Best Canister Filters in 2021 – Top Picks, Tested & Compared

Do you like breathing fresh air? If yes, then your aquatic animals should also have the same treatment. That is why getting the best canister filter should be your uttermost priority. But how will you be able to know that a specific fish tank filter is suitable for your aquarium and is according to your needs?

Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we are going to discuss some of the best aquarium filters in the market that comes with the influx of different brands, you can easily confuse which one to use. If that’s been your dilemma, then this article is in your best interest.

Shall we start?

A good aquarium filter is perhaps one of the most important tools in your aquarium. More importantly, it’s one of the essential elements unless you want to add water to your aquarium every single day.

best aquarium canister filters

But one thing that you should note; make sure you buy a filter that’s a bit bigger. It’s common to find a filters that can dispense less water compared to what the manufacturers say on the product.

Before going into the details of each filter, let’s have a look at the comparison. As there are many important things that you can quickly judges by seeing a comparison table.

10 Best Canister Filters for Aquariums in 2021 – Top Picks!

Best Canister Filter - Fluval FX6 FilterFluval FX6 FilterWeight: 20.8 pounds
Environment: Freshwater & Marine
Capacity: Up to 400 Gallons
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Best Canister Filter - Fluval Advanced FilterFluval Advanced FilterWeight: 19.6 pounds
Environment: Freshwater & Marine
Capacity: Up to 80 Gallons
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Best Canister Filter - Hydor Professional Canister FilterHydor Professional Canister FilterWeight: 19.1 pounds
Environment: All Types
Capacity: Up to 150 Gallons
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Best Canister Filter - Penn Plax Cascade Canister FilterPenn Plax Cascade Canister FilterWeight: 13.4 pounds
Environment: Freshwater & Marine
Capacity: Up to 100 Gallons
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Best Canister Filter - Marineland Magniflow Canister FilterMarineland Magniflow Canister FilterWeight: 21.4 pounds
Environment: Freshwater & Marine
Capacity: Up to 100 Gallons
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Best Canister Filter - Eheim Classic Canister FilterEheim Classic Canister FilterWeight: 14.1 pounds
Environment: All Types
Capacity: Up to 92 Gallons
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Best Canister Filter - Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter

Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter

Weight: 19.6 pounds
Environment: All Types
Capacity: Up to 175 Gallons
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Best Canister Filter - Polar Aurora 265GPH Filter

Polar Aurora 265GPH Filter

Weight: 11.8 pounds
Environment: Freshwater & Marine
Capacity: Up to 75 Gallons
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Best Canister Filter - Aquaclear Canister Filter

Aquaclear Canister Filter

Weight: 14.1 pounds
Environment: All Types
Capacity: Up to 92 Gallons
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Best Canister Filter - Sunsun HW-3000 UV 9W Filter

Sunsun HW-3000 UV 9W Filter

Weight: 17.4 pounds
Environment: Freshwater & Saltwater
Capacity: Up to 125 Gallons
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After a comparison of the top aquarium filters. Now it’s time to explain their advanced features in detail. I will also explain the pros and cons of each filter, so it will help you to choose the best filter according to your needs. Because I know everyone has different requirements.

Without talking much, let’s get started.

1. Fluval Canister Filter

Are you in search of a filter that will not only blow your mind with its effectiveness but also add to your fish tank accessories?

Then the Fluval filter is the best option for you.

Best Canister Filter - 1. Fluval Canister Filter

Read Our Detailed Review

The newly designed Fluval 06 series filter is one of the best and convenient filters in the market. It packs an extra punch that will ensure the cleanliness of your aquarium. This filter is ideal for all sizes of an aquarium.

Fluval aquarium filter utilizes a large capacity of the medium ensuring a powerful flow rate. It’s also suitable for both saltwater and freshwater aquarium. More to that, the filter comes with an advanced motor tech that maintains a very strong flow between maintenance.

The best part about this filter is that it utilizes a precise-engineered bearing that is capable of minimizing the impeller vibrations. The result of a quiet canister filter that actually gets the job done. No more unscheduled clean-ups since the filter broke down. With this machine, you are sure of long-lasting service.

What’s more, the Fluval filter features separate filtration stages that maximize the versatility while at the same time reducing maintenance. That means the filter is capable of using the entire volume to optimize the filtration efficiency.

The Fluval filter is also able to handle a large capacity since it comes with vertical twin form pre-filters. These filters absorb more debris compared to your typical filter and also prevent clogs in your media.

It also comes with an in-built monthly maintenance remainder for those days you forget to check up on your equipment. So I think it’s an ideal choice for you. if you forget to maintain your aquarium filter on a regular basis.


Advanced motor technology hence maintaining a strong water flow

The device runs quietly

It’s best for both saltwater and freshwater tanks

The Fluval filter uses hydro technology to notify the user when it needs service

The filter comes with a leak-proof casing


Some of the customers complained that the filter started leaking after one-year


The Fluval filter is a good choice if you are looking for a filter that works effectively in both saltwater and freshwater tanks.

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2. Fluval Advanced Filtration System

Ranked as one of amazon’s choices products. The Fluval advanced filter system will always get the job done. The filter comes with a multi-stage filter system that will help produce a healthy aquatic environment.

The filter also features a smart pump technology that gives the ultimate filter performance. One of the main reason for buying this filter is that comes with a self-priming technology. You only need to place it in the water and plug it in.

Best Canister Filter - 2. Fluval Advanced Filtration System

The best part about this aquarium filter is that it has a large media basket. The basket is also customizable to your unique features. You can make it fit your exact desires and use them as you want.

It also comes with some other advanced features that only a few filters have in the market. It provides easy access and the ability to view water temperature, flow rate, and conductivity.

The Fluval advanced filtration system is one of the best and ideal choice for aquariums up to 80 gallons. As we all it also provides 185 gallons per hour.

So I don’t think so, you can find any other filter out there that comes with many advanced features and have very great quality and user experience as compared to other filters in the market.


It’s very easy to use after setting it up

It has a leak-proof casing

You can use it for both saltwater and freshwater systems

It can easily handle high-pressure of water

You can use it for a long period of time


It’s a little bit harder to find replacements for the media.


The Fluval is one of the best manufacturing companies and this product doesn’t disappoint.

3. Hydor Pro External Canister Filter

The Hydor external filter is among the best filters in the market. It’s built to perfection with a strong and sturdy construction for long lasting service. The best part is that it doesn’t have any plastic element in it. Meaning you have an equipment that might out-live you.

The base of this aquarium filter comes with four feet which adds to its stability. With this filter, you will get all the chemical, mechanical and chemical filtration that you need in any environment. The Hydor filter improves the health of your aquatic animals.

Best Canister Filter - 3. Hydor Pro External Canister Filter

It comes with an outstanding CF capacity that’s enough toclean up your entire tankin a matter of minutes. More to that, the Hydor filter comes with a long and wide hose for more water flow. Hence improving its efficiency.

The fish tank filter also features lots of different accessories and is very quiet. You literally have to put your hands on the machine to know if it’s still running. Additionally, it’s very easy to install and use. Even if you’ve never owned a filter, you will have a walk-over with this device.

It’s the best option if you are dealing with large fish tanks.


It’s quite easy to set up

The Hydor filter is an awesome addition since it makes no sound

The pipes are wide enough to support more water flow


You might have to incur an extra cost to buy carbon since it doesn’t come with one


If you are a first-timer in the fish tank filters world, then this is your best bet since it’s quite easy to install.

4. Penny Plax Cascade Canister Filter

When it comes to choosing the best filter, then the penny Plax filter will compliment your fish tank. The Penny filter comes with state of the art flow valves that rotate 360 degrees. That helps the filter to maneuver easily even in extremely tight corners.

The filter also includes a spray bar, directional spout, and tubing so that you can start using your immediately. It come with all the necessary equipment for you connect to your tank. The filter works immediately and after a whole day, you will start seeing the effects.

Best Canister Filter - 4. Penny Plax Cascade Canister Filter

It also features a quick push-button primer which makes it easy to use this device. More importantly, it comes with two independent 360 degrees valve taps that make placement a walk in the park.

The Penny Plax filter also has flow-control valves and swimming pool-style clamps which make the setup and any adjustment quite easy. The best part is that this fish tank filter has anair pumpout of 265 gallons per hour. It offers a unique mechanical, chemical and biological filtration process hence eliminating all fine particles that might cause harm to your fish.

The carbon triggered media helps to withdraw toxins from the fish tank and purify the water. The added coarse sponge is also a bonus since it encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria hence reducing the ammonia and nitrate levels. That will result in a cleaner and healthier environment.


The filter comes at an affordable price

It has a powerful filtration system

The filter is great for the quantity of media


It’s a bit noisier compared to the other brands


The Penny Plax filter is ideal when it comes to maneuvering tight corners.

5. Marineland Magniflow Canister

When it comes to a product that’s mindful of your budget, then the Marineland magniflow filter system wins the trophy. This device comes at a very affordable price.

Best Canister Filter - 5. Marineland Magniflow Canister

It does an excellent job when it comes to cleaning up your tank and screen out any dirt traces.

It’s the perfect fit for both people who do fish farming as a hobby and seasoned aquarium owners. This filter is good for both saltwater and freshwater. It’s also very easy to set up since you don’t have to struggle with the manual to understand.

The most intriguing part about this device is that it’s capable of filtering about 100 gallons hence the best equipment for 100-gallon fish tanks among others.

If you are looking for a filtration system that can effectively handle the biological load emitted by your fish, then this is the best option for you.


The device is quite easy to set-up

It’s capable of handling 100 gallons per hour

It comes with a great filtration system

It’s best for fish farming


The engine of this machine is a little louder compared to others in the market


If you are looking for a filter that can deal with your sensitive fish tank, then this is the best option for you. It doesn’t require a lot of setups and is quite easy to use. More to that, it has an amazing filtration system that will affect your fish tank’s biodiversity positively.

6. Eheim Classic Canister Filter

This legendary aquarium filter is simply one of a kind. The permio-elastic silicone ring that’s fitted around its pump head helps for easy closing after cleaning.

Best Canister Filter - 6. Eheim Classic Canister Filter

Another reason why the Eheim canister filter features among my top 10 list is that it comes with filter sponges. That increases its efficiency in cleaning up your tank.

This model features solid construction that ensures durability. You won’t need to buy another filter after every few months when you equip your fish tank with this filter.

The filter also features stainless steel clips that lock the motor and reduce any vibrations. That also ensures a long life of the device.

The filter is equipped with a spray bar, hose, an inlet pipe, and any other installation accessories.


It comes with an outstanding flow rate

The Eheim aquarium filter supports different tank sizes

Its built with durable material

The filter mounts easily on the fish tank


The propeller in this filter is highly prone to breakages


If you are looking for a filter that’s will work well with any aquarium, then this is the best choice.

7. Aquatop Cf Canister Filter

This is one of the best filters. The Aquatop filter comes with an impeccable design that’s capable of handling up to 175 gallons per every hour. That’s enough to clean up your entire fish tank in a matter of minutes.

Best Canister Filter - 7. Aquatop Cf Canister Filter

It also comes with a UV sterilizer that helps to eradicate the harmful bacteria in your fish tank especially if you have planted some plants for the fish.

This is the ideal filter for messy fish such as goldfish. It’s capable of handling the extra need for a clean environment since it comes with four different sponges.

The best part is that the filtration process it chemical, biological and mechanical hence it’s an effective system. You can be sure that this filtration process will clear out any debris that might harm your fish.


The fish tank filter comes with a UV sterilizer which clears out harmful bacteria

It has a quiet operation system

It’s effective for both saltwater and freshwater

The ideal filter for messy fish


There’s a possibility of a small leakage after a few months of operation


If you need a device that can handle intense messes by your fishes, then this might be the best choice for you.

8. Polar Aurora Canister Filter

This Polar Aurora filter has excellent features that I guarantee you with not only impress you but will also add to the effectiveness of your fish tank and help your fishes to breathe clean air.

Best Canister Filter - 8. Polar Aurora Canister Filter

The aquarium filter comes with 3 media trays capable of handling your choice of filtration in different tank setups. You can easily set it up below, beside or above your tank.

More to that, the canister doesn’t require gravity to function. That means you can place it at any point in your fish tank that will look appealing to you. With this strong filter, you will have a clean and healthy fish tank environment.


The Polar aurora fish tank filter is best for aquariums to use high water pressure

It’s pocket-friendly

The device produces less noise compared to others in the market

Water flows easily through its valves


It is not ideal for aquariums that have low water pressure


If you are in search of a filter that comes long warranty then you need to go for this product, as it comes with all advanced features.

9. Aquaclear Canister Filter

The Aquaclear filter is one of a kind. It is uniquely designed hence allowing extra storage space for your media. The most important part is that it comes with a long media to water contact time known to the industry today.

Best Canister Filter - 9. Aquaclear Canister Filter

That means that the water gets filtered as it flows back to the tank. More to that, the flow is also controlled hence reducing any effect to the motor or the other impeller units inside the filter.

It’s also well adapted for both saltwater and freshwater environments. You don’t have to worry about overloading the media since the unit comes with a large media chamber to handle the extra need.


The unit comes with a quick and easy installation process

You also have a two-year warranty with this equipment

The Aquaclear filter has a foam which gives it an extra filtration

It comes with an energy-efficient pump hence it runs more quietly


Some of the customers complained that the filtering process was not as effective as stated by the manufacturers


This aquarium filter is a good addition to your fish tank and most importantly you can use it with tanks of up to 110 gallons. More to that, it’s also very durable.

10. Sunsun HW-3000 Canister Filter

The Sun Sun filter is one of the best in the business. This filter is compatible with different fish tanks making it the ideal filter to buy. It not only works perfectly but also helps you maintain the life of your fish.

Best Canister Filter - 10. Sunsun HW-3000 Canister Filter

You also have the chance to decide on the pressure you want to use since this canister filter can handle water at high pressure.

Another best feature of this aquarium filter is 9W UV sterilizer that will help you to clean and clear Aquarium at high speed.

If you are going to have the filter for the first time or you want one good filter as a backup then I will highly recommend you to go with this filter because it will improve the filtration process of your aquarium.


LCD Display that allows you to adjust the flow rate of the pump

It does an effective cleaning of your fish tank

It comes with a flow rate of up to 793 Gallons per hour


It makes a bit noise while working on high pressure.


This is the idea backup filtration system that will definitely improve your aquarium’s health.

Choosing the Best Canister Filter: What to Look For?

Over the last few years, the fish aquarium has gained popularity. That’s because they are an awesome addition to your interior décor. More to that, fish farming is also one of the booming businesses today.

As fish farming grows, the need for aquarium filters also grows. Unfortunately, our stores are flooded with products that do not live up to their expectations. Therefore, you need to know how to look for the best product.

Here are a few tips you can use to make your shopping experience worth it.

  1. Should Be Able to Add Extensions

This is one of the basic things to check in your filter. You should be able to add an extension filter depending on the housing of your aquarium. In case you need to, you should also be able to add a carbon dioxide diffuser or water heater for example. When buying a canister filter, it should have multiple options.

Hence you will have the chance to add anything you choose to accommodate in your tank.

  1. Allow Continuous Population of Beneficial Bacteria to Thrive

Another beneficial trait when you want to have a canister filter is that it should allow the continuous population of all beneficial bacteria to thrive. That way, these bacteria will help prevent any type of pollution.

Without these bacteria, high pollution will occur in your aquarium. The pollution is very toxic and will likely kill everything in your tank.

There are instruments you can use to measure the levels of ammonia and nitrites in your tank. That will help you estimate the size of beneficial bacteria present. Most beneficial bacteria are capable of converting toxic waste that fish produce to less toxic materials.

Without this natural process, any type of aquarium filter will struggle to clean up the pollution. And hence leave the fish population at very high risk of damage. Canister filters are more beneficial to large fish tanks since they can filter a significant amount of water at a time. You are able to have clean water at a significant level.

  1. Easy to Clean

You don’t have to always leave dirt or any other debris behind when you’re cleaning up the filter. Make sure before you purchase, the filter comes with a manual on how to clean it.

The manual should also include a way to assemble the parts together once you’ve dissembled them when cleaning.

  1. Easy to Set It Up

Nobody likes dealing with complicated equipment. Before you settle for any of the equipment, make sure the device can be assembled with ease. All the aquarium filters offer easy installation guides but aqua tech filter is one of the best that is very easy to setup and maintain.

  1. Quiet Operation

During clean-up, there’s bound to be some noise disturbance. You need to make sure the canister filter is free of such noises or any vibrations.

  1. High Flow Rates

Before you settle for any type of fish tank filter, you should consider the model. The various models in the market also have different flow rates. Make sure you settle for one that uses less time to filter the entire tank.

  1. Check the Reviews

In most cases, the reviews of a given product will help know if the previous buyers got what they were looking for. Make sure you always check the review section for any complications that the previous buyers encountered or any positive review. That will give you an insight on what you are about to buy this product.

  1. Strong Operations

A robust mechanical operation will help you remove all the harmful bacteria as well as debris that will cause discoloration of the water. The harmful bacteria can cause odor.

With a good canister filter, the filtration process will be easy hence preventing any debris from causing harm to your fish.

  1. Diy Canister Filter

If you are good at hands-on experience, then you can try making a DIY filter for better results. Though it might be a bit time consuming but you can design your filter to suit your specific expectations.

Best Aquarium Filters Video Guide!

As you know a video guide is also important to watch as videos explain many important steps that will help you to clean and maintain your filter in a more efficient way. I have not only shared a complete guide about which filter is ideal for your aquarium. But I’m also going to list some of the best videos that help you to setup your aquarium filter quickly.

Pros and Cons of Having Filter & HOB vs. Canister Filter Types

This video explains all about the pros and cons of having a filter. You can easily make a quick decision that why you need to have a high-quality filter that fulfills your all needs.

Simple Steps to Set Up An External Filter

If you are a newbie and buying canister filter for the first time then you may don’t know a proper way to set it up. The video that I have shared below will quickly help you to setup an external filter within a few minutes.


As you have reached at the end of this page. It means you have already spent some of your precious moments by reading reviews of best aquarium filters of 2021 that we have listed above. Honestly, I myself always love to try different filters for my fish farming but the results that I have got with Fluval canister filter were amazing. If you are really looking for a great product in the market that can give you the best results then I highly recommend you to choose this filter.

However, as I said everyone has its own requirements and needs, so if my recommended filter does not meet your needs or budget then you can check out 9 other filters that I have listed on this page.

Final Words!

I hope this guide will help you to find the best canister filter for your aquarium. But if you really think that my guide has helped you to clear some of your confusions then don’t forget to share this guide.

Do share it with your friends and fellows, so they can also pick the best filter for their aquarium that will help their pets to live a healthy life because I think you should treat your pets same as you treat your children. So it’s very important to take care of their health.