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Quiet Filters | Fish Tank Filtration Systems

Updated on October 13, 2009

Eheim Filters

What you may not realize when you're setting up a fish tank for the first time is that you'll need a filter, and that the filter will need to run 24/7, and that the filter may be incredibly noisy. Even if it seems quiet during the hustle and bustle of your every day life, when you turn off all the noisemakers in the house and try to go to bed, your sleep will be disturbed by the whirring, humming, vibrating or trickling of the filter.

This can especially be a problem for people who have partners, as the filter will often disturb a partner with sensitive hearing. So, what can you do? Well, you can opt for a quieter filter, and there are several ways to achieve that.

If you bought your set up from a pet store, then there is a fair to decent chance that the first filter you bought is a dud because of noise issues. That's why you're here. The next filter you spend your hard earned money on better be quiet.

Here are your options.

Undergravel Filter With Suspended Air Pump

If you have a fish tank under 50 gallons, you can use an undergravel filter. Now, undergravel filters are one of the most controversial types of filter in the fish keeping industry. Some people swear by them and say you must have one or your fish will die. Die! Other people say that they are utterly useless because they only provide good biological filtration, not chemical or mechanical, and because they can clog and whatnot.

If you have a smaller tank, and you aren't keeping goldfish (which are incredibly messy,) then an undergravel filter with an air pump can be a quiet option. The air pump does make noise if you leave it to sit on a hard surface, but many people find that by suspending them in an old stocking, the noise is cut to almost 0.

Hang on Back Filters (H.O.B)

These filters hang on the back of the tank, draw water out of it and then send it pouring back in, waterfall style. Obviously these are not good choices for people who don't like the running water sound. They are popular however because they provide good filtration, add volume to the tank and are relatively cheap.

Internal Filter

Now, people say that internal filters are the quietest option. That might be true if, and only if, your internal filter is of good quality. It is quite possible for an internal filter to whirr away noisily, sending out deep vibrations which can be heard rooms away.

External Canister

If you're prepared to spend a bit more money and get excellent filtration plus quiet operation, it is hard to go past external Fluval or Eheim canister filters. They are well known as being excellent filtration devices and also for having quiet operation.


Cheap filters tend to be noisy. Your filter is like the heart of your aquatic system, so its best to spend as much as you can comfortably afford on getting a good one. There are a great deal of cheap options out there, but the investment in a decent filter not only means peaceful night's sleeps, but also excellent ongoing filtration and healthy fish.

If I had to recommend just one brand, Eheim have an excellent international reputation, and are a safe choice for someone who wants to know that they are purchasing quality. They make both internal and external aquarium filters, so there is sure to be an Eheim to suit your needs.


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      Jannik Lindquist 7 years ago

      Interesting - but I have the Vita Tech 300 filter (which is the same as the Eheim 2008) and the noise is driving me noise. In other words: even Eheim makes noisy filters