For your pet fish to thrive and flourish in the aquarium, they need the best water conditions possible. You can achieve this by using a water filter designed specifically for aquariums. There are different types of filters out there including HOB, internal, canister, undergravel and sponge among many others that are used for aquarium filters.
For this review however, we are going to restrict ourselves to the top 10 best aquarium filters for large tanks in 2022 to give pet enthusiasts the best filters to give optimal water conditions for their pets.
10. SunSun HW-404B 525 GPH 5-Stage External Canister Filter with 9W UV Sterilizer
Ideal for tanks with a capacity of up to 150 gallons, this is an external, 5-stage canister filter. It can handle up to 525 gallons every hour ensuring the aquarium water achieves excellent biological, mechanical and chemical filtration. Featuring a built-in 9W UV stabilizer, this filter prevents the growth of bacteria and algae and also promotes water clarity. It also comes with a convenient self-priming pump.
9. Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter
Designed for tanks 75 -125 gallons, this is a 3+1 filtration system for fresh and saltwater aquariums and with excellent performance. It features an integrated 9W UV stabilizer to enhance water clarity and control algae and bacteria.
Furthermore, this filter is customizable to fit your aquarium’s specific needs and comes with a priming pump for easy and convenient operation.
8. SeaChem – Large Aquarium Fish Tank Filter, Tidal 110 Gallon (400 Liters) by Sicce
This filter is designed for tanks with capacities of more than 110 gallons. It features a multi-stage filtration system that ensures efficient chemical, biological and mechanical filtration. Moreover, it is easy to set up and maintain with the only parts requiring monthly replacement being the activated carbon and polishing pads.
7. Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filter, Size 20
This filter is ideal for aquariums up to 150 gallons. It has a flow rate of 525 gallons per hour which ensures all the water gets in contact with the filtration media for maximum effect and excellent water conditions. With a built-in 9W UV stabilizer, this filter also ensures maximum water clarity and controls the growth of algae and bacteria.
6. AQQA Aquarium Internal Filter, Submersible Power Filter in-Tank with Adjustable Water Flow, Ultra Silent Biochemical Sponge Filtration for Fish Tank Water Clean
Featuring a 5-stage filtration system, this filter also has a flow rate of 172 gallons per hour ensuring maximum chemical, biological and mechanical filtration. It is ideal for use with tanks up to 30 gallon.
In addition this filter comes with 4 large media baskets which allow customization to fit your aquariums need. It also has a built-in 9 W UV stabilizer for enhancing water clarity and preventing the growth of bacteria and algae.
5. FREESEA Internal Aquarium Power Filter: 8-12w Adjustable Water Flow 2 Stages Filtration System Submersible for 40-150 Gal Fish Tank|Turtle Tank
320deal for aquarium tanks under 74231 gallons, this filter has a flow rate of 74231 gallons per hour which ensures all the water gets in contact with filtration media. It features a 2-stage filtration system for maximum chemical biological and chemical filtration ensuring excellent water conditions.
Moreover, this filter comes with a built-in 9 W UV filter which not only kills harmful bacteria and viruses but also ensures water clarity.
4. AQUA-TECH Power Filter For Aquariums, 3-Stage Filtration (Packaging may vary)
This is a 3-stage external canister filter designed for tanks under 60 gallons. With 4 flexible media trays and a flow rate of 525 gallons per hour this filter is highly efficient and achieves maximum filtration.
It also features a built-in 9 W UV stabilizer which kills bacteria, prevents growth of algae and promotes water clarity. Furthermore, it comes with a priming pump which is convenient and eliminates manual siphoning.
3. Penn-Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter with Quad Filtration System
Designed to achieve maximum chemical, biological and mechanical filtration, this is an external canister filter. It is ideal for use in 300 gallon aquarium tanks and comes with high flow rates which ensure that all the water in the aquarium gets in contact with the filtration media. Additionally, this filter features a self-priming pump which ensures easy and convenient operation.
2. Yochaqute Aquarium Fish Tank Filter: 8w Internal Filter Pump for 40-120 Gallon Salt Water | Fresh Water | Coral Tank | Turtle Tank with 2 Stages Filtration & Strong Suction Cups
Ideal for aquarium tanks up to 120 gallons, this Yochaqute Aquarium Fish Tank filter provides powerful chemical, biological and mechanical filtration and promotes water clarity. It features a self-priming pump which combines with strong flow rates and filtration media to ensure excellent water conditions.
Furthermore, this filter is customizable to meet your specific saltwater or freshwater aquarium requirements.
1. Aqua Clear Power Filter
This filter combines superior filtration media, strong flow rates and an energy efficient self-priming pump to deliver excellent filtration and water conditions. Ideal for aquarium tanks up to 110 gallons, this filter is quick and easy to install and it offers continuous filtration ensuring your fish thrive.
It also has a sturdy construction with a rubber base to withstand rigorous daily use and extend its lifespan.
These easy to install and operate aquarium filters are not only energy efficient but easy to maintain as well. They offer excellent water conditions free of bacteria, debris and chemicals so that your pet fish can flourish.
Moreover, these filters are designed with strong flow rates, multiple filtration media and with robust designs. They can be easily customized to meet your specific needs and feature robust construction for everyday use.
What Is Considered A Large Tank?
A big fish tank is generally defined as one with a capacity of 75 gallons or more. Most large home aquariums are between 75 and 100 gallons, although you can get in-between sizes, and, if you have space, you could buy a massive tank that holds 400 gallons or even more.
However, it’s worth considering that the larger the tank is, the more powerful the filtration system you need, and the maintenance of a very large aquarium is more time-consuming and labor-intensive than it is for a smaller setup.
How Much Filtration Is Needed For Large Tanks?
So, how much filtration is needed for large tanks?
The general rule of thumb for filtration rates is that all the water contained in your aquarium passes through your filtration system at least four times every hour. So, a 100-gallon tank requires a flow rate of at least 400 gallons per hour (GPH).
When buying a filter for my goldfish tank, I always go for a unit that provides a slightly higher GPH rate than I need. That extra flow ensures that the water has all the oxygen that my fish need and the filtration unit can cope with the amount of waste that dirty goldfish produce.
The GPH rate varies greatly, depending on the filter strength and type, the efficiency of the unit, and its condition. If you decide to go for a higher GPH, that’s great, as it means that conditions in your aquarium will be better for your fish. However, you should be mindful of how the power of the flow through the tank will affect your fish and plants.
For example, betta fish dislike too much water movement and quickly become stressed if they cannot swim comfortably. One solution to that problem is to buffer the flow with plants or decorations or pick a filtration unit that has directional valves that you can adjust to suit your requirements.
GPH And Turnover Rate
The turnover rate is not the same as GPH. The turnover rate describes the efficiency of the filtration unit and its pump, rather than how much water the system can circulate around the tank.
If the GPH of the filter is not sufficient for the size of the tank and its environment, “dead spots” may form. Dead spots are pockets of water that are not agitated by the action of the water current and usually form if the GPH provided by the filter unit is not powerful enough to circulate all the water in the aquarium equally.
The water in these dead spots is stale and stagnant, providing the perfect environment for harmful bacteria that can cause health problems for your fish.
Dead spots are the main reason that I suggest you use a filter that has a higher GPH than the tank capacity warrants. That’s because the basic GPH doesn’t take account of the aquascape in the tank. Essentially, the more plants, rocks, driftwood, and other decorations that you have, the stronger the water current must be to reach all areas of the aquarium.
In large tanks, the best way to combat dead spots is to use two filtration units, one at each end of the aquarium, to ensure that water in all areas of the tank is circulated through the filter units.
What To Look For In Aquarium Filters For Large Tanks
Large tanks have their own particular requirements when it comes to choosing suitable filtration systems. The kind of filter that you choose will depend on your individual tank setup. However, there are several general considerations that apply to all hobbyists who keep large aquariums.
As mentioned previously in this guide, it’s essential that you choose a filter with the appropriate capacity for your fish tank.
Check the GPH on the product packaging and pick a filter that offers slightly more capacity than you need for your tank size. If you have a very large tank, and you’re planning on using two filters, pick units that are exact GPH for your aquarium so that you don’t create a current that’s too powerful for the tank residents.
Remember that a tank with a lot of decoration and planting will be more prone to developing pockets of stale water, especially in the corners. So, make sure that you take that into consideration when you buy your filter.
Aquarium filtration has three elements:
Each of these processes is essential for a healthy environment in which your fish can thrive, and it’s important that you understand how each element of the filtration process works.
The mechanical element of the filtration system is the process by which particles of fish waste, uneaten food, and general detritus are removed from the tank. The filter unit has a motor that powers an impeller, drawing water up from the aquarium, through the filter media, and back into the tank.
The filter media can be made of foam, pads, floss, paper pleats, and diatomaceous earth, and its function is to catch and hold the particles of waste. The filter media must be cleaned regularly by rinsing it through in tank water to remove excess particulate before it turns to sludge and clogs the filter. If you don’t clean the filter media, the mechanical filter will eventually become blocked, and the water flow will decrease.
If you don’t clean the mechanical filter at least once a month, it will end up holding large quantities of decomposing matter that will slowly overload the biological filter and contaminate the water.
The chemical filtration element of the system is designed to extract toxins, heavy metals, and chemicals from the water as it passes over some kind of chemical resin or media. Traditionally, activated carbon was the chemical filtration media of choice, but you can now buy specially targeted products that remove specific substances from the water.
You can incorporate these media into the filtration system as a way of reducing the amount of maintenance that you need to do and to improve the quality of the water. That being said, you still need to carry out weekly partial water changes to keep levels of nitrates to a minimum.
Chemical filtration media generally needs to be regularly replaced for it to remain effective. Also, some fish disease treatments are extracted by chemical filtration media, so you will need to remove that part of the filtration system while the fish are undergoing treatment. Alternatively, remove the fish and treat them in a dedicated hospital tank with a filtration system that lacks the chemical element.
Biological filtration uses several different species of bacteria to process the toxic chemical byproducts that are created by decomposing fish waste, leftover food, plant debris, and general detritus in a process called the Nitrogen Cycle.
In the first part of the Nitrogen Cycle, ammonia is produced. Ammonia is highly toxic to all aquarium inhabitants and can be fatal to your fish if levels of the chemical get too high. In the next part of the Nitrogen Cycle, ammonia is broken down by Nitrosomonas bacteria into nitrites. Nitrites are also harmful to life in the aquarium if not removed. Nitrites are consumed by another kind of bacteria called Nitrobacter and are converted into nitrates.
Nitrates are much less harmful to fish and invertebrates than ammonia and nitrites, but if they are allowed to accumulate in the water, high levels can trigger algal blooms. So, weekly partial water changes are required to remove nitrates, ideally to levels of less than 20ppm (parts per million).
The bacteria that drive the Nitrogen Cycle need oxygen to survive, as well as somewhere on which they can form colonies. The biological element of a filter system consists of filter media within the unit on which the bacteria can grow. Because of the bacteria’s need for oxygen, the most efficient biological filters are those where the biological media is exposed to the air.
Type Of Filter
There are many different types of filters, but the best designs for use in very large tanks are canister and power filters.
Power filters come in different designs but these units are basically designed to hang on the back of the tank. Most power filters utilize all three types of filtration, and they are extremely efficient and easy to maintain. Power filters come as complete units with an integral pump and filter cartridges, which require regular cleaning and replacement to remain effective. All three phases of filtration are contained within the filter unit.
Many modern power filters come with bio-wheels. A bio-wheel is a biological filter that’s formed by a wheel of pleated material. The wheel spins as water is drawn over it by the pump, providing the bacteria colonies on the surface with a good supply of oxygen.
Power filters are not the best choice for a heavily planted aquarium as they cause too much surface agitation that is not compatible with a CO2 injection system. Also, when used in a saltwater tank, a power filter can cause salt creep on the underside of the tank hood and the lighting unit. In addition, species of fish that are not strong swimmers can become stressed if the flow in the tank is too strong, so a power filter may not be the best choice in that case.
Canister filters usually live underneath the tank in the cabinet. These are pressurized units that carry out all three types of filtration. Canister filters come as a complete unit with an integral pump or in a modular form that requires a separate pump. Modular units can be useful as they offer the versatility to be combined with another form of filtration, such as a wet-dry unit.
Canister filters usually have a U-tube to draw the water into the unit and a spray bar to return the water to the tank. Once you start the system, the water is siphoned from the aquarium into the canister filter unit, where it passes through various chambers that contain filter media before being returned to the tank.
Canister filters are powerful and super-efficient, making them a great choice for a very large aquarium.
Regardless of the type of filter system that you use, some maintenance work will be required to keep everything working efficiently and effectively.
If the filter system contains cartridges that house the filter media, they will need replacement periodically, and you will need to wash the cartridges through in tank water each month to get rid of the sludge that would otherwise clog the unit.
To ensure that the impeller is free and able to spin without obstruction, you should make it part of your cleaning routine to check that no bits of debris are trapped in the impeller housing and clean it as necessary.
When choosing a filter for a large tank, there are a few practical considerations that must be taken into account:
Your first consideration should be the amount of space that you have both inside and outside the tank. If you have a very large aquarium that’s in a place without much room around it, you don’t want a HOB (hang-on-back) filter that’s going to be awkward to get to for maintenance. So, a canister filter that fits underneath your tank would be the better choice.
You want to enjoy watching the residents of the tank and your aquascaping efforts, not the sight of a huge, black filter box, especially if you need two filter units to manage the environment efficiently.
If that’s the case, you need some form of external filter system that won’t spoil your view.
Ease Of Maintenance
If you have a busy lifestyle, you may not have the time to spend hours cleaning a complex filter unit. If that’s the case, choose a system that is easy and quick to maintain.