Best Canister Filters Reviews 2022 – Top 10 & Complete Guide

Among types of fish tanks filter, the canister appears to be the most popular one. Thanks to the great combination of biological, chemical and mechanical filtration, the filter does a great job in keeping your fish tank water crystal clean, ensuring a healthy and clean habitat for your fish.

Because you are bombarded with exaggerated advertisements of manufacturers, you find it a task of a challenge to get a good deal. Hence, I summarize the best fish tank canisters with the hope that you may choose a goof fish tank filter.

Besides, in-depth and subjective reviews of canisters, an overview on the type of filter and how it works are provided so that you could dig deeper into the product before coming to a buying decision.

Best Canister Filters for the money

1. Fluval External Fish Tank Filter

Fluval Canister Filter for Aquariums - 406 - 100 Gallon
2,073 Reviews
Fluval Canister Filter for Aquariums - 406 - 100 Gallon
  • Multi stage filtration for healthy fresh & saltwater aquariums
  • Suitable for aquariums up to 100 gallons. Flow Rate: 1450 LPH (383 US GPH)
  • Sound dampening impeller design for a quieter operation. The Fluval 406 Canister Filter has a unique square shaped canister design that holds 35 to 50 percent more water than round canister filters of similar size allowing better water flow through a complex cleansing path that maximizes contact with the filtration media
  • Equipped with a clog proof intake strainer and a dual layer foam screen. To prevent water from dripping onto the receptacle or plug,a “drip loop” should be arranged by the user in the cord connecting appliance to a receptacle
  • Built with a patented Aqua stop Valve, multiple filtration baskets, and rim connector assemblies; 3 year warranty.Media Capacity: 8.5 L

If you are aquarium hobbyists, I guess you have heard about the filter by Fluval- the famous brand for fish tank filter. The Fluval External Fish Tank Filter has experienced considerable improvements such as flexible filtration line and more powerful motor. Especially, it could filter fish tanks of up to 100 gallons.

Pros:

  • The most outstanding feature of the filter is the capability of cleaning water. Your tank is sure to get crystal clean.
  • The auto prime feature is great. When the inflow and outflow are set up correctly in the tank, it is easy to prime the pump
  • An improved feature that should be mentioned is the adjustment valve of the filter to control flow rate
  • The filter is completely silent when it works; hence your animals are certainly happier with a quieter tank.
  • The smart design is also a star of the canister filter. Therefore, you could use assembly and take apart for cleaning and maintenance with ease.

Cons:

  • The canister seems not to seal properly. Therefore, you may have to struggle with leaking water
  • The instruction is hard to follow, making installation somehow tricky. Then, you may get burned up
  • Another problem with the filter is restarting it. After cleaning, it is difficult to restart the filter.

2. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter Cascade 1500

Penn-Plax Cascade 1500 Aquarium Canister Filter – Provides Physical, Biological, and Chemical Filtration – 350 Gallons per Hour (GPH)
6,691 Reviews
Penn-Plax Cascade 1500 Aquarium Canister Filter – Provides Physical, Biological, and Chemical Filtration – 350 Gallons per Hour (GPH)
  • CASCADE 1500 CANISTER FILTER: Without effort, the Cascade 1500 Canister Filter quietly delivers crystal clear water throughout the tank. This filter cycles water at 350 Gallons per Hour, and is recommended for aquariums up to 200 gallons. It’s compatible for both freshwater and saltwater fish tanks, and is also great for turtle habitats!
  • STATE OF THE ART FEATURES: In addition to the push button primer that allows for a simple and quick prime, this Canister Filter also features two independent valve taps that rotate 360°. This makes for easy maneuvering, even in the tightest aquarium cabinets! The 5 stackable, large capacity media baskets give aquarists the ability to customize filtration.
  • FILTER MEDIA: This Canister Filter comes standard with 5 Poly Fiber Floss Pads, 1 Coarse Bio-Sponge, and 1 Bag of Activated Carbon. In addition to optimizing the colonization of anaerobic bacteria, this filter traps floating particulate matter, removes harmful chemicals and toxins, clears up discolorations, and reduces foul odors from your aquarium’s water.
  • ITEMS INCLUDED: 2 Independent Valve Taps, Push Button Primer, Flow Rate Control Cut-Off Valves, Swimming-Pool Style Hose Clamps, 4 Easy Lift Alignment Clamps, Sturdy Tip-Proof Base, 5 Large Capacity Media Baskets, 5 Poly Fiber Floss Pads, 1 Coarse Bio-Sponge, and 1 Bag of Activated Carbon.
  • MEASUREMENTS AND OTHER USEFUL INFO: The Cascade 1500 Canister Filter measures 11.5” (W) x 12” (D) x 20.5” (H). Additional Info = 110 Volts / 60 Hz / 45.5 W.

If you have to handle an aquarium up to 200 gallons, the Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter Cascade 1500 is exactly what you need. The filter could provide up 10 350 350 gph of flow.

Especially, the filter allows the combination of several types of media, therefore, offering you mechanical, chemical and biological filtration to make your water crystal clean in both fresh and marine environment.

Pros:

  • The instructions is easy to follow, and installation seem as easy as a piece of cake
  • Another feature which differentiates the filter from the Fluval External Fish Tank Filter is that it doesn’t leak any water.
  • It can keep water crystal clean and get rid of all fish odor
  • The filter is also famous for quiet operation, so it doesn’t make any rattling noise while running.
  • The popular cobalt blue color can match your aquarium perfectly
  • The price is quite reasonable for such a high-quality fish tank filter.

Cons:

  • The clamps of the filter are made of cheap plastic, which makes it vulnerable to damage, and therefore, you have to replace them regularly
  • The filter is designed with too much bypass, so water flows through all the compartments at will instead of flowing through the most bottom compartments.

3. Fluval Fx6 Aquarium Canister Filter

Fluval FX6 High Performance Aquarium Filter, Canister Filter for Aquariums up to 400 Gal.
1,741 Reviews
Fluval FX6 High Performance Aquarium Filter, Canister Filter for Aquariums up to 400 Gal.
  • Multi-stage filter pumps out 925 US Gal (3,500 L) of water per hour, Smart Pump advanced microchip technology continuously monitors and optimizes pump performance
  • Self-starting – just add water, plug in and Smart Pump will take over, trapped air auto-evacuated every 12 hours to ensure maximum efficiency
  • Easy water changes eliminate need to lift heavy buckets. Simply attach hosing to output and Smart Pump does the rest
  • Removable, stackable media baskets eliminate water bypass and hold a total of 1.5 US Gal (5.9 L) of media, all filter media included - mechanical, chemical and biological
  • Compact 21 in (53 cm) tall design - easily fits under most aquariums

This is another lovely yet highly functional product by Fluval. The filter is designed for aquariums up to 100 gallons. In fact, the super capacity yet compact canister filter offers the pump output of 925 gallons of water and the filter circulation of 563 GHP to make water cleaner and healthier. Especially, since the assembly is extremely handy, you absolutely could do it on your own with ease.

Pros:

  • Thanks to the super and high-capacity yet compact canister, the filter could work so well with the large fish tank.
  • An improvement of the filter in comparison with the 2 ones mentioned above is that the filter is designed with a monthly maintenance reminder to help you know what time to maintain your filter.
  • Another noticeable feature of the filter is how to study it is. In fact, the filter still keep the stable and powerful flow despite the length of operation
  • The filter also does a good job in keeping the water parameter in line
  • The fish tank filter usually gets positive review thanks to its smooth and dead silent operation, leaving your fish a peaceful environment.

Cons:

  • The space of the media filter seems quite limited due to the compact design
  • Though removing and replacing the lid is not a task of challenge, it still takes you quite a long time and much effort
  • The hose clamps provided mainly work well with tanks with thin edges, so if your tank has thick edges, you need to check before buying the filter

4. EHEIM Classic External Canister Fish Tank Filter Media

EHEIM Classic Canister Filter 2215, Classic 350 - PetOverstock
1,526 Reviews
EHEIM Classic Canister Filter 2215, Classic 350 - PetOverstock
  • Permo-elastic silicon sealing ring fixed on the pump head for easy and safe closing after cleaning
  • Equipped with filter sponges and/or loose filter media
  • Accessories included: spray bar, inlet pipe, hose and installation accessories
  • Comes complete with filter media (EHEIM Mech & Substrat Pro) and valves
  • Permo-elastic silicon sealing ring fixed on the pump head for easy and safe closing after cleaning

Though the filter of 94 US gallons is designed to work best for aquariums of small or medium size, it still operates with a high level of efficiency for larger systems. Also, the constant circulation and simultaneous oxygen enrichment enable you the get the mechanical-biological purification in a single process.

Pros:

  • The filter has become a favorite equipment for a large number of people since it could keep water clean with 2 to 4-month water changes, if you don’t want to become a slave for water changes, the product is exactly what you must buy.
  • The feature that differentiates the filter from the others is the ability to create constant movement and great water flow. Therefore, your animals become more active staying in the aquariums. In case you want to adjust the water flow and movement, you just need to use the lever on the valve
  • Another great feature of the filter is its sturdiness. The filter could run strong after a year of use, and it is advisable for you to do maintenance every 3 months to ensure the best performance of the filter.
  • The feature I love the most is the reasonable price. Believe me; you will not get disappointed spending your money on such a good product.

Cons:

  • The lid of the removable bucket could get broken easily, so you have to be careful while assembling and need to check the lid regularly.
  • The greatest shortcoming of the filter is the instruction which is quite difficult for users to follow. Many users even said that the instruction is useless. Instead, you may look for some clips on YouTube for clearer instructions.

5. Fluval Aquarium Canister Pro Kit

No products found.

The Fluval Aquarium Canister Pro Kit Filter has improved designed and technology to be more user-friendly and work more efficiently. For example, the increased motor hydraulic performance help to reduce the frequency of maintenance while increase water flow and head pressure.

Pros:

  • I am completely in love with the small and space-saving design of the canister filter, which helps me to save room.
  • The filter has handy installation and diverse capacity for different kinds of filter media, which makes it a user-friendly and popular filter.
  • Because of the ability to keep water crystal clean for long, you don’t need to change water weekly like other filters. Hence, you don’t have to be a slave for a water change.
  • Thanks to Improved motor hydraulic performance, the filter could break water tension without outputting water above the surface. Also, the improvement helps to maximize maintenance period
  • Not only does the filter keep your tank clean, but it also gets rid of any fish odor

Cons:

  • The filter is considered pricey despite the high quality. So, if you don’t want to spend much money on a filter, the Fluval Aquarium Canister Pro Kit  should not be put on the top priority
  • Another shortcoming of the filter is the accessories. Many customers criticize that the carbon bag doesn’t fit the filter while the ceramic rings are so vulnerable. Especially, the bio balls are useless for the filter operation.

6. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter Cascade® 1000

Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter
  • Designed for aquariums from 30 to 200 gallons
  • Simple push button primer
  • Rotating valve taps and flow rate control
  • Extra large capacity with stackable filter
  • Lift handle

The Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter Cascade® 1000 as a heavy-duty external filtration system could work for tanks up to 100 gallons and pumps 265(GPH).  Strikingly, the activated carbon media gets rid of toxic, dirt, and odor from water, leaving you a cleaner and heather habitat for your aquatic species.

Pros:

  • I must say many people choose the canister filter because of the reasonable price it offers in comparison to the high quality of the product.
  • The most noticeable feature making the filter a must-have item for your aquariums is the capability of cleaning your tank within a short period of time( about 15 minutes)
  • Also, it is easy for you to assemble or take apart the equipment if you want to clean it.
  • The three trays are designed with filter floss pads and one small bag of charcoal media to prevent contamination, providing your animals a fresh environment.
  • The medium size of the filter allow you to put in under your tank in an enclosed stand so that you could save more space for your room

Cons:

  • Because the clamps are made of cheap plastic, they are so fragile and easy to get broken
  • The filter run quietly at first, but it tends to make gurgling noises after several months of use, so you need to do maintenance regularly to avoid the problems.

7. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

Hydor Professional External Canister Filter – Aquarium External Filter – Telescopic Intake Tubes, Easy Priming – EcoSystem in a Box – Biological, Mechanical, Chemical Filtration – 190 to 345 gph
  • 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

The Hydor Professional External Canister Filter is designed specifically for tanks of 90 to 150 gallons. The filter has become quite popular among aquariology enthusiast thanks to space- saving and smart design. Also, it is highly appreciated for effective performance as well as great versatility.

Pros:

  • The long thick, wide hoses of filter create more and stronger water flow, making a more lively and active habitat for fish and other aquatic species.
  • A great feature which makes the filter so popular is its sturdiness. Many customers have reviewed that the Hydor Professional External Canister Filter they bought has been working well for 14 months.
  • Not only can the filter keep your tank clean, but it also doesn’t produce any sound and vibration while operating.
  • The filter comes with a smart design, which allows you to assemble, take apart to clean so easily.

Cons:

  • Though the filter has a reasonable price, buying a replacement for damaged pieces may cost you an arm and a leg. Hence, you have to do maintenance regularly and be very careful while using the filter so that you don’t have to spend much money on replacements.
  • The biggest problem with the filter is the fragile valves causing a water leak. Then, you are required to check and replace it regularly to avoid the rip. You now, prevention is better than cure.
  • It only works best for the small and medium size fish tanks.

8. Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter

No products found.

While most of the other filters mainly focusing keeping your water clean and smell-free, the Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter is designed with a UV Sterilizer to kill algae and harmful bacteria. Also, the filter is the most suitable for the tank of up to 175 gallons.

Pros:

  • The filter is famous for the capability of cleaning your water while running so silently, which is the top priority for those wanting to  buy a filter
  • The simple design allow you to set up and take apart easily for using, cleaning and maintenance
  • The replacements for parts of the filter is quite cheap, so you don’t need to get panic if some part are broken and need replacements
  • Though the filter is not the best filter, it is considered high-quality for the range of price.

Cons:

  • The filter becomes less sturdy after a year of use. To be more specific, there are water leaks or small damages of parts of the machine. It could be explained by the fact that the filter is made of cheap materials, making it more fragile.
  • Another problem that you should take into account is the difficulty to do maintenance. You may need to get a professional lend you a hand.

9. Marineland C-Series Multi-Stage Canister Filter

Marineland Multi-Stage C-530 Canister Filter For aquariums, Easy Maintenance, 100 to 150-Gallon/530 GPH (PCML530)
  • 3-STAGE FILTRATION Water flows through media layers to filter water and ensure a clean aquatic environment
  • FAST SETUP Water-tight canister lid lifts up for easy removal
  • COMPATIBILITY Compatible with Marineland Rite-Size Z Filter Cartridges
  • MARINELAND FILTRATION PRODUCTS Count on Marineland brand for the most reliable technically advanced aquariums and accessories on the market

The filter could offer the flow rate of 530 GPH. Therefore, it could work perfectly for aquariums of up to 150 gallons. Besides, unlike the filters mentioned above which need a 5 stage filtration process, the Marineland C-Series Multi-Stage Canister Filter allow a 3 stage filtration process so that you could save more time.

Pros:

  • The most outstanding feature of the filter is excellent filtration, which helps to keep your water crystal clean and smell-free as well as minimize water change. You only need to change the water in your tank once a month.
  • The filter is completely quite while running even after a long period of use, so you are certainly not bothered by the rattling sounds of the motor/ impeller.
  • It is also easy to clean and do maintenance.
  • The price is so reasonable for such a high-quality filter.

Cons:

  • If you don’t assemble the filter precisely, you may have to struggle with a water leak.
  • The design of the filter makes it difficult to install and service. For example, the plastic plumbing is not well-designed and placed on a flimsy side, which doesn’t provide flexibility for installation. Likewise, the siphon and return elbow on the top allow little ease to adjust while requires much space.

10. Cobalt Aquatics EXT Canister Filter

Cobalt Aquatics EXT Canister Filter
  • No priming; does not need gravity. Can sit below, beside or above your tank.
  • Ideal companion to the Cobalt Micro UV
  • 3 year warranty

The Cobalt Aquatics EXT Canister Filter is considered the most innovative filter among same products. The improved valves enable the filter to run and keep circulation while it is disconnected. Especially, the filter can sit above, beside or below your aquariums, giving you more flexibility in placing.

Pros:

  • A good point of the filter is that the pump is external to the canister, leaving more space for the media.
  • A big selling point of the filter is its sturdiness with strong and solid top mechanism.
  • It may fill quite quickly thanks to the small sizes. Also, it is unbelievably quiet while running
  • The price is quite reasonable for the quality and in comparison with the products of the same functions and capacity of other competitors.

Cons:

  • Since the pump is external to the canister and badly assembly, you are sure to struggle with water leaks in the long run.
  • Though the filter comes with a lot of accessories, most of them are cheap and of poor quality, which means you need to save money for fixing and replacements.

What is a canister filter?

The canister filter is described as an external filtration system that helps to remove dirt, toxins and harmful debris as well as chemicals from your aquarium to provide aquatic species a clean and healthy living environment.

As an external filter, it provides more materials for filtration, which helps to increase its ability and effectiveness to rinse your water. Also, the canister filter operates based on 3 mechanisms: biological, mechanical and chemical filtration.

Biological filtration: the filtration is involved in breaking down nitrites and ammonia by nitrifying bacteria. The most important thing for the method is that you have to keep your water not too clogged so that the nitrifying bacteria may constantly expose to oxygenated water.

Mechanical filtration: the method involves trapping and removing waste participles. Unfortunately, the mechanical can’t get rid of all of the waste particles which are then suspended. The suspended particles contain harmful bacteria that may pose a detrimental threat to your animals in the aquarium.

Chemical filtration: Basically, you use some substance like carbon or zeolite to get rid of impurity in water with the mechanical filtration. However, it brings short-term benefits and works well for an emergency while it is not budget friendly.

How does a canister filter work?

Getting to know how the system work may be tricky and challenging to some extent, but it is essential if you want to equip your fish tank with the filter.

To be more specific, water runs into the canister through an intake pipe, and then after processed, the water is brought back to tanks through a return pipe. Also, it works best for planted and saltwater aquarium

Because the canister filter is a fully-flooded and sealed system, the intake and returns pipe, aquarium and filter interior create the constant movement of water. Regardless of the height of the latter placed on the canister; it doesn’t take the pump much effort to return water back to the tank.

An important to keep in mind is that the pump needs to be strong enough to force water through filter materials and get over the drag in the intake and then run to the return pipe.

Benefits

The canister filter has gained popularity thanks to a number of advantages:

  • Because it is an external filter that is placed outside the fish tanks, your fish are left with for room for swimming and playing. Also, it allows you to  set up, clean the filter and do maintenance with easy because you could disconnect the machine for cleaning or maintenance without disturbing the animals inside the tank
  • Thanks to an awesome combination of biological, chemical and mechanical filtration, the filter is excellent in keeping your water clean and healthy.
  • The external plumbing of the filter also supports the installation of other equipment like heaters or CO2 diffusers.
  • An outstanding feature of the canister filter is the high flow rates which might come up to 320 gallons per hours. It means that the whole filtration process takes less time.
  • Because the type of fish tank filter may come with a variety of types of media, you could have more media selection to suit your needs.
  • The canister is famous for the smoothest and quietest operation among all types of filters. Also, there is mostly no vibration while the filter is operating, so your fish is left with a peaceful place of living.
  • Though the canister filter provides an excellent combination of 3 methods of filtration, the mechanical filtration could be the strongest. This means it could remove nearly all debris and prevent it returning the tank.
  • Most of the canister filter is designed with an energy-saving system, and then you could save energy consumption in your house.

Despite great benefits, the fish tank filtration system also brings about unwanted effects such as the increased costs for accessories or the complexity of assembling and setting up.

What you need to consider before buying a canister filtration

The size of your fish tank

Measuring the size of your fish tank is of great importance to choose a suitable canister filter because the capacity of your machine needs to be compatible with the size of the tank to achieve the best cleaning result.

If you have a large aquarium, you can’t install a canister of low capacity which may not help to remove all debris and toxic in the aquarium. Then, you end up with a clogged fish tank that may be unhealthy for your animals.

What kind of fish or species you are about to raise

You have never thought that the types of fish may help you to get a good product, but in fact, it can help you in many ways. Since the filtration could affect the habitat considerably, you need to choose the one that makes your fish comfortable.

For example, goldfish are a bit messy, so it prefers strong water movement while barbs like a peaceful habitat. Or saltwater fish requires good biological filtration since they are highly sensitive to the quality of water.

Cleaning and maintenance

Cleaning and maintenance don’t influence your animals considerably, but they certainly bother you. If you are up to your ears or somehow lazy, don’t buy a filter that requires frequent cleaning and maintenance because the job takes you a great deal of time and efforts. Not to mention, it also costs you a great deal of money.

Likewise, choosing the filtration system that is easy to clean and do maintenance. If you buy one that is not user-friendly, you will have to hire a profession to help you.

FAQ

Of course, you have lots of question when buying a canister. Hereunder are the top concerns involved purchasing and using the canister filter that may help to work out your problems.

What is the best canister filter?

This is such as tough question because the best canister filter should be the one that is the most suitable for your fish tank size and types of fish. You should get to know the factors first before picking up any canister filter.

It is advisable for you to consult aquarium hobbyist who is knowledgeable about the field. If you don’t know any hobbyist, asking sellers may be a good idea. But be careful, some sellers may try to persuade you to buy a product instead of helping to choose the right thing.

How does the canister filtration work?

It takes time to understand how the canister filtration works, but water runs into the canister through an intake pipe, then after processed, the water is brought back to tanks through a return pipe. Also, it works best for planted and saltwater aquarium

Where could I buy the best canister filter?

You might drop by aquarium store to see the products in person. Also, you may consult products on Amazon where there is a variety of products from different manufacturers and of different prices. Also, there are many promotion programs, so you might get a great deal buying online on the website.

How often should I clean and maintain my canister filter?

The frequency of cleaning and maintenance may vary for different manufacturers or line of products. You’d better read the instruction provided with the products for further information.

How much energy does a canister filter need while running?

Thanks to the small and energy-saving motor, most of the canister filters only consume a small amount of energy.

How to set up the canister filter for an aquarium?

There is an instruction provided with your canister filter, but basically, you have to ensure all parts of the filters are well installed. Then, you put the canister filter in its position.  After that, connect the outflow and inflow and the link them to the tank. Position it where it could stay permanently, and no one may disturb it.

Conclusion

I highly hope that the in-depth summary about canister filter may help you to choose the right product for your fish tank.  Don’t forget to share the article with your friends and families so that it could help as many people as possible.