Product Reviews, Aquarium Filters

The Best Small Fish Tank Filters: HOB, External, and more

A small fish tank filter removes debris from the water and keeps it clean. Ahead, find the right model for your fish bowl, space, and situation.

best small fish tank filters

Do you have a small fish tank filter that needs replacing or you are looking for a new one? Do you want to know which are the best small fish tank filters on the market right now? If so, then this article is for you!

Many aquarists hesitate and purchase a small aquarium filter without doing research. Doing so can leave you with a filter that doesn’t fit your small fish tank, is not powerful enough to clean the water, or simply does not do what it was intended for.

We’ll be discussing everything you need to consider before purchasing a new aquarium filter and also review some top-rated nano tank filters to help make your decision easier.

  1. Best Smallest: Tetra Whisper Internal Power Filter
  2. Best Quiet: AquaClear Power Filter
  3. Best Budget: Marineland Bio-Wheel Penguin 100 Power Filter
  4. Best External: Fluval 107 External Filter
  5. Best Canister: Penn-Plax Cascade Aquarium Canister Filter
  6. Best HOB: Aqueon QuietFlow Aquarium Power Filter

Best Small Fish Tank Filter Reviewed

The products below include some of the best small fish tank filters available and will suit a variety of different aquarium sizes and needs. They range from internal and external filters to HOB and canister filters.

Best Smallest
The Small Fish Tank Filter Option: Tetra Whisper Internal Power Filter
Photo: Amazon.com

Tetra Whisper Internal Power Filter is the perfect internal aquarium filter for your small tank. This mini aquarium filter has a cartridge included but also has space for you to add additional media like carbon or sponge pads if needed, making it easy to customize according.

It’s very quiet and does not make too much noise. It uses Bio-Bag filtration cartridges (which are easily replaceable) and comes with one extra cartridge included in the package so that you don’t have to order replacements straight away.

This nano aquarium filter is perfect for all types of tanks including betta ones! Plus, it comes with 3 stages of filtration including chemical, biological and mechanical to keep your water clean!

Product Specs

  • Filter type: Internal
  • Aquarium capacity: up to 5 gallons (available in different models)
  • Flow rate: 27 GPH
  • Media capacity: Small
  • Filter media included: Whisper Bio-Bag cartridges

Get it on Amazon, or at Chewy

Best Quiet
The Small Fish Tank Filter Option: AquaClear Power Filter
Photo: Chewy.com

If you’re looking for a small aquarium filter that is both quiet and powerful, the AquaClear Power Filter is a great option. This HOB (hang on back) style filter comes with an adjustable flow rate so you can customize it to your tank size and needs. Plus it comes with patented refiltration technology, as well as a gentle waterfall design that creates oxygenation.

It has a large media capacity which can be customized even further by using different types of AquaClear filters like the ammonia remover or carbon cartridge. AquaClear Power Filter’s three-stage filtration system takes care of everything from chemical waste to biological waste like ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. It’s also very easy to clean and maintain!

Product Specs

  • Filter type: HOB
  • Aquarium capacity:  up to 20 gallons (available in different models)
  • Flow rate: 50-150 GPH
  • Media capacity: Medium 
  • Filter media included: BioMax ceramic rings, activated carbon, 

Read More: AquaClear Filter Review

Get it on Amazon, or at Chewy

Best Budget
The Small Fish Tank Filter Option: Marineland Bio-Wheel Penguin 100 Power Filter
Photo: Chewy.com

The Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter is a great option for those looking for an affordable small fish tank filter. This HOB filter includes Black Diamond Premium Activated Carbon to remove toxic ammonia and nitrates from your water. It has an extra-large BIO-Wheel that can be adjusted for optimal flow rate and helps keep the water moving and healthy bacteria thriving.

It also has as well as noise-reducing vented covers so you can enjoy superior filtration without having to listen to us run all day long! It offers complete three-stage filtration (mechanical, biological & chemical) for both freshwater and saltwater tanks.

Product Specs

  • Filter type: HOB
  • Aquarium capacity: up to 20 gallons (available in different models)
  • Flow rate: 100 GPH
  • Media capacity: Medium
  • Filter media included: Black diamond activated carbon, Bio-Wheel, Rite-size cartridge

Read More: Marineland Penguin 350 Review

Get it on Amazon, or at Chewy

Best External
The Small Fish Tank Filter Option: Fluval 107 External Filter
Photo: Amazon.com

The Fluval 107 External Filter is a powerful canister filter that is perfect for small-medium tanks up to 25 gallons. It includes four stages of filtration (mechanical, biological, chemical, and pre-filter) to take care of all the waste in your tank. Plus it has an adjustable flow rate so you can customize it to your needs.

This small filter also comes with AquaStop valves which automatically shut off the water supply if there is a power outage or system failure, preventing any damage to your aquarium. This nano aquarium filter will keep your tank clean while being silent enough not to bother anyone else around it. 

Product Specs

  • Filter type: Canister
  • Aquarium capacity: up to 25 gallons (available in different models)
  • Flow rate: 145 GPH
  • Media capacity: Large
  • Filter media included: Carbon, quick clear, BioFoam+, 2x Bio-Foam, 2x Bio-Foam Max

Read More: Fluval 407 Review

Best Canister
The Small Fish Tank Filter Option: Penn-Plax Cascade Aquarium Canister Filter
Photo: Amazon.com

The Penn-Plax Cascade aquarium canister filter is an extra small fish tank filter or freshwater or saltwater tank and provides crystal clear water with all of its features. It’s designed with an extra-large capacity stackable media container, so it can hold more than enough of whatever media you need to use in order to keep your water clean and healthy.

The flow valves rotate 360 degrees giving you the flexibility to position the water flow in the filter at any direction you want, and the aerating spray bar increases oxygen levels for a healthy aquarium environment.

And if that wasn’t enough, this filter also includes free media, tubing, directional spout for customization, and extra-large capacity stackable media containers with lift-up handles! 

Product Specs

  • Filter type: Canister
  • Aquarium capacity: up to 30 gallons (available in different models)
  • Flow rate: 115 GPH
  • Media capacity: Extra Large
  • Filter media included: Activated carbon, coarse Bio-Sponge, 2x Poly Fiber Floss Pads

Read More: Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Review

Get it on Amazon, or at Chewy

Best HOB
The Small Fish Tank Filter Option: Aqueon QuietFlow Aquarium Power Filter
Photo: Amazon

The Aqueon QuietFlow Aquarium Power Filter is a great choice for those looking for an affordable and reliable HOB filter. It features a 5-stage advanced filtration system with an LED filter change indicator that provides mechanical, chemical, biological, wet/dry components & a filter pad.

This patented design demonstrates near-silent operation & consistent flow rates and the auto-start pump requires no priming and automatically restarts if power was lost. With this product, you can provide crystal clear water and increased oxygen levels for healthier & active fish!

Product Specs

  • Filter type: HOB
  • Aquarium capacity: up to 20 gallons (available in different models)
  • Flow rate: 125 GPH
  • Media capacity: Medium
  • Filter media included: Activated carbon, patented Bio-Holster

Get it on Amazon, or at Chewy

What to Look for When Buying a Filter for Small Fish Tank

Knowing your aquarium size and understanding the flow rate and media capacity of a small fish bowl filter is key when shopping for the ideal model for your needs. Read on to learn more about these and other features.

Aquarium Size

Small fish tank filters can handle different aquarium sizes. It is important that you buy a filter that best suits your needs and fits in your available space. You don’t want to shell out a lot of money on a powerful filer just to filter a tiny fish bowl.

Some manufacturers make multiple sizes for the same model so this might not be an issue with all products but always double-check first. On our top pick list, we will include the aquarium capacity that the filter can handle. We got you converted on this one.

Flow Rate

Another important factor you need to look at when purchasing a small fish tank filter is the flow rate (measured in gallons per hour or GPH). This will tell you how powerful the filter is and whether it’s suitable for your aquarium size.

We always recommend buying a high-flow filter as this will ensure good water quality and circulation. On the other hand, if your tank already has lots of live plants or rock formations or is small, then you may not need such a powerful filter and can save some money by opting for something with a lower flow rate.

best small fish tank filters

Media Capacity

The tiny aquarium filter will also have a good media capacity, meaning it can hold more than just the basic filter cartridge. This is important as you’ll want to be able to change the media regularly without having to replace the entire filter.

Again, this depends on your aquarium size and how often you plan on cleaning the filter. If you have a smaller tank then a high-capacity filter may not be necessary, but if you have a larger one then opting for something with a higher media capacity is definitely recommended.

Additional Equipment

The best small aquarium filter will also come with extra equipment such as a water pump or protein skimmer. If you already have these, make sure the filter you’re buying doesn’t have those options, so you won’t spend extra money for functionality you already have.

Other Factors

Other important things to consider when purchasing a new small fish tank filter are ease of use, noise level (some can be loud), durability, and power consumption. These won’t always apply to all products but they’re still worth taking note of so you know what sort of performance you should expect from each product!

We would suggest something which does not use a lot of power and does not make a lot of noise.

best nano tank filters

Do Small Aquariums Need Filters?

Yes, small fish tanks should definitely have a filter as this is one of the best ways to ensure good water quality and healthy fish. It’s also important that you clean it regularly because filters can become clogged with debris and cause unpleasant odors or allow for harmful bacteria to grow in your tank.

Some aquarists may tell you that nano aquariums don’t need filtration but we disagree! A good small fish tank filter can make a huge difference in your fish health and you should always invest in something that best suits your needs. There are a few types of fish that don’t need a filter, but on any occasion, all small aquariums should have one.

Our Verdict

When it comes to the best fish tank filters, the Fluval 107 External Filter is a great choice for nano aquariums up to 25 gallons. It offers customizability with adjustable flow rates and media included in the box! Plus this filter has an AquaStop safety feature that automatically shuts off your water supply if there’s any system failure or power outage.

Lastly, the Aqueon QuietFlow Aquarium Power Filter is another great option for an affordable HOB filter that offers a five-stage filtration system with increased oxygen levels & near-silent operation. It’s perfect for those who are looking for an easy-to-use filter with little maintenance required.

These are our smallest aquarium filters – each offering different benefits depending on your needs as an aquarist! Make sure to do your research before purchasing a new filter for your tank.

How We Choose the Best Small Fish Tank Filters 

When choosing the best small fish tank filters, we looked at a few key factors. Filter type (canister, HOB, etc), aquarium capacity, flow rate, media capacity, and included filter media were all important considerations when narrowing down our list of best nano aquarium filters.

We also bought them and tested them to see how well they work in the real world. And finally, the price was taken into consideration to make sure that each of these small tank filters are affordable for hobbyists on any budget.

FAQs

If you’re wondering if a filter can be too small for your aquarium or if you want a specific model for your 5 or 1 gallon tank, read on for answers to these and other questions about a mini filter for fish tanks.

Q: Can a filter be too small for a fish tank?

Yes. A filter can be too small for a fish tank. For instance, if the filter is not rated for the size of your tank, it may not be able to clean the water properly. This can cause a number of problems, including decreased water quality and an increase in algae growth.

Additionally, if the filter is too small, it may not be able to handle the amount of waste produced by the fish in your tank, which can also lead to poor water quality.

Q: Which filter is best for 5 gallon tank?

The best 5 gallon aquarium filter will depend on your specific needs as an aquarist. If you are looking for an affordable and easy-to-use filter, the Tetra Whisper Internal Power Filter is a great choice.

If you are looking for increased oxygen levels and near-silent operation, the Aqueon QuietFlow Aquarium Power Filter is a good option filter for 5 gallon fish tank.

Q: Do you need a filter for a 1 gallon fish tank?

Yes, fish bowls need a filtration system. One of the best filters for fish bowls are sponge filters as they offer both mechanical and biological filtration without taking much space. They are small and are placed at the bottom of a fish bowl.

One of the best sponge filters for fish bowls is hygger Aquarium Double Sponge Filter. It has two sponges that offer 3 stage filtration, is easy to set up and use, and is ultra-quiet.

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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.

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