A key part of your fish tank setup needs to be getting the best filter for your aquarium. While there are other options, getting the best canister filter for your tank is often the right choice.

This is due to the increased water volume they can successfully filter and clean, along with the increased room for good quality filter media. You will rarely find a canister filter without all three of mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration.

If you don’t have time to read the full article, we think that the Fluval FX6 Canister Filter is brilliant for large tanks, while the Fluval 07 Series Canister Filter is fantastic for smaller fish tanks.

In this article we will look at the benefits of choosing a canister filter for your fish tank, how they work, what questions you should ask yourself when you are looking to purchase one, followed by our list and reviews of the 9 best canister filters available on the market today. We will end with some frequently asked questions we often find when aquarists are on the hunt for the best canister filter for their tank. 

Read on if you want to learn more about canister filters, or else you can skip straight to our list and reviews!

Best Canister Filter Quick Table

Benefits of Having a Canister Filter

Benefits of Having a Canister Filter

There are numerous benefits of having a canister filter for your fish tank. In the following section we will run through these benefits and you should start to get an idea of why you should be seriously looking at getting the best canister filter for your tank.

Quality Filtration

The primary function of an aquarium filter is to provide your tank with quality and efficient filtration. You want your fish tank to have clean and clear water so your fish, plants, and corals can be in maximal health. 

This is what canister filters provide in spades. Without fail there will be triple stage filtration. This means that the aquarium water will go through three different filtration stages before being passed back to the tank. These stages are mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration.

Mechanical filtration is usually a foam pad of some description which captures the larger debris and detritus particulates. This stage is crucial as these large particles are the most obvious in your tank and can also cause blockages in the latter stages of the canister filter.

Biological filtration can be a number of things but is often found as bio-balls or something similar. These bio-balls provide a perfect place for beneficial bacteria to grow and proliferate in the filter. As the water runs through the filter these bacteria take ammonia and nitrites from the water and transform them to much less harmful nitrates. 

Chemical filtration usually consists of a media such as activated carbon or zeolite. These compounds work to remove ammonia, chlorine, chloramine, dissolved proteins, bad odors, and discolorations.

Fully Customizable Media

Following on from the quality filtration that canister filters provide is the filtration media itself. Not only is it usually better quality, but you are able to customize it. This means that you are able to tweak the filtration media to be unique to your tank setup. 

For instance you can decide to have multiple different mechanical media, both coarse and smoother foam pads which are designed to catch different debris. Or if your water is looking discolored you could change the chemical media to something that specifically targets this problem. 

As you can see having this flexibility is very useful, and is something that advanced aquarists hold in very high regard.

High Capacity and Flow Rate

Another chief plus point in favor of canister filters is the high capacity and high flow rate that they offer. 

The capacity of a canister filter alludes to the size of the aquarium that they are designed for. While the flow rate is the gallons per hour (GPH) of water output which is pumped back into the tank. 

So for example a canister filter with a capacity of 300 gallons and flow rate of 600 GPH is suitable for tanks up to 300 gallons, and pumps out 600 gallons of water per hour back into the tank. As you can see this is a huge volume of water!

Easy Maintenance

Never underestimate the usefulness of easy maintenance. Having a piece of kit that is somewhat difficult or awkward to clean and maintain gets very annoying very quickly!

Canister filters are normally very easy to clean and maintain. You can disconnect them from your tank, and then move the body of the filter itself to a more appropriate place to clean it. Somewhere without carpet hopefully!

Most of them can be disassembled and reassembled very easily, which aids in being able to clean them properly. You can also buy filter pipe cleaners which aid in cleaning the tubing. 

Simple Setup

Whilst setting up a canister filter may look or seem a bit daunting it really isn’t. It is very simple. All you want to make sure you do is follow the manufacturer’s instructions you are given and you won’t go wrong. And don’t worry they won’t put anything confusing in there!

On top of this many canister filters are self priming. This means that you simply put in all the filter media, attach all the tubing, then press a button. Simple!

Low Operational Noise

Believe me, you do not want a loud aquarium filter! Especially if the fish tank is somewhere like the bedroom or the front room where you watch movies. 

A loud filter can quickly get very distracting and annoying. Canister filters are notoriously quiet during operation. This is due to the fact that the body of the filter is normally placed underneath the aquarium in a cabinet. The water is pumped from and to the tank from the canister. 

As the filter itself is away from the glass of the tank the vibrations that are normally generated from the filter operating and hitting the glass simply aren’t there. And resting the canister filter on a rubber mat also helps to reduce what noise there is. 

How To Choose The Best Canister Filter

Choosing the best canister filter for your aquarium can seem like a very daunting task. But have a read of the following section of this canister filter guide article and hopefully you should have an idea of what you should be looking for in a canister filter and what questions you should be asking.

Canister Filter Capacity and Tank Size

The first thing you should be looking at is the size of your tank and the canister filter capacity. As we have said above, the capacity of the filter is the total volume of tank water that the filter can clean effectively. 

So if your aquarium is 75 gallons you want to be looking for a canister filter that effectively filters that volume of water. 

The following is a tip on what to look out for: Many canister filters will say that they “effectively filter aquariums up to 100 gallons”. If you have a 100 gallon tank you will probably want to upscale the filter. As if you have a high bioload, lots of fish and plants, then the 100 gallon capacity filter may not be fully effective for your aquarium. 

Also included in this line of thinking is the flow rate of the filter. Usually a higher flow rate is better for your tank. Higher capacity filters are normally found with a higher flow rate to accommodate this, so don’t be too worried if a lower capacity filter doesn’t have a ridiculously high flow rate!

Price and Your Budget

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t buy an aquarium canister filter outside your means. Some of the higher-end and very high capacity filters can get quite expensive. So don’t just get it because it is the best model available. 

You should be looking for which canister filter is best for you. This includes the price; if it is too expensive then it isn’t the best model for you or your tank!

However, that being said, the last thing you want to do is skimp or cheap out on the aquarium filter. The recommendation is always to ensure that you can afford to buy the appropriate products before buying a fish tank. It isn’t the cheapest hobby out there!

Many of the best aquarium canister filters will come complete with all the filtration media included. This can make the filter as a package a lot more wallet-friendly. Check if the filter comes with everything you need, because if the price seems steep at first it could be because you won’t need to purchase anything else!

Durability

As a canister filter is a reasonably big investment, you want to ensure that it is durable and well-built. You can check reviews on the product before purchase, which often gives an indication of how durable and solid the filter is.

Reviews aren’t always accurate though, so you can also check what the filter is made of. You want it to be produced using high-grade, solid plastic. Also check to see if the seals on the tubing on the intake and outflow valves are built using solid materials.

An important part of an aquarium canister filter is the pump. If the filter offers a high-output and good quality pump then you can be sure that it will function as it should and keep the filter ticking over.

Warranty

Many canister filter models offer a warranty period upon purchase. Where possible you do want to buy a filter under warranty. This will give you peace of mind that if the worst happens and something goes wrong, you are protected. 

As these filters can be quite pricey, having a warranty that allows you to get a replacement or a repair can be a lifesaver.

Branding

While buying branded products isn’t always the most cost effective way to go, it does give you peace of mind that you are getting a quality product. Well-known brands are we;;-known because they produce products that work, and work well. 

This follows on from us saying that you want a durable canister filter. If you buy from a brand such as Fluval, who have a brilliant reputation, then you also get the power of that brand behind you. 

The brands we will recommend here are all very well known, so you can be sure that you will get a product that has been tried and tested. 

How Do Canister Filters Actually Work?

Now you’ve got a bit of information on what factors you should be on the lookout for when buying a canister filter, we’ll run through how they actually work. 

Understanding the basic principles of how an aquarium canister filter cleans and purifies the water will give you the best chance of buying the correct one. It will also aid you if you ever need to undertake any major maintenance or changes on your filter.

Most canister filters operate with an internal filter pump. This means that the pump which powers the filter is incorporated into the body of the filter itself. These internal pumps usually need to be “primed”. That is, you need to fill the canister with water. Once the filter body has filled with water the internal pump forces the water back through the outlet into the tank.

Some canister filters will use an in-tank pump. These pumps are housed in the tank and force water through the inlet into the body of the filter, through the media and back to the tank via the outlet. 

Is one better than the other? In general most canister filters utilize an internal motor. Effectively meaning that you don’t need to worry about it! The pump used will be powerful enough and will be engineered and used specifically with that particular canister filter in mind. With in-tank pumps you can upgrade it to increase flow, but be wary of increasing it too much and breaking the seals of the filter. 

So basically, the pump will draw water from the tank, force it through the filter media, and back into the tank. The outlet tube can often end in different ways to release the clean water. These can be in the form of a spray bar for instance. 

Normally the inlet and outlet tubes are fairly long and adjustable, so you can have flexibility of where you place the filter body.

Best Canister Filter Reviews

Best Canister Filter Reviews

In the following section we will review the 9 best canister filters you can find on the market today. Remember that the best canister filter for one aquarium setup may not be the best canister filter for another. 

Have a read through what each of these aquarium filters have to give and choose the one most suited to your tank and needs.

1) Fluval FX6 Canister Filter

Fluval FX6 Canister Filter
  • Multi-stage Filter that produces healthy aquarium water, freshwater or marine aquariums
  • Features Smart Pump Technology for optimum filter performance, efficiency and management
  • Self-starting filter-just add water and plug in. Head height (maximum): 3.3 m (10.8 feet)
  • For aquariums up to 400 gallons

The Fluval FX6 Canister Filter is considered amongst many to be the holy grail of aquarium canister filters. When you consider all of the features that come along with the Fluval FX6 it is hard to argue.

With a capacity of 400 gallons the Fluval FX6 can handle extremely large tanks. Indeed if your tank isn’t very large and topping 200 gallons, or 250 gallons, then you should consider a smaller capacity canister filter.

The output is an astonishing 925 GPH, which is absolutely huge. But not surprising considering that the capacity of the Fluval FX6 is 400 gallons! To successfully filter and turn over such a high volume of water the pump needs to be very powerful. 

A point of difference is that the filter baskets are stacked, which is unusual for canister filters. This design prevents water from bypassing the filter media trays, which ensures crystal clear water. 

There are 6 media trays for up to 6 stage filtration which includes mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. This provides amazing filtration capacity, as the trays hold 1.5 gallons of media. This media is included, and you can also purchase other media easily from Fluval.

You also get very quiet operation. This low noise level is gained from unidirectional impellers and rubber feet which reduce vibrations. 

The Fluval FX6 is self priming. All you need to do is add water and the Smart Pump does the rest for you. You will also be able to undertake easy water changes using the utility valve, which enables you to draw and replace tank water. 

Not only all this, but the FX6 canister filter also features multi-directional twin output nozzles for customized water flow, and also a versatile intake with an extendable telescopic stem and anti-clog strainer. The aquastop click-fit valves provide a means of leak free and fast assembly.

Pros: 

  • Very large capacity and high flow rate
  • Stacked media baskets provide 6 stage filtration
  • Low noise
  • Self priming
Cons:

  • Cost

2) Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

Hydor Professional External Canister Filter
  • COMPLETE ECOSYSTEM IN A BOX: This external filter for generation aquariums offers maximum performance and high filtration standards, not to mention an entire eco-system in a box
  • PREMIUM VERSATILITY: This professional external canister filter for aquariums features a priming pump that offers the versatility you need. The unit is ideal for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums
  • SIMPLE TO USE: The long-life ceramic shaft, large filter volume and safety locks make this professional external canister filter easy to use as a beginner or a long-term hobbyist. The space-saving unit is perfect for small and large aquariums
  • FILTER OPTIONS: Choose from professional external canister filters that operate with gallon ranges from 20 to 150. The filter circulation stems from 160 to 290 gallons, depending upon the model you choose
  • SPECIALIZED SERVICE: With more than 30 years of experience offering high-quality products for the passionate marine aquarist, Hydor is dedicated to manufacturing unique and innovative items in the field of aquarium technology

The Hydor Professional External Canister Filter is another brilliant filter worthy of its place on this list. 

It is available in a range of different sizes which vary in capacity, filter circulation, and pump output. So the Hydor Professional External Canister Filter is suitable for aquariums ranging from 20 to 150 gallons. The filter circulation ranges from 160 to 290 GPH and the pump output from 190 to 345 GPH. Being able to choose the filter that is most suited for the size of your tank is fantastic. 

With a priming pump getting it up and running is very simple and easy. The intake and outflow tubing is fully adjustable so you can fit it into most places. And with easy lock hooks on the canister and quick release hosetail taps on the tubing, setup and maintenance is quick and easy. The safety locks ensure that there are no spills.

The Hydor Professional External Canister Filter is very versatile when it comes to filtration media. The smallest model has two media trays, while the largest has five. In these media trays you can put whatever filtration media you would like, but you do get the mechanical and biological media included. You will need to purchase the chemical media yourself.

It is designed in such a way that no water should bypass the media trays, so all water is cleaned equally. The design also aids in reducing the noise level as much as possible. So much so that the operational noise is very low indeed, and these filters can be used in bedrooms without issue.

Pros:

  • Many models so you can pick size right for you
  • High flow rates
  • Large media baskets
  • Easy priming pump
Cons:

  • Chemical media isn’t included

3) Fluval 07 Series Canister Filter

Fluval 407 Canister Filter
  • The 07 series features new engineering solutions that work cohesively to produce a fluent operation that is up to 25% quieter than before
  • Depending on the model selected, the 07 Series generates between 145 - 383 US Gal/h (550-1, 450 L/h) of constant pumping power and pressure that endures over time
  • 07 filters are big on power, yet small on energy consumption. The 107 and 207 models, for example, draw as little as 10 watts of electrical energy, which is EQUIVALENT TO A SINGLE HOUSEHOLD LED LIGHTBULB!

The redesigned and redefined Fluval 07 Series Canister Filters are seriously good filters. They are a significant upgrade on the 06 series. There are four different models; the 107, 207, 307, and Fluval 407 Canister FIlter. The Fluval 406 Canister is above, while you can find the other three models below.

Fluval 107  |  Fluval 207  |  Fluval 307

The capacity ranges from 10 to 100 gallons, while the output flow rate ranges from 95 to 245 GPH depending on the model that you choose. So have a look at what size your tank is and choose the most appropriate for you.

First and foremost the filtration is top-notch, with Fluval the only brand to offer a vertical pre-filtration which provides greater surface area and better mechanical filtration. Fluval also offers a huge range of different media, so you can choose the best media for your tank. 

A major redesign and upgrade has been done to reduce the noise level by 25%. By any stretch this is a significant margin. Users of this filter back up this claim and agree it is near enough silent when operational.

The internal pump is very powerful and provides constant pumping power that endures and stays stable over time. This means you won’t have a reduction in output or flow, even after extended use. 

There are also several new design refinements that allow for quicker and easier cleaning and maintenance. The aquastop valve is more ergonomic, that is, designed with human use in mind, whilst the dual locking clamps are single action for quick release. A new center handle has been placed in the media baskets, which allows them to be easily removed. You don’t have to remove the water!

Another handy feature is the priming pump has been redesigned so it takes less time to start the flow. It is also easy enough to do that you can prime the filter with two fingers, so that it can be done even when placed in a cupboard. 

The energy consumption is incredibly low on these canister filters, with the 107 and 207 canister filters drawing as little as 10W of electricity. This is equivalent to a single household LED light!

Pros:

  • 4 models so you can choose the right size for your tank
  • Quality filtration
  • Quiet operation
  • Easy priming
  • Easy maintenance
Cons:

  • Ensure setup is correct as leaks may occur otherwise

4) Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter

Sale
Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter
  • CASCADE CANISTER FILTER FOR FRESHWATER OR MARINE ENVIRONMENTS: the Cascade 1500 (CCF5UL) has 5 media baskets, works at 350 GPH, and is...
  • STATE OF THE ART FEATURES OF THE CASCADE 1500: ♦ flow valves that rotate 360 degrees for easy maneuvering in even the tightest aquarium...
  • USE ANY COMBINATION OF MEDIA: floss pad for removing particulate matter and a course sponge that provides abundant surface for promoting...

With five different size models available, the Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter has a capacity of 30 to 200 gallons. This allows you to choose the perfectly powered canister filter for the size of your tank. 

The flow rate of the Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filters ranges from 115 GPH in the smallest capacity model to 350 GPH in the largest capacity model. While if you have a 200 gallon tank a 350 GPH flow rate may seem a little slow, you can easily supplement this with an aquarium wave maker or powerhead. 

The media baskets are very large and allow for a fully customizable setup. In the smallest filter model you get two filtration media baskets, whilst in the largest you will get five. With each filter you will receive a floss pad which removes larger particulate matter and also a coarse sponge that also removes debris and also provides abundant surface area for bacterial growth.

Each Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter has a push button primer for ease of setup. With this primer you simply 

Pros:

  • Rotating valves
  • Spray bar
  • Large media trays
  • Mechanical media included
Cons:

  • Concerns around priming bulb
  • Chemical and biological media not included

5) Aqueon QuietFlow Canister Filter

Sale
Aqueon QuietFlow Canister Filter
  • Experience a unique hang-on-the-back water polishing unit that makes maintenance quick and easy, simply replace the cartridge
  • Includes quick disconnect valves, pump locking heads, water intake/output connections, hoses, water polishing unit with cartridge and media: activated carbon, coarse foam, bio-balls, bio-ceramic rings
  • Multiple water return options for optimal versatility to best suite a variety of aquarium habitats; spray bar, water director and water polishing unit
  • Multi-stage filtration that includes biological, chemical and mechanical
  • For 100-150 gallon aquariums

The Aqueon QuietFlow Aquarium Canister Filter is a brilliant three stage filter. It comes in three different models; the 200, 300, and 400. All are fully compatible with both freshwater and saltwater tanks.

Each of these models has a different capacity and different flow rate. The Aqueon QuietFlow 200 has a capacity of up to 55 gallons, and a flow rate of 200 GPH. The Aqueon QuietFlow 300  has a capacity ranging from 55 to 100 gallons with a flow rate of 300 GPH, while the Aqueon QuietFlow 400 has a capacity of 100 to 150 gallons and, you’ve guessed it, a flow rate of 400 GPH. 

As you can see these Aqueon canister filters are very powerful and provide a high flow rate for the capacity they offer. You can choose the most appropriately sized filter for your tank.

The three stage filtration process provides large media trays for mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. And it has been designed so 100% of the water flows over the media with no water bypass. This ensures that you are left with clear, clean water.

The setup and maintenance is easy and intuitive. You are provided with clear instructions on how to complete the setup. There are a range of media that come with the filter so you can set it up straight away.. 

Uniquely, there is a range of water return options. A spray bar and water director are included, as is a hang on back water polisher, to remove tiny micro debris from the cleaned water to make the water column as clear as possible.

Pros:

  • Range of capacities and flow rates
  • Large stackable media trays
  • Easy setup and maintenance
  • Unique HOB polishing water returner
Cons:

  • Some note generation of micro air bubbles 

6) EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter

Sale
EHEIM Classic Canister Filter 2215, Classic 350 - PetOverstock
  • Permo-elastic silicon sealing ring fixed on the pump head for easy and safe closing after cleaning
  • Equipped with filter sponges and/or loose filter media
  • Accessories included: spray bar, inlet pipe, hose and installation accessories
  • Comes complete with filter media (EHEIM Mech & Substrat Pro) and valves
  • Permo-elastic silicon sealing ring fixed on the pump head for easy and safe closing after cleaning

The EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter is a brilliant fish tank filter with powerful triple stage filtration. 

The chamber design allows for a fully customizable setup of the filter media. The filter comes complete with EHEIM Mech & Substrate Pro media, which is a brilliant start to get your filtration going.

There are three size options available; the smallest has a capacity of 13-40 gallons with a flow rate of 80 GPH, the middle unit has a capacity of 21-66 gallons and a flow rate of 116 GPH. The largest has a capacity of 31-95 gallons with a flow rate of 164 GPH.

There is a permo-elastic silicone sealing ring which is fixed on the pump head which makes for easy and safe closing after cleaning. This sealant reduced risk of spills and leakages.

The EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter is very quiet when operational so you will have the peace and quiet you deserve while getting powerful cleaning in return. 

All the models include a spray bar which can be installed on the outflow nozzle. A spray bar is very useful if you have fish such as bettas which don’t like so much turbulence and circulation in the tank.

Pros:

  • Silent operation
  • Easy setup and installation
  • Powerful triple stage filtration
  • Value for money
Cons:

  • Impeller is ceramic and slightly liable to cracking
  • Replacement parts can be tricky to find

7) Oase Indoor Aquatics Thermo Canister Filter with Heater

Oase Indoor Aquatics Thermo Canister Filter
  • The Bio master thermos 350 has an integrated heater in compact filter design
  • The built-in heater provides your aquarium with Precise and uniform temperature levels while the product integration delivers unobstructed views of your Aquarium
  • External filter operates quietly to circulate and filter your aquarium water
  • Includes 4-stage filtration: biological, mechanical, chemical, and prefiltration
  • Hel-x, suspended filter media, creates the optimal surface area for beneficial bacteria growth

The Oase Indoor Aquatics Thermo Canister Filter deserves its places on this list of the best canister filters. These filters are fully compatible with all freshwater and saltwater tanks.

The stand out feature about this filter is the integrated heater. Having the aquarium heater integrated in this fashion means that it isn’t being an eyesore in the fish tank itself. No hot spots will be created in the tank either, as the water is heated evenly as it flows through the filter.

There are three models available, one with a 70 gallon capacity and 250 GPH flow rate, one with a capacity of 90 gallons and a 350 GPH flow rate, and the final model has a 160 gallon capacity and a flow rate of 600 GPH.

Again, having three different sized models to choose from allows you to pick the perfect filter for your tank.

The four stage filtration system gives you full mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration, along with a pre-filtration unit. The pre-filter reduces maintenance, increases filter efficiency, and extends the life of main filter foams. This pre-filter is customizable with coarse 30 ppi, fine 45 ppi, ultra-fine 60 ppi, and activated carbon 45 ppi filter foams

Flow rate can be adjusted for the inlet and outlet in multiple locations on the filter assembly, so you can fully adjust the flow to suit your needs.

These filters are very easy to set up and maintain. A self priming button enables extremely easy priming for ease of use.

Pros:

  • Integrated heater
  • Three stage filtration
  • Water polishing
  • Easy priming
Cons:

  • Some issues have been outlined with seals after extended use

8) Polar Aurora External Aquarium Canister Filter with UV Light

Polar Aurora External Aquarium Canister Filter with UV Sterilizer
  • Good for up to 200 gallon fish tanks.Maximum flow rate of 525GPH from built in pump
  • 4 media trays capable of handling your choice of filtration media; Comes with an adjustable spray bar. This is a helpful feature if you want to adjust the output flow from the filter
  • Convenient self-priming pump that eliminates the need for manual siphoning; Single valve disconnect & priming pump ease routine maintenance
  • Built in 9 Watt Light for controlling algae spores/bacteria and promoting clear water
  • The four flexible media trays allow you to add other filtration media such as SunSun's activated carbons, ceramic rings or bio-balls to achieve excellent mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration.

The Polar Aurora External Aquarium Canister Filter is another option which comes in multiple sizes. There are three size options available; the smallest has a capacity of 75 gallons with a flow rate of 265 GPH, the next has a capacity of 100 gallons with a flow rate of 370 GPH, and the largest has a capacity of 200 gallons with a flow rate of 525 GPH.

There are three filter trays, with the largest model having four trays, which you can choose to fill with media of your choice. Each filter tray is already fitted with a white fine mechanical media pad to start you off with strong mechanical filtration.

The main point of difference in the Polar Aurora Canister Filter is the addition of a built-in UV sterilizer. This 9W UV light will blast your tank’s water with UV rays which will kill bacteria and viruses which are present.

The input and output valves on the canister body can swivel through 360° which allows for easy installation and placement of the filter. A priming button is present to allow for an easy priming and setup.

Every canister filter from Polar Aurora is put through a stern pressurized water test to ensure there is no leaking in the system. There may be some condensation in the canister due to this testing. The O ring around the canister lid is there to further prevent leaks.

Everything you need is included, including all the tubing and spray bars to spread the water throughout your tank on re-entry of the cleaned water.

Pros:

  • Price
  • Three models
  • UV sterilizer
Cons:

  • Air can become introduced to the system if you set up even slightly incorrectly

9) SunSun HW 404B 5-Stage External Canister Filter with 9W UV Light

SunSun HW 404B 5-Stage External Canister Filter
  • Good for up to 150 gallon fish tanks
  • Dimension: 11" L x 11" W x 19" H
  • Flow rate: 525 GPH (2000L/hr)
  • Pump power: 55W
  • Built in 9 watt UV sterilizer for controlling algae spores/bacteria and promoting clear water

The SunSun HW 404B 5-Stage External Canister Filter is a brilliant filter for both freshwater and saltwater tanks. It has some great features which set it apart from other canister filters on the market at the moment. 

The flow rate is adjustable from 525 GPH, which means that this canister filter is suitable for fish tanks of up to 150 gallons.

As with the Polar Aurora filter, the SunSun HW 404B has a built-in UV sterilizer. The 9W bulb zaps the water and kills any bacteria or viruses present. This provides you with an added layer to the filtration power of the filter. 

There is no priming needed so the set up is very simple. All you need to do is fill the system with water, including all tubing, then plug it in. The water will start flowing automatically. 

There are five filtration stages which provide brilliant filtration power. Your water will be sparkling clean! You will receive mechanical filter media, and you need to purchase other media yourself. This does allow you to personalize and customize the filter to your liking. 

Pros:

  • 5 stage filtration
  • UV sterilizer
  • Easy setup
Cons:

  • Air can be brought into system

Canister Filter Frequently Asked Questions

In the following section to end our article on the best canister filter reviews for both freshwater and saltwater tanks we will run through some of the most frequently asked questions.

If your question isn’t in the following section or hasn’t been answered elsewhere in the article please feel free to leave a comment and we will do our best to provide you with good accurate information.

1) Which is the best canister filter for freshwater aquariums?

This is a very loaded question, the answer to which depends on a number of factors. What size is the aquarium in question? What is the bioload? 

For extremely large aquariums there is no better than the Fluval FX6 Canister Filter. For more common sized tanks, the Hydor Professional External Canister Filter is outstanding, and provides numerous sizes in filter. Similarly the Fluval 07 Series Canister Filter comes in numerous sizes and all offer extremely high standard filtration. 

2) Which is the best canister filter for saltwater aquariums?

An easy mistake to make is thinking that canister filters vary greatly between freshwater and saltwater setups. Whilst for some aquarium gizmos salinity does matter, for canister filters it doesn’t. All you may find is that the saltwater means you need to clean the filter more often, or undertake maintenance more regularly. 

So see the above answer for question 1! In short, any filter which suits your tanks needs and provides good filtration is the best canister filter for saltwater tanks.

3) How do you set up a canister filter?

Setting up a canister filter is normally pretty simple. Fill the canister with the filtration media, then close the canister. Attach the intake and outflow tubing to the filter, and place the intake and output where you would like them in the tank. 

Then place the canister in the place you have set aside for it. Prime it, and you are good to go! 

These are the very basic principles, so make sure to read and follow the instructions properly before you get going.

4) How do you prime a canister filter?

Priming a canister filter is usually pretty simple. Some of the more modern aquarium filters are self-priming. This means that you just need to fill them with water and press a button. The filter takes care of the rest and the flow will start. Other filters have priming pumps are bulbs, which you pump or squeeze to start the flow. 

If the filter has none of these then you will find instructions on how to properly prime that particular filter in the manufacturers guidelines. 

5) How should you layer the filtration media?

There are three main types of filtration media; mechanical, biological, and chemical. Ideally you should layer them in this way. The mechanical media will catch the larger particles, so need to be the first thing the water comes into contact with. This will also prevent these larger debris particles from clogging the latter stages of the filter. 

Next up should be the biological media. The bacteria which thrive here will take out contaminants such as nitrite, nitrate and ammonia. 

Last up should be the chemical media, which remove contaminants like heavy metals, odors, and discolorations such as tannins. 

6) How often should you clean a canister filter?

Exactly how often you should clean your canister filter will depend on a number of factors; the bioload of your tank, the size of the tank and canister filter, what filter media you have, amongst other things.

While exactly how often you should clean the filter will vary, a general rule of them is a full clean every three months. You should also clean and change the filtration media as and when needed. 

7) Is a canister filter expensive to run?

While it depends on the size and power of the canister filter you have, in general these filters aren’t particularly expensive to run. Some lower capacity canister filters can cost as little as a light bulb!

Conclusion

Hopefully this best canister filter reviews article has been able to guide you on how to choose the best canister filter for you and your tank setup. All of these canister filters are designed for reasonably sized aquariums, of you have a smaller tank, say for betta fish, then you can read our best filter for betta fish article to get some good ideas, as a strong canister filter may be too powerful!

You should be able to go and buy the best canister filter with the information in this article. If you want a general recommendation, we would definitely say the Fluval FX6 High Performance Aquarium Filter, Canister Filter for Aquariums up to 400 Gal., A219 for larger tanks, and the Hydor Professional External Canister Filter – Aquarium External Filter – Telescopic Intake Tubes, Easy Priming – EcoSystem in a Box – Biological, Mechanical, Chemical Filtration – 190 to 345 gph for smaller tanks. 

You may also like:

About the author

CoralRealm Staff

CoralRealm has been around for years. As one of the world's leading online Marine Biology publishers, you're in good hands with our team of experts. For more information, see our CoralRealm list of experts here.

Leave a Comment