Most aquarists rely on canister filters when dealing with larger aquariums, both freshwater, and saltwater. These types of filters are much more reliable because they offer a larger area of filtration and can perform mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. That said, they are also easier to maintain and don’t take up space inside the aquarium.
- [Comparison table] Best external canister filters
- What is a canister filter and how does it work?
- Best filter media for canister filters
- How to choose a canister filter for your aquarium
- Best canister filter reviews
- Zoo Med Nano 10 External Canister Filter
- Finnex PX-360 Compact Canister Aquarium Filter
- Penn Plax Cascade 500 Canister Filter
- Fluval 307 Performance Canister Filter
- Eheim Classic 250 Canister Filter
- OASE Indoor Aquatics Biomaster Thermo 350 with Heater
- Fluval FX6 High-Performance Aquarium Filter
- Fluval G6 Advanced Filtration System
- Marineland Magniflow 220 Canister Filters
- Aqueon Quietflow 400 Canister Filter
- Polar Aurora 370GPH with UV sterilizer, budget option
- SunSun HW-302 265GPH Pro Canister Filter Kit
- Canister filter accessories and replacement parts
- How do I install a canister filter?
- How do I clean a canister filter?
- Canister filters vs HOB power filters
- Frequently Asked Questions
[Comparison table] Best external canister filters
|80 GPH, can’t adjust
|nano tanks 2-10 gallons
|sponge, ceramic rings, carbon
|easy priming, spray bar
|ZooMed Nano 10 (this), ZooMed Nano 30 #ad (160 GPH for 10-30 Gal)
|115 GPH, adjustable
|up to 30 Gal
|2 baskets, floss pads, coarse bio-sponge, activated carbon
|prime button, flow control valves, spray bar
|Cascade 500/700/1000/1200/1500 (115-350 GPH for up to 200 Gal tanks)
|206 Gal/h (780 L/h), adjustable
|40-70 Gal (90-330 L)
|vertical pre-filter basket, 3 baskets, bio-foams, ceramic rings, activated carbon
|quick primer, Aquastop valve for fast and spill-free maintenance
|Fluval 107 (145 GPH for 25 Gal), Fluval 207 (206 GPH – 45 Gal), Fluval 307 (this), Fluval 407 (383 GPH – 100 Gal)
|116 Gal/h, adjustable
|up to 66 Gal (250 L)
|1 basket, round sponges, Eheim Mech (mechanical), Substrat Pro (biological)
|NO primer, quick-release double tap, spray bar
|Classic 150/250/350 (79-164 GPH for up to 92 Gal), Classic 600 (264 GPH – 160 Gal)
|300 GPH, adjustable
|up to 90 Gal
|5 baskets, coarse to ultra-fine foams (30-60 ppi), carbon foams, Hel-X Biomedia
|self priming, quick stop valve, spray bar, integrated heater 200W
|Thermo 250 (250 GPH for 70 Gal), Thermo 350 (this), Thermo 600 (350 GPH – 160 Gal), Thermo 850 #ad (400 GPH – 225 Gal)
|563 Gal/h (2130 L/h), adjustable
|up to 400 Gal (1500 L)
|6 stages, foams, bio-foams, Biomax ceramic rings, carbon foam
|self-priming, Aquastop click-fit valves, Utility valve for easy water changes
|FX4 (450 GPH for 250 Gal), FX6 (this)
|265 GPH, adjustable
|80-160 gallons, saltwater or freshwater
|3 stages, pre-filter cartridge, chemical cartridge (carbon filled), G bio-nodes (ceramic)
|prime button, Aquastop valves, digital water monitor
|G3 (185 GPH for 40-80 Gal), G6 (this)
|220 GPH, adjustable
|up to 55 gallons
|foam, floss pad, carbon bag, bio balls, ceramic rings
|prime button, quick stop valve
|Magniflow 160 (160 GPH for 30 Gal), Magniflow 220 (this), Magniflow 360 (360 GPH – 100 Gal)
|400 GPH, adjustable
|up to 155 gallons
|3 baskets, coarse foam, activated carbon, bio balls, and bio ceramic rings
|prime button, two HOB filter outlets, spray bar
|Quietflow 200 (55 Gal), Quietflow 300 (75 Gal), Quietflow 400 (this)
|370 GPH, adjustable
|up to 100 Gal
|3 baskets, coarse sponge, activated carbon, ceramic rings, bio-balls
|prime button, quick stop valve, 9W UV sterilizer, spray bar
|265GPH (75 Gal), 265GPH UV (75 Gal), 370GPH UV (100 this), 525GPH UV (150 Gal)
|264 GPH (1000L/h), adjustable
|up to 75 Gal
|3 baskets, filter pads, ceramic rings, bio-balls, and activated carbon
|prime button, quick stop valve, spray bar
|HW-302 (this), HW-303B UV #ad (370 GPH – 100 Gal), HW-304 #ad & HW-404B UV #ad (525 GPH – 150 Gal)
What is a canister filter and how does it work?
Canister filter diagram
A canister filter is an external aquarium filters that performs filtration by taking in water through an intake tube and running it through filter media inside the canister. The term “canister” refers to the cylindrical nature of the filter. Once the water has run through the pressurized canister, it is then pumped back into the aquarium via a return hose.
Inside the canister filter, water is pushed through a series of filter media to get rid of debris, chemicals, and other contaminants. Based on the types of filter media used, it can perform chemical, biological, and mechanical filtration. Once the water has gone through all the filter media inside the filter chamber, it is clean and free of contaminants, and ready to be pumped back into the aquarium.
Best filter media for canister filters
There are three types of filter media: mechanical, biological, and chemical. Following are some of the best filter media options from all three types that you can use for your canister filter.
|sponges #ad (foam), floss pad #ad, pre-filter media #ad,…
|physically removes debris and floating particles, prevent clogging
|peat moss #ad, activated carbon #ad (charcoal), phosphate remover #ad, zeolite ammonia remover #ad, Fluval Zeo-Carb #ad,…
|purifies the water by directly absorbing substances such as odorants, heavy metals, minerals, phosphate, ammonia…
|Biomax ceramic rings #ad, bio sponges #ad, bio balls #ad, Eheim Substrat Pro #ad,…
|colonizes helpful bacteria that convert toxic ammonia and nitrite to less toxic nitrate
How to choose a canister filter for your aquarium
There are several factors to consider when choosing the right canister filter for your fish tank, but let us touch on the most important ones.
Flow rate refers to the volume of water the canister filter is able to return to your aquarium at a given time. It is measured in GPH (Gallons Per Hour) and is the primary factor that will determine what size of filter you should purchase.
A good rule of thumb is to pick a filter that can turn over your aquarium’s water at least four times per hour. If you have a 20-gallon aquarium fish tank, for instance, you’d want to get a canister filter with a flow rate of at least 80 GPH.
Aside from the size of your tank, another factor to consider is the type of fish you keep and how many there are in the aquarium. This is a bit tricky, so you will need to find the right balance so you don’t end up with a canister filter that will keep your tank clean but will kill your fish. The good thing is that most canister filters today have adjustable flow rates.
Ease of Priming
Priming is the process of filling the filter reservoir with water to jumpstart the filtration cycle. A good canister filter is one that is self-priming, which means you can plug it in, and it will do the rest for you.
Most models come with a priming button or lever, which allows you to prime the filter with a push of that button or lever. Some of these models are easier to prime, though, and that’s something to consider when choosing a canister filter.
Ease of Maintenance
One of the main advantages of canister filters is that they take a while before needing maintenance compared to other types of filters. However, not all canister filters are easy to clean and maintain. Advanced models come with a quick disconnecting valve. This enables you to cut the water flow with ease and allows for more mess-free maintenance sessions. In addition, the media baskets should also be easy to remove for quick access to the media when cleaning.
All aquarium filters will produce noise to some degree. Some canister filters, however, are a lot quieter than most. The Fluval 07 series filters, for instance, are relatively quiet despite their size and power. If you want even quieter models, then you should opt for Eheim classic filters, which are well known for their noiselessness.
You’d want a canister filter that will last you years. Be wary of cheaply-made models. They may save you money upfront, but they will give you a headache when it’s time to find replacement parts. Go for trusted brands and models. Durable brands may be more expensive, but they will save you money in the long run since they won’t require a lot of replacement and even come with excellent warranty service.
Best canister filter reviews
Zoo Med Nano 10 External Canister Filter
- Flow rate: 80 GPH, can’t adjust
- Ideal for: nano tanks 2-10 gallons
- Media: sponge, ceramic rings, carbon
- Feature: easy priming, spray bar (video)
- Other sizes: ZooMed Nano 10 (this), ZooMed Nano 30 #ad (160 GPH for 10-30 Gal)
For beginners in the aquarium hobby looking for a budget-friendly canister filter, the Zoo Med Nano 10 should be a great choice. The Nano 10 may be small, but it has a flow rate of 80 GPH, enough to filter water in freshwater and saltwater tanks up to 10 gallons in capacity.
Priming this filter is very easy, too. Once set up, just open the filter cap and fill the canister with water until it’s full, and replace the cap. Plug the filter in, and it will instantly get to work. The Zoo Med Nano 10 is a 3-stage filter that can perform mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration to ensure high-quality water in your tank at all times. It has a sponge, a carbon bag, and ceramic rings for its filter media.
This is a small filter that won’t take up much space. It also comes with a sleek design and is very easy to set up and maintain. If you’re looking to upgrade from a hang-on-back filter to a canister filter, you should definitely consider putting the Zoo Med Nano 10 on top of your list!
Finnex PX-360 Compact Canister Aquarium Filter
- Flow rate: 95 GPH
- Ideal for: up to 25 Gal
- Media: sponge, carbon floss pad, ceramic rings
- Feature: easy priming, spray bar
The Finnex PX-340 compact canister filter is one of the most convenient canister filters available today. It features vacuum-tight filtration that can ensure cleaner and clearer water despite its size. Speaking of which, this model weighs only 3.5 lbs. It’s a very flexible filter because you can have it set up as a hang-on back filter or a desktop filter. The filter comes with instructions on how to set it up either way.
As for its features, this model is designed for freshwater and saltwater aquariums up to 25 gallons in capacity. It has a flow rate of 95 GPH, which should provide a good enough circulation inside a 25-gallon tank. Depending on your needs, you can have the spray nozzle installed or just the spray bar. Either way, you can guarantee to have excellent flow and circulation.
For its filter media, this product comes with an activated carbon floss pad, a sponge, and ceramic rings for a very efficient filtering action. Each filter media is contained in its own individual holding tray for easy cleaning and maintenance. And being a small canister filter, this model operates with minimal noise. Overall, this is a great choice if you’re looking for a filter for your 25-gallon tank that’s powerful and cost-efficient.
Penn Plax Cascade 500 Canister Filter
- Flow rate: 115 GPH, adjustable
- Ideal for: up to 30 Gal
- Media: 2 baskets, floss pads, coarse bio-sponge, activated carbon
- Feature: prime button, flow control valves, spray bar
- Other sizes: Cascade 500 (this), Cascade 700 (185 GPH for 65 Gal), Cascade 1000 (265 GPH – 100 Gal), Cascade 1200 (315 GPH – 150 Gal), Cascade 1500 (350 GPH – 200 Gal)
- Elite versions (black, more filter media): Cascade 500 Elite #ad, Cascade 700 Elite #ad, Cascade 1000 Elite #ad, Cascade 1200 Elite #ad, Cascade 1500 Elite #ad
For aquariums 30 gallons and up, you will need a powerful canister filter to keep your tank clean and clear. The Penn Plax Cascade 500 should get the job done for you. It has an adjustable flow rate of up to 115 GPH and features two poly-fiber floss pads, one coarse bio-sponge, and one bag of activated carbon.
This ensures that no toxins, chemicals, discolorations, and foul odors remain in your tank. The two media baskets are stackable too. In addition, the media baskets are large enough for you to tailor filtration to your needs. They also come with handles for added convenience during maintenance.
This model also comes with a prime button, which lets you prime the filter quickly and easily. In addition to that, it also comes with two state-of-the-art independent valve taps that can rotate 360° for 100% convenience even in tight spaces.
Finally, the Cascade 500 comes complete with some tubing, a directional spout that lets you direct water flow to your preferred spot, and a spray bar that allows you to evenly distribute water inside the aquarium.
Fluval 307 Performance Canister Filter
- Flow rate: 206 Gal/h (780 L/h), adjustable
- Ideal for: 40-70 Gal (90-330 L)
- Media: vertical pre-filter basket, 3 baskets, bio-foams, ceramic rings, activated carbon
- Feature: quick primer, Aquastop valve for fast and spill-free maintenance
- Other sizes: Fluval 107 (145 GPH for 25 Gal), Fluval 207 (206 GPH – 45 Gal), Fluval 307 (this), Fluval 407 (383 GPH – 100 Gal)
Arguably the best item on our list, the Fluval 307 is a part of Fluval’s 07 series of canister filters designed for power and efficiency. It has a flow rate of 206 GPH and is perfect for tanks up to 40 gallons in capacity. This model prides itself on its multi-stage filtration and quiet operation despite its size. It’s also energy-efficient, consuming only 16 watts of energy while providing a powerful filtration action at the same time.
For its filter media, the Fluval 307 comes with two bags of activated carbon, two sets of biomax bio rings, two quick-clear floss pads, two bio foams, two bio-foam+, and two bio-foam max. All these are housed in three EZ-LIFT media baskets that can conveniently be removed and cleaned with the lift of a finger. This setup also makes the 307 perfect for mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration.
Designed for easy maintenance #ad
One of its most important features is the Aquastop valve designed to make maintenance quick and hassle-free. A quick lift of the valve stops water flow into the filter so that you don’t have to worry about water spilling all over when detaching the hoses during maintenance.
The model also comes with a redesigned primer handle that requires less pump for a quicker startup. If you’re looking for a reliable canister filter that’s easy to use and maintain and comes with all the components you will need to get started in an instant, the Fluval 307 is definitely for you.
Eheim Classic 250 Canister Filter
- Flow rate: 116 Gal/h, adjustable
- Ideal for: up to 66 Gal (250 L)
- Media: 1 basket, round sponges, Eheim Mech (mechanical), Substrat Pro (biological)
- Feature: NO primer, quick-release double-tap, spray bar
- Other sizes: Classic 150/2211 (79 GPH for 40 Gal), Classic 250/2213 (this), Classic 350/2215 (164 GPH – 92 Gal), Classic 600/2217 (264 GPH – 160 Gal)
Canister filters made by Eheim are among the best, and the Classic 250 is not an exception. It’s one of the best models around and is known for its efficiency, durability, and quiet operation, not to mention that it’s very easy to clean and maintain.
This model has an adjustable flow rate of 116 GPH and is ideal for fish tanks up to 66 gallons in capacity. It achieves both mechanical and biological filtration via a single process, filtering aquarium water through round sponges, Eheim Mech media for mechanical filtration, and Substrat Pro for biological filtration.
This model doesn’t come with a primer, but you can easily prime it by filling the canister filter with dechlorinated water until water partially fills the intake pipe. Make sure that the valves are closed while doing this. Afterward, you need to secure the powerhead with the clips and install the filter in its permanent location. Then, attach the intake and outflow lines and turn the filter on. From here on, you can leave the filter and wait for it to do its job.
Once set up, you can expect the filter to operate quietly and efficiently. Overall, this is a really good filter that offers value for money.
OASE Indoor Aquatics Biomaster Thermo 350 with Heater
- Flow rate: 300 GPH, adjustable
- Ideal for: up to 90 Gal
- Media: 5 baskets, coarse to ultra-fine foams (30-60 ppi), carbon foams, Hel-X Biomedia
- Feature: self priming, quick stop valve, spray bar, integrated heater 200W
- Other sizes: Thermo 250 (250 GPH for 70 Gal), Thermo 350 (this), Thermo 600 (350 GPH – 160 Gal), Thermo 850 #ad (400 GPH – 225 Gal)
Looking for a filter and heater in one? The Biomaster Thermo 350 by OASE is the solution to your problem. This canister filter features a built-in 200W heater, heating the water externally so you won’t have to purchase an aquarium heater to install inside your tank. This innovative approach ensures ideal water temperature and clean and clear water in your tank at the same time.
Inlet and outlet with flow control #ad
Integrated heater #ad
Easy to change carbon pre-filter foam #ad
The Biomaster Thermo 350 will keep your aquarium water crystal clear and free of harmful contaminants with its four-stage filtration. It features Hel-X suspended biomedia that provides an optimal surface area for good bacteria to thrive, ensuring efficient biological filtration. It also comes with carbon filter foams for chemical filtration, as well as pre-filter carbon sponges that further ensure you constantly have clear water in your aquarium.
In addition to all these features, the Biomaster Thermo 350 comes complete with a self-priming functionality, a quick stop valve for non-messy maintenance, a spray bar for uniform water flow, and seal filtration pathways ensuring your aquarium enjoys the full benefits of the filter’s four stages of filtration.
Fluval FX6 High-Performance Aquarium Filter
- Flow rate: 563 Gal/h (2130 L/h), adjustable
- Ideal for: up to 400 Gal (1500 L)
- Media: 6 stages, foams, bio-foams, Biomax ceramic rings, carbon foam
- Feature: self-priming, Aquastop click-fit valves, Utility valve for easy water changes (video)
- Other sizes: FX4 (450 GPH for 250 Gal), FX6 (this)
Another one on our list from Fluval is the FX6 high-performance filter. And when we say “high-performance,” we mean a canister filter that’s powerful enough to filter 400-gallon tanks and even small ponds. The FX6 is a real workhorse, providing an adjustable flow rate of 563 GPH and a pump output of 925 GPH.
It also features an innovative microchip technology that constantly monitors the filter, ensuring optimal performance at all times. This model is self-starting and self-priming. All you need to do is add water and plug it in, and it will start doing its job cleaning your aquarium. You also need not worry about trapped air, as it is eliminated automatically every 12 hours.
Come with everything you will need #ad
As a multi-stage filter, the FX6 comes with many filter media types and baskets, all allowing for mechanical, biological, and chemical water filtration.
Versatile design for ease of setup and maintenance #ad
Other features that make this model truly innovative and a must-have include a leak-proof attachment system with Aquastop click-fit valves, an anti-clog telescopic strainer that ensures uninterrupted flow, and a purge valve (or utility valve) with a drain hose for easy water changes.
Fluval gravel cleaner kit (sold separately) #ad
The utility valve is the most special feature of the FX6. You can connect the Fluval gravel cleaner to the valve for cleaning your aquarium substrate or draining the water. If you want to clean the substrate, use the utility port as an inflow; close the inflow of the FX6, open the outflow and open the utility valve, and connect the utility valve with the Fluval cleaner. Open the inflow, close the outflow and open the utility valve if you want to drain the water.
Fluval G6 Advanced Filtration System
- Flow rate: 265 GPH, adjustable
- Ideal for: 80-160 gallons, saltwater or freshwater
- Media: 3 stages, pre-filter cartridge, carbon cartridge, G bio-nodes (ceramic)
- Feature: prime button, Aquastop valves, digital water monitor (video)
- Other sizes: G3 (185 GPH for 40-80 Gal), G6 (this)
Some users say the Fluval G6 is the future of filtration, and that just might be the case. It may not be as sophisticated as the previous one on our list that’s also from Fluval, but the G6 is still a quality canister filtration system in its own right.
Fluval G6 filtration chamber
The G6 is a 3-stage filter designed for both freshwater and marine water aquariums. It features a self-priming technology that allows you to prime the filter with the touch of one button. With an adjustable flow rate of 265 GPH, it’s an ideal choice for aquariums between 80 and 160 gallons in capacity.
A truly innovative product, the G6 is equipped with HydroTech, a smart monitoring system that stores and communicates filter performance and water parameters in real-time. It is also self-priming and will start water flow without the need for siphoning.
Featuring a pre-filter cartridge, a carbon-filled chemical cartridge, and G bio-nodes, the 6G can perform efficient mechanical, biological, and chemical filtrations to ensure water quality in your fish tank. And for easy maintenance, the G6 comes with AquaStop technology, which lets you cut the water flow simply by lifting a release lever. Sleek-looking, smart, and durable, the G6 is definitely one canister filter model you wouldn’t want to miss.
Marineland Magniflow 220 Canister Filters
- Flow rate: 220 GPH, adjustable
- Ideal for: up to 55 gallons
- Media: foam, floss pad, carbon bag, bio balls, ceramic rings
- Feature: prime button, quick stop valve
- Other sizes: Magniflow 160 (160 GPH for 30 Gal), Magniflow 220 (this), Magniflow 360 (360 GPH – 100 Gal)
Marineland is a fairly popular brand among aquarists. Here, we have the Magniflow 220 canister filter that’s designed for both freshwater and marine water tanks. It’s a 3-stage filter that comes with everything you will need to keep your aquarium water pristine at all times. Ideal for tanks up to 55 gallons in capacity, the Magniflow 220 has an adjustable flow rate of 220 GPH.
The base of the canister is where the first stage of filtration happens and where you’ll find filter foam pads for screening out debris and dirt. The second stage is for chemical filtration, which is accomplished with the patented black diamond premium activated carbon. The topmost and final layer is for the bio-filter balls and ceramic rings designed for biological filtration. To top all this is a polishing filter pad that removes fine debris for increased water clarity.
In terms of maintenance, the Magniflow 220 is very easy to clean and maintain, thanks to its valve block feature that shuts down water flow for mess-free maintenance. The canister is sealed with secure latches that are also easy to release when it’s time for maintenance. And when you’re ready to put the filter back, there’s a prime button that helps the water flow through the system again.
Aqueon Quietflow 400 Canister Filter
- Flow rate: 400 GPH, adjustable
- Ideal for: up to 155 gallons
- Media: 3 baskets, coarse foam, activated carbon, bio balls, and ceramic rings
- Feature: prime button, two HOB filter outlets, spray bar
- Other sizes: Quietflow 200 (55 Gal), Quietflow 300 (75 Gal), Quietflow 400 (this)
As one of the more economical options on our list, the Quietflow 400 gets the job done. It’s true to its name, Quietflow, as it does operate with very minimal noise, thanks to its innovative construction that keeps much of the noise contained. Suitable for aquariums up to 155 gallons, the Quietflow 400 has an adjustable flow rate of 400 GPH and can be used for both freshwater and marine water tanks.
As for the filter media, this model has three large media trays, which allows for efficient filtration action. The top tray contains the first media, which is a coarse sponge. The middle tray is where the activated carbon media go, while the bottom is where you’ll find the bio balls and ceramic rings.
In addition, the filter offers more than one option in terms of water return. You can choose from the regular water director or the spray bar for a better spread of the water inside the tank. There is also a hang-on-back water polishing option that serves as an additional filtration stage. This option makes a huge difference as it makes maintenance very easy and convenient.
Polar Aurora 370GPH with UV sterilizer, budget option
- Flow rate: 370 GPH, adjustable
- Ideal for: up to 100 Gal
- Media: 3 baskets, coarse sponge, activated carbon, ceramic rings, bio-balls
- Feature: prime button, quick stop valve, 9W UV sterilizer, spray bar
- Other sizes: 265GPH (75 Gal), 265GPH UV (75 Gal), 370GPH UV (100 this), 525GPH UV (150 Gal)
Here’s another budget-friendly option on our list. This time, it’s from a company called Polar Aurora. What we have here is the 370 GPH model, although you can choose from 265 GPH and 565 GPH as well. This is the most sophisticated model on this list, but it has a nice design and filters water efficiently.
It does that with three stages of filtration. What you get with the product upon purchase are a coarse sponge, activated carbon, ceramic rings, and bio-balls. While this model doesn’t come with additional filter media, the trays are large enough to house extra media.
To prime the filter, all you need to do is fill the canister with water, lock the lid, and connect the in-out hoses to the corresponding filter valve markings. Afterward, you can just press the priming button a few times and the filter will suck water from the tank and release air from the outtake.
And guess what? This model is amazingly quiet. But the most important thing is that it can efficiently keep the aquarium water crystal clear. And before we forget anything, this model actually comes with a 9W UV light bulb, which is designed to further keep the water clean by eliminating algal spores. If you’re looking for a canister filter that’s straightforward to use and offers outstanding value for your money, you should definitely consider this option.
SunSun HW-302 265GPH Pro Canister Filter Kit
- Flow rate: 264 GPH (1000L/h), adjustable
- Ideal for: up to 75 Gal
- Media: 3 baskets, filter pads, ceramic rings, bio-balls, and activated carbon
- Feature: prime button, quick stop valve, spray bar
- Other sizes: HW-302 (this), HW-303B with 9W UV #ad (370 GPH – 100 Gal), HW-304 #ad (525 GPH – 150 Gal), HW-404B with 9W UV #ad (525 GPH – 150 Gal)
Sometimes, all you need to keep your aquarium water clean is a simple canister filter that doesn’t come with a lot of bells and whistles. That’s what the SunSun HW-302 Pro Canister Filter is all about. We have here a 265 GPH model, which is ideal for aquariums up to 75 gallons in capacity.
You can’t complain about this filter for its price. It may be affordable, but it’s not cheaply made. It comes complete with filter pads, 1 lb. of ceramic rings, 1 set of bio-balls, and 1 lb. of premium activated carbon. It’s everything you need to achieve a 3-stage filtration action that will constantly keep your aquarium water clean.
The manufacturer has made sure you won’t have a difficult time with this filter. Priming the filter only requires the push of a button. It also features a spray bar for a more uniform distribution of filtered water inside your tank. Finally, the design is also kept to a minimum, which means setting it up, as well as cleaning it for maintenance, won’t be a hassle at all.
Canister filter accessories and replacement parts
We’ve also compiled a list of accessories and replacement parts in case you may be looking for some.
Tubing 1/2″ ID & 5/8″ ID
Eheim Plastic Hose 3 Meter 12/16 mm #ad
Eheim Plastic Hose 3 Meter 16/22 mm #ad
The 12/16 mm green hose is designed for the following Eheim filter models: 2211, 2213, 2215, 2217, 2222, 2224, 2322, 2324, 2226, 2228, 2326, 2328, 2232, 2234 and 2236. The 16/22 mm hose is designed for the following Eheim filter models: 2217, 2260, 2226, 2228, 2326, 2328, 2227, 2229, 2327, 2329, 2026, 2028, 2126, 2128, 2071, 2073, 2075, 2080, 2180, 2074, 2076, and 2078. You can also use them for other filter brands with the same hose sizes.
Valves and Connectors
Quick Release connector for 12 mm tubing, 16 mm available #ad
Eheim Double Tap Quick Release 0.50 inch #ad
Made of high-quality plastic materials, these quick-release connectors help make filter maintenance faster, easier, and mess-free. With a single flick, you can instantly disconnect and reconnect filter hoses without worrying about water spillage.
Barbed T-Connectors for 1/2 #ad
This set of 20 T-connector fittings is what you need for a leak-free drip system. They are easy to connect, are water-tight, and highly durable.
Inline ball valves 1/2-inch ID, other sizes available #ad
Achieve better control of your aquarium filter system with this set of in-line ball valves from Habitech. They are designed for 1/2-inch tubing and are leak-free and versatile. These valves are fully adjustable, which means you can easily regulate water flow in your system with them.
Inlets, Outlets, Prefilter, Spray bars
Glass Lily Pipe Inflow with surface skimmer and Outflow #ad
Glass Lily Pipe Inflow and Outflow for 16/22mm Tube #ad
Tired of messy intake pipes? These glass lily pipes will sit beautifully in your aquarium. The one from FZONE Aquatic, in particular, comes with a surface skimmer to eliminate oil film from your fish tank.
Sunsun Original Replacement Accessories Combo #ad
For Sunsun filter users out there, this accessories combo will make life easier for you in case you’re looking for replacement parts for your filter. It includes an inlet and output pipes, 4 tube clamps, 4 suction cups, 2 green hoses, and a quick shutoff valve.
Eheim 6664 Prefilter for canister filter inlets #ad
Extend the life of your Eheim canister filter and clean your aquarium waters further with this aquarium prefilter. It comes with 2 filter baskets with filter cartridges and features a round suction for a much gentler filtration action.
Eheim AEH4004310 Spray Bar Set #ad
This spray bar set from Eheim will not only help distribute water more uniformly in your tank but will also reduce stress for smaller fishes.
U Return Pipe 3/4 ~ 1-inch Duck Bill Hose #ad
Here’s one for your U return pipe needs that’s suitable for 3/4” ~ 1” tubings. It’s easy to install, has excellent suction, and offers good value for your money.
Stainless Flexible Cleaning Brush Double Ended #ad
You’ll need a good cleaning brush for maintaining your filter tubes. Here’s a dual-ended brush that’s 6.1-inch long with a diameter of 0.5-inch for small hoses and 1-inch for larger hoses.
Inline UV Sterilizers for Canister Filters
Fluval in Line UVC Clarifier for Aquarium Filters #ad
Coralife Turbo-Twist UV Sterilizer #ad
Adding an inline UV sterilizer to your canister filters is always a good way to further clean your aquarium water. The Fluval Inline UVC Clarifier and Coralife Turbo-Twist UV Sterilizer are both amazing at eliminating suspended algae, parasites, and harmful bacteria in the water column.
How do I install a canister filter?
How you install a canister filter will depend on its brand and model. To ensure 100% accuracy, you should read the manual of the product first before attempting to install it. You should also check the individual parts because even though it rarely happens, there might be some parts missing.
Setting up a canister filter always starts with opening the canister and examining the filter baskets. Ensure that the trays are arranged and nested correctly. Otherwise, the lid won’t seat properly and cause damaging stress to the filter.
Adding filter media
As for what media you should use for your filter, you should focus on achieving mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. For mechanical filtration, you will need floss pads, foams, and pre-filter media. These will trap solid wastes from the water and prevent clogging of the filter.
For biological filtration, you will need some bio-foams, bio-balls, or ceramic rings. These media will serve as the home for nitrifying bacteria that will convert harmful nitrate and ammonia into nitrate. And for chemical filtration, you will need activated carbon and phosphate remover, which will both remove chemical toxins, impurities, and discolorations, ensuring clean and odorless water at all times.
Every model of canister filters is slightly different, so which media will come first will depend on the model you have. Check the manual to identify the correct order of stacking the media baskets inside the canister.
Connecting the intake and return tubes
Canister filters come with two main hoses. One is for directing the water into the filter and the other one is for returning filtered water to the aquarium. If you’re keeping the filter inside a cabinet, be sure there is enough room for the hose to properly connect to the top of the filter, as well as enough room for allowing the filter to slide out during maintenance. An important thing to remember is to cut the hose just enough so that it won’t droop and cause a kink that will hinder water flow.
Priming the filter
Most models of canister filters today have self-priming features, most come with a priming button for priming. simply push the button a few times until water flows into the filter.
Some have an automatic priming function, which means all you need to do is install the filter, and they will do the rest for you. The Fluval FX6 and the OASE Thermo 350 are good examples of such filter models.
Some models do not come with a self-priming feature. You can prime them by filling the filters with dechlorinated water before plugging them in.
How do I clean a canister filter?
Of all aquarium filter types, canister filters can go the longest between cleanings. Most models only need to be cleaned every three to four months, depending on the bioload of the tank and the size of the filter. However, when you begin to notice your aquarium becoming cloudy, take it as a sign that you need to clean the filter as soon as possible.
To clean a canister filter, always start by turning the power off. Once you’ve unplugged the filter, you can then shut the valves off. This will keep water from spilling out when you start disconnecting the tubes. BE sure to empty the filter media into a bucket of water to keep the media wet and the beneficial bacteria from dying.
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Use a soft brush to scrub the hoses and the impeller. Clean the smaller parts inside the canister as well and make sure everything is clean before you put the filter back together. In many cases, not cleaning the canister thoroughly is what causes the filter from leaking.
The filter hoses are the challenging parts to clean. The best way to clean them is to soak them in warm water first for at least 15 minutes to loosen up the dirt clinging on the inside. The simplest method to eliminate dirt from the hose is to use a hose brush.
Some hobbyists use magnets designed for cleaning tubes. They come in two assemblies, with the inner assembly containing a soft brush that cleans the interior of the hose as you move the outer assembly along.
Canister filters vs HOB power filters
Canister filters and Hang-on-Back power filters are both popular choices in the aquarium hobby due to their efficient performance. Both can keep aquariums clean and crystal clear, and both are easy to maintain. However, there are several distinctions between the two.
|Medium to large-sized aquariums (20-400 gallons)
|Small to medium-sized aquariums (3-60 gallons)
|Can hold more media
|Holds fewer media
|Larger media trays allow for the addition of more media types
|Media type is limited due to smaller media trays
|Designed for quiet operation
|Noisier depending on the brand
|More expensive than HOB
|Less maintenance needed due to bigger size
|More frequent maintenance needed and more cost for buying replacement media
|Requires more time to install due to more complex system
|Easier to set up and use
|Lasts longer; depending on the brand, it can last up to 10 years or more.
|Has a shorter lifespan; depending on the brand, it can last 3 to 5 years.
Pros and Cons of Canister Filters Versus HOB Filters
- Higher flow rate that’s ideal for keeping the water circulating properly, especially for larger tanks.
- Allows for more flexibility in the amount and type of filter media used.
- Provides excellent mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration due to the higher amount of filter media used.
- Requires very little maintenance; ideal for busy aquarists.
- Consumes a fairly small amount of electricity and runs quietly.
- Parts are more durable and more reliable; can last for more than a decade when properly maintained.
- More expensive initially and are not advisable if you only keep a small tank.
- Larger than most filter types and takes up more space.
So, which is better, a canister filter or a hang-on-back filter? It depends. If you keep a fish tank smaller than 20 gallons, it would make sense to invest in a power HOB filter since it’s cheaper and is enough to keep smaller tanks clean. On the other hand, if you have a tank larger than 20 gallons, you should definitely get a more powerful filter, and a canister filter would be your best option. Not only are they more efficient in filtering aquarium water, but they are also easier to maintain.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my canister filter leaking?
Canister filters rarely leak, and when they do, the reason is usually a damaged O-ring.
Check the O-ring to see whether it needs resealing. Some aquarists claim that Vaseline is enough to seal this part, but this is only a temporary solution. As much as possible, you should use a silicone lubricant to correctly seal the leak. The filter head can also warp if not seated properly. Be careful not to apply too much force when sealing the canister to keep this from happening.
Can I use a canister filter for a saltwater tank?
Yes, you can, but only for FOWLR setups. A canister filter will efficiently remove debris from a saltwater tank and perform biological and chemical filtration too. However, it may not be a good idea to use one if you have corals since they require water of a higher quality than that of a fish-only aquarium. Canister filters are considered “nitrate traps” and will require constant cleaning if used in a saltwater tank with corals. Using a sump instead of a canister filter for a saltwater tank is advisable. They may be more expensive, but the long-term benefits are all worth the extra cost.
How do I increase the flow rate of my canister filter?
You need to get the right size of canister filter if you wish to achieve the correct water flow for your aquarium. However, if you have done that already and are still not satisfied with the results, there are a few things you can do to improve your filter’s water flow. If you notice the water flow gradually slowing down after a while, perhaps it’s time to do some maintenance. Cleaning the filter and the hoses might do the trick.
If you have a newly installed filter and want to increase its water flow, one thing you can do is to raise it a bit higher from the floor so that it is closer to the tank or is at the same level. In some cases, the position and length of the hose can affect water flow too.
Why is my canister filter not working?
There is no one answer to this question. If it’s your first time using a canister filter, you need to understand that it needs to be “primed” first. This is the startup process that all aquarium filters need to go through, although it may look different from one model to another.
Most canister filters come with a priming button or lever. You need to push this button several times after installing the filter for the first time. Some more sophisticated models come with a self-priming feature as mentioned in the section on how to install a canister filter.
If your canister filter stopped working after a while, it’s probably because there’s a clog somewhere along the line. If the motor is running but the water is not flowing, check for clogs in the impeller, intake tube, or outtake tube.
Why is my canister filter making noise?
A canister filter that’s working properly should produce a smooth electric hum that’s not too loud and distracting. When it starts to make unusual noises, there could be a problem with one of the parts. Trapped air and clogged tubing are also common causes of noisy canister filters. A good cleaning of the filter often gets the job done.
How often do I clean a canister filter for turtle tanks?
Canister filters for turtle tanks require more frequent cleaning than those for fish tanks. That’s because turtles produce more waste. Cleaning of canister filters for turtle tanks should be done every two to three weeks. This is done in conjunction with a routine water change.
Why is my canister filter blowing bubbles?
There are a few reasons a canister filter may be blowing bubbles. A very common one is clogged media or tubing. Bubbles can build up in the impeller if the pump is starved of water as a result of debris. Perhaps it’s time to do some maintenance on your filter. If that doesn’t work, another reason could be a problem with the inflow pipe letting in some air. Make sure all the tubing is fitted properly to keep the filter airtight.
Where to put Purigen in a canister filter?
Purigen is a synthetic polymer used as an additional filter media. It’s very effective at eliminating toxic substances in aquarium water. Purigen should be positioned in the final stage of the filtration system of your canister filter so that it is the last medium water passes through before returning to the tank. You can also place it in the media basket before that of the ceramic rings where biological filtration takes place.