Aquarium Canister Filter

An aquarium canister filter is a great filter for freshwater tropical fish tanks. Generally speaking, canister filters are used on larger fish tanks or on tanks that house large or messy tropical fish.

A canister filter sits behind, beside, or underneath your tropical fish aquarium. The filter is rectangular in shape and includes two hoses that run from the top of the filter and into your aquarium. One hose is connected to the intake tube and draws water into the aquarium canister filter. The second hose is connected to the spray bar or nozzle and returns the water back into your tropical fish tank. 

The Canister Filter is One of the Best

The aquarium canister filter is one of the best types of filters for the general hobbyists. (I recommend power filters and canister filters in this wonderful hobby.) I say this because a canister filter provides excellent water flow through the filter media and then returns this water back into the tank again providing excellent return water flow.

Another great benefit to using a canister filter on your aquarium tank is that the filter media is very customizable. Most canister filters offer 2-4 media trays or compartments allowing for total customization of the filter media of choice. This multiple filter media capability allows for aquarists to efficiently use chemical, biological, and mechanical filtration in just one single canister filter. 

Canister filters allow for a healthy beneficial bacteria colony to grow in your aquarium setup. The high water flow and large compartments for biological filter media offer everything your biological filter needs to thrive. Aside from a wet-dry filter, canister filters are the best for biological filtration.


There are several really great canister filters on the market. When you are shopping for your canister filter, remember to select one that is appropriate for the size tank you own. It does not hurt to get a canister filter rated higher than the tank size you have at home. Just remember, you do not want a canister filter made for a 100-gallon fish tank on your ten-gallon aquarium at home. Please remember that the water flow from a canister filter is generally a bit stronger than an aquarium power filter. 

Many aquarists use to be wary of using canister filters due to the fear of hoses leaking and emptying their aquarium. I personally do not worry about this, if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure proper filter maintenance, you should be just fine. Let’s face it; any equipment we use has the potential to have problems at some point. I’ve used canister filters for years and have not had one leak on me yet. Saying this, the benefits by far outweigh the possibility of a hose leaking. You can simply purchase hose clamps at your local hardware store to add additional security if you wish.

Aquarium Canister Filter Advantages

  • Large Filtration Capability
  • Quiet
  • Can be hidden under or behind Aquarium
  • Increased Water Flow
  • Increased Biological Filtration
  • Large Filter Media Baskets
  • Total Filter Media Customization
  • Easy to Maintain

Aquarium Canister Filter Disadvantages

  • Higher Purchase Price
  • Larger than HOB Power Filter
  • Sits on Floor or under Tank
  • External Hoses on back of Tank

Related posts: