What’s worse than losing fish to unseen dangers in the water? Nothing! Well, besides having to see cloudy, dirty-looking water all day.
Your filter plays a vital role in the aquarium ecosystem. Treat it like the important piece it is and it will pay off immensely.
The right filter gives you cleaner, clearer water that will improve the health of your fish. But what makes the best HOB filters for aquariums better than others? And, which ones are the best?
Find out here…
- Top 8 Best HOB Filters In 2021 Reviews
- HOB Filter Buying Guide
- HOB vs. Canister Filter
Top 8 Best HOB Filters In 2021 Reviews
1 Aqua Clear Fish Tank Filter
For the home aquarium hobbyist, this filter comes in 5 different sizes. The Aqua Clear fish tank filter comes in 20, 30, 50, 70, or 110-gallon sizes. The basic design remains the same throughout all the size differences.
With an energy efficient 14W pump that keeps a consistent flow rate, this filter is fairly reliable. Water is filtered and then most of that water is re-filtered again to allow great contact time with the filtration media. All three types of media can be installed using loose media.
From the smallest to the largest size, the filter pumps at these speeds in gallons per hour: 100, 150, 200, 300, and 500. You can adjust the flow rate lower if needed.
Maintenance in this filter is simple. Beginner hobbyists can clean this filter without any trouble. Media pieces only need replacing every 1 to 3 months.
This is a reliable, well-built filter that’s available in a wide range of sizes. Whether you’ve got a small tank or a large tank, there’s an Aqua Clear filter option for you. That makes it really convenient for most home hobbyists.
Let’s spill the tea on what’s working for and against this filter…
2 MarineLand Emperor Filter Systems
From MarineLand, this HOB filter is a powerful option for tanks up to around 80 gallons. It’s only available in one size.
The flow rate for this filter goes up to 400 GPH maximum. It’s adjustable to accommodate the needs of your tank. Water returns to the tank through two separate openings.
The MarineLand Emperor filter achieves all three types of filtration. You will use rite-size E filter cartridges or similarly sized cartridges to get the right effect. Cartridges mix and match to give the right balance of media.
For more biological benefit, two rotating BIO-wheels attach to the front of the filter by the return spouts. These wheels collect and house beneficial bacteria, helping your tank maintain the proper cycle all the time. Wheels are not replaced at the same time as cartridges.
If you’re looking for a more compact and sleek filter, this is a great option. The BIO-wheels are a nice feature to keep your biological media intact even when you’re cleaning the filter. Overall, it’s a solid choice for medium to large tanks with a normal fish load.
What else is there to know? Here’s the scoop…
3 Fluval C Power Filter
Fluval’s C power filters come in three different sizes. The C2 is good for tanks up to 30 gallons, the C3 is for up to 50 gallons, and the C4 is for up to 70 gallons. All three filter sizes have a similar design.
As far as the flow rates, they operate at these maximums: 119 GPH for the C2, 153 GPH for the C3, and 264 GPH for the C4. All three filters attach to the tank edge with a simple clip.
The largest filter has 5 filtration levels, including cartridge slots. You can pick and choose which cartridges to use, as long as you stick to the proper sizing. Water is cycled through the filtration area multiple times to improve water clarity.
Within the filter, the bio-media poly film has an indicator that tells you when it needs to be cleaned. This gives you a good idea when you need to maintain the filter and helps you stay on a consistent schedule.
There’s a good size range for different tanks. You’ll get a great flow rate on each different C filter to match whatever size tank you use it in. It keeps tank water clear without excessive maintenance.
Here’s the rundown…
4 MarineLand Penguin Power Filter
The MarineLand Penguin power filter is offered in four sizes. You can get models that operate up to 20, 30, 50, or 70 gallons.
Flow rates for each filter are as follows: 100 GPH, 150 GPH, 200 GPH, and 350 GPH. The 20, 30, and 50-gallon versions have one filtration area and return while the 70-gallon filter has two of each.
In all 4 sizes, the filter uses cartridges and BIO-wheels to clean your tank water. The only difference in filtration between the four is that the 70-gallon filter has twice the cartridge spots and two BIO-wheels. Each filter gives all 3 types of filtration with the right cartridges.
This filter is very easy to set up. It has all the equipment and accessories in the box for immediate use, including filter cartridges and media. Replacement cartridges and BIO-wheels are available for each filter when necessary, though they use different sizes.
This is an affordable, simple option for keeping your tank clean. You can get the right size for most home tanks. Cartridges and BIO-wheels make it easy to maintain your filter so your tank never suffers.
Is there something else you should know about this filter? Check it out…
5 Seachem Tidal Filter by Sicce
Meant for 55-gallon home tanks, this Seachem Tidal filter is a sleek black HOB filter option. The color helps it remain inconspicuous on most tank setups.
You get a flow rate of up to 250 GPH. This can be adjusted downward to suit smaller tanks or pickier fish.
Intended for both freshwater and saltwater tanks, this filter has a built-in surface skimmer and an adjustable flow rate. The media compartment is open for use with loose or bagged media that fits into the basket, rather than using cartridges.
A few extra features that make it stand out are the self-priming pump, built-in maintenance monitor tools, and the self-cleaning impeller. Hang the filter on the edge of your tank without thinking about clipping it in place or making manual adjustments.
When you want something that’s not going to look out of place or clunky, this is a nice choice. The color and style of the filter are more subdued, so the focus remains on your tank instead of the accessories.
What’s not to love? Well, maybe a few things…
6 Penn Plax Cascade
You have a lot of buying options with the Penn Plax Cascade. There are 6 different models based on the GPH flow rate: 20, 80, 100, 150, 200, and 300 GPH.
The flow rate for the largest filter makes it appropriate for tanks up to around 100 gallons. The smallest filter is for nano tanks no larger than 7 gallons. All the other sizes fit in between these two extremes.
Filter media is contained within cartridges, giving you the option to choose what types of filtration you want in your tank. Larger versions have more filtration options and extra space for loose media or sponges. Each filter also contains Bio-Falls for consistent biological filtering.
For simpler installation, this filter self-levels on all tanks that it can fit over. It’s easy to go out of the box and intuitive to set up, even if you’re a beginner.
If you want a simple HOB filter that checks most of the boxes, this is a good option. You can get it in a large size range for any tank. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles to confuse you if you don’t understand aquarium management very well.
7 Aqueon QuietFlow LED Pro
There are 5 different purchasing options for the Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO. The sizes are as follows: 10, 20, 30, 50, and 75 gallons.
Each filter has a flow rate appropriate for the tank size. They operate at these flow rates, respectively: 100, 125, 200, 250, and 400 GPH. These maximum flow rates are great for most home tanks and are higher than other similar filters.
All three types of filtration can be achieved in these filters. Cartridges contain different types of media so you can arrange it as you please. To quiet down the return flow and boot biological filtration, a diffuser grid is placed at the very end of the filter cycle.
The built-in self-priming pump is an attractive feature if you’re worried about power outages or pump burnout. You won’t have to prime it yourself in order to get it started up again. The filter hangs on the edge of the tank rather than clipping on.
Here’s a good filter when you need a higher flow rate. It’s great for notoriously messy fish species, larger fish loads, and even small turtles.
What else could you want? There are a few things to note before you make the leap…
8 Tetra Whisper EX Silent
Depending on what you need, you can find a Tetra Whisper EX Silent filter to match your tank. This filter is available in the following sizes: 20, 30, 45, and 70 gallons.
While the larger 70-gallon version uses twice the filtration media, the 3 smaller options have a single chamber area to hold filter cartridges. Flow rates for each of the models are 110, 160, 240, and 340 GPH respectively.
The motor for this filter is submerged in water, which helps it operate more quietly and relieves some of the maintenance. Timestrips on each filter cartridge change colors to show you when the cartridge needs to be replaced.
This is a simple filter to go with a regular home tank. Though not ideal for fuller fish loads or very large tanks, it’s a good option for the casual hobbyist. It won’t break the bank and is likely to get the job done.
What more is there to know? Quite a bit, actually…
HOB Filter Buying Guide
What does a hang-on-back (HOB) filter involve? There are a lot of considerations to make when you’re choosing the best HOB filter. What’s really at stake here?
Make the wrong choice and you’ll be stressing about your tank constantly. Here’s what to look at if you want to make the right decision the first time around…
HOB vs. Canister Filter
Canister filters and HOB filters are two popular types for aquarium owners. While they can both be effective, there are some important differences, including…
When it comes to good aquarium HOB filters, there’s no perfect option. Remember that every product has its good and bad points. Because of that, you have to jump in and get the one you feel would be best for your setup.
For a good overall choice that’s easy to manage, try the Aqua Clear Fish Tank Filter. If you’re keen on the aesthetics of the tank, the Seachem Tidal Filter by Sicce looks great and works well.
The top HOB filters for aquariums may not all be the best choice for you. Look at what’s most important in your tank and buy what makes sense to you.