Best Aquarium Filters: Top Picks for a Crystal-Clear Tank

Aquarium filters are essential components in maintaining a clean and healthy environment for aquatic life. Just as it is crucial to provide proper nutrition and living conditions for your aquarium inhabitants, choosing the right filter will not only make your tank thrive but also simplify its maintenance.

There are a variety of aquarium filters on the market, each with its specific function and purpose. The key factors to consider when selecting the best filter include the aquarium size, the type of aquatic life you are housing, and the specific requirements needed to maintain a healthy environment. The goal of an aquarium filter is to remove debris, waste, and harmful substances such as ammonia and nitrite to ensure a stable and balanced ecosystem.

When choosing an aquarium filter, it’s essential to look at factors such as flow rate, filtration capabilities (mechanical, chemical, and biological), ease of maintenance, and compatibility with your aquarium and its inhabitants. Paying attention to these aspects will help you find the most effective and reliable filter for your specific needs.

We have dedicated our time and expertise in researching and testing various aquarium filters to identify the ones that provide the best performance, reliability, and ease of use. Discover our top picks and recommendations for aquarium filters that will help your aquatic life flourish in a clean, healthy, and thriving environment.

Best Aquarium Filters

We have compiled a list of the best aquarium filters to help you maintain a clean and healthy environment for your aquatic friends.

MarineLand Penguin 200 Power Filter

MarineLand Penguin 200 Power Filter, 200GPH (PF0200B),Black
  • WITH ROTATING BIO-WHEEL: Patented Bio-Wheel technology provides excellent wet/dry biological filtration.
  • MULTI-STAGE FILTRATION: Delivers mechanical, chemical and biological aquarium filtration to maintain a clean aquatic environment.
  • MARINELAND FILTRATION PRODUCTS: Count on Marineland brand for the most reliable, technically advanced aquariums and accessories on the market.
  • COMPATIBILITY: Use with Marineland Rite-Size Filter Cartridges (see individual filter for sizing recommendations).
  • FIVE SIZES: Available in 75 GPH, 100 GPH, 150 GPH, 200 GPH and 350 GPH sizes.

Choose the MarineLand Penguin 200 Power Filter for efficient and effective aquarium filtration with user-friendly features.


  • Patented rotating Bio-Wheel technology
  • Multi-stage filtration system
  • Wide compatibility with various tank sizes


  • Slightly noisy operation
  • Bio-Wheel may need occasional cleaning
  • Carbon cartridges require monthly replacement

The MarineLand Penguin 200 Power Filter excels at providing comprehensive and easy-to-use filtration for your aquarium. Its patented rotating Bio-Wheel technology offers superior wet/dry biological filtration, effectively eliminating toxic ammonia and nitrate. This filter works with a variety of tank sizes, making it a versatile option for different aquarium setups.

Featuring a three-stage filtration process, this power filter efficiently removes waste, discoloration, and odors from your tank. The mechanical filtration is done through Rite-Size Filter Cartridges, which screen out dirt and debris with maximum water-to-carbon contact. The chemical filtration is performed by Black Diamond Premium Activated Carbon that helps remove impurities. Lastly, the biological filtration is provided by the Bio-Wheel, which creates an ideal environment for beneficial bacteria to grow and eliminate toxic substances.

One downside we experienced is that the filter can be slightly noisy during operation. However, maintaining an adequate water level in your tank can help in reducing this noise. The Bio-Wheel may need occasional cleaning to ensure smooth rotation and optimal performance. Additionally, remember that the carbon cartridges will require replacement each month for optimal results.

Overall, the MarineLand Penguin 200 Power Filter is a reliable and effective solution for maintaining a clean and healthy aquarium environment. Its ease of setup, user-friendly features, and compatibility with various tank sizes make it a solid choice for aquarium enthusiasts.

Tetra Whisper IQ Power Filter 20 Gallons, 130 GPH, with Stay Clean Technology 20-Gallon

Tetra Whisper IQ Power Filter 20 Gallons, 130 GPH, with Stay Clean Technology
  • QUIET AQUARIUM FILTER: The Tetra Whisper IQ Power Filter with Stay Clean technology contains a sound shield for quiet filtration less than 40 dB.
  • SELF PRIMING: Submerged motor starts up with no priming required.
  • CAPACITY: The Tetra Whisper IQ 20 Power Filter works in filters up to 20 gallons (130 GPH).
  • STAY CLEAN TECHNOLOGY: By maintaining healthy pH levels, creates easier maintenance for healthier fish.
  • CARTRIDGE REFILLS: Change cartridges monthly; uses large-sized Tetra Whisper Bio-Bag Filter Cartridges (refills sold separately).

The Tetra Whisper IQ Power Filter is an excellent choice for keeping your aquarium clean and clear, with quiet operation and easy maintenance.


  • Extremely quiet operation, less than 40 dB
  • Self-priming submerged motor
  • Stay Clean technology for easier maintenance


  • May have issues with motor housing attachment
  • Cartridge refills sold separately
  • Suction tube may require adjustment for some tanks

We recently purchased the Tetra Whisper IQ Power Filter for our 20-gallon aquarium and were impressed with its remarkable quietness, thanks to the sound shield it uses. The submerged motor starts up with no priming required, which made the installation process smooth and effortless.

The Stay Clean technology of this filter maintains healthy pH levels in the water, resulting in easier maintenance for us and a healthier environment for our fish. It also works with large-sized Tetra Whisper Bio-Bag Filter Cartridges (sold separately), which are convenient to change monthly.

However, we did notice that the motor housing does not attach well to the filter body. The gap was uneven, which might cause potential issues in the long run. Also, the suction tube needed some adjustment in our tank to reach the ground. Despite these minor drawbacks, we believe the Tetra Whisper IQ Power Filter performs exceptionally well in keeping our aquarium water clean and clear, making it a valuable addition to our fishkeeping setup.

Tetra Whisper EX 70 Filter for 45 to 70 Gallon Aquariums

Tetra Whisper EX 70 Filter For 45 To 70 Gallon aquariums, Silent Multi-Stage Filtration, WHITE
  • WHISPER QUIET The Tetra Whisper EX Power Filter provides silent multi-stage filtration for clear clean water .SIZE This filter fits 45 to 70 gallon aquariums - 240 GPH
  • FAST SETUP Sets up easily right out of the box – no priming required
  • CONTINUOUS FLOW Moves water continuously to prevent debris buildup
  • NO-MESS FILTER CARTRIDGE CHANGES Design minimizes dripping to make cartridge changes easy
  • SIZE This filter fits 45 to 70 gallon aquariums - 240 GPH

The Tetra Whisper EX 70 Filter is an ideal choice for maintaining clean and clear water in your 45 to 70-gallon aquariums, thanks to its silent multi-stage filtration.


  • Whisper quiet operation
  • Quick and easy setup with no priming required
  • Continuous water flow for efficient debris prevention


  • No flow control
  • Some users might find filter cartridge changes slightly messy
  • May not be suitable for sensitive aquatic species due to strong water flow

In our experience with the Tetra Whisper EX 70 Filter, it has proven to be a reliable and efficient filtration system for our 45 to 70-gallon aquariums. The whisper-quiet operation is a standout feature, ensuring that the filter doesn’t disturb the peaceful atmosphere around the aquarium.

Setting up the filter was a breeze, as it comes ready to use right out of the box without any need for priming. The continuous water flow feature is highly effective at moving water and preventing debris buildup, ensuring the aquarium stays clean and clear.

However, we noticed that this filter lacks flow control, which may lead to a stronger water flow than desired for some fish species. Also, while the filter cartridge change design aims to minimize dripping, a few users might still find it slightly messy. In addition, sensitive aquatic species might find the strong water flow generated by this filter stressful.

Overall, the Tetra Whisper EX 70 Filter provides a powerful and easy-to-use solution for aquarium owners seeking clean and clear water environments. Its few drawbacks can be easily managed, while its silent operation and efficient filtration make it a solid choice for aquarium enthusiasts.

Buying Guide

Type of Filter

When choosing the best aquarium filter, the first thing to consider is the type of filter that meets your needs. Different types of filters are available, and they each suit a specific purpose:

  • Mechanical filters: Remove solid particles like fish waste and uneaten food.
  • Biological filters: Break down ammonia and nitrite using beneficial bacteria.
  • Chemical filters: Remove impurities by using activated carbon or other chemical media.

Aquarium Size

The size of your aquarium will dictate the capacity and flow rate of the filter you’ll need. Smaller tanks require less powerful filters, while larger tanks need more powerful options. As a rule of thumb, aim for a filter that can turn over your aquarium’s volume at least 4 times per hour.

Ease of Maintenance

An easy-to-clean filter will save you time and effort in the long run. Look for filters with removable media trays, which make it simple to replace filter media without having to disassemble the entire unit.

Noise Levels

Consider the noise level produced by the filter, especially if your aquarium is in a living space. Some filters are quieter than others, such as canister filters and sponge filters, but they may sacrifice filtration efficiency for peace and quiet.

Energy Efficiency

Lastly, energy efficiency is an essential factor to consider. Look for filters with energy-saving features or a low wattage rating. This will keep operating costs low and minimize any impact on the environment.

By considering these factors, you’ll be able to find the best aquarium filter to suit your needs. Remember, you may need a combination of filters to ensure the healthiest environment for your fish.