Best Aquarium Filter (Reviews 2018)

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Are you looking for the best aquarium filter for your fish tank? 

If you have already experience in aquarium filter setup and know about filter types, then you can choose the filter from out top filters list below.

Aquarium filter is necessary to keep your fish tanks always clean. A lot of filter models are available in the market. You should consider the following items before purchasing a filter,

  • How large is your fish tank?
  • How much fish stock you are planning to add?
  • Is that a marine or freshwater aquarium?
  • How much time can you spend for maintenance?

Internal filter, sponge filter works fine in the small aquarium. But, for large aquarium tanks and more fish stocks need a filter which can circulate more gallons per hour.

I would recommend power filter, canister filter for big fish tanks.

In this article, we have explained in detail about different types of filtration and filter types.

Aquarium filtration types

The three types of aquarium filtration are,

  • Mechanical filtration
  • Chemical filtration
  • Biological filtration

Mechanical filtration

In mechanical filtration, all type of solid wastes is removed using mechanical filter media like sponge, foam, filter pad etc.

Chemical filtration

In chemical filtration, chemical contaminants present in water is removed using chemical filter media like activated carbon. Chemical filtration helps to remove odour of fish tank water. 

Biological filtration

In biological filtration, toxic elements present in the water will get removed by the bacteria formed in bio media like bio ball, scrubber, ceramic rings etc. 

Fish wastes and food remains in water will form ammonia which is very toxic to fishes. Bacteria can convert ammonia into nitrites and then nitrates.

Types of aquarium filter

Different types of aquarium filters available in stores are sponge filter, power filter, canister filter, undergravel filter, internal filter etc.

Aquarium filter types - Canister filter, Power filter, internal filter.png

Sponge filter

The sponge filter is usually used in small fish tanks. In this filters, water is forced to pass through the sponges which help in mechanical filtration by trapping solid wastes.

Sponge filter provide mechanical and biological filtration only. The biggest drawback of sponge filter is the lack of chemical filtration.

Power filter

The power filter provides better mechanical, chemical and biological filtration. These types of fish tank filter are mostly available as hang on back models.

Water is sucked from the tank using a tube inserted. Filtration happens inside the filter, and the filtered water is added back to the aquarium.

Canister filter

The canister filter is used in large fish tanks. This filter size is large compared to other filters, which helps to add more filter media.

Canister aquarium filter also provides three-stage filtration(i.e. mechanical, chemical and biological filtration). These are used in aquariums more than 45 gallons capacity.

Undergravel filter

The under gravel filters are placed under aquarium gravel. This filter provides both mechanical and biological filtration.

Filter pulls water through gravel. Mechanical filtration happens when water passes through gravel, and biological filtration occurs inside the filter.

Internal filters

Internal filters are commonly used in small aquariums. This is suitable for aquariums up to 25 gallons.

Internal filter comes with the suction cup which helps to fit this inside the aquarium glass. Some internal filters need separate oxygen pumps, but the majority filters have an air tube to suck air from outside.

Best fish tank filter in 2018

Choose an aquarium filter which suits your tank size, fish stock, type of aquarium(Marine or freshwater tank) and budget.

Following are the best fish tank filters available in markets 

1) Ehm Filter 2217 Classic Wm 264g

FIlter type
Canister Filter
Mechanical, biological, chemical
For aquarium upto
160 gallons
24-month guarantee

Ehm filter 2217 is a reliable canister filter which can easily run for a long time with minimum maintenance.

Ehm canister filter provides excellent mechanical, chemical and biological filtration which helps to keep your aquarium maintenance interval to 3 - 6 months.

Disconnect valves help in easy maintenance and cleaning.

Ehm filter water flow rate of 264gph makes this suitable for aquarium up to 160 gallons.

Filter comes with two ball valves which can be used to control the flow rate.

Ehm Fltr 2217 Classic Wm 264g Pros and Cons

  • 24 months guarantee.
  • Three stage filtration.
  • Maintenance is easy.
  • Priming is a little confusing as there is no self-priming feature.

2) XY-2831 Air Pump Sponge Filter

Filter type
Sponge filter
Best Aquariums upto
10 gallon
Type of Filtration
Mechanical and biological

XY-2831 is one of the best aquarium sponge filter available in cheap price range. This product provides both filtration and aeration for your fish tank.

This filter provides both mechanical and biological filtration.

XY-2831 Air Pump Sponge Filter is the best fit for 10-gallon fish tanks. This can be used in breeding tanks, Betta, guppy tanks.

We can quickly clean this filter by removing sponges and washing in aquarium water. Never wash it out from the running tap water because it will kill all the beneficial bacteria.

XY-2831 Air Pump Sponge Filter Pros and Cons

  • Price is cheap compared to other filters
  • Provides mechanical and biological filtration
  • Installation and maintenance are easy.
  • Suction cap need to be improved

3) Tetra whisper in tank filter

Filter Type
Internal Filter
For Aquariums Up To
20 Gallons
Suitable For
Aquariums and Terrariums

Tetra whisper in tank filter operations is quiet as the motor is submerged. It is one of the best aquarium filter available in the market for fish tanks up to 20 gallons.

The filter has large bio bag filter cartridges, and the package comes with bio scrubbers.  It is suitable for both aquariums and turtle tanks.

Tetra whisper filter tanks variants are available for 10-gallon, 20-gallon and 40-gallon aquariums.

Tetra whisper in tank filter pros and cons

  • Installation and maintenance is easy
  • Suitable for small fish tank
  • Quiet and inexpensive
  • Low-quality filter media.

4) MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter

Filter Type
Internal canister filter
Flow Rate
290 Gallons per hour
For aquarium Up To
97 Gallons
Three stage filtration

We can easily say that Marineland magnum polishing internal canister filter is one of the best aquarium canister filter available in the market. Its three-stage filtrations with a flow rate of 290 gallons per hour make this filter perfect for aquarium up to 97 gallons.

Marineland magnum polishing filter delivers chemical, mechanical and biological filtration. The package comes with activated carbon for better chemical filtration.

This filter has a dual chamber which can be filled either with activated carbon or filter media of your own choice. The dual chamber provides enough space for the bio bacteria to grow which helps in biofiltration. Marineland magnum polishing fish tank filter is easy to set up, and no priming is required as it is fully submerged.

MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter Pros And Cons

  • Three stage filtration
  • Easy to setup submerged filter
  • No priming required
  • You should clean the filter periodically to  avoid vibration and noise

5) MarineLand Penguin 200 Power Filter

Filter Type
Power Filter
Flow Rate
200 Gallons/Hour
For Aquarium Up To
50 Gallon
Three Stage Filtration

Marineland penguin 200 power filter delivers mechanical, chemical and biological filtration. Its three-stage filtration with a flow rate of 200 gallons per hour makes this filter perfect for aquariums up to 50 gallons.

Convenient Penguin Rite-Size Cartridges come ready to use with each filter.  Each contains new faster-acting Black Diamond Premium Activated Carbon. Activated carbon helps in better chemical filtration by removing toxic elements from water.

MarineLand Penguin 200 fish tank filters excellent biofiltration makes this one among the best aquarium power filters. This filter is suitable for both saltwater and freshwater aquarium tanks.

MarineLand Penguin 200 aquarium power filter variants

Model Gallons per Hour For Aquariums up to
Penguin 100 100 gph 20 Gallons
Penguin 150 150 gph 30 Gallons
Penguin 200 200 gph 50 Gallons
Penguin 350 300 gph 70 Gallons

MarineLand Penguin 200 Power Filter Pros and Cons

  • The filter is pretty quiet
  • Easy Maintenance
  • Three stage filtration keep your aquarium water clean
  • Excellent biofiltration
  • Bio-wheel maintenance should be done carefully to prevent damages.

6) Aqua Clear 50 Power Filter

Filter Type
Power Filter
Water Flow Rate
200 Gallons/hour
For Aquarium Up To
50 Gallons
2 Years

Aquaclear 50 power filter is a hang on back aquarium filter. It provides mechanical, chemical and biological filtration through its multi-stage filtration system.

This filter is suitable for 20 to 50 gallons (76 - 190L) aquarium and is easy to install. 

AquaClear 50 power filter is the best power filter with a maximum water flow rate of 200 gallons per hour, and flow can also be adjusted. Its power consumption of 6 watts with a flow rate of 200 gallons per hour makes this an energy efficient lower operating cost filter.

This filter has a 2-year warranty which comes equipped with AquaClear foam, AquaClear activated carbon, AquaClear BioMax ceramic rings.

We can put AquaClear foam insert in the bottom for mechanical filtration by removing tiny particles from water. AquaClear foam porous structure allows bacteria to grow inside which helps in biological filtration.

Keeping AquaClear activated carbon media in middle layer or top layer helps in removing impurities and chemical contaminants from water.

Aquaclear Biomax ceramic rings can also place in top or bottom based on your choice. Ceramic rings complex pore system allows bacteria to grow inside it. Bio bacteria will convert nitrite to nitrate which is suitable for fishes.

AquaClear 50 power filter maintenance

You should clean your filter every two weeks for maximum filter operation and efficiency. Make sure to unplug filter before cleaning.

It would be better if you replaced filter media in 3-4 months otherwise clean it properly. Activated carbon media should be replaced every 1-2 months for better filtration.

AquaClear 50 aquarium power filter variants

Model Gallons per Hour For Aquariums up to
AquaClear 20 100 gph 20 Gallons
AquaClear 30 150 gph 30 Gallons
AquaClear 50 200 gph 50 Gallons
AquaClear 70 300 gph 70 Gallons
AquaClear 110 500 gph 110 Gallons

AquaClear 50 power filter Pros and Cons

  • Multistage filtration system
  • Best aquarium filter with efficient energy pumps.
  • Equipped with Aqua clear foam, activated carbon, BioMax ceramic rings.
  • 2-year warranty
  • Occasionally make a bit annoying vibration noise.

7) Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Filter

Filter Type
Canister filter
Water Flow
265 gallons/hour
For Aquarium up to
100 Gallons
Model Number

Penn Plax cascade 1000 canister filter is one among the best canister filter available in the market, which provides mechanical, biological and chemical filtration.  The water flow of the Penn Plax cascade 1000 is 265 gallons per hour which makes this perfect for aquarium up to 100 gallons.

cascade 1000 canister filter is one among the best aquarium filter product of Penn Plax, which is a top pet supply manufacturer and seller.

This filter is suitable for both saltwater and freshwater fish tanks. It has three baskets for three-stage filtration. We can fill filter media of our choice in these baskets. 

Cascade 1000 canister filter is an external canister filter, where water is pumped to the bottom of the filter from top and filtration happens from the bottom layer to top layer. 

It is better to keep mechanical filter media like a sponge in the lower basket which helps in mechanical filtration by filtering out tiny particles. We can fill the second basket with biofilter media like bio rings, ceramic rings etc.

Bacteria forms in bio rings help in biological filtration. Use chemical filter media like activated carbon which helps to remove chemical contaminants from water which makes water clear and eliminates odour. We can achieve three types of filtration by adding filter media like this.

Cascade 1000 canister filter variants

Model Gallons per Hour For Aquariums up to # Media baskets
Cascade 500 115 gph 30 Gallons 2
Cascade 700 185 gph 65 Gallons 2
Cascade 1000 265 gph 100 Gallons 3
Cascade 1200 315 gph 150 Gallons 4
Cascade 1500 350 gph 200 Gallons 5

Cascade 1000 Canister Filter Pros and Cons

  • We can rotate filter valves 360 degree which helps in easy connection.
  • Large capacity media basket's.
  • Easy push button primer.
  • Filter package includes Spray Bar, Tubing, Directional Spout for full customisation and Filter Medium.
  • Flow rate cut-off valves for adjusting water flow
  • Separating filter for maintenance and putting back together should be done carefully to avoid water leakage.