Filters are the heart of any aquarium and very important. As I have lots of experience with aquariums and filters I will be reviewing some of the best canister filters of 2017.
What are canister filters?
Canister filters are the largest of the commercial filters and usually sit outside of the aquarium. They are hidden away inside a stand and don’t take up any room inside the tank. Two pipes; the intake, and the out-take bring the water from the aquarium, down into the filter and pump it back up into the tank. The larger the filter, usually the more expensive. Here i’m going to talk about the best filters for your money. I’ll be taking all the crucial elements of a good filter into consideration.
Canister filters are a piece of mind. They’re large and do the job of filtering the tank water, and keeping your fish safe efficiently. Because of the size, and the amount of media you can stuff inside, you wont have to clean or maintain the filter for potentially a couple of months. Considering the right sized filter is on the tank.
Things to consider before purchasing
The manufacturer’s flow rate (on the box) normally reflects the flow rate of the filter without the media. This means that when it is packed full of media, the flow rate will decrease. Because of this we aim for roughly seven times the flow rate of the aquarium volume. For instance; if a fish tank is 100 litres, it’s good to aim for a filter that does roughly 700 LPH (Litres per hour). However if your stocking levels aren’t that high we could make do with a smaller filter. Over filtration is always a good thing.
How much media can you store inside the filter? Some filters may have a lower flow rate, but their physical size could be much bigger. This allows lots of filter media such as ceramic rings and sponges to be packed inside, providing better filtration. Most canister filters come with all the media required which is great value. You can however easily swap it all around how you like, and add your own.
Quality & Durability
It’s no surprise some filters are built better than others. With brands such as Eheim, and the other discussed below, you may think you’re paying for the brand name. But with these companies the quality is definitely high end, and they have done extensive research. Canister filters run 24/7 and need to be durable.
Canister filters don’t need as much maintenance as some of the internal filters, but when they are maintained and taken apart, the seals can be prone to leaking. As canister filters sit outside the tank, if they leak they can drain a tank onto your floor. A good quality filter will easily be taken apart, cleaned and put back together, without it being a chore.
Expanding the lifespan
Applying vasaline as a lubricant to the seal after each time the filter is taken apart for maintenance, can help ensure the seal doesn’t dry and crack over time. Also one of the other major variables that can lead to a broken filter, is the impeller not being cleaned properly. Broken impellers are the number 1 cause for a broken filter. Most impellers are magnetic and can easily be popped out and cleaned.
Some of the best canister filters:
In my opinion the Fluval series are a great all-round brand for filters. Not the cheapest, but you get exactly what you pay for; quality. The newest range of filters start from the 106 to the 406 series. Fluvals are a solid build and very easy to set up. The smallest 106 (£79.99) are great for up to 100 Litres, and the 406 (£155) are good for up to 400 Litres. These filters are almost silent, but very powerful. The 306 and the 406 come with flow control too so you can have a larger filter on a smaller tank and turn down the flow rate. Benefiting from the extra media. For anything larger than 400L, Fluval have you covered with their FX range for up to 1500L tanks. Available from Amazon.
APS (All Pond Solutions) Series
The APS brand are very cheap, but they do a very good job. The 1000EF suitable for up to 400 Litres is just £44.99, and the 2000EF just £64.99 are good for up to 1000 Litres which is great value for money. Although for a 1000 Litre tank, I would opt for something much bigger. The good thing about the APS are that they are on the bigger side, physically, meaning you can fit a lot of media inside. The flow isn’t the most powerful, but if you put one of these on a much smaller tank than it’s meant for (over filtration), then it will do the job perfectly. Available from Amazon.
The Eheim series
Eheim are a very prestigious brand, very professional, and on the more expensive side. However you get what you pay for with Eheim, they provide some of the best canister filters, and are great quality. These filters are also very energy efficient, and some of the most popular. They go from the Classic 150 for 150 Litres (£50) to the Classic 600 suitable for up to 600 Litres (£132). Eheim also do the Professional range for even larger tanks up to 1200 Litres. Available from Amazon.
Hydor Professional Series
The Hydor range probably aren’t as popular as the other brands mentioned here, but are just as good. Their builds are solid and very good quality. They are compact filters with lots of power. A good thing about this range are that they come with two types of outlets, the standard jet and a very long spray bar that can be built into four sizes. The intake pipe is telescopic meaning it can easily be adjusted to fit your aquarium perfectly. These filters range from the 150 suitable for aquariums up to 150 litres (£65) to the 600 up 600 litres (£177.99). Available from Amazon.
Canister filters are very versatile and it all comes down to personal preference. What suits you and your tank? The three main filters I mentioned above are all great brands and will do the job, provided they are set up on the right sized aquariums (typically smaller than what’s on the box). These filters all have different sizes and can support small to very large sized tanks.
Already have an internal filter?
If you upgrade from an internal filter to a canister filter you can easily move the media over to the canister as they come with plenty of room. This will save you the hassle of cycling your tank again, allowing you to add fish instantly. Removing an internal filter and adding an external canister filter will free up a lot of swimming room in the tank, for the fish. Also internal filters can look unsightly, whereas an external filter is hidden away, except for a couple of pipes. External canister filters provide much more filtration, compared to most common internal filters.
It’s a filter for life
Don’t be cheap and skimp on the size of the filter. These filters will last a very long time, and if after a few years it does break, you can simply replace the parts. The impeller, or the O-ring seals can easily be replaced on all of these filters, which are normally the only problems you will have after years of use. With high quality brands like these you can’t go wrong, and they supply a catalogue of spare parts.