Best Aquarium Filters

Your aquarium is an enclosed environment, so the water gets dirty pretty easily. Not only are we talking about uneaten fish food and feces breaking down, but the chemical byproducts of those processes as well. If you don’t perform routine maintenance in your tank, toxins will accumulate, and it can become a deadly environment for your fish. Having a good aquarium filter in place is essential for maintaining high water quality and a safe, healthy environment for your tank inhabitants.

In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of having an adequate filtration system in your aquarium. You’ll also see our top picks for the best aquarium filters to consider for your tank.

Best Aquarium Filters

Adequate filtration is essential to maintain high water quality in your tank for the benefit of your fish. There are a variety of different aquarium filter types out there, but it is largely a matter of preference which option you choose. Canister filters are a favorite of many aquarium hobbyists because they are large, efficient, and easy to customize. Power filters tend to be a little more affordable and under-gravel filters are usually used for supplemental filtration.

Here are the best aquarium filters to consider for your tank:

Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter

Choose from a variety of sizes in this powerful canister filter made with state-of-the-art technology. It features large capacity media baskets for customization as well as a spray bar for added options.

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EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter

This powerful canister filter comes with all of the accessories you need and it is available in three different sizes. With a permo-elastic silicon sealing ring, it is easy to close after cleaning and you don’t have to worry about leaks.

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Marineland Penguin Power Filter

What makes this power filter unique is the patented Bio-Wheel technology which supports the growth of beneficial bacteria to support biological filtration in your tank. This filter comes in a variety of sizes and is compatible with Marineland Rite-Size filter cartridges to make filter maintenance quick and easy.

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AquaClear Power Filter

An affordable option available in a wide variety of sizes, this hang-on filter is quick and easy to install. Its filtration volume is up to 7 times larger than comparable models and it comes with foam, activated carbon, and BioMax and Cycle Guard to ensure continuous biological filtration.

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Polar Aurora External Filter

This canister filter features three media trays for easy customization, and it comes with a self-priming pump to make setup quick and painless. It comes with an adjustable spray bar and a single valve disconnect for easy routine maintenance.

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Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter

For efficient performance and easy maintenance, this canister filter is a must-have. It comes in three sizes to accommodate tanks up to 100 gallons and features a unique polishing filter pad to remove fine debris from the water column.

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Fluval 307 Performance Canister Filter

Designed for efficiency and performance, this canister filter is 25% quieter than previous models and delivers constant pumping power and consistent pressure. This filter is incredibly energy efficient and offers many options for customization with filter media.

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Aqueon QuietFlow LED Pro Aquarium Filter

This three-stage aquarium filter offers a self-priming feature and an LED indicator light to let you know when it’s time to replace the cartridges. It also has an internal pump design to dampen noise and prevent leaks.

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Penn Plax Cascade Hang-On Filter

Available in a variety of sizes, this hang-on filter uses revolutionary Bio-Falls Quad-Filtration system to provide maximum oxygenation. This filter keeps your tank water crystal clear and free from contaminants.

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Marineland Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter


If you’re looking for a powerful and efficient internal filter, this is it. This polishing internal canister filter is rated for aquariums up to 97 gallons and it has two refillable chambers so you can customize it for whatever filter media you want to use.

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The Importance of Aquarium Filtration

There are three types of aquarium filtration: mechanical, chemical, and biological. Mechanical filtration involves physically removing solid waste like uneaten fish food and feces from the tank. Chemical filtration tackles dissolved wastes and toxins while biological filtration simply involves cultivating a colony of beneficial bacteria in the tank to help maintain balance. A good aquarium filter will incorporate all three types of filtration, though there are several different models to choose from.

Here are some things to look for when shopping for an aquarium filter:

  • Filter Type – The type of filter you choose is largely a matter of preference but consider the pros and cons of the different options before you decide.
  • Size/Flow Rate – Aquarium filters are rated for tanks of different sizes according to their flow rate – it’s best to choose a larger filter than you need rather than a smaller one.
  • Filter Media – The filter media is what provides the filtration benefits, so be sure to choose a filter that incorporates mechanical, chemical, and biological filter media.
  • Maintenance – You’ll need to change your filter media once a month and clean the filter as well – look for a model that is easy to disassemble and reassemble after cleaning.
  • Convenience – Some filters come with convenience features like self-priming pumps that save you from the hassle of having to siphon water.

No matter what type of aquarium filter you choose, it’s important to keep it properly maintained. Changing your filter media every few weeks and cleaning the filter once a month will keep it in working order. Do a quick check on your filtration system once a week to make sure things are still running and clean the parts a few at a time instead of doing it all at once. This way you avoid killing off too many of the beneficial bacteria living in your filter.