Best Filter for Aquarium (Updated May 2019)

Filter for Aquarium

Filter for aquarium is very important in an aquarium which will help the fish to live long and happily.

Fish produce a lot of waste which increase the Ammonia and nitrate level in water and its poisonous to our pets. To avoid any disaster because of our negligence it’s very important to have a proper filtration system in our fish tanks.

If you don’t have a proper filtration you would have to change the water multiple times every week to remove the toxins from the aquarium to keep your fish safe, healthy and happy.

Imaging dirt, polluted air, shit floating around your room and your health and your living condition will be worst, this is what you will be giving to your fish if you choose to not have a filter in your aquarium.

There are lots of varieties of filters in the market which you can choose from, it depends on the type of fish you have and size of fish tank you have.

What are types of filtration?

There are different types of filters in the aquarium hobby and they differ depending on its make variety and usability

  1. Manual filtration – these types of filtration is physical i.e. they suck up all the waste and dirt floating in the aquarium and keep the water clean.
  2. Chemical filtration – These type of filters reduce the bad odour and metal bodies or other chemicals when you do water change from the aquarium and keeps it fresh.
  3. Biological filtration – This is one of the best options you can have in any aquarium. Your fish produce waste which will increase ammonium and nitrites in the water which will pollute the water and make your fish sick. So these filters remove the waste and the Nitrite bacterias in the filter break it down nitrates which are not harmful to fish.

Here some common filters which you can choose from:

  1. Air Stone
  2. HOB – Hang on the Back
  3. Undergravel filter
  4. Internal Filter
  5. Canister filter
  6. Wet/Dry or Trickle Filters


  1. Air Stone

AirstoneAir Stone alone is not a filter it adds the oxygen content in the water and helps the fish to breath better and keep it healthy.

If the Air Stone is combined with a variety of other types of equipment like Internal Aquarium corner filter (BEST), sponge filters etc.

To make the air stone work you would require an air pump which will push the air from the tubes into the air stone

The requirement to set up the Pump: Airstone, airline tubes and a reliable air pump.

This sept up is one of the cheapest options you could opt.

Corner filter

Corner filter

Airstone filter

The Above picture is of Corner filter this is one of the effective filter’s air passes through the Air input (2) which will creates pull the action from underneath the containers making water to flow slowly through the medians i.e. Bio-sponge(4), Filter sponge(5), Gravels(10), Ceramic rings(11). This creates the atmosphere for Nitrite bacteria to process the ammonium and nitrite to nitrates which is good for the fish.

These filters are good for small aquariums or an additional filtration in a large aquarium. It is also the best option for breeding tanks or if you have small fish which might get sucked up by bigger filters.

Buy Now – Colourful Aquarium Xy2010 Internal Aquarium Corner Filter | Medium Size|Bio Media & Sponge Included

Lagoon Aqua Internal Corner Filter Medium Size – Bio Media & Sponge Included


  1. HOB – Hang on the back

Hang on the back filterHang on the back filter as it says it hangs on the back of the filter, they draw the water from the aquarium and water is passed through different levels of the filter depending on the filter and back to the aquarium.

They come in various varieties and some of the best quality filters come with Bio wheels (they are little noisy) which will grow the nitrite bacterias and maintains the PH level in the water to normal 6 to 7.

The best quality of this filter is it polishes the waters and mixes the oxygen, have you ever observed the river plunging from a mountain its the same effect which happens in the HOB filters.  

Requirement: only the filter and nearest plug point to power the filter.

These filters come with options to maintain the speed and flow depending on the fish you have. They are the best fit for most of the aquarium but its usually used in a planted aquarium as they don’t pull the waste from the bottom, it cleans the mid portion of till the sucking pipe reach in the aquarium.  

Buy Now – BOYU Hang On Back Filter | Waterfall Style | WF-2025 | 300 L/H

Sunsun HBL-702 Hang On Filter for Aquariums


  1. Undergravel filter:

under gravel filterThey are the filters powered by the Air pumps or powerheads. They are placed under the gravels and they pull the waste to the bottom of the tank where they are biologically filtered.

These are almost outdated filtration because if you decide to clean these filters you have to completely remove the stones and everything in the aquarium access this filter.

Requirement: Undergravel filter, air pump or powerheads.

These filters are good for small fish and it’s for the aquarium which has gravels only because you cannot put sand on top of these filters as it will block the inlet and it will become useless. If you don’t clean this aquarium on regular intervals it might harm the fish by polluting the water i.e. if your fish produce too much of waste they will be collected in the bottom and it will start to decay and pollute the aquarium.

It’s a good filter but its difficult to maintain the filter, if you choose this aquarium monitor it and clean it at regular intervals.

Buy Now – Boyu Undergravel Filters


  1. Internal Filter:

Internal FilterThese are common filters and found in varieties size and powers. They are also called powerhead filters because these filters have a powerhead on the top and it sucks the water through an inlet and pushes it out from other ends. The inlet is fitted with a sponge or other media which will clean and process the water which passes through it.

This is the best filter to clean the water and process it. They are usually kept in the bottom corner of a filter so that it sucks all the waste produced from the fish which sinks to the bottom of the aquarium.

Internal filters are the best addition to any aquarium, but it is not good advice to keep in an aquarium where you have housed small fish. The internal filters are more powerful than the other filters mentioned above and it can suck in the small fishes in some cases and they increase the water current, if your fish is slow moving and cannot handle a high current in water is not an aquarium filter for your fish.

They come with a sponge and some expensive variants come with Ceramic rings and bio sponge which will give a small level of biological filtration.

Maintenance: These filters should be cleaned on a regular interval depending on the waste produced by your fish. Internal filters are easy to clean, you just have to remove the inlet sponge or media and rinse it with the aquarium water which is syphoned from the aquarium.

Caution: Don’t clean any aquarium sponge, bio sponge or ceramic rings in tap water as the tap water will kill the useful bacterias.

Buy NowJainsons Pet Products Aquarium Internal Filter Sobo FK-1502 Power 15W Output 1800 L/H

                       JAINSONS SOBO WP-3000F Filter

  1. Canister filter

Canister Filter




A canister filter is one of the best aquarium filters available in the aquarium hobby. They come with options to add the filter media and more filter media increase the surface area of the for the good bacterias to work on.

It also adds to the aquarium water quantity as these are external filters and they are kept outside of the aquarium.


Canister filters are containers with options to put multiple media, options for media are

  1. Charcoal (for chemical filtration)
  2. Bio sponge (for Biological filtration)
  3. Lava Rocks (for Biological filtration)
  4. Ceramic Rings (for Biological filtration)
  5. Sponge (for cleaning)
  6. Multiple other options to customise to your requirement.

The Canister filters container can hold different layers are containers which can be filled with different media which is mentioned above depending on your requirement.

Canister filter cleans the water passes it through different media and sends it back to the aquarium. Some Canister filters come with UV bulbs which will kill the harmful bacterias and these are good for the aquarium which has an algae problem.

The canister filters come with an option of spray bars which will give an added advantage which will help polish the water, due to the movement on the surface of the water it increases oxygen in the aquarium(exchanges of gases).

Canister filter comes with the various range of size and option of media, it depends on the size of the aquarium you have to choose the size of the canister filters.

Fitting the filter in the aquarium: Canister filter comes with tubes, spray bar, inlet tube, outlet tube and the canister itself with filters. Some Canister filters will not have media so be careful when choosing the brands and check if the media is there or not before buying, if the media is not there you can purchase depending on your requirement.

They come with a user manual which will explain how to fit the filter, it is easy and self-explanatory.

Maintenance: It depends on how well stocked is your aquarium and what type of fish you’re having, a basic rule is to clean the canister filter once in 3 months. Be careful as I have told you above clean all the media only in the aquarium water. If you wash the media in the other water it will kill all the good bacteria and the filter will take time to be as efficient as it was when it is completely cycled.

Buy Now – SunSun HW-302 External Canister Filter

SunSun HW-304A External Aquarium Canister Filter


  1. Wet/Dry or Trickle Filters

Wet/Dry filters are not common and they are good for biological filtration.  They are the ultimate filter you can have, its custom made and it’s not readily available in the market.

To set it up you have to calculate the flow of inlet and outlet, different filters can be set up in this filter.

They sit exactly below your aquarium and water is trickled out of the aquarium to the filter and passes through different media before going back to the aquarium. In layman terms they are small aquarium above your big aquarium, they are divided and each cabinet of the filter is filled with media and beneficial skimmers etc.

Wet/dry filters are used for big aquariums and especially for a saltwater aquarium where filtration and water quality is very important. Technical advice/knowledge is required to set up this aquarium.

The above are aquarium filters for a freshwater aquarium. Best filters which I would recommend if you have a 20 gallon or smaller aquarium would be HOB or Internal filter or Canister filter along with an air bubble stone.

Water Change:

The basic thing you should have to maintain the aquarium would be

  1. Siphon – Happie Shop Aquarium Siphon Pump 1.5 Metre Gravel Cleaner Suction Pipe With Valve Control For Fish Tank
  2. 2/3 piece of good cotton cloth.
  3. Medium sized bucket and a mug.
  4. Net if you require the need to remove the fish/ debris to be removed.
  5. Water conditioner – API Tap Water Conditioner (4 Oz)
  6. Test Kit – Api Nitrite Aquarium Water Quality Test Kit 180 Tests Per Kit
  7. The magnetic brush which you can use to clean the inside of the tank  – DCenterprises Venus Aqua 805 Magnetic Aquarium Cleaner

The syphon is used to remove water it will save your time, if you use the only mug to remove water from the aquarium you will get back pain and lot of work.

1 cloth to clean inside of the aquarium to remove built-ups of algae or other dirt inside the aquarium glass. 2 cloth to clean the outside of the aquarium.

Use a good quality water conditioner which can be used to remove chlorine and other chemicals from the tap water. You can use another way also you have to store the water for 3 to 4 days in a container which will settle the chemicals and use it.

Test kits come in handy too to check the water, the kit shows the level of Ammonium/ Nitrate. So looking at the test results you can maintain the aquarium in a good condition.

If you have a proper aquarium filtration once a week you can do a partial water change. Complete water change in an aquarium is a strict no-no. If you require to do a complete water change it can be once in 6 months or so.

If you do a complete water change it will stress the fish,  it will lead to temperature change, a chemical change in water which might lead to lowering the immune system of the fish continued with health issue or death.

The best habit is every week change 25% of the water in your aquarium depending upon the toxin build up in the water.


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