Best Aquarium Canister Filter – Top Reviewed & In-depth Guide

Best Aquarium Canister Filter

A clean environment is very important for your marine life’s survival. And that is the main idea behind filtering your fish tank. Filter your aquarium regularly to remove any unwanted material like debris and any dust introduced into the water over time.

This basically means that your aquarium canister filter should be able to efficiently remove the unwanted material and stop them from going back.

In addition, any experienced fish enthusiast will tell you that when looking for a good aquarium, you should never ignore quality for any reason.

Perhaps you have already tried a few brands out there, but you are still not sure as to which one is the best. To help you decide, here is a comprehensive guide on the best aquarium canister filter.

Best Aquarium Canister Filter

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

The Fluval FX6 not only comes with many handy features that put it way above other similar brands, but it also offers excellent quality and amazing specs. It operates flawlessly, has more flow as well as capacity.

It can completely re-circulates fully 563 US gallons of water per hr and has an attractive output of 925 gallons of water per hr. It can also handle aquariums of up to 400 gallons easily and media baskets which can handle up to 1.5 U.S gallons of filter media. Its inners trays are well assembled, solid and leave a very small space for any water to go through the media.

Fluval Canister Filter

This ensures that all dust, gunk, and debris is trapped in the filter instead of going back into the tank. The filter’s smart pump technology also continuously tracks the device’s operations.

It evacuates air that may enter or build up within the filtration system. The all smart pump technology also controls the machine’s self-priming feature which means removes trapped air soon as it is connected.


  • Patented pump to evacuate trapped air
  • Functions smoothly
  • Features an automatic purge


  • The instructions are not very clear
  • A bit expensive

2. Fluval External Filter

Any fish enthusiasts will love the Fluval External Filter because of its many great and essential features. It is engineered with a remarkable filtration process ideal for almost all types of fish tanks.

Use it for either saltwater or freshwater and it will get the job done well. Its superior motor also ensures that it has a strong flow rate at all times.

Fluval External Filter

It is also designed to remove toxic ammonia and overall noise produced when in operation significantly. This makes it great for freshwater, saltwater, discus and reef tanks which don’t often cope well with the vibrations.

It also features multistage filtration which ensures maximum versatility, as well as very minimum maintenance, is needed.

The device is designed with Aquastop valves which stop water from flowing even when you haven’t disconnected the hoses. This reduces overall maintenance mess and eliminates leaks. It can handle 100 gallons tanks comfortably which Flow Rate: 1450 LPH.


  • A superior motor which generates more power
  • Very secure fittings
  • Durable and sturdy design


  • Costly
  • Standard output nozzle

3. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter

This is a high-quality Canister aquarium filter that blends performance and price. It has a sturdy yet ergonomic design offer heavy-duty multi-stage external filtration process for your fresh or saltwater aquarium.

This filter is engineered with a 185 GPH flow rate and is suitable for 65-gallon aquariums of 2 media baskets.

Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter

It also has some handy features designed for beginner aquarium owners like an easy to use a self-priming system, quick disconnect cut-off valves for an adjustable flow and a 360-degree rotating valve taps make placement worry-free.

It hits the scales at around 12.2 pounds and has an average Dimensions: 11 x 11 x 15 inches. On the not so good side, the Pen Plax Cascade gives you limited options when it comes to setting up the filtration media as it has only 2 trays. Nonetheless is operates smoothly and it is durable which makes for this.

It also utilizes the Bio-sponge technology for efficient filtration which also acts as its mechanical filtration. Only water can go through the sponge but not particles and its large surface increases area exposure which in turn promotes bacterial growth.

The Pen Plax Cascade could have easily been the best filter for 100-gallon aquariums if not for its slightly minimized media storage and lower features in comparison to other more powerful filters. If you are getting for a reliable and decent aquarium canister filter and you are not ready to spend a fortune, this is the ideal option for you.


  • Affordable price
  • Powerful Filtration


  • A bit noisy
  • The tubing is not very flexible

4. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

Hydor has a well-known reputation for making high quality and durable products and this one is no exception. The Hydor professional external canister filter is arguably one of the most well-designed canister filters on the market. It is very stylish and has a sleek black design.

Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

Though a bit pricey, it delivers on all its promises and offers all the essentials of a good filter. With a pump output of 320GPH Filter is a complete eco-system in a box it is can easily handle aquariums of up to 125 gallons.

It also has a 4-lock clamping feature and uses integrated nuts for a fastened hose connection. The ceramic motor shaft will extend its life while the revolving intake and outflow connectors will allow you to adjust the flow easily.

Another outstanding feature of this filter comes in handy when reinstating the water. It gives you a great option: An adjustable angle flow return or an expandable spray bar.

This option allows you to easily oxygenate the water which is very important for your marine life. The expendable spray bar has 4 sections which would enable users to easily manage the length and adjust it to fit your aquarium.


  • Very easy to use
  • Smooth and quiet operation
  • The spray bar has 4 sections
  • No water bypass


  • A bit expensive

5. MarineLand Magniflow Canister Filter for Aquariums

It is very important for a healthy aquarium. It keeps the water quality in your turtle tank high and helps in removing solid and dissolved waste in the water. It is one of the best filters for a turtle tank. MarineLand Magniflow Canister Filter comes in different sizes, colors and prices vary with sizes as well.

MarineLand Magniflow Canister Filter

This Canister filter will give you the best results you need since it has easy priming feature to the telescopic intake. Serves a purpose including biological, mechanical and chemical filtration that every environment requires for a healthy and a long living aquatic experience.

MarineLand Magniflow Canister Filter is packaged with various kinds of filter media, like the filter wool and a large pore sponge for exceptional mechanical filtration purpose. It also has porous bio-rings for biological filtration.


  • It has an excellent design with both performance and style in mind
  • That is an ideal use for both fresh and saltwater aquariums
  • It ensures you a clean and healthy aquatic environment


  • Some marine tanks may require a higher filter than freshwater tanks
  • They do not come with carbon filters media for chemical filtration

6. Tetra 25905 Decorative Reptile Filter for Aquariums up to 55 Gallons

It creates an instant beautiful waterfall and filter up to 55 gallons and keeps water clear with three stage filtration. It is among the best filters for turtle tanks. Purchasing this type of filter will be ideal for your reptile tank. It comes in several colors.

It’s designed for reptiles and amphibians animals. The external display is a stone-looking waterfall for water to burble down. Its appearance is captivating and wonderful, resembling a rocky waterfall ideal for reptiles especially turtle.

Tetra 25905 Decorative Reptile Filter

Has large intake that prevents clogging. Consists of an integrated three-stage Whisper filtration, which uses easily replaceable Bio bags which keeps water clear and odor-free. It allows for instant creation of a beautiful waterfall and basking area for frogs, turtles, and newts in any aquarium up to 55 gallons.

Has a combination of filtration and decoration ideal for turtle, frog, or newts tanks Tetra 25905  decorates the reptile filter and adds fun in the keeping frogs, turtles and newts.

Appropriate for aquarium and terrariums up to 55 gallons. Its exterior displays a stone-looking waterfall for water to burble down while addressing the beauty of the reptile habitat. The three units stage filtration cleans water and removes odor. Its internal cartridge is replaceable.

Tetra brand is available in many stores one of them being the online market. Its price is fairly affordable hence saving you some cash. Tetra brand can be placed as a decorative instrument in several places including hotels, homes, and offices since it has a wonderful appearance of nature.

You can position it in front of your house or office entrance giving a beautiful natural mood in that environment. Tetra brand is one of the best filters for turtle tanks with its three stages filtration that gives clear and clean water.

7. Sunsun Hw304B 525GPH Pro Canister Filter Kit with 9-watt UV Sterilizer

Among the best filters for turtle tanks, we have reviewed here The SunSun HW-304B 5-Stage External Canister Filter with 9-watt UV sterilizer 525 GPH. It includes a 9-watt ultraviolet sterilizer with 525GPH making it an ideal choice for your turtle tank requirements.

Sunsun Hw304B 525GPH Pro Canister Filter

Its price is lower than the hydor professional canister filters but slightly expensive than the tetra 25905 brands. The ultraviolet sterilizer helps in controlling spores and bacteria keeping the water clean and safe. This technology is ideal for your turtle tank filtration.

It has built-in 9 Watt UV sterilizer for controlling algae spores/bacteria and promoting clear water. It is suitable for up to 150 gallons aquariums fish tanks good capacity HW-304B is made to be quite useful for filtering bigger sized aquariums of up to 150 gallons of water capacity.

It does a great job, making it popular among many users. With an overall capability of handling 525 GPH, this filter has a faster filtration process than many other models. If you require the aquarium filtered quickly, then this should be the model to purchase.

The water filtration of this canister is able to live up to your capability easily. It has a three-stage filtration to increase the chances of effectively cleaning the water.

The three stages consist of chemical, mechanical, and biological filtrations. There is an inclusion of a 9-Watt UV sterilizer in this filter. With this kind of power, the model utilizes UV to destroy all harmful bacteria and algae. Not many canister filters incorporate such a feature.

In the end, you will have clean water for your fish or turtle. Easy to maintain replacing the filter media is quite easy. The filter media has to be arranged in the right sequence to ensure that it operates well.

The good thing to do would be buying the additional filter media when acquiring the canister for the first time. This should make it easy to change them in and out without making a new purchase for the filters.

Remember to follow the steps in the manual when changing the media. For this reason, it is the best filter for turtle tanks.


  • Filter media is also renowned for SunSun HW canisters or any other canister filters.
  • The 9W sterilizer can easily kill the harmful bacteria and algae
  • It is capable of handling up to 525 gallons per hour
  • The product operates quietly without noise
  • Excellent for freshwater and saltwater aquariums


  • The UV sterilizer might have additional negative effects when left on for long periods

How to Choose the Best Aquarium Canister Filter

If you want your aquarium to be healthy maintained it is imperative that you choose the right aquarium canister filter. A filter, as the name suggests filters the water in your aquarium removing harmful chemicals, waste, and debris making it a clean and safe environment for your fish.

There are many aspects to consider in making the right filter choice on the market. We have listed below the key areas to contemplate in making the right choice for you and your specific aquarium.

Compatibility and Durability

A canister filter is located outside your tank whereas power filters usually mount on the side of your tank. It is, therefore, necessary to assure that your canister filter can be easily concealed and is also sturdy. The best to locate the canister filter is usually underneath your tank.

Ideal for concealing and not likely to get knocked or moved easily. The filter needs to be strong and made of rigid material. Most canister filters are made from plastic so purchase with durability in mind as plastic can become brittle over time.


Canister filters work via a motor, the more powerful the motor the faster rate at which it will clean your water. However, some of these a engines’ need a lot of maintenance and on a regular basis so this should also be considered as well as the loudness of noise that the filter motor makes.

Also, if your canister filter needs a lot of maintenance and you do not feel confident in dealing with that yourself, this may mean having to pay someone to come and service it which will have a cost implication and affect the overall cost efficiency of the filter.

Flow and Efficiency

An Aquariums rate of flow is measured by how fast it can clean your tank. Manufacturers usually explain this, it is capable of handling up of gallons per hour that depend on various size. If the flow rate is high, this is what makes the process of filtration faster.

Obviously, this is what determines whether or not your canister filter is efficient. It also makes running this type of filter much more cost effective as you do not have to have it running all the time


Media are the different types of items that your canister filter removes like harmful chemicals, dirt, waste and debris. Each type of item is classed as a different type of filter media.

You should seek out a canister filter that can cope with chemical, mechanical and biological media. This will guarantee that your aquarium is one hundred percent environmentally friendly for your fish.

Look for Fully Customizable Canister Filters

These days most canister filters can be customized in various combinations so they can be set flexibly to deal predominantly with one type of media determined by you or an expert if you are not sure.

For example, if your pet fish produce ammonia in high levels, then this will have to be dealt with daily and as such media of the biological kind would be the media that you want to be most prominent like sponges and rings.

If your pet fish need really stable and clear water, you will need increased amounts of chemical media like resins or carbons. If your pet fish give out a lot of waste, you will need more media of the mechanical type which can be for example coarse pads you use in removing waste effectively.

It is good to remember that canister filters recommended for your aquarium size are offered in ranges. The bottom and of this range depicts the largest aquarium size that will be filtered effectively when the aquarium contains a large number of freshwater or saltwater fish.

The end of the range that is higher indicates the maximum aquarium size which can be filtered effectively with a small bioload and fish population.

Whatever canister filter you choose to be sure to consider whether you will be using freshwater or saltwater. This will have an overall effect on how often your canister filter needs to run and the predominant media it should be set.

How to Clean a Canister Filter

Bottom Line

Though canister filters are some of the most expensive devices when it comes to filtering the water in your aquarium, they definitely offer convenience and great qualities.

Nonetheless, maintenance, regular care, and cleaning are very essential to the flawless running of most filters. The good thing about the filters mentioned here though is that you don’t have to spend a lot of time maintaining them. The insane water capacities plus multiple filter media allow you to filter water lazily and you can leave them alone for longer than any other filter out there.

You won’t go wrong with them and they will provide various invaluable benefits for the marine life in your aquarium.

Hopefully, this guide on the best aquarium canister filter has been helpful!

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