Updated July 11, 2019 by Karen Bennett

The 8 Best Aquarium Canister Filters

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This wiki has been updated 5 times since it was first published in June of 2018. If you were to stop removing debris and toxins from your aquarium, it would become uninhabitable for your aquatic friends in no time. With one of the dependable canister filters featured here, however, you can keep the environment for your fish and plants safe and sparkling clean. Our selection includes designs to accommodate a wide variety of tank capacities and budgets. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best aquarium canister filter on Amazon.

8. Aquatop CF Series 525

7. MarineLand Magniflow 360

6. Fluval 306 A212

5. Cobalt Aquatics 26000

4. Hydor Professional External 600

3. Penn Plax Cascade 1500

2. Eheim Classic External

1. Fluval FX-6

Editor's Notes

July 10, 2019:

An aquarium filter is a must when it comes to clearing waste products and other toxins from your fish’s water, as well as supplying the fresh oxygen your scaly friends need for survival. Canister filters are are known for their power, and they’re generally for use with aquariums that have a capacity of at least 40 gallons. They’re made to operate outside the tank, which is most cases is preferable, since they can easily be hidden in the cabinet underneath your aquarium. When choosing the right one for you, make sure it’s designed to handle the capacity of your fish tank. Also pay attention to a given model’s gallon-per-hour (GPH) rating. An appropriate minimum turnover rate for your tank would be four times the capacity of the tank per hour. For a 40-gallon tank, for instance, the GPH should be around 160.

All of the models in our selection have a listed GPH rating, and some come with filtration media to get you started. Joining the list today is the Cobalt Aquatics 26000, which is known best for its versatility, as it can be placed just as easily above, below, and next to your tank. It comes in at a budget-friendly price, and you can buy it with confidence, thanks to its generous three-year warranty. Unlike some others, it can be used with any brand of filtration media, which can save you even more money over time. It’s from an aquatic products company founded in 2011 by three self-proclaimed “fishgeeks,” including a former biologist and an importer of African cichlids.

The Fluval FX-6 moved up on the list in this update, as a reliable, tried-and-true choice that features a self-starting design, so you’ll need to do little more than adding water and plugging it in. It’s for larger aquariums up to 400 gallons in capacity, and works in either freshwater or saltwater environments. Its powerful motor is located in the lid, and it’ll move a lot of water and keep the inside of your tank sparkling clean. This durable model has a reputation for lasting for years.

A smart choice for those with a smaller tank (it’s made for those up to 95 gallons) is the Eheim Classic External, our #2 choice. It’s equipped with a permo-elastic silicone sealing ring to make sure it doesn’t leak, and with it, you’ll get an array of filter media like surface area biomedia, a sponge, a carbon filter floss, and a polishing pad. It weighs just 14 pounds and is also compact in size, so it’s easy to place in the cabinet under your aquarium.


Karen Bennett
Last updated on July 11, 2019 by Karen Bennett

Karen Bennett lives in Chicago with her family, and when she’s not writing, she can usually be found practicing yoga or cheering on her kids at soccer games. She holds a master’s.degree in journalism and a bachelor’s in English, and her writing has been published in various local newspapers, as well as “The Cheat Sheet,” “Illinois Legal Times,” and “USA Today.” She has also written search engine news page headlines and worked as a product manager for a digital marketing company. Her expertise is in literature, nonfiction, textbooks, home products, kids' games and toys, hardware, teaching accessories, and art materials.


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