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11 Best Aquarium Filters – Reviews & Top Picks

The filter is very important for the health of the inhabitants of the aquarium.

In addition to ensuring that the water in the aquarium stays clean, the filters also provide constant movement, thus serving to replenish the aquarium's oxygen supply.

You can purchase aquarium filters that are right for you and your tank.

To help you narrow down your search, BestForPets (bestforpets.org) has put together a list of the most popular, effective and reasonably priced best aquarium filters, full of in-depth reviews. .

How to Choose the Right Aquarium Filter

What does each filter type do?

It might be challenging to pick the best filter for your aquarium from the wide variety available on the market. Generally speaking, you will encounter these primary categories of filters:

Filtering sponges

This type of filter is the easiest and most often used one available today. These filters are both mechanical and biological, since they remove contaminants from the water by sucking them into the sponge and expelling purified air out the top.

The bubbles that emerge from the top of a sponge filter also act as an aeration mechanism, elevating the concentration of oxygen in the water.

There isn’t much to setting up this sponge filter; all you need is an air pump and some airline tubing.

Turning on the air pump forces air through the piping and into the sponge filter. While the actual sponge filters themselves may be inexpensive, the necessary tubing and air pump may add up quickly.

To accomplish both mechanical and biological filtration, filters often have a sponge part that accepts filter material (such activated carbon) in cartridges.

Cage or canister filters

However, despite their higher price tag, canister filters perform admirably. Using an input tube, valve, or sieve, they siphon water from the aquarium, pass it through filter material in a pressured canister, and then pump the clean water back into the fish tank.

If you use a canister filter, you’ll need to buy filter media and replace it at least once a month to keep the filter from becoming clogged.

Contaminants are screened out through internal mechanisms

Internal filters are simple to set up and usually don’t necessitate additional equipment purchases like air pumps. A big sponge or filter medium can be placed within an internal filter. The bulk of the filtering process will occur here.

These filters feature an inlet and an outlet; water is drawn in at the intake and released at the outlet in the form of a stream, a waterfall, or a trickle, replenishing the water supply in the tank.

Because a clogged filter can disrupt an aquarium’s delicate ecosystem, it’s important to regularly change the cartridge containing the media and any filter wool in internal filters.

Internal filters, as their name indicates, are situated underneath the water and typically include suction cups to adhere to the glass anywhere you choose.

Hob filters, or those that hang from the rear,

Although they can be cumbersome in appearance due to their protrusion over the edge of the aquarium, hang-on back filters are often quite effective in that they have three levels of filtration.

The unclean tank water is drawn into the filter by a long tube (the intake) that sits below the waterline and then passes through filter media cartridges en route to the outtake, which resembles a miniature waterfall.

Exactly why are filters essential in an aquarium?

Stagnation can result from letting water lie in a tank all day without stirring it around. There is no filtration to keep the water clean, no area for helpful bacteria to thrive, and no aeration; this is not a good habitat for plants or aquatic organisms.

Filters play a crucial role in developing a balanced habitat for aquariums.

Filters are essential for the survival of fish and invertebrates (and even some plant species). Filters are generally considered necessary unless you’re employing the Walstad technique to maintain a pristine aquarium.

Mechanical filtration, in which dirt and debris from the water column are sucked into the filter to keep the water clean; biological filtration, in which filter media and sponges are used to grow nitrifying bacteria; and chemical filtration, in which activated carbon is used, are all provided by aquarium filters.

The cleanliness and visibility of an aquarium depend on all of these filtering techniques working together.

Learn the ins and outs of aquarium filtration systems so you can make an informed decision.

  • The filter must to be reasonably priced and fit your financial plan.
  • Aquarium care should be simplified by its simple construction and cleaning.
  • Within an hour, it should be able to filter three times as much water as you have in your tank.
  • In order to keep the aquarium’s aesthetics in mind, it’s important to find a filter that blends in with the overall design of the tank.
  • The filter needs to be big enough to prevent clogging and allow for continuous water recycling in the tank.
  • If you opt to utilize a filter cartridge or built-in filters, you should be able to find the appropriate filter media for purchase.


Due to its low price and three-stage filtration system, the Marineland penguin bio-wheel energy filter is our top pick among the aquarium filters we’ve tested.

The Tetra Whisper internal filter is our second best pick because it’s very quiet and it includes an air pump, so you won’t have to buy one separately.

The BestForPets (bestforpets.org) in-depth analysis will assist you in choosing the best aquarium filter pump for your specific needs.


Overall, the best filter is the Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter

  • Style: back-mounted filter
  • A 20-30 gallon tank is ideal (150 GPH)
  • The Three Types of Filtration: Chemical, Biological, and Mechanical

For aquariums of varying sizes, the Marineland power filter is our top pick since it offers three distinct filtering methods at a reasonable price.

Water from the tank is sucked into the filter part of this hang-on-back filter, where it is purified and then recirculated back into the tank through a waterfall.

The revolving bio-wheel offers a kind of wet or dry biological filtration, while the filter itself contains biological, chemical, and mechanical filtering stages. This filter is available in five different sizes to accommodate aquariums of varying capacities.


  • Ensures both wet and dry filtering
  • Powerful, multi-tiered filtering systems
  • Affordable


  • Bulky


The Three-Pack Aquapapa Bio Sponge Filter Is the Best Deal

  • Type:    Sponge filter
  • Tank size:    Up to 60 gallons
  • Filtration:    Mechanical, biological

The best filter for the money is the Aquapapa sponge filter. You get 
three of these filters for a standard price so you can purchase these filters in bulk, which is beneficial if you own multiple aquariums that you want to stock them with efficient filtration systems.

Sponge filters provide both mechanical and biological filtration for aquariums and double as an aeration system.

The air infusion chamber produces numerous bubbles which help promote gas exchange by increasing the dissolved oxygen level in the water.

It’s easy to set up, and all you’ll need to do is connect airline tubing to the top of the sponge filter. The sponge traps waste particles mechanically which in return keeps your aquarium water clean.


  • Ideal for fish fry aquariums
  • Doubles as an aeration system
  • Easy to set up and clean


  • Airline tubing and pump sold separately


The AquaClear Filter Is the Best Option for Your Fish Tank

  • Style: back-mounted filter
  • Between twenty and fifty liters can fit in the tank.
  • The Three Types of Filtration: Chemical, Biological, and Mechanical

The AquaClear fish tank filter is our top pick due to its simple setup, ease of use, and three-stage filtering system (chemical, biological, and mechanical).

This filter is pre-loaded with a number of different filter media to ensure that the water is always clear.

Although this filter may increase the filtered capacity by a factor of seven compared to standard filters, it requires regular maintenance, including the replacement of the filter material every two weeks.

The filter is available in five various sizes, spanning from 5 to 110 gallons, so you can choose one that works with your aquarium.

This filter comes with everything you need to get it set up in your aquarium, but the filtering media that goes into it must be purchased separately.


  • It provides three distinct types of filtering
  • It’s available in five distinct sizes.
  • Outfitted with filter media


  • Each and every two weeks, cleaning is required.


An Internal Filter and Air Pump for Tetra Whisper Aquariums

  • Style: internal filter
  • Maximum capacity of 30 gallons (170 GPH)
  • Biological and chemical filtration

This filter style is installed on the interior of a tank rather than dangling from the outside. This internal filter is silent and effective with the capacity to loop a big volume of water via its system to maintain the water column clean.

The Tetra Whisper internal filter features adjustable water flow, so it can be used in various sized tanks with different species of fish without the output current growing too strong.

It also contains mounting suction cups for simple insertion in an aquarium where it will attach to the interior of the glass.

An already built filter cartridge is included with each filter, but when it becomes clogged with dirt and dust, you’ll need to replace it with fresh filter media from the same manufacturer.


  • Simple to set up
  • The completed cartridge is included at no cost.
  • Adjustable settings
  • Includes air pump


  • New filter media must be ordered separately


Double-Sponge Filter for Aquariums, Made by Hygger

  • Filter sponge
  • 10-40 gallon tanks are the norm.
  • The Three Types of Filtration Systems

The Hygger twin sponge filter may be used in tanks of various sizes to help maintain clean, clear water.

The bio-sponge filter promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms, which maintains a constant water temperature and pressure.

The filter components are removable and straightforward to set up, and as an added benefit, you get two extra sponges to swap in when the originals become clogged with detritus.

This filter may be taken apart and cleansed in the tank’s old water, and its sponges should be changed out once a week to keep it functioning properly.

The sponges serve to collect waste from the aquarium, while the filter medium does chemical filtration and offers a habitat for beneficial microorganisms.


  • Simple set up
  • Two more sponges are included.
  • This filter has three levels of filtration.


  • It’s recommended to clean sponges every two weeks.

Author Image

Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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