Best Aquarium Filter 2018 (10 Best Freshwater Fish Tank Filters Review)

So, you are looking for the best aquarium filter?

The moment you decide to set up a freshwater aquarium at your home, you will start thinking about the size of your fish tank, the variety of fishes, other water species you would choose and some accessories.

But the important thing which keeps the freshwater aquarium clean and fresh is the aquarium filter. Fish needs oxygen and cool temperature to live a long and healthy life. If you have not installed the best fish tank filter, your fishes may die sooner than its life expectancy.

There are few aspects which you need to consider before buying a freshwater aquarium filter. It includes the capacity, airflow, type, motor noise, capabilities and most importantly value to the money.

There is an unimaginable number of aquarium filter brands in the market with the various range of price tags. If you choose a wrong one, you may end up buying new fish tank filters very often and may potentially lose your hard earned money on this frequent replacements.

Many people looking for the quietest aquarium filter. So, to make an informed decision, I give you this best fish tank filters review. These tanks are suitable for both turtle and fish!

10 Best Aquarium Filters 2018 Comparison

Aquarium Filters CapacityWarrantyPrice
1. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter200 Gallons3 Years
2. Fluval External Filter100 Gallons3 Years
3. Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter100 Gallons3 Years
4. EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter92 Gallons1 Year
5. Fluval Canister Filter, FX6 Filter400 Gallons1 Year
6. Ehm Fltr 2217 Classic Wm160 Gallons2 Years
7. AquaClear Power Filter110 Gallons2 Years
8. SunSun Hw304B 525GPH Pro Canister Filter150 Gallons1 Year
9. 200 Gallon Filter Aquarium Fish Tank 200 GallonsNA
10. Pingkay 3-stage External Canister Filter100 GallonsNA

Best Aquarium Filter Reviews 2018

1. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter 1500

best aquarium filter

Now, nearly a month of operation, I can say that I was extremely happy with this aquarium filter. It is very easy to operate and in a few days, it is very impressive, with surprising clearness and no fish odor. It is very quiet too which I love. Filter maintenance is easier because of the loose loading design. A budget pick and highly recommended!

Penn Plax Cascade is a canister Aquarium Filter! This is the most popular aquarium filter brand, bought by the large crowd of users who owns a freshwater aquarium!

This canister aquarium filter helps you keeps your fishes healthier and your fish tanks cleaner. This is big and mighty, the height of this external canister aquarium filter is about 20 inches.

Since it is an external device, maintenance becomes more easy and convenient, you don’t have to remove the complete intake and output tubing. Hoses are a little stiff, but not too hard to work with. The motor and water flow design is an improvement over the bargain filters.

Setting up this external fish tank filter is very easy with the included instruction manual, it might take several minutes but it’s easy. If you’re a first-timer, you may take several more minutes, but in a way, it helps you to understand the functionality of an external aquarium filter better.

Penn Plax Cascade canister 1500 Aquarium filter can be used for both freshwater and salt water. Even if you have saltwater fishes, you can use this external aquarium filter without any worries, it will work well on your tank.

It can provide 350 Gallons of water flow per hour, which means if you’re fitting it on a 200gallon fish tank, your tank’s water is filtered 1.75 times per hour. Cleaning the external canister aquarium filter is pretty easy, but you spend some time on it every now and then, when you’re buying something which is durable and powerful.

Some people complaining about the noise it produced. If it starts making noise it means that air is trapped in the filter and you need to get it out by adding water directly to the filter or shaking it to get the air bubbles out.

Features
  • 350 GPH, recommended for aquariums up to 200 gallons
  • 5 large media baskets can be customized to meet the needs of all aquarists
  • Easy to use push button primer for quick and easy setup
  • Flow valves can be easily removed for canister maintenance while your hoses, intake, and output remain at the aquarium
  • Swimming pool style rotating valves with flow controls
  • 3 Year Warranty on all Cascade Canister Filters
Pros
  • Easy to setup
  • Easy priming
  • Sturdy construction
  • Ergonomic design
  • Durable and long-lasting performance
Cons
  • Needs frequent cleaning as it tends to clean up a lot of water in short span

I have tested many canister filters and this is one of the best I have owned in recent times. It works great has a great price easy to set up and maintain. The filter is quiet, it works great, and doesn’t require constant cleaning. Definitely better cost to gain ratio than Floval or other high-end filters. If you are a budgeted buyer, then without further ado get this best fish tank filter.

2. Fluval External Filter 406

best freshwater aquarium filter

I’ve come to trust Fluval products for their quality and craftsmanship. They’re a little more expensive but they’re worth it! When it comes to raising fish I’ve found out cheaper usually means headaches down the road.

To be frank, I cannot believe what a difference this filter has made in my aquarium. It keeps the tank super crystal clear! Overall I’m happy with it and lot better than the filters that hangover and the motor is super quiet. Some people have gripes about the unique grooved plastic tubing but I find it works great with my set up.

Fluval 406 is an External aquarium filter for Freshwater aquariums and saltwater aquariums. It is the high-end filter will all advanced features. If you never mind about the budget, then get this advanced aquarium filter for your fishes.

The four media buckets make this filter as a capable fish tank filter in this price range.

The 383 gallons per hour capacity does maximum possible water filtration in short span. A high flow rate is the most needed feature in external aquarium filters from each and every user. Fluval 406 scores well in this part.

This fish tank filter has an impeller that dampens the noise, which many users found very useful, especially if you’re gonna spend a lot of time in the room where you have your fish tank. Noise from a fish tank filter is gonna be constant, if it is louder then you may start getting annoyed by its sound.

The square-shaped canister aquarium filter holds 35 to 50% more water than other round canister filters, thus allows more water to flow in and get filtered constantly.

More water flow with multi-stage filtration process means, more oxygen generated and the fish tank will also look tidy and fresh due to the frequent debris clearing.

The aquastop valve is something which is very helpful when you clean the external aquarium filter, it stops the water flow without removing the tubing.

Features
  • Built with a patented Aquastop Valve, multiple filtration baskets, and rim connector assemblies
  • Equipped with a clog-proof intake strainer and a dual layer foam screen
  • Multi-stage filtration for healthy fresh & saltwater aquariums
  • Sound dampening impeller design for a quieter operation.
  • Suitable for aquariums up to 100 gallons. Flow Rate: 1450 LPH (383 US GPH)
  • The Fluval 406 Canister Filter has a unique square-shaped canister design that holds 35 to 50% more water than other canister filters.
  • 3 years warranty
Pros
  • High filtration capability
  • Less noisy compared to its competitors
  • Clog proof intake strainer and dual foam screen
Cons
  • Price is on the higher side

This is one of the best aquarium filters for freshwater fish tanks with great filtering capabilities, the higher GPH increases the count of cleaning per day. Easy to use and maintain. This is by far the best fish tank filter in this price range.

3. Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter

best fish tank filter

Marineland Magniflow is an external canister filter for freshwater aquariums and saltwater aquariums. My water is well-filtered, and this canister is very quiet, you can barely hear a thing. I did not have any type of leaks, neither in hoses nor in the body of the filter.

This external fish tank filter has a height of 18 inches, pretty big and the baskets have more space to increase the efficiency.

Setting up this external canister fish tank filter is easy and effortless, even a first timer can do the setup within 20mins, after setting up if you push the quick prime button, the filter chamber gets filled with water for self-priming system startup.

Also, the filter has a variety of upgrades which you can buy anytime later, these upgrades are available online widely with many online retailers.

This aquarium filter for freshwater and saltwater is loaded with black diamond carbon, which amazingly cleans the water and prevents water discoloration, thus you get cleaner and healthier fish tank environment for your favorite pets.

Filter foam pads are made durable and it clears the debris and dirt efficiently. Marineland Magniflow is a 100-gallon fish tank filter which does aquarium filtration process in a great and effective way. Also, the fish tank filter is covered with 3yrs warranty.

Features
  • Black Diamond Carbon Removes odors, discoloration, and water impurities
  • Canister lids ensure a watertight seal. Easier to remove the top to access media baskets
  • Filter Foam pads screen out dirt and debris
  • The bio-filter balls and ceramic rings provide a large, multifaceted surface area for the growth of bio spires
  • The polishing filter pad acts as a water polisher removing fine debris
Pros
  • Easy maintenance
  • Great filtration capability
  • Durable construction
Cons
  • Need maintenance very often
  • Need to change the foam and carbon very often which adds up to the maintenance cost

Anyway, this unit is stout, sturdy, well made, quiet and comes with everything you need. Though this aquarium filter is high in maintenance cost and effort, still this is one among the best fish tank filter with efficiency and durability. If you’re looking for a good fish tank filter with great capabilities, this is an ideal choice for you.

4. EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter

aquarium filter reviews

EHEIM Classic External Canister Aquarium filter is made with a decent GPH capacity to take care of fish tanks with up to 92-gallon tank capacity.

When you’re looking for a best external canister filter, it is obvious that you do the cleaning and maintenance yourself. In such cases, the aquarium filter should be medium sized with handles to pull out the baskets, easy to stop and disconnect while cleaning.

On top of all these, the external canister filter should be easy to install. The filter is super quiet when primed and running.

If you had already installed a canister filter for an aquarium, then this is gonna be a straight-through process, else you should take look at video tutorials which are available online for installing this external canister filter.

Performance wise this is one among the best-rated aquarium filter in the mid-price range, the overall construction of this external canister filter is made with quality materials. Can last longer than expected if you maintain it properly.

The common problem with external canister filters is its noise, but EHEIM Classic is comparably silent than other similar range aquarium filters.

Features
  • Accessories included: spray bar, inlet pipe, hose and installation accessories
  • Comes complete with filter media (EHEIM Mech & Substrat Pro) and valves
  • Equipped with filter sponges and/or loose filter media
  • Permo-elastic silicon sealing ring fixed on the pump head for easy and safe closing after cleaning
Pros
  • Comes loaded with Substrate Pro bio media
  • Very quiet, just a slight hum from the unit
  • Lots of flow for larger tanks.
  • Easy to maintain
  • Fairly priced
Cons
  • A ceramic impeller is fragile
  • Gripping the canister is difficult
  • Replacement parts are not in stock most of the times

This is one of the best aquarium canister filters in terms of the great filtration process, the motor functions more silently than many external canister filters. If you’re looking for a silent and powerful best canister filter then this is a good choice for you.

5. Fluval Canister Filter, FX6 Filter (400 Gal)

quietest fish tank filters

Another one form Fluval! Great filter with lots of flow for your tank. It runs forever without clogging and has plenty of flow to handle the heavily planted aquarium. If you have a turtle or a big fish, it’s worth the money!

The Fluval Canister filter is a large fish tank filter with a whopping 563gph capacity. Which means in an hour 563 gallons of water goes in and out of this large fish tank filter, multi-directional output nozzle make it easy to spread the output in the tank in opposite directions.

If you’re gonna install this external canister filter on large fish tanks, you can feel the tank’s temperature goes down within few hours and the water became crystal clear within a day.

Smart pump technology has an electronic circuit board which monitors the pump, impeller speed, and force, it also stops the pump once in every 12 hours to exhaust any air that builds up within the system.

This External aquarium canister filter has a huge capacity, but still, it is more compact when compared with similar capacity fish tank filters, works well on both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

The height of this external canister filter is about 21 inches, which is relatively small with such a huge capacity. The filtration process is tuned to perfection with the included foam inserts in every layer, the baskets are capable of holding 5.9 liters of water and stacks it to the filtration system.

Features
  • Built with a monthly maintenance reminder
  • Features Smart Pump Technology for optimal filter performance, efficiency, and management
  • For aquariums up to 400 gallons
  • Multi-Stage Filter that produces healthy aquarium water, freshwater or marine aquariums
  • Self-starting filter-just add water and plugin. Head height (maximum): 3.3 m (10.8 feet)
Pros
  • Recommended tank size with up to 400gallons capacity
  • Efficient and power saving smart pump technology
  • Suitable for big and also small fish tanks
  • Nice media trays
Cons
  • Maintenance is time-consuming
  • Price is on the higher side

If you’re looking for a best external canister filter with high performance for your large fish tank, this large fish tank filter can solve your purpose by attaining great consistency and durability. Worth paying the extra bucks.

6. Ehm Fltr 2217 Classic Wm

fish tank filtration systems

Eheim Classic sets the standard for canister filters.  The design of 2217 prevents any water bypass. So every drop of water that enters the filter passes through the mechanical filters and then the biological filters.  They come fully stocked with media. They are easy to assemble which in turn makes them easy to clean.

Ehm Fltr 2217 Classic Wm is a medium size fish tank filter that is suitable for tank size up to 160 gallon water capacity. It has a GPH capacity of 264 gallons. If installed in a small fish tank, the performance and longevity can be way higher than expected.

The best type of fish tank filters always has a durable exterior and effective filtration settings, Ehm Fltr has mechanical, biological, chemical and adsorptive filtration settings which required less maintenance.

The construction of this external canister filter is made with high-quality materials to attain the best standards. Maintenance becomes easy with its one chamber design, removing the baskets for cleaning doesn’t take much effort.

Ehm Fltr depends more on it’s brilliantly calculated water flow and oxygen enrichment, when the water is circulated constantly along with optimal oxygen enrichment, the aquarium becomes more cool and breathable for fishes.

This fish tank filter is designed to circulate the precisely calculated volume of water with an optimal balance between mechanical and biological long-term filtration. The unit is also covered with a 24 months guarantee by the manufacturer.

Features
  • Ideal for specific purpose filtration such as Chemical /Adsorptive (carbon).
  • Includes fine, coarse, and carbon pads
  • Optimum conditions for successful aquarium keeping, with 3-6 month maintenance intervals.
  • Tanks to 160gal 264gph Filter volume 1. 6gal Tubing 594 (5/8″) (16mm) in x 494 out (1/2″)(112mm)
  • Packed with ehfimech & ehfisubstrat Power consumption 20w Weight 14. 5lbs
Pros
  • A long-term performance with optimized settings
  • Balanced filtration process
  • Fairly priced
Cons
  • Not suitable for large tanks
  • Needs frequent maintenance

This is one of the best small fish tank filters with capacity up to 160 gallons. If you’re looking for the best external canister filter which requires less frequent replacements, then this is a good choice for you.

7. AquaClear Power Filter 110v

external fishtank filters

The AquaClear Power Filter 110v has a unique design which is capable of filtering up to 110 gallons of water with its 500 gallons per hour pumping power.

The Patented re-filtration system is familiar for its dependable performance in long-term with minimal replacement cost involved. This has got the best ratings among aquarium filters for its ease of use and convenience to maintain.

This external fish tank filter has three-layer filters, the bottom layer is made with Aquaclear foam insert. It removes debris and other solid wastes since the maximum part of the filtration is done in this layer. The subsequent layers perform more efficiently and require less frequent replacement.

The middle layer is made with Aquaclear Activated carbon filter inserts, it absorbs a large number of impurities in a large volume. The activated carbon being used in this top-rated fish tank filter is 100% pure research graded, thus it offers ultimate filtration of impurities.

A top layer of this best-rated fish tank filter is made with biomax ceramic rings, the complex pore system on the biomax insert surface provides space for beneficial bacteria, thus it enhances the filtration of impurities and offers the healthy environment to your fish tank.

Features
  • Comes equipped with AquaClear Foam, Activated Carbon and BioMax and Cycle Guard for continuous biological filtration and superior water quality
  • Filtration volume is up to 7 times larger than comparable filters
  • Quick and easy installation
  • Ideal for aquariums up to 110 gallons
  • Refiltration system that offers superior contact time with filter media and energy efficient pump lowers operating costs
  • 2-years warranty
Pros
  • Patented refiltration system
  • 7 times more filtration capacity than comparable filters
  • Low Price
Cons
  • Not suitable for large fish tanks with above 110 gallons
  • Initial setup is time-consuming

This is one of the best-rated fish tank filters which is familiar with it’s patented refiltration system, it offers the best possible filtration and faster water pumping for the long term. This is the best fish tank filter with all the necessary features incomparably fair price.

8. SunSun Hw304B 525GPH Pro Canister Filter

best aquarium filter for large tanks

The Sunsun Hw304B is an external canister fish tank filter which pumps 525 gallons of water per hour, suitable for large fish tanks with capacity up to 150 gallons.

Due to the higher water pumping capacity, the filtration process is faster and in turn, provides clear and healthy fish tank environment.

This external canister fish tank filter utilizes a UV sterilizer which kills non-beneficial bacteria in a large scale, which improves the water quality and helps you to keep your fishes healthy and live longer. This super quiet aquarium filter functions silently yet provides powerful filtration.

Setting up this external canister fish tank filter is easier than similar model fish tank filters from other brands, consumes lesser time even for a first timer. Ideal for both freshwater aquarium and saltwater aquarium.

The high quality activated carbon absorbs impurities and also provide space for beneficial bacteria and improves the quality of water, the bio-balls forms another filtration layer to intensify water filtration and offers odorless clear water to flow back into your fish tank. The unit is also covered with one year warranty.

Features
  • Dimension: 11″ L X 11″ W X 17″ H
  • Flow rate: 525 GPH (2000L/Hr)
  • HW-304B Pro Filtration Kit, Good for up to 150-gallon aquariums
  • Pro Kit Includes Canister Filter w/9 Watt UV, 4 White Filter Pads, 1 Blue Coarse Pad, 4 Media Baskets
  • Includes 1lb of Premium Filter Carbon, 1lb of Ceramic Rings and 1 Set of Bio Balls
Pros
  • Perfect mix of the mechanical, biological and chemical filtration process
  • The best flow rate for 150-gallon aquariums
  • Fairly priced
Cons
  • May need frequent replacements of filter parts due to heavy filtration activity
  • One year warranty

Each external canister filter out there has few setbacks, but in my opinion, SunSun large fish tank filter has only minor setbacks which are commonly found in other aquarium filters. Given to the price range, this is one of the best aquarium filters provides value to money.

9. 200 Gallon Filter Aquarium Tank Fish Canister

best small aquarium filter

The 200 Gallon Filter Aquarium Tank Fish Canister is easy to set up, easy to prime, and easy to maintain. It is capable of pumping out 525 gallons of water per hour, suits best for large fish tanks with less than 200 gallons water capacity.

This Large fish tank filter is durable and capable of withstanding heat because when the pumping capacity is high and it keeps running round the clock, it is designed to be capable of handling the heat, also it produces low noise when switched on, it is a very useful feature in long term.

This External canister Aquarium tank filter has four stages of filtration which is designed aiming to attain the highest standards in terms of performance.

A 9w UV is included in the kit, UV kills any harmful virus and parasites in the fish tank water and provides a healthy and clearer tank environment to your fishes. Your fishes live healthily and live longer in pure freshwater aquarium and saltwater aquarium.

Keep that in mind that the Oxygen enrichment offered by this aquarium filter is sufficient for fish, but not for turtles.

Features
  • 5″x11.5″19″ in Dimensions
  • 110-120V 50-60Hz
  • 4 stages of filtration
  • 9w UV powered
  • Built-in UV kills harmful virus and parasites
  • Can adjust to fit larger gallon tanks
  • Comes with Complete kit
  • Eliminate all harmful viruses and bacteria
  • The maximum flow rate of 525GPH from a built-in pump
  • Recommend for tanks under 200 gallons
Pros
  • Fits for larger tank capacity
  • 4 Stage effective filtration
  • Fairly priced
Cons
  • Not for turtles
  • Few users felt this noisy

This is one of the best aquarium filters in terms of 4 stage effective filtration process, maintaining cooler temperature and clean water. If you’re looking for a best external canister fish tank filter for a larger tank, then this is an ideal choice for you.

10. Pingkay 3-stage External Canister Filter

best aquarium filter brand

The last one in our list is the cheapest Aquarium pump filter system from Pingkay, this is an external canister fish tank filter which has a built-in pump capable of pumping 370 gallons of water per hour, suitable for fish tanks with up to 100-gallon capacity.

It is also equipped with a 9w UV sterilizer, this external canister’s UV sterilizer kills potential harmful viruses and parasites, and in turn, the water gets purified and becomes more suitable for the health of your favorite fishes. After all, you wouldn’t want your fishes to die soon just because of the bad water quality.

The easy connect nozzle on top of this external canister fish tank filter allows you to remove the tubing without emptying the canister, removing the trays becomes easier with the lids. If you’re up to regular cleaning cycle, you wouldn’t regret buying this small fish tank filter.

Three stages of filtration process are designed perfectly to deliver best possible cleaner, odorless and clearer water to make your fish tank looks good. Integrated UV kill switch allows you to switch it on or off to your requirements and also helps in conserve electricity consumption.

Features
  • 10″x10″17″ in Dimensions
  • 110-120V 50-60Hz
  • 3 stages of filtration
  • 9w UV powered
  • Can adjust to fit larger gallon tanks
  • Comes with Complete kit
  • Eliminate all harmful viruses and bacteria
  • Integrated UV kill switch
  • The maximum flow rate of 370GPH from the built-in pump
  • Recommend for tanks under 100 gallons
Pros
  • Cheapest external canister fish tank filter
  • 3 stage filtration process
  • Integrated UV kill switch
Cons
  • Not ideal for saltwater

This is one of the best cheap aquarium filters in the low price range with maximum features. It comes with complete set of required accessories. This is a best external canister fish tank filter if you’re looking for the best performing yet cheap one.

Best Fish Tank Filter – Buying Guide

Fish tanks have interested many with its natural mood changing ability, aquariums have occupied it’s placed in many households today not only with different colored fishes, also people used to grow other water species as a hobby, some people see it as a mind refreshment.

Freshwater aquariums can totally change the ambiance of your house, the mild water sound and lighting from a fish tank can make your house look more beautiful and gives you a more pleasant feel to it.

A fish tank filter cleans the water in the tank constantly and provides oxygen and cooler temperature for the fishes to live healthily.

What is the best filtration system for an Aquarium?

The best fish tank filter cannot be decided based on the price range or outlook. It is purely based on the type of fish tank you’re using, see what is your fish tank’s gallon capacity, look for an aquarium filter which has sufficient pumping power which matches your tank size, ideally you should be looking for a more powerful fish tank filter.

For example, if you’re tank size is about 100 gallons, you should be choosing an aquarium filter which is suitable for at least 125 gallons or more. Because in long run, the motor tends to lose its pumping power. If you choose a fish tank filter with high GPH capacity which exceeds your tank’s requirements, it may last longer than other low capacity fish tank filters.

Design

Filtration system and design play a vital role in deciding the best fish tank filter for you, read through best fish tank filter reviews and understand better about the desired fish tank filter’s filtration process, see how often you have to replace the parts of your fish tank filter.

Also look for any unique filtration process which may conserve electricity and increases the longevity of your motors and other replaceable filters. If you find a freshwater or saltwater aquarium filter which has high GPH capacity and effective filtration process, then that is the best fish tank filter for you.

Other few things which are to be considered are the noise level of your fish tank filter, also the heat and sound impeller’s quality.

Motors

If a powerful fish tank filter runs with the lowest noise possible, and if it can deliver optimal filtration performance, then don’t think too much, just buy it.

Not all best-rated fish tank filters are capable and suitable for your fish tank, even a cheap fish tank filter with fewer ratings can provide you with long-lasting performance and durability. But always start your search with top rated fish tank filters, so that you’ll know what to expect while choosing yours.

Hope the aquarium filters review is helpful for you to choose the best fish tank filter.

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