10 Best Aquarium Canister Filters (2021 Reviews & Guide)

Many people love aquatic pets and animals. This makes it a great idea to have aquariums in your houses. Aqua animals require a nice environment for them to survive and thrive well. One way to ensure that the fish have healthy living conditions is to use filters. Filtration is very vital for a healthy aquarium. Having a good working filter is giving the aqua animals the breath of life. A canister filter is a renowned filter which ensures that your pets enjoy the air they consume each second of their lifetime. The review focuses on some of the top ten best canister aquarium filters.


Best Aquarium Canister Filters Reviews

Adding a canister filter in your aquarium promotes a healthy living for your pets. We have reviewed recommended canister filters that will be a great addition in your aquarium.

The Marineland brand is one of the leading brand manufacturers of aquarium equipment for the best experiences and shows the case of aquariums. For ultimate results, you need to consider purchasing this amazing Canister filter. This filter is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. It makes the multi-stage filtration in your aquarium efficient and easy. 

The Magniflow is designed to offer a top-sealing gasket to give a strong seal which is easy to remove the lid to access the baskets. Just lift the lid for easy removal. The stack and flow filter trays force the water through the media layers to ensure a full mechanical and biological filtration.

What I like

I like the way the Marineland Magniflow canister filters the water to give sparkling clean water which ensures a safe thriving of the aquatic animals. It makes the multi-staged filtration easy and efficient. Factors such as the aquarium size and population. These two factors and others have been considered and will give you advanced levels of filtration.

What I don’t like

What I don’t like about this Canister filter is that it may leak when the lead is removed.

  • Easy to use and efficient for the multi-stage filtration
  • It is quiet during its operation
  • Versatile for fresh and salty water
  • Easy to maintain the canister filter
  • Available in 3 different sizes
  • Might leak when the lead is opened while operating it

The Aqueon Quietflow canister Filter is designed for both fresh and saline water-based aquariums. The filter is fitted with chemical, physical and biological media for efficient filtration of harmful toxic waste products from the aquarium water. It is designed to allow for additional replacement media to enhance filtration and to give sparkles clean results. It has an advancement feature on the back, a polishing unit that makes maintenance easy and quick. 

Repairing or replacing media contents is made easy. Instead of disassembling the canister to replace the filtration media, you simply replace the carbon cartridge. This reduces the maintenance cost and time used to replace the media. The canister fits aquariums of up to 155 gallons.

What I like

The canister has an over the edge polishing unit which polishes the water and makes maintaining easy and efficient. It keeps the tank tidy and sparkles clean. The filter is fitted with media for filtration, biological, chemical and physical filtration media. I like the fact that with the Aqueon Quietflow Canister filter it is possible to add more filtration media to improve the quality of filtration. You don’t need to disassemble the canister to replace the media gaskets.

What I don’t like

I don’t like the fact that I have to take long to clean the hose linings which is not a walk in the park.

  • Allows for additional media
  • Easy to replace the media gaskets
  • Fits up to 1555 gallons of water
  • Uses 4 types of filtration media
  • Time-consumingg to clean the hose linings

The Fluval External Filter has many benefits to your aquarium. It gives a very good filtration process that is quiet and requires little maintenance. This ensures that you do not lose your concentration on your work due to the noise that might be produced. The Fluval enhances operation and filtration of your aquarium water to give a nice environment for the fish to thrive in. This creates a very healthy aquarium for the fish. 

It has some additional features such as Aqua- stop-valves to ensure easy hose disconnections, single – motion lift locks and clamps to assist cleaning and maintenance of the aquarium. It comes fully packed with filtration media for a sparkle clean and healthy aquarium. The motor has an improved performance which reduces the frequency of maintenance. It has a sound- dampening design built to reduce the amount of noise produced by the canister filter which is enclosed in a hard to break cover.

What I like

I like the large filtration media which gives a large surface area for filtration of the water. The powerful motor helps maintain a very strong flow of water between the scheduled maintenances. It is very quiet during its operation. This is made possible by the bearings which minimize impeller vibrations and reduce the noise produced.

What I don’t like

It does not offer aeration to your aquarium and hence requires another device for aerating the aquariums.

  • Large filtration media
  • A powerful motor for a steady flow
  • Quick and easy to maintain the canister filter
  • Suitable for both fresh and salty water
  • Does not offer aeration

Read full review of Fluval External Filter 

Cascade Canister filters form the globally known Penn Plax is designed to ensure that the water in the aquariums remains crystal clean at all times. They offer heavy-duty and multi-stage filtration which is carried out externally. It is versatile in its operation where it is suitable for both freshwater and salty water. The cascade canister is made to filter water from a 200 gallons capacity aquarium. It provides up to 350 gph of water flow.

It is easy to install these filters and its package comes with all that is required to install it. Efficient in its operation whereby during the first 30 minutes of its operation there are visible results. It has a push-button primer that makes it easy to start up the two independent directional circular rotation. The valve taps make the placement free of any worries. Has flow rate control valves and swimming pool- hose style clamps which makes the set up easy.

What I like

It is easy to install the canister filter. They offer heavy-duty and multi-stage filtration which is carried out externally. I also like the fact that it suits both fresh and salty water. The fact that it allows a combination of filtration media improves the cleanliness of water filtered.

What I don’t like

I don’t like the fact that it is not so quiet and this might disturb you a little.

  • Easy to set up the canister filter
  • Allows for the combination of different types of media for effective filtering
  • Heavy-duty service and multi-stage filtering
  • Made to filter out large amounts of water effectively
  • It is not as quiet

It is designed to filter out toxic substances from aquariums with a capacity of up to 400 gallons. It has a high capacity work hose. It has a powerful motor which makes it highly reliable in its operation.

It has a self-start up a mechanism where you just add water and it automatically starts. Air is auto- evacuated within every 12 hours to ensure efficiency in its operation. Easy water changes eliminate the need to lift gallons of water to input water. This Fluval Canister filter requires you to just connect a hosepipe to the output section.  

It has stackable and removable media baskets that have a holding capacity of 1.5 gallons of media. The filter media is included in the canister package. Has aqua- stop valves with fittings that are proof of leaks. The valves are easily installed maintaining an angle of 45 degrees. Anti- clog telescopic strainer which ensures a continuous and steady flow of water.

What I like

What I like about the Fluval Canister Filter is that they have a high filtering capacity and can support up to 400 gallons of water capacity of the aquarium. I also like the smart pump technology which improves the performance of the filter. Has a self- starting mechanism.

What I don’t like

The only drawback with the Fluval Canister Filter is that it is not easy to install it.

  • Filters a large capacity of water per hour
  • Fitted with microchip technology to improve performance
  • A self-starting mechanism
  • Easy to add water to the canister by using a hosepipe
  • The installation is time-consuming and might require assistance

Read full review of Fluval FX6 Canister Filter

The Eheim 6666 4+ Canister Filter is one of the best aquarium filters you can purchase. It is easy to use. Designed to give your aqua animals a state of the art fresh breath. It comes complete with media for filtering and all installation equipment needed.

It comes with an ‘xtender’ button. This becomes helpful; when it comes to the addition of aquarists. This lengthens the time between the routine cleanings made possible by using a bypass mechanism. It skips the fine filter pad and the pad becomes blocked. This is so helpful when it comes to the filter pad becoming clogged and also to perform an extensive clean-up. 

It is a heavy-duty filter that consumes low power that its preceding models do not compare. It is versatile in its performance and is suitable for both freshwater and salty water. It pushes out 252 gallons of water per hour.

What I like

I like the way it uses little power and pushes out a lot of water per hour. The bypass mechanism is so helpful when the filtering pads become clogged and also for a perfect filtration to give out crystal clear water. It is heavy duty and uses little power to perform nice filtrations efficiently.

What I don’t like

Installing the Eheim canister filter is not that easy. A manual is key.

  • A very powerful performance
  • Quiet during its operations
  • Consumes little power and filters out a lot of water
  • Bypass mechanism for perfect results
  • Comes complete with filtering media
  • Installation is challenging especially if you are a beginner

The Sunsun pro canister filter is a great deal when it comes to filtering water in your aquarium. It promotes filtration of water to get crystal clear water. It includes a filter media, three white filter pads and a blue colored coarse pad.

The HW304B canister filter is suitable for use for up to 150 gallons of aquariums. It has a high flow rate of 525 gph that is 2000 liters per hour. It is versatile for use in both freshwater and saline water aquariums. Has flexible media trays which makes it possible for additions of filtering media. It could use ceramic rings or bio-balls. This helps achieve chemical, physical and biological filtration for a healthy environment for the fish. The filter media improves the clarity of water and the odor of the water. The porous ceramic rings give an ideal site for the growth of beneficial bacteria.

What I like

What I like about this canister filter is that it has a 9 watts UV sterilizer which is important in killing harmful bacteria and algae spores. The media used, the porous ceramic rings offer a very ideal site for the growth of beneficial bacteria in the aquarium. Bio balls used to aid in gaseous exchange and increase the levels of dissolved oxygen in the water.

What I don’t like

Air leaks might have a bad effect on water intake.

  • Promotes the killing of harmful algae and bacteria
  • Gives crystal clear filtrates
  • Use of ceramic rings media encourages the growth of useful bacteria
  • High power for a steady flow of water
  • 9 watts UV sterilizer for killing algae spores
  • The air leaks affect the intake of water in the filter

Hydor Professional External Canister Filter has a telescopic intake Tubes. It has a flow of 225 gph filter. It has a high power motor which generates enough power to maintain a steady flow.

The hydor External Canister is manufactured by a reputable company to ensure healthy living conditions for the aquatic animals. It comes with a 4- locking clamp system that offers great support to the motor and helps it keep working properly. The systems are designed in a way to prevent leakages. It is easy to set up the canister. Mounting is made easier and all you have to do is to swivel so that you can have an easy time connecting the hoses from different angles. It has a desirable flow rate.

What I like

I like the fact that this Canister filter is that it produces very little noise that could not affect your concentration. You do not want noise that will affect your kid r grandkid while doing their homework. The filter uses 3 media trays for filtration. This gives a lot of clarity for the aquariums.it is easy to clean and maintain the canister.

What I don’t like

It has issues with leaks, especially when disconnecting the valves. It also might have no replacements in case of damages as it is still new in the field.

  • It is easy to set up even for beginners
  • Has a safety lock system
  • Easy to use and clean the canister
  • The motor is powerful to provide a nice smooth flow
  • It has a very easy priming system
  • It has some issues with leaks when disconnecting the valves.

The Marineland Multi-stage Canister Filter is a multi-staged filter that comes with a stackable tray with handles for easy care and maintenance. They are made in four different sizes to suit the size of your aquarium. Best results are easily noticeable in large tanks. It ensures a healthy environment and a crystal clear habitat.

It is easy to set up and maintain the canister filter. They come along with manuals to guide you on how to install the canister filter. They offer the use of a variety of the type of media to be used depending on the kind of chemical filtration that will suit your canister filter. Maintaining it is time-saving. The media only change when damaged.

What I like

I like the three stages of filtration whereby there is no bypass system and this ensures only clean water comes out of the filtering zone. This increases the chances of a well thriving aquatic environment.  It is easy to set up and maintain. It is compatible with the Marineland filter cartridges.

What I don’t like

It requires some care when it comes t handling the rubber gaskets used in creating the seal for the incoming water between the baskets.

  • Stackable media trays that are easy to use and maintain
  • Made in different sizes to suit you
  • Biofilter balls media used encourages the growth of bacteria
  • Allows use of various types of media for filtration
  • If not handles well the rubber seal gaskets could easily spoil

The Eheim Classic External Canister Filter is legendary. It is efficient in both small and large aquarium tanks. The technology behind the construction and performance of this canister has been tested and found reliable and efficient. It does not make any unnecessary noise while functioning.

The Eheim classic filter comes with a complete set of filtering media that is the Eheim mech and a substrate pro. It is built in varying sizes to suit various capacities of the canisters. It comes along with a manual with clear instructions on how to install correctly.

What I like

I like the various designed modes of the canister meant to suit your aquariums. During its operations, it does not produce noise which would otherwise distract me and affect my concentration. It uses very little power and does a great job leaving the water in my aquarium crystal clear. I also like the permo- elastic silicon sealing fixed at the head of the pump to secure it after cleaning. I like the fact that it comes with a complete set of filtration media which is the Eheim mech and substrate pro.

What I don’t like

The priming is a bit discouraging. This becomes a drawback and requires action.

  • Fit for use in both large and small tanks
  • Consumes little energy
  • Performs a nice job giving a nice crystal clear filtration
  • Comes with the asset of filtration media
  • The priming requires to be upgraded to function properly without struggles

Buying Guide

Below are some of the factors that you need to consider when selecting the best canister filter to consider buying. Every customer wants to feel the impact of their money by having the best performing canister filter. People are different and that differs from the things they might consider. Some of the factors include: 

Your budget

Different models have different prices and it is a great and wise decision to choose a canister filter that fits your budget.

Population of fish to be kept

You need to choose a canister that will suit an aquarium with a population of fish to be kept. Future adjustments on the size of your aqua tank are also important to consider. It would be very great to have your canister filter serve you even when you select another aquarium tank for your fish. You should ensure that the filter works with the type of water you have.

Nature of aquarium water

Some aquarium canister filters work with both salty water and freshwater but others do not. You should ensure that the filter you buy works with the water you have. I would recommend the canister filters that work well in both natures of water. In the future, you might need to change or add another aquarium with different nature of water. 

Size of the Aquarium

Some canister filters will work well with small capacity tanks and others with large tanks. The size of your tank will dictate the canister filter to purchase. To suit customers the canister filters manufacturing companies design canister filters of different sizes to suit different sizes of tanks.

Amount of time you wish to clean your canister filter

Some canister filters require a lot of time to clean them perfectly while others require a lesser time to clean the canister filters. Before purchasing the canister filter you first ensure that the time needed to clean it you can offer. 

Sophistication of the canister filter

Some people I included like sophisticated filters. Canister filters that encourage the growth of healthy bacteria which help in biofiltration inside the aquarium. Depending on your taste you could consider an ecosystem that you want for your aquarium. 

Space you want to devote to your canister filter

Depending on the size of your room you should choose a canister filter. Different canisters have varying sizes which will suit the amount of space you wish to give to it.

Location of your tank

The area that you wish to locate the aquarium tank will automatically determine the type of canister to purchase based on the amount of the noise the canister produces. 

Presence of other aquatic animals in the aquarium

Some marine animals such as snails and turtles have specifications for the type of canister filters to give them a healthy life span. Make sure that you get the right type of canister filter.

Kind of automation you want for your filter

Do you want a manual prime filter or an automatic filter? Depending on the two factors and also future advancements in technology you need to look ahead and get yourself a canister filter to suit your aquariums. As technology advances daily, marine canister filters are not left behind and thus a good decision is important.

Whether the canister filter has filter pads incorporated?

Filter pads are designed to keep your aquarium water sparkly clean. You should check whether the canister filters come with the pads or come separately for proper functioning.

Does the filter require additional equipment?

Some of the canister filters come with all the required apparatus intact while others require additional equipment for proper functioning. As you choose you should feed your taste with the canister filter you would like.

How does a canister filter work?

A Canister Filter is a device that filters water in the aquarium and ensures that the aqua animals living in enjoy a state of the art healthy living conditions. It is externally placed outside the aquarium tank. Water from the aquarium is pumped through a layered series of filtering units that perform a physical, biological and chemical filtration to the water. The direction of the flow of water varies depending on the different brands and models of the canister filters. Can be either top- to- bottom or vice versa, center- out and vice versa.

After the water has gone through the filter media in the canister, it is pumped back into the aquarium tank. Canister filters normally use pumps to move water faster and in a steady flow. The pump is powered using a motor. The motors are designed with different ratings to suit different models of canister filters. Some canister filters require a separate water pump while others have inbuilt water pumps. 

Canister maintenance has little maintenance and is designed to consume low power. If water is allowed to flow over the media it would not give the best results compared to when water is pumped through the media filters. After some time of operation, the carbon present in the canisters should be replaced with fresh carbon. This is because when saturated the carbon can release toxins to the water in the aquarium risking the lives of aqua animals. 

Canister filters are best used with large tanks. This is because they can filter large volumes of water perfectly. The canister filters are easily configured to biological, chemical and physical filtration for perfect results in your aquarium. The dirt accumulates in the carbon layers to ensure no toxins get back to the aquarium after water is filtered. This will give you the best results of filtering in your aquarium.

How to Set Up a Canister Filter

Best for large tank aquariums. They are mainly used in aquariums with carbon dioxide dressing that is required for preventing surface water from getting stirred up.  Accessories needed to set up the canister filter in most cases come in one package. Some of the required components are hoses, tank connectors, a motor, hose clips and clamps, output and intake unit, media baskets, foam inserts, ceramic rings, and filter canister. 

The first step is ensuring that all parts required in setting up the canister filters are present. Ensure that they are all in a good working condition before beginning the actual set up. Locate a suitable place to put your filter. It is advisable to place your canister filter beneath the aquarium tank, this ensures an ideal use. You should check your manual to exactly know the exact level to place your filter. Examine the tubing to ensure there are no loops or kinks.

Take off the motor head of your filter and ensure that all media baskets are inside. Prepare your media baskets and you may have filled the 3 to 4 media baskets. In case there is a leak at the base use clay rings to diffuse waste particles that gather down there.   

The mechanical Media is installed first in the first layer. This is because when water is forced to the filter it first goes through this tray and is forced down the other layers for better filtration results. Mechanical filtration is made to be the initial phase of the filtration procedures. This helps prevent clogging of the biological and chemical media filtration layers. Install biological and chemical media.

 Prepare the intake ready and ensure there are no constrictions in the piping. After the input prepares the output unit. Ensure that the output nozzle rests an inch under the waterline. You don’t have to place it all way under the base of the tank. Sit back and watch your canister filter operate.


Q: Where can you get the best canister filters?

A: Even that pet selling shop does not have a variety of canister filters. As a result, online shopping deals become handy and vital. For safe and secure transaction for even across seas Amazon shopping site becomes the reliable partner that you are looking for. Whether you are looking for high powered Canister filters or you want repair parts, they are all available at friendly prices. 

Q: How long canister do filters last?

A: Most Canister filters last long. This is attributed to the fact that they are made using high quality and durable material from reputable brands worldwide. For the Canister filters to last long you should ensure that you maintain them well and clean them well. Every tool lasts longer when maintained than when not maintained. 

Q: Where should you put a Canister filter?

A: The Canister filters are designed to be placed under the aquarium tank. Gravity aids in the flow of water for effective filtration. Each Canister filter has specifications on the distance that is great for its working.

Final Thoughts

We would recommend any of the ten reviewed Canister filters for your aquariums. You are assured of the best experience in your aquarium. They do not produce much noise during their operations to ensure you are not distracted. They give you the privilege of choosing the type of filter media that you want to use to suit your aquarium animals. They come with sufficient power motors to maintain a steady flow of water while filtering it. Best experiences in your aquarium require you to make a wise decision on the Canister that you will purchase. With the above information, I am certain that you will make a very good decision and feel the impact of your money.