The Best Aquarium Canister Filter 2020
Author Aubree Rose Reading 1 min Published by
To ensure the health and comfort of fish in an aquarium, water should always be clean and free of impurities and particles. You can save on fancy marine castles and seaweeds, but the quality of water shouldn’t be neglected – cleanliness is the main condition for the survival of fish. With the best canister filter for aquarium, you can create an ideal environment for your silent pets. We have prepared overviews of seven top-rated filter models that are definitely worth being considered.
Table of Contents:
What is a Canister Filter For Aquarium?
Compare the Best Aquarium Canister Filters
The Three Stages Of Aquarium Filtration
Benefits of Using a Canister Filter
Aspects To Consider When You Make A Purchase
How We Selected And Tested Aquarium Canister Filters
The Best Aquarium Canister Filters – Our Choice
1. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter
2. Fluval Aquarium Canister Filter
3. Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter for Aquariums
4. Pingkay 200 Gallon Filter Aquarium Tank Fish Canister
5. EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media
6. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter
7. SunSun HW-302 3-Stage External Canister Aquarium Filter 264GPH
8. Fluval Canister Filter, FX6 Filter (400 Gal)
9. API FILSTAR XP Aquarium Canister Filter
10. Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter (370 and 525 GPH with UV)
11. Cascade CCF4UL Canister Filter For Large Aquariums and Fish Tanks – Up To 150 Gallons, Filters 315 GPH
12. Finnex PX-360 Compact Canister Aquarium Filter
How to Use Aquarium Canister Filters?
Most Frequently Asked Questions About Canister Filters
This is a device that forces aquarium water through the siphon tube, filter media, and back to the tank via a pipe, which makes it perfect for removing small particles, old fish food, waste products, feces, and dirt. With a correctly chosen canister filter aquarium requires cleaning less often, and water stays transparent and fresh for longer. Since different filter media can be installed in a filter, it’s highly adaptable to different conditions and can be customized according to the capacity of the aquarium, kinds of fish, and so on.
What makes this type of filters pretty popular is the fact that they can be used for large aquariums (40 gallons and larger), and perform chemical, biological and mechanical cleaning. This kind of filters is good for saltwater, aquariums with live plants and cichlid. The only drawback of canister filters is that there’s no air contacting water during cleaning, so biological filtration and oxidation isn’t good enough for them.
|Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter |
|Fluval Aquarium Canister Filter|
|Marineland Canister Filter|
|EHEIM aquarium canister filter|
|Hydor aquarium canister filter|
|FX6 Filter (400 Gal)|
|FILTER SIZE S|
|370 and 525 GPH with UV|
With the help of coarse sponges, floss, and ceramic noodles, large impurities are removed, and the water is polished.
As a rule, the carbon material is used for chemical filtration. Such impurities as tannins, odors, and medicines are absorbed in the material. Some chemical filters absorb copper, nitrates, and phosphate, while a water softening pillow serves to optimize General Hardness of water.
Biological filtration is a must for preventing bacteria colonies growth within the filter. Most filter models use bio-wheels, bio-balls, and ceramic noodles.
To make sure that aquarium inhabitants stay healthy, you need to keep water clean all the time. Changing water manually every 1-2 days is too inconvenient and time-consuming. Automatic canister filters clean water efficiently and quickly – it should be changed only once a week.
Most types of canister filters allow users to select different types of media and arrange it in the order they want. Some enthusiasts are okay with 2-step filtration, while others organize 5-step filtration – it depends on the capacity of the filter.
Canister filters are quite easy to assemble and install, and most models require priming only once to start working. Detailed instructions make the setup process simple even for newbies.
Since aquarium canister filters are easy to re-assemble, they can be cleaned quickly. No special cleaning agents are required, and the media can be replaced.
Some canister filters work without making any noise so they disturb neither your family nor the fish.
Changing water is not as efficient as a professional canister filter – thanks to high-quality media and electric motor, it makes water crystal clear removing even minor impurities.
The aquarium volume and filter capacity (usually measured in gallons per hour) should be considered primarily. Select a suitable canister filter that is able to clean the entire aquarium at least 2-3 times during an hour. If you choose too small and non-efficient filter, the aquarium water will get dirty soon. On the contrary, large canister filters won’t fit small tanks properly.
Since the motor will work around the clock, you need it to be robust, long-lasting, and yet not energy-consuming. The most optimal choice is a motor with UL approval rating. You can either buy an epoxy-sealed motor that is protected against moisture or a magnet-driven motor that has a self-priming feature (it’s not sealed, so its performance can be impacted).
Canister filters are equipped with 2 valves: one controls the intake and another – the output. The valves should be closed totally to prevent leaking. Ideally, you should be able to disconnect the valve hoses to set up an adapter or a gravel vacuum.
Select the filter that features a media tray for every filtering media. Using all three filtering stages, you’ll reach the best results.
Check out the canister dimensions to make sure it will fit in the tank.
To figure out what the best canister aquarium filter is, we surfed the Net and compared ratings of various models. We read numerous reviews to underline the benefits and disadvantages of various models and reveal their peculiarities. Several worthy models we chose were tested: we measured the level of toxins (ammonia, nitrates) before and after forcing water through the filters, and evaluated its visual clarity.
We reviewed multi-stage filtering aquariums in the price range $60-80 for middle-size models and $150+ for large models. Here you can see the basic characteristics of every model and find out about their advantages and drawbacks. Each aquarium canister filter review on the list comes with recommendations for use.
Penn Plax Cascade canister aquarium filter is designed for aquariums with a capacity of up to 100 gallons. It performs all three kinds of filtration (chemical, biological, mechanical) and is allowed to be used in marine and freshwater tanks. Media consists of several layers: the floss pad cleans fine particles, and the activated carbon absorbs toxins and dirt from water. The coarse sponge layer ensures sufficient biological filtration by boosting the growth of bacteria and removing waste, fish food and ammonia from water, as well as nitrates. The tubing connectors can be used to adjust the device’s flow speed. Besides, this canister filter for 100 gallon aquarium features 4 locking clamps and a motorhead with in-built O-ring ensure a tight fit.
A versatile and non-expensive solution, but it is prone to failures.
If you’re searching for a very efficient solution, pay attention to the best aquarium canister filter from Fluval: it features a high flow rate (more than 350 gallons per hour) and has a special design that allows keeping up to 50% more water than models of the same size. The contact with the filtration media is maximized. Several filtration baskets are already equipped with all the necessary media. Thanks to 1-motion lock clamps, installation is a one-minute affair. The kit also includes an intake strainer, 2-layer foam screen, lift-lock clamps, and the instant prime system.
A great filter for its money, suitable for any type of water, but prepare to maintain it properly.
Marineland aquarium canister filter performs all stages of cleaning taking filtration to the next level. The model has a black diamond carbon filter that removes odors and water impurities, biological filter balls that ensure biological filtration, and the polishing filter that gets rid of the finest dirt particles. The self-priming function is present, as well.
This filter works with both marine and freshwater aquariums up to 100 gallons. If you’re ready to pay twice as much as for a usual filter, this model would be agreeable.
Those who own big fish tanks should opt for LKF’s canister filter 200 gallon aquarium that comes with literally everything required for installation: input and output tubes, curvy bars, UV light bulbs, bio-balls, input covers, spray bars, and a lot of other stuff. The device performs 5 stages of filtration and may be used for aquariums with fish and turtles. UV light eliminates viruses and parasites, while the prefilter on the top removes coarse dirt to prolong the lifetime of all other filters. Water flow can be adjusted with an adapter lever.
A perfect choice for large aquariums, non-expensive, and the kit includes all you need for installation. However, it’s quite loud, and you still need to replace water quite often.
This small canister filter aquarium is designed for low-capacity fish tanks with both salt and fresh water. There are two filtering systems: mechanical and biological, as well as automatic oxygen enrichment. The model is compact and features tools and details for installation. Additional accessories include a hose, inlet pipe, spray bar, etc. The silicone sealing ring on the pump prevents leaking and ensures a tight grip after cleaning. Filter media and sponges are included in the kit. According to multiple reviews, EHEIM aquarium canister filter is silent and easy to care about.
This is a non-expensive model that features everything for great filtration except chemical filtering system. Be ready to buy and replace some spare parts.
If you require the best canister aquarium filter system with all three types of filtration, pay attention to Hydor Professional Canister filter. The designers managed to create a perfect ecosystem for water filtering in this relatively small, but efficient device that can be equally useful for fish and turtle tanks with marine and fresh water.
A premium filter with a high efficiency for large aquariums, but it’s quite costly, just like the spare parts for it.
SunSun aquarium canister filter applies a high water pressure to clean water properly and get rid of the finest dirt particles. The pump forces water via an under-gravel filter for double filtration, and 3 media layers are complemented with an adjustable spray bar for adjusting the flow rate. The self-priming pump eliminates the necessity to fill the filter manually, and a single valve disconnection makes cleaning and installation very simple. It’s the best model for silent filtration of both salt and fresh water.
Silent, compact and non-expensive – most customers love it. Highly recommended for medium-volume aquariums.
If you need an extra large aquarium canister filter, opt for the solution from Fluval. This model is suitable for both freshwater and marine tanks, and the Smart Pump technology ensures optimal performance. The filter should be maintained on a monthly basis.
Being the best rated canister aquarium filter, Fluval FX6 filter does what is said on the label: it has all necessary functions. However, it is quite costly, and buying two 300 GPH filters can be more economically beneficial.
If you have a small tank, API Filstar of S size will fit it perfectly. It provides efficient filtration of fresh and salt aquarium water and maintaining is a no-brainer. The centralized control panel allows for managing all filtration functions. It’s disconnected quickly, prevents leaking, has a self-priming function, and is cleaned easily. You can put several types of media inside in any order.
Although this filter can be great for small tanks thanks to its compact size, it’s not worth the cost which is higher than the average. If you can afford to buy a larger filter, consider this option. Users complain that this model isn’t long-lasting.
The model from Aquatop is a real find for caring fish keepers: it has a 4-stage filtration system plus UV light to kill bacteria. Although it’s said to be suitable for tanks up to 175 gallons, it has a very high efficiency rate of 525 gph. To top it off, the model is very quiet and compact – it will fit in small tanks ideally. According to aquarium canister filter reviews, this variant is reliable and long-lasting.
We love everything about this model except for its price. Aquatop CF cost is twice as high as the average.
The Cascade series of Penn Plax aquarium filters are widely known for their excellent functionality, top-grade quality of filtration, and reliability. The Cascade 1200 is no exception. It is powerful enough to handle up to 120 gallons of water and comes with a variety of useful features. Capacious compartments for filtering media provide a lot of flexibility. A self-primer and two 360-degree rotating check valves add a lot of convenience.
If you are looking for a truly high-grade device for a large aquarium, the Cascade 1200 filter is the one to consider. Like all big canister filters, it is not too quiet and a sort of cumbersome. Also, it is pricey, though it is worth it.
This small canister filter comes with a bunch of features. It can be used as both a HOB and a desktop option. The hanger is included, as well as a water intake strainer and a spray bar for the water diffusion. The filter can handle up to 25 gallons of fresh or marine water in all kinds of aquariums.
All in all, this is a good affordable solution for small fish or turtle tanks. It is a bit quieter than classic canister filters but still powerful enough. On the minus side, it doesn’t have a self-prime feature, which means you have to pump water manually when you use it for the first time. While many accessories are included, the quality of native hoses is average.
Before starting to use the device, you should figure out how to set up a canister filter for aquarium. As a rule, models come with all necessary spare parts for installation. Make sure that they’re all assembled before placing the filter on its position. Then connect the inflow and outflow pipes to the tank following the instructions. Place it on the spot where no one disturbs the filter.
Although some aquarium filters have the self-priming feature, and others come with detailed directions and instructions, you can try one useful trick. When you have assembled the filter, submerge it in the aquarium and plug it in. Tilt the canister on its side to have the impeller submerges and start it up. Hold it like that for one minute and then tilt upwards to get rid of air. Now it should be primed.
It depends on a number of factors, including the size of the aquarium, amount of fish, water, and the type of media used. To find out whether the filter should be replaced, check the water with a test kit that evaluates the level of ammonia and nitrates in the water. Make sure that these levels are normal: they should be close or equal to zero. If not, it’s time to change the filters. Don’t forget that the filter itself should be cleaned, as well. Ideally, you should do that at least once in 3 months.
First, make sure that you get the right type of media for the filter. As a rule, layering from back to front looks the following way:
Where should the Purigen (chemical filtration layer that removes ammonia, nitrates, and so on) be placed? It’s better to put it where the water exists, so it can be placed before it goes to ceramic rings.
It may mean that either the spare parts are damaged, or all joining parts aren’t properly sealed. Re-assemble the filter following all instructions strictly, and check all details for wholeness. All broken and damaged parts should be replaced. Make sure that the system is sealed normally; otherwise, air will get inside and form air bubbles.
A:Aquarium canister filters use magnetic motors that activate water flow. The water is pumped through the filter to remove particles and impurities. After that, it goes back to the aquarium, pure and clean.
If you use a canister filter in a freshwater aquarium with water of room temperature, a canister filter for a small tank (up to 10 gallons) will consume about 150 kWh a year. Medium tank filters (for tanks up to 30 gallons) needs about 150-200kWh a year. Filters for large aquariums need about 400 kWh per year.
A: Raise the spray bar to release the trapped air – it can be done during any maintenance session. Other canister filters have a valve on the canister top – it should be opened to let the air out.
A: Yes, you can install a canister filter with several filtering stages. However, there’s always the risk that it will spoil faster due to ‘nitrate factory’ effect. Therefore, you’ll need to clean it more often, and use activated carbon for eliminating odor and chemicals.
A:For the best efficiency, the media should be laid in the following order:
- Mechanical media (sponge, filter floss);
- Chemical media (Purigen, carbon);
- Biological media (Matrix, bio-balls, etc).
Some users lay Purigen before the water goes in the tank to improve its polishing property. Activated carbon is also recommended to remove odors and nitrogen.
A: Fleas cause a lot of discomfort to dogs. These annoying little creatures bite pups, making them suffer; moreover, they can attack people sometimes. No surprise loving dog parents try to get rid of fleas as soon as possible. The best way to do it is by using special anti-flea shampoos. They contain special active ingredients that kill both fleas and their eggs and prevent their further distribution. Additionally, you may use some natural products, though their efficiency is lower.
A: If you want to combine the use of a flea shampoo for dogs with natural products, there are several useful remedies you can try. A spray of apple cider vinegar with salt balances the pH level in a dog naturally. It creates an environment optimal for the animal yet unbearable for fleas. Create a solution of water (four cups), apple cider vinegar (six cups), and a dash of sea salt. Spray the solution right onto your pet's coat. Another variant is to queeze enough lemons to fill half a cup, dilute it in two cups of water, add some dog shampoo and wash your dog with the formed solution. It’s also a good idea to place several leaves of fresh Rosemary in boiling water. Strain the mixture, add it into warm water. Let it cool to a comfortable temperature and pour over your pet. Don't rinse him, just let him dry naturally.
A: Canister filters are effective and reliable but it’s crucial to choose the right device for your aquarium. There are several key criteria for you to consider. The main parameter is the GPH (gallons per hour) rate. A good filter must handle all the water in the aquarium twice or thrice for an hour. Thus, for a 10-gallon tank, a 30-GPH filter will do. Other things to consider are types of filtering media, the motor, check valves, and the filter dimensions.
A: Depending on the model of your aquarium canister filter, the routine of maintenance may differ. Canister filters do a great job of pulling all the gunk out of the tank. However, all the water passes through it bringing the gunk into it. So, once you notice the filter is filthy, the aquarium water has acquired a bad odor, the water has become cloudy, the level of nitrate in the tank is high, the canister filter is clogged, or the debris inside is already visible, it's time to clean it. On average, canister filters must be cleaned every three months. In fact, these filters go the longest between cleanings.
To make sure that your fish and turtles are happy and healthy, you should create the ideal ecosystem in their tank, and the quality of water should be the primary concern. Keeping it free from dirt and rich in oxygen is vital for the inhabitants of aquariums, so you can’t ignore such an important thing as filtering. Canister filters are versatile and efficient because they’re designed for cleaning marine and freshwater and removing the vast majority of dirt and toxins.
You can find a canister filter for an average price of $70. Out of all the reviewed models, Marineland Magniflow has the most optimal price/quality ratio: it’s non-expensive and features an extra polishing media layer. Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter for tanks up to 175 gallons has exceptional features but is twice as expensive as its analogs. Have a huge aquarium? Instead of Fluval Canister Filter FX6, which is too costly (over $300), we recommend using two Pingkay 200 Gallon Filters – it will be cheaper (though much space is required).
Each best aquarium canister filter review on our list will give you the idea of what this or that model is capable of, and whether it would be suitable for your aquarium. You just need to get a canister filter of appropriate flow rate and buy all necessary media – all the rest will be done by the device.