Editor's Choice - Our Favorite Freshwater Aquarium Filters

1. Fluval High Performance Aquarium Filter

User Ratings: 86 5

Fluval A219 First Impressions

"I was to tire to fix it."

This one is working perfectly good FOR RIGHT NOW. Now I'm having the same issue with the Aqua Clear 50. This filter comes with a sponge, activated carbon, and bio material in a mesh bag. Lightly clean the silver roller pins on the ends. BUT after some YouTube research I was able to fix the noise issue. The lever on the bottom helps even the filter out. This one is working perfectly good FOR RIGHT NOW.

  • Fluval High Performance Aquarium Filter
  • Multi-Stage Filter that produces healthy aquarium water, freshwater or marine aquariums
  • Features Smart Pump Technology for optimal filter performance, efficiency and management
  • Self-starting filter-just add water and plug in. Head height (maximum): 3. 3 m (10. 8 feet)
  • For aquariums up to 400 gallons
  • Multi-stage filter pumps out an astounding 925 gallons (3500 L) of water per hour
  • Smart Pump – advanced microchip technology continuously monitors and optimizes pump performance
  • Self-starting – just add water, plug in and Smart Pump will take over. Trapped air auto-evacuated every 12 hours to ensure maximum efficiency
  • Easy water changes eliminate need to lift heavy buckets. Simply attach hosing to output (Kit sold separately) and Smart Pump does the rest
  • Manufacture: Fluval
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 15 x 20 inches; 19.9 Pounds
  • Editor's Impressions Of The Fluval A219
  • Filter Effectiveness
  • Quality
  • Value For Money
  • Affordability

Fluval A219 Final Thoughts

"Came on time."

I eyedball everything and put it together with a look back at instructions. Overall, I'm very happy with this filter. The first night I had the pump going it started making a screeching sound. SO, I sat down and read EVERY little thing in rhe instructions. It's only rated at 25 gph less, but holds considerably less media. I liked the clean lined look and the pull out basket. I ordered 4 of these, for different tanks of course.

Overall Score
4.7


(1919 Points)

Peoples Choice - Other Highly Rated Freshwater Aquarium Filters

2. Penn-Plax Small World Aquarium Filter, Filter Kit, and Replacement Media Cartridges (Bio Sponge, Car...

User Ratings: 61 8

Penn-Plax SWF1 First Impressions

"The product itself."

I have had no issues with it being to loud. The Aqua Clear is on the left and the Aqueon is on the right. There must be a huge batch of these units at Amazon right now that are bad. With the 350's inexpensive price point, you can’t go wrong with this powerful filter. Never ever ever use it past a year. I contacted Marineland about my issue and they promptly sent me a new one right away! There is a sound from the water shooting into the tank!

  • Penn-Plax Small World Aquarium Filter, Filter Kit, and Replacement Media Cartridges (Bio Sponge, Carbon, and Zeolite Crystals) – Safe for Freshwater and Saltwater Setups
  • age range description: All Life Stages
  • Helps keep your small aquarium healthy and looking beautiful
  • Specifically designed for small aquariums up to 5 gallons
  • Fits almost any small aquarium shape or size and is compatible with any air pump
  • Helps keep your small aquarium healthy and looking beautiful
  • Specifically designed for small aquariums up to 5 gallons
  • Supercharged with scientifically formulated Carbon and Zeolite Crystals, the media cartridge absorbs ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and phosphates in a fast and timely manner, along with removing harmful chemicals and toxins, clearing up discolorations, and reducing foul odors from your aquarium, tank, or habitat.
  • In addition to the Carbon and Zeolite Crystals, the included media cartridge also contains a Bio Sponge for physical filtration of larger particulate matter, and biological filtration that optimizes the colonization of anaerobic bacteria.
  • Manufacture: Monster Pets
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 2 x 6 inches; 2.88 Ounces
  • Editor's Impressions Of The Penn-Plax SWF1
  • Filter Effectiveness
  • Quality
  • Value For Money
  • Affordability

Penn-Plax SWF1 Final Thoughts

"The product itself."

First they are simple and designed to pump and filter aquarium water. Overall, I'm very happy with this filter. Early on it seems to be working as advertised. This is not my first experience with a marineland filter. I'm a mechanical engineer and understand design. The Aqua Clear is on the left and the Aqueon is on the right. I decided to go with this filter since I had a positive experience previously.

Overall Score
4.1


(1365 Points)

3. API NITRA-ZORB SIZE 6 Aquarium Canister Filter Filtration Pouch 1-Count Bag, Model:110A

User Ratings: 70 5

API 110A First Impressions

"Just buy it!"

There must be a huge batch of these units at Amazon right now that are bad. This is a good choice if you're tired of cleaning your turtle tank all the time. It's only rated at 25 gph less, but holds considerably less media. I'd highly recommend not replacing the bio material& sponge, ever. I ordered 4 of these, for different tanks of course. , that's what makes this so funny. Firstly, I'd recommend taking the motor apart and putting it back together.

  • API NITRA-ZORB SIZE 6 Aquarium Canister Filter Filtration Pouch 1-Count Bag, Model:110A
  • Contains one (1) API NITRA-ZORB SIZE 6 Aquarium Canister Filter Filtration Pouch 1-Count Bag
  • Removes toxins that can be harmful to fish and lead to algae growth.
  • Removes ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate from aquarium water.
  • Easy-to-use pre-dosed pouch fits most canister filters on the market, for use in freshwater aquariums
  • Use when starting a new aquarium and when ammonia or nitrite is detected, replace every 2 months.
  • Manufacture: Aquarium Pharmaceuticals
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 9.5 inches; 8.2 Ounces
  • Editor's Impressions Of The API 110A
  • Filter Effectiveness
  • Quality
  • Value For Money
  • Affordability

API 110A Final Thoughts

"Just a tip!"

It was perfectly quiet without any extra effort on my part. I'm a mechanical engineer and understand design. Now I'm having the same issue with the Aqua Clear 50. I AM IMPRESSED THAT IT WORKS AS IT ACTUALLY SHOULD! With the 350's inexpensive price point, you can’t go wrong with this powerful filter. You'll want to pull that water from the bottom. My old pump was not working very well so I had to make a major clean up.

Overall Score
4.4


(1052 Points)

4. 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
  • Quality
  • Value For Money
  • Affordability

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


(1003 Points)

Honorable Mentions - More Top Selling Freshwater Aquarium Filters

5. Penn-Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter with Quad Filtration System

User Ratings: 73 7

Penn-Plax CPF5 First Impressions

"SAME THING!"

Also the maker should review the pump design. I was using a Tetra in-tank filter previously. I've been researching so many things on how to take care of them. I liked the clean lined look and the pull out basket. I also like the fact that it is relatively low profile and discreet looking. Your fish and you will be much happier and stun everyone else. The filter arrived within 2 days and was the exact same as Petsmart's.

  • Penn-Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter with Quad Filtration System
  • Hang on aquarium filter quietly delivers 300 gallons per hour of crystal clear water for your fresh or marine aquariums from 55 to 100 gallons in size.
  • Revolutionary Bio-Falls Quad-Filtration system provides efficient filtration with anaerobic bacteria for additional ammonia and nitrite removal providing maximum oxygenation.
  • Activated carbon cartridge removes harmful chemicals, toxins, odors, discoloration, and other contaminants for your aquarium.
  • Internal sponge optimizes colonization of beneficial anaerobic bacteria and polyfiber floss cartridge traps floating particulate matter.
  • Adjustable flow knob allows you to reduce filtration during feeding times or as needed. Aquarium filter is recommended for both freshwater and saltwater applications.
  • Manufacture: Monster Pets
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.5 x 11 inches; 4 Pounds
  • Editor's Impressions Of The Penn-Plax CPF5
  • Filter Effectiveness
  • Quality
  • Value For Money
  • Affordability

Penn-Plax CPF5 Final Thoughts

"I was to tire to fix it."

Worst case is that the motor could burn out. LOW and BEHOLD, LMAO, I missed where you had to put water in the back of the filter. Replace activated carbon every 6-8 months ish. DO NOT CLEAN OR WASH the paper wheel itself. I AM IMPRESSED THAT IT WORKS AS IT ACTUALLY SHOULD! I decided to go with this filter since I had a positive experience previously. I was new to the hobby and didn't realize that Tetras were inferior filters.

Overall Score
4.4


(870 Points)

6. API Filstar XP

User Ratings: 58 15

API 720 First Impressions

"I should loosen it up."

, that's what makes this so funny. I ordered 4 of these, for different tanks of course. The filter arrived within 2 days and was the exact same as Petsmart's. However, lately I've purchased the Aqua Clear 70 and 50. I put it together, reading instructions of course. I have the topfin 29 gallon tank and used the HOB filter it came with. I used a small pair of pliers and carefully got the pebbles out.

  • API Filstar XP
  • Contains one (1) API FILSTAR XP FILTER SIZE S Aquarium Canister Filter 1-Count Box
  • Provides powerful filtration for perfectly balanced and crystal clear aquarium water.
  • Very easy to use and maintain; allows for centralized control of all the functions of the filtration system.
  • Quick disconnect, leak free, fast cleaning, and self-priming.
  • Allows the use of various filtration media available in the API range, and meets your specific freshwater and saltwater requirements.
  • Manufacture: Aquarium Pharmaceuticals
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 13.5 x 12.75 inches; 10.7 Pounds
  • Editor's Impressions Of The API 720
  • Filter Effectiveness
  • Quality
  • Value For Money
  • Affordability

API 720 Final Thoughts

"SO THEREFORE."

I can hear it 3 rooms away grinding away. I used a small pair of pliers and carefully got the pebbles out. My tank was a mess when I got this pump. This is a well designed unit and a lot of bang for the buck. Get it and take heed to what I wrote. This filter has is a very simple and efficient design. I use Marinelands refillable cartridge for extra carbon on the extra slots.

Overall Score
3.9


(766 Points)

7. Odyssea Clean 100 Surface Skimmer Aquarium Filter 450L Plant Internal

User Ratings: 51 12

Odyssea Clean 100 First Impressions

"I should loosen it up."

I'm currently in the process of receiving another replacement on that model. The first night I had the pump going it started making a screeching sound. I was using a Tetra in-tank filter previously. I have 4 other AquaClear filters and like them. There must be a huge batch of these units at Amazon right now that are bad. Unlike my old HOB filter, it doesn't sound like a leaky toilet. I still have my original wheels on the year old 350 with no issues whatsoever.

  • Odyssea Clean 100 Surface Skimmer Aquarium Filter 450L Plant Internal
  • Flow rate: 110 GPH
  • Energy efficient 5W pump
  • Skims surface build-up to improve water quality
  • Great for freshwater planted aquariums
  • Works with both freshwater and marine
  • Manufacture: Odyssea
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 7.5 x 2 inches; 12.7 Ounces
  • Editor's Impressions Of The Odyssea Clean 100
  • Filter Effectiveness
  • Quality
  • Value For Money
  • Affordability

Odyssea Clean 100 Final Thoughts

"This filter is perfect!"

SO, I sat down and read EVERY little thing in rhe instructions. Not sure what I'll do with the more complex design. The bacteria eats the nitrates in the water to help keep it clean. This is a well designed unit and a lot of bang for the buck. My tank was a mess when I got this pump. I contacted Marineland about my issue and they promptly sent me a new one right away! Fill it up with water before you plug it in.

Overall Score
3.8


(526 Points)

8. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter – Aquarium External Filter – Telescopic Intake Tubes...

User Ratings: 63 13

Hydor C02401 First Impressions

"All around great product."

I attempted to clean and lube the impeller, but to no avail. This is a well designed unit and a lot of bang for the buck. It's only rated at 25 gph less, but holds considerably less media. However, lately I've purchased the Aqua Clear 70 and 50. It's only rated at 25 gph less, but holds considerably less media. Really happy with the money I was able to save. I liked the clean lined look and the pull out basket.

  • Hydor Professional External Canister Filter – Aquarium External Filter – Telescopic Intake Tubes, Easy Priming – EcoSystem in a Box – Biological, Mechanical, Chemical Filtration – 450 to 320 gph
  • COMPLETE ECOSYSTEM IN A BOX: This external filter for generation aquariums offers maximum performance and high filtration standards, not to mention an entire eco-system in a box
  • PREMIUM VERSATILITY: This professional external canister filter for aquariums features a priming pump that offers the versatility you need. The unit is ideal for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums
  • SIMPLE TO USE: The long-life ceramic shaft, large filter volume and safety locks make this professional external canister filter easy to use as a beginner or a long-term hobbyist. The space-saving unit is perfect for small and large aquariums
  • FILTER OPTIONS: Choose from professional external canister filters that operate with gallon ranges from 20 to 150. The filter circulation stems from 160 to 290 gallons, depending upon the model you choose
  • SPECIALIZED SERVICE: With more than 30 years of experience offering high-quality products for the passionate marine aquarist, Hydor is dedicated to manufacturing unique and innovative items in the field of aquarium technology
  • External filter for the modern aquarium.
  • An intelligent design conceived to make the most of the space beneath the aquarium, the filter offers maximum performance and extraordinary versatility.
  • Easy to use thanks to the priming pump, the Hydor Professional filter is useful for all aquariology enthusiasts.
  • Manufacture: Hydor
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 8.5 x 22 inches; 16 Pounds
  • Editor's Impressions Of The Hydor C02401
  • Filter Effectiveness
  • Quality
  • Value For Money
  • Affordability

Hydor C02401 Final Thoughts

"It's priced awesome!"

This is a good choice if you're tired of cleaning your turtle tank all the time. They are easily found from mom-n-pop pet stores to large chain stores. I have had no issues with it being to loud. I will pick 3-4 of these at one time over a single system any day. Clean the foam insert apparently it pulled a lot of dirt and needs cleaned. Fill it up with water before you plug it in. It's only rated at 25 gph less, but holds considerably less media.

Overall Score
4.1


(520 Points)

9. SunSun HW-3000 UV 9W 5-Stage External Canister Filter 793gph, White

User Ratings: 66 10

SunSun HW-3000 First Impressions

"5 minutes."

They are easily found from mom-n-pop pet stores to large chain stores. SO I decided to order this for my 29 gallon tank. The first night I had the pump going it started making a screeching sound. You'll want to pull that water from the bottom. I will never buy any other HOB no matter what deal they might be offering. This filter has is a very simple and efficient design. SO, I sat down and read EVERY little thing in rhe instructions.

  • SunSun HW-3000 UV 9W 5-Stage External Canister Filter 793gph, White
  • LCD Display that allows users to adjust the flow rate of the pump and the duration of the UV light
  • Flow rate: up to 793 Gallons per hour (adjustable)
  • 9W UV sterilizer, perfect for maintaining a clean and clear Aquarium
  • Can be used for any freshwater and Saltwater aquariums.Voltage: 220-240V/50Hz
  • Comes with White Filter pads (Filter media sold separately)
  • Manufacture: SunSun
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 13 x 16 inches; 18.95 Pounds
  • Editor's Impressions Of The SunSun HW-3000
  • Filter Effectiveness
  • Quality
  • Value For Money
  • Affordability

SunSun HW-3000 Final Thoughts

"I was to tire to fix it."

I also don't like how short the intake tube is. My fish are definitely happier and my water is crystal clear. It sounds like a Big Air pump buzzing. However, lately I've purchased the Aqua Clear 70 and 50. I put it together, reading instructions of course. I have had no issues with it being to loud. Unlike my old HOB filter, it doesn't sound like a leaky toilet.

Overall Score
4.2


(418 Points)

10. XpertMatic DB-368F Quiet 3 Stages 475 GPH Aquarium Filter for Up to 180 Gallon Fish Tank, Submersibl...

User Ratings: 55 10

XpertMatic DB-366 First Impressions

"I love this canister."

I own 3 of these and besides my canister they are my favorite filters. The first night I had the pump going it started making a screeching sound. If that does not work, look into silicone grease so you can lube the impeller. Firstly, I'd recommend taking the motor apart and putting it back together. I've looked at so many filters and reviews. I have always used Marineland filters and been happy with them and their quality. The filter stopped working all of a sudden.

  • XpertMatic DB-368F Quiet 3 Stages 475 GPH Aquarium Filter for Up to 180 Gallon Fish Tank, Submersible Internal Fish Tank Filter with Water Pump, Power Filter for Fish Tank, Aquarium, Pond
  • Ultra Quiet: XpertMatic aquarium internal filter could supply oxygen and create an aquarium water cycle. It provides a healthy living environment for your lovely pets. eg, fish and turtle. Less than 35dB, you can use it in your bedroom aquariums.
  • Leave The Water Crystal Clear: Adopts 3 stages filtration to ensure water clarity. Suitable for marine and freshwater aquariums.
  • Wide Application: Max Flow Rate: 475GPH(1800L/H). Max Lift Height: 4.92ft. Fits for aquariums, fish tanks, and fountains up to 264 gallons no more than 4.92ft height.
  • Easy to Set Up and Clean: The fully submersible filter with suction cups is easy to place inside your fish tank. The transparent filter box is visible that you will know when to clean or replace the filter cartridge.
  • Submersible Water Pump: You can lay down the filter at the bottom of the aquarium and use it as a water pump.
  • Manufacture: XpertMatic
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 2.4 x 13.8 inches; 1.59 Pounds
  • Editor's Impressions Of The XpertMatic DB-366
  • Filter Effectiveness
  • Quality
  • Value For Money
  • Affordability

XpertMatic DB-366 Final Thoughts

"This is not."

, that's what makes this so funny. Of course the sound all depends on how much water is in the aquarium. Get it and take heed to what I wrote. Overall I would recommend this item. Now I'm having the same issue with the Aqua Clear 50. DO NOT CLEAN OR WASH the paper wheel itself. I used to work as a marine biologist for a major state aquarium.

Overall Score
4.0


(412 Points)

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