Filtration is one of the most important factors in establishing long term success as water quality is essential in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. Almost all displays look beautiful on the first day of setup, but, as that brand new tank look wears off, we begin to rely on our filtration to keep everything looking clean and healthy. Aquarium filters come in many varieties including ones that hang on the back of the aquarium, canister filters that are plumbed externally, and multi-filters that can perform a variety of tasks in the filtration process. Building an aquarium with an excellent mode of filtration allows hobbyists to have the perfect foundation to create a successful saltwater, freshwater, planted, or reef aquarium.
While the look of these products may differ, the ways in which they operate are ultimately the same. Aquarium filters are designed to remove harmful elements from the water, create continuous water flow, and polish the water to keep it clean and clear. Within this list, we will break down some of our best aquarium filter recommendations including the hang on back, the canister filter, and the multi-filter.
Best Hang-on-Back Filter: Seachem Laboratories Tidal Power Filters
This filter is a beast, it is one of the only hang on back filters equipped with a surface skimmer, ensuring excellent function on both saltwater and freshwater aquariums. High quality and well thought out products are what we have come to expect from Seachem and their Tidal Power Filters are a perfect example. These filters come in four sizes and can be used on aquariums up to 110 gallons. One of the best features on this filter is the oversized filtration capacity that allows you to add any of Seachem’s media to the back of the unit. Another impeccable feature in this filter is the custom leveling and flow regulation that allows for a great fit on any tank. Finally, there is a maintenance monitor which will alert you when the media inside needs to either be cleaned or replaced. These features are nearly impossible to come by on any other hang on back filter which is why we have selected the Seachem Tidal Power Filter as one of the best aquarium filters on the market.
Best Canister Filter: Eheim Classic External Canister Filters
Eheim has been producing canister filters for decades, and it shows in their product. Their excellent build quality, pricepoint, and customer care have allowed them to make this honorable list. These filters come in a variety of sizes to fit your aquarium and each includes a set of media to filter and polish your water. This canister filter features quick disconnect plumbing which allows for easier maintenance and cleaning when necessary. While Eheim filters may lack some of the special features that you can find on more modern and expensive filters, they are a reliable option that is built to last. This makes the Eheim Classic External our choice for the best aquarium filter in the canister category.
Best All in One Filter: AquaMaxx HF-M Hang-On-Back Multi Filter
As our hobby has progressed, so have our filters, we now have options that perform more than just simple water filtration and polishing. The AquaMaxx HF-M Multi Filter is a shining example of innovation in our industry, it is equipped with a built in protein skimmer, probe holder, tubing holder, and media cartridge. All of these included features come together to make an exceptional all in one filtration unit that can perform on aquariums between 20 and 60 gallons. This filter guides water through three different stages of filtration; beginning with the protein skimmer where waste is removed from the water. The water then enters a biological filtration section where it is polished. Finally, the water flows into the third and final chamber where even more filter media can be customized to suit your system. All of these premium features packed into this single filter provide your tank with a comprehensive saltwater filtration process that cannot be topped without the use of an external sump.