If you are looking at buying an aquarium, odds are that you’ve wondered what the best aquarium filter is. Or alternatively, if you’re looking for a new filter, you might what to know what the best aquarium filter to it with. But the second that you start to browse filters, you’re confronted with a dizzying array of filters, all making different claims.
So what is the best aquarium filter? It really comes down to your budget, and what you needs are. While there are many types of filters, the best aquarium filters really break down into three categories – canister filters, hang on back filter and sponge filters. Anything outside of these filters tends to be ineffective a best and gimmicky at worst.
Canister filters are the Cadillacs of the aquarium world, and they provide excellent filtration for larger aquariums. While they are usually considered the best type of aquarium filter, they tend to only be used aquariums larger than 29 gallons (132 litres). The reasons for this are simple – canister filters don’t come cheap. And beyond that, their filtering capacity is really overkill for a smaller aquarium.
The way that a canister filter works is by passing aquarium water through what is usually three stage filtration. This includes mechanical, biological, and chemical (though not all canister filters include chemical.) The mechanical filtration removes small particulate from the tank water, while the biological filtration allows bacteria to colonize the surface of it, and it processes the waster from the aquarium. Chemical filtration is accomplished through the use of charcoal, that removes any harmful substances from the water.
Among canister filters, most people prefer the EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter. Eheim manufactures an excellent filter that is durable, reliable and easy to maintain. Its not unusual to see these filters operating for years without incidence, and for the most part, they tend to be problem free. Click here to read EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter reviews at Amazon.com
If you have a smaller aquarium, or just a smaller budget, hang on back filters are the next best option after canister filters. These filters provide excellent filtration, and can also provide a decent amount of current in aquarium, which many fish prefer. Hang on back filters can be used on nearly any size tank, and the manufacturers provide models that operate on fish tanks as small 5 gallons (23 litres), all the way up to 100 gallons (455 litres) plus.
The hang on back filter works in a similar way to canister filter, and includes mechanical, biological and chemical filtration. The mechanical filtration removes small particuate from the tank, while the biological filtering allows beneficial bacteria to break down the waste in the tank. The chemical filtration then uses charcoal to remove any harmful substances from the water.
When it comes to the best hang on back filter, the best filter is generally agreed to be the AquaClear Power Filter. This filter brings new meaning to the word durable, and they often operate for years without a single problem. They are easy to clean, maintain, and they are whisper quiet – which is great since you don’t want to listen to a filter in the room with you. Click here to read AquaClear Power Filter reviews at Amazon.com
While not the best stand alone filter, sponge filters do have their uses. They are generally used on fry tanks, where their filtration method won’t injury or kill newly hatched fry, unlike most other kinds of aquarium filters. Some aquarists also use a sponge filter in addition to a hang on back filter, which helps to keep the water parameters nearly perfect.
Another added benefit of sponge filters is that they don’t need to be primed. If you have a power outage while you’re away from the house, a hang on back filter or canister filter may not prime, which means that the filter isn’t filtering water. So when you arrive back home, you could be facing a lot of dead fish. Sponge filters don’t have this problem, which is another reason why people use them on fish tanks that contain sensitive or expensive fish.
Sponge filters only provide mechanical and biological filtration, and while they’re mechanical filtration (removing particles from the water) isn’t all that impressive, they rank among the best at biological filtration. They are also easy to maintain, and can be cleaned in moments through a simple squeeze in a bucket during weekly aquarium maintenance.
One of the most tried and true names in sponge filters is Jardin Sponge Filter. They make sturdy sponge filters, that under normal circumstanes will last for years. If you decide to pick up a sponge filter, don’t forget that it also needs an Aquarium Air Pump.