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The 15 Best Saltwater Aquarium Filters

The last thing you need to worry about in your saltwater aquarium is a malfunctioning filter.

The removal of litter and toxins, as well as oxygen enhancement and the generation of an electric current in the water, are all aided by proper filtration, making it one of the most important ingredients for maintaining a saltwater aquarium.

BestForPets (bestforpets.org) has done the research and selected the best saltwater aquarium filters and compared their features so you can make an informed decision.

Hopefully, you'll be able to use the information in these reviews as a starting point in your search for the perfect filter.

Shopping Advice for the Finest Filters for Your Saltwater Aquarium

Finding the Best Filter for Your Saltwater Aquarium:

  • Choose a filter that can handle the volume of water in your tank, or go up a size if necessary. In this way, even if you overflow your tank, you can be assured that it will be adequately filtered. In addition to tank size, the type of filter you use will depend on its capacity. For a tank of such size, an internal or HOB filter is likely to be insufficient.
  • Canister filters are recommended for bigger tanks but aren’t always the best option for smaller or nano tanks.
  • Choosing a filter for your aquarium should be done with consideration given to the kind of plants, corals, and animals currently in your tank. It is important to know which corals and plants are most vulnerable to strong currents. Something that won’t suck in shrimp or fry is crucial if you keep them in your tank. Stronger filtration and current may be used in larger tanks since the residents are able to withstand it better.
  • What Would You Rather Do? When selecting a filter, it’s important to think about your own tastes as well. How about the HOB filter, do you like the aesthetic or would you rather have something less noticeable? While canister filters don’t take up as much room as HOB or internal filters, their bulky hoses might make them unsightly.
  • Availability is a factor to consider when selecting a filter, since you’ll want to be able to easily purchase spare components and more media if needed. Filters may be found that accept a wide variety of filter cartridges, but there are also those that will only work with certain brands. There’s no use in investing in a filter if you’re going to have trouble locating the components you need to maintain or repair it, especially if you need them fast or at the last minute.

Several Factors to Consider When Buying a Filter for a Saltwater Aquarium

  • Filter functionality is important, so pick one with lots of useful features. A high bio load tank may benefit more from a 5-stage filter than a 2-stage one. Some tanks really benefit from having the capacity to regulate the amount of energy released or the amount of current flowing through them, but this is not always the case. Is there a certain sort of feature that you’re looking for?
  • A solid guarantee that will replace your new filter if it fails unexpectedly two months later is essential. You should avoid purchasing a high-priced filter because of the high cost of replacement. A manufacturer’s warranty information can be obtained in advance of purchase if necessary.
  • Selecting a filter of good quality and durability should be a top priority. A loss of fish and possible floods due to brittle or cracked parts. Difficult-to-replace and/or easily damaged parts can rack up repair costs and necessitate an expert’s touch. When shopping for a high-end filter, be sure to get one that meets your quality expectations.
  • Pick a filter that is suitable for the size and number of fish in your aquarium. Don’t go away time and money on a filter that doesn’t contain the features your tank requires.


The Penn Plax Cascade Aquarium Filter is the ideal filter for saltwater aquariums because of its powerful features, high quality, and high efficiency.

The Marineland Bio-Wheel Penguin Aquarium Power Filter is a great alternative as it is both reasonably priced and well built. If you can afford a good product, the Fluval FX High Performance Canister Filter is a great buy.

There are so many filters to choose from, which can make narrowing down your options seem like an insurmountable task.

BestForPets (bestforpets.org) reviews of these best saltwater aquarium filters should be a starting point while you determine your aquarium preferences, requirements, and available funds.

Choosing a filter for your aquarium is a simple but important step in keeping the ecosystem of your fish and other tank inhabitants healthy. 


The Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter is Without a Doubt the Finest Aquarium Canister Filter Money Can Buy

We recommend the Penn Plax Cascade Aquarium Canister Filter for its versatility and efficacy in cleaning saltwater aquariums of varying sizes.

This canister filter is reasonably priced across four different capacities (30 gallons, 65 gallons, 150 gallons, and 200 gallons). Mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration are all available.

Includes big filter trays, filter material, and input/output tubing to get you started. More filter media may be used with larger filter trays, increasing the efficiency of the filtration process.

The filter can be quickly primed with the touch of a button, and it comes with adjustable flow rates, hose clamps, and 360-degree swiveling taps on the valves.

A silent motor and a rubberized base make it impossible to accidentally tip over. Easy to assemble and modify to your specifications.

Clearer water should be visible when the system is implemented.

You’ll want to keep track of the rubber feet on the base because they may be removed. Aside from that, the filter’s impeller has to be replaced sometimes.


  • Sizes ranging from XS to XL
  • Filtration might be chemical, mechanical, or biological.
  • Extra filter media can be stored in large filter trays.
  • Including filter media for first use
  • Contains all the necessary tubing and valves for installation.
  • Non-slip rubber feet prevent it from toppling over.
  • Very quiet performance
  • In less than a day, the water will be crystal clear.


  • To lose one’s rubber feet is a real possibility.
  • It is necessary to change the impeller every so often.


The Marineland Bio-Wheel Penguin Power Filter is an excellent addition to any aquarium

The Marineland Bio-Wheel Penguin Aquarium Power Filter is, for the price, the greatest filter for a saltwater aquarium. This filter provides excellent performance for its modest cost.

It comes in capacities ranging from 20 to 70 gallons, giving it a versatile option for small to medium aquariums that require chemical, mechanical, or biological filtration.

All you have to do to get started with this HOB filter is to place the filter cartridge inside and turn it on. The filter cartridges, which are housed in a two-piece vented cover for simple access and silent filtration, are responsible for both chemical and mechanical filtering.

Marineland’s innovative BIO-Wheel is used for biological filtration, and it has been shown to be successful in removing ammonia and nitrite. The tank’s height is not a problem because the intake tube can be repositioned.

It is recommended that the filter cartridges be changed out once a month. Some noise may be generated by the filter’s BIO-Wheel as it spins, even if the filter’s internal components itself run quite quietly.


  • Cost-effective
  • Sizes ranging from XS to XL
  • Filtration might be chemical, mechanical, or biological.
  • Incredibly simple to set up
  • The first filter cartridge is included.
  • It is not often that a new BIO-Wheel must be purchased.
  • Adjustable intake height


  • It’s recommended to replace cartridges monthly.
  • The BIO-Wheel might shake.


The Fluval FX High-Performance Canister Filter is an Excellent Option

If you have a saltwater aquarium, you should get the Fluval FX High Performance Canister Filter. The exceptional quality of this canister filter comes at a hefty price. You may choose between a 250-gallon and a 400-gallon capacity. Filtration can be performed on a biological, mechanical, and chemical level.

Filter trays, filter media, hoses, hose clamps, and an adjustable input make this canister filter suitable for a wide range of tank sizes. Thanks to its incorporation of “Smart Pump Technology,” the pump’s performance is constantly monitored by a dedicated circuit board, which makes fine-tuned adjustments to ensure peak efficiency. Simply add water and plug it in to get it going; it will prime itself.

Thanks to its rubber feet, which dampen vibration and so keep the unit running silently and efficiently, its click-fit valves, which are quick to set up, and its access valve, which makes refilling the water tank a breeze, the unit consumes minimal energy without sacrificing comfort. The pump’s small footprint makes it ideal for use beneath counters and in closets.

This filter may need to be cleaned more frequently than other canister filters due to its size. The included hoses may be too short to allow the filter to be installed beneath a tank, thus you may need to purchase longer hoses separately.


  • For big tanks, there are two sizes to choose from.
  • Filtration might be chemical, mechanical, or biological.
  • Filter media is included.
  • There is a height setting for the intake.
  • The use of Smart Pump Technology helps to preserve productivity.
  • It’s self-priming, simple to set up, and requires little maintenance between water changes.
  • Very low noise levels and low energy consumption
  • Rubber soles dampen sound.


  • Some canister filters may have a dirtier filter media and need to be cleaned more often.
  • There’s a chance the hoses are too short.
  • Expensive Cost


 Canister Filter, Marineland Magniflow 360

Filtering aquariums up to 100 gallons in size is no problem for the Marineland Magniflow 360 Canister Filter. Water is filtered and refined through chemical, mechanical, and biological processes.

Filter media, hoses, and valves are all included, along with everything else you’ll need to get going. Easy water changes are now possible thanks to the fast release that stops water flow.

Pressing a single button is all that’s needed to activate the self-priming function, making setup a breeze. And while it is designed to work with Marineland’s Rite-Size filter cartridges, it is adaptable to a wide variety of filter media.

The impeller in this filter only has to be replaced seldom, but when it does, it makes a lot of noise and rattles. Unfortunately, this filter offers few sizing options, making it a bad pick for aquariums of any size.


  • Can be used to purify water in tanks as large as 100 gallons
  • Filtration might be chemical, mechanical, or biological.
  • Includes using water as a polish
  • Contains all of the essentials for making a start
  • Easy water changes thanks to the quick release feature
  • Self-priming
  • Compatible with a wide variety of filter media


  • In the event that the impeller has to be replaced, it may become disturbingly noisy.
  • Fewer available sizes


Power Filter by Fluval for Aquariums

There is a 5-stage HOB filter available from Fluval called the Aquarium Power Filter. This system has two mechanical filtration chambers, one chemical filtration chamber, and two biological filtration chambers. It comes in three different sizes: 30, 50, and 70 gallons.

This filter is made of transparent plastic, which not only gives it a contemporary appearance but also makes it simple to determine when it needs to be cleaned.

All necessary filter material is included for immediate use. Adjusting the water flow from the filter in your tank is easy thanks to the included water output regulator.

A HOB filter like this has to be cleaned every few weeks. Certain filter media may be used again after cleaning, while others must be replaced. Overcrowded aquariums or those with untidy occupants may rapidly cause this filter to clog.


  • 5 level filtering system
  • Filtration might be chemical, mechanical, or biological.
  • In three different sizes.
  • Filter media included for immediate use.
  • Its sleek, plastic exterior clearly indicates when a cleaning is required.
  • Current can be regulated by the use of an output.


  • Needs a deep clean every several weeks
  • The need to replace certain filter media has arisen.
  • Blocks up fast in cluttered, overcrowded tanks.


Power Filter Aqueon QuietFlow for Fish Tanks

The Aqueon QuietFlow Aquarium Power Filter is an efficient HOB filter that comes in a variety of sizes and is ideal for aquariums of any size, but especially those of a small to medium size.

It’s available in 20-gallon, 30-gallon, 45-gallon, 50-gallon, and 90-gallon options. This filter has 5-stage filtration and improves available oxygen in the water.

This filter has a patented Bio-Holster design that reduces or eliminates splashing on return. It also makes this filter operate very quietly. It features a LED indicator light that flashes when the filter is clogged, allowing for you to be reminded when it’s time to change your filter cartridge.

It’s self-priming and will automatically restart itself after power outages and being unplugged, preventing leaks and motor burnout. This filter contains a bio pad for final biological filtering before the water is returned to the tank.

Although the high flow rate effectively oxygenates the water, it does not enable you to regulate the flow, making it potentially unsuitable for tanks containing delicate corals and plants. Large fish may dislodge the intake motor of this filter since it is submerged.


  • Sizes range from XS to XL.
  • 5 level filtering system
  • Bio pad provides chemical, mechanical, and biological filtering
  • Boosts the water’s oxygen content
  • There is minimal water loss and minimal noise during operation.
  • When the filter cartridge has to be replaced, an LED light will go on.
  • The ability to self-start and resume after a power outage


  • Extreme power without the ability to regulate it
  • Inappropriate for tanks housing delicate organisms.
  • The inlet motor is located below the water line, making it easy to dislodge


The Penn-Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter

Penn-Plax has designed a stylish HOB filter system called the Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter. This filter comes in a variety of sizes, including those suitable for tanks of 7 gallons, 10 gallons, 20 gallons, 35 gallons, 50 gallons, and 100 gallons.

A total of four distinct filtering processes are provided, including chemical, mechanical, and biological filtration at stages 2 and 3.

The filter media required to initiate operation of this HOB filter is included in the package. With its Bio-Falls Quad-Filtration system, which oxygenates the water and removes debris while encouraging the growth of good bacteria, this aquarium meets all of these criteria.

You may modify the filtration and current intensity with the turn of a knob. It can start up without having to manually prime it, and the intake may be set to different levels.

It’s constructed of transparent blue plastic, so you can see when it needs cleaning and it has a contemporary appearance.

This filter’s filter cartridges should be changed out often, maybe every few weeks. Maintaining this filter properly will keep it free of noise concerns. In some tanks, the length of the adjustable intake may be insufficient.


  • Made in 6 different sizes!
  • There are three distinct types of filtration used: chemical, mechanical, and biological.
  • Filter media is included.
  • The four-stage filtration used in Bio-Falls ensures enough oxygenation.
  • Flow Rate Variability
  • Adjustable, self-priming air intake
  • The plastic exterior has a contemporary design, making it obvious when it needs to be cleaned.


  • Filter cartridges should be changed regularly.
  • Prevents noise but requires regular maintenance
  • The height of the tank exceeds the capacity of the adjustable intake.


Water Purification with the AquaClear High-Efficiency Filter

The AquaClear Power Filter may be purchased in 20, 30, 50, 70, and 110 gallon capacities; it is a HOB filter. There are three types of filtration offered: mechanical, chemical, and biological.

This HOB filter comes with everything you need to get started right out of the box, making it very user-friendly. Energy is conserved as the water spends more time in contact with the filter material, resulting in cleaner water.

Because of its translucent grey color, you can easily see when it needs to be cleaned. If your filter needs to be placed some distance from an electrical socket, don’t worry; the included power cord is 6 feet in length.

When the filter media is blocked, the basket holding the media rises, forcing open the lid. To keep the filter working properly, the manufacturer suggests cleaning it and replacing the filter cartridges every two weeks.


  • Sizes range from XS to XL.
  • Filtration might be chemical, mechanical, or biological.
  • Filter media is included, and assembly is a breeze.
  • Allows the water to have prolonged contact with the filter medium.
  • Indicating when it needs to be cleaned, the grey translucent exterior lets you know right away.
  • Cord length for electrical outlet is 6 feet.


  • The filter media basket can cause the lid to pop up.
  • Filter media quickly becomes clogged when tank populations get too large or the bio load is too high.
  • Once every two weeks, per manufacturer instructions, you should clean or replace your filters.


Submersible Power Filter for Aquariums in Marina

A HOB filter, the Marina Aquarium Power Filter comes in three different sizes. Tanks of 10, 15, and 20 gallons may buy it, therefore it’s an excellent choice for smaller aquariums. The system incorporates both mechanical and biological filtration.

This filter can be activated in a flash thanks to its compact, see-through construction. To get you started, it has two filter cartridges and is self-priming.

This filter is equipped with a strainer sponge that can be placed over the intake to prevent even the tiniest of fish fry, crustaceans, and fish from escaping. The intake fan motor is dampened by being immersed.

Although it claims to be suitable for the tank size specified on the box, this filter is best used with a larger aquarium. The engine is silent, however the filter makes a lot of noise since it vibrates against the window. Poor upkeep increases the likelihood of this filter becoming clogged and leaking.


  • In three different sizes.
  • Translucent and compact self-priming design
  • Filter cartridges are included for immediate use.
  • Regulation of Flow
  • Cover the intake with a sponge filter.


  • Separation and purification processes that occur in two stages
  • Buying a size bigger is strongly suggested.
  • Creates a jarring vibration when pressed up against the tank
  • Overstocked and high bio load tanks increase the risk of clogging.
  • As soon as it becomes blocked, leaks will start to occur.


Aquatic Filtration System by Fluval for Fish Tanks

In-tank filtration is possible with the help of the Fluval Aquarium Underwater Filter. It comes in 15, 30, 40, and 65 gallon capacities. It’s able to filter out particles and microorganisms.

These bigger particles can get caught in the bio-foam sponge while smaller ones are trapped in the tiny foam pad of this filter.

A detachable spray bar ensures a consistent stream of water, making it suitable for use with delicate plants, corals, and even tiny animals.

It has an upper output that helps oxygenate the water and a lower output that moves stagnant water out of the tank. The filter cartridge may be easily replaced because the lid opens on a hinge.

Because of its internal design, this filter cannot handle large bio load tanks or excessive stocking levels. A blockage forms rapidly and effortlessly. Due to its compact design and frequent filter cartridge replacement needs, this filter is tough to maintain.


  • Sizes ranging from XS to XL
  • Filter media is included.
  • A detachable spray bar provides precise modulation of spray pattern.
  • As a bonus, it has both a top and bottom output to boost oxygenation and circulation.
  • Accessible by a flip-top lid


  • Separation and purification processes that occur in two stages
  • Filtration is insufficient for most aquariums.
  • The drain becomes fast and easily clogged
  • Poorly maintained
  • Routinely changing out filters
  • It’s possible that only Fluval filter cartridges will work in your system.

Author Image

Dr. Barry Buttler

Dr. Barry Buttler, DVM, MS, DACVIM, is an experienced veterinarian who specializes in the care of small animals, specifically dogs. Dr. Barry K. Buttler is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and holds multiple certifications in small animal emergency medicine and geriatric pet health.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Barry Buttler


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