Best Canister Filters 2023 – Aquarium Canister Filters Review and Recommendations

posted in: Reviews | 2
An aquarium is a closed system, which over time it accumulates debris and waste that gets converted into various by-products. These by-products are very harmful to fish and the overall health of the aquarium. That’s why we need to ‘filter’ out these harmful by-products. Hence rightly said:

A filter is the Heart of an Aquarium.

Confused with which is the right canister filter for you? Our team of experts has reviewed the best canister filters, and here their recommendations.

Best Canister Filters – The Winners

Top Rated Aquarium Canister Filter

Fluval G Series Filter

Want the best equipment out there for carefree fish keeping? This is the filter for you!!! It’s smart, with modern design and comes  microprocessors that monitors the temperature, flow rate and water parameters. You have an all-in-one system that just works great.

Buy Now on Amazon

Best Freshwater Aquarium Filter

Eheim Classic External Canister

Tried and tested over the years, Eheim’s exceptional work in aquarium products brings you the Classic Eheim External Canister filter. The Classic Eheim  External Canister filter is brilliant and Outlasting most of the competitors. This filter works like a pro and lets you enjoy your hobby.

Buy Now on Amazon

Best Canister Filter – Comparision Table

After an extensive market research on Canister Filters preferred by aquarists across the globe, here are our top recommendations on the Best Canister Filer for you:

Fluval G Series CanisterEHEIM Classic CanisterFluval 06 SeriesHydor ProfessionalPenn Plax Cascade
Tank Size Range40-60 US Gal40-400 US Gal25-100 US Gal20-150 US Gal30-200 US Gal
Max Output(US Gal/h)340-65080-600145-383160-290115-350
Wattage (240V)17-28W5-65 W10-20W14-19W10-14.5W
Price RangePremiumBudgetMidMidBudget
Amazon Amazon Amazon Amazon Amazon

*Please note that above filters are available in multiple variants for different tank sizes

Best Canister Filters – Our Recommendations

In the review process, our experts tried and tested over 50+ canister filters and picked the best amongst them. They have selected the winners after judging the canister filters on various parameters like mode of operations, filtration efficiency and more.  And here are the 5 Best Canister Filters.

1. Fluval G Series Filter

Fluval G6 External Canister Filter

Best Canister Filter – This is the ultimate filter that you could own. It has everything.

The quality of the parts is impeccable. Long-lasting, high-quality parts that can be assembled fairly simply. This beast works silently and will not make any noises. The filtered water quality is impeccable making it the Best Canister Filter.

The internal thermometer is accurate, so no need for sticking in a thermometer in your aquarium because it works marvelously. The Fluval G Series comes with a Flow Monitor built in that flashes the rate constantly. Which is coupled with water parameters, so you could constantly monitor your tanks health. Filter maintenance is a breeze as you are alerted when to do so. Maintenance is quite easy with a single lever allowing the entire assembly to be cleaned without actually taking out the hosing.

The media range is phenomenal and comes with a ‘Tri-Ex’ Cartridge that includes a nitrate, phosphate and carbon filter. Other media include a Phosphate Cartridge, a Nitrate Cartridge, Fluval’s Biological filter media etc. Thus have options for Mechanical, Chemical, and Bio Filtration media.

 This Filter is recommended for Freshwater, Saltwater, and Turtle Tanks and you will not be disappointed. 

The Fluval G Series lets you set the alerts for:

– Changing the media separately for Each Media type

– Flow Rate / Temperature / Conductivity Points out of range

The Fluval G Series is available in following two variants:

Product NameTank Capacity
Fluval G340-80 US Gal.
Fluval G680-160 Gal.

2. EHEIM Classic External Canister

EHEIM Classic Canister Filter

Tried and tested, Durable.

For in styles for up to 40 US Gal. 66 US Gal. and 92 US gal.

You cannot go wrong with this one. Eheim is one of the pioneers and has been in the market for more than a decade. Rather this is the ‘Most trusted filter‘ you could opt for, and we can safely say this as this beast is Millionfold tried and tested by fish enthusiasts across the globe.

It is an easy-to-use filter with a simple assembly, however maybe a little tough for novices to set up because the instructions might not convey the best. But that’s something you can clearly overcome with tons of videos on “how to set up a canister filter” for setting up this brilliant, trustworthy equipment.

EHEIM Classic Canister External comes with all the basic features that one would expect from a Canister Filter. The filter comes packed with some relatively low power consumption electronics, starting from 5 watts for the EHEIM 150 to 65 watts for the 1500XL model. While running the filter operates rather quietly, only audible sound, is the sound of water from spray bar depending upon the placement.

EHEIM Substrat Pro a large surface area Bio-media and EHEIM Mech, as well as a sponge, a Carbon filter floss and a polishing pad, are included in the Media packaging. You could use other EHEIM media as per your tank’s needs.

This product is robust and durable and will outlast most of the competition. Overall a great filter at a great price and it makes our ‘Best Buy‘ Aquarium Filter with a low pricing and brilliant value.

 Recommended for Freshwater, Saltwater and Turtle Tanks 

EHEIM Classic Canister External is available in following variants:

Product NameTank Capacity
EHEIM classic 150
40 US Gal - 150 Litre
EHEIM classic 250
66 US Gal - 250 Litre
EHEIM classic 350
32 US Gal - 350 Litre
EHEIM classic 600
158 US Gal - 600 Litre
EHEIM classic 1500XL396 US Gal - 1500 Litre

3. Fluval External Filter 06 Series

Fluval 406 External Canister Filter

Excellent Filtration and Reliable Brand.

Fluval is one of the Top brands for aquarium products, which includes Filters. The canister filters by Fluval are always exceptional and the quality of this filter is very noticeable even though its pricing is lesser than others.

With no compromise on the quality of the parts, this filter works great. Fluval has made enhancements to the motor hydraulic performance which in increasing the head pressure, increases flow rates. Undoubtedly Fluval Canister filters are quiet, but the Fluval 06 filters come with a Sound-dampening impeller design which helps in 8 to 15% quieter operation.

Fluval 06 filter comes with a Stronger lift-lock and Aqua-Stop valves for easy installation and improved security. Setting up the filter and Maintenance of the filter is very easy, and it comes with a manual to guide you through. The instruction manual is very descriptive and overall very helpful with the setup and maintenance of the filter. In addition to that, we found priming much easier with the Fluval 06 filter, with the re-engineered priming system. In our review, the filter was up-and-running within seconds of switching it on.

The Fluval 06 series filters come stocked with the required media depending on the sizes. The stock media consists of

  • Foam Pads
  • Polishing Pads
  • Bio-Max
  • Bio Foam
  • Carbon

But can be replaced with any Fluval Media available depending upon your tank’s requirements. You could read a detailed review on Fluval 406 External Canister Filter by our experts over here.

Fluval 06 Series filter comes in following different sizes:

Product NameTank Capacity
Fluval 106 External Filter25 US Gal
Fluval 206 External Filter45 US Gal
Fluval 306 External Filter75 US Gal
Fluval 406 External Filter100 US Gal

Also, check out Fluval FX series (FX4 and FX6) reviews.

4. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

Hydor Profesional External Canister Filter

Quiet, Sturdy, Easy to use

Although Hydor being new to the market, the product lineup doesn’t fall short of the competition. Made with Quality material to last the filter works great, you’ll not be disappointed.

The best part of this filter is the fact that it’s the easiest to set up for professionals and beginners alike. Hydor Professional External Canister comes with a nice packaging with setup instructions and recommendations on the box as well in the manual inside. This filter is made of sturdy, reliable parts that make this a workhorse. The motor is well insulated and makes absolutely no sounds whatsoever.

The impeller is on a ceramic shaft which increases the life of the motor. One feature we liked about the filter is that it comes with a solid hose as well the rotating hose attachment.

The layout and size of the filter media baskets are amazing and gives enough room to add all that you want to make your filter your own. Comes with all filter media except for Carbon which you can buy easily. Efficiency is optimal and will have your aquarium water crystal clear in a matter of hours.

 Recommended for Freshwater, Saltwater and Turtle tanks  

Hydor Professional Canister is available in following sizes:

Product NameTank Capacity
Hydor Professional 15020-40 US Gal./ 80-150Litre
Hydor Professional 25040-75 US Gal./ 140-250 Litre
Hydor Professional 35060-100 US Gal./ 220-350 Litre
Hydor Professional 45075-125 US Gal./ 300-450 Litre
Hydor Professional 60090-150 US Gal. / 380-600Litre

5. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter

Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Filter

Heavy-duty, Exceptional Value, Easy setup

The Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filters are the cheapest filter available in the market and one of the easiest filters to setup. You’ll have it up-and-running without any problems at all. Once that is done this filter works just great.

With a pushbutton priming, it is very easy to prime the filter. The Penn Plax Cascade has ergonomically designed baskets for easy removal and a well-built body. Flow rate shut-off valves adjust water flow and make it easy for maintenance. The filter has a very good base and the body is translucent which acts can act as an indicator for maintenance (Looking at the water inside).

Penn Plax Cascade Floss pads and Bio Sponges are easily available filter media. The large filter trays mean you can use more media and have longer time periods between replacement.

Apart from the very low humming sound, the filter operation is quiet and the flow rate is brilliant so whether you have monster fish, goldfish or turtles this filter will do its thing.

 Recommended for Freshwater, Saltwater and Turtle tanks.  

The Penn Plax Cascade is available in following 5 variants:

Product NameTank Capacity
Cascade 500up to 30 US Gal.
Cascade 700up to 65 US Gal.
Cascade 1000up to 100 US Gal.
Cascade 1200up to 150 US Gal.
Cascade 1500Up to 200 US Gal.

How does a Canister Filter work

As mentioned above an aquarium accumulates waste and debris over time which needs to be cleaned. A canister filter takes in the water from aquarium tank, media in the canister then filters it and sends it back to the aquarium.

Here’s a detailed explanation:

Step 1: Water intake

Unfiltered water is drawn from the aquarium through the inlet piping, straining the large debris through input strainer. Water then enters the filter and sent directly to the bottom of the filter in most of the filters.

Priming the Filter

To run the filter at full efficiency while starting the filter for the first time or starting it after the maintenance requires removing the air gaps. Most filters available today come with pushbutton priming or are Self-priming and do not require manual siphoning

Step 2: Media filters the Water

The water is drawn up using the motor from the bottom of the canister and it passes through various layers filtration media. The filtration media is usually a combination of Mechanical, Chemical, and Biological Media. Media is selected as per the requirements of the tank i.e. the type of flora and fauna and the kind of waste it generated.

Mechanical Filtration: Usually this is the first set of media used which catch the debris in water and help by removing it from the aquarium
Media Includes– Meshes, Nets, etc.

Biological Filtration: Beneficial Bacteria in an aquarium are bacteria that break down all nitrogenous wastes to ammonia then convert them to nitrites and then nitrates. Nitrates being the least harmful of all. These Bacteria are colonized in an aquarium during the ‘Aquarium Cycle’
Bacteria need a substrate to proliferate on and, in the filter ‘Sponges’ and other Media are used for the same.
Media includes– Seachem Matrix™, Bio Balls, Bio-Glass, Bio-foam, etc.

Chemical Filtration:  Using chemical media attracts pollutants like copper, chlorine, dissolved proteins, medications, or tap water impurities and traps them inside. As a result, the filtered water is free of chemical impurities harmful for aquatic life in your aquarium.

Media includes– Activated carbon, phosphate removers etc

Step 3: Filtered water to Aquarium

Finally filtered and polished water is then sent back to the aquarium through the outlet pipes. You could either directly let the water in or use a spray bar.

How to choose a Canister Filter?

To ensure that your aquarium is well-maintained, it is important to choose the right canister filter. There are several factors to consider, such as the size of your tank, the flow rate, filtration stages, media capacity, ease of maintenance, energy efficiency, brand and reliability, and noise level.

1. Type of Aquarium:

First of all, you’ve got to determine the filter based on the type of aquarium you’re gonna have/already have. Whether it’s a Freshwater aquarium, a planted aquarium, an aquarium with monster fish, Goldfish or a Turtle Tank this is especially important for the next criteria which are the bioload and types of waste and byproducts that will be produced.

2. Bioload, Waste, and Byproducts:

Bioload is the amount of waste that is going to be produced in your aquarium by the organisms, and other cycles that simultaneously work in your aquarium (eg. Nitrogen Cycle). Goldfish, turtles etc. Have a high bioload and it’s always best to have a filter that can counter this amount of waste.

3. Filtration Stages:

Look for a canister filter with multiple filtration stages, including mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. This ensures comprehensive water purification and helps maintain optimal water quality.

4. Efficiency, Durability:

Filtration efficiency, flow rate and durability of the filter should be taken into consideration. Filtration efficiency is often calculated in GPH (Gallons per hour) it is the number of gallons of water that is turned over in an hour. Ideally, your tank should have ’10 times’ the filtration per gallon of water. So for example, if you have a 20-gallon tank, your filter should provide you with 200 GPH. From the above list of best canister filters, each of them is highly efficient when it comes to filtration efficiency.

5. Tank Size:

Tank size is an important factor is the size of the aquarium. Most large saltwater or reef tanks would be better off with a sump, but you can also do with good filtration systems mentioned here. Doesn’t hurt if you buy a filter, one size greater than the capacity of your tank because of more the merrier.

6. Ease of Maintenance:

Check how easy it is to maintain and clean the canister filter. Choose a model with features like quick-disconnect valves or self-priming systems to simplify maintenance tasks.

7. Noise Level

Consider the noise level produced by the canister filter. Quiet operation is important, especially if the aquarium is located in a living space. Some filters are designed to operate with minimal noise.

8. Cost:

Last but not the least, the cost is also a factor for choosing a canister filter.  In our list of best canister filters, you can find canister filters from a wider variety of budgets. More the budget, more the features you could expect. In our experience, a canister filter with very basic features would also do a great job. But a canister filter with added features would be convenient to use.

By considering these factors, you can narrow down your options and select a canister filter that best fits the requirements of your aquarium. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for installation, maintenance, and media replacement to ensure optimal performance.

Best Aquarium Canister Filter


So we’ve reviewed the best canister filters for you, remember the filter is the heart of the aquarium and pick yours well. The best picks are in front of you and so are the other contenders that you can choose based on your requirements, budget etc.

Best Canister Filters Reviews
  • Fluval G Series Filter
  • EHEIM Classic External Canister
  • Fluval External Filter 06 Series
  • Hydor Professional External Canister Filter
  • Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter


Are you looking to get a new Canister Filter for your aquarium, but clueless on which one to buy? We have reviewed some of the best canister filters in the market. Read on and pick the one that suits your aquarium…

Follow Bryan:

Bryan, a seasoned aquarium hobbyist, boasts over a decade of dedicated fishkeeping experience. His passion for aquatic life has cultivated a wealth of knowledge, making him a go-to expert in creating thriving and balanced underwater ecosystems. From vibrant fish communities to lush planted tanks, Bryan's journey is a testament to the rewarding art of aquarium care.

2 Responses

  1. Andrew

    What are the advantages of using a canister filter?

    I recently upgraded from 30 Gal to 55 Gal, and was advised to switch to a Canister filter. I am currently using a bio-wheel filter and wondering if using a canister filter would be of any advantage.

    • Javier

      The advantages of using a canister filter are:

      • Lot of Media Options available and great mechanical filtration
      • High flow rates
      • You can hide the canister filter from the sight.
      • Most of the canister filters are so quiet that you would not notice it running.
      • CO2 injection setups

      Canisters aren’t quite so good as biowheels for:

      • Biological filtration
      • Oxygenating the water (can be alleviated by outlet positioning though)
      • Canister filters require more maintenance efforts compared to biowhees

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *