Quality filtration is quite essential when it comes to maintaining a healthy and clean aquarium. And, an exceptional and premium water filter is like giving a breath of fresh air for your colorful aquatic pets. That is why you need to find and invest in the best aquarium canister filter.
The thing is, every aquarium is a closed water system that accumulates debris and waste over time.
And, eventually, this accumulation turns into a variety of by-products, which are somewhat harmful to your aquatic friends. Not to mention, it can profoundly affect the aquarium’s overall health and cleanliness.
We all love our fish, and we surely want to keep their health and comfort levels at max. Luckily, with the best aquarium canister filter, you are ensuring that you will have clean and crystal clear water where your fish can happily swim.
Choosing the best canister for aquarium, however, can be quite overwhelming and intimidating. After all, there is plenty of complicated and technical jargon that you have to keep in mind when looking for an aquarium canister filter.
And, I am going to make things a whole lot simpler on your end. With this massive and detailed review guide, your selection process will be so much more straightforward and a breeze.
Table of Contents
Why Buy an Aquarium Canister Filter?
Before I reveal my top picks, let us discuss the perks of using a canister filter for aquarium.
You do not have to be a whiz or an all-around expert to set up an aquarium canister filter. Trust me, setting it up is a whole lot easier when compared to the process of preparing other types of aquarium filters.
As long as you carefully read the guide, you will not have any trouble preparing this tool for operation.
Unlike other types of filters, an aquarium canister filter does not produce a ton of vibrations and noise. You can even have a pleasant time taking a nap in a room with an aquarium canister filter on.
Higher Flow Rates
The canister filter’s impressive flow rate is easily one of its best selling points. When comparing it to other types of filters, you will instantly notice that their flow rates are way better. Some of them will even go up to a whopping levels of 400 gallons an hour.
That means the whole aquarium filtration process will take less time, helping you save energy and time.
Strong Mechanical Filter
An aquarium canister filter efficiently removes unwanted components from the fish tank’s water, including debris. Moreover, it prevents debris from going back into the water tank.
As a result, your marine life and fish will have a clean and healthy environment that is necessary for their survival.
Canister Filters for Aquarium – Comparison Chart 2020
Looking for the best aquarium filter, but don’t know where to start? Here is a comparison chart that will help you select the best canister filter for your aquarium.
|Product Name||Max Tank Size Capacity||Flow Rate (gallons per hour)||Filter System|
|Fluval Aquarium Canister Filter FX6 - Best Overall||400 gallons||563 GPH||multi-stage|
|Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter||100 gallons||360 GPH||3-stage|
|Penn Plax Aquarium Canister Filter - Most Versatile||100 gallons||265 GPH||3-stage|
|Finnex Aquarium Canister Filter - Best Budget||25 gallons||95 GPH||3-stage|
|EHEIM Classic Canister Filter||66 gallons||116 GPH||3-stage|
|Marineland Canister Filter for Aquariums||150 gallons||530 GPH||3-stage|
|API Filstar Aquarium Canister Filter - Best Self-Priming Filter||175 gallons||350 GPH||3-stage|
|Fluval 106 Canister Filter - Best for Small Aquariums||25 gallons||145 GPH||3-stage|
|Polar Aurora Aquarium Canister Filter||100 gallons||370 GPH||3-stage|
|Cobalt Aquatics Canister Filter||55 gallons||210 GPH||multi-stage|
|Sunsun Pro Aquarium Canister Filter||75 gallons||264 to 525 GPH||3-stage|
|Hydor Pro Canister Filter - Best in Sount-Proofing||150 gallons||225 GPH||3-stage|
|OASE Indoor Canister Filter - Best in Design||150 gallons||350 GPH||multi-stage|
|Aquatop Canister Filter - Best for Messy Fish||175 gallons||525 GPH||3-stage|
|EHM Canister Filter||160 gallons||264 GPH||3-stage|
What is the Best Aquarium Canister Filter to Buy?
Still cannot decide on which canister filter is best for your aquarium? Then, make sure to heed these tips and suggestions.
- Best Overall – Fluval Aquarium Canister Filter FX6
“Sturdy, powerful, and efficient, this is by far the most dynamic aquarium canister filter on the market today!”
- Most Versatile – Penn Plax Aquarium Canister Filter
“With its incredible filtration system and remarkable flow rate, Penn Plax is a versatile filter ideal for all types and different sizes of aquariums.”
- Best Budget – Finnex Aquarium Canister Filter
“Get best quality filtration without spending a fortune with this aquarium canister filter!”
- Best Self-Priming Filter – API Filstar Aquarium Canister Filter
“A superb, sturdy and functional aquarium canister filter that is so easy to operate!”
- Best for Small Aquariums – Fluval 106 Aquairum Canister Filter
“Eliminate small tank’s debris and germs with ease using this proficient aquarium canister filter.”
- Best in Sount-Proofing – Hydor Pro Aquarium Canister Filter
“Create a healthy and spotlessly clean environment for your aquatic friends without the buzzing sound with this pro canister filter!”
- Best in Design – OASE Indoor Aquarium Canister Filter
“Not only does it effectively clean your fish tank, but also it is easy on the eyes as well.”
- Best for Messy Fish – Aquatop Aquarium Canister Filter
“Designed to perfection, this filter effortlessly eliminates the mess caused by Goldfish and other types of fish.”
Top 15 Best Aquarium Canister Filters Reviews 2020
Need more shopping tips? Check out these detailed reviews of the best aquarium canister filters on the market today!
1. Fluval Aquarium Canister Filter FX6
They don’t call the Fluval FX6 as the best aquarium canister filter for nothing. Not only does it boast a multi-stage filter system, but it also has a super powerful pump delivering water at a rapid rate of 563 gallons an hour.
Plus, it is reasonably convenient to operate and can be started without any priming. The unit has a detachable media basket stack that can lead up six filtration stages.
Basically, these baskets basically are created to eliminate bypass of water, so that all the water will go through the filtration media available.
Additionally, it has a host of other features that will make aquarium filtration extremely effective. While it is a little expensive, it is definitely worth every cent, especially if you have a large fish tank.
- A sophisticated multi-stage filtration system
- Uses smart pump technology
- Self-starting aquarium canister filter
- Water flow is adjustable
- Output nuzzles are multi-directional
- Intake filter is clog-proof
- Has an extra powerful pump
- Ideal for large tans
- Heavy and large
- Quite Costly
2. Marineland Magniflow Aquarium Canister Filter
If you are looking for an aquarium canister filter that is easy to set up, look further than Marineland. Thanks to removable lid, this filter is not just easy to set up, but also easy to maintain.
To make things even better, this canister filter is suitable for saltwater and freshwater aquariums alike. As with most best aquarium canister filters, this machine has a multi-stage filtration system that guarantees a healthy and clean aquatic environment using mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration.
To top it all off, it prevents leaks with its large locking clamps securing the canister and motor in place.
- Spill free
- Removes water impurities, discoloration, and odor with its black diamond carbon
- 3-year warranty
- Easy maintenance
- Leak-free thanks to its proficient seal gasket
- Easy to maintain and set up
- Outstanding filtration system
- Powerful motor pump
- You need to prime it before using
3. Penn Plax Aquarium Canister Filter
The Penn Plax canister filter is, without a doubt, perfect for aquariums that are in tight spaces. With its rotating 360-degree flow valves, you get a painlessly and conveniently position of the machine in the best area available.
Furthermore, the flow rate of the water is adjustable, allowing you to have total control of its filtration process. Furthermore, the filter has a trio of big media baskets that can carry a ton of filtering media, making filtering even more effective.
As a bonus, the canister filter comes with a variety of handy accessories like a spray bar. And, though it requires manual priming, it is pretty easy and has a conveniently located button.
- Great design
- Flow rate control
- Rotating valve taps
- Potent pump power
- Comes with a multitude of accessories
- Three big baskets for media
- Water flow rate is adjustable
- Flow valves rotate
- Tubing accessories are plastic and fragile
- Priming is manual
4. Finnex Aquarium Canister Filter
Looking for a budget-friendly aquarium canister filter? Why not consider Finnex as one of your top options when looking for the best aquarium canister filters? It is absolutely inexpensive and has a compact and small size, meaning it is ideal in tight spaces.
On the low side, it only has a 95 GPH and applicable to a maximum of 25 gallons because of its compact design and motor. Surprisingly, in spite of its small stature, the unit still has a 3-stage filtration system.
Interestingly, the unit comes with a hanger, which you can use to hang it on the walls of your fish tank with a couple-inch lift.
- Sophisticated features
- Ergonomic design
- Easy maneuvering
- Has a ton of accessories, such as the filter media and spray bar
- Efficient filter system
- Comes with a hanger
- Perfect for tight spaces
- Ideal for smaller water tanks only
- Flow rate is slow
5. EHEIM Aquarium Canister Filter Classic
German-engineered products are known for its efficiency and quality. And EHEIM, a bona fide German merchandise, is no exception.
Truthfully, its features are pretty basic compared to modern canister filters. As a matter of fact, it does not use media baskets. Its filtration material is directly placed inside the unit’s canister.
And, it needs manual priming to get it started as well.
Even so, this no-frills canister filter does a terrific job in filtering debris and dirt inside the aquarium. It has a 3-stage filter system, which is incredibly useful when it comes to purifying water inside the aquarium.
- Equipped with valves and filter media
- Comes with loose filter media and filter sponges
- Comes with a variety of accessories like inlet pipe, spray bar, and hose
- Has three options for capacity
- Features several accessories
- Fixed sealing ring made out of permo-elastic silicon
- The translucent case that makes it easier for you to monitor its media
- Accessory plastic pipes are a little fragile
- Manual priming required
6. Marineland Canister Filter for Aquariums
No list of the best aquarium canister filters is complete without the inclusion of Marineland. Without bypass system, this unit ensures that all the water will pass through its filtration media. And, it has a 3-stage filter system that clears out the discolorations and bad odor as well as remove nitrites and toxic ammonia.
As for the flow rate, Marineland is rated with a 530 GPH, meaning it is supper fast and one of the best aquarium canister filters. No debris or dirt is safe with the Marineland Canister Filter.
On top of it all, the filter comes with a free DVD that comes with a comprehensive and informative guide on how to set it up easily.
- Fast flow rate
- Ideal for large tanks
- 3-stage filtration process
- Has 4 options for capacity
- Perfect for large tanks (150 gallons maximum)
- Flow rate is remarkably quick
- No-bypass, 3-stage filtration system
- Quite costly
7. API Filstar Aquarium Canister Filter
(Best self-priming filter)
Not fond of manual priming and hand pumping? You probably want to check out API Filstar Aquarium Canister Filter!
Designed to make priming a breeze, you only need a couple of cups of water to kickstart this baby. Not to mention, the canister filter has an anti-airlock system preventing air from going inside, meaning there is no need for priming whenever you start the machine.
And, make no mistake about it. The unit’s hassle-priming system is not the only feature that makes API a beloved name in the community of fish-keeping.
Even though the filters are not made of top-quality plastic, they are certainly a terrific choice if you need to maintain a large aquarium. And, it comes with a powerful motor that pumps up a great deal of water.
- Exceptional lock system that helps prevent water loss when in maintenance mode.
- Special airlock system
- Easy to use
- Sturdy construction
- Does a great job filtering water on tanks with messy fish
- A bit large compared to the other best aquarium canister filters
8. Fluval 106 Aquarium Canister Filter
(Best for small aquariums)
The Fluval 106 is a cutting-edge canister filter with a wide range of features and some impressive technology. Its motor is durable and robust and will retain a steady flow between maintenance periods.
Protective cover and perfectly engineered bearings help reduce the noise from its impeller.
Another cool feature of this filter is that it uses the whole volume to separate every stage of filtration. As a result, it becomes more efficient and reduces the mess during maintenance.
Also, the filter wondrously works at absorbing debris as well as reducing clogged media. And, did I mention that it has an instant main feature?
- Suitable for freshwater and saltwater
- Lift-lock single-motion clamps
- Includes BioMax, carbon, polishing pad and foam pads
- Easy to use and maintain
- 4 options available for capacity
- Patented stop valves for quick and effortless hose disconnection
- Only applicable to a maximum of 25 gallons
- Flow rate is relatively slow
9. Polar Aurora Aquarium Canister Filter
The first time I saw the Polar Aurora, I really thought it was R2D2 or a real-life robot. And, I was instantly impressed to this extraordinary aquarium canister filter.
But, there is more to it than its catchy and futuristic design. The moment I tried it, I was impressed by its self-priming pump feature. It literally eliminated the task of manual water suction.
Furthermore, the unit has a built-in UV sterilizer that aims to eradicate harmful bacteria and algae. When it comes to pumping power, the Polar Aurora has a robust 35-watt motor with a fantastic 370 GPH flow rate. All in all, it is a durable and powerful aquarium canister filter that will keep your fish happy and extra clean.
- Perfect for tanks up to 100 gallons
- Built-in UV sterilizer
- Free media trays
- Self-priming pump feature
- Operation is low noise
- Effective in removing bacteria
- Leak-free and strong seal
- Easy to use
- Power consumption is moderately high
10. Cobalt Aquatics Aquarium Canister Filter
Cobalt’s filtration system is reasonably unique and effective. From the canister’s bottom, the unit forces the water to the top through its media chamber, resulting in dynamic and spotless filtering.
The filter of Cobalt Aquatic has four media chambers that are preloaded with some filtering media same as sponge filter and a carbon layer
One of the cool thing that you would love about this aquarium canister system is the inline pump that eliminates the need for self-priming. Additionally, it gives you the flexibility of putting the filter below, above or at the tank’s level.
As far as I am concerned, Cobalt is an excellent choice for anyone looking for the best aquarium canister filter.
- No priming needed
- 3-year warranty
- Multi-stage filter system
- Easy to kickstart
- The filtration system is second to none
- 4 media chambers that are preloaded
- The pump takes a lot of space inside the fish tank
- The external pump may make things a bit complicated as you set it up
11. Sunsun Pro Aquarium Canister Filter
Sunsun Pro is not a household name like the other best aquarium canister filters mentioned in this guide. Still, it is a noteworthy brand that you should keep an eye on, then it continues to expand and grow in popularity.
It is a powerful and superb canister filter that comes with an array of features. For one, it has a built-in UV sterilizer that effectively kills algae spores and bacteria, promoting healthy and crystal clear water.
Also, it features a large blue pump (self-priming) that eliminates the need for manual pumping. With its four flexible media trays, Sunsin Pro lets you achieve the ultimate mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration.
- Excellent flow rate
- Great accessories
- Self-priming pump
- Premium quality filtration with its UV sterilizer
- Effective in reducing pathogens and algae
- Easy to start and use
- Filter media replacement is available
- Does not have biological filter media and activated carbon
12. Hydor Pro Aquarium Canister Filter
(Best in sount-proofing)
Hydor is, hands down, one of the best aquarium canisters on the market today. It is a rather efficient kit with a range of cool features and tools.
Not only is Hydor easy to set up, but also incredibly simple to use. Just push its self-priming button three times, and you are set to go. The motor is durable and comes with a sound-proofing feature, making it run silently.
The unit’s rectangular shape makes an effective filtration process. With its ability to hold a ton of media, each of the unit’s tray is totally flush against its sides. It ultimately forces the water through the unit’s filter media with zero bypass.
- Has chemical, mechanical and biological filtration
- Easy priming feature
- Telescopic intake tubes
- Quiet, powerful and efficient
- Simple to use and set up
- Spray bay is expandable
- Easy to prime
- The instruction manual is a bit vague
- Water may be spilled out during maintenance
13. OASE Indoor Aquarium Canister Filter
(Best in design)
This aquarium canister filter is a superb blend of pump know-how from Italy and superior German engineering. It is easy to use and is designed with a plethora of features to make fish tank filtration a breeze.
It has an internal heater designed to help kill bacteria and germs quickly and proficiently. To make things even better, its unique location frees up more aquarium space and hides the heater from the view.
And, it has a detachable pre-filter module engineered to be removed, replaced, and cleaned easily without the need to open the canister.
- 4-stage filtration process: biological filter, mechanical filter, chemical filter and prefiltration
- Integrated heater
- External filter quietly operates
- Priming pump is built-in
- Maintenance is easy compared to other canister filters
- Operation is relatively quiet
- Design is amazingly attractive and sleek
- Air that builds up inside the unit may send bubble bursts into the fish tank
14. Aquatop Aquarium Canister Filter
(Best for messy fish)
A lot of fishkeepers deemed Aquatop as a leading candidate for the title, the best aquarium canister filter. Available in three versions, this aquarium canister filter has a ton of handy features that can be beneficial to your pet’s aquatic environment.
For instance, it has a UV sterilizer that kills and eradicates harmful bacteria and algae from the fish tank, especially for aquariums with fish vegetation.
And, it is a perfect option for messy aquatic creatures like Goldfish and Japanese koi, thanks to a set of different sponges that perfectly filter the tank’s waste problem.
Like most of the best canister filters for aquarium, it is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater fish tanks.
- UV sterilizer
- Multi-stage filtration system
- Remarkably quiet
- Eye-catching design
- Operation is quiet
- Filtration system is simply top-notch
- Effectively cleans and removes bacteria
- Removes odor and discolorations
- Easy primer
- May leak in the long run
15. EHM Aquarium Canister Filter
I added this canister filter to my muddy 50-gallon aquarium that houses a catfish and planted tetra. And, so far, it has been doing a terrific job. It is quite efficient in filtering and is making my catfish’s aquatic environment remarkably clean and healthy.
It easy to set up and can be done in a few minutes. Flow is terrific and the operation is pretty smooth. Priming it at first may seem annoying and troublesome, but once you get the hang of it, things will be quite easy. And the filter is amazingly diverse, which is one of the unit’s most impressive features, in my book.
- Great filtration system
- Impressive filter volume
- Easy to set up
- Operation is quiet
- No trays to take up space or impede the flow
- Removes discoloration and odor quickly
- Suction is a little bit slower compared to other canister filters
What to Look for When Buying Aquarium Canister Filter
Still having problems picking the best aquarium canister filter for your fish tank? Heed these tips so that you can find the best canister filter for your aquarium.
Freshwater or Saltwater
Canister filters for aquariums are, in general, designed for both freshwater and saltwater. Still, it is vital to check it properly and thoroughly before you buy one.
GPH Versus Tank Size
As you search for the best aquarium canister filter, spend some time comparing the size of your aquarium to the GPH of the filter. The GPH, in the aquarist’s world, means gallons per hour. And, that term refers to the number of times the filter turns over the aquarium’s water per hour.
Ideally, you should look for an aquarium canister filter that will turn over at least four times the volume of the tank water per hour.
If, for instance, you have a 30-gallon tank, you will need an aquarium canister filter with a 120 GPH (or more).
It is not a bad idea to look for more filtration since all aquarium filters will ultimately lose a little flow rate when it is loaded with media. Additionally, you should consider the kind of fish you have in your water rank.
Keep in mind that there are some types of fish like the Goldfish that can be really dirty.
Aquarists mostly prefer filters with higher flow rates. The higher the filter’s flow rate, the faster the water circulates. But, if you have a small fish tank, you might want to look for a filter with a slower flow rate.
Using an aquarium canister filter with a high flow rate on a small tank may lead to a point where you are basically recirculating clean tank water.
If your tank has a capacity of 25 gallons, you should avoid using a 500 GPH filter. This flow rate is too expensive and fast to use on a 25-gallon fish tank.
In this case, it is ideal to look for a filter with a flow rate of 100 GPH or even lower.
Media Trays and Filtration Process
The best aquarium canister filters have media trays for every stage of filtering: mechanical filtration, chemical filter media, and biological filtration.
And, you will enjoy the best filtration results when your canister machine uses all these filtering stages.
The unit’s motor is by far one of the most crucial parts of a canister filter for aquarium. So, it should have enough power to push the tank water through its filtration media. Aside from the pump power, there are a few things you need to consider about the motor.
First, you need to consider the motor’s noise first. Obviously, you should look for a silent motor type since it does not disturb the fish inside the tank.
Efficiency is also another essential consideration because saving power is highly essential nowadays.
Opt for the best aquarium canister filter that is easy to maintain and clean. Look for a filter with an easy-to-open lid and removable baskets for the media.
FAQs About Aquarium Canister Filters
My Top Pick
There is nothing quite like the Fluval Aquarium Canister Filter FX6. With a flow rate of 563 GPH, it is truly one of the most powerful aquarium filters ever designed. Not to mention, it has a maximum tank capacity of 400 gallons, making it a superb choice for those with larger fish tanks.
As you can see on the comparison chart, you will notice that it is the undisputed king when it comes to the size and flow rate of these filters. And since it comes from a reputable brand, it will surely last for a long time.
To top it all off, it has a multi-stage filtration system, to ensure your aquarium has a supremely clean and healthy environment.
If you are searching for a sure-fire bet, I definitely recommend the Fluval Aquarium Canister Filter FX6.