Top Rated Aquarium Canister Filters

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

Considering that there are a lot of canister filters you can find in the market, looking for one may be a challenging task. 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 aquariums needs.

Top 10 Aquarium Canister Filters Table

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 important 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 important parts, and their function for you to decide on 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 motors are preferred more by fish keepers because they save space and makes cleaning easier. Intake pumps easily clogged as well and clogging after a period of time is what you want to avoid.

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

Aquarium Size

Canister filters can handle different water volumes, so you need to check your aquarium size, otherwise, you might be compromising the cleanliness of your water. The product you would 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 that you’re using a product you can easily 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:

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



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

Start-ups are made easier by its 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 makes a natural filtration and could help in eliminating 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.



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

With a diameter of 6” and height 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. If you want a combined filtration capability, you can always connect this canister to multiple modular canister filters.

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, Sunsun modular canister filter comes with sponges that have different pore sizes: coarse, medium, and fine. Through these, even the smallest particle can be caught and the water flow rate can be effectively controlled.



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, along with some 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 compared to other canister filters. It could handle tanks of different sizes, from 40 gallons to 300 gallons, and still, maintain a remarkably great flow rate. To avoid rusting, steel clamps are used in locking the canister.



If you want aquatic species to have longer lives 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 could 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 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 would find it easier to set up a Hydor Professional External 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.

What makes this different from other products is that Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter comes with a UV 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.



What is great 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 strong 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 easily.



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

Interestingly, this filtration system also allows you to know when it is time 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 easily. The Fluval advanced filtration system also operates quietly, preventing disturbance among your aquatic fish.



Final Thoughts

Choosing the best canister filter for your aquarium requires you to be knowledgeable about 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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Andrew Wilson

Andrew Wilson

Andrew is an avid fishing enthusiast who is passionate about bringing you the most up-to-date, accurate & understandable information and reviews of fishing gears & accessories, and other related fishing resources.

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