A 10 Gallon aquarium is the perfect size for a Child’s bedroom or a beginner to the hobby. It’s big enough to hold a small number of tropical fish, which will be enough to get you hooked on the aquatic hobby we love.
There are many filters on the market today and it can seem overwhelming to a newbie which one to buy. There are price comparison sites, online stores and hundreds of Youtube channels to watch, all recommending different products.
It’s enough to make your head spin!
Let’s make this really simple for you by showing you the three filter methods we would recommend for a 10 Gallon Aquarium. You have more options available if you’d like to expand your choice, but to be honest, in a 10 Gallon fish tank, these three will be perfectly fine.
The best filters for a 10 Gallon aquarium are:
- Hang On the Back filter (HOB) for short
- Internal filters (Powerheads)
- Under-gravel filters (old-school but effective)
Each type of filter will have lots of different makes and models to choose from. Again, this can be overwhelming and very confusing so we’ll make it simple by showing you the one best make and model for each type of filter, HOB, Internal, and under-gravel filters.
Let’s look at the three best filters for a 10 gallon aquarium
Marina S10 Power Filter
$6.90 in stock
1 used from $ 5.18
- Power filter for aquariums up to 10 gallons
- Self priming
- Easy to maintain
- Adjustable flow control
Fluval Nano Aquarium Filter
1 used from $ 19.99
- Ensures proper oxygenation for clear water and a healthy environment
- Adjustable flow output with an attachable spray bar distributes a gentle, even flow of water, making it safe for delicate fish or shrimp
- Provides effective and thorough mechanical and biological filtration
- Optimal water filtration system for small aquariums up to 15 gallons
Imagitarium Undergravel Filter, 10 Gallon
- Works freshwater and saltwater tanks
- Compatible with 10-gallon size tanks
- Two filter cartridges included
What are the Pros & Cons of all three?
Like most things in life, there are some Pros and Cons to all of them. So lets have a quick look and try to figure out which one will be best suited to your aquarium.
Marina S10 Power Filter
Hang On the Back Filter– These are often one of the first options for a 10 Gallon fish tank filter that most shops will try to sell you. They are indeed a good option for a number of reasons. These filters remove physical dirt but work best by breaking down harmful Nitrates and Ammonia that will build up in your aquarium from all the fish waste and excess food. This bacteria will need time to build up in order to start working correctly. So, ensure you install the filter first before adding fish and allow it to run for a couple of weeks before introducing new fish.
- Easy to install, no messing with the aquarium water or gravel
- Inexpensive to buy and run
- Easy to clean
- If it breaks, it’s easy to replace
- Different models for most size aquariums
- Some models can be noisy (not the one above)
- The sound of running water, if in a bedroom, can be annoying or make you want to pee all the time
- Takes up room at the back of the aquarium, so if you’re limited on space at the side or back, that could be an issue
- Some need priming to get started (not the one above)
Fluval Nano Aquarium Filter
Internal Power Filter – These filters have become more and more popular over the past 5 years due to technological improvements. When first released they weren’t as reliable as other air powered options however, these days they are the number one selling filter for inside an aquarium. Let’s see if one of these is the best option for your 10 Gallon Aquarium.
They offer a wide range of filter materials that can be used inside the housing of the power filter. Word of warning! All these types of filter media rely on natural bacteria to break down the waste and Nitrates and Ammonia that will build up in your tank. These natural bacteria will take time to build up when the filter is first introduced to the aquarium. So ensure you install the filter a few weeks before adding fish to allow the bacteria to build up and start working.
- Adjustable flow rate
- Easy to install
- Easy to clean (when done correctly)
- Quiet with the water flow under the water level
- Takes up room inside the aquarium
- You’ll get wet installing and cleaning the filter
- Uses mains electric
- Takes a bit of adjusting to get the flow right
Imagitarium Undergravel Filter
Undergravel Filter System – This tried and tested way of cleaning an aquarium has been around since the very beginning. So, you can rest assured it works! The system uses an air pump (comes separately, Link below) to draw air bubbles up one or two tubes depending on the size of aquarium that are attached to the base plate.
This then creates a current that sucks the water and dirt down through the gravel and then back up through the tubes. This traps the dirt in the gravel bed which allows the natural bacteria to break down all the harmful pollutants naturally.
- A very reliable method of cleaning a tank
- Natural method – no chemicals or media needed
- Different sizes for all aquariums
- Easy to install in a new tank
- No internal electrical parts to breakdown
- Easy to control the effectiveness with a smaller or bigger air supply
- Needs an air pump to run
- Must be installed in the beginning or you’ll need to remove all the gravel
- Gravel will need cleaning once every two weeks with a gravel cleaner.
- Fish have been known to get down the air intake tubes (the one above is protected from this)
The undergravel option is great if you’re starting an aquarium from new and would be our first option for any newbie to the hobby. Once installed you simply forget about it – apart from cleaning the gravel once a fortnight.
Just remember with this option that you will also need a quiet air pump to run this system. This is actually not a bad thing because it has two benefits.
Firstly, it adds oxygen to your aquarium which is vital for all fish to survive in a home aquarium. Read our article why that it’s so important to have the correct oxygen level in your aquarium. Secondly, it is easy to replace if it breaks down. There’s no messing inside the tank, simply disconnect it from the undergravel filter and replace.
We have a complete review and buyers guide on the quietest air pumps on the market today. It’s certainly worth a read if you choose to go down the undergravel filter method for your 10 Gallon aquarium.
Conclusion: Best filter for a 10 Gallon Aquarium?
As mentioned above you have three real options for you – all three are inexpensive and won’t cost more than $25. You can rule out some of the options by answering some quick questions below. Then your choice will be much easier. If you haven’t yet purchased an aquarium, you can now buy tanks that have all the filters, heaters and lights pre-installed. Check out our Best Fish Tank Review.
- Is your aquarium set up and running? If yes – Rule out undergravel filters
- Do you have limited space behind the aquarium? If yes – Rule out HOB filters
- Do you want as much space and water volume inside the aquarium to house more fish? if yes – Rule out internal filters that take up space
- Are you starting from scratch with a new tank? If yes – Undergravel filters would be your best bet
- Does the sound of running water annoy you? If yes – Don’t buy hang on the back filters
As you can see it’s a process of elimination to find the best solutions for your 10 Gallon fish tank but we hope we have made the decision process easier for you. If you have a bigger tank you may find our reviews on the 20, 30 and 50 Gallon aquarium filters more helpful.
If you’re lucky enough to have a large aquarium read our ‘ Best filters for a large aquarium review ‘. This covers all your options for external filtration methods for larger aquariums. And for information on How to clean your filter without killing the good bacteria read our article on this topic. It could stop a disaster.