It is necessary to keep an aquarium clean. Your fish will develop unwell if the water becomes contaminated. Filtration is required in every aquarium. The most frequent approach of keeping your aquarium water clean is to use the finest aquarium filter.
Finding the correct filter these days is difficult since no single filter fits all. A variety of parameters, such as tank size and flow rate, will determine which one is best for you.
This post will go through the many types of filters and what you should know about them before purchasing one. We’ve also included a list of the best aquarium filter for your consideration.
Do I Need A Filter?
Biological filtration is essential in every aquarium, and the easiest (and most common) technique is to utilize a filter. In an aquarium, they perform a number of tasks, but their major role is to keep the water clean.
As the water passes through, waste, debris, and pollutants (such as ammonia) are removed, leaving cleaner water to be returned to the tank. Your fish rely on it; without it, poisons would quickly build up in the water.
Most pollutants are not harmful at low concentrations, but they can become toxic at higher concentrations. Because your fish are housed in a small space with no ways of cleaning the water, the buildup accumulates. Because pollutants build up more quickly in smaller tanks, they are more difficult to maintain, so biological filtration will help you a lot to avoid this.
The second purpose of a filter is to generate current. This can help to disturb the surface of the water, enabling more oxygen to enter. This is particularly more important if you have plants in your tank.
Finally, biological filtration will act as a germ breeding site. While certain bacteria can cause illness, they also store beneficial bacteria cultures that assist to break down deadly chemicals into less harmful substances.
The fundamental role of these organisms is to finish the nitrogen cycle. One type of bacteria breaks down ammonia into nitrites, while another breaks down nitrites into less toxic nitrates.
Despite the fact that nitrates are generally considered harmless, they can be hazardous in large doses. It is your responsibility to maintain nitrate levels low by changing the water.
This means you can’t simply put a filter in your tank and expect things to be OK. You must also clean the tank.
Role Of The Best Aquarium Filter
The water in an aquarium has to be cleaned, and filters make it simple to do so. As they swim, fish emit a lot of waste. It must be removed before it decomposes. Excess food and other debris must also be eliminated to prevent your aquarium’s water quality from deteriorating.
Filters are a piece of equipment that has to be powered on all of the time, hence they require a power source.
There are several sorts, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Each variety is best suited to specific conditions, therefore we’ll explain which one you’ll need later in the post. You might be wondering what role your aquarium’s fish tank filtration performs.
The ideal aquarium filter for your tank will perform three key roles.
The following are the essential functions:
- Biological filtration,
- Mechanical filtration
- Chemical filtration
Each one has a specific function in ensuring that your fish have the secure haven they deserve.
Stage 1 – Mechanical filtration collects floating debris
Filters remove trash from best aquarium by forcing water through a small mesh or wadding of cotton known as a filter pad or sponge filter. This is the most common activity connected with filters, and it is present in virtually all varieties.
Stage 2 – At the second stage, various toxins are neutralized with the help of chemical filtration
To remove pollutants from aquarium water, many filters employ activated carbon chips or resin. Replaceable filter media are stored in a bag, cartridge, or internal basket within your filtration system. This is the second most prevalent feature seen in aquarium filters.
Stage 3 – Biological filtration converts fish waste to a more hygienic state
This one looks to be challenging, but it’s not. Certain filters have a stage that promotes the growth of “good” aquarium bacteria. This bacterium takes toxic ammonia and nitrites in your water and converts them to a less hazardous form, keeping your fish calm and healthy (your substrate is a reservoir of healthy bacteria too).
These biological filtration come in a wide range of sizes and forms. Some HOB filters have a bacteria-growing “bio-wheel,” while others use inert ceramic rings in the filter stage. This used to be the least common stage, only found in high-end filters, but today they’re accessible in a wide range of budget-friendly options!
What Makes A Good Aquarium Filter?
Filters aren’t all made equal. I need to define certain criteria first in order to figure out what the best fish tank filter is.
The filter must have a lengthy track record of durability. There will be no filters built on the cheap. We’re seeking for filters built in Germany and Italy, as well as high-quality manufacturers who stand behind their goods with robust warranties.
In my best fish tank filter list, only one filter type each category makes the cut. I’m not going to recommend 29 different aquarium filter systems to you. In this post, I’ve divided my categories into the following:
- Canister Filters
- Internal Filters
- Sponge Filters
- HOB Filter (Power Filter)
- Wet/Dry Filters
- Undergravel Filters
- Fluidized Bed Filters
For both freshwater and saltwater aquariums, these types of filters are the industry standard. Filters that have outlived their usefulness (fluidized filters) or specialist filters like diatom filters will not be chosen. So you don’t have to go through dozens of possibilities, I’ll choose the finest fish tank filter from each category.
To make the list, the filter must be of good quality. As a result, I’m unlikely to choose the lowest choice. I’ll provide links to my previous roundup blogs so you can check the category lists and find cheaper alternatives if the items I recommend here are out of your price range.
Types of Aquarium Filters
Canister filters are commonly used in larger aquariums (above 40 gallons).
They are shaped like a canister and, as the name indicates, usually include all three types of filtration. These filters are highly efficient and can handle far more media than prior systems.
The advantage of canister filters is that they are quite quiet and you won’t hear them working.
Canister filters, on the other hand, can be exceedingly expensive and difficult to put up, depending on the kind.
These tiny filters are perfect for nano and micro aquariums. They use suction cups to adhere to the interior of the glass and are best used on tanks under 20 gallons.
To prevent dirt from gathering at the bottom of the filter, the majority of people place them there. Internal filters may need the use of an air pump with a filter-connected airline.
Water will be able to travel through the internal filters more easily thanks to this connection. When the air bubbles at the top of the water erupt, you get good biological, chemical and mechanical filtration.
Sponge filters used to be the most basic, and they were largely utilized in hospitals, breeding tanks, and fry production. They’re a simple filter that works by drawing dirty water through a fine sponge-covered intake using an air pump.
Their primary job is to remove large visible debris and rubbish from your aquarium’s water. Modern sponge filter may have a biological stage, which is only beneficial if you’re using it in a long-term tank rather than for a sick fish.
They have a limited capacity for filtering debris, and they must be cleaned frequently to avoid becoming clogged. Your water will have cycled and beneficial bacteria will have formed after a month of use.
Sponge filters are handy in an emergency, but they’re insufficient for my planted tanks or huge community setups. I don’t use them as my primary filtration since they can’t chemically neutralize ammonia.
They are, nevertheless, an excellent choice for tiny Betta or freshwater shrimp tanks!
HOB Filter (Power Filter)
An aquarium HOB filter is one of the most common types of filtration for small tanks. By drawing water up through the siphon tube, past the media, and back into the tank, they provide all three types of filtration.
One of the many benefits of this product is that it is simple to use and maintain; they are also cheaply priced when compared to other systems, and the media can be replaced in minutes.
The downside of this power filter is that the beneficial bacteria colony is lost when the medium is changed.
Even though they are less common than other power filter, skilled tank operators still use wet/dry filters. Saltwater aquariums are more likely to contain them.
The filter’s media is appropriate for biological filtration since it is exposed to both water and air.
These filter media are great for biological filtration since they are exposed to both water and air, which helps to develop a large gathering of healthy bacteria and eliminate waste. However, you may discover that configuring this type of filter takes a long time.
The fact that you need a sump or reservoir to hold water and help the water go to the pump adds to the complexity of these filters.
Chemical filtration happens when a chemical medium is inserted in the filter. Mechanical filtration, on the other hand, has limitations since the water is not contained as tightly as it is with other types of filters.
A plastic mesh screen is placed beneath your gravel substrate, an outflow tube with a changeable cartridge stores the filter pad and media, and an air pump is connected to the filter through plastic tubing.
The filter, as well as the pump and plastic tubing, are usually purchased separately. Undergravel filters provide limited 2-stage filtration by drawing unclean water through your substrate before it goes through the filter pad/media.
Larger bits of debris are either collected in your substrate and broken down by microorganisms, or they are vacuumed out during water changes by bottom feeders or sucking gravel. Many of us started using undergravel filters, which were regarded to be the finest entry-level model for beginner aquarists at the time.
Internal and submersible filters, on the other hand, provide better filtration for a similar price and are much easier to maintain. I’m not sure whether undergravel filters are better than the other options.
Fluidized Bed Filters
These filters work in the same way as sand pool filters do. The gadget connects to the back of your tank and pumps water in.
After that, the water is filtered via a granular pile. These granules can be made from plastic, sand, or silica chips.
Fluidized Bed filters need the purchase of a pump to force water into the filter. Almost none of these filters are packaged with a pump.
Biological filtration occurs when beneficial bacteria grow on the surface of suspended particles. This device’s chemical filtration isn’t flawless, and mechanical filtration is just acceptable.
How to Choose the Best Filter for a Freshwater Aquarium
Here’s how to choose the correct filter for your aquarium now that you know everything there is to know about filter types.
What kind of filtration does your aquarium require? It depends on the environment, and as you add species and set up your tank, your filtration needs may change.
The Aquarium’s Size and the Inhabitants’ Types
The sponge filter, undergravel, internal, or submersible systems are the most cost-effective and low-flow solutions for aquariums of 10 gallons or less.
Submersible and internal types give greater mechanical and chemical filtration than sponge or undergravel systems for healthy Betta, shrimp, and plants.
When you need extra filtration, such as for goldfish or planted tanks, HOBs are a wonderful choice. They are available in the most sizes of any system, and are ideal for tanks ranging from 5 to 500 gallons. I recommend researching best aquarium filter reviews before deciding on a model because there are so many brands and pricing points.
For tanks under 20 gallons, canister filters are frequently far too strong. If you’re maintaining Bettas or goldfish, you may absolutely have too much current and circulation for their comfort. A canister, on the other hand, may be a wonderful cost-effective solution for planted tanks and big community aquariums above 50 gallons.
Flow rate, or the amount of gallons cycled through the filter every hour, is commonly used to grade powered filtration systems (gallons per hour or GPH). These are estimates, and the way you set up and maintain your filter will have a direct influence on how much water flows through your tank. If your filter pads become clogged with debris, your rates will drop drastically.
There’s a lot of debate about what the appropriate flow rate for an aquarium should be, and the fact is that it all depends on your tank. According to some websites, you should obtain a filter with a GPH of up to 6 times the capacity of your tank.
For the most part, I’ve found that this is too much for most of my tanks. A 120 GPH filter is normally unnecessary in a 20-gallon setup. My rule of thumb is to choose a filter that can handle 2 to 4 times the GPH of my tank, which is roughly 20 to 40 GPH for an average 10-gallon tank.
I generally have better results with many filters with lesser rates dispersed across the tank than with a single high-capacity filter in bigger tanks. You’ll have to experiment to find out what works best for you.
Technology of Filtration
Choosing the finest filtration system for fish tanks does not always imply selecting the most recent or technologically sophisticated type. After all, even if they are difficult to set up and maintain, sumps work on a very ancient and straightforward premise.
The more sophisticated your filtration system is, the more things may go wrong with it. Instead, I seek for tried-and-true technologies that have previously shown themselves in a variety of tanks across the world.
A decent, simple filter may frequently perform as well as, if not better than, a filter with a lot of sophisticated capabilities. Rather, look for filters with characteristics like silicon seals and easily accessible pads and media that make them easy to maintain.
In my daily life, I’m not a very brand-loyal person, but years of aquarium maintenance have made me skeptical of several aquatic enterprises. For a variety of reasons, I avoid off-the-shelf filters including those produced by unknown manufacturers.
To begin with, it’s better to choose a brand for which replacement parts and filter pads/media are readily available both locally and online. My fish were uncomfortable as I waited for an 8-week supply of cartridges from an off-brand filtration manufacturer in Asia.
In the long run, products and well-known brands with a track record generally prove to be more cost-effective. Impellers, for example, tend to live longer, so you won’t have to replace them as frequently. Online forums are also a good place to look for help on how to change your filter. A leaking inexpensive filter may also do a lot of harm to your floors.
Tips for Choosing the Best Aquarium Filter
Here’s how to choose the correct filter for your aquarium now that you know everything there is to know about filter types. It’s time to construct a to-do list! It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of aquarium filtration systems available. I’m going to bypass all the fluff in this article and focus just on the finest of the best.
The Top 9 Aquarium Filters are reviewed
Let’s have a look at some of the best freshwater aquarium filters currently available! These filters were chosen because they are manufactured by reputable companies, have cutting-edge filter technology, and are simple to replace. I am confident in saying that I would buy these filters and have done so in certain circumstances.
1. Fluval FX6 Canister Filter
The Fluval FX6 is a fantastic choice if you need a professional aquarium filter for a big aquarium up to 400 gallons. It has so many features that I can’t even begin to list them all.
The FX6 is a self-priming, almost leak-proof high-performance filter. With an additional kit, you can even use it to make water changes!
The stacked media bins are one of the most striking features. The seals prevent the water from bypassing the baskets, and you may tailor your filter material. Water leaking or backflowing into your tank is also prevented by the auto-stop valves.
2. Hikari Bacto Surge Sponge Filter
The Hikari Bacto Surge sponge filter is a well-known brand with a solid reputation for great quality.
The sponge quality is the key selling feature of this fish tank filter above its competitors. It has a bigger surface area than others on the market since it is very porous. The filter’s foundation is also different.
The filter’s structure allows it to be modified to be quieter than conventional sponge filters. Although they are more expensive than rival sponge filters, the design quality makes them worthwhile. They’re best used in shrimp aquariums and breeding tanks.
3. HOB Power Filter by AquaClear
The AquaClear power filter may be the finest choice for your house if
you’re searching for a HOB filter for a bedroom aquarium or one in a
place where sound may be an issue. It’s my quietest filter, and one of
the quietest HOB filters I’ve ever used. It might also be used in
conjunction with a canister system!
Power filter isn’t particularly sophisticated, which is to its advantage. It’s quiet since it doesn’t have a “bio-wheel” and doesn’t spray as much water as some HOBs. The flow rate can be adjusted, making it ideal for sensitive fish and shrimp tanks. It’s a remarkably long-lasting filter with a fantastic two-year warranty.
4. Bashsea Media Reactors – The Best Media Reactor
For me, this was a difficult entry. When it first came out, I was a major admirer of the NYOS Torq and thought it was the best media reactor.
Unfortunately, Torq manufacturing has ceased, necessitating the entry of a new player to fill the void left by the Torq. Bashsea has arrived.
Bashsea is well-known for its excellent sumps. They are extremely durable, dependable, and feature-rich. It’s the same with their media reactor. What is it about the Bashsea reactor that makes it so special?
The extra-large size and free-flowing design allow for the most amount of water-media contact time. Bashsea’s product is manufactured with a laser-cut water distribution plate that is unique to them.
This plate prevents media channeling and allows for easy filter media maintenance and replacement. Activated carbon, GFO, mixed media, nitrate reducers, and calcium reactors are all compatible with the chamber.
The main disadvantage is the cost, but given how beautifully crafted they are, you are receiving a piece of equipment that will last a lifetime.
5. Marineland Penguin Power Filter
I’ve owned at least 10 Marineland power filters in various sizes and consider them to be among the best premium HOBs on the market.
I’ve only had a few instances of water bypassing the media, and they provide consistent 3-stage filtration with an adjustable flow rate.
A prominent feature of this filter is the revolutionary “Bio-Wheels” for supporting colonies of good bacteria. No other HOB is likely to do bio-filtration as well as this one.
Such wheels, on the other hand, amplify the noise and pollution produced by splashing water. If you have hard water, you’ll have to spend a lot of time removing deposits from your tank.
6. Nyos Quantum – The Best Protein Skimmer
Protein skimmers might be difficult to find. Many have gimmicky characteristics, and brands love to identify all of these distinct aspects that purportedly distinguish them from the competition.
When it comes to the NYOS skimmer, I just consider one factor: performance. This beast of a skimmer is by far the greatest protein skimmer I’ve ever used. It has a basic design and functions similarly to its value-conscious skimmers.
This makes tuning and maintenance a breeze. The reactor chamber and needle wheel design distinguish this skimmer. Among all skimmers, the reactor chamber is one of the biggest for its size. The needle wheel is a Nyos Twister, which is a patented design.
This twister design provides the bubbles in the chamber an extra spin, considerably increasing the amount of time the bubbles have in contact with the reactor chamber. This is why the NYOS skimmer is so effective at eliminating garbage from your system.
Add to that the fact that the NYOS has an AC pump. You may rest assured that the pump will endure a long time. It’s a pricey skimmer, but if you have a high-end mix reef or SPS system, it’s definitely worth the money.
7. Aqueon Large Filter Quietflow Internal
One of the best 40-gallon aquarium filters is Aqueon’s internal Quietflow kind. It’s similar to a HOB in that it hangs or is suction-cupped to the inside of your tank, but instead of hanging outside, it hangs within.
This is an excellent option for a small planted aquarium with a few fish. I wouldn’t use this filter with delicate species, though, because the flow rate can’t be modified to meet the mild currents they need.
Reaching into the filter to change the media may be challenging in certain tanks. It’s still the tank I’d recommend for a 40-gallon plant-focused tank, and it’s also reasonably priced.
8. Penn Plax Cascade HOB Filter
Consider this Penn Plax HOB-style device for the finest 100-gallon aquarium filtration. When you consider its low price, it’s a surprise workhorse of a filter.
The Penn Plax, like many HOBs, has three stages of filtration, but unlike others, it also has a separate chamber that biologically cleans the water over time.
This filter has a high flow rate of 300 GPH and is readily adjustable, so you may lower it at meals to avoid food being sucked into the input. It also features a somewhat quiet engine, albeit not quite as quiet as the AquaClear. This is a fantastic option for a large aquarium!
9. Bubblefin Aquarium Sump Refugium DIY Kit for Protein Skimmer Sump
Because it removes the need for water changes, the triton filtration process is gaining popularity in the reef tank business. Trigger Systems’ sump is designed specifically for its format and is, in my view, the best aquarium sump on the market today.
In the triton layout, the sump’s refugium section is put first. The sump also has more room, allowing you to add macro algae and beneficial organisms.
The second segment has a protein skimmer, followed by bubble trap portions that lead to the return portion.
This layout appeals to me because of the probe holders and the closed cover for the refugium area. The baffles may also be adjusted to fit different skimmer types. It has all of the characteristics of a well-made sump in a format that is becoming increasingly popular these days.
The only criticism I have is the price. Other reefers may be put off by the fact that it is only available in one color. If you’re looking for a sump in this style and want quality, it’s certainly worth the money.
Having the greatest fish tank filter you can buy is the key to keeping your aquarium sparkling clean without putting in a lot of extra effort. The optimum solution will be determined by the size and setup of your tank, and many people like to use more than one type of filter. As your tank and fish grow, you can always add another filter.
What Best Aquarium Filter Is the Quietest?
A high-quality canister filter, in my experience, is the quietest best aquarium filters you can buy. Nothing else even comes close. A sump with an excellent overflow configuration gets close, but the return pump is frequently noisier than a canister filter.
Is It Okay To Use Two Filters In The Same Tank?
It is not required to have more than one filter in your aquarium if you pick the correct filter, such as those described above.
Though there are no regulations prohibiting you from owning more than one, you shouldn’t.
Is Having A Larger Aquarium Filter Better?
A bigger best aquarium filters is almost always the better option. In an aquarium, there is no such thing as too much filtration. The only issue you’ll have is with the flow of water. Low water flow rates are preferred by some fish and invertebrates, which you may accommodate by modifying your filters. Always get the biggest fish tank filters that you can afford and that will fit in your aquarium.
How Often Should You Clean Your Filter?
You don’t want your filter to clog or cause performance issues. As a result, you should clean your filter at the very least every two weeks. Large tank filters, on the other hand, should be cleaned every three to four weeks.
What Is The Best Aquarium Filter For Messy Fish?
You know how messy cichlids and platys can be if you have them. If you have these types of fish, ensure sure your filter has a fine porous media within and the option to add extra filter cartridges.
For this, a hang on back filter is your best bet.
Which Filter Is Best For Planted Tanks?
Almost any filter will do for planted tanks. Most of the ones mentioned above may be used with live plants because they are ideal for filtration and flow.
A filter with a modest flow rate and efficient mechanical filtration is required to remove particles from water.
What Are the Components of Fish Tank Filters?
Typically, a fish tank filter is composed of sturdy plastic or acrylic. A pump will be included in the filters, or an option to install one will be available. Mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration media are commonly stored in a three-stage filtering system.
What Are Some of the Top Aquarium Filter Manufacturers?
This is a great question, and it’s divided into two parts: freshwater and saltwater. Hagen, Fluval, OASE, Eheim, and Marineland are some of the most well-known freshwater brand names. CoralVue, Nyos, Ecotech, Reef Octopus, Red Sea, and Tunze are among the saltwater brands available.
When it comes to filtering systems, all of the manufacturers I mentioned above are reliable. You can’t go wrong with any of these manufacturers when it comes to fish tank filters. They all provide high-quality equipment that is supported by warranties and has a proven track record.
Should best aquarium filters be turned on all of the time?
Yes, if you have a filter installed, it should be active. As water passes through the filter, it is exposed to helpful microorganisms and toxins are removed, helping to keep your fish’s water healthy. The filter also creates a circulation in your aquarium to prevent dead patches from developing, which can be fatal to your fish.
Is it possible for a fish tank filter to be excessively powerful?
Yes, depending on the size of the filter, the size of your tank, and the type of fish you keep. If your filter is too large, it may produce too much stream and flow, causing your fish to seek for hiding and resting spots. Some filters offer a variety of flow options, allowing them to be utilized in a variety of aquariums.
With so many various best aquarium filters to choose from, it might be tough to select the finest aquarium filter.
Because this is a decision you make before setting up the tank, you have plenty of time to make your decision. You’ll also be considering what other equipment, such as a heater, you’ll require at this time.
The selection of filters becomes restricted once you’ve selected what you’ll keep in the aquarium and what tank size you’ll use. You can quickly select a filter that meets your fish’s demands by researching their requirements. After that, you can get down to the fun part of setting up the tank and adding fish.
What kind of filter do you employ?