Last Updated on September 7, 2020 by Anne Thynne
If you own an aquarium, then you should know that cycling and filtration is one of the best practices you must do. Filtering water in the aquarium helps to not only clean it but also get rid of the dirt and debris that can be harmful to your fish.
Herein, a good canister filter can help to keep your aquarium clean and healthy enough for those little swimmers in there. But the question is, which is the best canister filter out there? What are the factors that you should consider when choosing one?
Well, we will be answering all these questions in this article.
Let’s get down to business.
Table of Contents
- Our Top 3 Choices of Canister Filters: Side by Side Comparison
- Benefits and Drawbacks of a Canister Filter
- Top 10 Best Canister Filters Reviewed
- 1. OASE Indoor Aquatics Biomaster Thermo 600 – Packed With Features
- 2. Fluval FX6 – Best Premium Quality Canister Filter
- 3. API Filstar XP
- 4. EHEIM Pro 4+ 600
- 5. MarineLand Magniflow
- 6. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter
- 7. Aquatop CF Series
- 8. Penn Plax Cascade Aquarium Canister Filter
- 9. Polar Aurora External
- 10. SunSun China External
- Features To Consider Before Buying The Best Canister Filter
- Canister Filters vs. Regular Fish Tank Filters
- How To Setup A Canister Filter
- How To Maintain For Longevity
- Frequently Asked Questions About Canister Filters
- What Size Canister Filter Do I need?
- Do canister filters work for saltwater aquarium?
- What is the difference between a canister filter and a power filter?
- Can you turn the fish tank filter off at night?
- How do I make my aquarium canister filter less noisy?
- How much electricity does a fish tank filter use?
- How to prime a canister filter?
- How often is it necessary to clean the canister filter?
- How to get the air out of a canister filter?
- Are Sumps Better Than Canister Filters?
- Are Two Filters Better Than One?
- Final Words & Recommendation
Our Top 3 Choices of Canister Filters: Side by Side Comparison
Benefits and Drawbacks of a Canister Filter
The first order of business; why do you need a canister filter for your aquarium? Any particular reason behind choosing a canister filter over a regular aquarium filter? Plus, what are the drawbacks of having one? Better see for yourself!
The Benefits of Using Canister Filters
Amongst the many advantages why people love to have canister filters, below are a few key ones;
- High Flow Rates
In general, canister filters tend to have a higher flow rate compared to other types of filters. Did you know that some canister filters have a flow of over 320 gallons per hour? If you didn’t, now you surely do.
- Easy to Set Up
Nobody wants to buy something that will give them a headache when setting it up. The good news is that canister filters are super easy to set up. They come with user instructions that are very easy to understand as well.
- Flexible Media Selection
With canister filters, you can enjoy using several types of filtration media. They are compatible with plenty of filter media out there. Nevertheless, it is essential to understand the working mechanism of the media before you purchase the canister filter.
By the way, it is important to know that the filter media available include mechanical, chemical, and biological media.
- Easy to Manage/Clean
Another positive aspect of the canister filters is that they are easy to maintain. In this case, you will have an easy time cleaning the canister filter. Even so, you still need to follow the user instruction and have the right tools to help you with the proper cleaning supplies.
- They Run Quietly
The canister filters run without giving unnecessary noise or vibrations.
- Strong Working Mechanism
canisters do an excellent job of getting rid of unwanted components from the water in the aquarium. Compared to other filters out there, canister filters perform way better.
- Less Frequent Water Change
One of the most tiresome part of fish keeping hobby is the water changes. You need to do water changes like a religious ritual. With canister filters in place you will need less frequent water changes in your aquarium.
The Drawbacks of Canister Filters
Contrary to the many benefits that come with this device, there are some downsides as well. These don’t make any mess though.
These canister filters work efficiently; they are time-saving and energy-saving too. This makes them expensive to acquire.
- Larger than HOB Power Filter
They come in a larger size compared to a (Hang on Back) HOB power filter. This might be an issue for some users.
Furthermore, canister filters will sit on the floor or under the tank. That can be an issue if you have a confined space.
Check this article to know more about how canister filters work and maintenance tips.
Top 10 Best Canister Filters Reviewed
Now that you know about the good and bad of the thing, let’s move on to our ten favorite units out there. Keep in mind that this is a list according to our findings and judgment.
1. OASE Indoor Aquatics Biomaster Thermo 600 – Packed With Features
- The Bio master thermos 600 has an integrated heater in compact filter design
- The built-in heater provides your aquarium with Precise and uniform temperature levels while the product integration delivers unobstructed views of your Aquarium
- External filter operates quietly to circulate and filter your aquarium water
- Includes 4-stage filtration: biological, mechanical, chemical, and prefiltration
- Hel-x, suspended filter media, creates the optimal surface area for beneficial bacteria growth
This canister filter comes with plenty of features to make the filtration process easy and efficient. First off, it features some integrated heaters. These heaters make the filter perfect for both freshwater and marine aquariums.
Mr. Biomaster 600 comes with a compact design, along with a 4-stage filtration system (biological, mechanical, chemical, and pre-filtration). This assures you of clean and perfectly-purified water for your aquarium. By the way, the integrated heater helps to save you space.
Furthermore, it enhances the outlook of the aquarium. You can use this canister filter with multiple filter media.
This filter comes with a sealed filtration pathway to facilitate the pre-filter media. In other words, it helps to deliver clearer water in the aquarium. There’s a Hel-X Biomedia that offers a large suspended settlement surface for microorganisms in the water.
Plus, activated carbon is there to eliminate toxins and reduce the nutrient that might be harmful to the fish.
We loved how easy it was to clean this unit. You can remove the pre-filter and clean it separately from the rest of the filter with ease. This helps to extend the life of the canister filter, and also to enhance the filtration efficiency.
The water flow of this baby can be adjusted to your liking, which we thought was a major plus. It can be done on both inlet and outlet adapters.
This one will conveniently fit under your aquarium. If you want to move the canister filter around, simply do so with the N handle that comes with it.
- Easy to set up and clean
- 4-filtration system
- Sealed filtration pathway for pre-filtration and clearer water
- Integrated heater for use with marine and freshwater aquariums
- Self-priming function for easy operation/start-up
- Shut-off automation with inbuilt check valve for preventing leakage
- Adjustable water flow
- It can be complicated to operate for the first time
2. Fluval FX6 – Best Premium Quality Canister Filter
- Multi-Stage Filter that produces healthy aquarium water, freshwater or marine aquariums
- Features Smart Pump Technology for optimal filter performance, efficiency and management
- Self-starting filter-just add water and plug in. Head height (maximum): 3. 3 m (10. 8 feet)
- For aquariums up to 400 gallons
For quite a long time this has been considered as the best canister filter by many aquarists all over the world. This unit comes with an amazing circulation capacity, which is one of the reasons why we picked it. It has been designed to handle more filtration.
If your aquarium holds around 250 gallons to 400 gallons, you should definitely consider purchasing this filter. This canister filter can manage a flow rate of 563 gallons per hour.
Besides that, it comes with the self-priming start system. This system helps to prepare the canister for the filtration process immediately after you have hooked it up.
It comes with an intake strainer that is clog-proof. Still, no debris will get past this canister filter. Mr. Fluval FX6 comes with a multi-stage filtration system, along with a removable media stack baskets. You can place the filter media in these media baskets to give you an easy time.
We have to point out that the media baskets have been perfectly engineered to get rid of water by-pass. This helps to enhance the filtration process. Each media basket comes with a foam insert for effective mechanical pre-filtering.
And yes, this canister filter also comes with aquastop valves that give you an easy time when cleaning/maintaining it. Even if you have a tropical aquarium, this filter will still be easy to maintain.
The valves on this unit help to separate the housing from the canister filter in a single step. In the long run, this helps to eliminate leaks and offer you easy maintenance. We won’t fail to mention the Smart Pump Technology on it. With this technology, you can be confident of optimal filter performance.
- It has a circulation rate of 563 gallons per hour
- Feature Aquastop Valves for easy maintenance
- Comes with a protective cover to minimize the noise
- Self-priming pump for ease of use
- Runs with 6-stage filtration for efficiency
- Self-starting filter
- The force of water flow is not as strong as such
3. API Filstar XP
- Contains one (1) API XP FILSTAR XP FILTER SIZE XL Aquarium Canister Filter 1-Count Box
- Provides very powerful filtration for crystal clear water and healthy environment.
- Designed with self-priming & quick disconnect features to allow safe and easy stop & start of the filtration when maintenance is needed, anti-airlock system to prevent unexpected filtration stops, and anti-noise feature to prevent vibration against cabinet/floor.
- Combines strong flow rates with large capacity for filtration media that removes compounds, colors and odors 3x more effectively than carbon alone.
- Allows the use of various filtration media available in the API range, and meets your specific freshwater and saltwater requirements.
If you have been buying aquarium filters before, then you most likely have come across the name Rena Filstar. The brand name changed and they are now called the API Filstar. This brand of canister filters is known for their high-quality products that they deliver.
The canister filter comes with a system that delivers a powerful filtration. With this strong filtration, you can be confident of clean and healthy water in the aquarium. It also comes with self-priming and quick-disconnect features. These features make it easy to safely disconnect the filter when you want to clean or maintain it.
We noticed the anti-airlock system on the canister filter. Do you know what this one helps with? It prevents unexpected filtration stops. Plus, there is an anti-noise feature that prevents vibration against the floor or any other surface. In other words, this machine is made to work quietly without making uncomfortable noise.
What’s more, this filter combines a strong flow with a large capacity for the filter media. These features mean that the canister filter can remove colors, compounds, and odors three times more effectively than when using carbon alone. The Bio-Chem ZORB offers a resin-carbon blend that does the magic.
And yes, the filter allows you to use almost any filter media that are offered by API. We can’t fail to mention that it comes with centralized control for easy operation, along with a self-locking water shutoff system. The system prevents accidental flow during maintenance.
- Easy start-up
- Features Bio-Chem ZORB to eliminate compounds that carbon alone can’t
- Quick disconnect for easy maintenance
- It runs quietly
- Inner divider allows you to use different filter media
- Anti-airlock system prevents unexpected stops
- It is made with cheap plastic that may not last
4. EHEIM Pro 4+ 600
- 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.
- These filters can handle aquariums between 30-160 US gallons (Depending on model purchased)
- As with most EHEIM filters, the Pro4+ comes complete with filter pads and media and all installation equipment.
- Country Of Origin: Germany
If you have a 30 to the 160-gallon aquarium, this would be a decent pick for you. EHEIM Pro 4 Plus filter has a sleek black color that gives it an elegant look. Besides that, the canister filter comes with filter pads, filter media, and all other necessary equipment for installation.
There’s the Xtender Control Function that lets you adjust the flow rate. Suppose the fine filter pad (media) is blocked, you can use this function to boost up the water flow.
When you adjust the circulation rate, the water will be re-directed. However, the media will remain in place. This allows you to use the filter for a few more days before you clean it. The filter is loaded with two new media types, which are the Mech Pro and the Bio Mech.
Mech Pro comes with a unique spiral shape that ensures excellent trapping of the tiniest dirt particle. It also comes with a ribbed surface structure that perfectly combats bacteria. The best part is that the Mech Pro media is super easy to clean and reuse.
On the other hand, the Bio Mech media can be used in both marine and freshwater. It comes with an optimum pore structure that enables a fast and safe decomposition of toxins. The media also features specialized pockets for trapping dirt and ensuring both large and small particles are perfectly trapped. It’s also reusable.
- It comes with multiple accessories for easy operation
- High circulation capacity with less energy consumption
- Integrated self-priming aid
- Xtender Control Function for adjusting the flow rate
- Comes with two new media types
- Features individual filter media baskets, along with the Easy Clean grid
- The tube length might not be enough for 100+ gallon aquariums
- The in and out kits don’t seem durable
5. MarineLand Magniflow
- 3-STAGE FILTRATION: Water flows through media layers to filter water and ensure a clean aquatic environment.
- VERSATILE: For freshwater and saltwater aquariums.
- EASY MAINTENANCE: Valve block for quick release to shut down water flow – separates from housing for quick, spill-free maintenance.
- THREE SIZES AVAILABLE: Comes in 220 GPH, 360 GPH and 360 GPH sizes.
This unit comes from a reputable brand that is a specialist for aquatic equipment supplies. First off, it features a lid that helps to offer a water-tight seal. Plus, the top has been designed to give you an easy time when removing it, in case you want to access the media baskets.
There are stack and flow filter trays that force water to flow through the media layers and not around them. When water flows through the media layers, you can be sure of a reliable chemical, biological, and mechanical filtration.
The canister filter is loaded with a polishing filter pad that acts like a water polisher. This filter will help to get rid of the fine debris in the water. Furthermore, there are bio-filter balls and ceramic rings. The balls and rings offer a large surface area that is multifaceted for the development of bio spires.
You’d love the filter foam pads that screen out the dirt and debris from the aquarium. Above all, there is a black diamond carbon that eliminates the discoloration, impurities, and odors from the water.
If you are curious to know about the circulation rate, this one comes with 160 GPH for up to 30 gallons aquariums, 220 GPH for up to 55 gallons aquariums, and 360 GPH for up to 100 gallons aquariums.
Regardless of the cleanliness and health needs of your aquarium, this unit is there to serve you accordingly. There is nothing that will stand in the way of this fella.
- It comes with a top-sealing gasket for a strong seal
- The lid is easy to remove
- Easy to set up and clean
- Adjustable water circulation rate
- Filter foam pads eliminate the dirt and debris from the aquarium
- Black diamond carbon for getting rid of odor, impurities, and discoloration in the water
- The instructions can be confusing to a new user
- The hoses come loose too quickly when you move them
6. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter
- COMPLETE ECOSYSTEM IN A BOX: This external filter for generation aquariums offers maximum performance and high filtration standards, not to mention an entire eco-system in a box
- PREMIUM VERSATILITY: This professional external canister filter for aquariums features a priming pump that offers the versatility you need. The unit is ideal for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums
- SIMPLE TO USE: The long-life ceramic shaft, large filter volume and safety locks make this professional external canister filter easy to use as a beginner or a long-term hobbyist. The space-saving unit is perfect for small and large aquariums
- FILTER OPTIONS: Choose from professional external canister filters that operate with gallon ranges from 20 to 150. The filter circulation stems from 160 to 290 gallons, depending upon the model you choose
- SPECIALIZED SERVICE: With more than 30 years of experience offering high-quality products for the passionate marine aquarist, Hydor is dedicated to manufacturing unique and innovative items in the field of aquarium technology
Even though this brand might be new amongst other brands out there, it manages to deliver a top-performing unit. Generally, this is a complete eco-system that will help to keep your aquarium clean and healthy enough for the fish.
It has been designed to last for a long while offering you a reliable filtration in the aquarium. The base of the external canister filter comes with four rubber feet that make it extra stable.
You won’t need any skills and knowledge when setting up the canister filter. But still, you will have to read the manual carefully for the user instructions if you want to be accurate with the set-up.
Just like some of the top-rated canister out there, this one also comes with an easy priming feature. Some telescopic intake tubes help to simplify the operation and functioning of the filter.
Plus, the canister filter can handle plenty of water at a time to make the filtration process easy and efficient. This filter can work on the smaller aquariums and generally for 40 gallons to 150-gallon aquariums. Luckily, you won’t experience the uncomfortable noise level when this canister filter is running.
Regardless of the type of aquarium you might have, this champion will fit perfectly while doing an amazing filtration work.
- Sturdy construction
- It runs quietly
- Easy to set up and maintain
- The hoses are long and thick for maximum water flow
- It can be used even in small aquariums
- You can experience some leaks at the connections
- The supplied media isn’t reliable enough
7. Aquatop CF Series
Any aquarium owner would love to have a reliable canister filter that runs quietly but also delivers accordingly. This one is a qualifier in those two categories.
Mr. Aquatop comes with three sizes that can be used for up to 175-gallon aquariums. But one unique feature that makes it stand out of the rest is the UV sterilizer.
This sterilizer will get rid of the algae spores in the aquarium, along with other harmful bacteria. Generally speaking, this is one of the few canisters on our list to feature the UV sterilizer.
It truly runs quietly, which you can place even in your living room without worrying about the noise. This one comes with a five-stage filtration system. The best part is that it can clock a maximum circulation rate of 525 GPH.
There are plenty of accessories and features that help to enhance filtration efficiency. There are three filter pads, activated carbon, a coarse filter sponge, ceramic rings, as well as bio-balls.
Anyone that has used canister filters before will have an easy time when working with this one. Luckily, there is a user manual to guide you on how to set it up accordingly. The intake tube height is adjustable by the way.
- It runs quietly
- Features a UV clarifier/sterilizer to keep the aquarium clean and healthy
- The priming feature is reliable
- It comes with multiple accessories to better the filtration process
- 4+1 Stage filtration
- It can produce some air bubbles at first
- The spray bar can be tricky to install
8. Penn Plax Cascade Aquarium Canister Filter
- $237 Value. Cascade Black Elite filter kit for aquariums up to 200 gallons.
- Pumps 350 gallons per hour. Quick easy push button self-primer. Flow rate cut-off valves adjust water flow.
- Includes filter, (1) Bio-Sponge, (1) Bio-Floss 6pk, (1) Pro-Carb 2pk, (1) Bio Rings 10oz and (1) Large Magna Sweep algae magnet.
- Be up and running in minutes. Nothing else to purchase. It is all included.
- Quick and easy monthly maintenance saves you time and aggravation.
Our eighth product on the list is this unit from Penn Plax Cascade. This one can handle as much as 200 gallons and does an amazing job at keeping your aquarium clean and healthy. This canister filter comes with a powerful, three-stage filtration as well.
It features state-of-the-art flow valves that rotate 360-degrees. With this feature, the filter assures you of easy maneuvering even in the tightest aquarium cabinets. You can use this canister filter even if you have a narrow aquarium.
There are large capacity media baskets that let you customize your media needs as you wish. In other words, you can use any filter media with this canister filter. We loved the push-button primer that assures you of a quick and easy time when priming the canister filter. Just a few presses will be enough to get the job done.
Besides all the features, this canister filter also comes with a range of accessories that help to better the filtration process. It comes with tubing, spray bar, filter media, and directional spout for complete customization. The filter media allows you to get started as soon as you purchase the canister filter.
Keep in mind that the large filter trays on this unit help to extend their longevity. You won’t have to replace the filter trays too often on this unit. Both the user-experience and the maintenance are friendly and effortless.
- Innovative flow valves rotate 360 degrees for easy maneuverability
- Sturdy construction
- It runs quietly
- The filter comes with plenty of accessories
- Quick and easy push-button primer
- Fold-up handle for carrying it with ease
- It consumes a lot of energy
- The priming on this unit is manual
9. Polar Aurora External
- Good for up to 200 gallon fish tanks. Maximum flow rate of 525GPH from built in pump
- 4 media trays capable of handling your choice of filtration media; Comes with an adjustable spray bar. This is a helpful feature if you want to adjust the output flow from the filter
- Convenient self-priming pump that eliminates the need for manual siphoning; Single valve disconnect & priming pump ease routine maintenance
- Built in 9 Watt Light for promoting clear water. With free media.
- The four flexible media trays allow you to add other filtration media such as SunSun's activated carbons, ceramic rings or bio-balls to achieve excellent mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration.
This canister filter is ideal for aquariums of up to 200 gallons big. The flow rate is reliable enough and uses innovative technology to keep your aquarium clean and healthy.
Mr. Polar Aurora steps in with an impressive circulation rate of 525 GPH from the inbuilt pump. It comes with 4 filtration stages to make it efficient and accurate as well. You can adjust this canister filter to work with large aquariums.
And yes, it is one of the few that feature the UV sterilizer. This one also comes with an inbuilt 9-watt UV light that facilitates the control of algae spores and bacteria.
Furthermore, the UV sterilizer helps to achieve clearer water compared to a filter without the UV sterilizing feature. By the way, did you know that water can be healthy even if it is not completely clear?
There is an integrated UV kill switch that comes handy. Together with that, you can enjoy the O-ring feature that comes with Vaseline. This is not just for show, but to prevent slipping and leaking. Furthermore, you’ll enjoy input and output discreetness.
The 360-degree swivel joint and separated components prevent water flow inside the bucket. Further, the unit features 4 draining baskets. Every basket has individual filter cotton with a 10CM diameter.
You will enjoy the press-type pumping that lets you drain the air out of the bucket before you start using it. Besides that, there are 4 media trays that can handle any filter media. An adjustable spray bar is included to adjust the flow rate.
- Up to 525 circulation rate, which is adjustable
- Self-priming pump that eliminates manual siphoning
- Four flexible media trays to use different filter media
- Added accessories for enhancing the filtration efficiency
- Silent operation
- UV clarifier/sterilizer eliminates bacteria and algae spores
- The surface skimmer could be better
10. SunSun China External
- Good for up to 150 gallon fish tanks
- Dimension: 11" L X 11" W X 17" H
- Flow rate: 525 GPH (2000L/hr.)
- Built in 9 Watt UV sterilizer for controlling algae spores/bacteria and promoting clear water
Our last product on the list, which is not exactly the least, is this canister filter from SunSun. This one is perfect for use in up to 150-gallon aquariums. In fact we are declaring this as the best canister filter on budget. The circulation rate is decent enough and comes with the advanced feature to kill bacteria and algae.
First off, Mr. SunSun China can handle a maximum of 525 GPH. Plus, it is a 5-stage filter that delivers a reliable filtration. With this canister filter, you will get 4 flexible media trays that let you add the media of your choice.
You can use activated carbons, bio-balls, or ceramic rings. Just keep in mind that the media is sold separately.
As we said, this might be the last product on the list, but it isn’t the least favorable. Specifically, it also comes with a 9-watt UV sterilizer that is not common in most units out there.
As you already know, the UV sterilizer will kill the algae spores and bacteria in the fish tank. Furthermore, it helps to deliver crystal water in the aquarium.
The HW-304B also features a self-priming pump that is convenient enough to give you an easy time when working with it. The manual siphoning is eliminated with the self-priming pump.
- It can deliver up to 525 GPH
- Four flexible media trays
- 5 filtration stages
- It includes a spray bar
- 9-watt UV sterilizer
- Self-priming pump eliminates manual siphoning
- You need to purchase the media to use in the filter
- The placement of the spray bar is too high
Features To Consider Before Buying The Best Canister Filter
So, you came through our top 10 best aquarium canister filters. Maybe you are not fully confident whether you will pick one from our list. It’s okay. Everyone has their own taste, and you have all the right to go for the one that satisfies you.
But before you consider finding a different canister filter out there, why don’t we give you a guide on how to choose the perfect unit?
Here are the factors we considered when we were picking our best canister filter for aquarium;
So, why do you need the canister in the first place? Before you buy one, consider its capabilities and relate them to your filtration needs. Can the filter handle the volume of water that you need for your aquarium? Does it have the necessary flow rate? How versatile is it in terms of using it with other filter media?
These are some of the questions you should ask yourself. If you are considering the flow rate, you should know that not all canister filters have a high flow rate. For that matter, ensure that you confirm the flow rate before you pick one. Always choose one with a high flow rate.
Nobody wants to purchase a unit that will not last for long after they purchase it. This is a rule that should apply to almost every product that you intend to purchase. You want to get a canister filter that is made to serve you efficiently and for a long time. Right?
As usual, go for a filter that is well-built with generally sturdy construction. Even though most canister filters are made of plastic, it doesn’t mean that all of them are cheap plastic. You can actually find strong plastic units that will last for a long time while keeping your aquarium clean and healthy.
In terms of adaptability, you will have to consider where the canister filter will be located. If the filter comes with a compact design, you can place it in a dedicated cabinet compartment.
However, a tall canister filter will need some customization when you are designing a compartment for it. You can either find a way to conceal it or customize its look to resemble that of a fish tank.
This is a factor that you must consider if you are in search of the best fish tank canister filter. By the way, you might think that we haven’t talked about the motor in our top-10 list, but we kind-of did.
The motor will pump water into the canister filter, where the filtration process will start. You should always ensure that you choose a reliable motor that can pump the water with ease. Besides that, the motor should run quietly without compromising with the filtration process.
Furthermore, you should check that the motor is efficient and easy to maintain. It shouldn’t breakdown too quickly or jam in a way or another. Ideally, go for a motor that doesn’t have high maintenance. If you get a high-maintenance motor, you will have to open the filter too often. This can be tedious.
A unit that “runs quietly” means that the motor doesn’t make noise when it is running.
The Size of the Fish Tank
How big is your aquarium? The tank size you have will determine the canister filter that you will buy. You should know that not all canister filters will go well with any fish tank out there.
It is important to see what the manufacturer specifies about the canister filter. How much water can it hold? In this case, the canister filter will be rated in terms of gallons, which can be 10-gallon, 20-gallon, 50-gallon, 175-gallon, and more.
All in all, ensure that the canister you choose can work with your fish tank.
This might be an obvious point, but too many people overlook it. Someone might step out and purchase any filter they find there, as long as it has a good rating. Well, it isn’t bad to purchase one with good ratings. However, minding the brand is a major factor that you need to consider.
The name of the brand plays an important role here, and you should never overlook it. When you purchase a canister filter from a reputable brand, you can always be confident of a reliable unit. Plus, you will be sure of enjoying a reliable filtration in your fish tank.
Most recognized brands will offer other accessories with their products. For instance, you can get media trays with some media supplies to get you started with the canister filter.
Others will offer warranties with their products. In this case, you can enjoy either free replacement or repair on the motor and parts. Generally, it is always important to choose the product from a reputable brand.
In one way or another, this could be the most important factor of all. You see, without the needed money for the canister filter, you cannot purchase it. In other words, you only get what you can afford. Some canisters will come with a high price tag than the others.
Either way, you must always stick to your budget. First of all, it is important to know the average amount of money you should have if you want a reliable canister filter that can serve you for a long time. After this, set the maximum amount of money you would spend on the canister.
You must go for a product that has good value for money. It is not always about going for the most expensive product if you want a high-performance unit. Neither does it mean that the cheapest is the least performer.
Nevertheless, don’t forget that cheap can be expensive sometimes. So, avoid always going for the cheap stuff. Just ensure that you stick to your budget at all times.
Keep in mind that the ‘best’ filter out there is that which meets your aquarium specification and filtration needs. Don’t just buy because the salesperson was too convincing.
Canister Filters vs. Regular Fish Tank Filters
Aquarium filters come in different types. A canister filter is just one of them. So, how does a canister differ from a regular aquarium filter? Is it the size, functionality, price, or what? Which of the two is the best choice? Above all, can everyone use an aquarium canister filter?
A canister filter is the best option when it comes to mechanical filtration and biological filtration. It is considered the best for saltwater aquarium, reef tanks, freshwater tanks, as well as turtle tanks.
This also means that a canister filter is highly compatible with most fish tanks and turtle tanks out there. This is why most people prefer going for the canister filters.
In terms of the price, canisters tend to be quite expensive compared to a regular fish tank filter. The reason for this is that they offer a better filtration, which in term makes them extra costly.
Regular aquarium filters are simple and more basic compared to canisters. The only problem is that the regular/internal filters are less efficient than canister filters.
Canister filters are more demanding when it comes to maintenance. If you compare them to the dry/wet filters, under-gravel filters, and power filters, canister filters require more time and effort. It is safe to say that they are more delicate than the regular aquarium filters.
If you are willing to purchase a canister aquarium filter, you must be ready to adhere to the strict rules of taking care of it. But if you find it difficult to keep up with the high demands of the filter, you might have to consider going for other filters.
How To Setup A Canister Filter
A canister filter will perform efficiently if you assemble it accordingly. Here is a look at how you should set up a canister filter appropriately.
- Connect the Input and Output Flow Pipes
When setting up the canister filter, you should put the output and input flow pipes on the aquarium first. This should be done exactly where you intend to attach the filter. In some cases, you can have a directional output or spray bar on the output pipe. If you have a pre-fitter, hook it up to the end of the input pipe.
- Put the Canister Filter in Position
Now you need to place the canister filter in its position and ensure the length between the input and output pipes and ports is correct. Cut the hose with a knife or scissors. As you cut the pipe, ensure that the length is slightly longer for some allowance.
- Attach the Hose to the Filter
You can then attach the ends of the hose to the output and the input port of the canister. Make sure that you fill the filter media basket with the media that you will be using in the filter.
- Insert the Filter Media Baskets
Place the filter basket in the right direction inside the basket and ensure that it fits well without applying force. After that, fill the canister filter with de-chlorinated water from the fish tank. You can also use aged water from the tank.
- Insert the O-Ring
Insert the O-Ring in the water and ensure that it is wet enough. You can then put the ring around the upper part of the canister filter. When done, turn on the filter and the filtration process will start. Ensure that it doesn’t have any leaks.
How To Maintain For Longevity
The maintenance process will be determined by the brand and model of the filter, along with the type and number of filter media.
But in general, ensure that you clean the filter media in your canister regularly. However, some media will need to be replaced. Ensure that you check the recommendations from the manufacturer.
Clean the filter properly by focusing on the hoses and impeller as well. Use a soft-bristle brush to scrub the impeller and hoses. They tend to be fragile. Always ensure that every part is perfectly cleaned before reassembling the parts.
Frequently Asked Questions About Canister Filters
What Size Canister Filter Do I need?
The recommendation is you need at least 4 times of water turnover per hour with your canister filter. For example if your tank size is 75 Gallons then the canister filter should have the capacity of 300 GPH (gallon per hour). It would be better if you ignore the capacity of a canister written on it’s package. The manufacturer always demand higher capacity but you should play safe for the life of your aquatic pets. You can go up to 6 times as well.
Do canister filters work for saltwater aquarium?
Yes, canister filters are designed to be used in both saltwater and freshwater tanks. A filter basically acts as a habitat for beneficial bacteria colony. These bacteria breaks down ammonia to nitrite and then to nitrate. For both freshwater and saltwater these bacteria are same. So canister filters work for both freshwater and saltwater tank.
What is the difference between a canister filter and a power filter?
Canister filters clean the aquarium more efficiently, and they preserve water and fish loss. On the other hand, they are bulky, high maintenance, and costly. With power filters, they are cheaper, require less maintenance and easy-to-install. However, they are less powerful and can lead to loss of water and fish.
Can you turn the fish tank filter off at night?
That won’t be wise and advisable. All canister filters should run 24/7 to filter out the wastes produced by fishes and other sources like uneaten foods, rotting leaves & roots etc. Fish waste also depends on the size and species of fish. These wastes are harmful for the health of your aquatic pets. So you should never turn off the filter at night.
How do I make my aquarium canister filter less noisy?
There are many ways to reduce the noise of the canister filter. You can eliminate the debris in the filter, adjust the water flow/return rate, adjust the hose and return pump, and even reset the pump and filter manually.
How much electricity does a fish tank filter use?
This depends on the type of filter. But generally, filters (even canister filters) are low energy consumers, and they consume around 3 Watts, and the heavy-duty models will consume between 25 to 50 Watts. UV filters consume between 8 and 130 Watts.
How to prime a canister filter?
Once the filter is set up, submerge it in the tank and plug it in the socket. After that, tilt it to the side to submerge the impeller and commence the suction process. Hold it in that position for around 60 seconds and then tilt it upwards to expunge the air.
How often is it necessary to clean the canister filter?
It depends on the pets you keep inside the tank and the bio-load they produce. Ideally, clean the filter once every two to four weeks. For messy creatures like aquatic turtles you may need to clean your turtle tank filter more frequently.
How to get the air out of a canister filter?
Close the valves for the water in and out. Loosen the threads on the top, and slowly open the intake line. One of the water raises up close the valve on the intake line. Open the outlet line valve and press down the top of the canister filter gently. This will then push some water or air from the top. After that, close the outlet valve.
Are Sumps Better Than Canister Filters?
It depends on your requirements actually. The rule of thumb is, the more the filtration media, the better the filtration. And Sumps definitely provide more space to accommodate large volume of filter media. But it is not always feasible to install a sump with your aquarium. In those cases aquarium canister filters are the obvious choice.
Are Two Filters Better Than One?
Should you use two filters instead of one? If you have the space and capacity then two filters are definitely better than one filter. First of all it will provide you more filtration capacity and secondly it will provide a backup. If one goes faulty the other can still support the bioload in your aqaurium.
Final Words & Recommendation
So that marks the end of our article today. We’re confident that you have enough information to shop for the best canister filter. Which one will you be going for?
If you want an all-in-one kind of canister filter, we suggest you go for the OASE Indoor Aquatics Biomaster Thermo 600. It has built in heating chamber and many fancy features. It is silent, comes with a strong flow, has a self-priming mechanism, quick release taps, and the pre-filters are removable. The filter is also quite easy to use.
If you want a premium quality canister filter for large aquarium then go for Fulval FX6 without any doubt. That is our ultimate choice for the best canister filter.
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