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Having an aquarium is an outstanding experience. You get to see beautiful fish all the time. However, an aquarium requires cleaning. This is the only way your fish can live in a pleasant and healthy environment. You need to make sure that the filter you use for cleaning the aquarium is the best available item for the job. In case you are lost trying to figure which filtration unit to go for, the following details will help you choose the best canister filter for your aquarium.

Top selling Aquarium CANISTER FILTER Details Price
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  • Editor Rating: 5/5
  • UsageEasy to Use
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Which filter would be the best for the aquarium?

Although several filters are in use for removing dirt from the aquarium, the canister filters have gained immense popularity in recent years. The reason behind this is the elite chemical, mechanical, and biological filtration capabilities. These factors have enabled thousands of people to choose the best canister filters for their aquarium.

Another notable ability of the canister filters is that it is in use in several different tanks. Saltwater tanks, turtle tanks, freshwater tanks, and reef tanks, all can make use of these filters. So, it does not matter which type of aquarium you possess or decide to buy in the future, and canister filters will help you out every time.

Best Canister Filters Aquarium

No #Canister FilterFor AquariumsCheck Price
1Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter-Editor Choice
Up to 30, 65, 100, 150, 200 Gallons Check Price
2Fluval All-New 07 Series PerformancerUp to 30, 45, 70, 100 Gallons Check Price
3Marineland Magniflow Canister FilterUp to 30, 55, 100 Gallons Check Price
4SunSun HW-3000 UV 9W 5-StageUp to 40, 75, 100, 125, 150 Gallons Check Price
5 Finnex PX-360 Compact Canister Aquarium FilterUp to 40, 75, 100, 125, 150 Gallons Check Price
6Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter Up to 40, 75, 100, 125, 150 Gallons Check Price
7Hydor Professional External Canister FilterUp to 40, 75, 100, 125, 150 Gallons Check Price
8Fluval Fx6 Aquarium Canister FilterUp to 400 Gallons Check Price
9SUNSUN HW-304B PRO CANISTER FILTER KITUp to 150 Gallons Check Price
10Fluval 306 Canister FilterUp to 70 Gallons Check Price
11OASE INDOOR AQUATICSUp to 400 Gallons Check Price

1. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter

Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter is famous for being able to remove all the dirt from the aquarium in a minimal amount of time. This means that your fish can live in a clean and bright environment. Furthermore, the Penn Plax Cascade can also be used as a multipurpose filter thanks to its ability to function in both saltwater and freshwater.

Moreover, this filter also has a capacity of storing water that exceeds all the other filters available in the market. No matter how big you want your aquarium to be, you can have your desired size without the fear of it not being able to get cleaned up easily. With a capacity of 200 gallons, you can rest assured that Penn Plax will come to your aid.

Another good point of this filter is that it is effortless to install. Not only will you be provided with almost all the components by the manufacturer, but you will also be further guided through the manual that you will get alongside the filter.

Key Features:

  • Best to use for freshwater and saltwater tanks.
  • Mechanical, chemical and biological filtration
  • Easy installation,
  • Push-button primer for fast startup.

2. Fluval All-New 07 Series Performance Canister Filter

Fluval All-New 07 Series Performance Canister Filter is extremely advanced in terms of technology and will make sure that your fish have an exceptional living experience. It is suitable for all types of aquariums, and its motor will help maintain a reasonable flow rate of water even when maintenance is in order.

Other than this, Fluval All new 07 Series is also very quiet.  It will give your aquarium a silent cleaning job, and it will also be beneficial for your fish. Many fish are not a big fan of vibrations, and thanks to this filter, they will not have to endure them.

Key Features:

  • Powerful motor generates constant pumping power
  • Single action dual Lift-Lock motorhead clamps for quick release and attachment
  • All necessary authentic Fluval media included

3. Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter

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Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter can work in both freshwater and saltwater. It also has user-friendly components that will help you quickly set everything up. It contains a fast-prime button that helps fill the aquarium with water more cleanly and efficiently.

The Flow filter plate give you variety of media layer to complete the mechanical and chemical filtration and make simple to clean the media as well. The Fast prime button is used to load the filter chamber quickly and let you instantly close the flow of water and separate the engine housing for spill-free upkeep.

Key Features:

  • Fast setup: Water-tight canister lid lifts up for easy removal
  • VERSATILE: For freshwater and saltwater aquariums
  • Three sizes available: Comes in 160 gph, 220 gph and 360 gph sizes

4. SunSun HW-3000 UV 9W 5-Stage External Canister Filter 793gph

The SunSun HW-3000 UV 9W 5-Stage External Canister Filter 793gph comes with an LCD that helps with an adjustment of the flow rate of the pump. It also contains a 9W UV sterilizer, which is amazing for cleaning the aquarium. Moreover, it can be used for freshwater as well as saltwater aquariums. It also contains White Filter pads, which further help improve the working standards of the filter.

Key features

  • It is easy to clean
  • It does not produce much noise

5. Finnex PX-360 Compact Canister Aquarium Filter

The Finnex PX-360 Compact Canister Aquarium Filter comes with all the accessories that would be necessary for making it a complete package. These include a spray bar, filter hanger, and an intake strainer. In addition to this, this product also has a filtration media which includes activated carbon floss pad, ceramic rings, and sponge. 

Key features

  • It has easy maintenance
  • It has a quiet operation

6. Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter (370 and 525 GPH with UV)

The Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter (370 and 525 GPH with UV) is a self-priming pump, which is suitable for most aquarium sizes. It also contains a UV sterilization to get crystal clear water. This UV sterilizer is of 9 Watts, which means that it is powerful enough to carry out its job correctly. 

Key features

  • It is easy to clean
  • It does not produce any noise
  • It has great suction power

7. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

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Although Hydor Professional External Canister Filter is relatively new in the market, it has gained immense popularity in a small amount of time. Thanks to its fantastic quality, it can be used for an extended amount of time. Setting this filter up is also really easy. Many people reported that this filter could be set up in 30 minutes only. All you need to do is make sure that you follow the instructions on its manual. Not only is this filter easily set up, but it also has a big capacity. It can store water up to 150 gallons. Finally, the noise it produces while cleaning the tank up is low, which helps keep the marine life undisturbed.

Key Features:

  • Clean with Ease
  • Filtration Media Layers
  • Low noise pollution.

8. Fluval Fx6 Aquarium Canister Filter

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It is no secret that this filter comes from a great company. Therefore, expecting it to be a high-end product wouldn’t be wrong. Fluval Fx6 Aquarium Canister Filter is highly reputed for its water storage capacity, which is 250 gallons to 400 gallons. There are not many filters that can hold this amount of water in it and still have a compact size to fit inside the aquarium without occupying too much space comfortably. The Fluval Fx6 has many great features, including a self-priming start system. This system helps the canister to quickly prepare for the filtration as soon as it is attached to the aquarium.  Its intake filter is famous for being able to stay active for a long time due to its clog-proof nature.

Key Features:

  • Self-starting – just add water, plug in and Smart Pump will take over.
  • Anti-clog, telescopic strainer ensures continuous water flow
  • Rubberized feet help ensure quiet operation


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SUNSUN HW-304B PRO CANISTER FILTER is a well-known company in making a large variety of filters in the market. This Sunsun filter I having a large capacity of pumping a large amount of water and it can handle 150 gallons of the tank at 525 GPH. This model also has built-in UV sterilizer and helps to destroy harmful microorganisms that very good for the tank. This filter is having4 four types of media trays by which you can customize the filtration of the tank as you needed.

Key Features:

  • Easy to use
  • Low noise pollution
  • highly durable

10. Fluval 306 Canister Filter

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Fluval 306 Canister Filter delivers many practical benefits including better filtration, less maintenance frequency, faster setup, and quieter operation and designed to make fishkeeping more enjoyable. This filter is best for a 100 gallon tank. Building on the success of Fluval 05 Series filters, this filter provides enhanced functionality and filtration performance that creates the cleanest, healthiest aquariums ever. This filter improved motor hydraulic performance that reduces maintenance frequency increases flow rates and head pressure, and also increased water filtration performance for cleaner, healthier water.

Key Features:

  • Strong, single-motion lift-lock clamps offer a more secure closure and easier filter access
  • Redesigned impeller cover for added durability
  • Multiple removable media baskets



OASA indoor Aquatics is very popular for the usage of planted tanks and this company is providing its product last 30 years or more.The OASE Indoor Aquatics is a canister filter that has been quietly getting buzz among planted tank hobbyists. As personal I really like this company product as they are long-lasting for users. The main downfall is they are hard to find in stores.

Key Features:

  • Fresh and marine water compatible
  • Ideal for use in aquariums up to 160 gallons
  • Quiet operation – Sound dampening design

How to choose a canister filter for an aquarium?

  • Purpose of the canister

While choosing a canister filter, it is essential to ask yourself some vital questions. How many gallons of water are you interested in getting cleaned? Is the canister that you are choosing capable of handling the water flow and other factors? All of these things come in handy when you are picking up a cartridge and will help you make a wise decision in the end.

  • Adaptability and durability

Another critical factor to consider is where exactly do you plan on placing the canister. This is viewed as necessary because it will determine whether or not a specific type of cartridge be suitable for your said aquarium. If a brand of canister suits your plan, go for it. If it does not seem right, reconsider your choice.

On the other hand, the durability of the canister is also to be held into account. You need to ask yourself what type of investment you are looking for and can you afford to change your canister frequently. You need to make sure that the canister you choose is durable and will help you out for a long time.

  • The Motor

A motor in a canister helps to pump in water from the aquarium into the filter to enable it to get filtered. Hence, the engine is a significant part of the canister. You need to make sure that the motor you select is not only efficient but also low maintenance. Different motors have different needs for support, and it is essential to consider this factor before picking up a canister filter.

  • Tank size

Keeping the size of your tank in mind before making a purchase is essential. This is because not all filters can accommodate all types of containers. You will find the size of tank a filter favors written on it. You can also find it out by contacting the company that made the canister filter. Some filters prefer 10 gallons, some 20 gallons, and some even more. Owning a larger tank and getting a filter designed for smaller aquariums can lead you to issues. The filtration unit won’t be able to do its job correctly. This would mean polluted tank water, leading to stressful living conditions for your fish.

  • Brands

The brand of the canister plays a massive role in the functioning of it. A good brand comes with many great reviews and an assurance that your money will not be wasted in any way possible. No matter how big or small your aquarium or tank is, you need a good filter for it. To have it, you need to do your research and look at the reviews that people leave behind. Very often, relying on just what the manufacturer says is not good enough.

  • Your budget

Your budget is what decides for you at the end of the day. However, you should not hurry into buying any canister filter that is the cheapest one. Having thorough research is essential and will help you land a reasonably decent canister. You will also find that there is an extensive range of canister prices that you can pick from. You can always start looking online first and get a good idea as to what you are dealing with.

How does a canister filter work?

While reviewing your options, you will discover that there are many different ways in which a canister filter works, and you need to know them before making any big decisions. Some of these filters have a UV sterilizer, while others have canister filter media.

Canister filters are attached to tank exteriors and have one piece inside their aquarium.  They have inlet and outlet fittings, which enables water to move in and out of them quickly. Some cleaners have an in-tank pump, while some have mounted motors that rely on gravity to start the engine.

When a filter starts functioning, water passes through various filtration layers that are present inside the canister. There are many layers of membranes present in it that trap harmful microorganisms and debris present in the water and make it clean. They also make sure that only the freshwater is let out of the filter and reintroduced to the aquarium.

Since the canister filters require maintenance now and then, you must learn how to do that as well.

Advantages of using a canister filter

  • Easy setup processes
    Unlike the other filters, the canister filters are relatively easier to set up. This claim is attested by several clients who chose the canister filters. All you need to keep in mind is that the instructions provided along with the filters are quite detailed and need to be followed word to word. By doing this, the risks of wrongly setting up the filter will be reduced.
  • Easy to clean
    Everything that you need to know about cleaning the filter is already present in the manual. Having a thorough look at the manual will help you save time and work more efficiently and confidently. In addition to this, the components of the filters are easily disassembled. This means that you can get access to the internal regions without any difficulty. After you get everything cleaned up, you can place it back and enjoy the crystal clean tank once again.
  • Quiet operation
    Having a filter that does not produce noise is a blessing. It is crucial to have an unnoisy filter as it allows you to carry out your daily tasks without any disturbances. The canister filters are probably the only filters that promise a quiet operation. This fact has been approved by many users who have left behind positive reviews regarding this filter.
  • Reliability
    These filters are quite reliable. You do not have to worry if they are functioning correctly or if your fish are happy. Sit back and relax. You can trust them for cleaning the aquarium in the best way possible and ensuring that your fish get a healthy surrounding.
  • Durability
    The canister filters are famous for sticking around for a long time. This statement means that you do not have to think about them needing replacement anytime soon. This statement also means that these filters are a one-time investment and will result in you saving a lot of money.


It does not matter if you are new to keeping fish or want a change for your fish; having the best canister filter for your aquarium is important. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter is the one which I mostly recommended to client and really I love its durability and reliability. It will decide whether or not your fish have a good living experience. Ensuring that your fish have a healthy environment to thrive in is incredibly significant as it affects the growth and reproduction capacities of your fish. A fish will only reproduce if it is kept in an environment that favors the growth of its infant. Therefore, if you want to have a continuous marine life in your aquarium while making sure that the aquarium is a treat to watch, you need to make sure that it is clean at all times. No one likes being close to a fish that is aesthetically unappealing and reeks of horrid smells. In addition to this, having dirt in water also clouds the vision of the fish present in the tank. This means they have difficulty finding their way about and looking for food. Taking your time out and finding the perfect canister filter will make sure that neither you nor your fish have to suffer at all.

How to Clean Canister Filters?

Regularly cleaning your aquarium filters is important for the health of your fish. While it may seem like an intimidating job, it really isn’t. There are three kinds of filters, mechanical, chemical and biological. Depending on what kind you have in your tank, you will have different processes to carry out. 

  • Mechanical Filter

In case you are working with mechanical filters, you will find that there is a sponge sitting at the inside it. Following are some basic steps to help you through the process:

  • Scoop out some tank water

While you could go with tap water to clean your filter, it is advisable that you use existing tank water to ensure that your fish is less sensitive to the change. Siphon out two-three cups of water into a bowl.

  • Unplug the filter

This is important to avoid getting electrocuted during the cleaning process.

  • Clean the sponge

Dip the sponge into the bowl with tank water. Rub and squeeze it thoroughly to ensure that all the gunk within it is removed entirely. Since this does not harm the good bacteria in the sponge, feel free to wash the sponge in as much detail as you want.

  • Clean the tubing and casing

You can use the tank water in the bowl to clean the other parts of the filter or can get more water from the tank.

  • Reassemble the filter

With the last step done, your filter is ready to be reassembled. Carefully, put everything back together and turn the filter on.

  • Chemical Filters

Chemical filters require the changing of carbon in them on a regular basis. If you feel that the tank water is becoming cloudy, repeat steps 1,2, and 4 from above, after you have replaced preexisting carbon.

  • Biological Filters

To clean a biological filter, repeat steps 1, 2, and 4 from above, in addition to cleaning the filter using tank water. Do not do it very thoroughly as you might end up damaging the microorganisms in the filter.

How to Set up a Canister Filter for Aquarium?

Canister filters are excellent filters to keep an aquarium squeaky clean. If you have gotten one and are wondering how to install it in your tank, read the guide below.

  • See if you have all parts

The first thing you need to ensure before starting the setting up procedure is that you have all necessary. Make sure that all of the parts are present (by checking them against filter’s part listing) and are not damaged.

  • Set-up your tank

The way you position your tank impacts how your filter is ultimately positioned, which impacts its functioning. The filter should rest below the tank. How far below it must be can be determined by consulting the user guide that comes with the filter. Position your tank accordingly and then fill it water.

  • Prepare your filter

Remove the filter’s head and verify if all media baskets are present inside and intact. Next, carefully add your desired media in the baskets, layer by layer. Remember the following order:

  1. The mechanical media must be added in the first tray. Order your sponges from the least fine to the finest, to make sure that all debris is removed before it gets to biological and chemical media.
  2. The next tray should be loaded with biological media. There is a wide range of available biological media in the market, including ceramic rings and bio-balls. Choose the one that suits your ideals.
  3. The third and fourth trays allow experimentation. You can mix things up and experiment with a few things. However, it is advisable that you dedicate one tray for some chemical medium, like charcoal.
  • Set-up intake and output channels

To prepare the intake channel, attach one end of the hose to the filter and lower the other end into the water tank. Typically, filter manuals suggest the length till which you must lower the pipe in water. If it is absent, you can go with the rule of thumb, which is to keep the hose 3 inches above the tank bottom. The output channel is set similarly.

  • Turn on the tank

Lastly, make sure that all connections are proper and all valves are open. Once satisfied, plug in your filter and turn it on. 

How to change the aquarium filter without losing bacteria

Very often, the owners of an aquarium have to change its filter. A common fear in the minds of these users is the loss of useful bacteria. However, there is a way this problem can be avoided. One thing that you have to keep in mind is to not remove all the filter media at once. Many new fishkeepers try to get done with the process at once, resulting in the loss of bacteria. In case you do this, you should stop feeding the fish for a few days. This will help lower the ammonia content of the aquarium. Check if the ammonia is still present in the water. If it is, then remove 50 per cent of water change. Then, add some live bacteria that will compensate for the lost bacteria. You need to check the water daily to ensure that no ammonia or nitrate is present in the water.

On the other hand, if you have to buy a new filter as a replacement, you should add the entire filter media of your previous one to the new one. Even if it does not fit properly, the water flow will be efficient. All your useful bacteria will be saved. 


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