Best Aquarium Canister Filter – Top Recommendation & Expert Reviews

An aquarium filter is perhaps the most important equipment in an aquarium. It’s an essential unless you want the tiresome task of adding water every day.

Aquarium filters improve aquatic life by keeping water free of pollutants. But the big question is, which is the best filter to use? Canister aquarium filters definitely stand out.

This is because of their superior chemical, biological, and mechanical filtration abilities. But even with the many benefits, they have to offer, you shouldn’t expect to get the same result from the many models out there.

In short, performance and power tend to vary from one filter to another. To help you make a good purchase, we have a roundup of the best aquarium canister filters you might want to consider.

Best Overall
Fluval Canister Filter, FX6 Filter (400 Gal)
400 Gallons
Check Price
Top Choice
Fluval Canister Filter for Aquariums - 406 - 100 Gallon
100 Gallons
Check Price
Cascade CCF2UL Canister Filter For Large Aquariums and Fish Tanks - Up To 65 Gallons, Filters 185...
200 Gallons
Check Price
EHEIM Classic Canister Filter 2213, Classic 250 - PetOverstock
250 Gallons
Check Price
Tetra Decorative ReptoFilter, Terrarium Filtration, Keeps Water Clear
55 Gallons
Check Price

How to Choose The Best Aquarium Canister Filter

Canister filters have gained popularity because of its extensive range functionality and use by people. The best canister filter comes with three unique filter processes that are sued in saltwater and freshwater tanks.

The three filtration processes are chemical, biological and mechanical filtration.

Flexible Media Selection

Before purchasing a canister sieve, first, check other people reviews to see if the media met the user expectations before buying one. And when you are buying choose one that needs no maintenance and gets to know how you can use it. You should probably consider the following factors before purchasing one.

Ease of Cleaning

You do not want to leave any debris or dirt behind when you are cleaning your canister filter. Before buying a canister sieve make sure it has a manual on how to clean, and they should also provide the right tools for cleaning the disassembled parts. This makes it easy to clean the internal components and do some maintenance.

High Flow Rates

Before settling for one considers the model. Different canister models have different flow rates. Choose one that takes less time for the whole filtration process.

Ease of Set-Up

As long as you follow the manufacturer’s instruction on setting up a canister, it is effortless and straightforward. They have a clear and precise guideline for you to follow.

Quiet Operation

While filtering your aquarium, some unnecessary noise is heard. It will be a wise decision to choose a canister sieve that does not produce a lot of noise and vibration.

Strong Mechanical Operation

A robust mechanical process removes harmful bacteria and debris that causes discoloration of water and odor. A good canister filter ensures that there is easy filtering and prevents debris from going back to into the fish tank.

Top 10 Best Aquarium Canister Filters Review

Below, you will get to know more about the best canister filters available in the market.

Fluval Canister Filter, FX6 Filter (400 Gal)

In case you didn’t know, Fluval is a big brand in aquarium canister filters. The FX6 filter is one of its compact models with a huge filtration capacity. This filter is versatile since it can be used for both freshwater and marine water aquariums.

The multi-stage filtration means adequate cleansing. The filter media used here is foam, which gives unparalleled biological filtration and encourages the enormous growth of bacteria colonies. Foam filter works great in breeding aquariums.

FX6 has a superior filter capacity that earns it a place among the next generation of powerful filters. The Fluval canister has a super capacity of 925 gallons of water and has a filter circulation of 563 GPH and produces positive results.

The canister filter contains media baskets with a capacity of around 1.5 gallons and can fit under most large fish tanks because of its shortness (21″ height).

The 925 GPH pump used here is powered by a motor that has electronic controls. This gives constant automatic monitoring of the pump, leading to maximum speed, increased power, and improved energy efficiency.

This canister filter eliminates the hassle out of the priming process. It has an instant self-priming system that takes care of that FX6 aquarium filter has a twin-output nozzle that can be adjusted to send a stream of water in all directions.

It can reduce noise and vibration because of the precise engineered bearing’ feature.


  • It contains a multi-directional output nozzle which is adjusted to allow fresh water to reach all sides of the fish tank. The currents from the vent brake down waste and hold them in suspension, and then they are drawn to the strainer.
  • The strainer is clog-proof and shaped to take in water quickly.
  • It has indicator dials to show you when it was the last time you changed water and did the maintenance.
  • It has two aqua-stop valves. One for the intake and the other for the outtake. The valves are used to regulate the water flow in and out of the aquarium by a 90-degree turn of the valve lever. The lever does this without affecting the motor or its component.
  • The presence of purge valve drain at its base allows you to empty the canister for maintenance before moving it
  • The Fluval FX6 does not have a manual siphoning this is because it has an instant system. All you need to do is to plug inside the filter; the canister fills with water as it pumps for 1 minute, the next two minutes it pauses for evacuation of air and lastly the process begins.

The stream of water agitates the water to suspend unwanted wastes on the surface. Fluval FX6 is a canister filter that can meet all your needs while managing to remain compact enough to fit beneath large aquariums.

Fluval External Filter

Fluval 406 is a versatile canister filter with premium performance and a new refined look. It has three filtration baskets to aid mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. It is a multi-stage filtration suitable to be used with freshwater and saltwater fish tanks.

It has two stages of filtration that is separated for maximum efficiency and minimal maintenance. The baskets are filled the essential media for the filtration to take place. The two steps are the mechanical stage and biological and chemical stag.

At the mechanical filtration stage, the vertical twin foam prevents clogged media and pre-filters more debris. At the chemical and biological step, the independent modules allow easy and mess-free media removal.

The baskets can be removed for customized filtration. Capacity is among the things that make this aquarium filter stand out. Compared to a rounded canister filter of the same size, Fluval 406 filter media hold 35 to 50% more volume.

The advanced motor that drives the pump gives constant power for strong flows. It transforms this filter into a true workhorse. A precise-engineered bearing is fitted in the pump to minimize noise and vibration caused by the impeller. The pump has a flow rate of 383 GPH. This is a good output for aquarium tanks that have a capacity of up to 100 gallons.

Priming is done automatically so there’s no need for manual siphoning. Fluval 406 has single-motion lock clamps that give an easy time during routine cleaning and maintenance.

Leaks and mess are kept in check by AquaStop valves. These valves cut off the flow with the hose still intact. Fluval 406 canister filter is suitable for use with saltwater and freshwater aquariums.


  • Some features like clog-proof filter, dual layer form screen, rapid start guide, and single motion lift-lock clamp and on the spot -prime system enables the user to have a convenient and efficient working system.
  • The aquastop values remove leaks and mess and stop water flow without disconnecting.
  • The lock clamps motion makes maintenance and cleaning easy.
  • There is no need for manual siphoning since it has a direct start-up.
  • Presence of class fibers in lift lock clamps and mechanical media ensures durability and strength.
  • It has a powerful advanced motor technology that maintains the mighty and strong flow rate between scheduled maintenances.
  • Features like an aquastop valve, rim connector, and multiple filtration basket parts are designed to ensure the output and intake hose in position inside the fish tank.
  • The filtration basket comes in four sizes. The sizes can fit any size of the aquarium from home-based to commercial ones.
  • The different sizes enable different filter capacities and water flow rates.
  • The strainer is clog-proof and shaped to take in water quickly.

 Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter

Cascade 700 is an external aquarium canister filter that can be used with freshwater and saltwater aquariums. It has stackable trays that house the filter media.

Handles make it easier to remove the trays and put a filter media of your choice. But to start you off, the trays come complete with filter media, which include coarse sponge and floss pad. This supports multi-stage mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration.

The flow rate of this canister filter is 185 GPH, which is ideal for aquarium tank sizes of up to 65 gallons.

The motor runs quietly so you can barely hear a thing during the filtration process. Automatic priming is achieved with a simple push of a button.

The canister has two independent directional valve taps that rotate 360 degrees. 360 degree rotating valve caps ensures smooth placement of water efficiently while the flow rate valves and pool hose clamps make adjustment and setup easy.

The control valves are designed to shut off the water flow during maintenance without leaking. The direction returns help in suspending waste matter. Swimming pool-style hose clamps make installation and adjustment a breeze.

Cascade 700 aquarium filter has a sturdy, tip-proof base with non-slip rubber feet for great stability.

As pointed out earlier, this canister uses replaceable filter media. To avoid the expense, you can choose to make your own.

One can use a mixture of media to get a broad array of filtration needs; the media that can be used are activated carbon, bio-sponges, and bio-floss.


  • Each pump is accompanied by start-up filter media, input and output rubber tubing and substantial filter trays.
  • The advantage of the large filter trays is that one can use more media and have more extended periods between replacements. You might find out the trays do not adequately fit, this is easily fixed by sticking filter floss into the side areas.
  • The multi-stage filtration (combination of mechanical, chemical and biological) brings out a fresh and healthy environment for the fish.
  • The presence of lift camps makes it easy to remove the cover for maintenance.
  • Mounted tip-proof rubber base keeps the filter in place.
  • One can adjust or shut off water flow with control valves

It has a quick, easy push button and straightforward to install. The filters come with essential accessories to assemble to your tank, and the filtration process takes around thirty minutes. The improvements can be seen in less than a day.

Hydor Professional External Canister Filter – Best External Canister Filter

The hydro professional best suits those who love aquariums. It is designed to occupy a very small part of your space in your house.

Hydor professional 600 is the brand’s largest external aquarium filter. It is a 345 GPH output and a circulation rate of 290 GPH. This makes it ideal for aquarium tanks with a capacity of 90-150 gallons. The canister filter is a complete ecosystem in a box.

The secret to the large water flow is the thick, wide hoses integrated into this canister filter. Intake tubes come with a telescopic design for easy adjustment.

It is easy to use due to the priming pump. The filter should be placed beneath the level of the fish tank when it primed but if you desire to place beside it do so after the screen has begun to operate.

This canister filter is more than just size. Under the hood is a complete eco-system designed to promote a healthy, long-life aquatic experience. This is achieved through a multi-stage filtration that includes mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. Filter media used here include large pore sponge, filter wool, and bio-rings.

A self-priming pump is integrated into the filter so you don’t have to siphon to start it. Hydor professional 600 comes with all accessories needed to set it up. The motor runs quietly so that the only sound you hear is that of running water.

It can reduce noise and vibration since the airtight seal assures proper flow rate while maintaining a smooth activity. You barely hear the sound you just have to touch the filter to ensure it is running.

  • The professional hydro filler uses different types of media such as Highly porous bio-ring and a large pore for mechanical filtration
  • Filter wool for superfine mechanical filtration


  • It is energy efficient.
  • It has three media trays but for the advanced models have five media trays. This depends if it can handle your filtration needs and if there is room in the aquarium.
  • The fish inside the aquarium needs a fresh and healthy environment for it to survive. The multi-stage filtration process has enabled it Easy-lift clamps make it easy to remove the cover for maintenance and cleaning.
  • The 4-locking clamp system keeps the motor in check and prevents water leaks.
  • It has a safety lock system.
  • It is comfortable to use and clean.

SunSun Hw304B 525GPH Pro Canister Filter Kit

This canister filter helps to promote clean and clear water inside the aquarium. We have the SunSun HW-304B 5-stage canister filter with 9-watt UV sterilizer 525 GPH. It includes a 9-watt ultraviolet sterilizer with 525gph making it an ideal choice for your turtle tank requirements.

The ultraviolet sterilizer helps in controlling spores and bacteria keeping the water clean and safe. This technology is ideal for your turtle tank filtration.

It has a built-in 9 Watt UV sterilizer for promoting clear water and controlling spores/bacteria and algae.

HW-304B is made to be quite useful for filtering larger sized aquariums of up to 150 gallons of water capacity. It does a great job, making it popular among many users. With an overall capability of handling 525 GPH, this filter has a faster filtration process than many other models. If you require the aquarium filtered quickly, then this should be the model to purchase.

This canister’s water filtration easily lives up to its capability. It has a five-stage filtration to increase the chances of effectively cleaning the water. The 5-stage consist of chemical, mechanical, and biological filtrations.

This kind of model is good for aquariums with 150 gallons capacity with a filter circulation of 525 GPH. The model has a faster circulation process than any other models.

There is an inclusion of a 9W UV sterilizer in this filter. With this kind of power, the model utilizes UV to destroy all harmful bacteria and algae. Not many canister filters incorporate such a feature. In the end, you will have clean water for your fish or turtle.

All aquariums canister filter need maintenance for performance efficiency. The filter and accessories are easy to assemble and disassemble for easy cleaning and restocking the filtration material before placing it back.

Replacing the filter media is quite easy. The filter media has to be arranged in the right sequence to ensure that it operates well. The good thing to do would be buying the additional filter media when acquiring the canister for the first time.

This should make it easy to change them in and out without making a new purchase for the filters. Remember to follow the steps in the manual when changing the media.

The filter media includes, I blue coarse pad and three white filter pads. The presences of these filter media allow you to achieve a clean, odorless and transparent aquarium.

Add Sunsun’s activated carbons, ceramic rings or bio-balls to the flexible media to achieve maximum mechanical, chemical and biological filtration. The ceramic rings promote the growth of beneficial bacteria while the bio-balls encourage exchange gas (increasing oxygen level).


  • The 9W sterilizer can easily kill the harmful bacteria and algae
  • The filter can handle up to535 gallons of water in an hour
  • Easy to clean Trays are made to be able to stagger enabling changing out media without crashing your system
  • Sunsun canister filter eliminates the manual siphoning because it contains a self-priming pump.


  • Several users have had issues with the filter motors
  • The UV sterilizer might have additional negative effects when left on for long periods
  • Most users complain of much noise

Not all people love unnecessary noise in the house especially when they want to sleep. For aquarium owners, they will like this model since one can hardly hear any sound unless you are too close to it.

EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media

EHEIM is a well-respected brand in the Aquarium industry. It produces high-quality aquarium supplies like water pumps, filter media, powerheads, filters and more.

This canister filter is equipped with high-quality components that meet the standard. The EHEIM classic external canister filter has a filter volume of 0.8 gallons and can fit aquariums of 66 gallons and has a filter circulation of 116 GPH.

The filter media can be filled with filter sponges or with combined media. The classic canister is filled with filter insert for easy cleaning. It comes complete with filter media; excellent filter pad, coarse filter pad, carbon filter pad, EHFIMECH, and EHFISUBSTRAT. The carbon filter pad adsorbs dissolved debris that will be harmful to the fish and should be removed after two weeks.

The filtration process is achieved through one process with simultaneous oxygen enrichment and constant water supply through the biological, mechanical, chemical and adsorptive filtration.


  • It is exceptionally quiet when the filtration takes place
  • The hose diameter is equivalent to
  • It has filter inserts for easy cleaning
  • It consumes less power
  • The silicone sealing ring has made it possible for safe and comfortable locking after cleaning. The silicon ring is placed at the pump head.
  • The pump can be operated separately from the canister.
  • An optimum condition in the aquarium is achieved through a balanced pump output to canister volume ratio.

It has many different accessories. The accessories of the EHEIM classic canister include inlet pipe, spray bar, hose 12/16mm and installation accessories. You can upgrade your accessories to meet your expectations.

Marineland Magniflow Canister

This type of model capacity of up to 55 gallons with a filter circulation of 360PGH. It a large item, therefore, makes sure you have room for it.

This type of model has three filtration processes that are mechanical, biological and chemical filtration process. This increases the effectiveness of cleaning both fresh and salt water inside the fish tank.

The ceramic rings and bio-balls (biological stage) provide a large surface area for the growth of bio-spira. The beneficial ammonia is responsible for biological filtration.

The carbon bag (chemical stage) removes odor, water impurities, and discoloration. The filter foams pads (mechanical stage) captures harmful dirt and debris.

Not all people love unnecessary noise in the house especially when they want to sleep. For aquarium owners, they will love this model since one can hardly hear any noise unless you are too close to it.

For quick, spill’ free filter maintenance the valve block shuts down water flow separating it from the motor chamber.

Most aquariums canister filter are easy to use and operate this is because it accompanied by user guide.

All aquariums canister filter need maintenance for performance efficiency. The filter and accessories are easy to assemble and disassemble for easy cleaning. You should clean them regularly.


  • The canister lids ensure a watertight seal
  • It is easy to remove the top cover to access the media basket.
  • Self-priming system start-up and quick prim button
  • The large locking clamps prevent leaks by putting the canister and motor in place.
  • The Marineland magniflow canister kit includes ceramic bio-filter rings, carbon filter bag, inlet and an outlet assembly, filter foam, filter floss pad, and ID tubing.

Marineland is best known for their customer service this is because when you need spare parts, they are available online through their customer care support system.

Zoo Med 511 Turtle Clean Canister Filter

This type of model capacity of up to 60 gallons with a filter circulation of 160GPH. It a large item, therefore, makes sure you have room for it. Three stages of filtration. The turtle clean canister filter has three stages of filtration to keep water clean and clear.

This includes biological, mechanical and chemical filtration stages. Filter media Maximum absorption power of ammonia is made possible because of the extra-large carbon chamber; this benefits turtles and amphibians.

The carbon bag and ceramic media can be changed once a month. The ceramic media enables a surface for the growth of beneficial bacteria. This bacterium helps to break down waste that suspends on top of the water.

The turtle clean canister filter is easy to use and operate this is because it accompanied by user guide. The user guide has picture tutorials and also use YouTube for illustration.

The turtle clean canister filter kit includes spray bar system. Active ceramic media, mechanical filter sponge, and activated carbon.


  • Adjustable flow control system; to determine the strength of the water flow through the filter.
  • Easy to open filter heads.
  • It features a removable hose-connecting device and easy to open filter heads.
  • It has a spray bar that provides a good aeration.
  • The case of the turtle clean canister filter is clear to enable you to see if the filter media needs replacement.
  • The anti-vibration factor enables your turtle to
  • This is a space-saving design.

Tetra 25905 Decorative Reptile Filter for Aquariums

It creates an instant waterfall and filter up to 55 gallons and keeps water clear with three stage filtration. Purchasing this type of filter will be ideal for your reptile tank. It comes in several colors.

The external display is a stone-looking waterfall for water to burble down. Its appearance is captivating and wonderful, resembling a rocky waterfall ideal for all reptiles especially turtle.


  • Has large intake that prevents clogging.
  • Comprises an integrated 3-stage
  • Whisper filtration, which utilizes easily replaceable Bio bags that maintain clear and odor-free water.
  • It allows for instant creation of a beautiful waterfall and basking area for frogs, turtles and newts in any aquarium up to 55 gallons.
  • Has a combination of filtration and decoration ideal for turtle, frog, or newts tanks

Tetra 25905 appears small size but works very fine. You can actually control the flow of waterfall if it makes too much noise. It’s very sturdy being made of ceramic-like material and has a minimum and maximum water level marked on the sides.

On a 40 gallon breeder, turtles have space of about 6 inches of water to swim in. Actually, some turtles are able to fit side by side on the rock and still have some space remaining.

It requires less maintenance which entails rinsing of the filter cartridges under a strong stream and adjusting the hose to flow. Includes large natural rocks scattered for the turtle to play and rest on.

Its exterior displays a stone-looking waterfall for water to burble down while addressing the beauty of the reptile habitat. The three units step filtration cleans water and removes odor. Its internal cartridge is replaceable.

Consists of an integrated three-stage Whisper filtration, which uses easily replaceable Bio bags which keeps water clear and odor-free.

Marineland C-Series Multi-Stage Canister Filter

This model comes in four different sizes, and the filter can fit any medium or large aquarium. The multistage filter is easily hidden away from view but ensures a healthy environment for fish.

It is best used with aquariums of 100 to 150-gallon capacity and has a flow of 530GPH. This type of model has three filtration processes that are a mechanical, chemical and biological process. This increases the effectiveness of cleaning both fresh and salt water in the fish tank.

No products found.

The ceramic rings and bio-balls (biological stage) provide a large surface area for the growth of bio-spira. The beneficial ammonia is responsible for biological filtration. The carbon bag (chemical stage) removes odor, water impurities, and discoloration.

The filter foams pads (mechanical stage) capture harmful bacteria and removes dirt.

It can reduce noise and vibration since the airtight seal assures proper flow rate while maintaining a quiet operation. The noise is only heard during startup.

This model comes with printed and DVD manual to help you set up and maintain.

For quick, spill-free filter maintenance the valve block shuts down water flow separating it from the motor chamber.

All aquariums canister filter need maintenance for performance efficiency. The filter and accessories are easy to assemble and disassemble for easy cleaning. You should clean them regularly.


  • It comes with stackable trays with handles that collapse in on themselves for easy care and maintenance.
  • It has no bypass option.
  • Additional filter media and impellers are sold separately.
  • It has a priming system startup, and a quick prime button works together to fill water in the aquarium.

We have seen the different types of canister filters and their properties and their use Canister filters are mostly accompanied by manufactures manual or DVD guide to help you set-up and run it Canister filters need frequent maintenance depending on the type, model, media used and brand. When maintained they work smoothly and efficiently.

Best Aquarium Canister Filter Review

Users Guide:

In your quest to set up the perfect aquarium for your aquatic friends, perhaps the most important bit of equipment you will need is the filtration system. Without using the water filters, not only will your aquarium turn filthy quickly but the environment within will be unfavorable for your fish to live.

The right filtration system will keep your fish healthy and your aquarium functioning at an optimum level.

There are many different types of filtration systems in the market. From chemical to mechanical and even biological filtration systems. All of these systems work in different ways and suit different types of aquariums for different types of fish.

Before you go out and find the right canister filter for your aquarium, you need to make sure that it is the kind of filtration system that the aquarium needs.

The good thing about canister filters is that they can be configured to provide chemical, mechanical, and biological filtration depending on your needs. So really, the right kind of canister filter can be perfect for any kind of aquarium.

Additional advantages include:

Easy to Maintain for Medium to Large Tanks

This kind of system reduces evaporation because most canister filters return water to the aquarium through a spray bar. These are just some of the reasons why you should choose a canister filter over most of the other available options.

Get the Right Size of Canister Filter

The size of your tank will determine the kind of filter you go for. There are, of course, other considerations that come into play. Things like price, maintenance cost and how easy it is to use the filter you choose.

A filter like the Cascade 1000 Canister Filter is perfect for people who have tanks that are smaller than 100 gallons. It is excellent for freshwater aquariums, easy to maintain and can pump up to 265 gallons every hour.

Understand How Each Canister Filter Works

Before you pay money for any kind of system, you first need to understand how it works so you can make good use of it. When it comes to choosing canister filters, there are three main things you need to consider:

Biological Filtration Mechanism: This fosters ammonia that neutralizes bacterial growth.

Mechanical Filtration Mechanism: These filters waste before it has a chance to decay.

Chemical Filtration Mechanism: Removes dissolved waste from the water.

All of these options work best for different types of fish. You will need to take the kind of fish you have into consideration before choosing the type of canister filter to buy.

The general rule of thumb, however, is that you should always consider box filters for smaller aquariums and powered canister filters for bigger tanks.

One of the most important things to remember is that you should avoid using more than one type of filtration system at the same time. These systems will end up competing and creating an unfavorable environment for your beloved fish.

Bottom Line

I hope you now know why you need one for your aquarium. The best part is that we have already given you some top options to choose from.

That means you won’t have to spend a lot of time searching for that perfect aquarium canister filter. Now that we’ve got you covered, what more do you want?

Well, make a step and get the filter that has appealed to you most. Remember, a healthy aquarium starts with a good aquarium filter!

But, if you want a filter that can operate without noise and for a longer period without priming then settle for the Hydor brand.

Hydor brand seems to have the best performance and durability than the other brands. It doesn’t produce noise, no priming required, filters for a long period without breaking down issues or technical faults, unlike the sunsun which many users complain of leakages when the power goes off.

You Might Like To Read:

Touchless Kitchen Faucet

Tea Kettles for Gas Stove

Manual Coffee Grinder

Espresso Machines Reviews

Leave a Comment