If you want to keep your pet fishes happy and healthy…

… You should provide them a beautiful environment as close as possible to their natural habitat.

One effective way to achieve that is by having a good filter for your tank.

And canisters are a GREAT option for that.

So check out the best aquarium canister filters today to see which one is right for you!

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Our Top Pick
Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter
  • Three stage filtration process
  • Watertight sealed connections
  • Fully customizable large filtration trays
  • Second place
    MarineLand Magniflow Canister Filter MarineLand Magniflow Canister Filter
  • Multi-filtration system
  • Media baskets can be stacked
  • Media baskets can be easily customized
  • Third place
    SunSun 5-Stage External Canister Filter with UV Sterilizer SunSun 5-Stage External Canister Filter with UV Sterilizer
  • High motor power
  • Built-in UV sterilizer
  • Four media trays
  • EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter
  • Very durable
  • Very efficient
  • Quiet operation
  • Fluval External Filter Fluval External Filter
  • Four filtration trays
  • Improved impeller design
  • Clog-proof intake strainer

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    Why We Love it:

    • Three stage filtration process to ensure complete water purification

    • Fully customizable large filtration trays allowing you to customize your filtration media system depending on your specific needs.

    • Watertight sealed motor head, inlet and outlet nozzles, and tubing connections to avoid spills and mess.



    Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter is designed to be simple yet provides maximum filtration for both marine and freshwater aquariums. It has three internal media baskets, providing biological, mechanical and chemical filtration. The baskets are large enough so you can customize your filtration needs. The motor head has an integrated 0-ring with four locking clamps to ensure a water tight fit.

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    Why We Love it:

    • The motor head, along with four similar clips (instead of two sets of different clips), can fit around the body in any direction.

    • The provided media baskets can be stacked in different direction as long as you align the internal tubes of all the baskets, making your maintenance work easier.

    • Media baskets can be easily customized with other bio, mechanical and chemical media of your choice.

    Available Sizes:


    The MarineLand Magniflow Canister Filter has a multi-filtration system designed to make your aquatic environment clean and healthy. Its powerful three-stage filtration system makes water cleansing easier, faster, and better than before. The MarineLand Magniflow Canister Filter an updated version of their previous c-series version canister. They made it easier to use by changing its previously robust priming button and the motor head that fits in any direction to the body.

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    Why We Love it:

    • High motor power that can pump up to 2000 litters or 525 gallons per hour.

    • Built-in UV sterilizer with 9-volt action power, eliminating bacteria and algae spores (resulting in clearer and cleaner water).

    • Four media trays giving more room to customize, change, and adjust your filter media.


    The SunSun-China HW-304B 5-Stage External Canister Filter is a powerful canister filter that can handle 525 gallons per hour, ideal for tanks up to 150-gallons. Its filtration system involves four media trays that are fully customizable, allowing you to create your own media filtration set up. It has a built-in 9 volts ultraviolet sterilizer that eliminates bacteria and algae spores. All in all, its filtration system goes in 5 stages.

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    Why We Love it:

    • Massive amount of water flowing past the filtration media because it has no filtration trays

    • It’s very durable and can last for a long time.

    • Very efficient and quiet operation

    Available Sizes:


    EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter is a legendary classic filter. Its high level of efficiency and technology has been tested and proven for years. The full filtration runs on a single process, achieving mechanical and biological purification. As the filter continuously circulates water, oxygen levels increases.

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    Why We Love it:

    • Four filtration trays with a large foam screen and a clog-proof intake strainer on the side

    • Improved impeller design for silent motor operation

    • Quicker and more comfortable to install compared to other canister filters.

    Available Sizes:


    The Fluval External Filter has five stages of filtration, designed to produce a cleaner and healthier environment for fresh and saltwater aquariums. It has four large media trays containing filter media for biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration. Plus it has a large and long dual layer foam screen and a clog-proof intake strainer going all the way down through the side of the media trays. It is very easy and quick to install, and it has a new and improved impeller cover with an acoustic dampening material designed for a quieter operation.

    Advantages of Aquarium Canister Filters

    One MAJOR advantage of canister filters (versus other filters)…

    … is that it can accommodate many different types of filtration media.

    It allows you to customize and choose which type of media filter you would prefer to get the most effective combination.

    Its multiple stage filtration capabilities cover the mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration, allowing you to achieve a complete cleaning process every cycle.

    Get this:

    Other canister filters are equipped with UV filtration device that can kill harmful bacteria and algae. However, algae that are sticking inside your tank would require extra work like scrubbing or adding algae eaters like the Amano shrimps and Siamese Algae Eaters.

    Because canister filters do such a great job at cycling your tank water, they provide fantastic water circulation.

    This results in enriching the oxygen levels in your tank.

    They are also perfect for fish that love to have more water movement like the African Cichlids and other marine species.

    But if your fish species prefer a softer flow…

    … utilizing a spray bar or a raised lily pipe can achieve a gentler current.

    Choosing the Right Size

    Depending on the brand, canister filters come in different shapes and sizes.

    The size of the canister filter that you buy would depend on the size – and stocking rate – of the tank.

    You need to get the most efficient water flow for a complete cleaning process, getting into all the nooks and crannies. So if your tank is big and your canister filter works only on smaller number of gallons of tank water, it’s not going to be of much use.

    Because there are so many canister filter brands, you need to look at the description of each brand and see their tank water capacity and their motor power (how many gallons can they take per hour).

    That said:

    Don’t just base your decision on the size of the canister filter alone because there are smaller canister filters that have tremendous motor power and tank water capacity.

    Also, find a canister filter that suits your preference.

    The good news?

    In general, canister filters are the quietest of all aquarium filters.

    This makes them ideal for bedrooms, offices, or any area where you don’t want a lot of background noise.

    Occasionally, some canister filters can be pretty noisy, and if this is an issue for your situation, you’d be better off finding a canister filter with a noise dampening system for a smoother and quieter operation.


    Canister filters are the best tank filters that any hobbyist would have.

    One important thing is that you should do regular maintenance on your canister filters to prolong their life. They purify and remove all the dirt and harmful substances from your tank water so, over time, dirt and grime would build up in your filtration media.

    Many people find a monthly cleaning works well for their aquarium.

    Overall, canister filters provide fantastic filtration and the water cycling, giving you lesser tank maintenance.

    If you have any comments or questions, feel free to write it down below.