The Best Filters for Small Fish Tanks – Which One Would You Choose?

The dirt and debris from feeding have to be cleaned away from your small aquarium regularly. So, you need an excellent filter to do that. 

But, in what way can we find the best filters for small fish tanks when there are too many products available on the market? Are there any filters with good quality and reasonable price?

We will help you out! In today’s article, we chose the most optimal filters for your small fish tank to introduce to you. Discover the product list below now!!!

What to Consider When Buying the Best Filter for Small Fish Tank

Don’t ignore the following considerations if you are seeking one of the best filters for Small aquarium:

  • Capacity 

How big is your fish tank big? Yes, you should know that smaller aquariums will be easier to get dirty than big ones. Even a 10-gallon tank is considered as a little tank. 

And with a small fish tank, the biomass will quickly full your aquarium. It means that the getting-dirty speed will be quicker; therefore, you need a proper filter.

Instead of a mighty filter (frequently having a higher price), a filter for a small tank is okay. You might consider our filters reviewed above.

  • Flow Rate

Not all filters provide an adjustable flow rate, so the best plan would be to invest a filter with a proper filtration flow rate. 

How much is appropriate? Well, we recommend you to pick a filter having the four-times flow speed to your fish tank. To illustrate,  a filter with the 20GPH flow rate is suitable for a 5-gallon aquarium.

  • Filtration Media

There are three filtration media types that you ought to know:

Mechanical filtration – This first filtration layer, which uses the tray design to remove the debris, is simple. Its drawback is the regular maintenance and replacement.

Biological filtration – Food and fish waste in water will create ammonia – a harmful component to the fish. And it has to thanks to two changing conversions to break ammonia into nitrate (less poisonous to the fish). Yes, with this second filtration layer, it is helpful for these conversions.

Chemical filtration – Being the third filtration layer, the chemical filtration with the ability to eliminate and neutralize the unwanted and harmful chemical helps to keep clear water and increase penetrable light.

Most filtration models for aquarium have three of these filtration layers. Importantly, you must consider the type of filtration media and how long the replacement time is.

Top 10 Best Filters for Small Fish Tanks to Invest

Product Images Product Name Editor's Rating Prices
Aqua Clear A595 Fish Tank Filter 4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5) See price on Amazon
Fluval C2 Power Filter 4.1 out of 5 stars (4.1 / 5) See price on Amazon
AQ-78056 Whisper In-Tank Filter 4.1 out of 5 stars (4.1 / 5) See price on Amazon
Polar Aurora External Aquarium Filter 4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5) See price on Amazon
Aqueon Internal Power Filter 3.7 out of 5 stars (3.7 / 5) See price on Amazon
Odyssea EX 250 DX Internal Filter 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5) See price on Amazon
Aquapapa XY-2008 Corner Filter 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5) See price on Amazon
Penn Plax Cascade 300 Filter 4.1 out of 5 stars (4.1 / 5) See price on Amazon
Aqueon QuietFlow 10 Filters 3.7 out of 5 stars (3.7 / 5) See price on Amazon
Jardin Sponge Water Filter 4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5) See price on Amazon

#1. Aqua Clear A595 Fish Tank Filter – Editor’s Choice

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The Aqua Clear A595 is the best water filter for small fish tank that you can invest in.

The model has a superior three-layer filtration system, which helps to remove toxins and create a healthy condition for beneficial bacteria. This one makes your fishes get a healthy environment to grow.

Plus, you can control the flow rate that the filtration efficiency is unchanged. When the flow rate is weaker, the Aqua Clear filter will quickly process over 50 percent of the water in the filter chamber. 

This working performance is due to the patented re-filtration system equipped. 

The product is an ideal selection for aquariums in the 5-20gallon size. Is your fish tank in this size range?  


  • Warranty in two years
  • Easy installation
  • Quiet
  • Ease of cleaning


  • A filter tube sponge not included

#2. Fluval C2 Power Filter – Best Overall

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Providing a stress-free environment, the Fluval C2 Filter operates to sustain your refreshing aquarium.

With the 5-stage filtration system, whether there are large particles, fine debris, impurities, or unwanted odors, all are removed. It gives back a clear source of water to your fish tank.

Furthermore, we are impressed with the ability to distribute the heat. The manufacturer adds a ceramic heater core to the Fluval C2. As a result, the heat distribution is both even and efficient.

Ideally, every hour, this best filter for small freshwater aquarium from Fluval C2 can filter up to 30 gallons. And it can re-process 50% of the water in the filter chamber many times. 


  • Simple to clean
  • Multiple filtration steps
  • Easy to assemble
  • Powerful


  •  A little loud

#3. Tetra Whisper Internal Filter – Perfect for Low Flow Fish Tanks

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The Whisper filter from Tetra will be a reliable option for aquariums 5 gallons or less. This filter works well, and it is very quiet. 

According to the feedback of consumers, almost no noise at all comes from the Tetra Whisper. Only when the water is falling, it creates noise.

Because of being designed for low flow aquarium, the Tetra Whisper filter only utilizes small filter cartridges for two filtration systems – mechanical and chemical filtration. One helps to catch fish waster and debris while another one helps to remove discoloration and odor.

Although this one is worse than two units from Aqua Clear and Fluval, it is often more than enough for a 4-gallon tank. 


  • Easy to clean
  • Simple to set up
  • So quiet
  • Cheap


  • High maintenance

#4. Polar Aurora External Aquarium Filter – Best for Power

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Those who are looking for the best pump and filter for small fish tank can be going to be interested in the product from Polar Aurora. This is a  great choice for up to 100-gallon aquariums.

The water in your fish tank always looks clear and clean, by reason of 3-tray filtration media. Additionally, an adjustable spray bar allows you to get the flow as desired.

It continues talking about the flow. Yes, this Polar Aurora filter provides an utmost flow rate of up to 370 GPH from the 35W pump power.

The self-priming pump is convenient to eliminate manual siphoning demand. In case of maintenance, you only need to disconnect the single valve. Simple!


  • Easy to install
  • Quiet
  • Effective filtration systems
  • Strong power


  • Air leakage a bit   

#5. Aqueon Internal Power Filter – Best for Size

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The QuietFlow 3, 10, 20 and 40 units from Aqueon are built up with filter cartridge – mechanical and chemical. It keeps your aquarium clean without odor and discoloration over about 24 hours.

The flow from the top is fine. It gives fishes in your tank a good current which they need. 

Another plus point is the internal construction.

Based on the appreciations of consumers, this construction might nicely break the water surface tension, something a canister filter didn’t do.

Moreover, replacement filters are available on the market and have a reasonable price.


  • Great for 2.5 gallon
  • Nice sound of water falling
  • Perfect flow 
  • Affordable price


  • The loud motor

#6. Odyssea EX 250 DX Internal Filter – Best for Pump

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Let’s admit the Odyssea EX 250 DX Internal Filter, from time to time; this is the best filter pump for small fish tank

The model has a dual design that runs as an internal filter or a separate powerhead pump. Don’t have any collisions. They all work the same. 

It is noticeable that this unique combination contributes to creating a strong flow. 

Typically, the water flow rate can reach up to 250 GPH – the real number printed on the package. It is a well-known fact that you can get about 190 GPH of actual flow via a sponge filter. 

As a result, your fish tank is established and balanced well.   


  • Powerful pump
  • Great water flow
  • Very quiet
  • Fantastic sponge filter


  • Flimsy plastic parts

#7. Aquapapa XY-2008 Corner Filter – Best for Price

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If you are tired of HOB filters because they frequently get stuck after a power cut, the Aquapapa XY-2008 can be a considerable filter. The unit supplies a much-needed amount of oxygen for 5-10gallon fish tanks.

In the price under $10, this filter may also offer the multi-layer filtration. The top white-padded layer, a mechanical filtration, will take debris off your aquarium, and the biochemical filtration, including ceramic rings and black bio-sponge, is useful for good bacteria growth.

The model has many layers of filtration, so do we need to maintain it regularly?

In general, you only have to rinse the sponge when it gets dirty about once every two weeks.


  • Easy installation
  • Not loud
  • Cheap
  • Low maintenance


  • Fairly buoyant plastic shell

#8. Penn Plax Cascade 300 Filter – Best for Fish Tank Cleaning

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We continue introducing to you a submersible aquarium filter preferred to use for fish tanks within 5-10gallon size – the Penn Plax Cascade 300 Internal Filter.

This filter includes 3-stage filtration media, chemical, biological, and physical filters. Not only does it deliver 70 gallons per hour, but it also prevents toxins, discoloration, harmful chemicals, and odor from your aquarium.

On top of the Cascade 300 Filter, there is a pump head, along with pray bar options. 

What is this feature good? 

Well, it distributes the water evenly and even aerates your aquarium. You can install it horizontally and hide it easily. 

Don’t ignore the best aquarium filters for small tanks like the Penn Plax Cascade 300. 


  • Adjustable water flow
  • Perfect for a 10-gallon tank
  • Easy to clean
  • Long-lasting motor


  •  Regular maintenance

#9. Aqueon QuietFlow 10 Filters – Best for Design

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Another filter from Aqueon, which has a convenient design for small aquariums – the Aqueon QuietFlow 10 Filter, is an optimal choice for a 20-gallon tank.

Similar to the Polar Aurora filter, this model from Aqueon also features the self-priming system. It will automatically start up after cleaning or interrupting power.

For the water flow, you can feel secure. Higher flow rates bring a huge content of dissolved oxygen. Ensure that fishes in your tank are more active and healthier.

Don’t stop. The internal pump design helps get rid of the leakage (longer-lasting use time) and minimize the noise.

Finally, we remind you to monitor the real water level or LED indicator light to know the time to replace cartridges. Keep in mind!


  • Compact
  • Powerful
  • Quiet
  • Good flow


  • Loud a bit

#10. Jardin Sponge Water Filter – Best for Small Planted Aquarium

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The last filter on our list is a sponge water filter from Jardin. This is the best filter for small planted aquarium that you can be searching for.

Looking at the design, this biochemical filter looks simple. Some are even doubted about the efficiency of the product. Nevertheless, the Jardin Sponge Filter provides affective water quality. 

And you will have to equip a small pump (separately sold) for that effectiveness.

Yes, when mentioning the sponge filters, those users often like their low-maintenance requirement. It is easy to clean. Only need to rinse and squeeze it under running water.   


  • Effective filtration
  • Cheap
  • Easy to maintain
  • Strong current


  • Not included a pump

Filter for Small Fish Tank – FAQs

Should the fish tank filter run all time?

Running the aquarium filter all time is necessary as it provides oxygen to good bacteria and keeps them in safety.

Can we turn off a fish tank filter during night?

We do not recommend this one because of the fish tank filter running to aerate the water. Oxygen is vital in the aquarium. Without it, the fish and beneficial microbes will die.

Do I need a filter for a small aquarium?

The best small fish tank with filter is necessary. A filter will help to keep the water in your small aquarium clean from dirt, debris from food, and toxins, ammonia, nitrite included.

In Sum

It’s high time to make your decision. What is your selection – the Aqua Clear A595 Filter or Fluval B003SJOLEQ Power Filter? Or Would you like to own the powerful filter like the Polar Aurora unit?

Well, the best plan would be to consider the size of your aquarium, type of filters, and your budget before starting investing the best filters for small fish tanks

Also, you can consult feedback of consumers who frequently offer the truthful appreciations related to the product. 

Do as we say!!!









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