What Is a Small Fish Tank Filter?

Fish enthusiasts keeping their beloved pets in small aquariums around the house know well the importance of caring for the little fish. Generally, to care for fish means feeding it and cleaning the mess they leave behind. The latter includes excess food, dirt, the growth of algae, and other debris that falls into the tank. For this, you need the best fish tank filter available in the market. As a rule, it should perform three stages of filtration – biological (eliminates the fishes’ bodily wastes), mechanical (removes excess food and other visible waste), and chemical (removes hard metals or other materials the water may contain). If the filter works well, the fish in the tank is surrounded by clean and pure water so that it can thrive in.

Comparison Table

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Best Choice
Aqua Clear – Small Fish Tank Filter – 5 to 20 Gallons – 110v review
Aqua Clear – Small Fish Tank Filter – 5 to 20 Gallons – 110v
  • Dimensions, inches: 4.5 x 7 x 6.5
  • Aquarium capacity, gallons: 5 to 20
  • Filtration stages: Three-stage
  • Flow rate: Adjustable (up to 100 US Gal/h)

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Also great
Tetra Whisper EX Silent Multi-Stage Power Small fish Tank Filter for Aquariums review
Tetra Whisper EX Silent Multi-Stage Power Small fish Tank Filter for Aquariums
  • Dimensions, inches: 5.6 x 6.1 x 9.2
  • Aquarium capacity, gallons: 10 to 20
  • Filtration stages: Three-stage
  • Flow rate: 110 US Gal/h

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Also great
Fluval C2 Power small fish tank Filter review
Fluval C2 Power small fish tank Filter
  • Dimensions, inches: 4.5 x 6 x 8
  • Aquarium capacity, gallons: 30
  • Filtration stages: Five-stage
  • Flow rate: 119 US Gal/h

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Zacro Small fish Filter for 13-25 Gal Fish Tank review
Zacro Small fish Filter for 13-25 Gal Fish Tank
  • Dimensions, inches: 8.86 x 6.5 x 2.09
  • Aquarium capacity, gallons: 13 to 25
  • Filtration stages: Mechanical filtration
  • Flow rate: Adjustable (up to 200 US Gal/h)

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MarineLand Bio-Wheel Penguin 75 Power small fish tank Filter, 10-Gallon review
MarineLand Bio-Wheel Penguin 75 Power small fish tank Filter, 10-Gallon
  • Dimensions, inches: 5.3 x 5 x 7.6
  • Aquarium capacity, gallons: 10
  • Filtration stages: Three-stage
  • Flow rate: 75 US Gal/h

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Reviews on the Best Small Fish Tank Filters

To make sure the water in your aquarium is clean and purified, you need a well-operating suitable filter. Depending on the capacity of your aquarium, and the fish you keep, you can choose an appropriate model. Find the top models of the market right here:

Aqua Clear - Small Fish Tank Filter - 5 to 20 Gallons - 110v

Aqua Clear – Small Fish Tank Filter – 5 to 20 Gallons – 110v

Review:

Being a fish tank filter of compact size, this model by Aqua Clear is yet powerful. The installation process is quick and easy (must just be set up beside the aquarium). The filtration volume is remarkable. In fact, it’s seven times larger than other models designed for small tanks. This small fish tank filter is available with Activated Carbon, AquaClear Foam, BioMax and Cycle Guard that altogether ensure continuous water filtration and fantastically clean water for your fish.

What we think:

This tank filter is definitely worth purchasing. The price-quality ratio is excellent. Despite being of small size, the three-stage filtration it delivers is powerful. The model doesn’t require much time and effort for installation and is energy-efficient. And it looks nice in a fish tank.
The only thing we don’t appreciate about the filter is the vibration and noise produced particularly during night times when it’s quiet in the house.

PROS

  • Sensible price
  • Compact and neat look
  • Adjustable flow rate
  • Three-stage filtration
  • Quick and easy installation
  • Energy-efficient system

CONS

  • Loud noise and annoying vibration
Tetra Whisper EX Silent Multi-Stage Power Small fish Tank Filter for Aquariums

Tetra Whisper EX Silent Multi-Stage Power Small fish Tank Filter for Aquariums

Review:

This compact filter for small aquariums offered by Tetra is one of the most affordable, yet quite good models you can find in the market nowadays. Designed for tanks with up to 20 gallons capacity, the equipment offers powerful performance. You can use the unit just out of the box without changing any settings. It ensures efficient three-stage filtration.

What we think:

Taking into account the cheap price Tetra Whisper EX Silent filter is sold at, it’s really powerful. It’s very easy to install and use, hence is proper for both professional and amateur aquarium hobbyists. The three-stage filtration ensures crystal clear water for the tank inhabitants.
However, many users state that the product isn’t reliable as it often breaks down within several months.
In addition, its wild vibration and noise are irritating.

PROS

  • Cheap price
  • Sold with two patented carbon filters
  • Easy to use
  • Three-stage filtration

CONS

  • Not reliable
  • Annoying sudden wild vibration periodically
Fluval C2 Power small fish tank Filter

Fluval C2 Power small fish tank Filter

Review:

The biggest advantage of this fish tank filter manufactured by Fluval is its five-stage filtration that involves two-stage mechanical filtration, a chemical filtration, two-stage biological filtration. The filtration volume is impressive, too (119 gallons an hour). This model is designed for aquariums with 30-gallon capacity. There is a cleansing indicator installed in the tool that shows when you must rinse the polyfoam.

What we think:

Being a little bit on the expensive side, the model has several impressive features including a five-stage filtration, excellent flow rate, a beneficial cleansing indicator, easy maintenance. The only downside we’ve noticed about Fluval C2 Power filter is the rattling of the impeller.

PROS

  • Five-stage filtration
  • Impressive flow rate
  • Cleansing indicator
  • Easy maintenance

CONS

  • On the expensive side
  • The impeller rattles
Zacro Small fish Filter for 13-25 Gal Fish Tank

Zacro Small fish Filter for 13-25 Gal Fish Tank

Review:

This is a unique model appropriate for both professional and amateur aquarium hobbyists. The water inlet pipe is adjustable and you can regulate how deep it goes into your tank (0-6cm). The flow rate is adjustable, too.
The unit operates noiselessly and is hence appropriate for bedrooms, too. The cleaning process is very easy and quick, just as the installation.
The price is average.

What we think:

The flexible and reliable small aquarium filter by Zacro delivers the performance you can’t but appreciate. However, along with so many advantages the product has, we noticed a sudden grinding sound that pops up only about two weeks after the usage. Even after unplugging the equipment, it returns after a while.

PROS

  • Flow rate adjustable
  • Adjustable flow rate
  • An adjustable water inlet pipe
  • Quiet operation
  • Easy maintenance

CONS

  • Grinding noise arises after two weeks' usage
MarineLand Bio-Wheel Penguin 75 Power small fish tank Filter, 10-Gallon

MarineLand Bio-Wheel Penguin 75 Power small fish tank Filter, 10-Gallon

Review:

The hang-on-back filter by MarineLand is great for aquariums with up to 10-gallon capacity. The flow rate is 75 gallons per hour and it is enough for small tanks. The equipment ensures a three-stage filtration. It requires no special set up since it comes assembled while the filtration cartridge is easy to install and replace when necessary.

What we think:

Falling into the middle price range, the small tank filter MarineLand Bio-Wheel Penguin is a decent model. It ensures efficient filtration, while the flow rate is rather powerful. In fact, it’s too powerful for small fish which may suffer from a strong current. Another downside we’ve been reported about is its insecurity. It doesn’t work well for long periods.

PROS

  • Quite operating
  • On the cheap side
  • Great for novice fish keepers
  • Powerful flow rate
  • Three-stage filtration

CONS

  • Not reliable for long periods
  • The flow can't be adjusted

FAQ

Here are the most frequently asked questions you should know answers to before you set up your small fish tank:

Q: How to Put a Small World Fish Filter in a Spherical Tank?

A: It’s difficult to install ordinary hang-on filters into spherical tanks. But Small World filters can be fitted into almost any fish bowls due to their tiny size. Connect the air pump of the filter to the airline tube and the control valve. The latter will then go to the filter. Thanks to the small size of the unit, the small fish tank filter setup is possible in a spherical tank, too.

Q: How to Know if the Filter Current Is Too Strong for a Small Fish Tank?

A: To find out if the filter current is too strong for your fish, study their behavior. If your aquatic life struggles to stay still, the current is too strong. The same can be indicated if the aquarium planted life tilts in an unnatural position, or the sediments are not evenly spread throughout the tank but appear more on one end.

Q: How to Change Water in the Small Fish Tank with No Water Filter?

A: Aquariums without filters clog quickly, hence the water must be changed daily. For this follow these steps:

  • Get water into a bucket and treat it with conditioner to adjust the pH level;
  • Eliminate any electric sources around the aquarium;
  • Take out any decorations and plants to clean separately;
  • Take a bowl of water from the tank;
  • Take out the fish and place them in that bowl to rest while you are changing the water;
  • Suck out the water from the tank with a special pump;
  • Leave at least 30% of the water;
  • Add the conditioned water;
  • Check the temperature and adjust if necessary;
  • Add the plants and decoration;
  • Add the fish.

Q:How to Set Up a Small Fish Tank Filter?

A: Follow these steps to set up your small hang-on-the back fish tank filter properly:

  • Make certain there’s enough room behind the tank to hang the filter media on the back;
  • Assemble the filter;
  • Set it up on the back of your aquarium in the position where the outflow evenly distributes the tank water;
  • Ensure the loop cable runs to your plug;
  • Plugin the filter.

Q: How Long to Run Filter in Small Fish Tank?

A: The filter should run 24/7 to prevent the bacteria from dying and keep the water oxygenated. However, you can switch it off for an hour or two periodically to clean the filter or the tank.

 

Conclusion

There are several aspects to take into consideration when choosing a filter for your fish tank. These include the design since it determines if the product will fit in the tank or be adjusted perfectly, the water flow rate, the types of filtration it ensures, the noise of operation, and the overall quality. Sometimes, the setup and installation stand as a deciding factor, too. Taking all these points into consideration and comparing the quality and price ratio of all the five models we reviewed in this article, we can conclude the best small fish tank filter is the model by Aqua Clear. It provides all the features one needs to keep the water clean and well-oxygenated for his fish to thrive.

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