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Top 5 Fish Tank Filters To Choose From

Updated on July 14, 2011

Choosing A Fish Tank Filter

Buying a fish tank, filling it up with water, decorating it and placing fish to live in your new aquarium is definitely fun. No one can deny this. But after a while, it is the maintenance of the fish tank that might make some people give up on this great hobby. One of the most important factors when it comes to aquarium maintenance is the fish tank filters. Today, there are literally hundreds of brands from dozens of models that you choose from, that the beginner to the hobby might feel over whelmed at which to buy. Asking different people about which is the best fish tank filter to buy would get you a variety of answers because choosing the right fish tank filter for you depends on your unique situation i.e. your budget, the size of your fish tank and how much maintenance are you willing to do.

In this post I will present to you the top 5 fish tank filters used today so that you could choose the right one that fits your aquarium style.

Canister Fish Tank Filter

Excellent but expensive

No one can deny that the canister fish tank filter is the best type of fish tank filter in many ways. Canister fish tank filters suck water out of the aquarium through tubes into a canister which is situated apart from the tank, usually placed at the bottom portion on the aquarium stand. The water is channeled through various chambers within the canister, purifying it thoroughly before the crystal clear water is pumped back into the tank. Most canister filters allow you to modulate the strength of the suction so that you could reduce it if you have fish tank are too small or frail

On the plus side, you would have a filter that gives you a very high level of purification and filtration, providing mechanical, chemical and even biological filtration. The best thing about the filter is that because it is so efficient, you would usually not have to do any aquarium maintenance more than once every three months or more.

On the downside, this type of filter can be very expensive. It is one that is more suited for large fish tanks.

External Hanging Fish Tank Filters

Cheaper But Overpowered

The external hanging filters hands from the side of the aquarium. Water is sucked up a tube flows through the filter chamber and is then either pumped back into the tank through tubes or spill from the top by a trough. These filters provide the basic mechanical and biological filtration with chemical filtration as an option.

Hang filters are generally easy to maintain, it is just a matter of either cleaning or replacing the filter media inside the chamber. The filtration they provide is good for a medium to small tank.

The downside of the hang filter is that the pump that comes with it generally is not adjustable and the suction might be a little too hard for weaker or sick fish. These fish tend to get stuck at the end of the suction tubes, killing or maiming them. You would have to spend a little extra to purchase a separate, more suitable pump.

Sponge Fish Tank Filters

Easy To maintain but messy

Sponge fish tank filters are among the simplest, most basic type of filters that you could find. All it consists of is a sponge at the end of a tube. Water is forced through the sponge with by a pump. The sponge traps large parcels from the water and is even a suitable breeding ground for beneficial bacteria that provide biological filtration. However, chemical filtration is not possible for this type of filtration.

Sponge filters are cheap and very easy to maintain. All you would ever need to do is take it out of the water and rinse it with dechlorinated water. Because there are no moving parts in this filter, maintenance of it is generally a breeze. Also, the suction of the tube is not focused on the tube inlet, rather it is spread equally around the surface of the sponge. This prevents fish, even very weak fish from being suck into it o matter how strong the suction may be.

On the downside, the sponge tends to get clogged fast and needs to be washed often. Left unwashed, the water would not be filtered and the waste that is stuck to the sponge would float back into the water, causing the potential of disease.

Undergravel Fish Tank Filters

Easy to clean but messy tank bottom

The undergravel filter is a simple structure consisting of a plastic grate that sits a little off the base of the aquarium with a few layers of gravel over it. This leaves a small gap at between the base of the fish tank and the gravel layers. Water is sucked out of this gap, forcing the water above the gravel to flow in between the gravel. In this way, food particles and waste matter is trapped by the gravel which acts as the filter media. The water that is sucked out of the base flows through tubes and is spilled back from the top through a small trough.

Maintaining the undergravel filter is just a matter of vacuuming it periodically. Not doing so would cause the waste to build up between the gravel, not only bringing with it disease and a bad odor but would eventually cause the filter to clog up.

Corner Fish Tank Filters

Cheapest but least effective

The corner filter is a box unit that sits inside the aquarium, placed at one corner. Water is pumped into the single chamber of the filter, goes through some basic filter media, usually sponge and back out into the tank water.

Corner filters are cheap and maintenance is just a matter of taking out the filter media and washing it. However, because the whole unit sits inside the tank, it does not provide a good enough filtration in the long term. Furthermore you would have to reach into the tank, soaking your hands in the water each time you want to take out the filter media to clean it, thus contaminating the water more.

If you are just starting out on this hobby, you may opt for this filter but try to move to a better filter as soon as you can.

These are some of the pros and cons of the various fish tank filters sold in the pet shops everywhere. I hope this has helped you make a choice of which filter would be more suitable for you. Don't miss out on the great deals on the recommended items that I had placed in the article above.

For more informant on choosing the right fish tank filters and other aquarium guides visit Fish Tank Filters at today.

Aquarium Filtration Methods

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    • profile image

      Namsak 4 years ago

      Interesting lens. The filters I favour are (depending on size of tank and species of fish) are - internal power filter; sponge filter; internal box filter - and I wouldn't rinse any of them in decholorinated water because you risk killing the bacteria which make the filter work. Rinse them only in water from the tank they are in (clean the filter when you do a water change). If a tank is set up and working properly chemical filtration should never be necessary. Best tip - join your local aquatics club. They are a good source of information and equipment.

    • donjohnsonis lm profile image

      donjohnsonis lm 4 years ago

      I used to have lots of fish, but none at this time. Great info when I get fish again.

    • profile image

      vicky71 4 years ago

      Very different lens..Good start :)

    • profile image

      aleesya_aqilah 4 years ago

      nice lens and informative

    • peggygallyot profile image

      peggygallyot 4 years ago

      Very informative lens. Keep it up.

    • profile image

      NurseVella 4 years ago

      Great post.

    • Resident-Nerd profile image

      Resident-Nerd 5 years ago

      Very nice lens. Great explanation to help someone get started. I love this hobby and love seeing new people get into it. Thanks

    • listprofits profile image

      listprofits 5 years ago

      Hi Tim

      Like your lens, very helpful info for aquarium starters. Good luck..