Best Canister Filters Compared (2022 Reviews🏅)

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For those hobbyists getting serious about aquarium keeping, high quality filtration is top of mind for keeping the best fish only and planted tank systems. While hang on back power filters have their place in freshwater community setups, there are setups with heavier demands like planted and predator tanks that require a high end filtration solution. This is where canister filters come in.

There are many canister filters out on the market, so it’s difficult to determine what are the best canister filters on the market. This blog post covers all the major candidates and hopefully after reading this you can select the best canister filter for your aquarium. Let’s first start with a simple question

Contents show

Which Aquarium Filter is Best for Me?

You may be thinking about getting started on an aquarium and wonder to yourself what filtration system you need. This blog post is mostly going to cover the freshwater side of things as saltwater tanks have totally different criteria (though in the canister filter’s defense canister filters do make good filters for a fish only saltwater tank).

Determining the best aquarium filter for you comes down to several factors:

  • What fish are you planning to keep?
  • How concerned are you about noise and aesthetics?
  • How large is your tank
  • What is your budget?

Canister filters are often considered the best aquarium filters for freshwater tanks because they offer superior mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration – often times at a reasonable price. They are also well suited for terrariums and turtle tanks since the intake can go down further than power filters.

Benefits of Using a Canister Filter

Choosing a Canister Filter over a hang on back power filter has multiple upsides to it.

High Water Flow Rate

Depending on the canister filter you select, there are some models that have higher water flow rates than others, which make them great for tanks that need a lot of filtration flow like African Cichlid tanks.

Some also come equipped with spray bars or outlet tubing that you can run on the surface of the water, which eliminate surface scum and aerate your tank. This can eliminate the need for a noisy air pump.

Flexible Filter Media Selection

The Best canister filters hold a large amount of filter media space. You have the freedom to add multiple types of filter media in a canister filter. Most people will go for carbon, but there are other media such as additional biological filtration media, Chemi-pure, phosphate removers, and ammonia remover. These are just several examples of chemical filtration media you can add to a canister filter!

Easy Setup Process and Cleaner Setup

Canister filters are pretty easy to setup and go into your aquarium cabinet making them easier to access when needing to maintain them. A well designed canister filtration system will have auto off or drain options that allow the unit to be cleaned without causing a giant mess.

Cleaning used to be the Achilles heal of canister filters of old, but as you will see, many of the best canister filters I have listed here have features that make it painless to perform cleaning and easy to prime again (some you don’t even need to prime!).

Long Lasting

The best canister filters offer long warranties and are expertly built in countries like Germany and Italy. Both countries are very well known for building quality and durable aquarium equipment that has stood the test of time with 1,000s of successful field results.

We do have a budget built system listed that is made in China, but they were included because several hobbyists have reported good results and not everyone is on a bigger budget.

Quiet Operation

This is the big separator between hang on the back power filters and aquarium canister filters. The best canister filters are very quiet and you avoid that annoying vibration noise from a hang on the back filter. If you need a quiet area or sleep light, a canister filter should be on the top of your list for consideration.

Clean Aquarium Presentation

Most people who keep aquariums, especially in high traffic areas like living rooms, restaurants, family rooms don’t want filtration parts sticking out like a sore thumb. A canister filter hides your major piece of filtration in your cabinet and you can work in an inline heater system to heat the tank without putting a submersible heater in the tank. You also have the option of not having to run an air pump with the aeration a canister filter provides. There really isn’t anything much better in regards of hiding equipment aside from using an overflow and sump, which is a whole other topic and level of filtration spend/budget.

Canister Filters for Aquariums (The Line Up)

There are many aquarium canister filters out on the market. The list below were handpicked by my years of experience in the hobby and through various client builds. Many have unique features and others have great brand names behind them. The great thing about the freshwater hobby is that it has been around for a long time, which has given the industry time to develop high quality filtration products. 

In a hurry? I recommend the OASE Biomaster Thermo!

Below is my list of the best canister filters in the industry:

PictureNameBest ForLink
Editor’s Choice!
OASE Indoor Aquatics Biomaster Thermo
OASE Indoor Aquatics Biomaster Thermo

Freshwater or Fish Only Marine Aquariums

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Best Value
Fluval Canister Filters
Fluval Canister Filters

Freshwater or Fish Only Marine Aquariums

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Budget Option
SunSun Pro Canister Filter with UV Sterilizer
SunSun Pro Canister Filter with UV Sterilizer

Freshwater Aquariums

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FZone Stainless Steel Filter FZone Stainless Steel Filter

Planted Tanks and Professional Aquascapes

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Freshwater or Fish Only Marine Aquariums

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Eheim Classic Canister Filters Eheim Classic Canister Filters

Freshwater or Fish Only Marine Aquariums

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Eheim Pro4+ Canister Filter Eheim Pro4+ Canister Filter

Freshwater or Fish Only Marine Aquariums

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Fluval FX Series Aquarium Canister Filter Fluval FX Series Aquarium Canister Filter

Freshwater or Fish Only Marine Aquariums

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UNS Delta Filters UNS Delta Filters

Freshwater Planted Tanks

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Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter

Freshwater or Fish Only Marine Aquariums

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Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter

Freshwater or Fish Only Marine Aquariums

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The 11 Best Canister Filter Reviews 2022

1. OASE Indoor Aquatics Biomaster Thermo – The Best Canister Filter

The OASE Indoor Aquatics is a canister filter that has been quietly getting buzz among planted tank hobbyists. It is a very high quality canister filter that is made with German Engineering. OASE itself has been around since 1949, but they haven’t been in the US that long, debuting in 1994. This is a high end canister filter with a unique feature as it can hold a heater inside the canister.

I also like the pre-filter in the Biomaster Thermo as it can be removed with no mess. It is foam based, making it longer lasting for the user and saving you money long term on mechanical filter media. There is also a flow regulator on the unit so you can adjust the water flow rate. It is easy to prime and the canister filter overall is very well designed.

The filtration process is exactly what we are looking for in a external canister filter. It flows correctly into the 1st mechanical stage then to the other parts of the filter. This is a function I see with all top end aquarium canister filters and the Biomaster is no exception!

There is a standard BioMaster canister filter, but I feel that the Thermo model really stands out with it’s integrated heater. The heater fits right into the filter. This keeps your heater out of your display tank. This takes that ugly heater out of your display and keeps you with a proven heater technology versus an inline that can be hit or miss. The heaters themselves are excellent quality and backed by 3 year warranties.

It does have a high price tag, but it is superior to the high end Eheims and Fluvals of the world. The main downfall is they are hard to find in stores. It is worth purchasing this professional external canister filter online given its lack of availability locally.


  • Has a chamber to hold heaters
  • No Mess removal of mechanical filtration
  • German engineering


  • Expensive
  • Hard to find in stores

2. Fluval Canister Filters – Classic Canister Design with Italian Made Aesthetics 

Best Value
Fluval Canister Filters

Best Value

Top name brand, Italian made, and updated design. The next gen Fluval Canisters are a best buy!

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For those of us who have been in the aquarium business for a long term, we are very familiar with the Eheim vs. Fluval battle. Both of these manufacturers have been debated among the community as to who makes the best canister filters and for a very good reason.

The Fluval Canister Filters are quality Italian made units. I really wish I would hear more about Italian and German made equipment in the Reefing side of the hobby with all the Chinese manufactured equipment, but I guess the freshwater community gets all the good names.

The Fluval Canister Filter steps up with this new design that now comes with flex ribbed tubing versus the cheap vinyl you are used to seeing with canister filters. It brings water down into the chambers of the filter to ensure the first chamber filters first as it should and it has a nice check valve feature on the drain preventing a flood in the event of a power outage or motor failure. 

Like all the other high end external canister filters, the Fluval has great filter media capacity. The instant prime system allow for quick start up and the lift-lock clamps make it easy to access.

The main downfall I see with this unit is that it does not have valves so you cannot adjust the flow rate or easily drain it when maintaining. The flex hosing also keeps you from installing an inline heater unless you modify the plumbing. Fluval also debuted a new 407 Model in late 2019 so you can pick that model if you want the latest and greatest.


  • 3 Year warranty
  • All black design makes it easier to hide pipes in aquarium
  • Uses flex tubing instead of cheap vinyl


  • More on the pricey size
  • Due to the flex hosing – you can’t integrate an inflow heater without modification

3. Sunsun Pro Canister Filter – Cheap Canister Filter with Loaded Features

Budget Option
SunSun Pro Canister Filter

Budget Option

Cheap, yet effective filtration unit. Equipped with a UV Sterilizer for added water clarity. Its price is hard to beat!

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If you are looking for a budget canister filter, the SunSun Pro Canister Filters are just what you are looking for. This canister filter provides a lot of generous features for the money. The main feature is the UV sterilizer that is included with the unit. This provides additional water clarity, algae control, and some parasite and bacterial control for your aquarium. It has your standard 3 stage filtration and the gallons per hour rating on these filters is surprisingly high compared to canister filters on this list.

The main thing we do not with the sunsun pro canister filter is the build quality. The included filter media is pretty cheap and almost suspect on a more demanding system. The canister filter does not have a stage separating feature so you will have water going through the stages, and some uses have reported issues with the motors. We also feel that the UV is a under powered, but we believe the purpose of it was really water clarity from the manufacturer.


  • Cheap with lots of features for the price!
  • 5 stage filtration that comes with a UV Filter
  • High water flow rate


  • Motor has been suspect in long-term field usage
  • UV is under powered
  • Not adjustable

4. FZone Stainless Steel Filter – An ADA Filter Without The Price Tag

An ADA Filter Clone!
FZONE Stainless Steel Filter

An ADA Canister Filter clone without the ADA price! And amazing filter to consider for high en planted tanks. Extremely professional looking

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Replacing the Aqueon quietflow canister for this year, the Fzone’s new Stainless Steel Canister Filters gives us a clone of ADA’s famous Super Jet stainless steel filters. If you ever seen planted tank systems in Japan, you may have seen ADA Super Jets in action. These filters are very popular over there, but they command extremely high price tag, more than doubling the price of the most expensive external canister filters on this list.

Fortunately, Fzone has created a clone of the SuperJet and it’s fraction of the price. I find it pretty genius of them to offer this same style of canister filter at a lower price point. It’s price puts it in direct competitor of the Fluvals, Eheims, and OASEs of the world.

There are a number of reasons why this canister filter stands out among all the others on the list. The main reason is the external water pump. It is powered by a DC pump and since it’s external, you can replace the pump without having to replace the entire unit or wait on shipping from the manufacturer to get another. Fzone allows you select any DC pump of your choice, or you can go with one of theirs.

The next factor is these units are made of 304 stainless steel. Stainless steel is the look for professional aquascapes. It provides a professional look in your cabinet. The steel also makes the unit more durable then others. You should expect the body of the unit to last a lifetime.

This canister filter offers a good mix of features and value. Because the pump is mounted on the top, it gives the unit the maximum amount of filter media capacity possible. Because you can to select your own DC pump, the gallons per hour you can run through this filter is way higher than another other canister filter you can purchase. You want an 800 gallon per hour canister filter? Easily done by mounting the right return pump. You’ll need to buy the larger units to achieve this due to the inlet pipe.

With the FJ Canister Canister, you have to purchase your quick disconnect valves if you want them. It’s literally an empty canister that gives you ultimate flexibility. It won’t have a self priming / push button primer feature or a fancy heater compartment like the Biomaster. As a result, there is more DIY involved with it. While it is a completely beginner friendly unit, the filter media capacity offers is second to none and it is extremely quiet.

If you are really set on a ADA style, this is the canister filter to buy. It’s not as functional or feature rich as the Biomaster, but it looks amazing and it is very quiet to use. Oh yeah, it is also the only filter on this list where the filter body is backed by a lifetime warranty!


  • ADA style external canister filter without the price
  • External pump
  • Large filter media capacity


  • Need to buy and cut all your filter media
  • Not as feature rich as others

5. SICCE Whale

I was super excited when SICCE announced it was entering the canister filter game. Afterall, most SICCE products have reviewed very well on this site. The Whale, is a very competent first attempt by SICCE. It doesn’t check all the boxes for me, but it’s a good sign that SICCE is figuring it out.

The main benefit from this canister filter is how the intake works. The intake brings water down into the bottom of the unit. The water then filters up. This keeps all the sections separate and maximizes each filtration stage.

The filter is designed for ease of use. The fittings are designed to suction or pressure fit. You also get Sicce’s filter media with the unit, which is actually pretty good. While most canister filters you would want to replace the filter media with better, the media offered here is serviceable which can save you some money over other choices on this list.

These filters have competitive prices and are backed with SICCE’s long warranties (3 years). The priming system is also mounted on the intake, which makes it more accessible over other canister filters. It’s a great choice as a canister filter, just keep in mind that SICCE is running through some first generation issues with their quality control.


  • SICCE name
  • 3 year warranty
  • Competitive price
  • Good starting filter media


  • Not as feature rich as the OASE
  • First gen model

6. Eheim Classic Canister Filters – German Design with Legendary Durability

Eheim Classic Canister Filters

Eheims are known for their incredible reliability. The classic model offers great features at a reasonable price

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The Eheim Classic Canister filter is a throwback to the original canister designs. It is a old, but proven design and with a brand name that backs it. Eheim is best known for its canister filters and pumps. Their quality engineering, design, and durability are unmatched in the industry. 

The Eheim Classic Canister filters offer a lower priced option while getting the quality Eheim name. The Eheim Classic canister filter pumps are extra silent and extra energy efficient, so much so that it is possible to run even the 600 model off a simple UPS for several hours during a power outage. That means you can run your entire filtration unit during a power outage – that’s a pretty stellar feature!

The main downfall with the Eheim Classic canister filter units is the design. It just looks ancient and ugly. It hasn’t been updated in years and the tubing is a algae green color. It doesn’t exactly hide well inside your aquarium.  It screams classic canister filter. It also only comes with the mechanical and biological media, meaning you have to purchase the chemical filtration media separately.


  • Canister filters are what Eheim is known for – incredible durability
  • Quiet operation
  • They use very little power


  • Ugly looking Canister
  • Green tubing shows like a sore thumb in tank
  • Hasn’t been updated in years

7. Eheim Pro Filters – High End German Design for the Aquarist That Demands The Best

Eheim Pro 4+ Canister Filter

A higher end version of the Eheim Classic. Designed for high bioloads and built to last a lifetime

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For those looking at a higher end upgrade to the Eheim Classic canister filter, the Eheim Pro Canister Filters answer the call. This square model provides extra media capacity and suitable for larger aquariums.

The pro units come with a self priming feature which allow for the unit to quickly and easily start. The also has the ability to control flow rate with it’s Xtender control function and also has the ability to redirect water flow from different chambers to extend media life. 

Because of the high quality bearings and ceramic axles on the pump, this is one of the quiet and durable canister filters. Eheims have withstood the test of time, with many hobbyist reporting Eheim canister filters operating 10+ years with no setbacks. They come with a price tag, but it is as one and done as you get with a filtration solution. You will not be disappointed choosing Eheim!


  • Massive media baskets
  • Self priming design
  • Designed for high bio-load and large aquariums


  • Quiet operation
  • Hard to find
  • Expensive

8. Fluval FX Series Canister Filters – High Flow and Designed for Monster Fish Keepers

Great For Large Tanks
Fluval FX Series

High flow, large filtration capacity, and quality plumbing - The FX series is designed for monster fish keepers

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The Fluval FX Series canister filters are a top of the line canister filtration system for those with aquariums with high demands. The external canister filter is built to last with it’s Italian made design, external pump design, and high quality parts.

The FX Series filters are well known for its high flow rate, with the FX4 model having a water flow rate of over 700 gallons per hour while the FX6 pulls 925 gallons per hour. This power makes it ideal for larger fish that produce a ton of waste in the aquarium. The filter media baskets and tray design give the FX the greatest capacity of all the aquarium canister filters on this list.

The canister filter also comes with a multi-functional utility valve drain that makes it possible to empty the canister for maintenance and also to drain water out of the aquarium seamlessly without having to bust out your siphon. It also has a gravel vac accessory so you can vacuum though the filter.

The largest model, the Fluval FX6, is rated up to 400 Gallons making this ideal for folks who keep large fish tanks. The twin output nozzles allow for customized flow rate and prevents surface scum from building at the top of the aquarium. Fluval really has thought of everything with this design.

The main drawbacks with this wonderful filter is the price tag. It is easily the most expensive canister canister filter on the list, but rightly so given the features and performance. I also do not like that provides carbon filter pads instead of actual activated carbon. The flex hosing also makes it more difficult to incorporate an inline heater (though in full disclosure you would need multiple heaters for a large tank anyway). The industrial like design all makes it time consuming to maintain.


  • Built for larger systems – larger model goes up to 400 gallons
  • High flow rate
  • Italian built with external pump design – 3 year warranty
  • Flush valve and adjustable valves


  • Expensive
  • Annoying to maintain with the industrial level design
  • They are massive – won’t fit in a tight aquarium setup

9. UNS Delta Filters – A Canister Filter That Can Hang On Back

UNS is a new entry to our list, replacing the now defunct Hydor canister filters. This is the only canister that can actually be mounted on the back of an aquarium (for the smaller models). The larger models are designed with planted tanks and aquascapes in mind.

The fact that you can hang this on the back gives you a lot of options if you are running a smaller tank. Not everyone want to have a canister at the bottom of their cabinet or make not have room. This gives you the option of having the filter media capacity of a canister filter without the hassle of storing it. It is like owning the old Marineland Magnum HOBs, but the Delta is far superior with it’s filter media capacity and flexibility.

UNS offers a nice video to show you how to mount this unit on the back of your aquarium. Check it out below:

If you are looking for a high quality canister filter for a smaller tank, this is a great pick up. It can mount on the back of the aquarium and the white parts blend very well in a planted tank. For the larger models however, I feel the other options from manufactures like OASE and Fluval are better options.


  • Can hang on the back of the tank
  • Great for smaller aquariums
  • White parts


  • Larger models not as good as other brands
  • May need to be tuned down for certain setups

10. Marineland Mangiflow Canister Filters – The Successor to the Incredible Magnum 350 Canister Filters

Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter

The successor to the Magnum 350. It has the highest filtration capacity of any Marineland filter

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The Marineland Maniflow Canister Filters are the successor to the Magnum 350. For those of you who weren’t in the hobby before the Magnums were around, the Magnum was considered one of the more versatile canister filters. The main downfall of the old magnum was the lack of media space options with its limited filter media space.

The new Marineland Magniflows addresses the media space issue with this very well built external canister filter. The new magniflow have a stack and flow filter tray feature which keeps water flow from moving into the various stages prematurely. The canister lid is a quick latch on and off function with a better seal then the old mangums. What I really like is the quick release function which immediately shuts down water flow and separates the motor for quicker and less messy cleaning.

Marineland also does a great job with the starting media that comes with it. They use foam for the mechanical filtration, which is reusable and the bio-balls are a good mid-tier filter media. The water polishing media is sizable and cheap to replace, but I would have liked it after the mechanical filtration to keep our chemical and biological media chambers cleaner. Another thing I really miss is the diatom feature of the old magnum filters. The diatom filter option was great for water polishing, ich management, and removing dinoflagellates. That’s what made the Magnums so you unique and it’s really an underrated filter feature. It’s a shame it could not be included.


  • 3 year warranty
  • Auto shut down feature makes for quick cleaning
  • Quiet and clean operation


  • I REALLY miss the diatom filter option on the old Magnum 350 filters
  • Filters only go up to 100 gallons
  • No valve switches to adjust flow rate

11. Penn Plax Cascade – Family Owned Business Does Canister Filters Right

Family Owned Business
Penn Plax Cascade

The Penn Plax Cascade is a competent and capable filter. Penn Plax is a family owned business. A great purchase option for those wanting to support an American business

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The Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter is a filter with a lot of features with a great price attached to it. While I can talk about what the filter has, the big draw to me is the story of the Company itself.

Penn Plax is a family owned business operating since the 1950’s. Started up by an engineer turned pet store owner, he brought his family into the business who still operate the Company to this day. Their main product was fabricating their own mold plastics to create a business making plastic pet products. If you are familiar with licensed pet products from Disney, Penn Plax’s name is all over them. They are masters of licensed pet products. The story itself is very much in the spirit of American entrepreneurship and being part of a family of entrepreneurs they hold a special place in my heart.

Going back to the Penn Plax Cascade filter, you get a number of higher end features like flow rate control valves, hose clamps, and a nice rubber feet base to make the canister study and quiet. The Penn Plax cascade canister uses simple filters like sponges, which cuts down on costs and provides flexible space to put whatever you want in there. The price for these units are very attractive and worth a consideration.

There isn’t really much to say about cons here except that the canister filter looks cheap vs. the modern designs of the Marinelands and Fluvals.


  • Family owned business
  • Price
  • Features


  • Cheap looking design
  • Filter media not as readily available as bigger brands 

What Is The Best Canister Filter? (My Recommendation)

Editor’s Choice!
OASE Biomaster Thermo
OASE Biomaster Thermo
  • Intregated Heater
  • Easy Maintenance
  • The Pro’s Choice
Best Value
Fluval Canister Filter
Fluval Canister Filter
  • Great Brand
  • Great Value
Budget Option
SunSun UV Canister Filter
SunSun UV Canister Filter
  • Great Price
  • UV Sterilizer

There is no doubt in my mind that that OASE Biomaster Thermo is the best canister filter you can buy today. It’s German designed with an integrated heater. It is the easiest filter to maintain due to its quick release mechanical filtration section. The Fluval canister filter continues to be a best value buy with it’s solid name brand and reputation. For budgets, the SunSun offers a great price with a UV sterilizer that will combat green water in freshwater aquariums.

How to Choose the Right Canister Filter for Your Aquarium

We have listed out a number of good canister filters to choose from. Now the question is which one would be right for you? Lets talk about decision making factors.

Size of Aquarium Aquarium and Space

The size of your aquarium is a major factor in your decision. If you have a larger aquarium over 100 gallons, the Fluval FX and Eheim Pro series are strong considerations or even a multiple canister filter setup. You will want to measure the space you have in your aquarium cabinet to see if you can fit these inside.

Motor Adaptability and Durability

The motor is everything to a canister filter. If the motor breaks early, you are out of a filter. To us, the motor quality is the biggest factor of our purchase, which is why we lean on Italian and German built motors. You run the risk of getting a faulty motor purchasing a Chinese made pump and manufacturers who do not have a multi-year warranty on their canister filters should be seen as suspect. We believe the OASE, Eheim, Fluval, and Marineland, and Cobalt canister filters offer the most well built pumps of the bunch and they are all backed with 3 year warranties.

The next factor is adaptability. We want our aquarium canister filter to have the ability to adjust its flow with a ball valve. Some units on this list do not have ball valves and that does limit the ability to adjust your flow and quickly shut off your canister filter drain. 

Your Aquarium Budget

Everyone has a budget and what they are willing to spend. You should take all the factors we mentioned in this post to determine the best budget canister filter to buy. If you simply want the cheapest canister filter out there, the SunSun’s would be the best to go with while the OASE BioMasters are the best canister filters to go if you are operating on a higher end budget.

Canister Filter – FAQ

We included this section here to answer some frequently asked questions about canister filters. See the responses below:

What is the best canister filter for saltwater aquariums?

All of these filters can work in a saltwater aquarium, but we feel that canister filters are best in a fish only setup. This is for multiple reasons:

1) Live rock and Dry rock are far superior biological media providers in saltwater aquariums than a canister filter can provide and is natural.

2) In a reef aquarium, a canister filter’s biological media could lead to excessive nitrate production, which would result in more required water changes and non-idea parameters needed for corals.

3) Many saltwater aquariums are built off a reef ready system or a sump, which do not really fit well with a canister filter
There are other uses a canister would be great for in a saltwater tank however. Using them as a filter media reactor or to feed water into a UV sterilizer from the display or additional flow would all be good uses for a canister filter.

What is the best canister filter for freshwater aquariums?

The OASE Biomaster filters are top notch and their 4 year warranty is great piece of mind. The OASE Biomaster is the best canister filter on the market if you have no budget concerns. For the best value, the Fluval 407 filters the the best for price value. The SunSun is the best budget canister on the list.

How often should you clean your canister filter?

It does depend on your bioload and type of fish you have, but you will want to replace or clean your mechanical and chemical filtration media at least once per month. You will want to clean the canister and motor at least every 3-6 months to keep it running well. We do have a preference of running foam/sponges over consumable mechanical media like filter floss to save on monthly expenses and to hold more beneficial bacteria. 

How Long Do Canister Filters Last?

Canister filters are the most durable filtration system available. I have seen Eheim Canister filters operation with zero issues for 20 years. You canister filter will last depending on the quality and how often you maintain it. German and Italian made canister filters like Fluval, OASE, and Eheim has passed the test of time. They are the best brands when looking for a filter that will last a lifetime!

What Is The Most Powerful Canister Filter?

The Fluval FX5 is the most powerful canister filter from a capacity and gallons per hour perspective. There are other filters that are more suited for aquascapes like the OASE Biomaster, but the FX5 is the best when it comes to large fish only systems.

Is A Sump Better Than A Canister Filter

Yes – a sump is considered the ultimate in flexibility and capacity for any aquarium. However, they aren’t always practical, especially for freshwater tanks. Freshwater fish tanks typically do not have a need for dosing pumps, auto top off systems, and or the need for space for denitrifying fauna and scavengers. A Canister filter offers everything you need in a comprehensive package for a freshwater fish tank and many are very reliable.

So for freshwater, unless the fish tank is very large a canister filter is actually better than a sump. In saltwater, a sump is far and above better than a canister filter. Canister filters can become a nitrate producing factory in an established reef tank.

Wrapping Up The Best Canister Filter Round Up

We hope we were able to provide you with the information you need to make the best informed purchase. There are good reasons for these canister filters to be listed as they represents the best available in the industry. They all have their place in an aquarium depending on your needs. 

If you have any questions, please leave a comment in the comment section. Do you have filter model that you think stands out as the best aquarium canister filters out there? Let us know! Thanks for reading :).

by Mark

Mark is the founder of Aquarium Store Depot. He started in the aquarium hobby at the age of 11 and along the way worked at local fish stores. He has kept freshwater tanks, ponds, and reef tanks for over 25 years. His site was created to share his knowledge and unique teaching style on a larger scale. He has worked on making aquarium and pond keeping approachable. Mark has been featured in two books about aquarium keeping - both best sellers on Amazon. Each year, he continues to help his readers and clients with knowledge, professional builds, and troubleshooting.


  1. Hi have a doubt. I have a fish tank with 850L holding capacity. According to you which filter setup should I move with for a fresh water tank?

  2. Do any of these work if they are at the same level as the tank (meaning the tank is not on a stand, and the filter and the tank are both on the floor)? I’ve got a number of tanks that I keep on the floor that only have internal waterfall filters, but they are not powerful enough to keep them clean. Most canister filters need to be below the level of the aquarium to actually pump water, and this is not a feature mentioned at all in these reviews. I’m looking for one that actually works without having to be assisted by gravity. Thank you.

    • Hi Angie. I know Fluval and Eheim owners who have placed their canister above the aquarium and got it to work. It’s a bit of a pain to get them started, but if you can manage to do that, it should work. Priming is your major issue when you can get a siphon.

    • Hi Wes,

      That is true, most Chinese imported products are not going to be UL rated (or ETL, which is the European equivalent). It’s a way for the manufacturer to save on costs and sell for a cheaper price. It is very dependent on your insurance policy if they will cover your home in the event of a malfunction and something that is a case by case basis. That being said, most insurance companies will likely cover you.

      However, that is not really my main concern. The main issue is the quality. Chinese products tend to focus on volume of sales versus quality. It’s why I prefer European made products like the OASE and Fluval. Their reliability and reputation speak for themselves. I just get a lot of people always asking me what’s the cheapest and best value and that’s the SunSun in most cases. There isn’t really another canister out there that really fits the bill. I am looking into another manufacturer that could push out the SunSun though. Stay tuned! 😉

  3. Eheim classics i think is the best so far, i have an fx6 and i’m not totally satisfied with filtration quality, power is not all that matters, perhaps eheim classic 2260, is the best for big aquariums so far, huge bucket for medias, with a strong bomb

  4. Hi Claire,

    I would say both are dead quiet. The OASE wins me over because of the quick release pre-filter and the integrated heater. I hate having heaters in my display tanks. It really takes away from the beauty. I want to run my aquarium without any cords in the tank and with a lily pipe setup it’s super easy to just remove the pipes and intake when you want to take videos, pictures, or just enjoy your aquascape. I’m an aquascape nut when it comes to freshwater tanks. The OASE is a dream filter for many aquascapers. It is my go to canister filter now.


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