What Is A Fish Tank Filter Cartridge?

Every aquarium water filter has filtering media inside: this is what ensures chemical, biological, and mechanical cleaning. From time to time, old dirty and clogged filtering media layers that come in cartridges should be replaced with new ones.
There are several types of filter cartridges depending on the type of cleaning performed:

  • Mechanical (removes sand, debris, large particles);
  • Biological (kills bacteria);
  • Chemical (removes toxic chemicals, such as ammonia);
  • Mixed (several types of media).

Compare The Best Fish Tank Filter Cartridges

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Best Choice
Tetra Whisper Replacement Carbon Filter Cartridges review
Tetra Whisper Replacement Carbon Filter Cartridges
  • Types of filtration: Mechanical + chemical
  • Filters in package: 6
  • Which system is it designed for: Whisper 1-3i filter system
  • Capacity of tank: 3-5 gallons

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Also great
Aqueon Replacement Filter Cartridges review
Aqueon Replacement Filter Cartridges
  • Types of filtration: Chemical, Biological, Mechanical (Bioholster)
  • Filters in package: 6
  • Which system is it designed for: Aqueon QuietFlow Filter
  • Capacity of tank: Up to 20 gallons

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Also great
MarineLand Rite-Size Penguin Power Filter Cartridges review
MarineLand Rite-Size Penguin Power Filter Cartridges
  • Types of filtration: Chemical, Biological, Mechanical
  • Filters in package: 6
  • Which system is it designed for: Penguin filters
  • Capacity of tank: 10-20 gallons

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Also great
Tetra ReptoFilter Filter Cartridges, With Whisper Technology review
Tetra ReptoFilter Filter Cartridges, With Whisper Technology
  • Types of filtration: Mechanical + chemical
  • Filters in package: 3
  • Which system is it designed for: ReptoFilter
  • Capacity of tank: 20-40 gallons

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Also great
Marina I25 Replacement Power Cartridge review
Marina I25 Replacement Power Cartridge
  • Types of filtration: Mechanical + chemical
  • Filters in package: 2
  • Which system is it designed for: Fluval Marina i25 filter
  • Capacity of tank: 10-20 gallons

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Top-5 10 Gallon Fish Tank Filter Cartridges

To review the best cartridges, we have analyzed several important characteristics, including size, types of filtration, durability, and quality of media used.

Tetra Whisper Replacement Carbon Filter Cartridges

Tetra Whisper Replacement Carbon Filter Cartridges, Small, 6 Count

Review

If you have a small aquarium up to 5 gallons, this is the best fish tank filter package you can find. Cheap, ready to use, the filter does what’s said on the label. Thanks to the activated carbon, it removes odors and chemicals from the water, while the fine mesh catches debris. The 6-pack lasts for at least two weeks, if you have a large aquarium, though Tetra recommends changing filters once in a week. The set is designed for Whisper 1-3i filter system.

Our opinion

Purchase of this pack is justified for owners of small fish tanks. It lacks biological filter though, so be ready to buy additional media.

PROS

  • Non-expensive;
  • Easy to install;
  • Removes odors and discoloration.

CONS

  • No biological filtration;
  • Clogs quickly.
Aqueon Replacement Filter Cartridges

Aqueon Replacement Filter Cartridges

Review

These cartridges contain activated carbon to remove odors and harmful chemicals, and feature a thin mesh for proper mechanical cleaning. They are ready to use and should be simply replaced by aligning the cartridge bottom key slot. Cartridges last 4-6 weeks each, which is very convenient.

Our opinion

Great choice for fish tanks up to 20 gallons – the 6-pack totally justifies its cost. However, some users claim the cartridges last 3-4 weeks.

PROS

  • Holds beneficial bacteria;
  • Lasts about a month;
  • Easy to replace.

CONS

  • Should contain more activated carbon;
  • Extra biological filter media should be used with the cartridges.
MarineLand Rite-Size Penguin Power Filter Cartridges

MarineLand Rite-Size Penguin Power Filter Cartridges

Review

If you need a filter cartridge for fish tank with all kinds of filtration, opt for the 6-pack from MarineLand. The cartridges contain premium activated carbon, fine mesh, and an extra layer for biological filtration. They’re easy to install and last 1 month.

Our opinion

Excellent cartridges for Penguin filters with a great price/quality ratio.

PROS

  • Optimal price and quality ratio;
  • 3 types of filtration.

CONS

  • Some users claim they last less than a month.
Tetra ReptoFilter Filter Cartridges With Whisper Technology

Tetra ReptoFilter Filter Cartridges, With Whisper Technology

Review

Efficient and long-lasting, Tetra cartridges contain ultra-activated carbon to absorb odors and toxic chemicals – many turtle owners claim that these filter bags remove all smell and debris. Cartridges are very easy to install and last for about a month.

Our opinion

A bit overpriced without a discount, but the pack will be enough to keep the turtle tank clean for 3 full months.

PROS

  • Efficient removal of dirt and odors;
  • Easy to install.

CONS

  • No biological filtration.
Marina I25 Replacement Power Cartridge

Marina I25 Replacement Power Cartridge

Review

Designed specifically for Marina i25 internal filter, these cartridges have 2 types of filtration thanks to activated carbon and zeolite chamber to remove toxic ammonia. Cartridges last about 4 weeks each and catch debris perfectly.

Our opinion

Non-expensive and efficient option for marina i25 filter – we highly recommend this 2-pack.

PROS

  • Cheap;
  • Efficient.

CONS

  • No biological filtration.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How To Clean A Fish Tank Filter Cartridge?

A: Cartridges are not cleaned – they are replaced after becoming clogged. However, the filter itself should be cleaned from time to time (for example, when you’re replacing the water in the fish tank).

Q: How To Install Fish Tank Filter Cartridge?

A: Rinse filter cartridge under cool tap water to remove the residues of carbon and other stuff. Open the filter’s lid and insert the cartridge inside after removing the old one.

Q: How Often To Change Filter Cartridge In Fish Tank?

A: Cartridges should be changed at least once in 4 weeks, however, it depends on a variety of factors including aquarium capacity and the quality of water. As a rule, clogged cartridges are replaced when there’s a decreased flow out of the water.

Q: How To Remove A Fish Tank Filter Cartridge?

A: Switch off the filter and open the filter’s lid. Pull a cartridge to remove it.

Q: What Does Filter Cartridge For Fish Tank Do?

A: It removes dirt, debris, chemicals, and odors from water eliminating the discoloration. Some filters also kill harmful bacteria.

Q: How To Replace Fish Tank Filter Cartridge?

A: Switch off the filter and open the filter’s lid. Pull a cartridge to remove it. Wash the filter, if necessary, and place the new cartridge by sliding it in the slot.

Q: Why do fish get stuck on the filter?

A:Commonly, it means that the filter is too powerful for your aquarium: it creates a too strong current that makes small fish stressed. Another possible explanation is an illness or weakness of this particular fish. Keep in mind that fish can get weak and sleepy due to a high ammonia level. If the problem is in the filter, the best solution is to decrease the power of filtration. If the flow can’t be adjusted, then you may try using a sponge sleeve on the intake tube. If this doesn’t help, you should consider replacing a filter.

Q: How long should a fish tank filter last?

A: How long a fish tank filter should last depends on its type. Generally, the vast majority of filter cartridges require changing once a month. The reason is the carbon present in all cartridges. It removes chemical substances from the tank water and eventually fills up with them itself. If you don't change the filter cartridge after a month, it will collect beneficial bacteria, which is good for the aquarium inhabitants, yet will stop removing chemical impurities. This will make the water improper for the fish to thrive. You should replace the filter media of an in-tank or a hang-on-back filter every three to four weeks, too. When doing it, clean the filter. The intake tube might have accumulated debris or algae which must be accurately cleaned, while the filter housing must be just rinsed.

Our Recommendations & Conclusion

How to select a filter cartridge fish tank option? It should mostly depend on the type of filter you use. The majority of cartridges are in nearly the same price range: you can get a 6-pack for $7, or a 3-pack for $3-4. Out of all reviewed models, we highly recommend Aqueon Replacement Filter Cartridges. They feature all types of filtration and boast mostly positive reviews.

Sources:

https://modestfish.com/how-to-clean-your-fish-tank/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquarium_filter

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Erin Gonzalez

Is a bigger aquarium filter better?

Alisa Mendoza

hi,
In a nutshell, a bigger filter provides better filtration. That is why the more powerful a filter is the better. However, there is a seamy side to everything: a big filter creates a too strong current, which can be dangerous for small fish. This is why it makes sense to focus on the quality of filtration. Make sure the device provides decent biological filtration. Mechanical filtration is also important, while chemical filtration is not mandatory in many cases.

Leslie Kelley

Fish are fantastic pets, but they’re not the cleanest animals on the planet. Whenever fish do their business, everything is left floating around in the tank for all to see. The best aquarium filters will make sure your water quality stays consistently well while your tank water looks crystal clear. This way, you’ll get to enjoy watching your little critters move around while also helping make sure their habitat is as friendly and livable as possible. There are filters built for every size, shape, and type of tank you cold imagine.

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