Filters & media, Reviews

Best Power Filter for Aquariums (Our top picks & reviews)

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by Jason Matthews



Top Choices

Best Canister Power Filter Eheim Pro 4+ 600

A top-of-the-line filter for large aquariums, with tons of room for different filter media. The Pro 4+ 600 is easy to set up, and maintenance is a breeze.

Best Hang-On Power FilterPenn-Plax Cascade 300

Delivering both features and value, the Cascade 300 offers the innovative Bio Falls filtration stage and is perhaps the easiest filter on the market regarding changing media and maintenance.

Best Internal Power FilterMarina A306 i160

Compact, easy to use, and stylish, the Marina i160 delivers 3-stage filtration and is easy to maintain. This model is also among the quietest filters on the market.

Best Power Filter for Aquarium

Powerful and efficient filtration is the single most crucial part of a thriving fish tank, and without a quality filter, your fish and your tank will suffer. With so many options on the market, it can be challenging to narrow the field and select the best power filter for your aquarium. 

Whether you’re starting your first aquarium or considering a new filter for a well-established tank, we’ll help you narrow the field as we take a look at the best power filters for aquariums. We’ll also share some tips on what to look for when selecting the best filter for your needs.

Top Five Aquarium Power Filters

From canisters to hang-ons and internals, we’ve demoed all the best power filters for aquariums available today. Let’s take a closer look at the top five options.

Eheim Pro 4+ 600

Eheim Pro 4+ 600 Filter up to 160g
233 Reviews
Eheim Pro 4+ 600 Filter up to 160g
  • This product is easy to use. This product adds a great value. This product is Manufactured in Germany. This product is designed for pets and there use.

Last update on 2023-06-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Top Features

  • 330 gph flow rate
  • Self-primer
  • Four large customizable filter baskets with easy-clean grid
  • Xtender button
  • Removable safety hose adapter

The Eheim Pro 4+ offers comprehensive multi-stage filtration that large fish tanks demand. This model improves upon the popular Eheim Pro 3, with new features like the Xtender Button, which allows aquarists to extend the life of their filter media without compromising its effectiveness. 

The 600-size is ideal for aquariums up to 160 gallons, providing plenty of room for you to add the filter media of your choice. The best new feature of this filter is the Xtender button, which allows you to bypass some of the filter media in the tank when it becomes clogged, diverting the water through more effective media at the bottom of the canister.

Setup and maintenance are a breeze. The Pro 4+ filter primes itself, and the safety hose adapter allows you to quickly remove the canister while leaving the hoses in place when it’s time to service the filter. 

Aqueon Quietflow 400

Aqueon QuietFlow 155/400 Canister Filter
136 Reviews
Aqueon QuietFlow 155/400 Canister Filter
  • Easy access for routine maintenance

Last update on 2023-06-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Top Features

  • 400 gph flow rate
  • Water polishing unit 
  • Three filter media baskets
  • Includes all necessary filter media
  • Three different water return options

The largest and most potent of Aqueon’s Quietflow line, this 400 model provides excellent filtration, with a unique supplemental hang-on filter that provides additional filtration before returning water to the aquarium. You can direct water back into the aquarium with a directional spout, spray bar, or the polishing unit, depending on the needs of your tank. 

This filter includes everything you’ll need to get started, including mechanical, biological, and chemical media and a filter cartridge for the optional polishing unit. Set up is simple and intuitive, and the filter primes quickly with little effort. 

The Quietflow series is a tried-and-true option that’s been on the market for quite some time, and while it might not have the most cutting-edge features, it’s a quiet, effective, and affordable canister that you can rely on.

Tetra Whisper EX 70

Tetra Whisper EX 70 Filter For 45 To 70 Gallon aquariums, Silent Multi-Stage Filtration
10,655 Reviews
Tetra Whisper EX 70 Filter For 45 To 70 Gallon aquariums, Silent Multi-Stage Filtration
  • WHISPER QUIET The Tetra Whisper EX Power Filter provides silent multi-stage filtration for clear clean water .SIZE This filter fits 45 to 70 gallon aquariums - 240 GPH

Last update on 2023-06-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Top Features

  • 240 gph flow rate
  • Silent operation
  • Flushing action prevents media clogs
  • Includes all necessary filter media
  • Intuitive setup with no priming needed

The Whisper EX series from Tetra is among the quietest filtration options on the market, and it’s the ideal choice for aquariums up to 70 gallons. 

This filter features a scientifically engineered water flow system that continuously flushes through the filter media to help prevent clogging and improve oxygenation. 

All necessary media is contained within a single cartridge, which allows for effortless setup and maintenance. This filter primes itself, so all you need to do is attach the filter to the aquarium rim and plug it in.

Marina A306 i160

Marina A306 i160 Internal Filter
538 Reviews
Marina A306 i160 Internal Filter
  • Enhances aquarium water quality

Last update on 2023-06-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Top Features

  • Submerged motor for quiet operation
  • For aquariums up to 40 gallons
  • Power cartridge with 3-stage filtration
  • Streamlined design

For aquarists with small to medium tanks, the Marina line of submersibles provides excellent filtration in a compact design that doesn’t add clutter to the tank. 

The i160 provides biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration for aquariums up to 40 gallons. A biological sponge filter remains a fixture while the cartridge media can be changed out in a matter of seconds whenever it’s time for maintenance. 

The filter suctions onto the rear aquarium wall, and at just over 3” deep, it doesn’t take up much space inside the tank. This internal can be completely submerged to eliminate noise or positioned above the water line to provide more oxygenation. 

Penn-Plax Cascade 300 Hang-On 

Penn-Plax Cascade 300 Power Filter – Hang-On Filter with Quad Filtration – Great for Freshwater and Saltwater Setups
2,377 Reviews
Penn-Plax Cascade 300 Power Filter – Hang-On Filter with Quad Filtration – Great for Freshwater and Saltwater Setups
  • QUIET & EFFICIENT: The Cascade 300 Power Hang-On Filter quietly delivers crystal clear water throughout the aquarium. This filter pushes water at 300 Gallons per Hour (GPH) for tanks up to 100 Gallons in size. It’s great for Freshwater and Saltwater aquariums.

Last update on 2023-06-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Top Features

  • 300 gph flow rate
  • Bio Falls oxygenation system
  • Adjustable flow control
  • Self-priming
  • Cartridges deliver 3-stage filtration

The Cascade 300 from Penn-Plax is a comprehensive hang-on filter that delivers a high flow rate for aquariums up to 100 gallons. 

This filter offers several intuitive and innovative touches. Before returning to the aquarium, filtered water enters the Bio Falls oxygenation system, which aids in water agitation to deliver necessary oxygen to the tank. An adjustable flow control allows you to reduce the flow rate significantly during feeding time. 

Setup is a breeze thanks to the self-priming design of this hang-on, and maintenance is equally as simple. A bio-sponge remains in the filter at all times, while replacement cartridges slide in and out in seconds, allowing you to get your filter back to peak performance in seconds flat. 

What to Look for in a Power Filter

The best Power Filter For Aquariums

Whether you’re new to the aquarium hobby or need a quick refresher, it’s essential to know what to look for when shopping for a new power filter. Here are the critical factors for you to consider. 

Type of Filter

Power filters all perform the same function, but they come in a variety of styles and sizes, including: 

  • Canister filters
  • Hang-on back filters
  • Internal filters

Canister Filters

Canister filters are the top choice for large aquariums because they offer the most filtration power, plenty of room for filter media, and the ability to customize the type of media you use in the filter. 

Canister filters feature two or more baskets that allow you to add chemical, biological, and mechanical media in the way that best suits your aquarium. Large canister filters may have as many as six different baskets for media. Many aquarists only ever change their media in the top baskets to allow for the colonization of beneficial bacteria in the biological media.

While these filters provide the most power and room for customization, they have a few caveats. Canisters are typically the loudest filter type, and they also require the most time and effort when performing routine maintenance. Still, they’re the top choice for large aquariums, and most seasoned aquarists use them. 

Hang-on-back filters

Hang-on-back filters provide a more streamlined design appealing to beginners and anyone keeping a small aquarium. These filters hang over the back of the tank and have different media cartridges that provide filtration. 

Hang-ons are easy to maintain and come in various sizes, with large models suitable for tanks up to 100 gallons. The downside with these filters is that they require you to use pricey replacement cartridges, limiting your ability to customize the types of media you put in the filter. 

Internal filters

Internal filters are the third type of power filter, and they’re a popular option for small tanks or as a supplement to a more extensive filtration system. Internal filters can be fully submerged in the tank and circulate filtered water through a directional spout or spray bar. 

These filters typically have a biological sponge and a replaceable cartridge containing chemical media. Some cartridges can be refilled with the media of your choice, eliminating the need for expensive cartridges. 

Check out the table below for a helpful crash course on selecting the best power filter for aquariums. 

Filter TypeBest ForKey Features
CanisterAquariums up to 300 gallonsCustomizable media baskets
Highest flow rate
Most expensive
Most time-consuming maintenance
Hang-OnAquariums up to 100 gallonsEasy maintenance
Nearly as effective as canister filters
InternalSmall AquariumsReptile and turtle tanksSupplemental filtrationEasy maintenance
Best for small tanks

Ease of Use 

There’s quite a bit of behind-the-scenes dirty work that goes into keeping a fish tank, and filter maintenance is a large part of the process. It’s crucial to select a filter that’s easy to use and maintain throughout the life of your fish tank. 

Look for filters that either prime themselves or prime quickly with just a few pumps of the priming button. 

If you’re selecting a canister filter, look for a model that allows you to quickly shut off and disconnect the hoses so they can remain in place while you clean the filter and change out media. 

Cost of Ownership

Whether you’re on a budget or sparing no expense in building your dream aquarium, there are some ongoing costs you can expect to pay as an aquarist. On the filtration end, electricity and filter media are the highest recurring costs you’ll have. 

Look for a filter that provides excellent output while consuming minimal power, and try to choose a filter that allows you to add the replacement media of your choice. Many hang-on and internal filter cartridges will enable you to remove the old media and replace it with the filtration medium of your choice, which is an ideal way to cut recurring costs. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When aquarists are considering a new power filter for their aquarium, it’s common to have a few questions. We’ve rounded up the answers below so you can find everything you need in one convenient place.

What is the most effective aquarium filter?

Aquarium filters come in various styles and sizes, and any of them can provide effective filtration depending on the size and bioload of your fish tank. Most aquarists agree that canister filters provide the most effective filtration, as they offer plenty of room for customizable filter media and deliver the highest flow rate of any power filter.

How powerful should my fish tank filter be?

As a rule of thumb, you want a filter that can filter through your aquarium water at least four times every hour. The easiest way to determine how many times a filter will turn over your aquarium water is to divide the GPH flow rate of a filter by the size of your aquarium. For example, a 120 GPH filter would be wise for a 30-gallon aquarium, as it will turn the water over four times each hour. 

Can you have too powerful a filter on a fish tank?

Yes, it’s possible to over-filter your aquarium. While too much filtration won’t affect water quality, the current filter that’s too large for your tank will make it difficult for your tank inhabitants to swim around or eat comfortably.


Jason Matthews

My name is Jason Matthews, and welcome to my website. When other kids were bragging about how their dog could sit and roll over, I was bragging about my latest Betta Fish and the cool sea castle I just added to his aquarium. 

Jason aquariume

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