Which are The Best Filters For 5-Gallon Fish Tanks?

Some people find it comfortable and happy to watch fish. Thus, having an aquarium at home is a good way of relaxing and also learning new things. However, the environment of the aquarium does have effects on the health of fish.

As a result, the installation of a good water filter is necessary to balance the helpful bacteria in the aquarium. And our today’s blog will help you find the best filters for small fish tanks of your own.

See more:

Best Filters 20 Gallon Aquariums

Best Biological Filter Media

Why Are Filters Important For Small Fish Tanks?

In nature, the fish habitat is balanced and maintained naturally. However, an in-home aquarium or fish tank is an enclosed environment. Thus, unless cycled, the water will easily get polluted and affect the health of fish.

Besides, the surface area of the tank is important in supplying your fish with oxygen – a living element of aquatic life. Unlike nature, a fish tank requires a filter to cycle oxygen and to provide a healthy environment for all of your fish.

Due to the disability to self-clean, the aquariums require filters to achieve the perfect natural balance.

What Kinds of Filter can You Use in Your 5-gallon Fish Tank?

In general, there are many types of filters for fish tanks, which can be listed as hang-on filters, canister filters, under gravel filters, and internal filters.

However, hang-on back filters (or HOB filters) and canister filters are the best ones for 5-gallon fish tanks as they allow more space for tanks while keeping the water clean.

Still, users should pick filters based on specific needs and filter parameters. For example, fish keepers should buy a filter that has three-stage filtration, which are:

  • Mechanical filtration: It is related to the filtering of catching waste and refuse in the tank.
  • Chemical filtration: Some refuses can decompose in the water and produce harmful chemicals for fish. The filter is to prevent the decomposition from the chemical changes.
  • Bacterial filtration: This stage includes the flowing of water through the filter’s elements where beneficial bacteria are concentrated.

How to Choose a Filter for A 5-Gallon Fish Tank

The type of filter is determined by the size of the fish tank and the room. To be more specific, the larger the tank is, the more powerful the filter should be. Likewise, if the room is small, an internal filter is the best option as it is placed inside the tank.

Another important thing to consider when choosing a filter is the fish type in your tank. Some creatures prefer strong currents because of their natural habitat. Thus, a stronger outflow of the filter is what your plants and fish need.

Best Filters For 5-Gallon Fish Tanks

Product Images Product Name Editor's Rating Prices

3.8 out of 5 stars (3.8 / 5) See price on Amazon
Zoo Med 976599

3.7 out of 5 stars (3.7 / 5) See price on Amazon
Tetra AQ-78056

4.1 out of 5 stars (4.1 / 5) See price on Amazon
Aqueon 100106991


4.1 out of 5 stars (4.1 / 5) See price on Amazon
Tetra 25816

4.1 out of 5 stars (4.1 / 5) See price on Amazon
Penn Plax CPF6

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) See price on Amazon
Aqueon 100106970

3.8 out of 5 stars (3.8 / 5) See price on Amazon
Aquapapa Corner Filter

4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5) See price on Amazon
AZOO Mignon Filter 60

4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5) See price on Amazon
Boxtech Aquarium Hang On Filter

3.6 out of 5 stars (3.6 / 5) See price on Amazon


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The first filter we would like to introduce to you is the Penn Plax SWF1. It is designed for small fish tanks of up to 5 gallons.

The filter is really easy to use as it is compatible with all kinds of air pumps. What you need to do is to hook it up on the back of the aquarium.

More interestingly, it fits with all fish tank shapes, from a rounded fish tank to a cylinder one.

However, fish keeping hobbyists may find it a little bit tricky to clean the substrate as it needs to be vacuumed.


  • Suitable for all tank shapes and air pumps
  • Three-stage filtration
  • Easy to install


  • Cleaning difficult

#2 Zoo Med 976599

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If you are finding a filter that is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater, then this Zoo Med 976599 is what you need.

As said above, a good filter should have 3 stages of filtration. This filter is not an exception. What is more, it is included with the Nano 10 external canister filter and spray bar system for better filtration.

Along with that, it is designed for new users due to easy priming, customizing, and opening.


  • Spray bar and nozzle included
  • Three-stage filtration
  • Easy to use


  • Lack of flow control

#3 Tetra AQ-78056

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At a glance, this Tetra AQ-78056 has a simple design with a lot of empty space left in the tank.

However, in fact, it is an efficient filter with mounting clamps adjusting easily to low or high water levels. Besides, the Bio-Bag filtration cartridge ensures the proper operation of three-stage filtration

It also creates a small waterfall in the tank when operating which makes it look pleasing.


  • Small and compact
  • Three-stage filtration
  • Bio-Bag filtration cartridge


  • Some types of fish may get stuck

#4 Aqueon 100106991

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As a good filter, the Aqueon 100106991 sustains the three-stage filtration and self-priming of the Aqueon brand.

Not only that but it also has a suction cup or hanging clips by which the filter can be attached to the brim of the aquarium.

This E Internal Quietflow Filter is known to be efficient due to the flow rate of approximately 60 GPH, around 12 times of water turn per hour.


  • Self-priming
  • Quiet
  • High flow rate


  • A limited time of warranty

#5 Tetra 25816

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At a glance, this name of this Tetra 25816 looks quite similar to the third one, doesn’t it?

Then, you are partly right!

They are all Tetra whisper filters, but the difference lies in the size of the tank each filter fits. The previous filter is for up to 4-gallon tanks, while this one is for bigger tanks – up to 10 gallons.

It is easy to use and operate. You just need to place it on the back of the tank by suction cups and turn it on.


  • Easy to install and use
  • Bio-Bag filtration cartridge


  • Sometimes hurt the fish with the suction

#6 Penn Plax CPF6

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As the name has said, the Penn Plax CPF6 is a hang-on filter, which means it is hung on the back of the tank. Moreover, it is equipped with quadruple filtration, making the water cleaner and healthier for your fish.

Along with that, the activated carbon cartridge contributes to eliminating the toxins, chemicals, and contaminants in the water, making the tank healthier for fish.

Still, unlike other Penn Plax models, it does not have a bio-falls filtration system.


  • Quiet
  • Quadruple filtration
  • Activated carbon cartridge


  • No bio-falls filtration system

#7 Aqueon 100106970

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Here is another Aqueon model – The Aqueon 100106970.

This filter looks elegant with the capacity of up to 10 gallons, equivalent to the flow rate of 57 GPH.

It is a fully submersible filter and users can place it horizontally or vertically to hide it, depending on the plants in the tank.

Although the flow rate and direction can be adjusted, it is highly recommended for users to clean it frequently so that it does not make noise.


  • Flexible
  • Elegant-looking
  • Up to 10-gallon tanks


  • Noise when not cleaned

#8 Aquapapa Corner Filter

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The Aquapapa Corner Filter is a corner filter, which means you have to place it inside and in the corner of the tank.

Besides, this filter features multi-layer media, making it easier to clean; in which:

  • The white top layer is the filter pad that sustains a mechanical filtration.
  • The bottom layer with black bio-sponge and ceramic rings support biological filtration, helping beneficial bacteria reduce the amount of ammonia and nitrates in the water.


  • Little noise
  • Easy to clean and move


  • Basic filtration

#9 AZOO Mignon Filter 60

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The AZOO Mignon Filter 60 is among the smallest HOB filters. Although it is small, the flow rate is 16 GPH which is suitable for up to 4-gallon fish tanks.

It features the self-priming which can be used right when taken out of the box. Besides, it can operate automatically after cleaning or power interruptions.

Its packaging may not be impressive, but the filter is well designed. It has an adjustable valve that can control the flow rate and a sponge that contains beneficial bacteria.


  • Self-priming
  • Adjustable valve
  • Sponge containing beneficial bacteria


  • Only up to 4-gallon aquariums
  • Unimpressive packaging

#10 Boxtech Aquarium Hang On Filter

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The last small fish tank filter today is the Boxtech Aquarium Hang-on Filter.

This filter is made of ABS plastic – a safe material with strength, quiescence, and durability. Along with that, the motor of the filter does not bring noises when running, making it the quietest on this list.

Especially, the filter comes with a sponge that has a lot of beneficial bacteria.

However, the air pump, check valve, and airline tub is not included in the box.


  • Safe ABS plastic
  • Quietest on the list
  • Sponge containing beneficial bacteria


  • Not including air pump, check valve, and airline tub


All in all, a good filter comprises three stages of filtration: mechanical, chemical, and bacterial stage. Besides, when considering the best filters for small 5-gallon fish tanks, fish keeping hobbyists should pay attention to the size of the tank and room and the type of fish.

We hope that, through this article, you can choose your own filter. And now, thank you for reading!

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