Aquariums are, nowadays, one of the best decorating objects for houses, offices, community centers, party places, receptions etc. places. Different colored fishes make it look much more attractive and beautiful. But if you do not clean the water after a certain period, the water gets dirty and filthy. What you can do in this case is, install one best canister filter with the aquarium. This is nothing but a procedure that will help you out in case of frequent water change and cleaning of the aquarium.

With lack of proper filtration, No Fish or Plants would survive. 

Predominantly, canister filters are water purifiers/cleaners used in aquariums. These products execute water filtration through a series of water purifying and cleaning processes simultaneously. There are water inlet and outlet valves by which the water flow works. The word “Canister” is used for aquariums water filtration because it means the process carried inside a container shaped drum/box.

Best Canister Filters Recommendations

Our team of experts has spent hours reviewing the different canister filters available in the market.But guess what? Some are WAY better than others.

Best Canister Filter – Comparision Table

Here is the list of our favorite canister filters:

 Fluval FX Series CanisterEHEIM Classic CanisterFluval 06 SeriesHydor ProfessionalPenn Plax Cascade
Tank Size Range250-400 US Gal40-400 US Gal25-100 US Gal20-150 US Gal30-200 US Gal
Max Output(US Gal/h)700-92580-600145-383160-290115-350
Wattage (240V) ~30-40W5-65 W10-20W14-19W10-14.5W
Price RangePremiumBudgetMidMidBudget
Amazon Amazon Amazon Amazon Amazon

1. Fluval FX Series – High-Performance Canister Filter

Fluval FX6 and Fluval FX4 High Performance Canister FilterHere’s the powerful, high-performance canister filter created to perform, hence rightly called as the Beast of Canister Filter. It’s high capacity multi-stage filtration and other useful features make it a preferred choice. Fluval FX6 comes with 6 media baskets, while Fluval FX4 comes with 5 media baskets which give enough room for various kind of media.

Fluval FX Series Filter has a strong body and a powerful motor. The motor comes with an advanced microchip technology called as Smart PumpTM for optimal filter performance, efficiency, and management. Setting up the filter is relatively easy, and so carrying out the maintenance activities. The utility valve at the bottom helps in easy maintenance and enables quick water changes.

Fluval FX6 and FX4 have the precise-engineered bearing installed that ensures that the filter runs without making a slightest of hmm. The Flow Rate of the filter is very good and maintained until the end of the maintenance cycle. This is because the outer foam helps in eliminating the large derbies that prevent clogging of inner media.

Product NameTank Capacity
Fluval FX6 External Canister Filter400 US Gal
Fluval FX4 External Canister Filter250 US Gal

What we liked:

  • Powerful operations and Super High Capacity Filter
  • More trays so a lot of media options available.
  • Hassle-Free Setup, Priming, and Maintenance
  • The Utility Valve and the Gravel Vac

What we didn’t like:

  • Bit Expensive than the alternatives

2. Fluval 06 Series External Canister Filters

Fluval 06 Series (406, 306, 206, 106) Canister FilterFluval 06 series is the successor of the famous Fluval 05, rebuilt to provide even better experience. It is 15% more powerful than its predecessor and with a lot more features too. So, in case you are looking for a heavy duty and reliable canister filter with a superior filtering capacity, you should go for this.

One of the standout features of the Fluval 06 series filter is the advanced motor technology, it has a powerful motor that maintains strong flow throughout the maintenance cycle. Also, the sound dampening impeller design makes the filter quieter than ever making it virtually silent. Just like the motor, the body and trays are made of strong materials; made to last.

Filter comes with the necessary media packed so that you need not worry about the media, although you can add media as per your requirements. We loved the sponge at the side of the filter, which helps in blocking the coarse derbies which otherwise affect the flow of water.

Fluval 06 series filter is available in the following variants:

Product NameTank Capacity
Fluval 106 External Filter25 US Gal
Fluval 206 External Filter45 US Gal
Fluval 306 External Filter75 US Gal
Fluval 406 External Filter100 US Gal

What we liked:

  • Easy to setup – Instructions are very clear
  • Great water flow
  • Media Bags easy to replace
  • Aqua-Stop Valves and Self-priming mechanism
What we didn’t like:

  • Lever and clamps of thin plastic, need to be careful while handling.
  • Bit Leaky while removing for cleaning.

3. EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media

EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with MediaWith over 15 years of market presence, the EHEIM Classic is the trusted by the aquarist over the globe. If you are looking for a reliable and trusted canister filter but in the budget then this one is for you.

Setting up the filter is quite easy, we found the lack of clear instructions but there are tons of instructions available on the internet to help you with the setup. Unlike the modern filters, EHEIM classic external filter does not come with the media trays, rather the media is placed one over another. Maintenance, in this case, is not easy like the new filters, but there absolutely no bypass in this case. EHEIM does provide a set of media with the filter like the sponges and other media depending on the size of the canister you purchase; you might require purchasing additional media as per your requirement.

The filter has a sturdy base and is very quiet while it is running, you will only hear a little humming sound. EHEIM Classic External Canister is recommended for Freshwater, Saltwater and Turtle Tanks.

EHEIM Classic External Canister is available in the following variants:

Product NameTank Capacity
EHEIM classic 150
40 US Gal - 150 Litre
EHEIM classic 250
66 US Gal - 250 Litre
EHEIM classic 350
32 US Gal - 350 Litre
EHEIM classic 600
158 US Gal - 600 Litre
EHEIM classic 1500XL396 US Gal - 1500 Litre

What we liked:

  • Millionfold tried and tested by the aquarists across the globe
  • Very Quiet and no bypass
  • Quality and the price range

What we didn’t like:

  • Priming is relatively difficult.
  • Instructions for setup are not quite clear.

4. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter

Penn Plax Cascade Canister FilterIf you don’t want to consider sending a large amount of money and looking for the best performing canister filter, then you should go for Pen Plax Cascade canister filter which is the best value for money. The model is a budget buy, but designed simple to provide the maximum filtration.

The build of the canister is good and sturdy and has a very good base. The plastic is translucent which sometimes give an indication when to clean the filter. All models have a simple push down self-priming button for easy priming on top of the filter. This helps to get started with the filter easily. The quick disconnect tubes at the top also act as a flow regulator.

Although the filter makes a slight humming sound, it isn’t quite noticeable. Penn Plax Cascade comes in different sizes as listed below.

Product NameTank Capacity
Cascade 500up to 30 US Gal.
Cascade 700up to 65 US Gal.
Cascade 1000up to 100 US Gal.
Cascade 1200up to 150 US Gal.
Cascade 1500Up to 200 US Gal.

What we liked:

  • Budget Canister Filter
  • Powerful filtration

What we didn’t like:

  • Priming is relatively difficult.
  • Slight noisy, when compared to other brands.

5. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

Hydor Professional External Canister FilterWe were quite impressed with the overall experience with the Hydor Professional Canister filter. The filter comes with a nice packaging with instructions on the box plus the recommendations by the manufacturer so that you are not lost with the setup. Apart from these instructions, the filter comes with a proper instruction manual with setup and other instructions. You can even get it here.

The filter has a sturdy build, with a good quality casing. One thing that we noticed is the 4 rubber feet at the bottom of the filter really helps to keep it steady. And the 4 clamps on the top of the filter helps to secure the motor. The house attachments are very solid and rotate to 360° so the hose can be rotated as required. We liked the trays and comes with a nice mix of biological and chemical media. Mechanical – Sponge/  Porous Biological/ Porous Sponge for the version we checked.

The motor is well built, and the impeller is on a ceramic shaft which helps in increasing the life of the motor. While the filter is running, you can hardly hear any sound of the motor.

You can get the Hydor Professional External Canister in the following sizes:

Product NameTank Capacity
Hydor Professional 15020-40 US Gal./ 80-150Litre
Hydor Professional 25040-75 US Gal./ 140-250 Litre
Hydor Professional 35060-100 US Gal./ 220-350 Litre
Hydor Professional 45075-125 US Gal./ 300-450 Litre
Hydor Professional 60090-150 US Gal. / 380-600Litre

What we liked:

  • Filter build and trays
  • Motor and the impeller assembly

What we didn’t like:

  • Replacement parts are difficult to find
  • Bit expensive than the competitors

About Canister Filters

A canister aquarium filter is an essential device to be placed beside a fish tank to keep the water clean for the fish and other water organisms to live in.

Canister Filter is basically external powered filters, that sit at the bottom of the tank unlike Hang on Back filters which hang at the side of the aquarium. Not what we have a considerable amount of space to accommodate media various kinds of media could be used.

How does a Canister Filter work?

The working of a Canister filter is simple and is carried out in 3 Steps:

  • STEP 1: The filter draws water from the aquarium via an intake tube which generally has a strainer attached to the inlet.
  • STEP 2: The water then passes through multiple stages of filtration (different media present in the filter).  Here the dirty water from the aquarium is actually filtered and added with the necessary elements.
  • STEP 3: Then the filter pumps the water back into the aquarium via an output tube which can be directed anywhere you like.

The filter is built up with compartments with different kinds of filter media. Activated carbon, filter sponges, filter floss, and ceramic bodies are some of the filter media used. Generally, these filters cost more than others but with the benefits, efficiency, performance, and convenience the price can be worth it.

Why Use a Canister Filter?

If for any reason the filter is not present or not working effectively, you would expect to see the water in it turning brownish and dirty. The reason is that the waste material excreted by these living things cannot be filtered and hence accumulation will pollute the water.

There are various types of fish tank filters, and one of the latest selling in the market is the canister type filter. With better design and technology, this device is able to perform multi-tasks and hence, it can do the cleaning up very effectively. The above canister filter reviews above will help you to choose the best canister filter for your tank.

Operating and looking more or less the same as the traditional ‘hang on the back’ type of filters, most fish lovers like to compare the two. However, the canister filters are preferred to the conventional device because of their better functions.

Choosing Filter Media

Depending on the different manufacturers, a canister aquarium filter can come in a different number of filtration media. If you open it up, you would be able to find the three different types of filter media, and they are namely mechanical, chemical, and biological media. So what are the functions of these three types?


Large particles of solid substances are filtered by a layer of glass wool at this part of the filtering process. It is this section of the filtration that you have to check regularly to prevent any chance of clogging up.


Next section is a layer of charcoal, which contains the active carbon to remove odor and chemicals in the water. Other impurities like heavy metals and chlorine are also being absorbed in this part of the filtering process.


The chemical substance is not entirely gotten rid of in the second layer of filtration. Some chemicals that have been released from the fish waste materials can contain toxic and hence it is bad for the health of your marine lives. This last part contains certain kinds of bacteria that have the natural ability to convert these toxic substances into a kind of nitrites with much less harmful effects.

Advantages of Canister Filter

When it comes to the filtration, then you have more flexibility with canister filters. They have large media baskets where you can configure your media setup and their amount will depend from model to model.

Another benefit of using canister filters is with regards to space in your tank. Since canister filters are generally situated on the exterior of your tank, your fish gets more space. Your aquarium will even seem cleaner since no equipment would clutter up your tank appearance.

Following are some other benefits of Canister Filter:

  • Large and flexible filtration
  • Extremely quiet
  • Water flow is significantly increased
  • Can be easily hidden for a more attractive tank setup
  • Easily configure your filter media

Disadvantages of Canister Filter

A disadvantage to having a canister filter is the cleaning and maintenance. You will have to clean it regularly because you don’t want the canister to become a nitrate factory and pollute the water in your tank.

Another disadvantage of having a canister filter is its cost. But if you are looking forward to a serious fishkeeping, you can treat this as an investment.

  • Higher cost
  • Bulkier than hang on back filters
  • Regular cleaning schedule


Canister filter offers great convenience when it comes to filtering your aquarium tank.  Canister filter comes in various sizes and media, you need to choose one considering the size of your tank and more importantly your budget.  The above list of Best External Canister Filters will help you choose according to your requirements.

Best Canister Filters
  • Fluval FX Series External Canister Filter
  • Fluval External Filter 06 Series
  • EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media
  • Hydor Professional External Canister Filter
  • Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter


Wondering which Canister Filter is the buy? We have reviewed the Best Canister Filters in the market to help you to choose the perfect one.