Editor's Choice - Our Favorite Saltwater Aquarium Filters

1. Fluval External Filter

User Ratings: 74 9

Fluval A217 First Impressions

"My fault not theirs."

There is a sound from the water shooting into the tank! I put it together, reading instructions of course. It was perfectly quiet without any extra effort on my part. Of course the sound all depends on how much water is in the aquarium. I can hear it 3 rooms away grinding away. Also price was very reasonable and shipping was fast. I plan to cycle this new AC 50 on a separate tank and then xfer it to the 20 gallon.

  • Fluval External Filter
  • Multi stage filtration for healthy fresh & saltwater aquariums
  • Suitable for aquariums up to 100 gallons. Flow Rate: 1450 LPH (383 US GPH)
  • Sound dampening impeller design for a quieter operation. The Fluval 406 Canister Filter has a unique square shaped canister design that holds 35 to 50 percent more water than round canister filters of similar size allowing better water flow through a complex cleansing path that maximizes contact with the filtration media
  • Equipped with a clog proof intake strainer and a dual layer foam screen. To prevent water from dripping onto the receptacle or plug,a “drip loop” should be arranged by the user in the cord connecting appliance to a receptacle
  • Built with a patented Aqua stop Valve, multiple filtration baskets, and rim connector assemblies; 3 year warranty.Media Capacity: 8.5 L
  • Manufacture: Fluval
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 14.5 x 17.8 inches; 10 Pounds
  • Editor's Impressions Of The Fluval A217
  • Filter Effectiveness
  • Quality
  • Value For Money
  • Affordability

Fluval A217 Final Thoughts

"SAME THING!"

In the afternoon the noises started again. A canister or in tank filter is ten times more work and messy. I was worried about some of the negative reviews. I've looked at so many filters and reviews. The Marineland penguin 350 is a great filter. SO I decided to order this for my 29 gallon tank. I attempted to clean and lube the impeller, but to no avail.

Overall Score
4.4


(2951 Points)

Peoples Choice - Other Highly Rated Saltwater Aquarium Filters

2. 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)

3. 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)

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 Saltwater 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. SUNSUN HW-303B Canister Filter with 9-watt UV Sterilizer

User Ratings: 68 9

SunSun HW-303B First Impressions

"This thing is a beast."

The bacteria eats the nitrates in the water to help keep it clean. I had to lower the surface by 3 inches to get sufficient agitation. Lift the sticking wheel outuse a Q-tip to clean the slots where the wheel rests. Just rinse them out once a month, don't throw that beneficial bacteria away. BUT after some YouTube research I was able to fix the noise issue. I wasn't able to fill my tank fully because there was little to no surface agitation. This is a good choice if you're tired of cleaning your turtle tank all the time.

  • SUNSUN HW-303B Canister Filter with 9-watt UV Sterilizer
  • Canister filters for aquariums use high water pressure, from a properly powered pump, to force water through the dense filter media. A pump can draw water from an under-gravel filter, and run it into a canister for double filtration
  • 3 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
  • Built in 9 Watt UV sterilizer to help kill algae spores and bacteria, promoting crystal clear water
  • Convenient self-priming pump that eliminates the need for manual siphoning; Single valve disconnect & priming pump ease routine maintenance
  • Provides quiet, efficient filtration for fresh and saltwater aquariums is great for living rooms, offices or bedrooms
  • Manufacture: Monster Pets
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 11 x 16 inches; 10 Pounds
  • Editor's Impressions Of The SunSun HW-303B
  • Filter Effectiveness
  • Quality
  • Value For Money
  • Affordability

SunSun HW-303B Final Thoughts

"I was to tire to fix it."

I returned the Aqua Clear 70 and promptly received a replacement. The bacteria eats the nitrates in the water to help keep it clean. Therefore, you wouldnt have 2 filters running. Following morning it was running quietly. All in all, I highly recommend this filter and I'm a extremely happy customer! I'm currently in the process of receiving another replacement on that model. I have always used Marineland filters and been happy with them and their quality.

Overall Score
4.3


(711 Points)

8. AQUATICLIFE 115 Mini Internal Protein Skimmer/Filter for Saltwater Aquariums, 30 Gallon, Perfect for...

User Ratings: 50 15

AQUATICLIFE 510114 First Impressions

"Great price."

As for performance, I couldn't ask for a better filter. I returned the Aqua Clear 70 and promptly received a replacement. Lightly clean the silver roller pins on the ends. I've think I've had had six of them. I also like the fact that it is relatively low profile and discreet looking. Typically just below the flat part of the outlets. I can hear it 3 rooms away grinding away.

  • AQUATICLIFE 115 Mini Internal Protein Skimmer/Filter for Saltwater Aquariums, 30 Gallon, Perfect for Small, Nano Tanks
  • Compact size makes this skimmer ideal for mini-reef aquariums up to 30 gallons
  • Allows for placement inside the aquarium or in the filtration compartment with ultra-quiet operation
  • Proven needle-wheel impeller design increases the air-to-water contact
  • Quick-lock design makes it easy to open housing for cleaning, and the built-in channel conceals the grounded power cord
  • Includes an adjustable bracket that fits standard aquarium frames and suction cups for optional mounting inside the aquarium
  • Compact size makes this skimmer ideal for mini-reef aquariums
  • Placement inside aquarium provides quiet operation
  • Proven needle-wheel impeller increases air-to-water contact
  • Manufacture: Aquatic Life LLC
  • Product Dimensions: 3.25 x 3.5 x 10.63 inches; 1.55 Pounds
  • Editor's Impressions Of The AQUATICLIFE 510114
  • Filter Effectiveness
  • Quality
  • Value For Money
  • Affordability

AQUATICLIFE 510114 Final Thoughts

"I only used one."

This filter really does a good job. Not sure what I'll do with the more complex design. My baby turtle even loves it so much he won't let go. I was new to the hobby and didn't realize that Tetras were inferior filters. I also don't like how short the intake tube is. I also like the fact that it is relatively low profile and discreet looking. It started out silent for about 30 mins and then it got super loud.

Overall Score
3.8


(675 Points)

9. 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)

10. SunSun HW-302 3-Stage External Canister Aquarium Filter 264GPH

User Ratings: 66 10

Flexzion HW-302 First Impressions

"This thing is super loud!"

They were great to deal with and the new filter is working great! Also price was very reasonable and shipping was fast. You do have to unplug it for those two jobs. I decided to go with this filter since I had a positive experience previously. I can hear it 3 rooms away grinding away. Of course the sound all depends on how much water is in the aquarium. I ordered 4 of these, for different tanks of course.

  • SunSun HW-302 3-Stage External Canister Aquarium Filter 264GPH
  • Canister filters for aquariums use high water pressure, from a properly powered pump, to force water through the dense filter media. A pump can draw water from an under-gravel filter, and run it into a canister for double filtration
  • 3 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
  • Provides quiet, efficient filtration for fresh and saltwater aquariums is great for living rooms, offices or bedrooms
  • Manufacture: Ming Trading LLC
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 13 x 15 inches; 9.8 Pounds
  • Editor's Impressions Of The Flexzion HW-302
  • Filter Effectiveness
  • Quality
  • Value For Money
  • Affordability

Flexzion HW-302 Final Thoughts

"A THUMBS UP."

Marineland bio pumps have been around forever. Your fish and you will be much happier and stun everyone else. So, easy is good, both for us and our fish. MAKE SURE YOU PUT WATER IN THE BACK OF THE FILTER! I've looked at so many filters and reviews. You can't really tell though, and the filter is working great. This filter comes with a sponge, activated carbon, and bio material in a mesh bag.

Overall Score
4.2


(504 Points)

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