Growing algae in your aquarium may sound counterintuitive.

But an algae scrubber filter can keep your tank water pristine…

… thanks to the algae’s natural filtration properties.

Once it has grown,

This type of filter adds oxygen and balances your water pH level.

It can also remove ammonia and carbon dioxide…

… as well as other harmful substances.

All this while substantially reducing overall aquarium maintenance.

If the idea sounds sweet, check out the best aquarium algae scrubber filters on our list.


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Why We Love it:

  • Simple installation

  • No overflow

  • Easy maintenance



Perhaps the best aquarium algae scrubber filter out there, the HOG.5 is ideal for your reef, tropical, or freshwater system. A patented up-flow scrubber design eliminates the overflow issues, while the algae filtration keeps your tank healthy and clean. This filter can reduce glass cleaning and water changes, while the micro-animals growing inside the scrubber contribute to maintaining optimal nutrient levels.

The hang-on-glass design makes it perfect for glass, acrylic, and sump tanks. Running on both 120V and 240V, it has no metal parts that go inside the aquarium and promotes water oxygenation through the introduction of air.

Maintenance is as easy as the installation. Simply remove the inside cover, disconnect the airline, and scrape off the algae with a toothbrush. Undeniably, a simple way to keep your aquarium pristine.

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Why We Love it:

  • Fits most aquariums

  • White growing surface

  • Ideal to use alone or with other water filters


From the same manufacturer, the Santa Monica Filtration DROP1.2X is a compact algae scrubber filter designed to fit even into smaller tanks. It needs 3.5 inches of space and comes with a sturdy base that allows it to sit on the bottom of your aquarium or sump.

The innovative design draws the aquarium water inside the filtration chamber where it mixes with air bubbles. As long as you size and operate it properly, it can eliminate the need for supplementary filtration and water changes.

The DROP1.2X uses a low voltage and is perfectly safe for your fish. It also comes with 3ft vinyl airline, but you’ll have to invest in a separate air pump.

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Why We Love it:

  • Waterfall algae scrubber

  • Ideal for placing in your sump

  • Pole mounting option


The last algae scrubber filter on this list is the RAIN2 from Santa Monica. What makes it different is the patent-pending waterfall design that makes it perfect for the sump. The pole installation is not as simple as the hang-on-back or bottom placement, but it’s extremely versatile.

Suitable for fresh and saltwater aquariums, it’s powerful enough to do all filtering as long as you size and use it correctly. It eliminates nasty floating algae and can significantly reduce the number of water changes.

A nice thing about this filter is that its lights can be put on a timer, so you can enhance both growth and filtering. Just like the other algae scrubbers from Santa Monica, the RAIN2 has dual voltage capabilities and is very easy to use and maintain.

Tips for Choosing an Aquarium Algae Scrubber Filter

An algae scrubber filter is often confused with a scrubber pad.

But it’s a completely different device.

The former is used to filter the water in your aquarium…

… balance its pH and improve oxygenation levels.

The latter is used to scrape off algae from your tank’s glass.

An aquarium algae scrubber filter brings natural filtration to your saltwater, freshwater, or pond system.

It allows your tank or pond to operate just like a natural lake or ocean,

Improving water quality and reducing overall tank maintenance.

Types of Aquarium Algae Scrubber Filters

When it comes to choosing an algae scrubber filter, you can pick from the following two options:

  • Waterfall algae scrubber filter: Consist of a PVC plumbing pipe that flows water down a piece of knitted plastic screen roughed up to allow algae to attach. By creating this natural filtration area, the waterfall algae scrubber filter reduces the nutrients to very low levels, eliminating annoying algae problems. The only downside is that this type of filter is installed on a pole above the aquarium, and it might be unsuitable to use in tighter spaces.
  • Up-flowing algae scrubber filter: Is the exact opposite of the waterfall, allowing you to place the algae scrubber underwater inside your aquarium or pond. It is ideal for placing into tight areas where you have no room for a filter above the waterline, and the design also keeps algae from drying out in the event of a blackout. Up-flowing algae scrubbers have either hang-on-back or fully submersible designs that sit on your tank’s bottom. Besides enhanced filtration, these algae scrubbers also promote oxygenation thanks to the air bubble flow.

You can make them yourself:

… But obviously, it’s a lot of work and it can be easier (and faster) to just buy a commercially-made one.

How to Maintain an Aquarium Algae Scrubber Filter

Regardless of the type of pick, aquarium algae scrubber filters are very easy to maintain.

All you have to do is to remove – or harvest – the algae from the scrubber periodically.

In broad lines, you should harvest the algae:

  • Every 7-21 days
  • When it has turned black
  • When it has filled the scrubber
  • When the level of nutrients in the water starts to grow

For saltwater tanks that grow thick green algae, simply remove the algae from the scrubber with your hands.

If it’s thin green algae, as it happens in freshwater tanks, scrape it off from the scrubber with a toothbrush.

Your Turn

Which is the best aquarium algae scrubber filter is ultimately up to you.

If you have enough room for an above-the-water installation, go for a waterfall type.

For simpler installation or tighter spaces, pick an up-flowing design.

So, which type would you go for?

Did you find the right aquarium algae scrubber filter for you on the list above?

Tell me in a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.

If you liked this article, don’t forget to share it with your fish keeper or pond hobbyist friends. They might like it too.

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