Editor's Choice - Our Favorite Cannister Aquarium Filters

1. Penn Plax Cascade Pro-Carb Canister Filter for Aquariums, 8 Total Filters (4 packs with 2 filters in...

Penn-Plax First Impressions

"Kudos to Amazon prime!"

The filter stopped working all of a sudden. This filter has is a very simple and efficient design. I took it apart reassemble it and it's not pumping in the water. Overall, I'm very happy with this filter. I attempted to clean and lube the impeller, but to no avail. I will never buy any other HOB no matter what deal they might be offering. Fill up the media slot with water until it's full.

  • Penn Plax Cascade Pro-Carb Canister Filter for Aquariums, 8 Total Filters (4 packs with 2 filters in each pack)
  • 8 Total Filters (4 packs with 2 filters in each pack)
  • Convenient, ready-to-use filter bags for use with your Cascade cannister filter
  • Contains carbon & ammonia removing zeolite crystals
  • Filter media fully enclosed in a disposable nylon-mesh bag
  • Manufacture: Penn Plax
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5 x 2.5 inches; 1.2 Pounds
  • Editor's Impressions Of The Penn-Plax
  • Filter Effectiveness [star rating='4.3']
  • Quality [star rating='4.5']
  • Value For Money [star rating='4.8']
  • Affordability [star rating='5']

Penn-Plax Final Thoughts

"I'd recommend it."

Overall, I like the 350's slim back design, and be able to add up to 4 cartridges. There is a sound from the water shooting into the tank! I was worried that it might be too much for my aquarium or that it would be loud. They were great to deal with and the new filter is working great! I checked and cleaned it and still just as loud. Now I'm having the same issue with the Aqua Clear 50. What I don't like is how much smaller it is than the Aqueon.

Overall Score
5.0

[star rating="5"]
(2 Points)

2. Penn Plax Cascade Marlin Canister Filter

User Ratings: 37 7

Penn-Plax First Impressions

"It just starts right up."

That water got so dirty we had to keep changing it every 2 or 3 days. Get it and take heed to what I wrote. I was worried that it might be too much for my aquarium or that it would be loud. I checked and cleaned it and still just as loud. They can be very noisy at the impeller, which sometimes quiets in time, but may not. The filter stopped working all of a sudden. The Aqua Clear is on the left and the Aqueon is on the right.

  • Penn Plax Cascade Marlin Canister Filter
  • Clean, Crystal-Clear Water for Fresh and Marine Aquariums
  • Manufacture: Penn-Plax
  • Editor's Impressions Of The Penn-Plax
  • Filter Effectiveness [star rating='3.8']
  • Quality [star rating='4.4']
  • Value For Money [star rating='4']
  • Affordability [star rating='3.1']

Penn-Plax Final Thoughts

"Very pleased!"

Overall I would recommend this item. I own 3 of these and besides my canister they are my favorite filters. Works like a dream and can't even hear it! Lift the sticking wheel outuse a Q-tip to clean the slots where the wheel rests. It's only rated at 25 gph less, but holds considerably less media. You do have to unplug it for those two jobs. I was worried about some of the negative reviews.

Overall Score
3.8

[star rating="3.8"]
(14 Points)

3. ViaAqua Extra Thick Japanese Filter Mat Aquarium Koi Pond Media Pad Custom Fit Sizes

User Ratings: 52

ViaAqua First Impressions

"Seriously."

Worst case is that the motor could burn out. Firstly, I'd recommend taking the motor apart and putting it back together. My old pump was not working very well so I had to make a major clean up. Doing research I learned that if I add more filter media, the noise will subside. A canister or in tank filter is ten times more work and messy. I was new to the hobby and didn't realize that Tetras were inferior filters. It's only rated at 25 gph less, but holds considerably less media.

  • ViaAqua Extra Thick Japanese Filter Mat Aquarium Koi Pond Media Pad Custom Fit Sizes
  • Improved thicker design: 1.5" thick
  • The best biological media available
  • Very firm and rigid
  • Never need to replace, Sinking
  • Dimensions: 20" x 20" x 1.5"; Package includes: 1 x Japanese filter pad
  • Manufacture: Commodity Axis
  • Editor's Impressions Of The ViaAqua
  • Filter Effectiveness [star rating='4.2']
  • Quality [star rating='4.7']
  • Value For Money [star rating='3.3']
  • Affordability [star rating='3.6']

ViaAqua Final Thoughts

"A very obvious waterfall."

Fill it up with water before you plug it in. It's only rated at 25 gph less, but holds considerably less media. Overall, I'm very happy with this filter. This lives up to the praise that people give it. I sent a request for replacement and one came the next day. It started out silent for about 30 mins and then it got super loud. I want to answer some of the complaints I've read.

Overall Score
4.0

[star rating="4"]
(2 Points)

4. Polar Aurora Free Media 265GPH / 370GPH / 525GPH External Aquarium Filter with Builtin Pump Kit Cani...

User Ratings: 69 5

Polar Aurora First Impressions

"A very obvious waterfall."

The filter stopped working all of a sudden. Early on it seems to be working as advertised. Following morning it was running quietly. Replace activated carbon every 6-8 months ish. I checked and cleaned it and still just as loud. I had to lower the surface by 3 inches to get sufficient agitation. There must be a huge batch of these units at Amazon right now that are bad.

  • Polar Aurora Free Media 265GPH / 370GPH / 525GPH External Aquarium Filter with Builtin Pump Kit Canister
  • Good for up to 200 gallon fish tanks.Maximum flow rate of 525GPH from built in pump
  • 4 media trays capable of handling your choice of filtration media; Comes with an adjustable spray bar. This is a helpful feature if you want to adjust the output flow from the filter
  • Convenient self-priming pump that eliminates the need for manual siphoning; Single valve disconnect & priming pump ease routine maintenance
  • Built in 9 Watt Light for controlling algae spores/bacteria and promoting clear water
  • The four flexible media trays allow you to add other filtration media such as SunSun's activated carbons, ceramic rings or bio-balls to achieve excellent mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration.
  • 4 stages of filtration
  • 9w powered
  • 110-120V 50-60Hz
  • Manufacture: Polar Aurora
  • Editor's Impressions Of The Polar Aurora
  • Filter Effectiveness [star rating='4.8']
  • Quality [star rating='5']
  • Value For Money [star rating='3.9']
  • Affordability [star rating='4.3']

Polar Aurora Final Thoughts

"This is not."

Months later, this filter is still working great on my 29 gal set up. I had to lower the surface by 3 inches to get sufficient agitation. My baby turtle even loves it so much he won't let go. This new AQ50 filter has loose bio-media, i. My tank was a mess when I got this pump. I bought a top fin 55 gallon aquarium on sale. It's easy to clean and we all know about easy.

Overall Score
4.4

[star rating="4.4"]
(671 Points)

5. hygger Adjustable 158GPH 12W Aquarium Filter with 3 Stages Filtration, Hang On Power Filter for Fish...

User Ratings: 61 9

hygger First Impressions

"This thing is super loud!"

Months later, this filter is still working great on my 29 gal set up. I'd highly recommend not replacing the bio material& sponge, ever. Worst case is that the motor could burn out. They were great to deal with and the new filter is working great! Your fish and you will be much happier and stun everyone else. As for performance, I couldn't ask for a better filter. First they are simple and designed to pump and filter aquarium water.

  • hygger Adjustable 158GPH 12W Aquarium Filter with 3 Stages Filtration, Hang On Power Filter for Fish Tank 5-30 Gallon, Cord 5.9ft
  • 【Efficient 3-Stage Filtration】12W external power filter, AC 110-120V/60HZ. With 3 stages of filtration system, combines mechanical, chemical, as well as biological filtration effects, high filtration effects to keep fish tank water crystal clean. A separate filter basket containing 3 layers of filter media: sponge insert, activated carbon pellets, black bio balls
  • 【Water Flow Adjustable】the max water flow rate of the bio aquarium filter is 158GPH, there is a knob at the top of the filter and will outside the cover, you can easy to rotate the knob to control the water flow according to your needs. A must have bio filter for 3 to 50 gallon small fish tank
  • 【Ultra Quiet Aquarium Filter】 the built-in water pump of the filter works quietly, and the filter comes with a cover, will cut off most sounds. The waterfall design enables filtered water back to the tank silently, you can only hear the water sounds when it's working, the sound is less than 40dB, will not disturb the fish in the aquarium tank and your sleep
  • 【Fits for Most Fish Tank Thickness】easy to install and use, the filter case is at the back of the filter, outside of the fish tank. Can hang it on to most square fish tanks, it comes with a separate fix knob to make the clip of the filter to fit different thickness of fish tank wall
  • 【With a Floating Skimmer】 there is a floating skimmer put on the telescopic water intake tube, it will be floating up when sinks into water, visible impurities floating on the water will go into the skimmer house when the filter pump is running
  • Manufacture: hygger
  • Editor's Impressions Of The hygger
  • Filter Effectiveness [star rating='3.5']
  • Quality [star rating='4.4']
  • Value For Money [star rating='4.9']
  • Affordability [star rating='4.8']

hygger Final Thoughts

"I bought this filter."

This filter comes with a sponge, activated carbon, and bio material in a mesh bag. SO, I sat down and read EVERY little thing in rhe instructions. Once it loses its charge, you'll need to replace it. I've been researching so many things on how to take care of them. Fill up the media slot with water until it's full. I have had no issues with it being to loud. I have always used Marineland filters and been happy with them and their quality.

Overall Score
4.3

[star rating="4.3"]
(16 Points)

6. hygger Sponge Filter, Aquarium Filter Double Sponge Replaceable Media with 4 Biochemical Sponges and...

User Ratings: 65 6

hygger First Impressions

"- Plug it into power."

I've looked at so many filters and reviews. Firstly, I'd recommend taking the motor apart and putting it back together. I've looked at so many filters and reviews. DO NOT CLEAN OR WASH the paper wheel itself. I used to work as a marine biologist for a major state aquarium. I was new to the hobby and didn't realize that Tetras were inferior filters. Firstly, I'd recommend taking the motor apart and putting it back together.

  • hygger Sponge Filter, Aquarium Filter Double Sponge Replaceable Media with 4 Biochemical Sponges and 1 Bag of Filtered Ceramic Balls Ultra Quiet Filter Fish Tank (S/M)
  • 【Biochemical Filtration】 With air pump as the power source, combined with mechanical filtration, the principle of biological filtration utilizes multi-level filtration to culture beneficial nitrifying bacteria, and the sponge can absorb fine particles to achieve the effect of purifying water. The water flow is controlled by the airflow, which is small and slow and does not impact the fish.
  • 【Changeable filter material】Two kinds of replaceable filter materials: sponge + filter box. You can easily remove 2 sponges from the filter for cleaning or replacement, with a total of 4 sponges. It also has a media container with a ceramic filter inside to help eliminate harmful substances and provide additional cleaning power. Other filters can be replaced.
  • 【Easy to use】 Use a 4mm air hose to connect one end to the air pump and the other end to this tank filter. The outlet pipe in the sponge filter can be adjusted so that you can change the direction and height of the water flow (not including the pump and air hose, please choose a powerful pump for this filter according to your tank size).
  • 【Upgrade filter】Aquarium filter can increase the amount of water dissolved, ultra-quiet, not easy to block, can be installed with filter material. Multi-layer design of filter cotton, with a large surface area, full filtration without dead ends. The suction cup is strong and secure. The bottom direction is 360 degrees rotatable.
  • 【Suitable Size】 The medium sponge filter is 6.3 inch width and 9 inch to 13 inch height, the sponge inside circle diameter is 0.59 inch, suggest for 15 to 55 gallon fish tank. For larger tank you may need 2 of this filter. Suitable for shrimp tanks, betta fish tanks, breeding ponds, goldfish, juvenile fish or other fish.
  • Manufacture: hygger
  • Editor's Impressions Of The hygger
  • Filter Effectiveness [star rating='4.4']
  • Quality [star rating='4.7']
  • Value For Money [star rating='4.6']
  • Affordability [star rating='4']

hygger Final Thoughts

"Seriously."

Clean the foam insert apparently it pulled a lot of dirt and needs cleaned. It's only rated at 25 gph less, but holds considerably less media. As for performance, I couldn't ask for a better filter. I checked and cleaned it and still just as loud. Oscars are very messy fish, especially during feeding. Once I found that, the world was right again. Overall, I'm very happy with this filter.

Overall Score
4.3

[star rating="4.3"]
(483 Points)

7. Marine Color Sunsun Aquarium Surface Protein Skimmer 5W JY03 Aquarium Oil Film Processor JY-03 Oil R...

User Ratings: 61 6

Marine Color First Impressions

"Great product."

I returned the Aqua Clear 70 and promptly received a replacement. This lives up to the praise that people give it. I DONT KNOW WHY MANY THINK THIS IS A NOISY FILTER. They can be very noisy at the impeller, which sometimes quiets in time, but may not. I want to answer some of the complaints I've read. Overall I would recommend this item. It wasn't producing much surface agitation.

  • Marine Color Sunsun Aquarium Surface Protein Skimmer 5W JY03 Aquarium Oil Film Processor JY-03 Oil Removal Filter Fish Tank Filter
  • Effective surface skimming.
  • Adjustable flow rate.
  • Easy cleaning.
  • Adjust the water level within 4cm automatically.
  • Small and compact in size.
  • Manufacture: Sunsun
  • Editor's Impressions Of The Marine Color
  • Filter Effectiveness [star rating='3.9']
  • Quality [star rating='4.3']
  • Value For Money [star rating='4.3']
  • Affordability [star rating='3.8']

Marine Color Final Thoughts

"Piece of cake!"

This is a good choice if you're tired of cleaning your turtle tank all the time. It doesn't rise up hugely above the tank like a lot of HOB filters. I had a lot of particles in the water. That water got so dirty we had to keep changing it every 2 or 3 days. I want to answer some of the complaints I've read. There must be a huge batch of these units at Amazon right now that are bad. I use Marinelands refillable cartridge for extra carbon on the extra slots.

Overall Score
4.2

[star rating="4.2"]
(179 Points)

8. Aquapapa 4X Bio Sponge Filter for Betta Fry Aquarium Fish Tank Up to 15 Gal

User Ratings: 78

Aquapapa First Impressions

"Great product."

Your fish and you will be much happier and stun everyone else. I will pick 3-4 of these at one time over a single system any day. Overall, I like the 350's slim back design, and be able to add up to 4 cartridges. You can't really tell though, and the filter is working great. The first night I had the pump going it started making a screeching sound. Fill it up with water before you plug it in. Clean the foam insert apparently it pulled a lot of dirt and needs cleaned.

  • Aquapapa 4X Bio Sponge Filter for Betta Fry Aquarium Fish Tank Up to 15 Gal
  • Provide both mechanical and biological filtration.
  • Simply install an airline into the unit and provide both aeration and filtration for your fish. Aerobic bacteria colonize the sponge providing a bacterial substance to facilitate the nitrogen cycle.
  • The sponge traps larger waste particles mechanically cleaning the water without trapping baby fish.
  • Product dimensions: 3.5” wide x 1.8” deep x 5.5” high; sponge dimensions: 1.8”D x 3.12”H. They are useful for as breeding filter or as secondary filter. Or they can be used as pre-filtration unit by fitting to an external or a top filter.
  • Max tank size up to 15 gallon each.
  • Manufacture: Aquapapa
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 8.4 x 3.2 inches; 3.99 Ounces
  • Editor's Impressions Of The Aquapapa
  • Filter Effectiveness [star rating='5']
  • Quality [star rating='5']
  • Value For Money [star rating='4']
  • Affordability [star rating='4.8']

Aquapapa Final Thoughts

"I love this canister."

If that does not work, look into silicone grease so you can lube the impeller. The filter arrived within 2 days and was the exact same as Petsmart's. I decided to go with this filter since I had a positive experience previously. It was perfectly quiet without any extra effort on my part. SO, I sat down and read EVERY little thing in rhe instructions. , that's what makes this so funny. The lever on the bottom helps even the filter out.

Overall Score
4.7

[star rating="4.7"]
(86 Points)

9. UPETTOOLS Aquarium Biochemical Sponge Filter, Ultra Quite Aquarium Air Pump Single Head Bio Sponge F...

User Ratings: 70 5

UPETTOOLS First Impressions

"It just starts right up."

LOW and BEHOLD, LMAO, I missed where you had to put water in the back of the filter. There is a sound from the water shooting into the tank! Early on it seems to be working as advertised. Replace activated carbon every 6-8 months ish. The ability to regulate the flow solves the loud waterfall problem. BUT after some YouTube research I was able to fix the noise issue. A canister or in tank filter is ten times more work and messy.

  • UPETTOOLS Aquarium Biochemical Sponge Filter, Ultra Quite Aquarium Air Pump Single Head Bio Sponge Fish Tank Foam Filter
  • 【Multi-filtration Functions】Upettools sponge filter combines single scientific 7-layer ribbing shape sponge design, which can quickly established a bio-filter, improve purifying water quality, and the oxygen port can rotate 360 degrees without dead ends, keep your fish tank crystal clear and clean.
  • 【Special Ceramic Bio Filter Media】Upettools aquarium sponge filters compatible with one container with ceramic bio filter media inside, which help to remove harmful substance and increase oxygen level in your tank, you can replace the filter media to enhance water quality.
  • 【Removable Sponges 】 You can take down the sponge from the filter easily to clean or replace it. Sponge filters provide both mechanical and biological filtration, traps floating debris and protect your baby fish from being sucked up into the filter.
  • 【Easy to Set Up】Simply install an airline into the unit and turn on the air pump, great way to clean and oxygenate your tanks. Don't use tap water to clean it, simply squeeze the sponges in tank water.
  • 【Max Suit for 55GAL Fish Tank】Compatible with 2 suction cups, can be installed anywhere and can be easily hidden on the back wall of the aquarium. Suitable for freshwater & saltwater and all kinds of ornamental fish breeding, breeding and fish formation, especially for colorful fairy, small fish,shrimp tank, betta tank etc.
  • Manufacture: UPETTOOLS
  • Product Dimensions: 2.36 x 6.3 x 9.06 inches; 1.1 Pounds
  • Editor's Impressions Of The UPETTOOLS
  • Filter Effectiveness [star rating='4.9']
  • Quality [star rating='4.8']
  • Value For Money [star rating='4.8']
  • Affordability [star rating='4.9']

UPETTOOLS Final Thoughts

"No issues."

I want to answer some of the complaints I've read. Fill up the media slot with water until it's full. I will pick 3-4 of these at one time over a single system any day. Fill it up with water before you plug it in. I contacted Marineland about my issue and they promptly sent me a new one right away! I own 3 of these and besides my canister they are my favorite filters. Typically just below the flat part of the outlets.

Overall Score
4.4

[star rating="4.4"]
(1003 Points)

10. Aqueon 06078 QuietFlow 55 Power Filter, 250GPH

User Ratings: 41 16

Aqueon 06078 First Impressions

"+Great price."

I wasn't able to fill my tank fully because there was little to no surface agitation. What I don't like is how much smaller it is than the Aqueon. Get it and take heed to what I wrote. The filter stopped working all of a sudden. Fill up the media slot with water until it's full. I was also having oxygen issues because of this. This filter has is a very simple and efficient design.

  • Aqueon 06078 QuietFlow 55 Power Filter, 250GPH
  • Dense floss removes particles and debris
  • Activated carbon removes toxins, odors and discoloration
  • Patented bio-holster removes toxic ammonia and nitrites
  • Diffuser grid removes additional toxins while adding oxygen for more active fish
  • Reduces splashing makeing the return exceptionally quiet
  • Manufacture: Aqueon
  • Item Weight: 2.87 pounds
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 6.62 x 5.6 inches
  • Editor's Impressions Of The Aqueon 06078
  • Filter Effectiveness [star rating='2.9']
  • Quality [star rating='3.9']
  • Value For Money [star rating='2.5']
  • Affordability [star rating='2.7']

Aqueon 06078 Final Thoughts

"That also didn't work."

My fish are definitely happier and my water is crystal clear. Never ever ever use it past a year. Not sure what I'll do with the more complex design. All in all, I highly recommend this filter and I'm a extremely happy customer! I used to work as a marine biologist for a major state aquarium. As for performance, I couldn't ask for a better filter. Once it loses its charge, you'll need to replace it.

Overall Score
3.5

[star rating="3.5"]
(13 Points)

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