5 Best Small Tank Filters – Pick According To Your Need!

An effective and powerful water filtering system is the most important purchase for your aquarium. Water pollution is extremely harmful to the inhabitants of your aquarium. You must take some measures to maintain good water quality with a small tank filter.

If you are looking for the best small aquarium filters, there are many products available in the market that claim to be perfect. But before going into a discussion about them, it is wise to know the science behind good quality water and its need for an aquatic ecosystem to thrive. From the largest to the smallest tank filter, you need the appropriate mechanism if you want to achieve an abiotic and biotic environment for your tank. It is important as the only for your pet fish to grow healthy.

Why Is An Aquarium Filter Even Needed in A Small Sized Tank?

Why Is An Aquarium Filter Even Needed in A Small Sized Tank

Maintaining water quality up to the mark becomes problematic in the small tanks. It is mainly because of the lack of water volume. Setting a tank filter cleans the tank and adds water volume. It may cost you a bit once you buy it, but a little goes a long way. However, some tank filters do not add extra water volume, for instance, sponge filters and internal filters. Canister filters and HOB filters, however, do. The main purpose of tank filters is to ensure the presence of beneficial bacteria in the aquatic ecosystem and clean the tank.

Filters do this job in three different ways:

  • Mechanical filtration
  • Chemical filtration
  • Biological filtration

Mechanical Filtration

Mechanical filtration removes particles through filtration of foreign objects via small media. This small media can be in the form of filter flosses, pads, foams or paper pleats. You can get them either separately from the nearest pet store, or they can also come with the product when you buy it.

Chemical Filtration

This type of filtration removes nitrites or ammonia from the tank water. The good quality small fish filters can swap out even the extra nutrients, which later affect the water quality of your tank.

Biological Filtration

To understand how biological filtration works, you need to know the nitrogen cycle. A nitrogen cycle involves converting waste products by bacteria and fungi into ammonia. This small device minimizes the harm brought about by the toxins. It would be best if you also remembered that adding more fish to the tank accelerates the nitrogen cycle. To cope with the quick changes, you need to have a filtration device.

The best small tank filter is expected to provide you with biological, chemical and mechanical filtration for your tank.

5 Best Small Tank Filters

Below are some of the best small tank filters that can suit the needs of aquariums of different sizes. They are not listed in order as all of them have good quality.

1. Tetra Whisper Internal Power Filter

Tetra Whisper Internal Filter 10 To 30 Gallons, For aquariums, In-Tank Filtration With Air Pump
14,346 Reviews
Tetra Whisper Internal Filter 10 To 30 Gallons, For aquariums, In-Tank Filtration With Air Pump
  • UNIVERSAL DESIGN Tetra Whisper 20i Internal Filter is an all-in-one air pump and water filter system
  • INTERNAL FILTER Mounts on the inside of your aquarium with clip (included)
  • CATCHES DEBRIS Dense dual-sided mesh filters debris and fish waste
  • AERATES WATER Air-driven design filters up to 125 GPH while oxygenating water
  • CONVENIENT DESIGN Uses large easy to change Bio-Bag cartridges filter mounts inside aquarium making it possible to place tank flush against the wall

Perfect for your small tanks, Tetra Whisper Internal Power Filter has a cartridge included. It also comes with a space for you to accommodate different media like sponge pads or carbon if needed. It makes customization super easy. One of the best things about this filter is that it does not make noise. It uses easily replaceable bio-bag filtration cartridges. An extra cartridge is already included in the package so that you do not have to go through ordering a replacement right away.

This nano tank filter is perfectly suitable for aquariums, including Betta ones. Moreover, this small tank filter’s filtration has three different stages: mechanical, chemical and biological, to keep your tank water neat and clean.

Product specs:

  • Internal filter type.
  • 27GPH flow rate
  • Aquarium capacity is almost up to 5 gallons.
  • Small media capacity
  • Whisper Bio-bag cartridges are included in the package.

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2. AquaClear 30 Power Filter

AquaClear 30 Power Filter, Fish Tank Filter for 10- to 30-Gallon Aquariums
1,884 Reviews
AquaClear 30 Power Filter, Fish Tank Filter for 10- to 30-Gallon Aquariums
  • Aquarium filtration system that offers superior contact time with filter media and energy efficient pump lowers operating costs
  • Quick and easy installation; we recommend that you clean aquarium filter every 2 weeks for maximum operation and efficiency
  • Provides optimal mechanical; chemical; and biological filtration
  • Comes equipped with AquaClear Foam; Activated Carbon Filter and BioMax and Cycle Guard for superior water quality
  • Filtration volume is up to 7 times larger than comparable fish tank filters

AquaClear 30 Power Filter is said to be a ‘workhorse’ for the right reason. It can churn seven times more than the other products available in the market and online in terms of aquatic filter filtration. Through the control feature it comes with, you can also customize the efficiency and performance of this filter. Isn’t it really attractive to do so? The whole installation process is super easy, and maintenance is quite straightforward after installing it successfully. As clear from the name, the maximum capacity of AquaClear 30 Power Filter is 30 gallons. Being the best filter for the small tanks, this amazingly efficient device makes sure that good bacteria are preserved and not harmed. That greatly helps in the removal of ammonia and nitrites from the tank.

Product specs:

  • Easy and quick installation
  • Provides optimal biological, chemical and mechanical filtration.
  • Filtration volume is almost seven times greater than comparable small aquarium filters.
  • Aquarium capacity is up to 30 gallons.

3. Penn Plax Cascade 500 Small Fish Tank Filter

Penn-Plax Cascade 500 Aquarium Canister Filter – Provides Physical, Biological, and Chemical Filtration – 115 Gallons per Hour (GPH)
  • CASCADE 500 CANISTER FILTER: Without effort, the Cascade 500 Canister Filter quietly delivers crystal clear water throughout the tank. This filter cycles water at 115 Gallons per Hour, and is recommended for aquariums up to 30 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 2 stackable, large capacity media baskets give aquarists the ability to customize filtration.
  • FILTER MEDIA: This Canister Filter comes standard with 2 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, 2 Large Capacity Media Baskets, 2 Poly Fiber Floss Pads, 1 Coarse Bio-Sponge, and 1 Bag of Activated Carbon.
  • MEASUREMENTS AND OTHER USEFUL INFO: The Cascade 500 Canister Filter measures 11.5” (W) x 9” (D) x 13.5” (H). Additional Info = 110 Volts / 60 Hz / 10.5 W.

With a high-quality canister filter cartridge, the Pan Plax Cascade filter stands out from all the competitors. This small tank filter is designed so that it is easy to use and gives maximum filtration for your tank. This product comes with a series of internal support drawers, and you can get chemical and mechanical filtration using included carbon pouch and threaded pads. The rough stuff of the sponge provides the surface for biological filtration. Included drawers are spacious so that they enable you to add any media if you want to customize filtration according to your own needs.

Product specs:

  • Motorhead comes with four large clamping pins and an integrated O ring to ensure a strong grip.
  • This filter allows quick disconnection of pipe connections as a flow control system.
  • Outlet/inlet nozzles enable you to adjust the pipe angle according to your desired space.
  • A simple self-priming button makes it easy to start the filter.

4. Marineland Bio-Wheel Penguin 100 Power Filter

Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter 100 GPH, Multi-Stage Aquarium Filtration
30,244 Reviews
Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter 100 GPH, Multi-Stage Aquarium Filtration
  • REPLACEMENT FILTER CARTRIDGE: Pack of 3 cartridges fits Marineland Penguin PRO Power Filters 100, 125 and 175; also fits the original Penguin Power Filter 150.
  • EASY TO INSTALL: Pre-assembled cartridges slide easily into place, providing mechanical and chemical filtration and making replacement fast, dry and effortless.
  • THREE-STAGE FILTRATION: Mechanically filters water through a pad of double-thick poly fiber. Chemically filtered through Black Diamond Premium Activated Carbon. BIO-Wheel technology delivers wet/dry filtration.
  • OPTIMUM WATER-TO-CARBON CONTACT: Ribbed backing ensures even distribution of carbon for sparkling clean water.
  • COLOR-CODED PACKAGING: Rite-Size packaging makes it simple to choose the right size replacement cartridge for your filter.

If you are looking for an affordable small fish tank filter, the Marine land Bio-Wheel Penguin 100 Power Filter should be your pick. This HOB filter has Black Diamond Premium Activated Carbon to remove nitrates and ammonia from your tank water efficiently. Its extra-large BIO-wheel helps keep water moving and good bacteria thriving. You can also adjust this wheel for optimal flow.

Not only this, its specialized noise-reducing vented covers make you enjoy high-quality filtration without having to listen to the annoying noise all day long. This filtration offers mechanical, chemical and biological filtration for both saltwater and freshwater tanks.

Product specs:

  • It is a HOB filter type.
  • The aquarium capacity of this small tank filter is up to 20 gallons.
  • 100 GPH is the flow rate for this filter.
  • Media capacity is medium.
  • Filter media includes Bio-wheel, Black diamond activated carbon, and Rite-sized cartridge.

5. Aqueon Quiet Flow Aquarium Power Filter

Aqueon QuietFlow 10 LED PRO Aquarium Fish Tank Power Filter For Up to 20 Gallon Aquariums
1,996 Reviews
Aqueon QuietFlow 10 LED PRO Aquarium Fish Tank Power Filter For Up to 20 Gallon Aquariums
  • LED indicator light flashes when water cannot pass through the cartridge, generally indicating it's time to change the cartridge
  • Self-priming filter pump will auto-start initially or restart if power is interrupted and restored
  • Provides mechanical, chemical, biological and optional, additional specialty pad filtration
  • High flow rates for optimal dissolved oxygen content to promote healthier, more active fish
  • Internal pump design helps dampen noise and eliminate leaks with self-priming feature

Are you looking for reliable and affordable small tank filters? If yes, Aqueon Quiet Flow Aquarium Power Filter can be a perfect pick. A HOB filter has an advanced 5 stage filtration system with powerful and advanced filtration and an LED filter-change indicator that provides biological, chemical and mechanical filtration. It also has a filter pad and a wet/dry component.

This small filter demonstrates consistent flow rates with near-silent operations. It’s easy to start the pump and does not require any priming. If power is lost, this auto-start pump automatically restarts. With this powerful small tank filter, you can provide increased oxygen levels and crystal clear water for active and healthier fish.

Product specs:

  • The filter type is HOB.
  • The aquarium capacity of this small tank filter is up to 20 gallons.
  • 125 GPH is the flow rate for this filter.
  • The media capacity of this filter is medium.
  • Patented Bio-Holster and activated carbon are included in the filter media.

What Makes A Good Aquarium Filter?

What Makes A Good Aquarium Filter

Let’s discuss what you should look for while deciding which filter to buy for your cute little tank.

Flow Rate

The flow rate of a tank’s filter is described as GPH or Gallon per Hour. This unit tells you about the turnover rate of your filter. Some aquarists prefer to have a 5-10x turnover if you want to keep your pet fish safe from nitrite or Ammonia (NH3) toxicity. It is a good idea if you have little to no plants in your tank or a tank with large fish loads.


When it comes to nano tanks, the capacity of a filter is not so important. All of the filters we have covered have more than enough space for the necessary bio, chemical and mechanical filter media to filter just about any small tank setup.


To maintain a good tank water quality, you need to buy a strong, powerful and efficient filter. While looking in the market, you will come across so many options available that it will become difficult to figure out what you need to get. For your convenience, we have covered you by coming up with a list of the five best small tank filters that do efficient filtration and produce almost no noise. All you have to do is go through all the features of every filter we have mentioned. Prices of these filters have also been mentioned so that you can determine if the mentioned filter suits your budget or not.