10 Best Canister Filters in 2020 – Tested, Compared & Reviewed

Canister filters are very useful in providing a clean living environment that supports the life of aquatic animals. They use the technology of water intake and outlets with high pressure, together with filters and sieves to exchange water and pump it into aquariums for fish.

These filters are crucial in aquariums and in fish Tanks as they ensure the removal of harmful substances and dirt during the exchange of water in there as clean water translates to survival for fish.

Choosing the right canister filter can be a hard task because they have flooded the market. Not to worry though. I got you covered by this review of the top 10 canister filters which will help in guiding your decision to purchase the best canister filter that will satisfy your aquarium needs and purpose.

10 Best Canister Filters - Comparison


Product Name

Filter System

Aquarium Capacity (Gallon)

Water Flow (GPH)



400 gal

563 GPH

biological, chemical

80 gal

185 GPH

mechanical, biological

150 gal

345 GPH


150 gal

530 GPH

4+1 Stage

175 gal

525 GPH


55 gal

210 GPH

mechanical, biological

66 gal

116 GPH


65 gal

185 GPH


Pump not included

own control

mechanical, biological

Pump not included


10 Best Canister Filters - Reviews

1. Fluval Canister Filter

Want a canister filter that can filter both salty water and fresh water aquariums? Look no further than the powerful and reliable Fluval canister filter which has different stages of filtration to do the job perfectly well.

The canister filter has motors within that are effective for up to 100 gallons of water and work without creating any noise.

This filter makes fishkeeping worth experiencing as it is low maintenance and very quick to set up. The Fluval Canister filter is made with durable material which makes it long lasting to provide your fish stock with the needed life support.


  • Can be used for both saltwater and freshwater aquariums
  • Has an impeller that restricts sound
  • It does not break due to pressure
  • Has bio-foam media for enhanced better filtration
  • It is a low maintenance filter


  • The filter experiences water leakage eventually compromising its functionality

The Fluval Advanced Filtration System canister is a superior performance filter that is ideally used for both fresh and marine saltwater.

This canister is a beautiful compact and sturdy build that is made with fiberglass that can withstand pressure hence it stays longer with a leak proof casing.

This Fluval Advanced Filtration System uses hydro technology which helps you check the temperature of the water ensuring that your fish are in stable life supportive temperatures.

The hydro technology also lets you know when the canister filter needs servicing and maintenance. This filter that performs highly has a primer button that is very easy to use and can be used with tanks of a capacity of 80 gallons of water.

The Fluval Advanced Filtration System also has a valve that the user can manipulate and use to regulate water flow through it. It is a quiet canister filter that ensures you have active, healthy fish in your aquarium.


  • Can withstand high levels of pressure
  • Easy to use after setting it up.One can check the temperature of water
  • Has a single primer button that can be used with no hassle
  • Flow of water can be regulated on this canister filter to your preference
  • Uses hydro technology which notifies the user when to service it
  • Has leak proof casing
  • It can be used for long periods of time


  • Replacements for the media are rare to find
  • The chemical cartridge fittings are expensive

The Hydor Professional External Canister Filter model can handle large volumes of water working at impressive flow rate speeds.

It is built with strong plastic which makes it durable enough to withstand water pressure thus you won't have to buy replacements each time as there is no water bypass due to its unique flash design.

It is a powerful canister filter that has thick hose pipes for holding large capacities of water. This filter works almost silently providing a conducive environment for the fish to breed, grow and coexist. The Hydor Professional External canister filter is quick and easy to set up even for first-time users.


  • Quick set up
  • Great for aquatic life as it produces no sound
  • Can handle large volumes of water as compared to other filter canisters
  • Has wide thick pipes that support the flow of more water


  • Does not come with carbon thus one will need to incur another cost buying it separately

The Marineland C-Series Multi-Stage Canister Filter is a perfect fit for a large aquarium with a flow rate of 530 gallons per hour. Its top selling point is that it comes with a DVD that provides a step to step detailed guide with info on how to set it up.

The filter comes with enough sized trays to allow for you to place any filter media on them which can be changed.

The filter as the name suggests has a multi-stage filtration process which allows for exceptional biological, mechanical and chemical filtration for the healthiest water for aquariums. This filter can work for both salty water fish and freshwater ones, therefore, it is a good investment for your aquarium.

The filter is easy to setup and comes with all media that are quick to install. The Marineland series multi-stage canister filter is worth every cent, and I recommend it highly for every user looking to buy a canister filter.


  • Operations with this filter are silent
  • It is a high performing canister filter
  • Produces crystal clear, healthy water that sustains life
  • Good for both salt and freshwater
  • Has a flow rate of 530 gallons per hour


  • Removing the lid carelessly can lead to breakage

The Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter (370 and 525 GPH with UV) is one of the most vouched for canister filters by fish keepers.

This is because of its design and capacity to hold up to 175 gallons tanks with an impressive flow rate speed of 525 Gallons per Hour.

This filter also has a UV Steriliser which helps in eradication of harmful bacteria and algae from the aquarium especially if the owner has planted some fish vegetation in it.

The Aquatop CF SERIES is an ideal canister for messy fish, for example, the goldfish due to its 4 different sponges which filter the waste matter excellently. This filter which is placed internally has clamps that securely lock the power head providing a water tight seal.

The filter accommodates the three filtration techniques: mechanical, biological and chemical filtration thus does an amazing job in keeping the fish healthy and alive.


  • Equipped with UV Steriliser that does away with harmful bacteria
  • Does a clean filtration jobIt is ideal for goldfish
  • The instructions are easy to learn the setup
  • The operation is very quiet
  • Can be used for both saltwater and freshwater aquariums


  • Comes with a 180-days warranty which is not valid time for protection

The Cobalt Aquatics EXT Canister Filter that comes with a 3-year warranty is an amazing filter because of its excellent features and compatibility with other products.

This filter comes with an inbuilt pump which is flexible with different set ups.

The Cobalt Aquatics EXT Canister Filter does not require gravity for water to flow hence can be placed at any point of your desire on your tank which makes it an excellent pick for aquarium enthusiasts.

The canister is made of strong material, and it latches easily on whichever side you decide to place it hence seals perfectly well to your aquarium tank. It also comes with media such as a sponge that can last after cleaning the tank severally.


  • Comes with a 3-year warranty
  • Does not require gravity for it to pump water
  • Easy to clean and manage
  • Sells at an affordable price
  • Does not produce sound i.e. works quietly
  • It is compatible with other fittings hence you can change the pumping system to stronger material which improves durability
  • Water flows easily through its valves


  • Setting up is quite hard as it doesn't come with a precise user manual for the buyer
  • The hose pipes have no clamping thus require a lot of care
  • The 210 GPH flow rate cannot handle the demands of large aquarium tanks

The EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media is a durable canister filter that is preferred by many aquarium fish keeping enthusiasts.

This canister uses little power; hence you won't be worried about the power consumption rate for its high water flow rate making filtration a fast process.

This cost effective EHEIM classic external canister filter with media produces little or no noise as it works. It works efficiently for various sized tanks from 40-300 gallons with its excellent flow rate. It also uses steel clamps which lock the canister without rusting.


  • Has an Impressive flow rate
  • Supports different tank sizes
  • Produces zero noise when it's operational
  • Low power consumption rate
  • Built to be durable
  • Has supportive steel clamps that do not rust
  • Mounts easily on the aquarium


  • Setting up is quite a task as it only has diagrams for a manual
  • The impeller is prone to breakages

The Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter fitted with an external filtration system does its intended job per excellence which is filtering the water producing clean water for supporting life.

The cascade aquarium filter has a rough sponge that promotes the growth of good bacteria that provides biological filtration which helps in removing waste and harmful substances.

The canister filter is excellent in such a way that the tubing connectors can control the flow rate it is equipped with. The Penn Plax Cascade aquarium filter is a water tight sealed filter due to the clamping it has. It pumps about 265 gallons per hour (GPH) of water hence can suit various sizes of tanks.

I would recommend this canister filter for anyone who loves a clean and effective job in their aquarium.


  • Has carbon media that helps in the removal of harmful toxins in the water
  • It is long lasting
  • The canister is fitted with four clamps since it has 4 functional clamps
  • Has a flow rate of 265GPH
  • Its valves can rotate 360 degrees
  • It has no odor which is great
  • The filter operates quietly causing no disturbance


  • Takes some time to figure out

A performance oriented filter is what most aqua-enthusiasts look for when searching for a quality canister filter.

The SunSun Canister Filter which is completely compatible with other existing canister filters is a brilliant filter which can be fitted with others to provide more Filtration capacity and the cleanest job.

It not only works perfectly but also helps the main filter to stay for longer as it takes up most of the workload. This filter can take a strong flow of highly pressurized water and the fish keeper can decide the flow rate they want with the SunSun Canister Filter.

I'd recommend this filter to work as a backup and quality Filtration improve in your aquariums


  • Can withstand pressure
  • Relieves the workload from the main filter letting it last long
  • Has a control valve with which the user can decide the water flow rateIt's highly compatible with existing filters from different brands
  • Does a crystal clear filtration job
  • Works with strong high flow of water


  • Does not have hoses thus incurring other costs in buying them to connect to already existing filter
  • It does not work well independently as it is dependent on another filter
  • Does not support largely sized aquariums

The Marineland Polishing Filter Pads for Canister Filters are available for great affordable prices.

This 2 replacement pads are compatible with any Marineland C-series canister filters, and they do a marvelous job at cleaning the filters as they screen out fine dirt for an increased crystal clear view.

For the best results when using the Marineland Polishing Filter Pads for Canister Filters, place them on the mechanical filtration tray and change every two to three weeks for better clarity. This product does not irritate the fish and performs excellently in providing high-quality results.


  • Causes no irritation to the fish
  • Can be bought at an affordable price
  • It's compatible with the Marineland C-series makes it a great accessory for the Marineland canister filters
  • Contains 2pads for replacement
  • Offers increased clarity


  • Only works with the Marineland C-series canister filters.

How to Choose Canister Filter?

If you want to acquire the best canister filter and you are confused of where to start, I will take you through a simple buying guide that will assist you fish out the best product.

best canister filter

The Motor

Canister filters are made with pumps to ensure the easy flow of water in the aquarium. On buying one, you should check if it's fitted with an internal motor or an intake pump.

Most people go for the canister filters fitted with the internal motor as this does not occupy a lot of space and is convenient for cleaning as one will not have to deal with clogged intake pumps after a period.

On the other hand, the intake pump provides the user with the option of adjusting the pipes to suit their needs whether it is to increase or decrease the flow of water.

However, increasing the speed of flow of water compromises the durability of the seal in the tank. The type of pump used is a matter of preference hence you should choose one that suits yours.

Size of an Aquarium

The size of tank determines the kind of canister filter you will have. This is because different types of filters can support certain levels of water.

Pick a tank that your canister filter can be compatible with to avoid a lot of pressure in it thus avoid the errors that may occur such as the filter breaking down.

This entails reading the product description and understanding it to make an informed decision about the tanks gallon capacity the filter can support.

Filtration Process

There are 3 types of Filtration to be considered when looking for an aquarium filter. They are chemical, mechanical and biological filtration. You need to find a canister filter that can do the multi-stage filtration.

Aquarium owners buy canister filters to aid in removing dirt in their fish' habitat. Therefore when looking to purchase a canister filter, look for one that has high ratings by other users as one that does its mechanical job of filtering dirt out efficiently.

The chemical filtration gets rid of toxic substances while the biological filtration enhances the growth of good bacteria which is good for the growth of fish. An aquarium filter with these functionalities is worth the purchase since it maintains a clean and healthy water environment for the fish to survive.

Type of Fish and Number to Keep

There are both salty water fish and fresh water fish. Knowing the type of fish you intend to keep will guide your decision in purchasing the right canister filter. A filter that will suit the needs of these different type of fish and the type of filter required for different water sustaining type

If you intend to keep more fish, then the canister filter is best for you as it does mechanical and chemical filtration important for keeping your fish alive.

Water Flow/ Flow Rate

Different fish in an aquarium have different needs to be met. The flow rate in most canister filters is roughly 320 gallons of water per hour which gravity dictates how hard the water flows.

Choose a filter that turns over the water pretty quickly so as to sustain the lives of the fish without using a lot of energy.

On the water flow, you need to find out how the system works. Does the water flow from top to bottom or bottom to top? Knowing this will guide you in choosing the best canister filter and maximize its benefits in your aquarium.


This is the maintenance that the canister filter requires every once in a while to clean it and ensure that the productivity and efficiency does not reduce due to overheating and collection of debris.

Choose a canister filter which you can disassemble and work on it by yourself without necessarily taking it to the sellers or manufacturers.

Your Budget

Shopping comes with a price, every kind of shopping. When shopping, you need a budget. That is the amount of money you intend to spend on the product you want to buy. When looking for a Canister filter, find one that is equipped with all media thus does not require any extra costs to buy them separately.

The product should also be within your budget so as to avoid spending all your money that could be used for other purposes in buying the canister filter. Your price limit should also be affordable. Therefore, do quality market research for the canister filter you intend to buy so that it's performance and build are durable and worth every dollar.

Final Words

Canister filters are essential in every aquarium tank as they serve to remove toxic substances, dirt and other waste matter ensuring a clean water environment that supports the fish lives. Filters effectively ensure that the dirt is removed hence clearing the tank from pollution that can lead to death.

The right canister filter can sustain the life of your fish stock without incurring losses amongst other expenses such as service maintenance fee to check its functionality as you can disassemble it easily for cleaning and oiling of propeller joints.

I Hope the article review will be of great help in guiding your choice for the best canister filter for your aquarium tank.

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David Valle

I started this blog to provide advanced material, guiding you towards a better and more comfortable fishing experience. I deliver more than fishing gear guides, and motivate people to hit the water!