshwater aquariums. Their primary role is to keep the water quality at a high level. It’s obvious that if you want to take a good care of the fish and plants in your fish tank, using a fish tank filter is a must. The market is full of aquarium filters, but it is worth mentioning that not all of them are the same.
When people are looking for an aquarium filter, they must think about all the components that make an aquarium healthy, attractive, and successful. The filters used in an aquarium are definitely among the most important elements. In this article, we will analyze the importance of filters in a fish tank setup and suggest a few that have proven to be efficient.
What does an aquarium filter do?
As the name suggests, an aquarium filter cleans the water of toxic accumulation which usually consists of nitrates and ammonia, removes the debris, and provides air to the water which means helps the fish breathe. This is a must-have component for every aquarium.
By choosing the best aquarium filter, you will save time and make sure that your fish and plants in the aquarium are thriving well. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that once you install the filter you’ll get a chance to forget the maintenance of this item. On the contrary, you will have to clean, change and maintain the aquarium filter regularly, but this task is quite simple.
Best Aquarium Filters of 2017
#1 AquaClear Power Filter – Editor’s Choice
- Refiltration system that offers superior contact time with filter...
- Quick and easy installation
The AquaClear Power Filter is efficient and promises low operating costs. This is an excellent solution even for filtering larger aquariums because it has a large filter media volume. This filter is made by a reputable company and provides complete filtration. Another thing that is worth mentioning is that AquaClear Power Filter comes with Activated Carbon, AquaClear Foam, and BioMax. These filter inserts will make the work of the filter even smoother.
#2 Fluval Fx6 Canister Filter – Best Filter for Large Aquariums
- Multi-Stage Filter that produces healthy aquarium water, freshwater or...
- Features Smart Pump Technology for optimal filter performance,...
Fluval aquarium filters are highly reliable. The Fx6 especially, it can process as much as 563 gallons of water with an enormous capacity of up to 1.5 gallons of media.
It is 21ʺ high. I know, quite large but it’s designed for large aquariums, yet performs its task quietly as it has a well-engineered bearing that could minimize both vibrations and noise.
Fluval Fx6 is compact but is equipped with advanced and convenient features.
It has a multi-directional output nozzle that allows adjustments to optimize water flow in all corners of the tank. Its electronic circuit board ensures that impeller speed and pump power are constantly monitored to optimize its output and use of energy. Once impeller is impeded, the motor automatically shuts off.
Fluvial Fx6 will always remind you the date of your last filter maintenance and water change of your aquarium.
During maintenance water flow can be stopped with the turn of its valve lever, thereby separating the filter and hosing. There are two valves in the filter: for intake and for draining the water. A purge valve drain is found on the filter’s base so you can empty the canister before you move it. A flared spout of the output nozzles that are adjustable can send streams of cleared water in the whole aquarium.
You simply have to plug the filter in, and soon enough water is discharged from the aquarium. It pumps for a minute and pauses for another two. This process occurs in order to clear the air to begin the filtering process.
It is clog-proof with no clogged-up solids that would deter water flow. As soon as the aquarium begins to fill up, currents that flow through it break down unwanted materials and suspend them before being transferred to a strainer, which has a wide rounded mouth that is covered by a slanted fine screen in order to prevent debris from getting in.
#3 Penn Plax Cascade
- Cascade 1500 Black Elite Kit. Handles up to 200 gallons.
- Over $50 of added value. Includes new black canister housing, all...
If you are interested in keeping the aquarium clean and safe, then you should definitely check the Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium. Penn Plax is known for making great filter systems that have many useful features. Made of durable plastic, this filter promises many months to years of efficient filtration without any issues.
With the largest model having a whopping flow rate of around 312 gallons in one hour, this is one of the most effective aquarium filters compared to its size. This filter can help you with every stage of filtration starting from mechanical and biological all the way to the chemical. Every material used in it is carefully tested before it is used.
#4 Fluval 406
- Multi-stage filtration for healthy fresh & saltwater aquariums
- Suitable for aquariums up to 100 gallons
Fluval is well-established brand, it’s quite natural for aquarium enthusiasts to expect a good product whenever some of the products that they are interested in have the Fluval logo on it. This external filter is not an exception. This is actually an upgrade of a previous model created by Fluval.
This External Filter comes with a very strong motor and some excellent features. Thanks to the specific square form, this filter promises durability and larger capacity. The bottom-top filtration has proven to be perfect for all types of aquariums. When it comes to the filtration media, this specific model has a coarse sponge and extra three media basket where you will get mechanical, biological and chemical media for a perfect filtration.
#5 Fluval C Power Filter – Best 55 Gallon Fish Tank Filter
- Power filter featuring 5 stages of filtration for aquariums between 40...
- Filters 264 gallons per hour
Another great aquarium filter created by Fluval, the C power filters to be precise. This sophisticated aquarium power filter has a powerful five-stage filtration system. Again, the main objective is to turn the smelly and dull water into crystal clear and healthy water for your fish and plants.
The original 5-stage filtration system includes biological, mechanical and chemical filtration. It also has a useful cleaning indicator which you can use as a reminder to start the automatic procedure. This incredible aquarium filter can process up to 119 gallons of water per hour (for the smallest model) to 264 gallons of aquarium water in one hour. They offer sizes perfect for aquariums with a capacity of 5 to 70 gallons. If you are planning on handling a larger aquarium, it would be better to look into a canister filter (Hint: Our #2 Pick) 😉
#6 Hydor Professional External Canister Filter
- The hydro professional 600 Aquarium External 345GPH Filter is a...
- All the biological, mechanical and chemical filtration that any...
This is another example of a popular and efficient aquarium filter that has become a best seller in the last few months. Hydor is a reputable company and without any doubt, this is one of their greatest filters. The Hydor Professional External Canister Filter comes with extremely porous Bio Rings, filter wool that provides outstanding mechanical filtration supported by the sponge with large pores.
This IL-listed model of aquarium filter is very easy to use and even complete beginners can use it in both freshwater and marine aquariums. The compact design has shown that it can be very energy efficient. In addition, this is also a filter that doesn’t cause a lot of noise. Those who have more experience with aquarium filters will be glad to hear that this model comes with a few advanced features based on the latest technological advancements in this industry.
Types of Filtration
There are a few different cleaning techniques that aquarium filters rely on. The most important ones include Biological, Mechanical and Chemical.
According to many experts, this is actually the most important part of the process of filtration. Of course, the other filtration techniques are important too. The biological function is here to break down the compounds of ammonia found in the water. If too much ammonia is left in the aquarium, it can cause poisoning or even kill your fish.
With the help of biological filtration, the potentially dangerous ammonia is turned into nitrite while toxic nitrite is turned into ordinary nitrate. It’s worth mentioning that nitrate is actually a relatively safe compound, but in case it’s not eliminated from the aquarium with the help of water changes on a regular basis can lead to health complications in fish. This situation can also affect the appetite of fish and proper supply of oxygen.
While we are talking about the biological function, we should mention the Nitrogen Cycle too. This is a process that supports the formation and balance of useful bacteria in the tank and in the filter itself in order to speed up the conversion of ammonia into nitrite and from nitrite to nitrate. It usually takes between 2 to 6 weeks for this process to be finished. There are special aquarium test kits that can help you check and analyze the nitrogen cycle.
The mechanical function and filtration is all about the removal of floating particles/debris from the water. Thanks to the freshwater mechanical filter, users will be able to collect fish food that was not eaten, fish feces, parts of the aquatic plants that have fallen off and other pieces and particles that should not be in the aquarium water.
Finally, the chemical function will eliminate wastes that are already dissolved in the water. As you’ve probably guessed, this unwanted waste comes in the form of molecules that are practically invisible to the naked eye. Chemical cleansing usually consists of using carbon or purigen.
Types of Aquarium Filters
Power filters are a very popular type of filters used in different kinds of aquariums. One of the best things about this type of filter is that it can be used in almost any kind of filtration system. Thanks to a power filter you will get chemical, mechanical and biological filtration. These filters use an internal motor and rely on electricity. The opportunity to filter the water at a very high rate is another reason why people choose power filters.
Canister filters represent another popular type of aquarium filters used today. They are wanted for their efficiency. Just like power filters, they use biological, mechanical and chemical filtration functions. Furthermore, they don’t require much aquarium space to operate. Additionally, maintenance and cleaning of this specific type of filters is usually very easy. Of course, there are some disadvantages associated with these filters like the high price and the possibility of leaks. In order to avoid situations like this, purchase high-quality filters.
One of the main characteristics of internal filters is that this type of aquarium filters is used in relatively small fish tanks. These submersible filters are driven by a powerhead style motor, a powerhead or air bubbles. The bottom of the aquarium close to the substrate is the place where these filters are usually placed. They are relatively cheap, but as we said before they are inefficient for bigger aquariums.
Under-gravel filters are actually very simple filters, but they are also one of the most effective filters too. As the name suggests, they are placed under the gravel and their intake tube is connected to an efficient air filter. With the help of this specific filter, you can get aeration and boost the number of bacteria. Siphoning the gravel is a must whenever you change the aquarium water because otherwise it can get clogged with feces. The under-gravel filters are perfect for mid-sized aquariums; we only recommend using it on fish tanks below 35 gallons.
Here’s another popular type of aquarium filter. If we compare them to most of the filters used today, they will appear weaker. However, they are powerful enough to cleanse the water in aquariums hosting house fry and other similar tiny species like shrimp. Air driven filters deliver biological filtration and some are designed to offer chemical filtration as well. However, if the fish are releasing a relatively high amount of poop, these filters are inefficient. They are however the best option for shrimp tanks.
Sump filters are receptacles that have all the necessary media for filtration, a heater and a water pump. In the past, sumps were used only in saltwater tanks, but today they are used in different tanks that have large sizes. They have a simple design, but they are very efficient. It’s also worth mentioning that sumps or sump filters are great because they have an ability to store different media. With their help, aquarium owners can bring additional water to the system which is certainly beneficial for the tank.
Every Tank Needs an Appropriate Filter
As you have probably concluded by now, every tank size needs an appropriate filter size. Using a small filter in a large tank and vice versa can sometimes bring more harm than good. In order to determine the right size of the filter, it is highly recommended to take the capacity of your tank into consideration.
Generally speaking, the entire water content from the aquarium should be able to pass through the aquarium filter four times per hour. For instance, a 60-gallon aquarium needs a flow rate of 240 gallons per hour. In case you can choose between a 200-gallon per hour and 250-gallon per hour aquarium filter, choose the 250-gph model. The good news is that the market is full of filters that have different sizes and aquarium filters with different properties.
Best Small Aquarium Filters
|AquaClear 20 Power Filter - 110 V, UL Listed (Includes AquaClear...||View on Amazon|
|Zoo Med Nano 10 External Canister Filter, up to 10 Gallons||View on Amazon|
|Aqueon 06080 QuietFlow 10 Power Filter, 100GPH||View on Amazon|
Use a Pre-filter!
Watch out for your small fish or shrimp! To be on the safe side you should buy pre-filters if you are going to keep small fish or freshwater shrimp. Typically, these are sponges that prevent your fish from getting sucked into the motor. A pre-filter’s purpose is to protect small creatures, they also keep debris from getting clogged in your filter’s intake.
- 3 Pack of Fluval EDGE Pre-Filter Sponges
- Traps small and fine debris
Why Do Small Tanks Even Need an Aquarium Filter?
When it comes to smaller fish tanks, maintaining water quality can be problematic due to the lack of water volume. Adding fish tank not only helps clean your tank, it adds water volume to your tank. It may not be a lot but a little goes a long way. Some filters however, do not offer extra water volume – internal filters and sponge filters.
Hang on the back filters and canister filters do!
Best Filters for 20, 30, & 40 Gallon Aquariums
|AquaClear 50 Power Filter - 110 V, UL Listed (Includes AquaClear...||View on Amazon|
|Marineland Penguin Power Filter, 20 to 30-Gallon, 150 GPH||View on Amazon|
|Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter, 40 Gallon,||View on Amazon|
It doesn’t matter what kind of aquarium species or plants you have, using a filter is a must. Fish and plants found in aquariums generate waste and this waste must be treated. If you are ignoring this waste you can expect many problems. In some cases, a dirty (nitrate filled) aquarium water can lead to the death of the living beings found in your aquarium. A good aquarium filter should eliminate the waste and create a suitable environment inside the aquarium.
There are different methods and functions of filtration and the basic ones include – mechanical, biological and chemical. There are also many different types of aquarium filters. The decision which type of filter you will use depends on the fish and plants you are planning on growing, the size of the tank and few other factors. It is important to remember that each filter comes with certain advantages and disadvantages so choose carefully. It is also good to mention that the size of the filter is determined by the size of the aquarium too.
Please make sure if you are looking for the best aquarium filter in the market, it is the best idea to stick to the ones that are made by reputable companies. Any questions please feel free to drop a comment, we (or if another reader beats us to it) will be gladly help you.
Last update on 2017-10-20 at 20:49 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API