Aquarium Canister Filters, a Different Kind of Filtration for Aquariums

Kowing How to Use Canister Filters, the Pros and Cons of Different Models

Canisters are my choice for tanks forty gallons or larger, especially for show tanks, as they can be completely concealed and not detract from the appearance of the aquarium. Because canister filters force the water through the filter media, they are particularly good at removing particulate matter. Canister filters are adaptable to a variety of conditions.

By changing the type and volume of various media, it is possible to create a custom filtration system for the needs of your aquarium. Water can be polished using diatomic sleeves, extra rings or sponges can be added to encourage bacterial colonization for increased biological filtration, or additional mechanical media can be used for aquariums that have a lot of particulate waste. Chemical filtration can be modified by using special resins to remove dangerous toxins.

  • 01 of 05

    Eheim Classic

    Eheim Classic

    Boasting a high throughput rate and durability, the Eheim is the quietest canister on the market. I like the compact design and easy to handle latches. The classic series has been on the market for years and has performed reliably. Replacement parts are easy to find, which is a big plus. My only complaint with this series is the lack of self-priming. However, they do provide tips on how to prime the filter, and it isn't too difficult. Although somewhat pricier than other brands, I've found that over time Eheim will outperform others. It's definitely a solid product.

    The Hagen Classic series are guaranteed for 2 years.

    Models include:

    • 2211 - ​flow of 60 gallons per hour, tanks up to 40 gallons
    • 2213 - flow of 116 gallons per hour, tanks up to 66 gallons
    • 2215 - flow of 164 gallons per hour, tanks up to 92 gallons
    • 2217 - flow of 264 gallons per hour, tanks up to 159 gallons
    • 2260 - flow of 635 gallons per hour, tanks up to 395 gallons
    • 2262 - flow of 900 gallons per hour, tanks up to 560 gallons
  • 02 of 05

    Fluval 05 Series

    Fluval Canister Filter

    Fluval produces one of the most economical, yet efficient, multimedia filters available. Learning a lesson from their older models that were too tall and unwieldy to service, the redesigned models are compact and sport larger latches similar to the Eheim products. Self-priming has been added, which is a big improvement over previous models. However, they still tend to be noisy if not properly filled. In spite of that, you can't go wrong with a Fluval.

    The 05 Series are all guaranteed for 3 years.

    Models include:

    • 201 105 - flow of 125 gallons per hour, tanks up to 25 gallons
    • A206 205 - flow of 180 gallons per hour, tanks up to 40 gallons​
    • A211 305 - flow of 260 gallons per hour, tanks up to 70 gallons
    • A216 405 - flow of 340 gallons per hour, tanks up to 100 gallons
    • A218 FX5 - flow of 925 gallons per hour, tanks up to 400 gallons
  • 03 of 05

    HOT Magnum

    Magnum Filter

    HOT (Hang On Tank) Magnum balances price with some of the best features in a canister. It is self-priming, quiet, and offers convertible filtration modes, including the option of adding a matching Bio-wheel system as well as a diatomic sleeve to remove even the smallest particles from the water. The clear canister makes it easy to see the condition of the filter. Optional gravel cleaner is a nice perk to an all-around great package.

    Currently, two models are offered, HOT Magnum and HOT Magnum Pro, the difference being the addition of a Bio-wheel system to the Pro system. Both are rated at 250 gallons per hour, for tanks up to 50 gallons

  • 04 of 05

    Rapids Mini Canister Filter

    Rapids Mini Canister Filter

    For those looking to have the perks of a canister filter on a smaller tank, the Rapids Mini Canister is a great option. With a flow rate of 80 gallons per hour, it is suitable for aquariums up to 20 gallons. It comes with a spray bar and directional flow diffuser. Warrantied for two years, this filter is a good option for ​a small tank, particularly the Nano tanks.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Rena FilStar Canister Filter

    Rena FilStar Canister Filter

    Although less well known that other canisters, the FilStar has many of the same features. The self-locking water shutoff system is a nice touch, and the price is very competitive with other canister filters of the same size.

    FilStars carry a warranty for two years.

    Currently offered models include:

    • Filstar XP 1 flow of 250 gallons per hour, tanks up to 45 gallons
    • Filstar XP 2 flow of 300 gallons per hour, tanks up to 75 gallons
    • Filstar XP 3 flow of 350 gallons per hour, tanks up to 175 gallons
    • Filstar XP 4 flow of 450 gallons per hour, tanks up to 260 gallons