Aquarium Filters ** 5 Best Aquarium Filtration Systems (2022)

The quality of your aquarium filters can make all the difference in whether or not you have fun with your fish tank. This section will describe the various aquarium filter options, their suitability for multiple tanks, and the overall advantages and disadvantages.

Filters for corners

An airstone pushes water up through layers of floss and charcoal in this small clear plastic box filter. The box is buried in the tank’s gravel in a corner. To keep them from swaying, they may need to be weighed down from time to time. However, despite their low price tag, they don’t offer excellent value. While they do add aeration to a tank, this type of filter will not be able to clean a filthy tank thoroughly.

Filters made of sponges

Filtering is done through a sponge rather than a plastic box, and there is no floss, charcoal, or even a plastic container. As previously stated, this filter does not perform well, but it does provide some assistance. Sponge filters are commonly used in fry and quarantine tanks to keep a tank clean and provide some aeration. They also don’t produce any strong currents. The sponge’s algae may be a tasty snack for Fry.

Filters for the bottom of the slope

For a typical community tank, under gravel may be the best option. Combining an under gravel filter and an exterior box filter can also provide additional water purification. Except for fish like bettas and discus that may be sensitive to strong currents, under gravel filters are relatively inexpensive and perform well once they are established. Biological and mechanical filtration is used to remove the waste from the tank by drawing the water down through the gravel. To keep the stone in place, the plastic aisles of the under gravel filter hold the rock in place. Most of the trash is collected here. Through two tubes on either side of the aquarium’s back, the clean water is pushed upwards, and the clean water is then made out through two window-shaped grates gently.

You can use the gravel in your aquarium as filtration media under gravel filters. While mechanical filtration is present, most of the filtration occurs through biological processes in the gravel. Consequently, these filters may take several days to produce clean water. A powerhead is the only way to upgrade them, which will only result in more pull. Running an under gravel filter also necessitates the use of an air pump. The more powerful it is, the more effective it will be at removing impurities.

External/hanging on the side filters

Most of the filter’s work is done outside the tank, where the filters are housed in a box. They are attached to the side of the tank via an uptake tube that descends into the water. The tank is filled with clean water pushed out through a trough formation.

If you have a large tank, you may notice a small amount of current generated by these filters. Tanks up to 100 gallons can be serviced by one filter, and if you have a larger tank. Squeezing out the sponges until all the trapped particles are released is the only way to clean these types of filters. The intake tube occasionally snares or draws in small fish, but this happens only when the fish are tiny. As a result, do not put these filters in a fish tank or aquarium. They do a good job and are an excellent value for the money—a 20-gallon tank costs around $20. Similarly, “trickle” filters use the same technology.

Filters in a canister

In filter terms, these are the big guns. A canister filter is like swatting a fly with a cannonball unless you have a community tank of at least 50 gallons. Canister filters can be highly effective while only requiring cleaning once per month.

Some people “cheat” and buy canister filters for three or four times larger tanks than their aquarium to clean the filter less than once a year. For those of us who loathe cleaning the fish tank but don’t have much spare cash or time, this is a practical solution (you still have to do water changes, though). It is a hassle to clean the canister filters, and they are costly ($75 to $300 each).


Written by Fish Laboratory in Aquarium, Aquarium Filter: A Complete Guide to Aquarium Filtration

A healthy fish tank necessitates the use of an aquarium filtration system. Both freshwater and saltwater aquariums benefit from having a well-functioning filter much more effectively with the use them.


There are many benefits to a filtration system, including stocking a more significant number of fish in your aquarium and fewer water changes. An aquarium filter is a must for almost any tank with live fish. Filtration systems come in all shapes and sizes, and each serves a specific purpose.

When it comes to aquarium filtration, how does it all work?

Filtration is essential for fish owners, but many are unfamiliar with how aquarium filters work.

Mechanical filters, biological filters, and chemical filters are the most common types of filtration media. Every type of filtration media serves a distinct purpose. Water is pushed through a floss or filter material mesh to remove large particles. Beneficial bacteria can then flourish in a biofilter’s favorable environment. The nitrogen cycle in the aquarium is thus completed due to its presence and activity in it. Submerging specific materials in the aquarium water is the final method of achieving chemical filtration. Activated compound, for example, is frequently employed to remove waste that has been dissolved in water.


A detailed description of each type of filtration is provided below.

filtering by mechanical means

Solid materials are effectively blocked by passing water through a fabric (foam or polyester floss) that effectively blocks their passage. Particles in the solid-state include uneaten food, fish waste, and decomposing plant material. The filtration system will collect these particles instead of allowing them to float around the tank. That mechanical filters are not intended to degrade or process waste. Particles are collected by mechanical filtration. Why it’s necessary to perform regular cleanings, the filter can become clogged if it is not cleaned regularly. Eventually, the water filtering will become contaminated if the particles decay or dissolve into the water. It’s also a good idea to rotate the filter media now and then, in addition to cleaning.


Filtration Using Living Organisms

in an aquarium through the passage of water over an organism-rich medium. Ammonia and nitrites are converted to less hazardous nitrates by the helpful bacteria. The nitrogen cycle includes this. By increasing the surface area on which these beneficial bacteria can grow, biological filtration improves this process. Ceramic rings and bio-balls are among the most common materials.


The most important type of filtration in an aquarium is biological. It is common for aquarium fish to have a higher population density per gallon of water than fish in their natural habitat. Fish excrete ammonia and nitrites regularly. A high concentration of ammonia and nitrites can harm the fish’s internal systems if they are not properly maintained. Over an extended period, the fish can die if exposed to high concentrations of these compounds. These harmful compounds are converted to nitrates by biological filtration systems, which are less harmful to fish. Plants can use nitrates as fertilizer once they have been converted to nitrates.

Oxygen is an essential part of biological filtration. Due to the aerobic nature of the beneficial bacteria, biological filtration is only possible in oxygen-rich water. The filter media must be agitated by a steady stream of water. Anaerobic conditions can develop if the filter media is clogged with debris over time. As a result, the biological filter will be less effective because it will have fewer beneficial bacteria. Gently rinse the filter with old tank water at this point. It’s best to avoid using tap water to clean the filter because chlorine can harm the good bacteria that live on the filter.


Filtration of Chemicals

They bypass water through a medium like activated carbon or Zeolite, which removes the dissolved waste and compounds from the water in an aquarium. When removing debris that has dissolved into the water, mechanical filters fall short, so a chemical filtration is an option. Chlorine and chloramines, dissolved proteins, and tannins from bogwood can all be removed using activated carbon. Ammonia is effectively removed from the water by using Zeolite.


Regularly because the filter medium becomes less effective over time, the filter medium can begin to release harmful chemicals back into the water over time after it absorbs them. It is, therefore, necessary to change the medium regularly.


The chemical filtration medium should be removed when using medication in an aquarium if the filter medium absorbs the medicine.

For many fishkeepers, chemical filtration is a luxury that is not required. As a chemical filter, plants can remove dissolved chemical waste. It can be helpful in cases where ammonia levels rise, or other chemicals are present. Until the following water change or the root cause of the problem is addressed, it can serve as a temporary fix.

Aquarium Filtration Systems

sponge filters, power filters, and canister filters are the most common aquarium filters. Many modern aquariums have one of these filtration systems installed. It is common for small aquariums to use sponge filters to remove waste. They’re a great way to filter water biologically. Small to medium aquariums frequently make use of power filters. In nano aquariums, filters such as sponge and power filters are commonly employed. Some medium to large aquariums has canister filters installed as well. Because they typically hold more water than other aquarium filters.


Various aquarium filters still exist, but they’re less common among today’s hobbyists. Filters were once popular. However, in light of the abundance of excellent alternatives, their use has declined in recent years.


Aquarium Filter with Sponge

The sponge filter is the most basic and least expensive aquarium filter. The sponge filter comprises an air pump, tubing, and a sponge. Because air bubbles naturally float to the top of the sponge, water is pushed through it. Most tanks up to 20 gallons can benefit from sponge filters, but larger tanks may not be the best fit for this type of filter. There are, however, larger units designed for larger tanks. In addition, multiple units can be installed in a tank to handle the entire bioload. Keeping fish in fry tanks is expected because they are less likely to get sucked into sponge filters.

The sponge catches small particles passing through the water, allowing mechanical filtration. Sponge filters may be unable to remove larger particles from the water because of their simple design. Although sponge filters are commonly used for mechanical filtration, this is not the primary function of sponge filters. Beneficial bacteria can thrive in the sponge’s porous structure.


Sponge filters are easy to install and maintain because of their simple design. A suction cup-equipped sponge filter can be placed in the corner of the room or attached to the side of a glass wall. Using old tank water, gently squeeze and wash the sponge. Replace the sponge when it becomes worn out.

Filter for aquariums with high flow rates

Aquaria power filters, also known as hang-on-back filters, are aquarium filters that draw water from the tank and filter it in a chamber. One system includes a lift tube, filter chamber, and pump. Install the power filter on the tank’s edge, add a filter cartridge, and plug it in. That’s all there is to it as it passes through the filter cartridge and collects debris. The pouch on most filter cartridges allows you to add chemical filtration material like activated carbon. You will be able to purify the water and get rid of harmful contaminants and bad smells.

Last but not least, the filter medium is constantly exposed to oxygen, allowing beneficial microorganisms to thrive. The biological filtration will be improved as a result of this. Power filters may be small in stature, but they pack a powerful punch regarding what they can do. Small betta tanks under 5 gallons can use power filters with gentle output, which is less common.

In addition to being simple to install, power filters are also simple to maintain. Rinse the filter with old tap water if it becomes clogged. Replacement of the filter cartridge is required from time to time. Since the power filter manufacturers sell replacement filter cartridges, this is also an easy task. Taking out the old filter cartridge is as simple as replacing it with the new one. There’s no need to take the filter apart from its housing.

Aquarians can install internal power filters inside their tanks. External power filters, such as hang-on-back filters, can be used in the same way as these power filters. Internal power filters are installed inside the tank, and there is no lift tube for the water to flow through. The water enters the filter chamber directly through the intake. After passing through the filter, a hang-on-back water filter pushes the water out of the output. Both internal and external power filters are excellent. As far as functionality is concerned, it’s essentially a matter of personal preference. An external power filter that attaches to the back of the tank is a popular choice for increasing tank capacity. Others prefer to keep the components within a power filter housed inside the device. Because at a lower level, this is one functional difference between these two types of filters. Instead of using a hook to hang the internal filter from the tank’s edge, attach the filter to the glass wall. If you want to keep the water level in your aquarium low, this can be a helpful feature. Fish and other pets like turtles, frogs, and crabs may benefit from lower water levels.

Canister Filter for Aquatic Tanks

It’s an external aquarium filter placed below an aquarium and connected by tubes. With a water intake installed, water is drawn into the canister, filled with filtration media. Mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration media treat the water once it enters the canister. A pump is usually installed on the canister as the water flows through the filter media. In general, canister filters are best suited for aquariums with a volume of at least 50 gallons.

There are numerous benefits and drawbacks to using canister filters.

The canister filter can hold a large amount of filtration media. With a variety of materials. Including filter floss and sponge material in the filtering process. Inside the filter to improve the biological filtration process. Chemical filtration is possible by adding the media of your choice, such as activated charcoal, to the filter. It’s easier to customize a canister filter because the filter chamber is typically more extensive than a power filter.


A good water flow is another benefit of using a canister filter. Water flow will be more potent because of the greater power of the more extensive system. After that, the inlet and outlet can be separated. The intake is located on one side of the tank and the output on the other. As a result, it won’t keep re-filtrating water near the filter, ignoring the tank’s rest.


The third benefit of a canister filter is that they’re not very noticeable. The intake and output ports on the aquarium’s corners are the only parts of the canister filter on display. The noise level is typically much lower than with other filtration systems.


Some canister filters have UV sterilizers or filters to represent the canister filter’s fourth advantage. The UV sterilizer can remove some aquarium water from the algae, bacteria, and parasites. They come in handy when dealing with water that is either green from algae growth or white from bacterial bloom. UV light can kill parasites like ich and flukes.


In contrast, UV sterilizers will not remove algae from the surface because it will not be able to pass through the filter. You should be aware that UV sterilization is a distinct process from mechanical, biological, or chemical filtration methods.

Cons: Canister filters require more time to maintain than most other filters. The filtration media must be cleaned then put back to complete the process.


It is also possible for a canister filter to leak. A leak could occur because of the filtration system’s location outside the aquarium and its connection to the aquarium via tubes. Leaks typically occur at the points where the lines connect to the canister filter. To avoid leaks, make sure all components are correctly installed and sealed and replace any parts that need to be. It is possible to detect leaks in the early stages if the canister filter is placed on a plastic tray.


Keep in mind that canister filters are one of the more pricey filters. Canister filters, for example, can cost more than three times as much as power filters of the same capacity.

The Aquarium Undergravel Filtration System

Using an under gravel filter is a method of aquarium filtration that enables water to flow through the gravel. Water flowing through stone provides oxygen to the rock, allowing beneficial bacteria to thrive increasing biological filtration.


Lay the grid at the bottom of the tank to install an under gravel filter. Under the aquarium gravel, this grid will create an open space. An uplift tube should then be connected with the grid. For the water to get into the empty chamber, it must first travel up the line and then pass through the aquarium gravel. Finally, a powerhead or an airstone can force water up the tube and out the other end.


Under gravel, filters can be beneficial, but this method has some drawbacks.


A tank’s under gravel filter must be set up at the beginning of the setup process because below the gravel. The alternative is to have to do a complete rebuild of your aquarium. Installing an under gravel filter can be tricky if the filter does not fit your aquarium correctly, as it may be too large.

The under gravel grid can become clogged with debris. Even though water changes can remove some junk, this can be a difficult task. A significant amount of waste will continue to accumulate beneath the gravel. A clogged under gravel grid renders the filter ineffective; this is the unfortunate result of using too much rock. It is also necessary to remove aquarium gravel if you want to remove all debris.


Mechanical and chemical filtration have minimal potential. Undergravel filters are essential for biological filtration because they can house many beneficial bacteria. Mechanical and chemical filtration, on the other hand, is severely constrained. There may be space for adding filter media in the uplift tube of some under gravel filters. However, there are only a few of these options available.

Under gravel filters used to be expected in the aquarium hobby, but they’re becoming less so these days.

See Also:

Marineland Bio-Wheel Penguin Aquarium Power Filter

Lee’s 10 Premium Undergravel Filter, 10-Inch by 20-Inch


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Best Overall: MarineLand BIO-Wheel Power Filter. ... Best for Freshwater: Penn Plax Cascade 700 Canister Filters. ... Best for Saltwater: AQUATIC LIFE RO Buddie Reverse Osmosis Systems. ... Best for 20-Gallon: Tetra Whisper IQ Power Filter for Aquariums. ... Best for 75-Gallon: Seachem Tidal 75 Large Aquarium Fish Tank Filter.

There are three main ways the Aquarium filters its water: mechanical, chemical, and biological. Remove or strain out solid particles from the water with mechanical filtration.

For freshwater aquarium filters, you should think about a filter that goes through three stages of filtration: mechanical, chemical, and bacterial stages. They have all the stages of filtration that are needed to keep the water clean and healthy for fish.

No, they don't compete with each other on the fish tank. if you have more than one filter on your fish tank, none of them will work as well as if they were the only filter on your tank. This is normal, but it's not a big deal.

Not at all. As over-filtration can be bad for your fish tank, you should not use too much water. Even a small amount of filtration can be bad for your aquarium. Even if you have a saltwater aquarium or a freshwater aquarium, you need to have the right amount of filtration.

Biological filtration is the most cost-effective, efficient, and stable method of breaking down toxic ammonia in fish tanks. Using mechanical filtration, plant leaves, uneaten food, etc. can be removed from the tank before they decompose into ammonia, allowing the tank to remain clean.

Maintenance is the key to keeping your aquarium water crystal clear. Regular cleaning and maintenance of your aquarium are essential to maintaining crystal-clear water. The Right Filtering.  Reduce Nitrates and Phosphates.  Reduce Nitrates and Phosphates.  Consider using a Water Purification or Clarifier.  Make an effort to minimize the amount of waste in your tank.

Even though increased filter media and flow capacity are desirable, sometimes the flow rate generated by more powerful filters is too strong for the aquarium and your fish. Betta fish, in particular, are unable to withstand strong water currents.

For this reason, sponge filters can be found almost everywhere from pet stores to aquariums to breeding facilities.

Most fish tanks can benefit from sponge filters. When they do their best work, however, they really shine. The gentle flow of sponge filters makes them ideal. Fry, betta, and shrimp tanks can now be set up to thrive in low-flow filtration because of this.

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