Updated: May 4, 2021 - By: - Categories: Equipment

Filters are an essential piece of hardware in smaller aquariums of 10 gallons or less. The small volume of water in these tanks means effective filtration is extremely important to the health of your fish and animals. Here you can find information on a variety of makes, models, and types of filters to help you choose a good quality and reliable option for your aquarium.

Best filters for 10-gallon fish tanks

Model Our rating Type Flow rate Ideal for Media
Aqua Clear 20 power fish tank filter editor's ratingAqua Clear 20 power fish tank filter Hang-On-Back 100 GPH, adjustable 5-20 gallons Foam, Activated Carbon, and BioMax
Marina S10 Power Filter editor's ratingMarina S10 Power Filter HOB 55 GPH, adjustable up to 10 gallons filter cartridges with included carbon & zeolite
Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO 10 power filter editor's ratingAqueon QuietFlow LED PRO 10 power filter Hang-On-Back 100 GPH, adjustable 10-20 gallons carbon cartridge, biological grid
Aquatop Classic Aqua Flow Sponge Filter CAF-10 editor's ratingAquatop Classic Aqua Flow Sponge Filter CAF-10 Sponge filter air pump powered (buy separately) up to 10 Gal sponge
Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter editor's ratingAqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter internal filter 57 GPH up to 10 gallons carbon cartridge
Marineland Penguin PRO Power Filter editor's ratingMarineland Penguin PRO Power Filter Hang-On-Back 100 GPH, adjustable up to 10 Gal Marine Land rite-size B filter cartridge
Fluval 107 Performance Canister Filter 120Vac editor's ratingFluval 107 Performance Canister Filter canister filter 95 Gal/h (360 L/h) 10-30 Gal (40-130 L) bio-foams, activated carbon
Tetra Whisper 10i Internal Filter editor's ratingTetra Whisper 10i Internal Filter internal filter 80 GPH 5-10 Gal medium Bio-Bag cartridge
Tetra Whisper 20 Power Filter editor's ratingTetra Whisper 20 Power Filter Hang-On-Back 105 GPH, adjustable 10-20 Gal bio-foam, large Bio-Bag cartridge
Whisper IQ 10 Power Filter for Aquariums, With Quiet Technology editor's ratingWhisper IQ 10 Power Filter Hang-On-Back 105 GPH 10 Gal BioGrid, medium Whisper Bio-Bag cartridge
UPETTOOLS Aquarium Biochemical Sponge Filter editor's ratingUPETTOOLS Biochemical Sponge Filter sponge filter air pump powered (buy separately) > 5 Gal sponge, ceramic

10-gallon aquarium filters reviewed

AquaClear 20 power fish tank filter

The AquaClear 20 power fish tank filter is both easy to install and easy to maintain. This model can filter a massive 100 gallons per hour, to keep your fish healthy, and your water looking great.

Running this filter ensures that the water surface remains broken, which increases the amount of oxygen in the water, and available to your fish. This model also features adjustable flow control that gives the aquarist much greater control of the environment to suit the biotype and species in their 10-gallon aquarium.

AquaClear 20 installationAquaClear 20 installation

The more time the water in your aquarium spends in contact with your filter media, the cleaner and safer it’s going to be. With this in mind, AquaClear has designed this power filter to use 3 different media, providing chemical, mechanical, and biological filtration that preserves beneficial bacteria.

AquaClear 20 multistage filtrationAquaClear 20 multistage filtration

Mechanical filtration is provided by the foam insert, which doubles as an ideal environment for beneficial bacteria to colonize. The manufacturer advises that you replace this insert every 2 months for best results. Chemical filtration is ensured with the research-grade activated carbon inserts that should be replaced monthly.

Finally, the Aquaclear Bio Max filter media is specially designed to hold more beneficial bacteria in the extensive pores of these ceramic rings. This system provides long-lasting and effective filtration and can be replaced after 3 months.

Marina S10 Power Filter

The Marina S10 Power Filter is one of the best hang-on-back (HOB) filter options for fish keepers with limited space around their tanks. This great-looking filter is suitable for tanks of up to 10 gallons and has a fully adjustable flow rate to suit the size of your aquarium and the kinds of fish and animals you keep.

Marina S10 Power Filter top viewMarina S10 Power Filter top view

The Marina S10 Power Filter comes with a bio-clear and bio-carb filter, which are very easy to replace, saving you time and effort on maintenance. Being a hang-on-back (HOB) filter, this unit takes up very little space inside your aquarium and it has an innovative design that incorporates the motor on the inlet pipes, meaning the motor is housed under the water surface for quieter operation.

Marina S10 Power Filter cartridgesMarina S10 Power Filter cartridges

This is a self-priming filter which means you don’t have to fill the compartment before restarting the unit after a power failure. In order to protect your livestock, this model includes a pre-filter sponge which means small animals won’t become trapped within the filter during operation.

Aqueon Quiet Flow LED PRO 10 power filter

The Aqueon Quiet Flow filter is a Hang-On-Back unit that has an excellent flow rate, providing sufficient filtration for aquariums of up to 20 gallons. This filter provides excellent mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration, as well as extra cleaning with a specialty filter pad.

The internal pump is very quiet and is self-priming, which means it will restart without any extra effort after cleaning or power interruptions. One of the most innovative features of this filter is the LED light system that monitors water flow levels to indicate when it’s time to change clogged cartridges.

Aquatop Classic Aqua Flow Sponge Filter CAF-10

The Aquatop Classic Aqua Flow Sponge Filter is a simple but effective internal air-powered filter, especially for 10-gallon tanks that need lower water flow. This filter provides great mechanical and biological filtration and has the added benefit of increasing oxygen levels in your tank.

In order to run this filter, you will need a small air pump and a length of airline hose (supplied separately). This style of filter does not produce any strong suction that could trap or injure your fish or livestock. Although the sponge of this filter provides plenty of surfaces for beneficial bacteria to colonize, it is also possible to add a further filter media of your choice to the compartment for customized filtration.

Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter

The Aqueon Quietflow filter is fully submersible and can be set either horizontally or vertically in your aquarium, giving you the option to set it as you please. The flow strength and direction are also adjustable, so you really have a lot of control over the current in your tank. This unit is capable of filtering a respectable 57 gallons per hour which is perfectly sufficient for a 10-gallon aquarium, without creating a very strong current.

This filter provides 3 stage filtration and uses a single replaceable cartridge. You can, however, use different filter media of your own choice in this filter. These internal filters are easy to install using the provided suction cups.

Marineland Penguin PRO Power Filter

The Marineland Penguin PRO has an adjustable flow rate and uses a self-priming submerged motor that features a dampener to ensure very quiet operation. This sleek and stylish hang-on back filter has bio-wheel technology for the added benefits of wet/dry biological filtration, and the activated carbon provides chemical filtration.

Filter componentsFilter components

Although this unit provides effective mechanical, biological and chemical filtration with a single cartridge, you also have the option of doubling up on the filter media by using a second cartridge for extra clean and safe water.

Fluval 107 Performance Canister Filter 120Vac

The latest generation of Fluval’s performance canister filters is now 25% more energy-efficient and quieter, while still being as powerful and reliable as ever. The energy consumption of this unit is comparable with a single 10 watt LED lightbulb, meaning your electricity bill won’t shock you at the end of the month.

Fluval performance canister filter energy efficiencyFluval performance canister filter energy efficiency

This European designed and built canister filter is suitable for 10-30 gallon aquariums and is easier than ever to open and remove the dual media baskets, creating less mess, and meaning you don’t need to drain the canister of water to change the filter media. The priming pump has been rebuilt to be 7 times stronger and more efficient.

Fluval 107 canister filter maintenanceFluval 107 canister filter maintenance

This unit comes equipped with 5 different filter media, including 3 varieties of bio-foam, activated carbon, and quick clear. The 1.45m maximum water column and provided 9.8ft long ribbed hose means this filter can be set up well out of sight. This filter is recommended for tanks with greater bioloads or larger single species tanks.

Tetra Whisper 10i Internal Filter

TheTetra Whisper 10i Internal filter is great for small aquariums of up to 10 gallons. The flow rate of this aquarium is fixed at 80 gallons per hour which provides excellent filtration. This unit is easily installed using the supplied clip to secure the filter to the inside of your aquarium.

This filter produces very low noise levels and works to increase the oxygen levels available to your fish. The Tetra Whisper 10i uses bio-bag cartridges which are easy to change. This filter is especially quiet since the motor is held under the water surface.

Tetra Whisper 20 Power Filter

Although this filter is able to process an impressive 105 gallons of water per hour, the flow rate is adjustable, meaning you can set this filter to your needs. This filter provides 3 stage filtration that is delivered quietly and efficiently.

This unit uses the easy-to-change large Bio-Bag cartridge. This cartridge provides both mechanical filtration of waste particles and chemical filtration as a result of the incorporated activated charcoal.

Whisper IQ 10 Power Filter for Aquariums

The Whisper IQ 10 is a self-priming filter that is designed to run quietly. With a submerged motor and a soft barrier between the filter and the motor, this unit generates less than 40dB of sound.

This Hang-On-Back filter has an adjustable intake to suit the shape and depth of your aquarium and it uses the easily replaceable medium Bio-Bag filter cartridges. During operation, this filter breaks the water surface, resulting in increased available oxygen to your fish. This filter is suitable for both fresh and saltwater aquariums

UPETTOOLS Aquarium Biochemical Sponge Filter

This filter is attached to the inside wall of your aquarium using suction cups and powered with a small external air pump and a length of airline tubing, both of which are sold separately. Not only does this filter provides effective mechanical filtration of larger waste particles suspended in the water, but the sponge also provides an ideal benefit for the growth and maintenance of beneficial bacteria.

There are also 2 compartments containing ceramic pearl balls for additional biological filtration. This style of filter does not produce any strong suction that could trap or injure your fish or livestock.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need a filter for my 10-gallon aquarium?

All home aquariums that fish are kept in should be filtered to keep the water clean and safe. Although some experts are able to keep their water clean without electrically powered filtration, this is definitely not recommended for beginners, especially not in smaller aquariums like 10-gallon setups.

Do I need to do water changes if I have a filter?

With a small aquarium, you should get into the habit of doing partial water changes every week. Provided you have not overstocked your aquarium, weekly water changes of around 25% are advised because your filter cannot remove all the waste in your tanks.

Do I need to clean my filter?

Over time, your filter media will become clogged by waste and particles in the water. Many power filter models incorporate disposable filter cartridges that should be changed at the frequency advised by the manufacturer.

You should not replace all of your filter media at once as this will remove the beneficial bacteria that are essential for biological filtration. Reuseable filter media such as sponges should be rinsed in tank water that you have removed during a water change to preserve these bacteria.

What flow rate do I need for my 10-gallon aquarium?

Generally speaking, your filter should have an hourly flow rate of at least 4 to 6 times the volume of your aquarium to be effective. Some fish species are adapted to live in strong currents and will enjoy a good flow rate, while fish such as bettas are easily stressed in fast-moving water.

In a heavily planted tank, a high flow rate may not be desirable since CO2 is easily lost from the water by surface agitation and many aquarium plants do not enjoy strong currents. These tanks will do best with lower flow rate filters, provided you keep to a turnover of at least around 40gph. Tanks with higher bioloads and larger fish will benefit from filters with greater turnover rates as there will be more waste to process.

Often it is difficult to keep a low flow rate in small aquariums and you should select a filter with an adjustable flow rate if keeping fish that do not enjoy strong currents.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps the most important piece of hardware for a healthy fish tank is a quality filter. With so many options out there, choosing the best one for your tank can be difficult. All of the filters in this article make great choices for tanks of around 10 gallons and if used correctly, will keep your correctly stocked and managed aquarium looking beautiful.

Lucas has been keeping successful fish, planted, and reef tanks for many years. He loves to collect aquatic organisms and keep as many aquariums as he can.

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