Product Reviews, Aquarium Filters

Quietest Aquarium Filters: External, Internal, and HOB Options

Noisy aquarium filters can be annoying to both fish and aquarists. Choosing the quietest aquariums filter isn’t a easy task. We had to purchase and measure the noise they produces to bring you the silent ones.

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The Quietest aquarium filters options

Aquarium filters are a critical piece of equipment for any aquarium, but they can get pretty loud. If you’re tired of listening to your filter’s hum while watching TV or trying to read, then you must get the quietest aquarium filter.

We have reviewed the best silent fish tank filters available on the market to bring you the one that won’t disturb you. Aquarium noise can be irritating and disturbing, so it’s important to choose a filter that won’t make too much noise. These filters are perfect for people who want to keep their aquariums running quietly without sacrificing performance.​

We’ve compiled a list of the quietest aquarium filters on the market, both internal and external models, to help make your decision easier.

  1. Quietest Canister Filter: Fluval 407 External and Canister Filter
  2. Quietest HOB Filter: Marineland Penguin 350
  3. Best Budget and Silent:  AquaClear Filter for Aquariums
  4. Quietest Internal Filter: Aqueon Quietflow E Internal
  5. Quietest Sponge Filter: XpertMatic DB-368F
  6. Best Silent with Water Pump: NO.17 Submersible Aquarium

Quietest Aquarium Filters Reviewed

To qualify as the quietest aquarium filter in this aquarium filter roundup, the noise produced by the filter should be unnoticed and you may think that the filter is not running. At the same time, it should clean your fish tank and provide healthy water for your aquatic life.

The following represent some of the quiet aquarium filters available in various types.

Quietest Canister Filter
The Quietest aquarium filters options: fluval 407 external and canister filter
Photo: Amazon.com

The Fluval 407 External and Canister Filter is the best canister filter to move water quietly. It operates at 20dB only, which is lower than the noise produced by your existing aquarium pump. It is also one of the most durable and easy-to-use canister filters on the market.

The Fluval 407 external filter has been designed to take away all of the hassle, time and stress from cleaning your fish tank. It comes with an easy-to-clean top that makes it simple to remove debris without having to reach into the tank itself! 

This filter features a patented Quick Release System that makes it easy to disconnect and clean the filter media. The Fluval 407 is also outfitted with a priming button that makes it easy to start up, even when water is low. This filter is the quietest aquarium canister filter.

Product Specs

  • Noise level: 20dB
  • Type: External
  • Flow rate: 383 GPH
  • Aquarium capacity: 100 gallons (available in different models)

Read More: Fluval 407 Review

Quietest HOB Filter
The Quietest aquarium filters options: Marineland Penguin 350 Power Filter
Photo: Chewy.com

The Marineland Penguin 350 is one of the quietest HOB filters on the market. It operates at less than 26dB, which makes it virtually silent and will not disturb you or any aquarium inhabitants.

This self-cleaning fish tank uses patented Bio-Wheel technology to provide excellent wet/dry biological filtration in addition to mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. All you have to do is change out the filter cartridge every 2 weeks (or when needed) for maintenance and enjoy watching your fish swim around happily in their beautiful home.

The Marineland Penguin 350 is a great choice for aquariums up to 40 gallons in size but other versions are available that make it a perfect fit for any size aquarium! If you have a nano aquarium the Marineland Penguin 100 version is the quietest nano filter that will work just great.

Product Specs

  • Noise level: Less than 24dB
  • Type: Hang on back
  • Flow rate: 350 GPH
  • Aquarium capacity: Up to 75 gallons (available in different models)

Read More: Marineland Penguin 350 Review

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Best Budget and Silent
The Quietest aquarium filters options: aquaclear hang on back filter
Photo: Chewy.com

If you’re looking for a great, budget-friendly option that is also very quiet, the AquaClear Filter is a perfect choice. This filter operates at only 26dB and can be used in both fresh and saltwater aquariums.

The AquaClear filter has three different filtration cartridges to be used specifically in the areas of chemical, biological, and mechanical filtration. It also comes with BioMax media that can be used in all stages but is especially helpful for establishing healthy bacteria colonies during the cycling process.

If you are looking for a filter that is easy to use and provides all the filtration your fish will need, AquaClear would be a perfect choice. Installing it in the aquarium is also very easy. This filter is designed with a unique silent-running motor that will not disturb you or your fish.

Product Specs

  • Noise level: 26 dB
  • Type: Hang on back
  • Flow rate: 500 GPH
  • Aquarium capacity: Up to 110 gallons (available in different models)

Read More: AquaClear Filter Review

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Quietest Internal Filter
The Quietest aquarium filters options: Aqueon Quietflow E Internal
Photo: Amazon.com

Aqueon Quietflow Internal Filters are designed to be very silent filters while also providing excellent mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. This filter operates at 26dB only, making it one of the quietest options available today.

Available in a variety of sizes and with different features, Aqueon makes an internal filter that is perfect for any sized aquarium. All of the filters use a replaceable filter cartridge that helps to keep your tank clean and healthy. This internal power filter features a Bioholster where beneficial bacteria grow, removing toxic ammonia from tap water before it reaches your aquarium.

One of the best features of the Aqueon Quietflow Internal Filter is its unique wave-making design that circulates water more efficiently and creates more oxygenation in the tank. This filter also has safe, quick-release clips that makes it easy to disconnect and clean the filter without having to get into the aquarium tank itself.

Product Specs

  • Noise level: 26 dB
  • Type: Internal
  • Flow rate: Up to 290 GPH
  • Aquarium capacity: 40 gallon (available in different models)

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Quietest Sponge Filter
The Quietest aquarium filters options: XpertMatic DB-368F Sponge
Photo: Amazon.com

If you are looking for the quietest sponge filter for your aquarium, the XpertMatic DB-368F is a great option. This filter operates at only 26dB and can be used in both fresh and saltwater tanks. The XpertMatic DB-368F uses an innovative sponge technology that filters aquarium water silently. It also comes with activated carbon that makes this filter very effective for removing odors, colors, and impurities from the tank water.

The product also comes with a built-in air pump to aerate the water as well as a spray bar that helps keep debris from settling at the bottom of your tank while still allowing oxygen into the water cycle for healthy aquatic life. 

One of the best unique aspects of this filter is that it can be adapted to almost any tank size. This filter is also very easy to clean because all you have to do is pull them out, cut off excess waste, and put them back in the aquarium. This filter requires no assembly or special tools for installation!

Product Specs

  • Noise level: Less than 35dB
  • Type: Sponge
  • Flow rate: Up to 475 GPH
  • Aquarium capacity: Up to 180 gallon

Best Silent with Water Pump
The Quietest aquarium filters options: NO.17 Submersible Aquarium
Photo: Amazon.com

The NO.17 Submersible Filter is a very powerful filter and quietest aquarium filter that is capable of being used in aquariums up to 150 gallons. This submersible filter uses an ultra-quiet water pump to create high output within the filtration system. It also has a three-stage filtration system with a sponge insert, mechanical media, and activated carbon to remove all the harmful toxins and impurities from your tank water.

The NO.17 Submersible Filter is also very easy to use and comes with an adjustable flow rate so you can customize it to your tank size. This is one of the best quiet aquarium filters you can get for your aquarium because it uses ultrasonic technology that only produces 26dB of noise while cleaning your tank perfectly.

No matter what kind of fish or aquatic plants you have, this filter will keep your aquarium looking and performing its best.

Product Specs

  • Noise level: 30 dB
  • Type: Submersible
  • Flow rate: Up to 400 GPH
  • Aquarium capacity: Up to 50 gallons (available in different models)

Types of Aquarium Filters: Which Option is Quietest?

External filters are the quietest option, with internal and hang on back (HOB) filters being close runners-up. All three of these types of filters are very effective at filtering your aquarium water and keeping your fish healthy.

types of aquarium filters

External (Canister) Filters

External filters are the quietest option available and are perfect for large aquariums. They sit outside of the aquarium and use a pump to push water through the filter media, which cleans and oxygenates the water. Because they’re external, they don’t take up any space inside the aquarium and don’t disturb the fish.

External filters also have the largest filter media capacity, so they can hold a lot of waste and debris.

The water is pumped from the aquarium into the filter, where it passes through the filter media and is then pumped back into the aquarium. These filters are best for extremely large aquariums because they don’t have a water reservoir.

Instead of using a pump to push the water through the filter media, external filters use gravity. The filter media is elevated above the bottom of the tank and water trickles down through it on its way back into the aquarium.

Internal Filters

Internal filters are a great option for small and medium-sized aquariums. They sit inside the tank and use a pump to push water through the filter media, which cleans and oxygenates the water.

Internal filters are very compact and take up very little space inside the aquarium. They also have a smaller filter media capacity than external filters, so they can’t hold as much waste and debris. Internal filters.

Sponge Filters

Sponge filters are a type of internal filter that are extremely quiet and doesn’t require any maintenance. They’re made of a sponge that traps debris and bacteria, which breaks down ammonia and nitrates.

Sponge filters work best in shrimp tanks and small aquariums with low fish populations. They’re powered by an air pump, which draws water through the sponge and back into the aquarium.

HOB (Hang On the Back) Filters

Hang on back filters are mounted on the back of the aquarium. They’re an inexpensive option for small to medium-sized aquariums and usually do a good job at keeping fish healthy. Like internal filters, HOB filters use water pressure to push water through the filter media, which cleans and oxygenates the water.

HOB filters are one of the quietest aquarium filters available and don’t take up a lot of space inside the tank.

Undergravel Filters

Undergravel filters are the quietest internal filter. They attach to the bottom of the aquarium and use gravel or other substrate to create an area for beneficial bacteria to grow, which breaks down waste in the water.

Undergravel filters are one of the oldest types of aquarium filtration systems around and have been around since some aquarists were still using clamshell aquariums. They’re very inexpensive, but they need to be cleaned regularly and don’t work for tanks with high fish populations or tanks that are heavily stocked.

This filter works by pushing water through the substrate of the aquarium, which is where bacteria breaks down ammonia and nitrates. The gravel itself has no mechanical filtration properties and may actually trap some debris, which will need to be cleaned out regularly.

Freshwater Aquarium Live Rock and Sand filter with a aquarium filter

What to Consider When Choosing the Quietest Aquarium Filters

The quietest aquarium filter can be any type of aquarium filter, from external filter to sponge, and hang on back filters that might add value to the fish tank. Flow rate and filtration stages are important when choosing the best aquarium filter.

There are several other details that need to be explored. The following section highlights the key considerations.

Aquarium Size

The size of the aquarium is the first consideration that should be made, because different filters are suited for different sized tanks. The easiest way to determine what filter would best suit your tank is by finding the gallon capacity of your aquarium and then matching it with a filter that can accommodate it.

Tip: You should be aware that the size of filtration media is a big consideration for determining its capacity.

Flow Rate

The flow rate is how much water the filter can move per hour. It measures how much water flows through the pump and filtration system in a given period of time, usually measured in gallons per hour (GPH). 

The higher the flow rate, the more water the filter can move and the faster it can clean the tank. This is an important consideration if you have a high fish population or a tank that’s heavily stocked.

Always go for the highest flow rate that best fits your budget. The flow rates should be listed on the filters you look at so you can compare them directly to each other. You’ll want

Filtration Stages

Filters typically carry out several filtration stages, which are marked by different types of media.

  • Mechanical filtration is achieved by using clean or biological filter media to capture larger debris and prevent it from clogging the other filters in the system.
  • Biological filtration is achieved through either sponges, ceramic rings, or bio-wheels, which contain beneficial bacteria that breaks down fish waste and other debris.
  • Chemical filtration is often achieved through activated charcoal, which traps impurities in the water. This media must be replaced regularly because it quickly becomes saturated with debris.

The number of filtration stages a filter has will affect how quiet it is. More stages usually mean a slower flow rate, which makes the filter quieter.

Tip: If you have a high fish population, you’ll need a filter that has more than one stage for mechanical filtration.

Ease of Use

Some filters are much easier to use than others. For example, filters that hang on the back of the tank are very easy to install and don’t require any tools. On the other hand, undergravel filters require a fair amount of work to set up and can be difficult to clean. The best filter is the one that’s easiest for you to maintain.

Our Verdict

Fluval 407 External and Canister Filter is the quietest external filter, by far. It’s also easy to clean and doesn’t produce a lot of noise. The two internal filters mentioned are also great options that provide very low noise levels. However, Fluval 407 still wins out as one of the quietest aquarium filters because it provides crystal clean water while also being easy to clean and having a very quiet motor.

So the quietest aquarium filter is Fluval 407 External and Canister Filter.

How We Choose the Quietest Aquarium Filters

We’ve done a lot of research to find the quietest aquarium filter out there. I know what you’re thinking: “That’s impossible!” But keep reading, and I’ll explain how we did it. First off, to find the quietest aquarium filter, we bought and reviewed each of them. 

We then narrowed down our options by looking at user reviews and ratings. After that, we looked for filters with high energy efficiency and low sound levels under normal use. People who own aquariums know how important it is to have a filter. Without one, your fish would die of ammonia poisoning in no time at all. That’s why we included only the best filters around.

How to Make a Noisy Fish Tank Filter Quieter

Filter noise is an important factor when choosing a filter for your tank. If you can’t stand the sound of your aquarium filter, there are some things you can do to reduce the noise without sacrificing filtration.

One is to place a piece of sponge over the intake pipe. This will help to muffle the sound of the water flowing through the filter. Another thing you can do is to try and orient the filter so that it’s pointing downwards instead of upwards. This will help to slow down the flow of water and make it less noisy. Finally, you can also try adding some extra plants or decorations in the tank, which will help to dampen the sound of the water moving around.

Another way to make it quieter is to ensure that any exposed parts around the water pump are properly sealed so no water can escape and create noise.

FAQs

Fish tanks are not difficult to maintain, whether the aquarium size or the type of fish you have, is best to keep it running with one of the quietest aquarium filters. Those who plan on maintaining a fish tank have some questions about the quietest fish tank filter.

Q: How loud should an aquarium filter be?

An aquarium filter is quiet if it operates at around 26 decibels or lower. Every filter is different so some can be more silent than others while some may produce more noise, making the levels hard to pinpoint.

One of the quietest aquarium filters is Fluval 407 External and Canister Filter, rated at just 26 dB of noise. This external filter circulates 405 gallons of water per hour and is perfect for tanks up to 150 gallons.

Q: Is a loud filter bad for fish?

A loud aquarium filter is not bad for your fish as long as the noise level does not exceed 40 dB. Anything that is louder than 40 dB can start to cause some stress to your fish, but it won’t kill them.

If you’re having a hard time finding a quiet filter then the Fluval 407 is our best recommendation. If you want an internal filter then we suggest trying Aquaclear filters.

Q: Are all fish tank filters noisy?

No, not all aquarium filters are noisy. In fact, many of them are very quiet and won’t disturb you or your fish. The filters we recommend in this article are all known for being the quietest aquarium filter on the market while still providing excellent filtration.

Q: Is it ok to turn off the aquarium filter at night?

It is not recommended to turn off your aquarium filter at night. Not only will it disrupt the water quality, but it can also be dangerous for your fish. Turning off your aquarium filter can cause the water to become cloudy and bacteria levels to spike. It’s best to keep your filter running 24/7 unless you have a very low.

If the current filter you have is making a lot of noise and is not letting you sleep, replace it with Fluval 407 External filter, one of the quietest aquarium filters. With this silent filter, you will have a good sleep without filter noise disturbing you.

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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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