Top Rated Budget Canister Filter List in 2020 + Buying Guide
If you’re looking for a new filter for your aquarium yet can’t find a model with a price you can afford, then you’re in luck. Our job is to scan the internet for the best filters on the market, compare their specs and pick the ones which offer the best price for the quality. So if it’s the best budget canister filter that you’re after, then Dr. Fox can point you in the right direction by suggesting that you buy the Hydor 150 Professional filter. It offers good performance and plenty of features just for the right price. In the unfortunate event that it’s not available, then the Fluval 206 is also a pretty good pick.
Ideal for aquariums ranging between 20 and 40 gallons in volume and featuring a 190 gph pump output, this filter is worth taking into account if you’re looking for a durable product that delivers the promised results. It will keep the water in your aquarium clean without taking too much space thanks to its compact design. What’s more, the product is easy to clean. Several users experienced leakage issues while others say the product is not very durable. Make sure the fish in your aquarium enjoy a clean and healthy environment by using this water filter. If you’re on the lookout for a filter for a medium-sized tank, this model should not go unchecked. It has a flow rate of 206 gallons and can be used for aquariums of up to 40 gallons in volume. The filter was designed to ensure easy maintenance. Due to the high-grade bearings, you will enjoy a smooth and quiet performance as well as minimized vibration. Durability might be an issue according to a few buyers. Some of the filter parts broke easily. Keep the water in your aquarium clean and crystal clear if you go for this canister filter. Designed to handle aquariums of up to 66 gallons and ensuring a flow rate of 116 gallons per hour, this product should not go unchecked before you make your decision. It features first-class components, which means that the item will keep up with extended use. The water is filtered biologically, mechanically, and chemically. The item is also easy to install. The plastic used for the canister is brittle and can break easily according to a buyer who tried it. Consider this product if you want to provide your aquarium fish with a clean and healthy environment.
Our Top Choice
Also To Consider
Ideal for aquariums ranging between 20 and 40 gallons in volume and featuring a 190 gph pump output, this filter is worth taking into account if you’re looking for a durable product that delivers the promised results. It will keep the water in your aquarium clean without taking too much space thanks to its compact design. What’s more, the product is easy to clean.
Several users experienced leakage issues while others say the product is not very durable.
Make sure the fish in your aquarium enjoy a clean and healthy environment by using this water filter.
If you’re on the lookout for a filter for a medium-sized tank, this model should not go unchecked. It has a flow rate of 206 gallons and can be used for aquariums of up to 40 gallons in volume. The filter was designed to ensure easy maintenance. Due to the high-grade bearings, you will enjoy a smooth and quiet performance as well as minimized vibration.
Durability might be an issue according to a few buyers. Some of the filter parts broke easily.
Keep the water in your aquarium clean and crystal clear if you go for this canister filter.
Designed to handle aquariums of up to 66 gallons and ensuring a flow rate of 116 gallons per hour, this product should not go unchecked before you make your decision. It features first-class components, which means that the item will keep up with extended use. The water is filtered biologically, mechanically, and chemically. The item is also easy to install.
The plastic used for the canister is brittle and can break easily according to a buyer who tried it.
Consider this product if you want to provide your aquarium fish with a clean and healthy environment.
5 Best Budget Canister Filters (Reviews) in 2020
1. Hydor Professional 150 External Canister Filter
While being the smallest product in the series, the Hydor 150 is a professional-grade filter that packs quite a punch. It is best suited to aquariums ranging between 20 and 40 gallons in volume, having an impressive 190 gph pump output which can recirculate nearly 5 times the entire volume of a 40-gallon tank in just one hour. This doesn’t just mean high performance, but also less maintenance for your tank.
Thanks to an intelligent design and small size, this filter is meant to fit in anywhere beneath the tank, working out of sight to provide your aquarium with the clean filtered water it needs. The easy priming system pressurizes the filter, forcing water directly through all layers of media and ensuring the largest contact surface.
Since no water bypasses the filter media, as is the case with many other types of filters, you can easily see when you need to clean it – just look at the filters, if they’re dirty, that means it’s maintenance time.Buy from Amazon.com for ($177.03)
2. Fluval Number 206 External Filter
If you’re looking for good filter for a medium-sized tank, then you can’t go wrong with the new Fluval 206 External Filter. Just as the name implies, its pump has a flow rate of 206 gallons that can easily handle any aquariums of up to 40 gallons in volume.
Thanks to the AquaStop valve system you can easily cut the flow of water in the filter without the need to disconnect all tubes and hoses, which is also helpful in avoiding leaky messes. Combined with the Lift Lock clamps and quick-to-change filter media, replacing and cleaning filters is a job you can perform in minutes without getting your hands too dirty.
The high-grade bearings ensure smooth performance of the impellers while also minimizing vibration and noise, making this a powerful yet silent filter which won’t disturb either you or your fish even when working at full capacity. The multi-stage large filter media provides superior filtering and crystal-clear water for all your aquatic species to enjoy.Buy from Amazon.com for ($199.99)
3. Eheim Fine Filter Pad
The EHEIM 66 Classic is one of the decently-priced medium filters you can find on the market. It can handle aquariums of up to 66 gallons, and its high-performance pump can deliver a flow rate of 116 gallons per hour. Made with first-class components, this filter is made to work for long periods of time between scheduled maintenance.
This is not only a good canister filter on a budget, but it’s also economical in the long run, thanks to an efficient motor that uses only 8 watts of power. The filter comes with a complete filter media package including Substrat Pro and Eheim mech. These filter media stack up on each other to provide superior filtering and ensure that the water is filtered biologically, mechanically and chemically.
Setting up this model is relatively easy even if you aren’t the handy person type, and you get everything needed for installation, including hoses and inlet pipes, a spray bar and accessories.Buy from Amazon.com for ($109.98)
4. Cascade CCF2UL Canister Filter For Large Aquariums and Fish Tanks
The Penn Plax Cascade 700 is a heavy-duty filter that’s ideal for tanks of up to 65 gallons. The self-priming pump gets activated at a simple push of a button and can deliver a high flow rate of up to 185 gallons per hour.
Thanks to the two independent valve caps, positioning this filter should be worry-free. With this model, you also get control valves to adjust flow rate and optimize the filtration cycle or save power when not needed at maximum power.
The base is made of solid rubber which will ensure that the filter is stable even at higher flow rates. Each Penn Plax Cascade 700 comes with tubing for input and output, large filter trays as well as all the filter media you need to get started. The filter trays can accommodate multiple layers of filters which not only improve efficiency but also extend replacement periods and maintain ammonia-neutralizing bacteria alive.Buy from Amazon.com for ($63.15)
5. Polar Aurora Free Media 4-Stage External Canister Filter
This model can be used for fish tanks that have a capacity of up to 200 gallons, and the built-in pump provides a maximum flow rate of 525 gallons per hour. It has four media trays so that the water in your aquarium can come into contact with more filter media during the initial pass, which results in cleaner water to keep your fish healthy and active.
Since you can add any other filtration media that you want, this product is perfect for advanced users since it will enable you to achieve the perfect mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration for your tank.
You can also adjust the output flow from the filter seeing as the product comes with an adjustable spray bar, and this is a feature that many customers have praised. What’s more, it comes with an 8-Watt UV sterilizer that will promote clearer water that is free of algae spores and bacteria.Buy from Amazon.com for ($78.99)
Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
When it comes to canister filters options abound. There are many models out there that can satisfy even the most pretentious of customers, yet can cost an arm and a leg. There are also cheap models that boast superior performance only to fail in the first few weeks of functioning. So how do you find a filter with a good build and decent performance that won’t break the bank?
We’re here to answer these questions and provide you with the knowledge to make an informed decision. We know that you work hard for your money and wasting it on a model that isn’t worth its price is the last thing you want. This is the reason why we’ve written this short guide, to explain the relationship between price and quality and which features are worth paying extra for, as well as to present you with a list of top products that we think are the best for a limited budget.
Remember that you get what you pay for
While there are quite a few bargains out there, you should remember that old saying that ‘you get what you pay for’. If you have to tend to a 100-gallon tank, don’t expect to find a cheap filter. If you do find one which claims to do this and that and makes promises short of landing on the moon, then you’re probably being conned. If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.
Depending on the size of the aquarium, its maintenance requirements (which often get dictated by the number of fish, which plants you have), its flow rate and extra features, you can expect to pay a good amount of money on a filter.
Get the best bang for your buck
While higher quality usually implies a higher price, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a model on a budget. We’ve found plenty of models that are more than worth their price when considering performance, build quality and the overwhelmingly positive reviews they received from customers. So if you stick to your budget and consider which specs are most important in a filter (and follow our guidelines), you’re bound to find one for sale that’s perfect for your aquarium and at an affordable price.
Investing in extra filters is worth it
If you manage to get the best canister filter for the money and can still afford extra filters, you should definitely buy a few. Many models allow for full customization of the filter media trays and filters, so you can arrange them depending on the specific needs of your fish, corals or other species. With more filters of higher quality, you can create a healthier environment for the fish, minimize maintenance as well as cut the costs of treating diseases due to water pollutants.
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Aquaflow Technology AEF-302 External Filter System for Aquarium
The Aquaflow Technology AEF-302 has received quite good canister filter reviews, making it one of the top choices for fish tanks of up to 75 gallons. The self-priming powerful pump provides a maximum flow rate of 264 gallons per hour, yet only uses 18 watts, ensuring high-performance filtering while being very light when it comes to utility bills.
Measuring only 9″ L x 9″ w x 15.5″ H, this compact model won’t give you a hard time when it comes to positioning, as anywhere near the fish tank should do. The blue and white colors will also match the water as well as any complementary-colored decor near the tank.
The AEF-302 comes with a filter media start-up kit and a flexible system that allows you to decide where to put the activated carbons, bio-balls, and ceramic rings to create a filtration system which is optimized for the specific environment of the aquarium.
Finding the best aquarium canister filter is always a tough chore regardless if you’re an experienced aquarist or just starting out. There are simply too many models on the market, and choosing one only according to price and looks is surely not the best way to go. Fortunately, we have diligently searched the internet and compared dozens of filter specifications so that you don’t have to go through the same trouble. After careful examination and debate, Dr. Fox recommends the Fluval 306 as the best all-around filter for the price, with the Hydor Professional 350 coming in close second, in case the first model becomes unavailable.
5 Best Canister Filters for Aquariums (Reviews) in 2020
1. Fluval Number 306 External Filter
If you’re planning to get an aquarium with a capacity of up to 70 gallons from our list of reviewed aquarium tank brands, then the Fluval 306 is the best choice. The advanced motor can pump up to 303 gallons per hour, and the best part is that you won’t hear a thing, thanks to the sound-dampening technology used on the impellers. These are engineered to have minimal vibration and reduced noise even at higher flow rates.
The Fluval 306 is not only powerful and quiet but also versatile. The multi-stage filtering system ensures that water is pumped straight through filter media and not around filters so that it comes in contact with as much media surface as possible. Not only does this provide maximum efficiency in terms of filtering, but it also requires slower flower rates than normal.
This filter also comes with lift-lock clamps as well as the latest AquaStop valves so that you get to clean or replace filters with minimum effort.
2. Professional Canister Filter 350 280gph
Dubbed a complete ecological system in a box, the Hydor Professional 350 is certainly rated high by customers when it comes to the best canister filter for aquariums. This filter is a great choice for medium to large-capacity aquariums from 60 to 100 gallons. With a 280 gph rating, this model is powerful enough to circulate the entire volume of a tank 3 or 4 times in the course of a single hour, ensuring proper filtration and sparkly-clean water for your fish just like a good flea carpet powder that you can find described in our analysis can provide you with a safer environment for your pet.
This model is easy to use, and it comes with safety locks so that you can easily provide it with the maintenance it needs to perform well in the long term. The quiet motor benefits from ceramic shafts which not only improve its performance but also add years of service life.
With the integrated priming system, siphoning is done automatically at a push of a button, while the telescopic intake tubes provide you with more options when it comes to positioning the filter.
3. MarineLand ML90751 Magniflow Canister 360 Filter
The Marineland Magniflow 360 can be a great addition to your aquarium, whether you’re hosting freshwater, marine or tropical species. This external canister filter can ensure proper recirculation of the entire water volume in the tank at least 3 times per hour thanks to its 360 gph capacity.
The multi-stage filtration system captures impurities and unwanted chemicals so that the aquatic environment stays as clean as possible. With a combination of Black Diamond activated carbon bags, foam pads and polishing pads, the Marineland Magniflow 360 can remove all fine and coarse debris, odors and discoloration from the water. Bio filters such as bio-balls and ceramic rings provided biological filtration by supporting the growth of ammonia-neutralizing bacterial species.
With its revolutionary Stack N’ Flo filter trays and Valve Block with Quick Release, this model also provides you with a versatile filtering system that you can change and customize to suit both volume- and species-specific requirements.
4. Eheim Fine Filter Pad for Classic External Filter 2211
Another model that has received many positive canister filter reviews is the EHEIM Classic 66. Carrying on the tradition of Eheim filters, this new model comes with an improved motor which is perfectly capable of handling aquariums of up to 66 gallons. The 116 gph flow rating is more than enough to keep water clean and clear even for the maximum-volume supported aquariums.
This is a compact filter that you can easily install anywhere around the tank. The package comes with an inlet pipe, a spray bar, connecting hoses and other accessories to ensure you get started right away with your new aquarium. The spray bar will provide the tank with increased internal water motion as well as ensure that fish get more oxygen, thanks to improved aeration.
The EHEIM Classic 66 also comes with a complete filter media package which includes Eheim Mech and Substrat Pro so that your tank gets the best mechanical, biological and chemical filtration possible.
5. Zoo Med Nano 10 External Canister Filter
One of the smaller models on the market, the Zoo Med Nano is intended for aquariums of up to 10 gallons in volume. With a flow rate of 80 gallons per hour, this little device can recirculate water in the tank a minimum of 8 times its volume, which is an impressive feat indeed considering its small size.
With the button-activated self-priming feature, you won’t have to do the manual siphoning yourself. Cleaning is also a mess-free affair, as the filter head is easy to remove and so are the connected hoses so that you get to provide your filter with the maintenance it needs.
You can ensure proper water currents and aeration by installing the spray bar which comes with the Zoo Med Nano, and you can also use the adjustable flow control system to optimize internal water motion and filtering times. Combined with the versatile filtering media system, this external canister filter is one of the lower-priced models that are ideal for small-sized aquariums.
Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
One of the most important things contributing to a good and balanced aquarium is a filter. An external canister filter is one of the better types of filters, but even here there are many sizes, capacities, filters and other features to consider that would make even an experienced aquarist gasp. Combined with the sheer amount of models that hit the market every year, finding a good canister filter for aquarium is no easy task.
Fortunately, you have us to help out. We’ve done all the hard work for you so that you get to learn all you need to pick the perfect aquarium filter without the headaches associated with extensive research and comparison. Here are a few basics you may wish to know before moving forward with our list of top models we have prepared just for you so that you get the very best filter for your needs and budget.
Choose the right filter for the aquarium size
Although this goes without saying, choosing the right filter for the size of your aquarium is vital to the health of the species you intend to keep. A filter that’s too powerful for the size of your aquarium can create strong currents that can disturb your fish, plants and even corals while also removing nutrients too fast from the water.
Getting a filter that has too low a capacity is also undesirable, as that could imply improper filtering and more maintenance in the long term, not to mention the mandatory replacement of large percentages of water every few weeks.
Customizing filter media is key
One of the most important aspects of filtering systems is their filter media. Some come with interchangeable trays, others with a limited amount of filters. While activated carbon, fine pads, and bio-foams have become the norm, not all filters are created equal.
Consider customizing the filter media to suit the specific needs of your fish. Some fish species produce large amounts of residue which require more ceramic rings and bio-balls to remove the associated ammonia and nitrates, while others unsettle the bottom gravel while feeding and may need finer filters to remove the increased amount of debris.
Have a budget in mind
The best thing you can do is to set a budget in mind when looking at filters for sale. That way you know the price ranges you’re looking at and can narrow down the selection to just a few filter models. Allocating a fixed sum of money also ensures that you don’t overspend while also allowing you to concentrate on balancing features and sizes so that you choose the ones that are most important to your fish and personal preferences.
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