12 Best Aquarium Power Filters 2021 Guide

aquarium power filter reviews

Not many people understand the importance of a good-quality aquarium power filter and more often than not, a filter is essential for the fishes to live happily and healthily.

These power filters not only keep the water clean and aerated but also remove all traces of bacteria, algae, toxic ammonia, nitrate and other elements to keep the water clean and healthy for the fishes to live peacefully.

What is an aquarium power filter?

An aquarium power filter is basically a hang-on back filter that functions by drawing water from the tank, with the aid of a lift tube, into a filtration chamber where the water is filtered through different media – biological, mechanical and chemical – before being released into the tank again. So, in essence, the products work to recycle the water thereby helping to maintain a healthy (water) condition within the aquarium.

It should be noted that though the mode of operation and overarching objective of the aquarium power filter are similar, their design could vary. For instance, while some may circulate the drawn-up water from back to front, others may be designed to do so from the bottom to the top.

What are some of the top-selling aquarium power filters that you can choose for your tanks? Here are 12 top choices that you can consider:

12 Best aquarium power filters available in market

1. MarineLand Penguin Aquarium Power Filter

A power filter has to keep the aquarium clean and safe for the fishes inside. It needs to keep the water crystal clear at all times. That’s why it is important that you trust a brand that has been in the filter business for many years. MarineLand is one such brand that you can trust with all your heart.

You can trust this product to give your tank crystal clear water because it provides an exhaustive three-stage filtration that involves biological, mechanical and chemical processes. The flow rate of this filter is at 350 gallons per hour, which is certified as a safe rate for the fishes.

You will get the Penguin Rite-Size cartridges and three effective bio-wheel filters that make it ready to be used almost immediately upon purchase. Thanks to this product, you can now get rid of fish waste, discoloration issues, algae, dirt, debris, toxic ammonia, nitrate and other substances in your pond water.


  • Quite affordably priced
  • Compatible with freshwater and saltwater aquariums
  • Eliminates problems related to discoloration, accumulation of dirt and waste, etc. in the tank


  • Gives out a lot of noise
  • Size is slightly small for 50 to 60 gallons; it fits 20 to 30 gallons tank perfectly

User Reviews

Most of the people were quite happy with the excellent performance and exhaustive 3-stage filtration that this MarineLand Penguin Filter offered them. However, some felt that the size of the filter could have been slightly bigger than it already is to fit a tank that can hold up to 60 gallons.

Bottom Line

This power filter from MarineLand keeps the tank water and the fishes free from dust. It is cost-effective as well. However, we would recommend it for you only if you have a tank that can hold up to 40 gallons of water.

2. MarineLand Penguin Aquarium Power Filter

If you have a small tank of around 30 to 5o gallons and if you are looking for a power filter from a reputed brand, the MarineLand Penguin Filter 200 GPH is a good choice for you.

It offers a detailed 3-stage filtration for your tank water that involves biological, mechanical and chemical processes.

While the mechanical filtration cartridge helps to remove the dust and debris, the chemical filtration cartridge with activated carbon strips helps to get rid of impurities and discoloration.

The patented Bio-Wheel filters help to remove the ammonia and nitrate content from your pond water to keep your fishes healthy.


  • Comes with a detailed instruction manual
  • BIO-Wheel offer a 3-stage advanced filtration process that helps to reduce waste, discoloration, etc.
  • Quite affordably priced


  • Bio-Wheels stopped working within a few days of usage
  • Gives out a loud noise

User Reviews

Most of the users felt that these MarineLand Penguin Filters for small tanks is a cost-effective solution to keep their fishes safe from discolored and polluted water. However, most of the people recommend you to invest in an extra pair of cartridges so that you can wash and use them alternatively.

Bottom Line

The MarineLand Penguin Filter with a speed of 200 GPH is a perfect choice for a 30 to 50-gallon tank as it is not only affordable but highly efficient as well.

3. Aqueon Quiet flow E Internal Fish tank Power Filter

Aqueon is a pet supplies manufacturer that cares about the health and safety of the fishes. This power internal power filter is also designed with the same purpose – to keep fishes safe and happy.

You can use this Aqueon Quiet Flow Internal product with absolute ease in framed and frameless aquariums, because it comes with suction cups and hanging clips for careful positioning. While the 10-gallon unit offers detailed chemical filtration, the 20 and 40-gallon units offer the other two states of filtration as well (biological and mechanical).

You will love the fact that this product comes with a self-priming feature that eliminates manual effort to a great extent.


  • Very affordably priced
  • Easy to install and use
  • Provides excellent filtration and makes the water crystal clear for the safety of the fishes


  • Gives out a loud noise
  • Not safe for beta fishes as they get trapped in the filter easily

User Reviews

While most of the users were quite impressed with the easy setup and installation of this filter, they felt that this could have emitted lesser noise than the current levels. Some people who had beta fishes also noticed that their fishes died as they got caught in the filter.

Bottom Line

We wouldn’t recommend the Aqueon Quiet Flow Internal Power Filter for your small tanks, though it is affordable if you have beta fishes inside.

4. AA Aquarium Green Killing Machine Internal UV Sterilizer Power Filter

The AA Aquarium Green Killing Machine Internal UV Sterilizer with Power Head is the leading UV filters in the USA. The patented UV technology that this filter uses to kill the bacteria and remove algae is something that you will not find in any other model.

The UV bulbs are seated in chambers designed using a patented technology, to provide you ultimate comfort and eliminate any kind of contact with the bulbs during installation. The LED lights on the control box serve as an alert to caution you when the time is due to change the bulbs.

If you are looking for a cleaning system for a small tank that can hold up to 50 gallons, this is the right choice for you, as its operational flow is pretty decent at 220l per hour.


  • Can be installed in ten minutes as it doesn’t require any tools for the same
  • Gives you crystal clear water quickly to provide a healthy atmosphere for the fishes
  • Great for killing bacteria, removing algae and removing the cloudiness from water in a detailed manner
  • Considered to be the best UV filter in the US for aquariums


  • Motor stopped working after about 2 months of usage, according to some users
  • Bulb burning issues noticed within 3 months of usage

User Reviews

While the UV filter from AA Aquarium works perfectly fine in killing bacteria and removing cloudiness from the water in their tanks, many people felt that the durability of the motor and the bulb were not up to the mark. Since the product is not very affordably priced, many users expected it to be more durable than the lesser-priced models.

Bottom Line

While we are quite impressed with the patented UV technology to kill bacteria, we wouldn’t recommend this filter for you because the bulb and motor start to give away after 2 to 3 months of usage, which is too short a period, indeed!

5.Fluval C Power Filter

If you are looking for a powerful filter for maintaining the overall health of your wall mounted aquarium, you can trust a product from stables of one of the most reputed companies in the pet supplies market, Fluval.

This filter is great for you if you have an eye for detail as it provides a detailed 5-stage filtration process that involves Mechanical & P0lyfoam (Stage 1 and 2), Chemical-Activated Carbon filtration (Stage 3), Biological Bio-Screen Filter (Stage 4) and Biological C-Nodes (Stage 5).

This filtration kit comes with various types of filter media such as foam, Carbon inserts, bio screens, O rings and the like. If they get damaged, you don’t have to worry, because the replacement parts for these media are easily available. This filter provides enough bubbles in the water to clean the water of all impurities because it has an operational flow of 264GPH.


  • Maintains a stress-free ambiance inside the tank, thereby keeping the water and fishes safe & healthy
  • Cleaning indicator alerts you when it is time to rinse the polyfoam media
  • Comes with clips and clamps that help you to set up the filter easily inside the tank
  • Compatible with heavily-populated aquariums as well as it comes with an ammonia removal media


  • Emits a lot of noise
  • The external plastic shell is very thin and breaks easily

User Reviews

Most of the users who used this power filter from Fluval were mighty impressed about the crystal-clear quality of the water in their tanks. They did agree that this emitted a lot of noise, but most of them felt that the decibel level was lower than most other models in this price range. With its detailed five-stage filtration process, this system helped to remove all sorts of impurities from the tank to keep the fishes happy and healthy.

Bottom Line

The Fluval Power Filter is quite affordable and it gives you excellent value for your money with its exhaustive filtration properties. The media & most other accessories can be replaced easily as well, when they break. Therefore, we don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t buy it right now.

6. Aqueon Quiet Flow LED Pro Aquarium Power Filter

Coming from the stables of Aqueon, this power filter is very easy to use and provides excellent purity to your tank water. For small tanks that can hold up to 20 gallons, this is considered to be one of the most effective and user-friendly filters in the market today.

The LED light indicators on this filter flicker to alert you when it is time to change the cartridges. You can be assured of crystal clear water in your aquarium when you install this unit, because it comes with special media such as activated carbon cartridges and ammonia filter pads. Thanks to this feature, you can use this unit with ease in freshwater and saltwater aquariums as well.

The self-priming feature and an excellent operational flow of 100GPH make this a highly affordable yet effective filter for your aquarium.


  • Operates very quietly and doesn’t disturb the fishes
  • Very easy to set up, use and maintain
  • Replacement parts easily available for media accessories
  • Highly cost-effective


  • The impeller can heat up quite rapidly in cases of dirt and dust accumulation
  • Self- primer feature not working
  • Not as quiet as the product promises to be

User Reviews

Though most of the users knew that this filter contained lots of features that weren’t needed anyway, they loved the product mainly because of the power of its filtration. The sample filter provided is not of very good quality and many of them had to rely on the replacement filters that they bought separately. However, since this unit is not very exorbitantly priced, they were willing to put their money in it.

Bottom Line

Go for it, if you have a small tank with not many sensitive fishes around. You have nothing to lose, anyway, as the filter is quite affordable.

7. Marina Power Filter

Looking for a sleek and stylish power filter to purify the water and improve the visual appeal of your tank? The Marina Power Filter is a good choice for you, in this case.

This doesn’t occupy too much place in your house or backyard because of its smart design. You can adjust the water flow based on the tank’s capacity when you buy this filter. You can be assured of excellent biological filtration of your tank water because this unit comes with 2 Bio Carb and 1 Bio Clear filter cartridges. These contain Ceramitek, a porous medium that improves the tank’s potential to flush out the biological waste.


  • Very easy to set up and use
  • Improves the elegance and visual appeal of your tank at a very affordable investment
  • Submerged motor emits very little noise
  • Compact and elegant design
  • Self-priming and noiseless


  • Flow control not as adjustable as the product claims to be
  • Filter breaks off within one year of usage, according to few users

User Reviews

Most of the users loved the fact that they could get an effective and beautiful filter for their tanks without spending too much. Also, this filter was open to a lot of customizations as well, thanks to which users could modify the sponge, discharge chute, etc. to make it work better than before.

Bottom Line

The Marine Power Filter is a visually-engaging power filter that gives maximum biological filtration for your tank without costing you a lot. The best part is that you can modify the filter according to your preferences, which makes this a good-buy for tanks up to 15 gallons capacity.

8. Tetra Whisper Power Filter for Aquariums

The Tetra Whisper Power Filter is a good, high-performance filter that comes in various sizes to suit tanks of varying capacities. You can find it in many sizes to support tanks of 2o, 30, 40 and 60 gallons capacity.

Your tank will get a detailed three-stage filtration when you install this filter. This includes mechanical, chemical and biological.

All the media needed for these stages are available along with this unit. It produces very little noise and vibration when in use.


  • Excellent for filtering out waste, toxic odors, ammonia, nitrate and other debris
  • Whisper Cartridge Filters ensure noiseless operation
  • Can be used in tanks of various capacity ranges


  • Motor not very durable
  • Replacement parts are not of good quality

User Reviews

Most of the users felt that this filter was quite powerful and worth every penny paid for it. Some did find that the device gave out a loud noise at first, but once the propeller was installed and seated properly, this problem was eliminated.

 Bottom Line

Though the quality and durability could have been better than what it already is, we feel that the Tetra Whisper Power Filter is worth a try because of its attractive price.

9.Penn Plax Cascade Hang-On Power Aquarium Filter

Penn Plax is one of the most trusted names in the pet supplies market. This power filter from the brand explains why hobbyists are very much loyal to this company.

All toxic chemicals, ammonia, nitrate, algae, bacteria and other debris in the aquarium will be removed completely when you set up this filter because of its effective media.

While the activated carbon cartridges act well on toxic chemicals, the internal sponges and bio-falls act on the aerobic bacteria and ammonia respectively. It comes in various sizes to be compatible with tanks of varying capacities.


  • Offers a detailed step-by-step filtration process that removes impurities in different steps to provide crystal clear water
  • Manufactured by a highly credible company, which adds to the filter’s reputation and credibility as well
  • All kinds of toxic impurities are removed entirely, leaving the water clean and healthy for fishes


  • Has a very slow flow rate
  • Cartridge needs to be rinsed frequently as it clogs up a lot

User Reviews

Though many users felt that this Penn Plax filter could have moved more water than it actually did, they weren’t entirely dissatisfied. With slight modifications, they could use this filter on their tanks to clean the water thoroughly and make it safe for the fishes.

Bottom Line

This filter rides on the strong goodwill of the Penn Plax brand and provides excellent and detailed filtration for your tanks to get rid of all the toxic impurities.

10. Aqua Clear Fish Tank Power Filter

If you are looking for a high-performance filter for a reasonably big tank, this one from Aqua Clear will satisfy your requirements. You can use this in tanks that can hold up to 110 gallons. It is considered to filter at least 7 times the volume of water that most of the filters in this range operate.

This filter doesn’t consume a lot of energy when in use, and it is easy to install as well. You will get different filter media such as foam, activated carbon, bio-max cartridges and more along with this unit to provide complete filtration to your tank.

The re-filtration system enabled in this product ensures that the media is placed well to provide optimum filtration at minimum energy.


  • Very easy to install, use and maintain
  • Comes with all forms of media to offer exhaustive filtration


  • Slightly overpriced
  • Makes a lot of noise

User Reviews

Most of the users were impressed with the variety of media and detailed filtration processes that this filter had to offer them.

Bottom Line

This is a great product that will make the water in your tank safe and healthy for your fishes quicker than you expected.

11. Fluval Canister Filter FX6 Filter

If you are looking for a heavy-duty, high-performance canister filter for a huge tank, this one from Fluval is an excellent choice for you. To provide filtration for a huge tank of up to 400 gallons, this filter operates at an impressive flow of 563GPH!

The multiple stage filtration provided by this filter ensures that your fishes stay happy and healthy forever. Thanks to the Smart Pump Technology feature, this unit delivers maximum filtration by consuming very little power. It also comes with a self-priming feature that doesn’t require you to restart the unit every time.


  • Great for big tanks that can hold up to 400 gallons of water
  • Energy-efficient performance
  • Can be used in freshwater, saltwater and marine aquariums with great ease
  • Technologically-sophisticated features that provide optimum filtration stage by stage


  • Customer service not up to the mark, especially for this model

User Reviews

Most of the users were happy with the rock-solid construction design of this filter that moved a lot of water, creating enough bubbles for the fishes to live happily.

Bottom Line

Though this Fluval FX filter doesn’t come cheap, we would highly recommend this for you, especially if you have a big tank, as it delivers top-class performance using very little power.

12. Finnex PX 360 Compact Canister Aquarium Power Filter

The Finnex PX360 is one of the best aquarium power filters that you can choose for small turtle and aquatic tanks that can hold up to 25 gallons. You will get different types of filter media such as activated carbon floss pads, ceramic rings and sponge along with this product.

The installation process is very simple as the strainer, filter hanger and spray bar are included along with this filter. You can now use it immediately upon purchasing the same. It also delivers an effective and almost noiseless performance that is sure to guarantee you full value for your money.


  • Very easy to setup and use
  • Removable filtration media makes it easy to choose the medium that you want at will
  • Compatible with freshwater and saltwater aquariums


  • Filter doesn’t work after few days of usage, regardless of its position
  • Can suffocate fishes if the circulation is not monitored regularly

User Reviews

Though most of the users agreed that this wasn’t the perfect filter for small tanks, they didn’t complain much because  it offered decent filtration options.

Bottom Line

We wouldn’t recommend the Finnex PX 360 for you because we aren’t quite convinced about the durability of the filter. There are other products priced lesser than this to offer better filtration for your tanks.

How to install an aquarium power filter?

Having obtained a power filter for your aquarium, the next line of action will be to install the device – FYI, the power filter is usually positioned at the back or side of the aquarium. But before I go into sharing the steps with you, it is important to state out what (items) you need to look out for in the package. The items should include:

  • A filter chamber into which the biological, chemical and mechanical media must have been incorporated
  • Extension lift tube
  • Filter pump and cord
  • Cartridge and its holder
  • Power cord

Now to the installation proper;

  • Attach the pump to the filtration chamber ensuring that it is securely in place
  • Fix the lift tube to the pump
  • Now take out the cartridge and rinse with water to get rid of dust. The cartridge should then be inserted into the cartridge holder and placed into the chamber
  • You can now attach the assembled power filter onto your aquarium with the aid of the suction cup or any other means of attachment provided by the manufacturer
  • Thereafter, you should fill the aquarium with water, ensuring that the level [of the water] is close enough for the filter to easily draw in the water.
  • After you must have taken the steps mentioned above, you can plug in the power cord to get the aquarium power filter started.

What will happen if you don’t install the aquarium power filter?

When installed on the aquarium, the power filter basically helps to create a safe (water) environment for your fish to inhabit. So, let us see what will happen specifically if one (power filter) is missing from your aquarium set-up.

  • Accumulation of debris/toxic compounds: Without a power filter, debris/toxic compounds will build up within the aquarium, making the water dirty (i.e., decreased water quality), uninhabitable and may result in the death of your aquatic pets if the situation is not addressed.
  • The decrease in oxygen level: As oxygen is vital for the sustenance of human lives so it is to fishes, and power filters improve/boost oxygenation and aeration through circulation. So, if there is no power filer on the aquarium, the level of dissolved oxygen will drop considerably. More so, the accumulated debris increases turbidity making it hard for atmospheric oxygen to get trapped in the aquarium water.


Next time, when you set out to choose power filters for your aquariums, please make a choice based on the product’s features and not on the price alone.

Matt Hook

Matt hook has been a passionate aquarist since he was 5 and now he is professional aquarist. Through this blog he plans share his knowledge to beginners. Feel free to contact him if you have any queries.