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Best Fish Tank Filters

Expert Reviews & Buying Guide

quadcopter reviewsBest Fish Tank Filters

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In a hurry? Here are the best products at a glance.

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Article Author
Heather
Patton
Article Author
Jennifer
Trimbee
Article Author
Samantha
Dewitt
Your Authors and Guides
Article Author
Heather Patton
Article Author
Jennifer Trimbee
Article Author
Samantha Dewitt

How to Choose the Best Fish Tank Filter

Whether you’re setting up your first aquarium or upgrading your current one, the best freshwater fish tank filter will make life so much easier for you. Effective, easy to maintain filters can keep your water clean and well balanced which will keep your pets happy. We researched a lot of different brands and top-rated models and found some great filters for tanks of all sizes. First, let’s look at some key features to consider.

Best Fish Tank Filters

Tank Size: It’s really important to use the right size filter for the size of your tank. If it’s not powerful enough, it won’t treat all the water. Too powerful and it’ll blow your fish around and stress them out.

Best Fish Tank Filters

Location: Most of these filters are external. The most popular design hangs off the back of the aquarium with an intake spout that goes down into the water. We did find two great internal filter options which are completely submerged in the tank.

How to Choose the Best Fish Tank Filter

Quiet: All of these filters are relatively quiet. Some make a little extra noise when the water level gets low but that’s easily fixed by performing regular maintenance. Note that internal filters tend to be quieter since they’re completely underwater.

Best Fish Tank Filters

Flow Rate: A good rule of thumb is that the flow rate should be at least 4 times the tank size. That means that the filter is able to cycle the entire tank 4 times every hour.

Best Fish Tank Filters

Dimensions: If you’re looking at an external pump, you’ll need to account for the size of the filter to determine where you can put your tank. For internal filters, this is space that your fish will no longer have available to them.

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Warranty: These warranties vary a lot but we are happy to say that each of the products we chose has one. Some of them are covered for 1 to 3 years while there are 3 that come with a lifetime warranty.

Top 10 Products

Now that you have a better idea of what to look for, let’s move into our fish tank filter review. Here’s how it works. If you’re in a hurry, make sure you take a look at our top and budget picks first. We put them at the top of the list so you can see the range that’s available. Stick around if you can, you never know which of these products will be the one for you. Okay, let’s go!

Aqua Clear Power Filter

Aqua Clear Power Filter
Our top pick is this Aqua Clear Power Filter, the best 50-gallon fish tank filter, though it can be used with tanks as small as 20 gallons. With the adjustable flow control, you can get the outflow just right for your rank. Installation is quick and easy, too. Because this filter has a filtration volume that’s 7 times larger than most comparable filters, water is in contact with the filter media for longer periods of time so you can be sure to keep ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites under control. That’s not all, this filter also comes with enough filter media to get you started. You get a mechanical foam filter, activated carbon for chemical contaminants, and BioMax to facilitate the growth of beneficial bacterial colonies.
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Marina Power Filter

Marina Power Filter
If you’re in the market for the best small fish tank filter, check out our budget pick, the Marina Power Filter. This one is made for tanks up to 10 gallons and is really easy to set up and maintain. It has an adjustable flow control so you can adjust it to go slower if you have a smaller tank or have fish that don’t like a lot of flow. The slim design doesn’t take up too much room behind the tank and, because the filter is submerged underwater, operation is really quiet, too. This filter includes 2 different filter cartridges, one Bio-Carb, and one Bio-Clear. Each contains Ceramitek which is a great home for the bacteria that act as biological filtration to get established.
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Marineland Penguin Power Filter

Marineland Penguin Power Filter
Another top fish tank filter is the Marineland Penguin Power Filter. If you have a big tank, this might be the one for you. It’s meant for large tanks between 50 and 70 gallons and has a maximum flow rate of 350 gph. Something unique about this filter is the BIO-wheel. It’s where the beneficial bacteria grow and it spins around as the water passes through the filter, providing greater surface area and super effective at removing ammonia and nitrite. That’s not all, this filter also comes with filter cartridges that provide mechanical filtration. They’re filled with Black Diamond Premium Activated Carbon to remove odors, colors, and any chemical impurities in the water. One more thing, to help keep this filter quiet, it also includes noise-reducing vented covers.
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Tetra Whisper Power Filter

Tetra Whisper Power Filter
For a quiet fish tank filter that’s suitable for larger tanks, there’s the Tetra Whisper Power Filter. One of the best things about this one is that it’s so easy to maintain. It uses something called Timestrip technology which lets you know when it’s time to change the carbon filter so you never have to guess when the time comes. Plus, there’s less chance you’ll let it go for too long which can cause a lot of problems for your fish. When the time to change the filter does come, don’t worry, that’s easy, too. All you have to do is use the easy-access door on the top of the filter so you can swap in a new one without worry about making a mess.
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Penn Plax Cascade Filter

Penn Plax Cascade Filter
The Penn Plax Cascade Filter is our pick for best fish tank filter for goldfish. Why? For one thing, goldfish need a pretty big tank and this one is meant for aquariums up to 100 gallons. Plus, goldfish are really messy and should have a really powerful filter. This is an external filter that actually sits next to or underneath the aquarium. The set-up is pretty easy. It has a push-button self-primer and a sturdy tip-proof base to help you avoid any spills. There are also flow-rate cut-off valves to adjust the water flow that can be easily adjusted without having to remove the intake and output hoses from the aquarium. One more thing, it has 3 large baskets so you can customize the filter media to your tank.
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Aqueon QuietFlow Power Filter

Aqueon QuietFlow Power Filter
Next up is this QuietFlow Power Filter from Aqueon. This self-priming filter starts up automatically after cleaning or if there are any power outages. One of the best things about this filter is that it has an LED light that lets you know when it’s time to change filter cartridges by monitoring actual water levels. It comes with 2 filters included so you can get your tank cycling right away. These filters feature mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration as well as a specialty filter pad to help keep your aquarium water as clean as possible. Another great thing about it is the internal pump design which helps this filter run quietly and also eliminates leaks. And here’s the kicker, it comes with a lifetime warranty.
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Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter

Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter
Next in our fish tank filter reviews is the Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter. Internal filters are a little less common than external ones but we know some people prefer them and this is a good one. One reason why someone might prefer an internal filter is that, since there’s nothing hanging off the back of the tank, you can position it flush against the wall. Use the simple hanger and suction cups to install. it’s remarkably quiet since the pump and motor or completely submerged. Something really cool about this filter is that it can function in water as shallow as 2 inches. What does that mean? If you’re looking for an internal filter for a turtle tank, this one is a great choice.
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Penn Plax Cascade Filter

Penn Plax Cascade Filter
The best 40-gallon fish tank filter we found is the Penn Plax Cascade Filter. It’s actually designed for tanks between 35 and 55 gallons and cycles at 200 gph. This filter features a Bio-Falls Quad-Filtration System that consists of a variety of filter media. There’s a polyfiber floss acts as a mechanical filter, separating any large particles of debris, a carbon cartridge that removes impurities, odors, and discoloration, and an internal sponge that’s the perfect place for colonies of bacteria to grow. The external Bio-Falls also creates a home for anaerobic bacteria that will help remove even more ammonia and nitrite from the water while also enhancing oxygen exchange for exceptionally clean and healthy water. This external filter is easy to set up and comes with a 3-year warranty.
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zoohi Aquarium Power Filter

This zoohi Aquarium Power Filter is next. It’s a good choice for tanks up to 50 gallons and has a pretty high flow rate of 500 gph. Installation is pretty easy, just add some aquarium water to the filter box before you plug it in and the water will start to circulate through. This one can make a little noise when the water is getting a bit low but as soon as you do a water change and fill it back to the appropriate depth, it’s whisper quiet once again. It includes a filter cartridge to get your tank cycling right away and provided mechanical filtration, activated carbon for chemical filtration, and a place for biological filtration to colonize for continuous contact with the water.
This zoohi Aquarium Power Filter is next. It’s a good choice for tanks up to 50 gallons and has a pretty high flow rate of 500 gph. Installation is pretty easy, just add some aquarium water to the filter box before you plug it in and the water will start to circulate through. This one can make a little noise when the water is getting a bit low but as soon as you do a water change and fill it back to the appropriate depth, it’s whisper quiet once again. It includes a filter cartridge to get your tank cycling right away and provided mechanical filtration, activated carbon for chemical filtration, and a place for biological filtration to colonize for continuous contact with the water.
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Aqueon Internal Power Filter

Last is the Aqueon Internal Power Filter, the best fish tank filter if you have a small tank and not a lot of room to spare. This one is meant for a 3-gallon tank and it’s an internal filter which means it won’t tank up any extra space outside the tank. The auto-start pump restarts if the power goes out and doesn’t require any priming so it’s really easy to set up. Installation is done using suction cups or hanging clips and it can be used with either framed or frameless aquariums. That’s not all, it’s also really quiet since the pump is submerged in the tank. It includes a carbon cartridge to chemically filter that also acts as a mechanical barrier as it’s covered in polyfiber floss.
Last is the Aqueon Internal Power Filter, the best fish tank filter if you have a small tank and not a lot of room to spare. This one is meant for a 3-gallon tank and it’s an internal filter which means it won’t tank up any extra space outside the tank. The auto-start pump restarts if the power goes out and doesn’t require any priming so it’s really easy to set up. Installation is done using suction cups or hanging clips and it can be used with either framed or frameless aquariums. That’s not all, it’s also really quiet since the pump is submerged in the tank. It includes a carbon cartridge to chemically filter that also acts as a mechanical barrier as it’s covered in polyfiber floss.
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Review and Buying Guide GeekWrapped

TOP PICK

Aqua Clear Power Filter

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