Fishing Around for the Best Aquarium Filter

Aquarium filters are purchased in order to maintain a long lasting environment that is healthy for any marine life living in the tank. They are critical to the survival of the habitat and make sustaining an aquarium effortless. Depending on the type of aquarium a person chooses to maintain; a different filter will be required. The size of the fish tank and the type of water that will be inside of it are major factors when purchasing a filter.

By understanding the benefits and features of the different types of aquarium filters have to offer, a consumer will be able to determine the best aquarium filter for their needs. As with many of the models listed below in our chart, there are smaller and larger versions of each that would qualify for your filtration needs. Once you found the brand and type of filter you like, be sure to dig further within the page to find the other sizes provided.

Top 10 Comparison Chart

ModelFilterTypeCapacityGallons Per HrRatingPrice

Aqueon 06079 QuietFlow 55/75 Power Filter
Internal Quietflow Power Filter (other sizes)55-75400$

Fluval C4 Power Filter
Internal Power Filter (other sizes)40-70264$$

AquaClear 20 Power Filter
Internal Power Filter20100$

Cascade® 1000 Canister Filter
Canister Filter (other sizes)100 265$$$

Fluval 206 External Filter
Canister Filter (other sizes)40206$$$

Fluval 406 External Filter
Canister Filter (other sizes)100383$$$$

Penn Plax Cascade 700
Canister Filter (other sizes)65185$$

Penn Plax Premium Under Tank Filter
Undergravel Filter (other sizes)5511" x 46"$

Lee's 10 Premium Undergravel Filter
Undergravel Filter (other sizes)1010" x 20"$ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Learn more.

Understanding a Canister Aquarium Filter Vs Power Filter

There are several different types of aquarium filters on the market that a person can choose to buy for their tank. All of them range in size, price, and the amount of features each filter offers. The most common types of aquarium filters are the canister filter and the power filter. Both offer similar benefits for the environment and fish but they are different when it comes to the stages of filtration they provide.

The main difference between canister filters and power filters is the amount of water they are able to easily pump and filter within an hour. A canister filter has an easier flow and is considered to be more gentle than the power filter. A power filter has a stronger water flow and typically goes through more filtering stages.

Another vast difference between the two filters is that the canister filter will usually sit on the outside of the tank and pump water through the hoses that are attached to it. The power filter will sit inside the tank and will usually have a feature of automatically priming itself.

Depending on the type of environment you are planning on maintaining in the aquarium will also help you narrow down the type of filter you will need. Saltwater fish and freshwater fish have different needs in order to survive inside the tank. If plants will be added to the aquarium, they will also need to be considered when choosing the right filter to purchase. Another ultimate factor is the size of the tank you plan on maintaining. Larger tanks will need a more powerful filter to keep the water from becoming cloudy. Learning about the most popular fish tank filters in the market right now will help you understand the differences among them and identify which qualities you prefer in a filter.

Discovering the Top Filters for Your Aquarium

Isolating the top aquarium filters is no easy task as there are so many on the market already. It’s a very confusing when shopping for them but that’s why we’ve narrowed them in a easy, simple list here. You’ll find both Power Filters and Canister Filters to meet your needs. Let’s take a look.

Top Features of the Aqueon QuietFlow Filter 55/75 400 GPH 

55_75 400 gphThe Quiet Flow filter from Aqueon is considered to be one of the best fish tank filters in the market right now. It is one of the most commonly used filters because of the features it has to offer and the affordable price. A nice characteristic of this filter is that it automatically starts up after the cleaning process or if there are any power interruptions. This is nice for someone who travels frequently because they do not have to worry about whether or not their aquarium habitat is remaining healthy during their absence.

This filter can process 400 gallons of water per hour and is meant to be used in large tanks.The amount of water it turns over ensures cleaner water for the fish while remaining quiet during the process. People who have aquariums in their bedroom will want an almost silent aquarium filter. The internal pump design allows it to prime itself during use making maintenance effortless. Read more about the Quiet Flow 55/75 in greater detail.

The cheaper Quiet Flow Power Filter 10 is the smaller version of the Quiet Flow Filter 55/75, as is the QuietFlow 20, QuietFlow 30, and QuietFlow 40. The Power Filter 10 is meant to be used in small to medium fish tanks and can only process 100 gallons of water per hour. This freshwater aquarium filter includes all of the same features but produces on a smaller scale. Here are the stats associated with the rest of the Quietflow’s:

QuietFlow 20 = for 20 gallon aquarium and handles 125 gallons of flow per hour

QuietFlow 30 = for 30 gallon aquarium and handles 200 gallons of flow per hour

QuietFlow 50 = for 40 gallon aquarium and handles 250 gallons of flow per hour

Top Features of the Fluval C4 Power Filter

fluval c4 filterThis saltwater aquarium filter is considered a power filter because of the 5 stages of filtering it performs on each gallon of water. The cleaning indicator light notifies the owner when the polyfoam inside the filter needs to be cleaned and rinsed out. The Fluval C4 has an extremely easy setup straight out of the box. The clip on feature makes maintenance fast and painless.

The refiltration flow system allows the owner to adjust the water input depending on the type of fish and plants that are placed in the aquarium. Some types of fish are sensitive to a powerful water flow and can not survive. This is considered the best aquarium filter for gentle water flow. The alternate filter inserts that can be purchased separately allows anyone to create the exact type of fish tank they desire. This product also comes with a 2-year warranty on any defects of the filter making it a great water for your next purchase.

Learn more about the Fluval C4 Power Filter by reading our full review.

Top Features of the AquaClear 20 Power Filter

AquaClear 20 Power Filter 2This is a great option for a fish tank filter if the aquarium you are trying to maintain is 20 gallons or less. It is meant to be used for smaller tanks and can process 100 gallons of water per hour. The installation is quick and easy and can be done by a newbie to aquarium maintenance. The amount of water the Aqua Clear processes per hour is almost 7x more than the comparable products in the market.

When the water is filtered out back into the tank, it comes out in the form of a waterfall that is both tranquil and quiet. The attached media basket prevents any water from by-passing the filter which ensures that every drop of water will pass through the filter. This is an awesome feature because it guarantees that the water in the fish tank will stay clean, clear, and healthy for the fish. For owners of a small aquarium, read up on our full review of the Aqua Clear 20.

Top Features of the Cascade Canister Filter Pump 1000

cascade aquarium filterThe Penn Plax Cascade 1000 is a canister filter that is known for its high quality and sleek design. There is a button on the filter that can be easily pushed in order for the it to be primed or started. The rubber base on the filter ensures that it will stay in place inside the fish tank and prevents it from tipping over from the movement of the water. The extremely quiet flow rate is achieved by an airtight seal around the top and  bottom of the filter.

The most popular feature about this Penn Plax aquarium filter are the two independent 360 degree rotating valves that it contains. This allows for maximum coverage in the smallest amount of time. The two directional valves can be easily adjusted to a flow rate that suits the needs of your aquarium. This freshwater aquarium filter is meant to be used in aquariums that are 100 gallons or less and pumps 265 gallons per hour when in use. They are other versions of the Penn Plax Cascade as well, all varying in how much water they can pump per hour while in use:

Cascade 500: ideal for aquariums up to 30 gallons and handles 115 gph of flow

Cascade 700: ideal for aquariums up to 65 gallons and handles 185 gph of flow

Cascade 1200: ideal for aquariums up to 150 gallons and handles 315 gph of flow

Cascade 1500:  ideal for aquariums up to 200 gallons and handles 350 gph of flow

Click here to read more about the Penn Plax Cascade 1000.

Top Features of the Fluval 206 External Filter

fluval 206 canister filterThis is one of the best fish tank filters a person can purchase for their fish tank. It is high quality and offers many features in a small package. It can be placed in a saltwater aquarium or a freshwater aquarium depending on your needs or if you decided to switch up the environment later. The filter provides the clearest water the best in fish tanks that are 45 gallons and under, with a pump output of 206 gallons.

This aquarium stands out above the rest because of its clog-proof strainer and dual layer foam screen it provides. The Fluval 206 Filter includes the patented AquaStop technology which provides an airtight seal that remains even after the hoses are disconnected. It also includes 3 basket chambers that have their specific jobs during the filtration process. Since it has multi-tiered baskets, there are fewer maintenance intervals. The 3 year warranty makes this fish tank filter a great investment. You can check out a more in-depth review of the 206.

Fluval also has smaller and larger versions of this external filter:

Fluval 106 = good for aquariums up to 25 gallons and pump output of 145 galloons

Fluval 306 = good for aquariums up to 70 gallons and pump output of 303 gallons

Fluval 406 = good for aquariums up to 100 gallons and pump output of 383 gallons

The Time Has Come

We hope the information provided will help you make an easy decision on the type of filter you need, as well as the brand you want based on your aquarium size. Aquariums come in all shapes and sizes so be sure to check out the other models of the brands you like to fit your aquarium size perfectly.