The Best Canister Filters For Every Household Aquariums

April 29, 2017

Canister filters are perhaps the best filtration system you can install on your aquarium. They have powerful performance, and they can accommodate multiple filter media. However, not all the canister filter brands on the market today can't promise you such satisfaction. Therefore, you only have to get the best canister filter.

A canister filter is the newest trend in water filtration system. They can efficiently clean your fish tank because of their advanced cleaning capabilities. Moreover, they can operate on multiple substrates and water types.

Some of the canister filters nowadays can even work on turtle tanks and reef aquariums. These are among the reasons why many hobbyists are switching to these devices already.

As we mentioned, not all canister filters are worth your money. Some of them were just built to ride the wealth wave.

If you want to save yourself from purchasing a bad product, you have to know the most reliable canister filters today. Fortunately, we have listed all of them here. So just sit back and relax! We got you covered!


Best Canister Filters


Product Name


Our Rating

Fluval 406 Canister Filter

Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter

EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter

Fluval FX6 Canister Filter

Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter

Cobalt Aquatics EXT Canister Filter

Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

Fluval 206 External Filter

Marineland Magniflow Canister

SunSun-China HW-304B

Canister Filter Buying Guide

Before choosing a canister filter, make sure that you know the reasons why you need to buy one. Specifically, you have to assess the filtration needs of your water tank.

In this way, you will be able to get a canister filter that would work for your setup. Of course, you have to prioritize the flow rate and the type of filtration systems that the filter uses.

Durability and Compatibility

A canister filter is also known as an external filter. Specifically, this type of system does not sit on the side or within the aquarium.

It is different from power filters that you can mount on the side panel of your water tank. Make sure that the canister filter is not big so that you that you won't have a hard time concealing it.

Moreover, you have to look for a canister filter that is sturdy. You have to know that most of the parts of the canister filters are plastic. Therefore, you have to make sure that these plastics are


ered to withstand the test of time! Engine Canister filters rely on their motors for their operation. This component is the heart and soul of this machine. Ideally, you have to get a canister filter that has a powerful engine so that it can clean water at a faster rate.

Moreover, the engine should be readily available for maintenance and clean-ups.

Some canister filters have motors that require regular maintenance. Of course, this means that you have to open up the machine from time to time. That's not a good thing.

Aside from being tedious, it might lessen the structural integrity of the machine itself.

Meanwhile, the motor also determines the loudness of the canister filter. If the former doesn't come with a sound-dampening mechanism, it will produce loud noises while running.

Hence, it is not a good choice if you placed your aquarium in your living areas.

Flow Rate

The flow rate of your aquarium determines how fast it can clean the water of your fish tank. Usually, manufacturers indicate this through gallons per hour. The higher the flow rate, the faster the filtration process is.

It is a good thing if we are talking about efficiency. Moreover, it cuts down your power bill because the filter doesn't have to run all the time!

Filter Media

When choosing for a canister filter, make sure that it can cater multiple types of filter media.

Otherwise, you wouldn't be able to come up with a comprehensive filtration system. If possible, look for canister filters that can house mechanical, biological, and chemical filter media. These type of filters can guarantee that your marine ecosystem is 100% habitable!

We got the essential things covered. It is now time to proceed to our reviews of the ten top-rated canister filters on the market today! What are you waiting for? Read on!

10 of the Best Canister Filters

1. Fluval 406 Canister Filter

Get it via

The Fluval 406 is a beast! When it comes to filtration technology, nothing can beat this one for now. It has a lot of impressive features that enhances its efficiency and performance.

Moreover, it also comes with a highly-engineered motor that allows it process 380 gallons of water per hour! The flow rate is adjustable, too.

Meanwhile, this canister filter has an instant-priming mechanism for easy start-up. It can accommodate various types of filter media at the same time, thanks to its spacious interior.


  • Multi-stage filtration system
  • Ideal for 100-gallon water tanks or more
  • It has AquaStop Valves and lock clamps for easier access and maintenance
  • ​The motor prevents the production of noise and vibration
  • ​Comes with multiple media for biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration


  • Aligning the hose in the interiors of the canister is quite difficult
  • Suction cups still need an upgrade to cater the high flow rate of this device

2. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter

Get it via

Penn Plax is among the most reputable canister filter manufacturers in the market today. One of their opuses, the Penn Plax Cascade, is a living testament to the quality of their products.

Specifically, this filter is using a multi-stage filtration system to thoroughly expel the debris and unwanted elements from your water tank.

Furthermore, you could also use this canister filter for either saltwater or freshwater applications! If you have a large fish tank in your house, you will love this machine. It can handle up to 200 gallons of water tanks easily!


  • Highly rigid and durable materials
  • Excellent flow rate (350 gallons per hour)
  • Accommodates biological, mechanical, and mechanical filter media
  • Comes with rotating valves for easier installation and setup
  • It has an air-tight seal to make sure that it can operate quietly


  • Self-priming mechanism is not as smooth as the Fluval 406
  • The filter trays have flimsy locks

3. EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter

Get it via

Another popular choice for a canister filter is the EHEIM Classic. Many hobbyists use this because of its reliable performance and quality build. It has multiple models as well to cater various tank sizes.

You can get a complete package once your purchase this filter. It comes with installation accessories and primary filter mediums. Hoses, inlet pipes, and spray bars are included in the package, too.


  • Basic and simple design (intuitive and user-friendly)
  • Comes with a silicon sealing ring for easy and fast cleaning
  • ​It can work with various type of filter media
  • ​Installation process is not that quirky
  • Power efficient canister filter


  • Flow rate is not that impressive
  • Some of its parts appear to be fragile

4. Fluval FX6 Canister Filter

Get it via

​You should never erase the Fluval FX6 in your shopping list. This particular canister filter has more handling capacity than its cousin, Fluval 406. Specifically, it can deal with up to 400 gallons of water tanks. Even in high-demands, this filter doesn't break.

Thanks to its Smart Pump Technology, the Fluval FX6 can clean your aquarium efficiently and thoroughly.

Furthermore, FX6 is both compatible with freshwater and marine setups. It can effectively take out harmful microorganisms while preserving the healthy ones. As a result, you water pets will always have a clean home to stay!


  • High capacity canister
  • Low maintenance (once per every month only)
  • ​Self-priming mechanism is working 100%
  • Uses a multi-stage filtration system
  • Impressive flow rate (560 gallons per hour)


  • It is expensive
  • It is quite difficult to secure its drainage fitting

5. Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter

Get it via

​The Aquatop CF Series is one of the most innovative canister filters today. Specifically, it has a UV sterilizer which is not present even to the Fluval products. The sterilizer effectively is an other guarantee that all the harmful microorganisms won't survive in the filtration process.

When it comes to construction, we can say that this canister filter is pretty decent. Most of its parts are plastic. However, you can ascertain that this machine is sturdy and ergonomic.


  • Comes with a UV sterilizer
  • 5-stage filtration system
  • ​High flow rate (525 gallons per hour)
  • Quiet and smooth operation
  • Ideal for 175-gallon water tanks and aquarium


  • It is hard to prime despite its self-priming mechanism
  • The connecting tubes from the outtake and intake areas are not flexible

6. Cobalt Aquatics EXT Canister Filter

Get it via

​This canister filter has a unique setup compared to its counterparts. Although it is a canister filter, the way it filtration system works is different.

However, you can guarantee that this machine is sturdy. All of its components are made from durable materials, which makes it resistant to damage and leakage.

Specifically, this device comes with four filter media: bio rings, activated carbons, sponge filters, and finishing pads.


  • It doesn't require priming because of its unique design
  • Perfect for 150-gallon water tanks
  • Complete with the primary filter media
  • It still uses multi-stage filtration
  • It has a separate inline pump so that you don't have to switch off the water supply when installing


  • It has a separate inline pump so that you don't have to switch off the water supply when installing
  • It doesn't have ceramic rings or charcoal
  • Hoses doesn't have clamps

7. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

Get it via

It is undeniable that the Hydor Canister Filter is the newest in the competition. But it doesn't mean that this device doesn't have the "winning" factor. This one comes with five models to cater multiple aquarium sizes and setups.

One of its best-selling features is the "no water leakage design." Therefore, you can guarantee that the water won't spill out from the media baskets while it is running. Moreover, it has a smooth and quiet operation, too.


  • The flow rate can go up to 345 gallons per hour
  • Energy efficient (only consumes 35 watts)
  • The valves are using "ball" mechanism so that you can adjust them quickly
  • No detectable vibration or noise
  • Complete with all filter media (except for activated carbons)


  • Disconnecting the hoses is time-consuming
  • It has a weak flow rate compared to its competitors in the same category

8. Fluval 206 External Filter

Get it via

​The Fluval 206 is the little brother of the Fluval 406. Therefore, you can expect its quality performance and impressive build. The only difference they have is that this filter works for 45-gallon water tanks. Everything else is pretty similar.

This canister filter could work on different substrates, as well. Moreover, you can also use this canister filter for either saltwater or freshwater setups because of its universal design.


  • Comes with a multi-stage filtration system
  • Impeller has a sound dampening design
  • ​It has a clog-proof strainer for a smoother operation
  • ​Complete with high-quality accessories (AquaStop Valves, baskets, and rim connectors)
  • ​Compatible with various substrates and marine environment


  • It doesn't have a steady flow rate
  • It is still susceptible to priming difficulties

9. Marineland Magniflow Canister

Get it via

​The Marineland Magniflow Canister is a fantastic canister filter. From its design down to is performance, this canister is truly impressive. It is immune to water leakages, thanks to its water tight seals.

Meanwhile, its filter pads also act a polisher that can remove tiny and fine debris. It can also prevent the discoloration of water and the production of pungent odors. As long as you have this device, your underwater friends have always a place to stay!


  • Complete with essential filter media
  • Highly sturdy construction
  • ​Ideal for 100-gallon water tanks
  • Flow rate is pretty decent
  • Easy to assemble


  • Priming this canister filter is quite difficult
  • The filter foam is too loose and coarse

10. SunSun-China HW-304B

Get it via

​We are quite curious why the SunSun-China HW-304B is an underrated canister filter. It should not be the case since this filter has impressive features and performance. Specifically, it has a rate of 525 gallons per hour and can handle 150-gallon water tanks.

Moreover, it comes with a 9-watt UV sterilizer for a profound and thoroughly clean. Meanwhile, all of the necessary filter media is also present once you buy this canister filter!


  • Gives value to your money
  • Impressive flow rate despite its size
  • All filter media required for a comprehensive filtration system is present in the package
  • Smooth and quiet operation
  • Compatible with freshwater and saltwater marine environments


  • Some parts of this device appear to be fragile
  • Installation process is complicated

Final Verdict

A canister filter is an essential component to any aquarium. It is the best filter that could assure that your fish pets and other marine creatures would have a clean habitat to stay in. Therefore, we highly recommend that you invest on this device.

Among the products we featured, we declare the Fluval 406 as the best canister filter. It has a powerful performance that doesn't degrade for many years. Moreover, its maintenance is not that often and rigid compared to its competitors.

Installing the filter is easy, too. Thanks to its self-priming mechanism and setup accessories. Overall, this device will give your money a guaranteed value!

However, you could always choose the other canister filters in our list. After all, you should consider the compatibility of the filter to your aquarium or water tank.

Did you learn from this article? What are your thoughts about these canister filters? Tell us your answer in the comment section below!

>>> Read More:

Related Posts:


About the Author


Hello, fishing world! My name is Bella. Yes, you got me right, I am a woman! But, I am a woman not only fond of cooking and shopping. I am a woman who shows interest in everything that covers topics regarding fishing. Don’t get me wrong! I believe that the world of fishing is not exclusively for men! In fact, I, myself enjoy fishing. That’s why I created this website.

Follow Bella:

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required