Top Rated Aquarium Canister Filters

Suppose you are planning to install an aquarium, or you already have one. In that case, you must have effective canister filters, as they provide support to the life of your aquatic species by maintaining a clean environment. Using these filters, removing dirt and other harmful substances in your aquarium or fish tank would be much easier.

Considering that there are many canister filters, you can find in the market, looking for one may be challenging. In this article, we reviewed eight of the top-rated canister filters you can choose from. Check each one and identify which one is best suits your aquarium’s needs.

Top 10 Aquarium Canister Filters Overview

ImageNameMax Flow RateFor Aquariums up toDimensionsItem WeightBuy
Hagen Fluval Canister Filter1. Hagen Fluval Canister Filter563 GPH400 gal15.1 x 15.6 x 20.7 in19.9 lbs

Cascade CCF2UL Canister Filter2. Cascade CCF2UL Canister Filter185 GPH 65 gal15 x 11.5 x 10 in10 lbs

Sunsun HW-303B Canister Filter3. Sunsun HW-303B Canister Filter525 GPH75 gal11 x 11 x 16 in10 lbs

Eheim Classic Canister Filter4. Eheim Classic Canister Filter164 GPH92 gal11 x 7.28 x 14.57 in 6.1 lbs

Hydor Professional External Canister Filter5. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter290 GPH150 gal11 x 9 x 24 in18 lbs

Aquatop CF400UV 4-Stage Canister Filter6. Aquatop CF400UV 4-Stage Canister Filter370 GPH125 gal16 x 10.5 x 10.5 in12 lbs

Cobalt Aquatics 26000 Ext Canister Filter7. Cobalt Aquatics 26000 Ext Canister Filter210 GPH20 gal8.25 x 8.25 x 12.5 in6 lbs

Fluval G3 Advanced Filtration System8. Fluval G3 Advanced Filtration System185 GPH80 gal10 x 9 x 10 in18.8 lbs

MarineLand Magniflow Canister Filter9. MarineLand Magniflow Canister Filter 160 GPH30 gal12.2 x 9.17 x 13.62 in 10.13 lbs

Cascade CCF1UL Canister Filter10. Cascade CCF1UL Canister Filter115 GPH30 gal13.5 x 11.5 x 9 in9 lbs

How to Find the Right Aquarium Canister Filters

Canister filters are essential in keeping your aquarium water clean and pure. There are many canister filters, and each of them may have different features. However, you need to know what a canister filter is, its essential parts, and its function to decide what product to choose.

Here are some essential things to consider when finding the right canister filter:


Water flow in the aquarium is controlled by pumps present in the canister. Motors could either be internal while some canisters are fitted with an intake pump. Internal engines are preferred more by fish keepers because they save space and make cleaning easier. Intake pumps are easily clogged, and clogging after some time is what you want to avoid.

Intake pumps, however, help you adjust the water flow quickly depending on what suits your desire. This is good for you if you know when to decrease or increase water flow, as increasing it most often affects the durability of the tank’s seal.

Aquarium Size

Canister filters can handle different water volumes, so you need to check your aquarium size; otherwise, you might compromise your water’s cleanliness. The product you choose must be compatible with your aquarium, as getting the incorrect one might cause the filter to break. This article specifies the gallon capacity of each canister filter to help you identify their compatibility with your aquarium.

Filter System

When you’re choosing your canister filters, you can choose from among three filtration processes. This could be chemical, mechanical, or biological filtration. Some canisters use only two filter systems, while others have multi-stage filtration. Canister Filters with multi-stage filtrations are what you want to look for.

The type of filter system your canister uses somehow dictates how well the aquarium is cleaned up. Chemical filtration would help in getting rid of toxic substances. Biological filtration gives way to the growth of good bacteria, which would help your fish grow. Mechanical filtration sifts out dirt effectively. With all these three in your canister filter, a cleaner aquarium is assured.

Water Flow

The amount of water flow in an aquarium depends on the type of fish that you are keeping. Because of this, you need to check first if the water flow capacity of your canister filter is compatible with the fish in your aquarium. Water can flow from bottom to top or from top to bottom. Knowing this can help you decide on what canister filter to choose and how to maximize its benefits.


You would always need to maintain your canister filter to make it work effectively. Sometimes, there may be clogging, so you need to disassemble the product. With this, make sure you’re using a product you can efficiently work on and set up. Most canisters would provide you with manuals. You would want to make sure that the manuals are easy to understand to help in maintaining your canister filter’s productivity and efficiency.

Top Rated Aquarium Canister Filters

Now, what are the best aquarium canister filters available in the market? Here’s the top 8 of them to expand your choices:

1. Hagen Fluval Canister Filter 

Hagen Fluval Canister Filter

Fluval Canister Filter works both for salt and freshwater. It has various stages of filtration to make water purer and more transparent. Its maximum capacity is up to 100 gallons of water and could operate very quietly. It is straightforward to set up; this is among fish keepers’ top choices, as it is durable.


  • Works both for salt and freshwater
  • Impeller prevents the filter from creating too much sound
  • Includes bio-foam for a more effective filtration
  • The filter is low maintenance


  • There are issues of water leakages

2. Cascade CCF2UL Canister Filter

Cascade CCF1UL Canister Filter

Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter is among the most potent aquarium air pumps. It works both for salt and fresh water and could accommodate up to 200 gallons of an aquarium, providing a maximum of 350 GPH water flow. You can also install this canister filter easily as it already comes with all the essential accessories for setup. In around half an hour, you can immediately begin filtering, and you will immediately see improvements in your aquarium in less than a day.

Start-ups are made more accessible by their fast push-button primer. Plus, the 360-degree rotational valve taps of this canister filter would make replacement much easier. The rough sponge this aquarium filter has allows for the growth of good bacteria that creates a natural filtration and could help eliminate wastes and other substances that may be harmful to aquatic animals.

This product is also sealed tightly, promising an efficient flow rate and a quiet operation. Aside from bio-sponges, Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter also features bio-floss and activated carbon for more effective filtration.


  • Bio-sponges, bio-floss, and activated carbon for natural filtration
  • Excellent flow rate
  • Operates quietly
  • 360-degree rotational valve taps
  • Could handle large volumes of water


  • Installation might take time to be figured out

3. Sunsun HW-303B Canister Filter

Sunsun HW-303B Canister Filter

Whether you’re wondering the best canister filter for a saltwater aquarium or a freshwater aquarium, you always want to check the product’s filtration system. Fortunately, the Sunsun modular canister filter has a remarkably great filter that could help maintain purity in your aquarium.

With a diameter of 6″ and a height of 9″, this cylindrical canister filter has a long-lasting biological filter. It is compatible with any canister filter that has a hose I.D. of ½ or 5/8 inches. You can always connect this canister to multiple modular canister filters if you want a combined filtration capability.

You may control water flow easily using the valve located on each inlet or outlet, making the product more flexible. During maintenance and cleaning, you can also shut off the canister. To achieve a more effective filtration system, the Sunsun modular canister filter comes with sponges with different pore sizes: coarse, medium, and fine. Even the smallest particle can be caught through these, and the water flow rate can be effectively controlled.


  • Easy water flow control
  • Sponges of different pore sizes for filtration
  • Compatible with other brands
  • Combined filtration capability


  • It does not come with water pumps and hoses

4. Eheim Classic Canister Filter

Eheim Classic Canister Filter

This canister filter may be the best external filter for planted aquarium you’re looking for. With its silicon sealing on its pump head, you would never worry about any leakage after closing. It also comes with excellent filter sponges that could make filtration more effective, including accessories like the inlet pipe, hose, spray bar, and other installation accessories.

Because this canister uses lesser power, there is no need to worry about power consumption, for filtration becomes faster than other canister filters. It could handle tanks of different sizes, from 40 to 300 gallons, and maintain a remarkably excellent flow rate. To avoid rusting, steel clamps are used in locking the canister.


  • Excellent flow rate
  • Could handle different tank sizes
  • Consumes low power
  • Very durable


  • Setting up may be difficult

5. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

If you want aquatic species to live longer in a cleaner environment, you would probably appreciate Hydor Professional External Canister Filter. With its ability to hold large water volumes, it works with remarkable flow rate speeds. Its mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration process provides a healthy aquatic environment.

Because of its strong plastic material, this filter is very durable and can withstand any water pressure.

Its flash design also avoids water bypass, meaning you do not need to replace it from time to time. Its hose pipes are also thick enough to hold a large water volume. This works silently as well, creating an environment conducive for fish breeding, growing, and coexisting. Even if it’s your first time, you will find setting up a Hydor Professional External Canister Filter easier.


  • Easy setup
  • Works silently
  • Can hold large water volumes
  • Allows flow of more water because of its thick and wide pipes


  • One must buy carbon which is not included in the canister package

6. Aquatop CF400UV 4-Stage Canister Filter

Aquatop CF400UV 4-Stage Canister Filter

This is one of most fish keeper’s top-rated aquarium canister filters because of its multi-stage filtration system (five stages) and quiet operation. It is designed to handle a total capacity of up to 175 gallons with a flow rate speed of 525 gallons per hour.

This is different from other products because Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter comes with a U.V. Steriliser, eradicating bacteria and algae that may be harmful in the aquarium, especially when it has some fish vegetation.

You don’t need to worry about your fish’s wastes as they can be cleaned easily by this canister through its various sponges. It is also sealed tightly because of the clamp that secures the powerhead. This filter uses three techniques infiltrations, specifically, mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration.


  • U.V. Steriliser
  • Easy to set up
  • Operates very quietly
  • Can accommodate fresh or saltwater fish


  • It does not come with a warranty for a longer time

7. Cobalt Aquatics 26000 Ext Canister Filter

Cobalt Aquatics 26000 Ext Canister Filter

What is excellent about Cobalt Aquatics Ext is its flexibility. Because it does not require gravity for the water to flow, you can place this canister filter anywhere besides, above, or below your tank, making it one of the best external filters for a planted aquarium. It comes with an inbuilt pump of various setups, making it even more flexible. Plus, this canister filter also has a three-year warranty, so you do not need to worry about getting a malfunctioning one.

Made out of solid material, it’s easy to fasten on any side of your aquarium. What’s more interesting is the sponge that comes along with the product. After cleaning the tank many times, you can be assured that the sponger never wears out quickly.


  • Three-year warranty
  • It can be latched on different sides of the tank
  • Very affordable
  • It can be cleaned easily
  • Does not need gravity for pumping water
  • Works quietly


  • It might be challenging to set up because of the lack of a user manual
  • Might not be able to handle water from large aquarium tanks

8. Fluval G3 Advanced Filtration System

Fluval G3 Advanced Filtration System

It can be used for both salt and fresh water; the advanced Fluval filtrations system is fiberglass, making it durable and leak-proof. Because of this material, this canister filter could also withstand pressure. To aid you in quickly checking water temperature, the Fluval advanced filtration system utilizes hydro technology, ensuring that your fish are safe in a well-regulated environment.

Interestingly, this filtration system also allows you to know when to clean the product for maintenance. Its primer button makes usage easier. This could hold up to 80 gallons of water. To regulate water flow, you can manipulate the valve quickly. The Fluval advanced filtration system also operates quietly, preventing disturbance among your aquatic fish.


  • Easier set up
  • Water flow is easy to regulate
  • Can accommodate high-pressure levels
  • Casing is leak-proof
  • Notifies when it’s time for maintenance


  • Media replacements are difficult to find.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best canister filter for your aquarium requires you to know the parts of a canister filter and the type of fish you are keeping. This guide has provided you with many filter options, and each has different features. You would need to examine which best matches your needs; then, you’re ready to go.

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