Product Reviews, Aquarium Filters

The Best HOB Filters for Reef, Betta, Nano Tank and more

If you’re looking for the best hang on back filter then look no further! In this article we will discuss the pros and cons of using a HOB filter as well as recommend several models that are sure to meet your needs.

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The Best HOB Filter Option

HOB filters also called hang on back filters are often overlooked. They are not the most expensive option, but they can be extremely beneficial for your tank. The best HOB filter is one of the most important pieces of equipment in your tank. A good hang on the back filter will ensure that you have clean water for your fish, while a bad one can lead to all sorts of problems.

There are many different models and brands available but only a few stand out as being truly exceptional. We’re going to explore some of the best hang on back filters on the market today!

  1. Best Overall: AquaClear 110 HOB Filter
  2. Best for Nano Tank: Marineland Penguin 350 Power Filter
  3. Best Budget: Penn Plax Hang on Back Filter
  4. Best with Skimmer: Fluval C4 HOB Filter
  5. Best for Betta: Tetra Whisper EX Filter
  6. Most Silent: Aqueon QuietFlow HOB Filter
  7. Best for Reef Tank: Seachem Tidal 75 Hang on Back Filter

Best HOB Filters Reviewed

No matter what size aquarium you have and how much money you want to spend there is a hob filter option for your needs out there waiting for you. With all of these different factors, it’s easy to see why choosing the best hob filter isn’t always straightforward but hopefully, we’ve helped make things easier by laying out everything you need to know about them before making any purchases!

Best Overall
The Best HOB Filter Option: AquaClear 110 HOB Filter
Photo: Amazon.com

The AquaClear Filter 110 is our top pick for the best hang on back filter. It has a high media capacity, adjustable flow rate, and is very quiet compared to other models. It’s also one of the more affordable options out there!

Plus, this filter provides three types of filtration – mechanical, chemical, and biological – so you can rest easy knowing that all aspects of your fish tank are being taken care of by one product.

You won’t have to worry about cloudy water or algae build-up anymore because this filter has got you covered! With its patented refiltration system, it creates a waterfall effect in order to oxygenate the water while also providing gentle flow for optimum comfort for both you and your fishies.

And with seven times more volume than other filters on the market today, there’s no question as to why we say our product is truly the best hang on back filter out there.

Product Specs

  • Flow rate: 500 GPH
  • Media included: Poly/Foam, BioMAX, Activated charcoal
  • Media capacity: Large
  • Aquarium capacity: 110 gallons (available in different models)

Pros

  • High media capacity
  • Adjustable flow rate
  • Quiet compared to other models
  • Three types of filtration
  • Patented refiltration system

Cons

  • Some find it difficult to install

Read More: AquaClear Filter Review

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Best for Nano Tank
The Best HOB Filter Option: Marineland Penguin 350 Power Filter
Photo: Amazon.com

The Marineland Penguin 350 Power Filter is a great low-cost option for anyone with a nano aquarium. It can be used on aquariums up to 20 gallons and comes equipped with Bio-wheel technology which provides beneficial bacteria necessary for a healthy fish tank ecosystem. BIO-Wheel features noise-reducing vented covers and adjustable intake strainers making this product perfect for any home or office environment!

Rite-Size filter cartridge traps debris and removes odors and discoloration, providing mechanical as well as chemical filtration. For maximum efficiency, fast-acting Black Diamond Premium Activated – Carbon is used in each cartridge. All these benefits will help you create a beautiful environment for your fish so they can live happily ever after!

Product Specs

  • Flow rate: 350 GPH
  • Media included: Black Diamond Premium Activated Carbon
  • Media capacity: Large
  • Aquarium capacity: 75 gallons (available in different models)

Pros

  • Bio-wheel technology for beneficial bacteria
  • Easy to operate
  • Durable
  • Affordable
  • Powerful

Cons

  • Need frequent cleaning

Read More: Marineland Penguin 350 Review

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Best Budget
The Best HOB Filter Option: Penn Plax Filter
Photo: Amazon.com

The Penn Plax Hang-On Filter is a great option for people who are looking to buy the best aquarium filter on a budget. The Revolutionary Bio-Falls Quad-Filtration System uses anaerobic bacteria to efficiently filter ammonia and nitrite while also providing maximum oxygenation.

It’s very easy to install, has multiple adjustable levels of water flow, and while some find this filter loud, we would say that its sound isn’t bothersome at all! Noise level is something more than 35dB.

The activated carbon cartridge inside this filter is designed to remove harmful chemicals, toxins, odors, discoloration, and other contaminants from your water. Plus it has an internal sponge that optimizes colonization of beneficial anaerobic bacteria and a polyfiber floss cartridge that traps floating particulate matter. This filter is safe for use in freshwater and marine aquariums!

Product Specs

  • Flow rate: 300 GPH
  • Media included: Activated carbon, Sponge, Polyfiber floss
  • Media capacity: Large
  • Aquarium capacity: 55-100 gallons (available in different models)

Pros

  • Adjustable flow
  • Easy to install 
  • Cheap
  • Efficient filtration 

Cons

  •  Loud (more than 35dB)

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Best with Skimmer
The Best HOB Filter Option: Fluval C4 HOB Filter
Photo: Amazon.com

Fluval C Series Filters are top-of-the-line filters that come with a few more bells and whistles than standard HOB aquarium filters. This one has an exclusive 5 stage filtration system that provides reliable mechanical, biological, and chemical removal of harmful toxins to create clean, clear water for your fish.

The Fluval C4 HOB Filter is the perfect choice for any freshwater or saltwater aquarium between 40 and 70 gallons. It features the unique “two chamber” filtration process which offers superior biofiltration by creating deep layers where beneficial bacteria can grow. This also makes it easier to maintain because you only need to replace the cartridge every couple of months depending on how many fish you have in there!

The activated carbon filter is specially designed to remove loose debris while reducing odors and discoloration caused by ammonia. Your tank will be cleaner than ever before with this amazing product!

Product Specs

  • Flow rate: 264 GPH
  • Media included: Poly/Foam, Activated carbon, C-Nodes, Bio-Screen, O-Ring
  • Media capacity: Large
  • Aquarium capacity: 70 gallons (available in different models)

Pros

  • 5 stage filtration
  • Build-in skimmer 
  • Adjustable flow
  • Telescopic intake tube
  • Pop-up cleaning indicator
  • Extremely quiet

Cons

  •  EU plug

Best for Betta Tank
The Best HOB Filter Option: Tetra Whisper EX Filter
Photo: Chewy.com

The Tetra Whisper EX Filters is the best HOB filter for betta tank because they offer the best combination of power, performance, and price! This hang on back filter is a new and improved version that’s been scientifically engineered to provide the best filtration for your aquarium.

It features continuous water flow action which helps prevent debris buildup, an outflow that maximizes water agitation and oxygenation, time-strip technology so you know when it’s time to replace the filter, and it’s silent for your convenience.

This HOB aquarium filter also features Bio-Bag Cartridges which provide biological filtration by creating deep layers where beneficial bacteria can grow. They’re simple to use since all you have to do is remove them from their packaging, rinse lightly under running water, then let them dry before placing them back into the filter. If you are a Betta keeper, this filter is your best option for your Betta fish tank.

Product Specs

  • Flow rate: 340 GPH
  • Media included: Activated carbon
  • Media capacity: Medium
  • Aquarium capacity: 70 gallons (available in different models)

Pros

  • Prevents debris buildup 
  • Silent
  • Filter cartridge carrier
  • Bio-scrubber filtration
  • Maximum oxygenation
  • Great value

Cons

  •  Easily scratched

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Most Silent
The Best HOB Filter Option: Aqueon QuietFlow HOB filter
Photo: Amazon.com

The Aqueon QuietFlow Aquarium Filters are some of the quietest aquarium filters because they’re designed to reduce turbulence and noise as much as possible. This filter is incredibly easy to set up and use, plus it comes with all the media you need for optimal filtration!

It has five-stage filtration to remove debris and toxins, eliminate odors and water discoloration, boost oxygenation, reduce splashing so it’s virtually silent while running, provide automatic reminders when the filter becomes clogged with debris, and start automatically after tank cleanings or power interruptions to prevent leaks and messes.

The higher flow rate ensures healthier fish thanks to the increased dissolving of oxygen content. This is the perfect product for any aquarium owner!

Product Specs

  • Flow rate: 400 GPH
  • Media included: Activated carbon
  • Media capacity: Medium
  • Aquarium capacity: 75 gallons (available in different models)

Pros

  • LED cartridge change indicator
  • Self-priming
  • 5 stage filtration
  • Diffuser grid
  • Patented bio-holster

Cons

  • Sits a little too high
  • Filtration too simple

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Best for Reef Tank
The Best HOB Filter Option: Seachem Tidal 75 Hang on Back Filter
Photo: Amazon.com

The Seachem Tidal 75 Hang-On Filter is the best HOB filter for reef tanks because it comes with a built in protein skimmer which helps remove organic waste and dissolved toxins from the water. This hang on back filter also has an adjustable flow rate so you can customize it to fit your needs, plus it’s designed to be super quiet!

It features four stages of filtration including mechanical, chemical, biological, and adsorptive media filters as well as a patented bio-holster that provides superior ammonia and nitrite removal. The Tidal 75 Hang-On Filter also comes with an easy to replace cartridge system so you can keep your tank looking its best!

Product Specs

  • Flow rate: 350 GPH
  • Media included: Different media included
  • Media capacity: LArge
  • Aquarium capacity: 75 gallons (available in different models)

Pros

  • Self-priming pump
  • Self-cleaning impeller
  • surface skimmer
  • Maintenance alter feature

Cons

  • Cheap media included

Advantages

There are a number of reasons why people prefer hang on back filters over other types. The biggest reason is that they are simple to set up and use.

Hang On Back Filters Are Simple To Use

The hob fish tank filter system does not require any assembly when you get them home from the store. You simply take it out of the box, rinse all components in water, and place it in your aquarium!

Once installed, these filters work automatically with no need for user input or control besides changing an occasional cartridge if necessary. This makes them perfect for beginners who want something easy to maintain without needing too much experience beforehand.

Filtration Stages Allow For Customization

Many hang on back filters offers more than one stage of filtration. This means you can customize the filter to meet your specific needs.

For example, if you have a large tank then you might want to use a model that includes a pre-filter section. This will help remove larger debris and particles from the water before they have a chance to clog up the main filter cartridge.

On the other hand, if you are keeping fish that require very clean water then you might want to go with a model that has multiple cartridges and offers more intense filtering power.

The Best HOB Filter Option

Intake And Outflow Are Both Adjustable

Another great feature of hang on back filters is that the intake and outflow can both be adjusted to fit your tank. This ensures that you get the most efficient filtration possible without causing any problems with water flow.

Some models also include an adjustable spray bar which directs the output in a particular direction. This can come in handy if you have live plants or coral in your aquarium and don’t want them to get blasted with too much current.

Quiet Operation Means You Won’t Be Annoyed

One last advantage of hang on back filters is their low noise level. Unless you have a particularly powerful model, these filters are usually very quiet compared to other types like power filters or canister filters.

They also do not require any electrical cords outside the tank, which means you won’t need to worry about a loose wire floating around. This can be dangerous as it could potentially short out and lead to an explosion if your aquarium ever fills with water!

best hang on back filter option

Disadvantages

Of course, no piece of equipment is perfect and hang on back filters are certainly not exempt from this rule. Below we will go over some negative aspects of these types of filters so that you know what to watch out for before making a purchase:

It Is Very Easy To Damage

Sometimes people accidentally bump into or lean against their filter intake tube without noticing. While most models come with protective covers, there is nothing stopping you from accidentally breaking the tube if you’re not careful.

This can cause problems because it will disrupt the water flow and could potentially damage your filter. Always be mindful of where your filter is in relation to other objects in your tank, and make sure that everyone who might touch the aquarium knows not to mess with the filters!

HOB Filters Can Be Hard To Clean And Maintain

Hang on back filters often have a lot of nooks and crannies where gunk can build up over time. This can be difficult to clean without disassembling the entire unit, which can be frustrating if you’re not familiar with how it works.

Additionally, many hang on back filters requires regular cartridge changes in order to keep functioning at their best. This can be expensive and time consuming, so you might want to consider other types of filters if this is something that would bother you.

Some models require extra accessories or modifications in order to work properly which also increases initial costs.

They Are Not The Best Option For Saltwater Tanks

Unlike freshwater tanks, saltwater aquariums do not have plants or algae for your filter to feed on. This means the only source of nutrients comes from fish waste products, which are often smaller than what these filters can handle before becoming clogged. When this happens it will reduce water flow through the cartridge until it eventually stops altogether.

This forces you to clean the unit more frequently because gunk builds up faster due to lack of food sources inside the tank. If you are keeping saltwater fish, a canister filter is often a better option than a hang on back filter.

The Best HOB Filter Option

How to Choose the Best Hang On Back Filters

Now that you know all the pros and cons of hang on back filters, it’s time to figure out which one is right for you. The best way to do this is by considering your specific needs, aquarium size and more.

Keep in mind the following factors when making your decision:

Tank Size

As we mentioned before, not all filters are created equal and some work better in larger tanks while others do well in smaller ones. If you’re not sure which size aquarium you have, check the specs or measure it yourself!

If you have a small tank (under 30 gallons), then a hang on back filter is a good option. But as your tank size increases, you might want to consider upgrading to a more powerful filter.

Some brands have created hang on back filters that are suitable and powerful enough to handle large aquariums. Those models can be expensive and not as good an option as canister filters but if you are a ‘must go for hob filter’ then there is an option for you.

Media Capacity 

The media capacity is how much of the filter’s surface area is dedicated to holding cartridges or other types of media. This is important because the more surface area, the more contact the water has with the filter, and the better it will be able to cleanse your aquarium.

If you have a large tank, you’ll want to find a hang on back filter that has a high media capacity so you don’t have to change out the cartridge as often. On the other hand, if this will be your first tank or not very populated then choosing one with less space might work better for you and save money in the long run!

Flow Rate 

The flowing rate is how much water the filter can move per hour, and it’s an important consideration if you have a large aquarium. You’ll want to make sure the filter can handle moving all the water in your tank at least once every two hours or so.

Some filters come with adjustable flow rates so you can customize them to your needs, while others have a set flow rate that cannot be changed. If you have a particularly large aquarium, be sure to check this spec before making your purchase! 

Noise

One thing to keep in mind when buying a good hob is the noise factor. HOB filters are typically very loud, and if you have them running while you’re watching TV or trying to sleep you might get annoyed by their constant hum!

Some brands offer models that run more quietly than others, but most hang on back filters make a lot of racket which can be frustrating for some people. If this is an issue then it may be best to choose the quietest aquarium filter.

Price

Finally, price is always an important consideration when making any purchase. Hang on back filters are typically less expensive than canister models but more pricey than sponge or box types. Some hang on back filters cost under $50 while others go up into the hundreds depending on what features they offer and their overall quality! 

You probably don’t want to spend too much money if you’re just starting out with an aquarium because it might be wiser to buy one of those other types until you decide to get a bigger tank. If budget isn’t an issue then there is nothing stopping you from going all out and getting yourself a top notch hang on back filter.

Our Verdict 

The best hang on back filter for the money is definitely the AquaClear 110 HOB Filter. It’s a great value because it comes with all the media you need to get started, and it features five-stage filtration to remove debris and toxins from your aquarium. Plus, it’s designed to be incredibly quiet so you won’t even know it’s running!

If you’re looking for a reef tank specific HOB filter, then we recommend the Seachem Tidal 75 Hang-On Filter which comes with a built in protein skimmer and four stages of filtration. It also has an adjustable flow rate so you can customize it to fit your needs!

How We Chose the Best HOB Filter

When choosing the best hang on back filter, we first looked at all of its features to make sure it met our standards for quality. We also took into consideration how easy each product was to use and set up as well as their price compared to other filters in this category!

Finally, we purchased each filter and look at the reviews from other aquarium owners to get their honest feedback on each product.

We hope you’ve found this guide helpful in choosing the best hang on back filter for your needs! If not, be sure to check out our other aquarium guides for more information on keeping your fish happy and healthy!

FAQs

Deciding on the best hang on back filters while staying within a budget can be a bit of a challenge. Here are some frequently asked questions about hob aquarium filters to help guide decisions.

Q: Where should a back filter hang?

The best place for an HOB filter is on the back of your aquarium. This will prevent it from getting in the way and you’ll never have to worry about accidentally knocking it over, plus since most hang on back filters are designed so they sit flush with or just above the water level, there’s no risk of leakage!

Q: How long do hang on back filters last?

HOB filters last anywhere from several months to a couple years depending on their quality and how often you clean them. These filters will eventually wear out, but when that happens it’s pretty easy and inexpensive to replace them!

Marineland Penguin 350 Power Filter is one of the most durable and long-lasting hob filters on the market. It comes with a three-year warranty and is designed to last for up to two years before needing a replacement!

Q: Are HOB filters good?

HOB filters are one of the best ways to filter your aquarium water because you can customize them with different types and quantities of media to fit your tank’s needs.

They’re easy to set up so you won’t have any trouble getting started, plus they help keep your fish healthy by removing harmful toxins from their aquarium!

Q: Are HOB filters good for bettas?

HOB filters are great for betta fish tanks because they’re small, easy to maintain and they provide a lot of surface area so the water is well oxygenated, plus their adjustable flow rate can be customized to fit your betta’s needs. However, if you have a large tank with lots of other fish then you’ll likely need a more powerful filter like a canister filter!

The best hang on back filter for Bettas is the Tetra Whisper EX Filter which comes with all the media you need to get started and features three-stage filtration to remove debris and toxins from your aquarium. Plus, it’s designed to be incredibly quiet so you won’t even know it’s running!

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I am Mario, a expert aquarist who is sharing his knowledge with everyone.

Keeping innocent fish and aquatic plants safe and healthy is my daily routine. With my experience and my passion for aquatic life, I will advise you through the long run of keeping an aquarium.

Disclosure: EpicAquarium.com participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for publishers to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.