The most devoted aquarium owners understand the importance of good filtration in maintaining a healthy tank and are unlikely to compromise on efficiency for any reason. You have probably tried various brands of top filters, and over the years you have owned many decent canister filters, but are always curious about the best canister filter.

A Quick Review of the 5 Best Canister Filters.

Product Features
Fluval FX6 Canister FilterFluval FX6 High Performance Canister Filter Tank Capacity: 400-gallons
weight: 16 pounds
warranty: 3-year warranty
EHEIM Classic External Canister Fish Tank Filter

EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter

Tank Capacity: 66-gallons
weight: 4.5 pounds
warranty: 1-year warranty
Penn-Plax Cascade CCF5UL Canister Filter

Penn-Plax Cascade CCF5UL Canister Filter

Tank Capacity: 100-gallons
weight: 12 pounds
warranty: 3-year warranty
Marineland Multi-Stage Canister Filter

Marineland Multi-Stage Canister Filter

Tank Capacity: 150-gallons
weight: 30.5 pounds
warranty:1-year warranty
SunSun HW-304B 5-Stage External Canister Filter

SunSun HW-304B 5-Stage External Canister Filter

Tank Capacity: 150-gallons
weight: 14 pounds
warranty: 1-year warranty

I would lie if I told you I was not curious, so I decided to do some homework, gather some feedback on the filter, and eventually get to the bottom of the current issue, “What is the best filter for fish tanks in the canister filter?” Before digging into the candidates, it’s a good idea to brush up on some of the finer points of what filtration is and what a tank owner can look for in a filter.

What is a Canister Filter?

Fluval FX6 Canister Filter

Even new aquarists have probably seen some basic filtration units before, knowing that they are used for the filtering out of waste and waste to make aquarium water safe. Canister filters are heavy-duty filters for bigger tanks containing additional fish. They are suitable in salt or freshwater and have wider bodies in the form of a canister that is outside a tank, rather than within a tank.

The canister filters can be much larger because of their large size than the basic internal air-driven filters or gravel filters and can be watered out much more cleanly. They cost a little more than the average filter, and only wet/dry filters are more costly. They will have to do a little more about installation and maintenance. You can see one in action below, so you’re done.

Canister filters often require an involving setup phase without specific guidelines. It also takes its owner to bring them to the sink and disassemble them to individually clean their components. For owners with large filters filled to the border by cleaning media, this task can be especially burdensome.

The working principle of Canister Filters

The specifics vary, but most canister filters use a 3-stage filtration mechanism at the very least. Water is sucked from the tank through hoses and then passed through a series of measures that clean it mechanically, biologically, and chemically.
The most basic form of filtration is mechanical filtration, which involves only removing solid materials from the water. Plant litter, uneaten fruit, and fish waste are all examples of this. The internal mechanical filter of a canister filter serves as a sieve, straining the water and collecting the unwanted materials. This move can clean water on its own, but more is needed to provide truly safe water.

Biological filtration, the second form of filtration, uses biological media to eliminate toxic components including ammonia. Beneficial bacteria that eat these undesirable compounds and develop less harmful by-products that are better for your fish are grown on a variety of surfaces.

Chemical filtration, which is usually the last stage, entails injecting different chemicals directly into the aquarium to extract impurities. Excess protein, dissolved metals, chlorine, medicine, and daily tap water impurities are examples of factors that can affect fish and aquatic plant life.

After passing through these steps, the water is pumped back into the tank using a second hose. This serves the dual purpose of providing clean water to your fish while also causing currents that prevent the water in the tank from being stagnant. Many canister filters come with adjustable hoses and filtration speeds, as well as spray bar attachments, allowing you to have complete control over how the tank water is stimulated.

It’s worth noting that some filters come with extra features that aid in water purification. One of the most common is the UV filter, which purifies water using UV light in the same way as a water treatment plant does. Naturally, UV lights increase the power draw of a filter, but they are extremely effective at cleaning water even better than 3-stage filtration.

What Are Filter Media and How Do They Work?

Filter Media

These are the ones that clean the water in your tank. For each point, there are numerous options, but the most important ones to remember are Filter Pads and Floss (mechanical), Ceramic Rings and Bio-Balls (biological), and Activated Carbon (chemical) (chemical). Advanced canister filter users recognize the importance of mixing media and can use Ion Exchange Resins, Phosphate Absorbing Media, and Protein Skimmers to further improve the cleanliness of their tank water.

What Canister Filter Size Do You Require?

The sizes vary, but as a general rule, the larger your tank, the larger your filter. Since the actual capacity and flow rate of a filter drop slightly when it is completely filled with all of its filter material, you might want to consider purchasing a canister filter with ratings that are higher than the tank you own. A bigger, more efficient filter is also advantageous because it will result in cleaner water.
Larger filters, on the other hand, are always heavier and take up more room. If you just have a small amount of space around your tank or don’t want to lug 20+ pounds back and forth to the sink, consider going smaller and lighter.

Reviews of Top 5 Best Canister Filters

1. Fluval FX6 High-Performance Canister Filter

Fluval FX6 Canister FilterCapacity: 400-gallons
Flow Rate: 563 GPH
Weight: 16 pounds
Warranty: 3-years

Check Price

The FX6 represents the pinnacle of high-power efficiency for Fluval, which is known for producing top-of-the-line filters. With a maximum capacity of 400 gallons and a flow rate of 925 GPH (pump) and 563 GPH (filter), it can easily accommodate 150-gallon aquariums (filter). The filter trays are enormous, allowing 1.5 gallons of total media to be used, providing the highest degree of water purification possible. One would assume that this will use a lot of power, but the FX6 uses just 43 watts overall, which is 10% less than its predecessor, the FX5.

Each filtration stage in the FX6 is designed to eliminate any water bypass and is lined with mechanical foam for continued particle straining. Fluval’s renowned Smart Pump Technology is also included in the filter (SPT). This gives the FX6 superior efficiency, as well as features like monthly reminders that let you know when to clean the filter and replace the water. This was particularly useful for me because I often forget when I last cleaned the filter and appreciate the assistance in staying organized.

The FX6 has a higher price tag, but it clearly reigns supreme in terms of overall features, strength, flexibility, and the capacity to handle virtually any fish tank. This isn’t just the best saltwater canister filter on the market; it’s also the best aquarium canister filter of all time, according to others. If you’re willing to invest the extra money and time required to set it up.

Fluval FX6 High Performance Canister Filter Pros & Cons
  • Capacity and flow rate are unrivaled.
  • Filter capacity is very high.
  • Filtration by mechanical means.
  • Pumping Technology that is Smart.
  • Additional features are available in a broader range.
  • Expensive

2. EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter

Aquarium FiltersCapacity: 66-gallons
Flow Rate:116 GPH
Weight: 14.5 pounds
Warranty: 1-years

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The Eheim Classic is a part of Eheim’s “classic” line of canister filters, which have a tried-and-true cylindrical design, as the name implies. This model, 2213-37, is the entry-level model, suitable for tanks up to 66 gallons. It has a 116 GPH pump, a 102 GPH circulation rate, an 8-watt power consumption, and a total filter volume of 34 gallons.

This model is on the smaller side in terms of height, standing 14 inches tall and weighing just 4.5 pounds. Ehfisynth, Ehfisubstrate, Ehfifix, and Ehfimech filtration media are included in this filter. There are no compatibility problems since these are all Eheim branded media, and the Ehfisubstrate, in particular, is known for providing a wide surface area for beneficial bacteria to develop.

The one-chamber nature of this Eheim filter allows users to configure how much of each form of filter media they want in the filter by layering the media with the supplied Eheim Filter Pads. The compact design is known for being quiet and effective, but when compared to some of the larger models available, this filter falls short. Still, if your setup is on the small side, this canister filter for 55-gallon aquariums might be the best option.

EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter Pros & Cons
  • Small Size.
  • Silent.
  • One chamber design.
  • No as potent

3. Penn-Plax Cascade CCF5UL Canister Filter

Penn-Plax Cascade CCF5UL Canister FilterCapacity: 100-gallons
Flow Rate: 235 GPH
Weight: 12 pounds
Warranty: 3-years

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The Penn Plax Cascade is a heavy-duty model that strikes a balance between price and efficiency. It has a 265 GPH flow rate and can accommodate 100-gallon aquariums. This filter has a large, boxy, but durable design that includes the traditional three-stage filtration process, as well as some features aimed at making it easier for new tank owners to use. This includes a simple self-priming mechanism (just press a button and you’re ready to go), 360-degree rotating valve caps, and a variable flow rate from quick-disconnect cut-off valves.

This model is also average in terms of size. It stands 17 inches tall and weighs about 12 pounds. The Penn Plax is quiet and robust, but it only has two filter trays, giving you limited choices when it comes to filtration media setup. The Penn Plax, for example, uses the Bio-Sponge for biological filtration, which often doubles as mechanical filtration. Water but not solid particles can move through the sponge, and the wide surface area maximizes area exposure to encourage bacterial growth.

This is a good filter for those who want a lot of control but don’t want to spend a lot of money on it. It may be the best canister filter for 100-gallon aquariums, but it is unlikely to be the best canister filter overall, due to its limited media storage and lower stats as compared to more efficient filters.

Penn-Plax Cascade CCF5UL Canister Filter Pros & Cons
  • Balanced stats
  • Good for beginners
  • Sturdy construction
  • Small media storage
  • Not as powerful

4. Marineland Multi-Stage Canister Filter

Marineland Multi-Stage Canister FilterCapacity: 150-gallons
Flow Rate: 530 GPH
Weight: 30.5 pounds
Warranty: 1-years

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This high-performance filter is simple to set up and operate, making it an excellent option for tank owners with tanks ranging from 75 to 125 gallons. The filter has a maximum capacity of 150 gallons and a maximum flow rate of 530 gallons per hour. The C-530, however, will take up a lot of space, measuring 18.25” x 13.5” x 21.5” and being very heavy once you’ve loaded it up with all the media you’ll need.

With four stacked trays that provide individual flow-through and reduce water bypass, it provides a lot of media storage. Filter floss pads, filter foam, a carbon filter container, bio-filter balls, and ceramic bio-filter rings are also included with the device by Marineland. You’ll be able to put this filter together and use it right away.

In contrast to other versions, the C-530 is easier to set up and maintain, and it even comes with an instructional DVD to help you get started. The filter has a fast prime button to get it started quickly and easily, as well as a quick-release valve block that shuts off water flow immediately when it’s time to clean it.

Marineland Multi-Stage Canister Filter Pros & Cons
  • Adjustable nature is suitable for raising fish fry and shrimp and provides mechanical and biological filtration with a low, gentle rate of circulation.
  • Maintenance is minimal, and new parts are rarely needed.
  • Only 1 to 2 levels of filtration are available, and if used for a limited period of time, only a single stage is available.
  • If algae grow inside the tubing, it’s difficult to clean.
  • It’s not a particularly long-lasting design, and replacement parts can be difficult to come by.

5. SunSun HW-304B 5-Stage External Canister Filter

SunSun HW-304B 5-Stage External Canister FilterCapacity: 150-gallons
Flow Rate: 525 GPH
Weight: 14 pounds
Warranty: 1-years

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The 5-stage external filter from SunSun is the most efficient on the market. Since it has a high flow rate of 535 GPH and is rated for tanks up to 150 gallons, it can really shine when used on a 125-gallon aquarium or even anything smaller. It’s a bigger filter, measuring 11″ x 11″ x 17″, but it’s still small enough to manage (14 pounds).

The HW304B comes with four large media trays that can be filled with activated carbon, ceramic rings, bio-balls, or whatever other filtration media you want. Unfortunately, none of these are included with the machine. You’ll have to purchase each of them separately. SunSun did include some filter pads, but they aren’t the finest, so you’ll probably need to purchase some more.

SunSun included a few user-friendly features on this filter, such as a self-priming pump (that doesn’t always work), but the 9-watt UV sterilizer is by far the most useful. It does increase the power draw of your unit, but it’s a great way to monitor algae and kill a variety of harmful bacteria.

SunSun HW-304B 5-Stage External Canister Filter Pros & Cons
  • Inexpensive
  • Includes UV sterilizer
  • High flow rate
  • No media included

Final Thoughts

The Fluval FX6 is by far the best canister filter. Your decision on which filter to purchase will be largely influenced by your personal circumstances. It combines outstanding efficiency, ease of use, and filtration capability in a package that is smaller, lighter, and uses less energy than one would expect. It’s also suitable for any tanks that need a large amount of volume, such as a turtle aquarium, due to its filterability.

All of the extra features ensure that it runs smoothly and with no chance of failure or leaks. The price is higher than other filters on the market, but that is due to the fact that it provides so much more. In short, the Fluval FX6 is the most effective canister filter money can buy.

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