Best Filters For Small Fish Tanks – ALL BUDGETS COVERED!

If you are a pet lover and have fish in a small tank around your home, then you must know that apart from feeding them your other responsibility is to clean the mess they leave behind. So for that, you’ll need one of the best filters for small fish tanks.

There are a number of products available on the market claiming to be the best. But before talking about that you should know first what makes a filter ideal for small fish tanks. Fish produces a lot of ammonia that needs to be removed from the aquarium regularly, as it is very toxic. A good filtration system will eliminate ammonia from the tank efficiently. The best filters for small fish tanks should perform both mechanical and chemical functions.

The dirt and debris need to be removed from small tanks frequently, so a good filter should be capable enough to do so. Basically, you should go for a filtration device that has the ability to cope with rapid changes and handle the water volume within your aquarium. As there are so many options available it might be hard for you to figure out which one is the best, especially if you are a beginner.

So to solve your problem we have prepared a list of best filters for small fish tanks on the market.

The Best filters for small fish tanks come in all shapes and sizes with a price to suit all. Heres our favorites ones:

Marina Power Filter up to 10 gallons

Make Marina
Model S20
Tank Size20 Gallons Max
Dimensions3.8 x 11.5 x 6.4 inches
Weight 1.88 pounds
Customers Reviews446
Star Rating4.2 out of 5

Marina Power filter is slim and compact; its design is quite unique and stylish. Being compact it is easy to adjust it behind a small fish tank. Moreover, there is an adjustable flow control that is present in the filter that helps in controlling the flow level of the water present in the aquarium.

No priming is needed thus making it easy to use, all you need to do is plug in and there you go. Apart from that, it has a motor that is submerged in the fish tank where it operates quietly. Unlike other filters Power filter is easy to maintain and install, these filters are extremely convenient and quick to get along with. If you want a healthy aquarium then this is the best choice as it is designed to implement biological filtration.


  • Can filter up to twenty gallons
  • Maintenance and installation is very easy
  • The flow control is quite adjustable
  • Quick service


  • The filter wasn’t the quietest we tested.

Sponge Bio Filter for up to 45 Gallons

Type Sponge Filter
Tank Size45 Gallons Max
Equipment NeededSuitable Air Pump
Size7.1” x 4.5"
Weight 1.6 ounces
Customer reviews27
Star Rating3.8 out of 5

If you are looking for an aquarium filter that optimizes biological filtration and provides mechanical filtration as well, then Powkoo sponge filter is the right option.

The nitrogen cycle in the filter is facilitated by colonization of aerobic bacteria in the sponge. Big waste particles are trapped by the sponge thus leaving the water clean and healthy. During the process, baby fishes remain safe as they are not trapped in the filter. The design of two filter sponge is made in a way that easily facilitates bio-filter; the filter is made of absolutely safe material. Powkoo sponge filter can easily be hidden behind the fish tank and can be installed anywhere you want. It comes with two suction cups those you can easily position, either high or low.

You will need a suitable air pump and the effectiveness of this filter will be down to the power output of the air pump. Also, it’s important to remember that the sponge holds helpful bacteria that break down all the nasty stuff and cleaning should be performed in the correct manner. Take a jug of water from your aquarium and place the sponge filters in the jug. Wash the sponge filters in the jug by shaking and squeezing the dirt from them. Then discard the dirty water and replace the sponges back into the aquarium. 

If you wash the sponge under a tap or in hot water you will kill all the lovely helpful bacteria on the sponge. This is a bad thing. The sponge may look dirty and discolored but trust me it’s doing a good job. 


  • The food-grade material is used to make the filter
  • It is efficient and simple
  • The installation process is simple
  • Perfect for breeding tanks
  • Effective in smaller tanks


  • Needs an air pump
  • Only suitable for smaller tanks

Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter

ModelQuiet E Power Filter
Tank Size 3 -40 Gallons max
Size6.2 x 6.1 x 2.4 inches
Weight7.2 ounces
Customer Reviews216
Star Rating3.6 out of 5

Aqueon Quietflow has an elegant design; it’s pretty sleek that makes it possible to be placed at the back side of the fish tank. The internal filter is economical vertical oriented and works efficiently. This stylish filter cleans the aquarium water very quickly. As compared to regular fish tanks this one provides chemical filtration.

No priming is required as the pump has the option of auto-start, plus if the filter gets interrupted it restarts automatically. Both maintenance and installation are easy, moreover, you can perform the installation process by using hanging clips or even suction cups.

The warranty is only for a limited lifetime.


  • Efficient
  • Easy to use the internal power filter
  • It is quite economical
  • Suction cups allow easy positioning
  • Chemical filtration
  • Easy to clean


  • It’s tricky to adjust the flow of water

Polar Aurora 3-stage External Canister Filter

ModelAurora 3-stage
Size370 GPH ( Gallons per hour)
Power 9w UV powered
110-120V 50-60Hz
Weight13.6 pounds
Tank Size20-100 Gallons
Size10"x10"17" in Dimensions
Customer Reviews81
Customer Star Rating4 out of 5 stars

This amazing filter comes with large-capacity and an efficient filtration system. The three-stage canister filters work wonders; it has the ability to deal with larger media storing capacity thus allowing water to get in contact with greater filter media. All the features are advances and give a premium quality performance. After filtration, the tank will be left with high-quality water.

The maintenance and installation are extremely quick and easy. All of the debris is removed from the surface of the water. Apart from that removing and cleaning the filter is also simple. In addition to that, there is a UV sterilizer that helps in controlling bacteria and ensuring clean water.


  • Excellent for 100-gallon fish tanks
  • The spray bar is adjustable
  • Self-priming
  • Flexible media trays
  • Powerful pump
  • You can use different types of filter media


  • Instructions are hard to understand as the font size is extremely small

Premium Undergravel Filter

Model70/90 Premium
Tanks Size18” - 48"
Weight 5 pounds
Type Biological Undergravel
Customer Reviews63
Star Rating4.2 out of 5

This is also one of the best filters for small fish tanks. It is designed smartly; the body is made of high-quality material that prevents it from breaking or leaking. While filtering the small fishes are safe as it doesn’t suck them in, making it ideal for small fishes and shrimps. It comes with a larger plate size thus reducing the number of plates needed. Saltwater aquarists love this filter because it contains UGF plates which give extra strength.

The best way to move the water into smaller fish tanks is to use air pumps as it helps in maintain a gentle flow. The installation procedure is also quite simple.


  • Multi-level plate design makes it efficient
  • Made from high-quality plastic
  • Large plate sizes
  • A natural way to filter your tank
  • Easy to install


  • Requires an air pump

Odyssea Internal Filter Powerhead Filter

ModelEX 250 DX Internal Filter Powerhead
Flow Rate250 GPH ( Gallons per hour)
Tanks Size20-40 Gallons Max
Power Rating110V Only
Size 6.2 x 3 x 10.5 inches
Weight1.4 pounds
Customer Reviews33
Star Rating3.8 out of 5

Odyssea DX Internal Filter – EX 250

If you are in a search of a filter that works for both freshwater and seawater then this one is a great option. Unlike other fish tank filters, it offers broad range, therefore, making it everyone’s favorite. The flow rate of this filter is 250 GPH, apart from that it includes a high-quality airline and filter cone.

The suction cups are ideal for small fish tanks as they prevent small size fishes from any harm. To keep it working effectively and efficiently make sure you maintain it well. It’s really easy to use the product, moreover, its performance is excellent.


  • Dual usage
  • Water circulation is outstanding
  • Low cost
  • Great rate of flow


  • The deflector is a little weak
  • The construction is not top quality

AQUAPAPA Corner Filter

Model & TypeCorner Air Driven Filter
Equipment NeededAir Pump
Dimension2.75"(L) x 3.15"(W) x 7.0"(H)
Weight8 oz
Customer Rating160
Star Rating4.3 out of 5

This is one of the best filters for small fish tanks; it comes with an external air pump that helps in providing bubbles of air. Those bubbles of air help in drawing water through the filter. With the help of the pump, the water is drawn which is later replaced by the water that is getting into the filter. There is a top layer present on the filter that gives mechanical filtration. Aquapapa corner filter is loved for providing biochemical filtration. The harmful waste is completely removed from the water; the maintenance of this filter is quite simple and needs to be done every two to four weeks.


  • Much needed oxygen is provided with the water
  • Minimum noise
  • Easy to clean and move
  • Mechanical and biochemical filtration
  • Perfect for smaller tanks


  • Cheap construction
  • Very basic filtration
  • Needs an air pump

Fluval C Power Filter

ModelC Power Filter 14001
Power Output110V
Flow Rate119 GPH (Gallons per hour)
Size 4.5 x 6 x 8 inches
Weight1.92 pounds
Customer Reviews729
Star Rating3.8 out of 5

This is an outstanding filter that provides advanced filtering capabilities. It is suitable for both saltwater and freshwater aquariums. The filtration process is sped up due to the presence of powerful motor technology. As compared to its competitors it is way better because of its amazing functionalities. The presence of a ceramic heater helps in distributing heat efficiently.

The cleaning indicator informs when to rinse the polyfoam. Its maintenance is quick and easy, in addition to that it works to maintain the stress-free environment and clean water.


  • Provides maximum versatility
  • Premium quality
  • The filtration process is quick and easy
  • Quiet operation


  • The product is expensive as compared to its competitors

Aqueon Quietflow E Internal Power Filter, 3 Gallon

$13.31  in stock
11 new from $10.49
as of May 23, 2024 6:27 am


  • Efficiently cleans and filters water
  • Auto-start pump requires no priming, automatically restarts if power is interrupted and restored
  • Easy to install using suction cups and/or hanging clips
  • Carbon Cartridge included for chemical filtration; removes odors and discoloration from water
  • Uses Extra Small Aqueon Replacement Cartridges and meant for aquariums up to 3 Gallons

Fluval C2 Power Filter

 in stock
5 new from $21.63
2 used from $14.65
Free shipping
as of May 23, 2024 6:27 am


  • Ceramic heater core for even and efficient heat distribution
  • Filters 119 gallons per hour. Flow Rate: 120V/60Hz – 1,000 L/h (264 US Gal/h) and 230-240V/50Hz –900 L/h (238 US Gal/h)
  • Equipped with cleaning indicator for when the polyfoam needs to be rinsed
  • Clip on filter; Quick and easy maintenance
  • Helps provide a stress-free environment; Works to maintain refreshing crisp water

Polar Aurora 3-stage External Canister Filter with 9-watt Uv Sterilizer for Aquarium 370 GPH Builtin Pump Kit Canister

$63.99  in stock
as of May 23, 2024 6:27 am


  • Good for up to 100 gallon fish tanks.Maximum flow rate of 370GPH from built in pump Pump Power: 35W
  • 3 media trays capable of handling your choice of filtration media; Comes with an adjustable spray bar. This is a helpful feature if you want to adjust the output flow from the filter
  • Convenient self-priming pump that eliminates the need for manual siphoning; Single valve disconnect & priming pump ease routine maintenance
  • Built in 9 Watt light for controlling algae spores and promoting clear water
  • The three flexible media trays allow you to add other filtration media such as SunSun's activated carbons, ceramic rings or bio-balls to achieve excellent mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. Compare with similar items

Lee's 70/90 Premium Undrgravel Filter 18-Inch by 48-Inch

 out of stock
as of May 23, 2024 6:27 am


  • Item Package Height: 16.25
  • Item Package Length: 22.875
  • Item Package Width: 3.0
  • Item Package Weight: 4.996666666666667

Odyssea EX 250 DX Internal Filter Powerhead Aquarium Water Pump Submersible

$18.95  in stock
2 new from $17.95
Free shipping
as of May 23, 2024 6:27 am


  • Flow Rate: 250 GPH
  • For use with 30G - 40G
  • Include air line, filter cone, suction cups
  • Freshwater and Saltwater aquariums
  • 110V Only

AQUAPAPA Corner Filter Aquarium Fish Tank Internal Air Driven Filter with Media XY-2008 (1)

$8.18  in stock
4 new from $7.98
Free shipping
as of May 23, 2024 6:27 am


  • Supply the water with much needed oxygen, For tank size up to 5-10 Gallons
  • Reduce noise from air pump and consume lowest wattage.
  • Multi-layer media, easy to move and clean.
  • Top layer of white filter pad provides a mechanical filtration.
  • Black bio-sponge and ceramic rings with gravel provide biochemical filtration.

Learn how to correctly clean your fish tank filter

All filters contain good bacteria which helps to keep your aquarium clean. If you wash or clean your filter or filter media incorrectly you could be killing helpful bacteria.

This bacteria can take weeks to grow again and in that time your fish and water quality will suffer. Learn how to correctly clean your fish tank filter here!

Conclusion: Filters for larger fish tanks

There are lots of different filters available, external, internal filters, there are also chemical, mechanical, and even biological ones. The one you choose should ultimately be based on the needs of your fish and your personal preference and the water volume within your aquarium.

If you have a larger fish tank then read our guide BEST FILTERS FOR LARGE AQUARIUMS

The size and water volume of your tank is the number one factor which will determine which type and size of filter you need. Also the stocking level in your tank, never overstock a fish tank no matter what size of filter you have but larger fish like Oscars fish will need a more substantial filtration system. 

Don’t be tempted to stop doing water changes just because you have purchased a larger filter. It may reduce the number of partial water changes you need to do but it is never a substitute for water changes. Water changes add essential minerals back into your tank and are a very important part of successful fishkeeping. We have a detailed post on HOW TO DO A PARTIAL WATER CHANGE it may be worth 5 minutes checking it out. 

As responsible fishkeepers it’s our duty to provide the best environment for our fish and ensuring you have the correct filter type, size and model is vital to ensure you have the best water quality for your fish.  Adding a quiet air pump can also be beneficial, adding more oxygen to the water will give your fish the best environment possible to live in. Read our review of the best 9 quietest fish tank air pumps. 

If you’re thinking of buying your first fish tank you might want to read our complete guide to starting an aquarium- Starting a fish tank for beginners. 

We hope you found this review helpful if you did please share it with your fishkeeping friends on social media.

Happy Fishkeeping Forever!

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