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The 8 Best Hang-On Back Aquarium Filters

Filters are necessary for aquariums because they assist to maintain the water quality clean and fresh, which keeps the occupants healthy. To function effectively, every aquarium needs have some sort of filtration, and the first step is to locate the correct type of filter for your aquarium.

Many hobbyists dislike the look of filters immediately within the tank, which is where the advantages of a hang-on rear filter come in. Hang-on rear filters allow external filtration by clipping onto the aquarium's rims.

The majority of hang-on back filters produce a large amount of water, which generates a cascade on the surface. This may function as an aeration system, saving you money on a separate system that would damage the natural appearance of an aquarium.

BestForPets' (bestforpets.org) product guide has examined some of the best hang-on back aquarium filters that are visually appealing and suited for a wide range of aquariums.

Buyer's Guide

When comparing various hang-on back filters for your aquarium, keep the size and stocking rate in mind. Some fish, such as goldfish, are dirtier and need a stronger filter than bettas or tetras.

The aquarium’s size is also significant, since a filter that only processes tiny volumes of water at a time is only useful for small aquariums, but big aquariums demand a greater flow and input system.

The filter should be appropriate for the design of your aquaria; for example, some hang-on backs may be used with both a fishbowl and a normal tank, but others are only ideal for a rectangle tank.

The manufacturer will usually state what sort of aquarium and water volume the filter can tolerate in order for it to function properly.

Purchasing a Hang-On Back Filter

  • Choose a filter that is appropriate for the kind and size of your aquarium. If the filter is not suitable for your aquarium, you risk damaging it.
  • The filter should satisfy your budgetary criteria and not be expensive for what it offers.
  • Check that the filter has all of the filtering features you need. There are both opulent and simple hang-on back filters to suit various purchasers.
  • Before making a purchase, ask the producers as many questions as possible. This enables you to assess how communicative the makers are, as well as how the product functions outside of the instructions and information panel.


GPH is used to determine the power of a hang-on back filter for a certain sized filter. The products discussed above have a minimum flow rate of 75 GPH and a maximum flow rate of 600 GPH.

These models are appropriate for small and big aquariums. Small hang-on back filters are normally intended for tanks under 20 gallons, and bigger hang-on back filters are appropriate for tanks ranging from 30 to 100 gallons.


Some filters feature an aeration system that saves you money over purchasing it separately. Some filters use cartridges to change the media for chemical and biological filtration, which should be bought separately from the same supplier to confirm that the media is compatible with your kind of hang-on back filter.

The Flow Rate

Filters with adjustable flow rates allow you to manage the flow of water in your aquarium. Most include an adjustable slider or dial that allows you to modify the rate at which the water runs through the system.

The flow rate required is determined by the species of fish you maintain. A good general rule of thumb is that all of the water in your tank should pass through the filter three to four times each hour. To put this into perspective, a 30-gallon-per-hour flow rate will filter around 10 gallons of water.

Installing a Hang-on-Back Filter

  • Hang-on-back filtration systems are simple to install, operate, and maintain. You’ll only take around 5 minutes to put it up after you’ve determined where you want it to go on your tank.

  • Insert your filter media. Baskets are used in certain systems to designate where each media should go.
  • Install your filtration system. The majority of tanks include a cut-out designed expressly for a filter. If your tank lacks one, you get to choose the placement.
  • Filter should be primed. This entails filling it with water. You may skip this step if your filter includes a self-priming option.
  • Insert the filter.

Back filter systems do not need much upkeep. However, if you find that your aquarium is becoming unclean, it is time to clean your filter.

Unplug your system, dismantle it, and clean the tubes and pipes thoroughly. Before you replace the system, change or clean the filter material.


Penguin Bio-Wheel Multi-Stage Power Filter by MarineLand

The finest overall product is the Marineland power filter, which ranks first on our list due to the outstanding quality and advantages it provides. It is available in a variety of sizes, making it suitable for aquariums ranging from 10 to 75 gallons.

It distinguishes itself from rivals by delivering mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration for excellent water quality in an aquarium.

This filter works with the Marineland filter cartridges, which are sold separately. This filter has a revolving bio-wheel with unique technology that provides outstanding wet and dry biological filtration.


  • Filtration in three stages
  • Material that is long-lasting
  • Affordable


  • Too big for tanks under ten gallons.


Hang-on Aquarium Filter by Boxtech

The Boxtech hang-on back filter is the greatest value in this category since it incorporates a strong waterfall suspension oxygen pump that is submersible. It features a biological wall made of suspended activated carbon that offers filtration, oxygenation, and a clearing-oil film.

It is a lightweight and slender design that merges perfectly with the aquarium while remaining stylish and professional.

The engine produces little noise, and the adjustable flow valve enables you to tailor the current to the size of your tank and the kind of fish you maintain. This may be advantageous for fish species that require little or no current, such as the popular betta.

This filter may also be used in a fishbowl or a standard-sized aquarium, which is something that its rivals cannot do.

This filter is designed for aquariums ranging in size from 5 to 30 gallons, although it may also be used for larger understocked aquariums on high flow.


  • Suspension of a waterfall is included.
  • Noise production is low.
  • Perfect for fishbowls


  • Delicate and easily broken
  • Ideal for tiny aquariums


AquaClear Aquarium Filter

The Aquaclear fish tank filter is appropriate for aquariums ranging in size from 10 to 30 gallons. It’s our top pick because of all it has to offer as a filtering system.

It is easy to set up and operate, and it just has to be cleaned every two weeks for optimal performance and efficiency. This filter offers mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration and has a filtration capacity that is seven times that of similar hang-on back filters.

The better contact time with the filter medium and the energy-efficient pump in this aquarium filtration system result in reduced running expenses. The manufacturer offers a lifetime guarantee on the Aquaclear filter.


  • System of multiple filtering
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Installation is simple.


  • It is readily broken.
  • Every two weeks, it should be cleaned.


Fluval Power Filter C Series

The 5-stage clip-on power filter in this filtration system is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. It is appropriate for aquariums ranging in size from 40 to 70 gallons.

The two mechanical stages catch both big and tiny dirt, and the foam pads pull out effortlessly for fast cleaning.

Toxins are successfully removed by activated carbon for chemical filtration, and the biological stage includes a bio-screen pad that stops debris while providing a vast surface for good bacteria to flourish.

When the biological trickle chamber is filled with Fluval C-Nodes, it is supercharged for quick and efficient nitrification. When the flow rate is lowered, the unique recirculation grid improves mechanical filtering.


  • Clip-on 5-stage power filter
  • Both saltwater and freshwater applications are possible.
  • Improved filtration


  • Only for bigger aquariums.
  • Bulky


Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter with Quad Filtration System by Penn Plax

This silent hang-on back filtration system successfully provides 300 gallons per hour of crystal pure water to aquariums ranging in size from 55 to 100 gallons.

The innovative bio-falls is a quad-filtration system that uses anaerobic bacteria for enhanced nitrite and ammonia removal while maintaining optimal oxygenation.

The cartridges include activated carbon, which eliminates hazardous chemicals, poisons, smells, discolouration, and other impurities that may penetrate the water column and affect the aquarium’s environment.

The interior sponge filter promotes good bacterial colonization, while the poly-fiber floss in the cartridge traps floating particulate debris. This filtration system incorporates a flow control for easily reducing the flow of the filter.


  • Quiet
  • Filters a big quantity of water
  • Effectively removes pollutants


  • Pricey
  • Separate filter media must be bought.


Mignon Filter 150 Power Filter Azoo

This filtration system is quiet and effective, and it performs an excellent job at purifying aquariums while staying reasonably priced. It is simple to keep and clean, although it is prone to scratching and chipping if not handled with care.

It employs mechanical filtration to catch and remove material from the water column, but it must be cleaned regularly to function properly.

It may be used in aquariums up to 30 gallons in size, making it excellent for smaller aquariums or big fishbowls. It filters 120L each hour, which is quite effective at keeping the water clean and clear.


  • Quiet
  • Powerful
  • Affordable


  • Scratches and chipping are common.
  • Chemical filtration is not included.


Quiet Flow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filter by Aqueon

This hang-on back filter has an LED light that flashes when water is not correctly moving through the cartridge. This is used to signal when the cartridge needs to be replaced or cleaned.

If the power is stopped or restored without causing damage to the system, the self-priming filter pump begins automatically. With the addition of a customized pad filter, it enables chemical, mechanical, and biological filtering.

It has a high flow rate to provide ideal dissolved oxygen levels in the aquarium, promoting a healthy habitat for plants, invertebrates, and fish. This filter is designed for aquariums up to 20 gallons, although higher sizes are available from the same provider.

It employs a single medium Aqueon replacement filtration cartridge with a 10-filter pad size, which may be purchased separately as necessary.


  • Filtration in three stages
  • LED indicator light
  • Affordable


  • Material that is delicate
  • After a few years, the indication light may fail.


Power Filter for Marinas

The Marina power filter provides filtration for aquariums up to 20 gallons in size. It is self-priming and simple to maintain. For efficient current management, this filter has an adjustable flow control.

You may adjust the flow based on the size of your aquarium and the kind of fish you maintain. It is best suited for smaller aquariums; but, if understocked and a supplementary filtration system is installed, it may be kept in a bigger tank. It primarily makes use of biological and mechanical filtration.

Because the material is more sensitive, it should be handled with care to avoid the filter from shattering. This filter is somewhat longer and thinner than other hang-on back filters, making it a better choice if you don’t want a big filter in a single color.


  • Self-priming
  • Flow control that may be adjusted


  • Material that is delicate


For the best hang-on back aquarium filters, the MarineLand Penguin Bio-Wheel Multi-Stage Power Filter is our top option evaluated in this product guide since it has garnered good customer feedback and the device itself is of high quality and efficient in offering three-stage filtrations.

The Boxtech Aquarium Hang-on Filter is BestForPets (bestforpets.org) second choice since the accompanying goods are excellent value for money. It comes with everything you need to get started with hang-on back filters for your aquarium.

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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