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Why You Need a Canister Filter and What Brands to Consider

A canister filter provides a convenient, efficient method of filtration for your aquarium. Learn how a canister filter works and why you should use one.


cichlid xs 11635056cropAdequate filtration is of the utmost importance when it comes to maintaining a healthy, thriving aquarium. Filters are not only what keeps the water in your tank flowing, but they also help to remove harmful toxins from the water and keep the oxygen content at a healthy level. Some filters even provide biological filtration, giving beneficial bacteria a place to grow. If you are thinking about buying a new filter for your aquarium, consider a canister filter – these filters are a type of external filtration system that are capable of utilizing a greater quantity of filter media than most other filter types without taking up any space inside the aquarium. If you are looking for a convenient, efficient method of filtration for your aquarium, a canister filter is the right choice.

How Canister Filters Work

filter xs 6368101A canister filter is just what it sounds like – a canister that houses filter media. Canister filters come in a variety of shapes and sizes but they all consist of a solid, canister-like housing filled with filter media and outfitted with a pump. The way a canister filter works is fairly simple – the pump at the top of the filter draws aquarium water up through the intake pipe and into the canister where it is forced through the filter media. Depending on the type of filter media being used in the canister filter, both solid and dissolved wastes may be filtered from the tank water before it is pumped back out of the canister and returned to the aquarium through the return tube. Unlike hang-on filters, canister filters are completely sealed which enables them to create a siphon effect in both the intake and return tubes. This means that the height difference between the canister filter and the aquarium does not matter – the pump should still be able to easily lift the water out of the canister after it has been filtered and return it to the tank, even if the filter is stored in a cabinet below the tank.

Benefits of Canister Filters

fluval 306 cutaway171x300One of the main benefits associated with canister filters is that they are able to accommodate a much greater quantity of filter media than many other types of filter. This being the case, you can load your canister filter with multiple types of filter media, if you like, to ensure that certain toxins or chemicals are removed from your tank. In addition to being able to hold a great quantity of filter media, various supplementary filtration devices like carbon dioxide diffusers and water heaters or chillers can also be attached to canister filters. Because canister filters are external, they do not take up any space inside your tank and they can easily be concealed inside an aquarium storage cabinet. This also means that they can be disconnected from the tank for maintenance and cleaning without disturbing your tank occupants. All of these benefits make canister filters a great choice for freshwater tanks, especially larger tanks having a 40-gallon capacity or more.

Recommended Brands and Models

Eheim ClassicRegardless which type of filter you choose, you will always have to make the additional choice of which brand and model is best for your tank. When it comes to canister filters, some of the big brand names are Eheim, Marineland and Fluval. Eheim offers their Classic and Pro series canister filters, both guaranteed to provide constant water circulation as well as mechanical/biological filtration and oxygen enrichment. The Classic filter comes in three different sizes, rated for tanks between 66 and 159 gallons and they are capable of providing a pump output between 116 and 263 gph. The Pro series offers a line of advanced, high-capacity filters for large aquariums up to 320 gallons in capacity. These filters are energy efficient, professional grade and come with a variety of unique features such as a self-primer, safety hose adapters to facilitate quick fill-up and multiple baskets to accommodate different types of filter media.

Marineland C-SeriesSome of the most popular canister filters from Marineland are the Magnum and C-Series filters. Magnum filters are essentially two filters in one, offering both filtration and water polishing. Tank water enters the canister filter, flows through the filter media and is returned through the water polishing system. The H.O.T. Magnum filter is a lightweight, super compact canister filter recommended for tanks up to 50 gallons in capacity. These filters feature powerful, self-starting pumps that can filter up to 250 gallons per hour. Marineland also offers their multistage C-Series canister filter which are easy to use and provide 3-stage filtration. Aquarium water is forced through stacked media filter trays, undergoing mechanical, chemical and biological filtration all before being returned to the tank. These filters come in 4 different sizes to accommodate tanks between 30 to 150 gallons.

fluval-g-seriesFluval is a popular brand for a variety of aquarium supplies and they also offer several different types of canister filter. The Fluval G Series is a high-tech, premium filter that incorporates an electronic monitoring system as well as a programmable schedule reminder. These filters provide the utmost convenience and innovation for serious aquarium hobbyists who want to incorporate advanced technology into their aquariums. G Series canister filters offer top-loading media cartridges which make it easy to switch out filter media and the pump output is up to 665 gph. In addition to their G Series, Fluval also offers the FX5 canister filter, a professional filtration system with a built-in electronic circuit board to monitor performance. These filters are rated for tanks up to 400 gallons in capacity and provide many of the same features as the G Series in a more compact form. Eheim, Marineland and Fluval are only a few of the many companies that produce canister filters. Before you select one for your tank, do your research to determine what size filter you need and think about what features appeal to you. The more effort you put into your decision, the better equipped you will be to select the canister filter that is right for you and for your tank.

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