Fish Tank Filters: An In-Depth Look For 2024

Welcome to your comprehensive guide on fish tank filters! 

Whether you’re gathering information for a future purchase or ready to buy today, this article is tailored to you. 

We look into various filters, providing detailed reviews and comparisons, ensuring you find the perfect match for your aquarium needs. 

From exploring different types, features, and efficiency, to guiding you through top choices in the market, we’ve covered it all. 

Keep reading to make an informed decision and discover the ideal filter that aligns with both your aquarium’s requirements and your personal preferences. 

Here’s what you’ll learn;

  • Detailed Reviews of Specific Filter Models: Insights into the performance and features of specific models like Fluval FX6, AquaClear, Aqueon QuietFlow, and Marineland Magniflow.
  • Expert Scoring of Filters: Each filter is scored on a scale of 1-10, providing a quick reference for their effectiveness and suitability.
  • Comparative Analysis of Filters: A comparison of the filters based on various factors, including suitability for different aquarium sizes and key features.
  • My Personal Experience and Testing Methodology: First-hand experience and testing approaches used by the author, adding credibility to the reviews.
  • Overview of Different Filter Types: General information about various types of filters, such as canister, hang-on-back, internal, sponge, and undergravel filters, and their respective advantages.
  • Considerations for Filter Selection: Factors like aquarium size, type of fish, maintenance requirements, features, and noise level, crucial for making an informed filter choice.

This year, several models have caught our attention for their performance and features.

They are;

  1. Fluval FX6
  2. AquaClear
  3. Aqueon QuietFlow
  4. Marineland Magniflow

How I Ranked The Filters

Here is a quick video that outlines what I look for in a filter.

Based on my extensive experience in the aquarium hobby, here’s how I would score each filter on a scale of 1 to 10:

Fluval FX6 Canister Filter 

I would rate the Fluval FX6 a solid 9/10. 

Its high efficiency, powerful performance, and ease of use make it an excellent choice for large aquariums. 

Its energy efficiency and the Smart Pump technology are particularly impressive. 

The only minor drawback is its size, which might be cumbersome for some setups.

Read my article about the Fluval FX6 exceptional features and how it can transform your aquarium experience.

AquaClear 70

This one gets an 8/10 from me. 

The AquaClear 70 is reliable for medium-sized aquariums and offers great flexibility in terms of media customization. 

Its quiet operation is a significant advantage. 

The need for occasional maintenance adjustments, like dealing with the rattle, slightly reduces its score.

Read my article about the AquaClear to learn why this classic filter is still a champ.

Marineland Magniflow 360 Canister Filter

This filter earns a score of 8/10. 

It balances performance and affordability for medium to large tanks. 

The ease of maintenance and the comprehensive filtration are significant plus points. 

However, the concerns about the quality of included media and the need for careful handling during maintenance prevent it from scoring higher.

Read my article about the Marineland Magniflow to learn about it’s many features and benefits.

Aqueon QuietFlow Internal Filter

I would give this a 7/10. 

It’s a great filter for small aquariums, offering good filtration and quiet operation. 

The limitations in its capacity, given it’s suited for smaller setups, and the need for regular media replacements are the reasons it doesn’t score higher.

Read my article about the HOB Filters to learn why this internal filter beats out some external filters in the same class.

Each of these filters has its unique strengths and is designed for different aquarium sizes and needs, hence the variation in scores. 

The ratings reflect not only their functional capabilities but also factors like ease of maintenance, noise levels, and overall reliability.

My comparison table of the filters

RankFilterSuitable Aquarium SizeKey FeaturesMy Score (out of 10)
1Fluval FX6 Canister FilterUp to 400 gallonsHigh efficiency, Smart Pump technology, energy-efficient, large size9
2AquaClear 7040-70 gallonsQuiet operation, flexible media customization, occasional maintenance needs8
3Marineland Magniflow 360 Canister FilterUp to 100 gallonsGood for medium-large tanks, easy maintenance, concerns about media quality8
4Aqueon QuietFlow Internal Filter10-15 gallonsSuitable for small aquariums, quiet operation, regular media replacement7

Let’s dive into each filter a bit more.


How I Tested

How I Tested: A visually appealing chart showcasing comparative scores of four fish tank filters

As someone with over two decades of experience in the fish aquarium hobby, I’ve had the opportunity to test and use a variety of filters. 

Here are my thoughts on some of the filters currently on the market:

Fluval FX6 Canister Filter

My experience with the Fluval FX6 Canister Filter has been quite remarkable. 

Suitable for both fresh and saltwater aquariums up to 400 gallons, its performance is impressive. 

Pumping out 925 gallons of water per hour, it ensures thorough filtration. 

The Smart Pump technology is a game-changer, optimizing performance and handling air evacuation. 

Starting up is a breeze, and it simplifies water changes significantly. What I particularly appreciate is its energy-efficient operation, a notable improvement over previous models. 

The self-starting mechanism and the ease of cleaning the media baskets are convenient features. 

While its size is considerable, it operates quietly, a relief for any aquarist. The 3-year warranty adds a layer of confidence in its durability. 

If you’re managing a large aquarium and need a filter that demands minimal attention yet offers efficient performance, the FX6 is a solid choice.

Read my article about the Fluval FX6 exceptional features and how it can transform your aquarium experience.

AquaClear 70

Moving on to the AquaClear 70, this HOB filter has been a reliable companion for my 40-70 gallon tanks. 

It’s incredibly quiet and efficient, a must-have for any serene home environment. The filtration volume is substantial, ensuring superior water quality. 

The flexibility with media, from AquaClear Foam to Activated Carbon and BioMax, is an added advantage. 

Maintenance is straightforward, albeit some parts need replacement every few months. 

The design ensures effective filtration, and despite occasional rattles, it’s generally a quiet operator. 

In my comparisons with other filters like Fluval C-Series or Marineland Bio-Wheel, the AquaClear 70 holds its ground with its higher flow rate and larger media capacity. 

If you’re looking for a filter that balances efficiency and ease of use, the AquaClear 70 is an excellent option.

Read my article about the AquaClear to learn why this classic filter is still a champ.

Aqueon QuietFlow Internal Filter

For smaller aquariums ranging from 10 to 15 gallons, the Aqueon QuietFlow Internal Filter has been a go-to. 

Its fully submersible design and capacity to filter 66 gallons per hour make it a potent tool for its size. 

The quiet operation is a blessing, and the combination of biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration it offers is commendable. 

The filter cartridges filled with activated carbon do a great job. 

Its affordability makes it an attractive option for small tank setups where space and budget are constraints. 

In my opinion, for small aquariums, this filter offers a balanced mix of quality and functionality.

Read my article about the HOB Filters to learn why this internal filter beats out some external filters in the same class.

Marineland Magniflow 360 Canister Filter

The Marineland Magniflow 360 Canister Filter is a solid option for tanks up to 100 gallons. 

It’s a blend of affordability and functionality. 

The Quick Prime Button, easy media basket handling, and efficient maintenance features are commendable. 

Its flow rate is suitable for medium-sized tanks, and the media capacity is generous. 

The filter’s design ensures comprehensive water filtration, a feature often missing in similar models. 

It stands up well against higher-end models like Eheim or Fluval, especially considering its price point. 

While the included bio media could be better, its overall performance is reliable. It’s a practical choice for anyone looking for a mid-range canister filter that doesn’t compromise on quality.

Read my article about the Marineland Magniflow to learn about it’s many features and benefits.

Each of these filters has its strengths and fits different types of aquarium setups. 

From large tanks needing robust filtration like the Fluval FX6 to smaller setups well-served by the Aqueon QuietFlow, there’s a filter to suit various needs. 

As a hobbyist, it’s crucial to choose a filter that not only suits your tank’s requirements but also aligns with your maintenance preferences. 

Remember, regular maintenance is key to any filter’s longevity and efficiency.


How I Compare Different Types of Filters

How I Compare Different Filters

Here’s a comparison table for different types of filters:

Filter TypeIdeal Aquarium SizeFiltration TypesKey Features
Canister Filters40 gallons or moreMechanical, Chemical, BiologicalSuperior filtration, pressurized system, traps smaller particles, improves water quality, bulky, higher price
Hang On Back (HOB) FiltersVariesThree-stage filtrationEasy setup and maintenance, hangs on back, good filtration, requires maintenance for bacteria
Internal FiltersSmaller aquariumsMechanical, BiologicalMounted inside, ideal for small or supplementary use, prevents debris buildup, less suitable for large tanks
Sponge FiltersUp to 10 gallonsMechanical, BiologicalSimple, effective for small, sensitive fish, used with air pump, traps debris, suitable for small tanks
Undergravel FiltersVariesMechanical, BiologicalSits below gravel, draws water through substrate, complex cleaning, potential for debris buildup

Canister Filters: A Comprehensive Solution

Canister filters are a go-to for larger aquariums (40 gallons or more). 

They provide superior mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. 

Their pressurized system forces water through fine materials, trapping smaller particles and improving water quality. 

However, they are bulkier and often come with a higher price tag.

Hang On Back (HOB) Filters

HOB filters are commonly used due to their ease of setup and maintenance. 

They hang on the back of the aquarium, with water being sucked up a tube, filtered, and returned to the tank. 

They offer good three-stage filtration but require careful maintenance to preserve beneficial bacteria colonies.

Internal Filters

Ideal for smaller aquariums or as supplementary filters in larger setups, internal filters are mounted inside the aquarium, typically at the bottom. 

They intake impurities and prevent debris buildup. 

Their small size makes them less suitable for larger tanks with high filtration demands.

Sponge Filters

Sponge filters are simple and effective, especially for small, sensitive fish. 

They are used with an air pump, which pulls water through the sponge, trapping debris. 

These filters offer mechanical and biological filtration but are mostly suitable for tanks up to 10 gallons.

Undergravel Filters

Undergravel filters sit below the gravel, drawing water and debris through the substrate. 

They are less favored due to their complex cleaning requirements and potential for debris buildup.


My Considerations For Filter Selection

My Considerations: A image for an article about fish tank filters, showcasing a variety of aquariums with different filters

When choosing a filter, consider the following:

  1. Aquarium Size : Ensure the filter is appropriate for the size of your tank. Larger tanks may require more powerful filters like canister models, while smaller tanks could be well-served by internal or HOB filters.
  2. Type of Fish : Some fish produce more waste than others. Heavier bioloads require filters with higher capacity and efficiency.
  3. Maintenance : Consider how much time and effort you are willing to invest in maintaining your filter. Some models require more frequent cleaning and media replacement than others.
  4. Features : Look for features like adjustable flow rates, media customization options, and ease of setup and maintenance.
  5. Noise Level : Especially important for living spaces, choose a filter that operates quietly.

My Final Thoughts

In 2024, the focus in fish tank filtration is on efficiency, ease of maintenance, and adaptability to various aquarium sizes and types. 

Models like the Fluval FX4, Aquaclear Power Filter, and Aqueon Quietflow Internal Filter highlight the advancements in filtration technology, offering aquarium enthusiasts effective solutions for their aquariums.

Looking for a filter in your City? Click the links below to find some great filters in your home town.

  1. Buffalo, NY
  2. Louisville, KY
  3. Providence RI-New Bedford MA
  4. Cleveland-Akron (Canton) OH 
  5. Knoxville TN
  6. Albany-Schenectady-Troy NY
  7. Rochester NY
  8. Portland-Auburn ME
  9. Green Bay-Appleton WI
  10. Flint-Saginaw-Bay City MI
Jack Dempsey
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