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Even though a 5-gallon aquarium is small, it still necessitates a suitable filtration system. Many beginners to the hobby mistakenly believe that small aquariums and nano tanks do not need fish tank filters, but this is not true. All you have to do is fill your nano tank with fresh tap water once or twice a week. Is that right?

Not at all! Fish waste, discarded food, and other impurities can quickly accumulate in a small tank, polluting the water and killing your fish. And did you know that tap water contains ammonia, which can burn your fish’s gills?

A Quick Comparison of the Best 5-gallon Aquarium Filters.

Product Features
Tetra Whisper Internal Aquarium filterTetra Whisper Internal Aquarium filter Type: Internal box filter
Flow Rate: 4.25 x 4 x 8 inches
Capacity: Up to 10 gallons
AquaClear Aquarium Power FiltersAquaClear Aquarium Power Filters Type: HOB filter
Flow Rate: 4.48 x 7 x 6.5 inches
Capacity: Up to 20 gallons
Marina I25 Internal FilterMarina I25 Internal Filter Type: Internal box filter
Dimensions: 3 x 3.2 x 8 inches
Capacity: Up to 6.6 gallons
Penn Plax Small World PumpPenn Plax Small World Pump Type: Internal filter
Dimensions: 7 x 2 x 10 inches
Capacity: Up to 5 gallons
Aqueon Internal Power FilterAqueon X-Small Internal Power Filter Type: Internal filter
Dimensions: 2.75 x 2.75 x 6.81 inches
Capacity: Up to 3 gallons

Several 5-Gallon Filter Types

There are several different filter systems, and we’ll go through them in more detail below. But first, let’s take a look at how filtration systems operate.

Filtration System Components.

The three methods of water filtration are as follows:

Filter Types

The following are the most popular types of filtration systems:

Benefits of Using a Filter in a 5-Gallon Aquarium

A 5-gallon or 3-gallon aquarium is a popular tank size for betta lovers because its size is enough to provide an enjoyable and impressive display of the betta fish and plants while not being so large that maintenance is time-consuming. However, if your 5-gallon tank does not have an appropriate filter system, it will no longer be a safe and healthy space for your fish.

There are many important benefits of using a filter system for such a small fish tank:

Water Quality

Waste is produced by all living organisms, including fish, invertebrates, and mollusks. Over time, the waste decomposes, releasing harmful contaminants into the tank water. Without an appropriate filter, your aquarium will quickly degrade into a toxic broth, poisoning the fish and other tank occupants.

Although weekly partial water changes can help to minimize waste levels in the water, a biological filtration system controls and manages the Nitrogen Cycle by extracting ammonia and nitrites from water and converting them to less volatile nitrates. Plants use nitrates as fertilizer, which aids in the removal of some of these compounds from the water, though everyday partial water changes take their toll.

Oxygenation of the Water

Fish need oxygen, which they get from the water through their gills while expending carbon dioxide as they breathe. Living plants absorb carbon dioxide from the water and release oxygen back into it during photosynthesis. That sounds amazing, but many fish species need well-oxygenated water to live, and a powerful mechanical filtration system may help by pushing air bubbles into the water and agitating the water surface to provide the extra oxygen the fish need.

Tank Servicing.

Vacuuming your aquarium’s gravel should be part of your weekly maintenance schedule. A successful filtration system, on the other hand, would help to lighten the workload by removing the majority of the floating particulate and detritus that would otherwise find their way into the substrate. As a result, you’ll need to clean the filter media in tank water once a month to remove the sludge that would otherwise clog the system.

How Much Should a Small Filter Be Cleaned?

The frequency in which you clean your filter is heavily influenced by the filter system you have selected. In general, HOBs and canister filters only need to be cleaned once every three weeks to a month to keep them free of gunk and ensure that the flow rate and bacteria in the filter system stay safe.

The same is true for internal filter systems unless you have a sponge filter that needs to be cleaned every two weeks or so. Undergravel filters should be removed from the tank and washed once a year, which is a huge job considering you’ll have to clear the tank entirely to get to the filter plate.

How Do You Reduce Flow Through A Filter?

The flow rate of all aquarium filters is estimated in GPH, or Gallons Per Hour. That is, the filter pump circulates the water in the tank a predetermined number of times per hour. We suggest that you choose a filter that turns over the volume of your aquarium at least four times per hour. So, if you have a 5-gallon tank, you’ll want a unit with around 20 GPH.

The flow rate must be strong enough to disrupt solid debris particles and pull them into the filter media rather than allowing the waste to fall into the substrate. However, if the flow rate is too high, it may cause havoc in the aquarium.

What Is the Boundary Between Too Much and Too Little?

The amount of flow that you desire is determined by your specific setup and the fish species that you keep. For example, if you keep a betta fish in a nano tank, you don’t want to create too much water movement or your pet would struggle to swim. Fancy goldfish are also bad swimmers who dislike a tumultuous current.

Furthermore, if you have a planted tank, too much flow will cause your plants to become damaged or uprooted, necessitating constant replanting or replacement.

Changing the Flow Pattern

Sometimes, it is not the flow rate that is the issue, but the flow pattern. You don’t want to jeopardize the filter’s ability to keep your tank clean, but you also don’t want to stress your fish. As a result, you must modify the flow pattern.

The process of buffering

Rearrange rocks and driftwood to form buffers that can divert a powerful flow. Many fish prefer to rest in areas of calm water, and buffering the flow in this way will help to provide those vital zones.

Plants Dense banks of living and silk plants can also help to interrupt flow patterns and create calm zones for fish to rest. Broadleaf species are particularly well suited to this role, as they are less likely to be affected or uprooted by the current than flimsier specimens.

HOBs flow control adjustment.

Some canister filters have an outlet nozzle that allows you to direct the flow of water in two separate directions. Flow diverters may also be purchased to add to certain internal filter designs, but some brands include them in the design. Splitting the flow immediately decreases the current’s strength without compromising the degree of circulation.

The process of recirculation.

You may use recirculation to redirect some of the flow back to the sump if you have a canister filtration device. To do this, you’ll need to add a “T” and valves to your unit, which will carry some of the water back to the aquarium while diverting the rest to the sump. However, the GPH flow through the tank will be reduced as a result.

Considerations to Make Before Buying a Filter for a 5-Gallon Tank

There are several important considerations to consider when choosing a filter for a 5-gallon aquarium:

Size of Aquarium.

A 5-gallon aquarium requires a filtration system with a GPH rating of at least 40 gallons. This ensures that enough water flows into the tank. The shape of the tank must also be considered when choosing a filtration system.

For example, if the tank is tall and hexagonal in shape, you don’t want a bulky box-style filter taking up valuable swimming space that your fish might be using and destroying the aquarium’s overall appearance. A hang-on-back filter may be preferable in this situation.

Filter Priming

Priming is the process of getting your filter ready to use. Priming aquarium filters normally involves filling the filtration unit with water to get it started. If the machine is not primed, it will operate with air instead of water in the tubing. This can result in the system’s motor burning out, the unit failing to properly filter your aquarium water, and the system being incredibly noisy.

Although priming your filtration unit is normally fairly easy, it’s worth noting that you can buy self-priming or no-prime filter systems if you don’t want to deal with the hassle. In that case, drawing water is usually as easy as a few presses of the primer button.

In the case of a priming system, however, all that is needed is to fill the unit’s reservoir and then run the pump to pull the water through the tubing. The computer is then ready for use.

Both filter systems need some degree of maintenance to operate properly and avoid water chemistry issues. The amount of maintenance required varies according to the type of unit. Beginners often make the mistake of washing the filter media too frequently or too thoroughly, killing the beneficial bacteria that live on the filter media and causing the tank to re-cycle.

Best 5-gallons Aquarium Filters Reviews.

1. Tetra Whisper Internal Aquarium filter

Tetra Whisper Internal Aquarium filterType: Internal box filter
Flow Rate: 4.25 x 4 x 8 inches
Capacity: Up to 10 gallons

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The Tetra Whisper Internal Power Filter with BioScrubber is a revolutionary submersible filter with a three-stage filtration device that includes a double-sided Bio-Bag mesh that collects waste and debris and activated carbon that prevents water discoloration and absorbs odors. This filter is designed for ease of maintenance and convenience, with an anti-clog architecture and super-efficient easy access biological media.

The filter’s motor is located under the water, which helps to keep the device extremely quiet while providing the same superior output as an external filter. The waterfall feature allows you to easily configure the flow path and rate for your tank.

To get you started, the device comes with a pre-assembled Bio-Bag filter cartridge.

Tetra Whisper Internal Aquarium filter Pros & Cons
  • It’s extremely quiet.
  • Filtration in three stages.
  • Priced reasonably.
  • Filter media is costly to replace.

2. AquaClear Aquarium Power Filters

AquaClear Aquarium Power FiltersType: HOB filter
Flow Rate: 4.48 x 7 x 6.5 inches
Capacity: Up to 20 gallons

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The Aquaclear Power is a HOB external filter that is recommended for aquariums up to 20 gallons and produces an impressive 100 GPH of biological and mechanical filtration while remaining quiet, effective, and productive. The device comes with some filter files.

This filter is designed as a refiltration device that provides superior water contact time with the filter media, allowing the water to remain crystal clear while still providing bacterial colonies with plenty of oxygen to thrive. The system’s reliability ensures that operating costs are held to a minimum. Despite this, you get up to seven times more filtration volume, and the flow rate is adjustable, making this filter an excellent option for small aquariums.

AquaClear Aquarium Power Filters Pros & Cons
  • It’s quiet.
  • Filtration in three stages.
  • Excellent value for money.
  • Flow modification can be counterproductive.

3. Marina I25 Internal Filter

Marina I25 Internal FilterType: Internal box filter
Dimensions: 3 x 3.2 x 8 inches
Capacity: Up to 6.6 gallons

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The Marina I25 Internal Filter is intended for use with small tanks up to 6.6 gallons in size, making it an excellent option for a betta or nano tanks. I like the clever clip-on nature of this filtration device, but it also comes with suction cups, so you have a choice of fixing methods.

Since the filter’s motor is immersed in water, the activity is extremely quiet. The filter cartridges used in the device allow three-stage filtration, keeping the water free of ammonia, odors, heavy metals, and floating debris. That means your aquarium will remain crystal clear and clean for your fish. The filter cartridges are simple to extract and refill, and you get one replacement cartridge for free.

Marina I25 Internal Filter Pros & Cons
  • Quiet and compact, still strong
  • Outstanding value for money
  • As compared to more expensive units, it is very loud.

4. Penn Plax Small World Pump

Penn Plax Small World Pump

Type: Internal filter
Dimensions: 7 x 2 x 10 inches
Capacity: Up to 5 gallons

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I think the Small World filter is the tiniest filtration device I’ve ever seen! This device is intended for small tanks and fishbowls up to 5 gallons in size. You get an air pump, a filter unit, tubing, and a mounting bracket in the package. Filtration consists of a carbon-zeolite cartridge that removes contaminants and heavy metals from the water, as well as a foam block that provides biological and mechanical filtration.

Some users have complained that the device isn’t strong enough for a 5-gallon betta tank. Also, the device must be primed, and the setup is somewhat fiddly due to the small size of the filter system. The same is true for maintenance, as removing the filter sponge is difficult.

Penn Plax Small World Pump Pros & Cons
  • Small machines ideal for fishbowls and small tanks.
  • Small but potent.
  • Very good value for money.
  • It is difficult to set up and manage.

5. Aqueon X-Small Internal Power Filter

Aqueon Internal Power FilterType: Internal filter
Dimensions: 2.75 x 2.75 x 6.81 inches
Capacity: Up to 3 gallons

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The Aqueon QuietFlow E Internal Power Filter small water filter is fast and simple to mount and self-priming and is designed for use with smaller tanks up to 3-gallons while still boasting an impressive 25 GPH flow rate. Suction cups and hanging clips are offered for framed tanks, as well as suction cups for frameless aquariums.

The filter cartridges are dual-sided and provide mechanical and chemical filtration, keeping your aquarium water clean and safe for your fish. There’s no need to be concerned if your area experiences a power loss while you’re away because this filtration device has an automated restart feature that restarts the pump once power is restored.

A lifetime warranty is included with the product for your peace of mind.

Aqueon Internal Power Filter Pros & Cons
  • The process of priming oneself.
  • It’s ideal for small bowls and tanks.
  • After a power outage, it automatically restarts.
  • This product is louder than other similar goods.

Final Thoughts

The Aqueon X-Small QuietFlow E Internal Power Filter is the best of the filtration systems we tested in this guide.

This clever filter is perfect for small tanks while still producing a decent flow rate to keep your fish’s ecosystem clean and fresh. The machine is self-priming, has three stages of filtration, and includes dual-sided filter cartridges.

We especially like the automatic restart feature, which ensures that the pump will restart after a power outage, giving you peace of mind if you’re at work or on vacation. You still get a lifetime warranty, which is always a plus.

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