What is a 10-Gallon Fish Tank Filter and What Does It Do?

All aquarium filters are used with a single purpose: to purify water from contaminants. Purification is a complex process, which involves several stages. Commonly, three types of filtration are distinguished.

  • This is the removal of visible debris and dirt. The result is clear water without clogs, algae or remnants of food.
  • At this stage, toxic elements, such as nitrite and ammonia, are destroyed by natural microorganisms.
  • It involves the absorption of organic molecules from water, which helps remove odors and decrease the concentration of proteins in the water.

Aquariums filters are not made equal. They vary in terms of their construction, principle of action, and the filtering media used. Choosing the best fish tank filter one needs to consider multiple criteria, as each filter type has its pros and cons.

Canister Filters

They are powerful and effective, which makes them the best option for large fish tanks. They are quite expensive but very reliable and durable. Canister filters are external, i.e. they are placed outside the aquarium.

Undergravel Filters

These filters are buried in the gravel on the bottom of a fish tank. While providing a high quality of filtration, they get clogged quickly. Unergravel filters require a lot of maintenance, so not many fish keepers choose them these days.

Hang-on-Back (HOB) Filters

A HOB filter looks like a small tube that is hung on the tank’s back. It works quite effectively, especially for smaller tanks but tends to produce some noise. As for the maintenance, all you need is to change the filtering media every 2-3 weeks.

Internal Power Filters

They resemble hang-on-back filters with the only difference: they are fully submersible. Because they work under the water, they produce less noise while providing the same quality of filtration. Internal submersible filters are inexpensive and effective.

Best 10-Gallon Fish Tank Filters: a Comparative Chart

ImageProduct 
Best Choice
Marineland Penguin Power Filter review
Marineland Penguin Power Filter
  • Type: Power filter
  • Flow rate: 100 GPH
  • Tank size: Up to 20 gallons
  • Saltwater/freshwater: Both

Check Price
Also great
Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter review
Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter
  • Type: Power filter
  • Flow rate: 100 GPH
  • Tank size: Up to 10-20 gallons
  • Saltwater/freshwater: Both

Check Price
Also great
KEDSUM 4.8W 25GPH Submersible Aquarium Filter review
KEDSUM 4.8W 25GPH Submersible Aquarium Filter
  • Type: Power filter
  • Flow rate: 25 GPH
  • Tank size: Up to 20 gallons
  • Saltwater/freshwater: Both

Check Price
Also great
Aqua Clear - Fish Tank Filter review
Aqua Clear - Fish Tank Filter
  • Type: Power filter
  • Flow rate: 100 GPH
  • Tank size: Up to 20 gallons
  • Saltwater/freshwater: Both

Check Price
Also great
Marina Power Filter review
Marina Power Filter
  • Type: Power filter
  • Flow rate: 71 GPH
  • Tank size: Up to 15 gallons
  • Saltwater/freshwater: Both

Check Price

Best Products in the Category of 10-Gallon Fish Tank Filters: Our Choice

We’ve conducted some research work in order to figure out the best filters for 10-gallon aquariums. Our top-list includes five option from reputable manufacturers. The effectiveness of these filters is proved by numerous positive customer reviews.

Marineland Penguin Power Filter

Marineland Penguin Power Filter

Review

This compact power filter is perfect for any fish tank of up to 20 gallons in size. It offers a decent flow rate of 100 GPH and three stages of water purification. The good news is that you won’t have to buy a 10-gallon fish tank filter cartridge, as the unit comes with a high-quality cartridge, which is ready to use.

What we think

Marineland Penguin does its job well. We love the fact that it comes with a 3-year warranty. The only small drawback is relatively expensive spare cartridges.

PROS

  • compact and effective;
  • a good flow rate;
  • works quietly.

CONS

  • expensive spare cartridges.
Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter

Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter

Review

Penn Plax Cascade series of filters is one of the most popular with fish keepers. Its special feature is four stages of water filtration. Apart from mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration, it offers an additional filtration with anaerobic bacteria. The filter itself is compact and quiet, though a bit louder than submersible options.

What we think

All in all, the device does its job as it should. We love the feature of reducing filtration without turning off the filter, which can be useful during feeding. The intake tube could be some longer.

PROS

  • powerful and reliable;
  • 4-stage filtration;
  • a possibility to pause the filtration without turning off the filter.

CONS

  • a bit loud;
  • the intake tube is short.
KEDSUM Submersible Aquarium Filter

KEDSUM Submersible Aquarium Filter

Review

KEDSUM is a submersible for small fish tanks. It features a detachable oil film processor that acts almost like a protein skimmer. Another useful feature is an adjustable flow rate. Three-stage filtration guarantees fresh and clean water.

What we think

Despite its efficiency and ease of use, the filter has a couple of drawbacks. It is a sort of cumbersome if compared to internal power devices and it is not too quiet. If you can live with this, it will work great for you.

PROS

  • adjustable flow;
  • three-stage filtration of high-quality;
  • a detachable flow processor.

CONS

  • pretty large and cumbersome;
Aqua Clear - Fish Tank Filter

Aqua Clear – Fish Tank Filter

Review

This Aqua Clear filter comes with some unique features, such as the proprietary re-filtration system and adjustable flow. It is mounted externally, but thanks to its compact size, it doesn’t create any inconveniences. A 2-year warranty is also nice to have.

What we think

The filter is effective and easy to install. We love both the quality of filtration and additional features. That said, it is a bit pricey: almost twice as expensive as Marineland Penguin.

PROS

  • effective 3-stage filtration;
  • a re-filtration feature;
  • adjustable flow.

CONS

  • a bit overpriced.
Marina Power Filter

Marina Power Filter

Review

This ultra-compact power filter with a self-priming feature has a lot to be loved for. It offers a superb quality of water filtration while producing minimum noise. The device is inexpensive and comes with a 2-year warranty.

What we think

This is a decent filter but it needs to be maintained properly. It is small, and the cartridges tend to get clogged quickly, especially if you place much food into the water. The 10-gallon fish tank filter pump is not very powerful. Make sure you maintain the filter regularly and have enough spare cartridges.

PROS

  • compact and quiet;
  • a 2-year warranty;
  • affordable.

CONS

  • requires regular maintenance.

Whisper IQ Power Filter for Aquariums, With Quiet Technology 

Review

One of the quietest aquarium filters is offered by known Tetra company. This model is designed for up to 10-gallon tanks and has a submerged motor (no priming is required). It comes with a sound shield to ensure almost noiseless operating (less than 40 dB) and vibration dampening tech. Tetra equipped the IQ Power Filter with Stay Clean Technology. The latter provides a healthy pH level in the tank so that the fish thrive while the tank glass remains clean 35% longer. 

What we think

If you have a small freshwater or marine water aquarium, obtaining this affordable filter will be a good idea. The media carries out three-stage filtration and fish keepers are quite satisfied with its effectiveness. The filter doesn’t plug up with algae and works longer without priming. Nevertheless, one must be cautious not to let the filter pad plug up since it overflows water. That’s the main downside of the model we can mention. 

PROS

  • Noiseless operating 
  • Equipped with Stay Clean Technology 
  • Self-priming
  • Affordable price
  • Three-stage filtration 

CONS

  • The filter overflows the water when the pad plugs up 
  • For small tanks only

Frequently Asked Questions

It’s important to choose the right filter. But it’s equally important to maintain it properly in order to prolong its lifespan and increase the effectiveness of filtering. Here are answers to some popular customer questions.

Q: How Often to Change a Filter in a 10-Gallon Fish Tank?

A: It depends on the filter size and capacity, as well as the degree of water contamination. Normally, manufacturers recommend changing cartridges every 3-4 weeks.

Q: How Long Do Fish Live without a Filter in a 10-Gallon Tank?

A: It depends. If the tank is well-planted, the plants will consume some ammonia, so the fish will suffer less. A protein skimmer will help to oxygenate the water and remove the protein film from the water surface. If you have neither plants nor any oxygenating equipment, fish still can last for at least 24 hours without a filter.

Q: How Long Should a 10-Gallon Fish Tank Be Filtered before Adding Fish?

A: You can add fish to a new tank as soon as the nitrogen cycle is completed. It means beneficial bacteria should colonize inside the aquarium and start the process of biological filtration. The best approach is to use a special test kit to check the water for ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite. If there is no ammonia and nitrite detected, and the amount of nitrate doesn’t exceed 40 ppm, it’s time to let your fish in.

Q: How to Place a Filter in a 10-Gallon Tank?

A: There are many filter types, and they can be mounted in a different way. Use the manual to place the filter correctly. Commonly, it contains all the necessary information.

Q: Can a fish survive without a filter?

A:Aquarium fish can’t survive without a water filtration system. Live fish produce a lot of organic waste and ammonia, which tends to accumulate in water making is dirty and clouded. Fish quickly get sick in such an environment, and if no measures are taken, they die. The only possible alternative is having a lot of aquarium plants, which consume carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. However, this approach works only for large aquariums or ponds with few fish and a lot of plants. If this is not your case, then using a filter is mandatory.

Q: What is the Three-Stage Filtration Process?

A: The three-stage water filtration includes mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. The three are crucial for the purity of the water. Together, they create a beneficial environment for the fish or other aquarium inhabitants to thrive. Mechanical filtration siphons out all visible particles of dirt and debris. After carrying out a mechanical filtration, the water in the tank becomes clean with no clogs, uneaten food, or algae. During a chemical filtration, the activated charcoal destroys airborne contaminants, nitrate, ammonia, and other toxic substances from the water. Biological filtration stands for the growth of special bacteria. As a result, organic molecules are absorbed from the water, any unpleasant odor is eliminated, and the concentration of proteins in the water is decreased.

 

Verdict and Recommendations

Picking out the best fish tank filter, one needs to consider multiple criteria: the flow rate, the tank size, the dimensions of the filter, and, of course, price. We’ve reviewed five budget-friendly aquarium filters that are perfect for 10-gallon tanks. While all of them do their job well, our top pick is Marineland Penguin power filter, which combines affordability, noiseless operation, and a good flow rate.

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Jonathan Alvarez

What size of the filter is strong best for 10 gallon fish tank?

Alisa Mendoza

hi,
With a lot of decent filter options available, it’s hard to select the best of the best. High quality of filtration is usually provided by external canister filters. A decent example is Zoo Med Nano 10, which is a great choice for small (up to 10 gallons) fish tanks. It uses high-grade bio-ceramic media, carbon, and mechanical filtration. A spray bar is included.

Aubree Wallace

Your aquarium is your fish’s entire world, so you need to create a healthy environment for them. Aquarium and fish tank filters help clean and purify tank water, removing fish waste, old food, decaying organic matter, and potentially harmful chemicals, such as ammonia. As such, an aquarium filter is a must-have for any fish tank, even a small one. It’s one important factor in providing a suitable home for your fish or other aquatic critters. Of course, you still need to clean and heat your fish tank, but you shouldn’t overlook filtration.

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