Best Canister Filters Reviews

11+ Best Canister Filters Reviews: Which One is Reliable?

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Maintaining your tank water clean and safe is the ultimate objective of every aquarist. Canister filters are created to provide fantastic filtration for any size tank.

The ability to use a range of filtration media types combined with a high volume flow rate contributes to a robust water purification system.

Well, so investing in an excellent canister filter is a must. The article below will help you understand more about their mechanism and introduce some of the most reliable canister filters in the current market.

How Does a Canister Filter Work?

The fundamental function of the canister filter is to transfer water via some layers of filtration media. The aim is to eliminate contaminants by catching them on the filter media.

The filter media is held in the canister or the filter’s tank. Hoses are used to push the water out of the aquarium and into the canister.

A water pump usually hung on the lid of the canister, takes filtered water back into the tank. The lid is sealed to the canister with an O-ring. Clamps keep the lid onto the canister tank.

Great canister filters typically include a set of shut-off valves that facilitate water changes. They often range in size and the flow rate the water pump creates.

Canister Filter Buying Guide: What to Consider?

Aquarium Size vs. GPH

The first and foremost you need to contemplate is the size of your tank compared to the filter GPH. GPH means gallon per hour, showing how many times it will turn over your water each hour.

You will want to search for a canister filter that can turn over at least 4x the amount of water in your aquarium per hour. For instance, if you have a 15-gallon fish tank, you will need a canister filter with a GPH of at least 45.

It’s never bad to aim for more filtration because all filters will reduce some flow rate when stocked with media. Besides, you will want to consider the type of fish you keep in your aquarium, particularly fish that might get dirty easily.

The Motor

Your filter will work 24 hours a day – 7 days per week. Therefore, you’ll long for a durable motor that won’t consume much electricity. It’s vital to find a motor with a UL approval rating.

There are two key sorts of motors, including epoxy-sealed motors are mostly used for canister filters. They are mounted in the head with the impeller upside-down, preventing moisture, debris, and dust from destroying the impeller.

The motor operates by using a magnetic coil that encloses the impeller, making it spin – drawing the water through the filter. As they’re sealed, these motors are probably silent and require little maintenance.

The second type is the magnet-driven motor. Similarly, this motor utilizes a magnetic coil to support the impeller. However, these motors are self-primming, so you don’t need to manually siphon the water.

The downside is that they are not completely sealed as the Epoxy-sealed motor. That means less protection from debris and moisture. If you won’t mind regular maintenance, it’s not that big a deal.


Canister filters often contain 2 valves: one to control the intake and the other to control the output. Valves can be completely closed. In other words, water will stay in the hoses and you can disconnect your filter for maintenance, without re-repriming the filter.

Moreover, you can disconnect the intake and output hoses. You can also attach a gravel vacuum for an adapter and use your filter to help with water changes.

Filtration Process and Media Trays

Superior canister filters will include media trays for every filtering stage (mechanical, chemical, and biological).

The most desired results will come with a canister filter that involves all three filtering stages.


Canister filters might be bulky and take some space in your tank.

Let’s have a check on the canister filter’s dimensions before you make a purchase decision. Make sure you have room to store it.

They often work in silence, so you will face any problems if your aquarium is positioned in your bedroom or where you watch TV.

Best Canister Filters with Detailed Reviews

1. OASE Indoor Biomaster Thermo

OASE Indoor Aquatics Biomaster Thermo
OASE Indoor Aquatics Biomaster Thermo

The canister filter from OASE provides incredible features that help the filtration process run smoothly and effectively.

It comes with integrated heaters, making the filter proper for both freshwater and saltwater tanks.

This unit is built with a compact design, with an impressive 4-stage filtration system (pre-filtration,mechanical, biological, and chemical). That keeps your tank water always clean and clear.

Moreover, this canister filter is equipped with a sealed filtration pathway to support the pre-filter media. There’s also a Hel-X-Biomedia providing a great suspended settlment surface for microorganisms in the water.

In addition, activated carbon is included to remove toxins and decrease the nutrients that might harm your fish.


  • Easy to set up and clean
  • Adjustable water flow
  • Self-priming funtion for simple operation
  • Suitable for both freshwater and marine tanks
  • Shut-off automation and pre-built check valves for leakage prevention


  • High price

2. Fluval External 206 Canister Filter

Fluval External 206 Canister Filter
Fluval External 206 Canister Filter

The Fluval 206 canister filter is made with some amazing tech. Its robust motor is long-lasting and will keep a strong flow between maintenance. Accurate-engineered bearings and protective cover significantly reduce noise from the impeller.

These superior canisters leverage the entire volume to separate filtration stages, bringing higher efficacy and minimal mess-free maintenance. They do a good job of capturing debris and preventing clogged media.

What’s more, the filter comes with an AquaStop valve that enables you to engage and disengage the flow rate or modify between.


  • Quiet operation
  • Quick-change media
  • Adjustable input/output heights
  • Innovative motor technology
  • 3-year warranty


  • The installation guide is not very clear
  • Shaky output nozzle

3. Fluval FX6 Canister Filter

Fluval FX High Performance Canister Filter, External Aquarium Filter
Fluval FX High Performance Canister Filter, External Aquarium Filter

The Fluval FX6 canister filter is designed to have an excellent circulation capacity, allowing for more filtration.

If you’re keeping a large tank that holds about 250 to 400 gallons of water, this filter is really a perfect choice. It can create a flow rate of 563 gallons per hour.

The filter is contructed with an awesome self-priming system that can prepare the filter for the filtration process instantly after you have set it up. Besides, it involves a multi-stage filtration system with a removable media stack baskets. You can put the filter media in these baskets to make your life easier.

Importantly, these media baskets are impeccably engineered to wipe out water by-pass. Plus, every media basket is attached with a foam insert for more efficient mechanical pre-filtration.

Moreover, this canister filter comes with AquaStop valves. These valves support in separating the housing from the filter with ease. That will mitigate leaks and give you simple maintenance.


  • Smart pump technology included
  • Easy maintenance with AquaStop valves
  • Enery-effective
  • Minimize the noise with a protective cover


  • Take up much space

4. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

Hydor Professional External Canister Filter – Aquarium External Filter
Hydor Professional External Canister Filter – Aquarium External Filter

This canister filter from Hydor utilize a premium ceramic shaft on the pump motor. The impeller, which pumps the water, will rotate on that shaft.

The ceramic shaft guarantees seamless, silent opeation of the water pump. The logn hoses will help in connecting the filter and prevent kinking.

Notably, the filter is packed with individual media baskets that go with mechanical filter pads and biological filtration media.

Additionally, the Hydor Professional unit comes with a spray bar attachment. The spray bar contains a range of holes that spray water across the surface of the water, bringing aeration to your fish. Plus, the intake and spray bar tubing and fittings can be mounted inside the tank with suction cups.

A priming system is integral to any aquarium canister filters. Without this system, you will need to suck on the end of the outlet hose to start the siphon into the filter. The Hydor filter will not let you do the hard work. It pumps the primer knob and water will automatically flows into the filter, pulling air out of the canister tank.


  • Come available for a number of tank sizes
  • Use a ceramic pump shaft for silent operation
  • Include filter media baskets
  • Easy priming system


  • No activated carbon provided
  • Pricey replacement parts

5. API Filstar Canister Filter

API Filstar Canister Filter
API Filstar Canister Filter

The API filstar canister filter option sports a patented fast disconnect valve that turns off both hoses and detachs from the filter with the flip of a lever. That considerably aids in carrying the unit to the sink for cleaning.

This filter includes two types of foam pads for efficient mechanical filtration. The coarse foam is rated at 20 pores per inch to absorb large particles. Meanwhile, the fine foam pad has a rating of 30 pores per inch to catch cloud-causing particulates and alage.

In addition, the filter is provided with Bio-Chem Zorb. Bio-Chem Zob is a combination of high-quality activated carbon and high-performance adsorption resins in to use pouch. This is an superior chemical filtration media that gets rid of harmful organics from the tank water.

Next, the manufacter builds the filter with Bio-Chem Stars. Bio-Chem Stars are constructed from porous plastic, specially designed for biological filtration. The star-shaped media contains 50-micron pores, offering protective growing areas for useful nitrifying bacteria.

Morever, the Filstar unit is packed with a polishing filter pad that makes the water crystal clear. There are also 6-foot-long hoses and premium inlet and outlet fittings.

Furthermore, the filter provides users with multiple types of replacement filtration media like Nitra-Zorb. Nitra-Zorb helps eradicate algae-stimulating nitrate from the tank water.


  • Provide necessary filtration media
  • Easy to change the filtration media
  • Replacement media provided for using pouches


  • Tank size suggestions are a bit exaggerated.
  • Does not have a self-priming feature
  • Does not provide a spray bar

6. Sunsun 4-Stage Canister Filter

SunSun Hw303B 370GPH Pro Canister Filter Kit with 9-watt UV Sterilizer
SunSun Hw303B 370GPH Pro Canister Filter Kit with 9-watt UV Sterilizer

With the Sunsun canister filter, you’ll get three filter baskets for holding filtration materials, including activated carbon, foam pads, and biological filtration media.

Notably, you can purchase Sunsun plastic biological filtration balls separately as a complete klit. The replacement media kit gives an economical alternative to buying each filtration media.

This canister filter is created with a priming button. You just need to press the priming button to fill the filter with water. Then, plug it in and the unit will start pump instantly. The priming feature can reduce the need for siphon priming, saving you a lot of time.

Significantly, in the fourth filtration, the filter uses a built-in 9W ultraviolet light. Algae cells will be killed when exposed to the UV light, which lowers the chance of an algae growth.

Moreover, the UV light feature can help remove pathogenic bacteria and parasites that cause fish diseases. However, remember that the disinfection properties of UV lights might be lowered if the tank water gets dirty. The dirty particles hinder the UV rays from striking the microbes and decreases the efficiency.


  • Offer long hoses, a spray bar, and suction cups
  • Self-priming system
  • Leverage UV lights to remove algae and pathogens
  • Provide activated carbon in a flow-through poach
  • Provide fine and coarse filter pads


  • No biological filter media included

7. EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter 

EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media
EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media

EHEIM has been well-known for high-quality German-made aquarium filters. This is a no-strills canister filter with only fundamental features.

This compact model sports a thing cylindrical body. It run quietly and effectively with Eheim MECH – a loose mechanical filter media to capture debris. Besides, the filter includes Eheim SubstratPro – a loose biological media to nitrify bacteria.

In addition, the canister filter consists of two-piece valves for easier filter clean-outs. However, you need to collect the loose MECH and SubstratPro in different containers for cleaning.


  • Quiet operation
  • Include a spray bar, an inlet pipe, flexible hoses, and suction cups
  • Suitable for various-sized aquariums


  • No media baskets offered
  • No activated carbon offered

8. Aqueon Quietflow Canister Filter 

Aqueon Quietflow Canister Filter 
Aqueon Quietflow Canister Filter

Proper for small aquariums with sensitive fish, the Aqueon canister filter features a water polisher.

The water polisher attachs to the outlet of the filter and hangs on the back of your aquarium. It offers that additional touch of polish to get rid of fine debris before the water gets recycled back into the tank.

The filter itself is very compact and simplified. The lid, which holds the pump and rotating valves, can be removed for simple cleaning.

This model comes with a traditional three-stage filtration system. The manufacture adds four different types of filter media to implement mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. However, it’s possible for yout to use your own media to customize the setup.


  • Silent operation
  • Able to handle large tanks
  • Cons
  • Relatively expensive

9. Polar Aurora External Aquarium Filter 

Polar Aurora 3-Stage External Aquarium Filter 265GPH with Builtin Pump Kit
Polar Aurora 3-Stage External Aquarium Filter 265GPH with Builtin Pump Kit

Another recommendation for a canister filter comes from the Polar Aurora brand.

Its impeller is perfectly designed to decrease vibrations as much as possible. Besides, the lid of of the unit contains a lubricated rubber seal to keep noise inside.

This aquarium filter is built with a priming buitton to remove any air and prepare the pump for instant use. Below the pump, the model includes a spacious canister with some baskets to store your filter media.

The smallest version is comprised of three filteres to form a full three-stage cycle. Meanwhile, the largest unit provides four baskets, allowing you to add extra treatments to further improve the water quality.


  • High flow rate
  • Convenient self-priming
  • Valves given for easier positioning
  • Include a fixed clamp cover in the lid to prevent leaks


  • Quite complicated installation

10. Cobalt Aquatics EXT Canister Filter 

 Cobalt Aquatics 26000 Ext Canister Filter
Cobalt Aquatics 26000 Ext Canister Filter

Filled with a set of incredible features, the Cobalt Aquatic canister filter will definitely impress you.

The unit is well-designed to create a fine filtration proess. The water flow passes through 4 stages separately.

With lesser quality canister filters, the water moves through the model on one side and out the other, which might result in debris filtering into the other stages. Meanwhile, the Cobalt unit pushed water one stage at a time, producing much cleaner chemical and biological media.

Additionally, the model includes an inline pump that helps remove water completely while the canister is maintained. Plus, you can also adjust the flow with a dial at the top of the filter.


  • Unique filtration design
  • Include an inline pump
  • 3-year guarantee


  • No spray bars included
  • Available in one size only
  • High price

11. Cascade 1000 Canister Filter 

Cascade Canister Filter for Large Aquariums and Fish Tanks
Cascade Canister Filter for Large Aquariums and Fish Tankscanist

The Cascade 1000 canister filter comes with heavy-duty filtration at a reasonable price. This external filter can be applied for tanks of up to 100 gallons. And its strong pump can filter through more than 265 gallons of water in an hour. In addition to its excellent biological and chemical filtration, your tank water will be clear and clean all the time.

The canister filter makes use of a floss pad and activated carbon to eliminate impurities from the tank. Plus, there is a absorbent sponge that provides a large surface areas for biological filtration. That sponge also can wipe out ammonia and nitrites, promoting bacterial growth.

Specially, the unit comes with valves that rotate 360 degrees for easy maneuvering in the tighest aquarium cabinets.


  • Include a spray bar, tubing, directional spout for customization
  • Offer large capacity media baskets
  • Self-priming function


  • Impossible to open the main canister

Quick Comparison of the Best Canister Filters

#Product NameImagePriceAction
1OASE Indoor Biomaster ThermoOASE Indoor Aquatics Biomaster Thermo


Buy on Amazon!
2Fluval External 206 Canister FilterFluval External 206 Canister Filter


Buy on Amazon!
3Fluval FX6 Canister FilterFluval FX High Performance Canister Filter, External Aquarium Filter


Buy on Amazon!
4Hydor Professional External Canister FilterHydor Professional External Canister Filter – Aquarium External Filter


Buy on Amazon!
5API Filstar Canister FilterAPI Filstar Canister Filter


Buy on Amazon!
6Sunsun 4-Stage Canister Filter


Buy on Amazon!
7EHEIM Classic External Canister FilterEHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media


Buy on Amazon!
8Aqueon Quietflow Canister FilterAqueon Quietflow Canister Filter 


Buy on Amazon!
9Polar Aurora External Aquarium FilterPolar Aurora 3-Stage External Aquarium Filter 265GPH with Builtin Pump Kit


Buy on Amazon!
10Cobalt Aquatics EXT Canister Filter Cobalt Aquatics 26000 Ext Canister Filter


Buy on Amazon!
11Cascade 1000 Canister FilterCascade Canister Filter for Large Aquariums and Fish Tanks$Buy on Amazon!

There’s no thing as too much filtration. The higher the GPH is and the more filtration operates, the more effective filtration you will achieve – resulting in a cleaner aquarium.

It’t not a good idea to get cheap ones when it comes to canister filters. You will want to buy efficacy. This is the livelihood of your aquarium we’re discussing. You will not want to take an unnecessary risk.

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