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The 5 Best Aquarium Filters

Aquarium November 6, 2019
aquarium heater

The 5 Best Aquarium Filters

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aquarium heater

Maintaining a healthy aquarium involves keeping multiple systems going in sync. Not only do you need to choose an aquarium heater that is appropriately sized for your tank to keep it at a stable temperature, but you need to provide the right lighting for your tank inhabitants. Perhaps even more important than all these, however, is installing an aquarium filter to keep your tank water clean.

In this article, we’ll talk about keeping your aquarium water clean and provide some tips for choosing the best aquarium filter. You’ll also see our top 5 picks for the best aquarium filters.

Quick Look at Our Top Picks:

  1. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter Best canister filter
  2. Fluval External Filter Best external filter
  3. MarineLand Penguin 350 BIO-Wheel Power Filter Best biological filter
  4. Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter Best small aquarium filter
  5. AquaClear Aquarium Power Filter Best Budget
IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Available in a wide range of sizes up to 350 GPH
  • State-of-the-art features for convenience
  • Three-stage filtration, large-capacity media baskets
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  • Impressive 383 GPH flow rate (100 gallons)
  • Square shape holds 50% more water
  • Clog-proof strainer and dual-layer foam screen
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  • Powerful three-stage filtration (350 GPH)
  • Rite-size filter cartridges for easy replacement
  • BIO-wheel filters for biological filtration
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  • Powerful quad-filtration system 300 GPH
  • Adjustable flow knob to alter flow rate as needed
  • Available in six different sizes, affordably priced
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  • Available in five sizes, all priced under $75
  • Quick and easy setup and installation
  • Comes with filter media for 3-stage filtration
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What To Look For In Aquarium Filters?

Aquarium filters come in all shapes and sizes, but they are not all created equal. There are two primary categories of filter – internal and external. Canister filters and wet/dry filters can be housed outside of the tank with intake/outlet tubes while internal filters hang on the back of the tank or inside it. Either could be a good option for your tank, so consider the different options reviewed below.

Here Are Some Important Things To Look For In A Filter For An Aquarium:

  • Type of filter. There are many different types of aquarium filter, but the most efficient options are hang-on (power) filters, canister filters, and wet/dry filters.
  • Three-stage filtration. Make sure you choose a filter that offers all three stages of filtration – chemical (for dissolved wastes and toxins), mechanical (for solid wastes), and biological (to support beneficial bacteria).
  • Size and rating. Once you’ve chosen the type of filter, make sure you choose the size that is most appropriate for your tank. You can always go up in size but shouldn’t go down.
  • Price. You never want to shop for aquarium equipment by price alone, but it is a factor to consider when shopping. If you can afford it, buy a high-quality filter because it will last longer.

Now that you have a better idea what to look for in an aquarium filter, it’s time to start shopping! Keep reading to see our top 5 picks for the best aquarium filters.

Here Are Our Top 5 Picks For The Best Aquarium Filters:

Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter

Specs:

  • Brand – Penn Plax
  • Rating – 350 GPH (200 gallons)
  • Features – Push button primer, 360-degree valves
  • Price$149.99

Pros:

  • Available in a wide range of sizes up to 350 GPH
  • State-of-the-art features for convenience
  • Three-stage filtration, large-capacity media baskets

Cons:

  • Significantly more expensive than some models
  • May be noisier than other models

If you’re looking for a powerful filter you can trust, look no further than the Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter. This canister filter is easily one of the most popular models on the market, and for good reason. It provides reliable three-stage filtration and offers a number of state-of-the-art features including 360-degree flow valves, large capacity media baskets, and a push-button primer. Choose from ten different options in sizes that can accommodate tanks up to 200 gallons with a flow rate of 350GPH.

Fluval External Filter

Specs:

  • Brand – Fluval
  • Rating – 383 GPH (100 gallons)
  • Features – Sound-dampening impeller, clog-proof strainer
  • Price$199.99

Pros:

  • Impressive 383 GPH flow rate (100 gallons)
  • Square shape holds 50% more water
  • Clog-proof strainer and dual-layer foam screen

Cons:

  • More expensive than many other models
  • Only three size options to choose from

The Fluval External Filter is another excellent option if you’re looking for a canister filter that comes in several different sizes. This canister filter offers multi-stage filtration and is approved for both freshwater and saltwater tanks up to 100 gallons. It features an impressive flow rate of 383 GPH and has a sound-dampening impeller design for quiet function. It also has a clog-proof strainer with a dual layer foam screen to keep the filter running at all times.

MarineLand Penguin 350 BIO-Wheel Power Filter

Specs:

  • Brand – MarineLand
  • Rating – 350 GPH (70 gallons)
  • Features – Three-stage filtration, rite-size cartridges
  • Price$26.99

Pros:

  • Powerful three-stage filtration (350 GPH)
  • Rite-size filter cartridges for easy replacement
  • BIO-wheel filters for biological filtration

Cons:

  • Requires space to hang on the back of the tank
  • May not hold as much filter media as canister filters

Biological filtration is important for a healthy aquarium and the MarineLand Penguin 350 BIO-Wheel Power Filter features a unique type of filter media to support it. This filter features BIO-Wheel filters which are set above the outlet for the filter so clean water runs constantly over the beneficial bacteria cultivating the wheel to keep them alive. This filter offers an impressive flow rate of 350 GPH as well.

Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter

Specs:

  • Brand – Penn Plax
  • Rating – 300 GPH (100 gallons)
  • Features – Quiet run, biological filtration, adjustable flow
  • Price$22.20

Pros:

  • Powerful quad-filtration system 300 GPH
  • Adjustable flow knob to alter flow rate as needed
  • Available in six different sizes, affordably priced

Cons:

  • Limited interior space for filter media
  • Requires space to hang on the back of the aquarium

Another reliable option in power filters is the Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter. This filter comes in six sizes ranging from 20 GPH to 300 GPH, all of which are affordably priced under $30. It offers revolutionary Bio-Falls Quad-Filtration for efficient biological filtration and comes with the filter media you need to get your new filter set up and running very quickly.

AquaClear Aquarium Power Filter

Specs:

  • Brand – AquaClear
  • Rating – 70 gallons
  • Features – Three-stage filtration, affordable
  • Price$41.53

Pros:

  • Available in five sizes, all priced under $75
  • Quick and easy setup and installation
  • Comes with filter media for 3-stage filtration

Cons:

  • Smaller parts can be tricky to clean
  • Not as powerful as some other brands/models

As long as your filter provides the right level of filtration for your tank size, you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot. The AquaClear Aquarium Power Filter is a great option that is much more affordable than some of the choices on this list. It comes in five different sizes rated for tanks up to 110 gallons and offers a filtration volume up to 7 times larger than comparable models.

Tips For Keeping An Aquarium Clean

Maintaining an aquarium is not as difficult as you might imagine it to be. If you choose the right equipment and set it all up properly in the first place, it basically runs itself. You do, however, need to check certain tank parameters on a weekly basis and will need to perform routine maintenance tasks.

Here Are Some Simple Tips For Keeping Your Tank Water Clean:

  • Treat your tap water with an aquarium water conditioner to remove chlorine and heavy metals, making it safe for your fish.
  • Install an aquarium heater to maintain your tank water at the proper temperature according to the species of fish you’re keeping in your tank.
  • Make sure your aquarium filter is the proper size for your tank (bigger is always better) and choose the right filter media to provide mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration.
  • Top off your tank water as needed on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to replace water lost to evaporation.
  • Perform small water changes of 15% or so every two weeks to help remove the byproducts of waste breakdown (like ammonia and nitrites).
  • Use a gravel vacuum to perform a large 25% water change once a month – make sure to suck up as much accumulated debris from the bottom of your tank as you can.
  • Change your filter media every 4 to 6 weeks (as recommended by the manufacturer) and clean your filter as well without killing the beneficial bacteria colonizing it.

Now that you know what to look for in an aquarium filter and how to use it to keep your tank clean, you’re ready to start shopping! Remember, an aquarium filter is just one of the necessities for starting and maintaining a healthy aquarium, so check out our other guides to essential aquarium equipment!

Final Remarks

Before you add any fish to your aquarium, it is recommended that you fill the tank and let it run for up to 2 weeks. This will give the tank time to establish a colony of beneficial bacteria which help to maintain the biological balance in your tank. To support that colony, be sure to choose an aquarium filter that includes 3-stage filtration – mechanical, chemical, and biological.

If you’re still not sure where to start in looking for an aquarium filter, try out one of the top 5 best aquarium filters we’ve reviewed above. Good luck!

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Kate Barrington is avid pet lover and adoring owner of three cats and one dog, her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. She has been writing about pet care and pet products since 2010
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