Best Aquarium Filter for Large Tanks of 2021: Top 6 Picks

Last update: 2021-02-15

If you have a long-term plan for raising fishes in a large tank, investing in a good-quality aquarium filter is a must. This investment is more important if you raise a school of fishes, even plant inside. Many dirt, dust, and waste need to be cleaned and removed on a regular basis. Please refer to the top picks of the best aquarium filter for large tanks:

Here are the best aquarium filters for large tanks you can buy in 2021:

  • Best All-Around (Canister Filter): Marineland Magniflow
  • Most Powerful (Canister Filter): Polar Aurora Free Media
  • Most Low Maintenance (Canister Filter): Penn Plax Cascade CCF3UL
  • Best For Turtle Tank (Hob Filter): Penn-Plax Cascade
  • Most Quiet (HOB Filter): SeaChem
  • Easiest To Clean (HOB Filter): Fluval C
6 Best Aquarium Filters For Large Tanks
Best All-Around
Marineland Magniflow
  • Canister Filter
Most Powerful
Polar Aurora Free Media
  • Canister Filter
Most Low Maintenance
Penn Plax Cascade CCF3UL
  • Canister Filter
Best For Turtle Tank
Penn-Plax Cascade
  • Hob Filter
Most Quiet
SeaChem
  • HOB Filter
Easiest To Clean
Fluval C
  • HOB Filter

Best All-Around (Canister Filter): Marineland Magniflow

Marineland Magniflow
Marineland Magniflow
9.6Outstanding
Pros
  • Easy to set up
  • Well-filtered water
  • Very quiet
Cons
  • Cheap plastic housing

Marineland Magniflow filter is an all-around product in terms of different aspects:

First of all, this canister filter comes with a powerful filtration system with three stages, including mechanical, biological, and UV clarification. Thus, it can help you remove and breakdown organic waste and algae in the tank. Besides, this solution also has a polishing filter pad that functions as a water polisher, getting rid of fine debris.

This machine has a water-tight canister lid that can keep the water inside without leaking. However, it’s also very straightforward to remove this lid to clean and maintain the model anytime.

What is more, this filter doesn’t require heavy maintenance because its Black Diamond Carbon can partly remove discoloration, odors, and some water impurities.

Marineland Magniflow Specifications

Weight

11.7 Pounds

Dimension

12.2 x 9.17 x 15.5 inches

Flow Rate

220 GPH, 360 GPH, and 360 GPH

Recommended Tank Size

55-Gallon tank

Highlight Features

Water-tight canister lid

Verdict

Marineland Magniflow canister filter can provide you with strong power without leaking, especially you can maintain it easily.

Most Powerful (Canister Filter): Polar Aurora Free Media

Polar Aurora Free Media
Polar Aurora Free Media
9.4Outstanding
Pros
  • Safe to install even when you do it unproperly
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Quiet
Cons
  • A bit hard to put together in the beginning

In case you raise a school of fishes in a planted tank, producing plenty of waste, make sure to choose a powerful canister filter. If not, it can’t totally remove all dirt, dust, algae, and fish waste.

Is this your case? Please refer to my solution:

With the maximum flow rate of 525GPH, the Polar Aurora Free Media can keep a fish tank up to 200 gallons clear and clean all the time.

Normally, other filters with three filtration stages are powerful enough to clean a large tank, but you will have the fourth stage when using this product. Its 4 stage water filtration system pushes the water through four filtration stages to remove even 0.01-micron practices.

However, don’t be worried that this powerful model can make your slow-swimming fishes tired because you can adjust the current through an adjustable spray bar.

You can add bio-balls, ceramic rings, or SunSun’s activated carbons into 4 flexible media trays to better filter performance.

Note: Although it works great, you can’t see the outcome in a short time. It’s essential to wait for one-two days for the dirty waste to be filtered out.

Polar Aurora Free Media Specifications

Dimension

12"x12"x19"

Flow Rate

525GPH

Recommended Tank Size

200-gallon fish tanks

Highlight Features

4 media trays, an adjustable spray bar, self-priming pump, Single valve disconnect & priming pump, 9 Watt Light,

Verdict

Polar Aurora Free Media canister filter offers a highly powerful current, suiting fast-swimming fishes.

Most Low Maintenance (Canister Filter): Penn Plax Cascade CCF3UL

Penn Plax Cascade CCF3UL
Penn Plax Cascade CCF3UL
9Outstanding
Pros
  • Quiet
  • Very affordable
  • Sturdy
  • Straightforward to set up and use
  • Extremely clear instruction
Cons
  • Smell after unboxing

If you want to look for an easy-to-maintain filter, it is usually a simple design for a few small fishes like betta. Meanwhile, functional aquarium filters for large tanks require more maintenance.

So, is there a low-maintenance filter for a large fish tank?

Not a great deal, and the Penn Plax Cascade CCF3UL is one of them.

Do you remember how to clean and maintain a traditional filter?

You have to unplug the machine, turn the shut-off valves, unscrew the pipes, set them aside, and then put the filter in a suitable area for cleaning. Before anything else, you have to remove the motor housing, the guts, the impeller, the impeller hole, and the biological media trays.

But, this is not the case of the Penn Plax. It’s effortless to remove the flow valves to maintain the canister, especially if it doesn’t take your time and effort to remove the hose, intake, and output from the tank.

Penn Plax Cascade CCF3UL Specifications

Weight

12 pounds

Dimension

11.5 x 17 x 10

Flow Rate

265 gph

Recommended Tank Size

100 Gallons

Highlight Features

3 media baskets, push-button primer, a spray bar, tubing, directional spout for customization, and filter medium, floss pad

Verdict

Penn Plax Cascade CCF3UL canister filter requires less time, money, and effort on maintenance.

Best For Turtle Tank (Hob Filter): Penn-Plax Cascade

Penn-Plax Cascade
Penn-Plax Cascade
9.4Outstanding
Pros
  • Super quiet
  • Well-made
  • Quick and simple to assemble
  • Easy to remove the cartridges
Cons
  • Straightforward to damage the cartridge when changing out carbon

Compared to fishes, turtles produce more waste, feces, and pee because they eat more foods, so you need a powerful and useful filter for your turtle tank. If not, this waste built-up will cause health problems for your turtles. Now, let’s see what the Penn-Plax Cascade can do for your “messy pet.”

Normally, a standard filter system for a turtle tank had better have at least biological and mechanical filtrations, but the Penn-Plax Cascade comes with an extra chemical filtration stage.

The mechanical filtration stage can strain particulate gunks like algae, uneaten bits of food, and turtle feces. For example, when your turtle pees, this filtration will release ammonia into the water.

The biological filtration has substrate media, encouraging the development of beneficial bacteria that work as ammonia oxidizers. These bacteria will convert the ammonia in the water into nitrate. Plants in your tank will take up and get rid of them from the water.

The chemical filtration is able to clean up different components that other filtrations miss frequently.

Besides, its activated carbon cartridge can get rid of harmful chemicals, odor, toxins, discoloration, and other contaminants in your turtle tank.

Internal sponge takes responsibility for optimizing colonization of beneficial anaerobic bacteria as well as poly-fiber floss cartridge. These can trap floating particulate matter.

Penn-Plax Cascade Specifications

Weight

4 Pounds

Dimension

11 inches high by 9. inches wide by 6.5 inches deep

Flow Rate

300 gph

Recommended Tank Size

up to 100 gallons

Highlight Features

Revolutionary bio-falls quad-filtration system, activated carbon cartridge, internal sponge, poly fiber floss cartridge, adjustable flow knob

Verdict

Penn-Plax Cascade HOB filter results in an excellent performance to remove a large amount of waste.

Most Quiet (HOB Filter): SeaChem

SeaChem
SeaChem
9Outstanding
Pros
  • Durable
  • Flexible
  • Easy to lift out
  • Effortless and straightforward to maintain
Cons
  • Small included sponge

Do you want to set up your fish tank and aquarium filter in your bedroom or an area with a high level of silence? If yes, the quiet SeaChem HOB filter is really an ideal choice.

Unlike sponge filters producing bubbling noise, this HOB filter’s motor operates quieter. Although returning water in the tank creates white noise, you can keep it down by maintaining a reasonable water level. For some people, this whirring sound is very audible. But, if it is not your case, you can increase the water level until it reaches the spillway.

SeaChem Specifications

Weight

2.2 Pounds

Dimension

15 x 6 x 15 inches

Recommended Tank Size

55 gallons to 110 gallons

Highlight Features

a self-priming pump, dual water intake, adjustable flow, maintenance monitor, self-cleaning impeller, and a filter basket

Verdict

I strongly recommend the SeaChem HOB filter for bedrooms and places needing much silence.

Easiest To Clean (HOB Filter): Fluval C

Fluval C
Fluval C
8.6Great
Pros
  • Good design
  • Easy to set up
Cons
  • A bit noisy

Is cleaning a complicated filter your nightmare? If so, please consider the easy-to-clean Fluval C HOB filter.

Its cleaning process is simple from the beginning because you can know when it’s time to clean your filter through the cleaning indicator that shows a little red tab sticking out of the top.

What you have to do is only pulling the filter out, rinsing it well, and setting it back.

Fluval C Specifications

Weight

1.24 Kilograms

Dimension

8'' H x 6'' W x 4.5'' D

Flow Rate

264 gallons per hour

Recommended Tank Size

40 to 70 gallons

Highlight Features

cleaning indicator, clip-on filter

Verdict

If you don’t want to spend much of your valuable time cleaning an aquarium filter, Fluval C HOB filter is your solution.

How To Choose The Best Aquarium Filter For Large Tanks?

What is the suitable capacity?

You can check the filter’s capacity (GPH) in the product packaging. Make sure that the GPH level is more than what you need for your fish tank.

Here are examples:

If you have a large tank, you should choose a huge filter. Meanwhile, it’s essential to purchase 2 filters for a huge tank.

If you pick up a model with accurate GPH, it can’t produce a too powerful current for your fishes.

When buying an aquarium filter, don’t forget to take your decoration and planting into consideration. These things will build up pockets of stale water, especially in the corners.

What are the types of filtration?

Three types of filtration process different types of waste. Here are the details:

Mechanical filtration

Mechanical filtration can get rid of solid waste such as debris and other particles: bits of fish waste and uneaten fish food.

How can?

This filtration will circulate the water through a foam-like material to trap debris.

Chemical filtration

The chemical filtration takes responsibility for removing dissolved waste and the chemical left in tap water like chlorine.

This filtration will flow water through carbon or resin to catch the dissolved waste.

It is fish-friendly, protecting your tank from discolouration and odour.

Biological filtration

This filtration is used to remove biological waste, especially the ammonia waste produced from fishes. This filtration will cultivate nitrifying bacteria in order to convert toxic ammonia into harmless nitrate. Finally, you can remove this nitrate through chemical filtration, water changes, or algae absorption. Among all three types of filtration, this is the most important one. Without it, the ammonia will increase to a dangerous level.

Therefore, in the event of a large tank, you had better invest in an aquarium filter with all three types of filtration.

Which types of filter should you choose?

Although there are several types of filters on the market, you had better choose canister and power filters for your large tank.

Why aren’t others great solutions?

Although sponge and air-powered filters are cheap, they are too small; even they just can produce gentle mechanical and biological filtrations that aren’t powerful enough for strong swimmers.

Power filters

This type of filter varies in designs, but all of them are, generally, designed to hang on the back of your fish tank.

This is a complete model with filter cartridges and an integral pump, using all three filtration types. You need to clean and replace broken and old parts for efficient performance, but it is incredibly straightforward to maintain them.

A power filter with bio-wheels is wheels of pleated material. When these wheels spin, the water will be drawn over them. This process offers the bacteria colonies on the surface a great supply of oxygen.

If you want to plant in your aquarium, I don’t recommend this filter because it causes a high level of surface agitation that isn’t compatible with a CO2 injection system.

Moreover, it isn’t an ideal solution for a saltwater tank as well.

Why?

This filter type is able to cause salt creep on the lighting system and the underside of the tank hood.

Besides, if you raise not strong fishes, they can become stressed due to the too strong flow in the tank.

Canister filters

You will install the canister filter underneath the fish tank in the cabinet. This filter also carries out all three types of filtration. When making this purchase, you will get an integral pump or a modular form. The latter choice requires you to buy a pump separately. Although you need to spend another amount of money on a modular model, it provides you with better versatility. For instance, you can combine with another filtration form like a wet-dry model.

Any canister filter has a U-tube that draws the water into the model and a spray bar to return the water to the fish tank.

This powerful and super-efficient canister is a wonderful solution for huge tanks.

What is the best filter size for your large tank?

To know which filter works well for your tank size, you can check the label’s information or the manufacturer’s website.

However, in case you can’t find out information anywhere, you can refer to my suggestion:

In the event of an over 30-gallon large tank with plenty of fishes, you need to choose a filter that can provide you with enough power to maintain your healthy fishes. An external canister filter or wet/dry filter can meet this requirement because they operate efficiently and access easily. Specifically, you are able to consider a 2000 EF+ external filter with a spray bar, easy priming, a customizable, and three filter media trays.

What is the best filter design?

In case you have a giant fish tank placed in a standard room without much space around it, don’t invest in a HOB (hang-on-back) filter because it’s challenging to maintain this model. Instead, you should consider a canister filter fitting underneath your tank.

What types of fishes and tanks do you have?

While fast-moving fishes love swimming in powerful filter flow, slow-moving fishes will feel very tired, even died in this constant flow. Instead, they need a more gentle filtration.

If you use a power filter for a saltwater tank, it will agitate the surface, allowing the salt to creep onto the lighting system and tank hood. In this case, to avoid unnecessary additional maintenance, let you use a canister filter or wet/dry filter.

Plants in fish tanks can’t deal with air bubbles because they drive off CO2. Thus, if you don’t want to starve your plants, don’t pick up a gravel filter and a sponge filter. Also, I don’t recommend filters with carbon because they will suck your plants’ food. Meanwhile, power filters will disrupt the water surface and minimize the CO2 level.

In sum, EXTERNAL CANISTER FILTERS ARE THE IDEAL SOLUTIONS FOR PLANT AQUARIUMS.

Do you want to enjoy the overview of the tank?

If you love watching fishes swimming in the aquarium, your aquascaping efforts, even black filter box clearly, you had better consider a form of external filter system that doesn’t spoil your view. This is more essential in case you need to use 2 filters to manage the water environment effectively.

Do you have much time for maintenance?

In case you are too busy with your work and study, I am sure that no one wants to clean a complex filter. Thus, busy people should pick up a simple model, requiring less maintenance.

The sponge filters require less maintenance, but this is not a perfect solution for large tanks. Instead, you can choose a power filter that works well for a large aquarium. You don’t have to maintain this model on a regular basis because it isn’t overstocked and overfed.

Do your fishes produce more waste?

The more powerful external canister filter can help you solve this problem, but regular maintenance is a must.

The wet/dry filters are the best filtrations among all types of machines, but they also the most complex-to-set-up model, needing weekly filter rinses and special plumbing.

The rule is the less time you have to maintain your filter, the simpler it is. Thus, if your tank is dirty quickly, choosing a complex machine with regular maintenance is essential.

Which Brands Make The Best Aquarium Filter For Large Tanks?

Marineland

Marineland attributes their success to innovation. Noticeably, there are 2 unique beginnings, but the first one is the most noticeable.

In the first beginning, Robert Sherman - a businessman and a Cleveland entrepreneur, produced high-end lobster tanks for grocery stores and restaurants. This man was also manufactured with other aquatic tanks, including innovative filter technology and other outstanding features. Thanks to the increased sales and business, Sherman has pushed the trade to the West.

FAQs

What size filter do I need for my tank?

It depends on your tank size. The filter should be able to pass your entire tank water 4 times from it per hour.

Let you measure the GPH level your tank needs from the filter, then calculate the required filter size for your tank.

Can a filter be too big for an aquarium?

Not any filter can’t be too big, but it’s not essential.

Can you over filter your tank?

You can’t over filter your fish tank.

Can a strong filter kill fish?

Yes if the strong filter creates a powerful water current that your slow-swimming fishes can’t handle. In this case, your fishes don’t have enough time to take a rest, so they get so exhausted, leading to death.

Is it OK to have 2 filters in a fish tank?

Yes. However, some fishes can’t withstand too a strong current created by these 2 filters, betta fishes, for example.

Conclusion

The best aquarium filter for large tanks can remove waste produced by your fishes and dirt, dust effectively. Of course, it shouldn’t be too powerful to make your fishes tired, leading to death.

Eugene Williams
Eugene Williams

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