When it comes to having fish in the family, there can be a lot of things to think about. From heaters and air pumps to finding the best aquarium for your fishes, you'll be collecting a lot of things to make up your fish tank. One thing you won't want to forget, though, is an aquarium filter.
These filters are a necessary purchase for any fish tank because they help keep the water clean - and your fish stay healthy. By pushing water through a filtration system the water can be cleaned consistently and accurately. Aquarium filters can be used in both freshwater and saltwater for tropical fish, meaning they're of good use in any type of tank - big or small.
So, when you're shopping for these essential tools to add to your fish tank, make sure you're getting the right filter for your pets. We've been on the hunt to find the best aquarium filters no matter the size of your tank - from sponge filters to hang-on filters, there's something for every species.
Why do I need an aquarium filter?
All fish tanks should have an aquarium filter fitted either internally or externally onto the tank. These handy filters will strip the aquarium water of any debris and dirt so that your fish can live happily in their habitat. Just like us humans, our fish like to live in a clean and healthy environment, too.
They also remove any chemicals from the water that may be toxic for your little fish. Buildup such as nitrates, aerates and ammonia can be lethal to fish if they get out of hand, so filters help to keep those at bay.
Instead of having to remove your fish every time you want to clean your tank, these automatic filters will continuously keep the water spick and span. That way, your fish can stay comfortable in their tank instead of putting them at risk by moving them.
The best aquarium filters 2022
With all this in mind then, we've rounded up our fave aquarium filters and you can browse them right here below. Make sure to check out the features of each one, to check you're getting your money's worth.
Interpet Internal Aquarium Fish Tank Mini Power Filter
Best small aquarium filter (up to 40L)
Looking for something small but powerful for your fish tank? This Interpret aquarium filter works up to 40L of water - and with over 7,000 rated reviews on Amazon, it's sure to be a perfect fit. Not only this but it's good value if you're looking for something on a budget.
Size: Up to 40L
Type: Coldwater and Tropical Fish
Review: "I had left my water for two weeks with my old filter as I was away and the water was pretty filthy... I got home on the weekend, changed 4L of water and fitted the new filter and oh my goodness, it is incredible! I had to go for another week and when I returned the water was clear as day! Very impressed. Silent too! No bubbles just a lovely stream, so pleased."
All Pond Solutions EF-150 Aquarium External Fish Tank Filter
Best aquarium filter 150L
On the other end of the spectrum, we have a bigger 150L aquarium filter from All Pond Solutions which has an easy-to-clean and no-drip function too. Filtering up to 400 litres an hour, this filtration system is smooth and easy to use without mess.
Review: "Fantastic filter. I have it attached to my 100-litre aquarium with three fantail goldfish. Gin clear water. Easy to clean out when you catch on to the knack. Easy to prime - just remember to fill it with water ahead of starting! Easily recommend this."
The Range has a variety of these Tetra aquarium filters - like this medium-sized option, made for 50-100 litre tanks. The components break apart individually so they're easy to handle, especially for cleaning and maintenance. All you need to do is attach it to the side of your aquarium and it will work in no time.
Also available for 10-40 litre, 30-60 litre and 80-150 litre fish tanks.
Size: 50-100 litres
Type: Coldwater and freshwater
Review: "Easy to set-up. Very powerful, does exactly what it says it does and works wonders. Keeps the water very clean for at least a week (I've got a 105-litre tank with two Coldwater goldfish) and I do two small feedings per day."
hygger Aquarium Double Sponge Filter Super Biochemical Filter Sponges
Best sponge aquarium filter
Sponge filters for aquariums and fish tanks work by pushing the water through the small holes in the sponge, therefore catching the debris before it goes into the water. They are super simple and work well in small tanks - just like this Hygger option on Amazon.
Size: Up to 150 litres
Type: Freshwater and Saltwater
Review: "I wanted to replace the internal filter that I had for my aquarium - the old one was a bit fiddly to clean and the sponges just basically got on my nerves to put in and take out. This filter comes with two additional sponges as well as the ones that are attached and also extra ceramic media. The water seems much clearer and as well as cleaning, it adds more oxygen which is always a good thing when it comes to nitrates. So easy to assemble."
With a whisper-quiet filter, you'll barely even hear this filtering away in your fish tank. Just pop this cartridge filter on the back or side of your aquarium and slide the filter into place. It has five stages of filtration for a crystal-clear environment for your fish.
Size: 36-68 litres
Type: Coldwater and Tropical
Review: "We switched to this filter and the water parameters are fantastic, the water is no longer murky, the algae build-up is minimal, as expected. The filter is not noisy and does the job. Highly recommended. I have also signed up for the filter packs to be sent every 3 months."
Penn-Plax Premium Under Gravel Filter System - 40-55 Gallon
Best under-gravel aquarium filter
All you need to do is pop this filtration system underneath the gravel in your aquarium and the carbon filter cartridges will remove all the grime from your fish tank. Under-gravel filters like this Penn-Plax option work well as they're not too much of an eyesore and can be adjusted for the size of your tank.
Size: 40-55 gallons
Type: Freshwater and saltwater
Review: "Awesome under gravel aquarium filters we have two of them running. We will be adding more community fishes tomorrow! Fast shipping and delivery! Thank you! Plus it fits very well in our 55-gallon aquarium!"
Hang-on filters do exactly what they say on the tin - they hang on the outside of your fish tank and work by pumping water into the filter and then clean and put back into your fish tank - similar to cartridge filters. This AKKEE choice is easily added to any aquarium.
Size: 30-50cm height
Review: "So I am using this little thing for my 25l tank and it's great. Cleans everything. The in and output is brilliant and not too big. Didn't attach the oil cleaner just put a bit of sponge in that hole and works very good. Would totally recommend it."