The Best Fish Tank Filters – 2020 Reviews

TheBestFishTankFilters2019 Featured

Welcome to our latest article and today, we’re tackling one of the key peices of equipment in anyones tank – The best fish tanker filters (2019 Update).

The Best Fish Tank Filters – 2019 Reviews - Quick List

Why do I need the best filter for my tank?

Simply put fish tank filters are an absolute necessity in both freshwater and marine aquariums (Riehl & Baensch, 1994). The filters in tanks remove chemical waste and physical waste produced in tanks. If the balance tilts to far to one side in your aquarium your fish are dead, literally.

What is the explanation behind it?

We will first start with the basics and then delve into the more ‘science’ side of things afterwards. Basically animals (your fish) kept in tanks will eventually start producing waste from the food you feed them, and most people forget this part, when they breath they are also producing waste as well. Other sources of waste can include things like plants, fish that have died and food that hasn’t been devoured. So basically, as I have said before, once a tank reaches the tipping point and has way too much waste in it, your fish will start to die. One by one depending on how resilient they are.


The science!

The science behind the way fish tank filters work is generally called ‘the nitrogen cycle’ (Carroll et al., 2005). Good management of the nitrogen cycle is a must to run any successful fish tank. The excretion produced by the fish and other organic matter produce something called ammonia (Ammonia, 2019) which is very toxic to fish and other aquatic life. Usually bacteria process this ammonia and turns it into less toxic nitrites (Sodium nitrite, 2019) which are then also processed and turned into even less toxic nitrates
(Nitrate, 2019).

In the open water where there is lots of space these are usually dealt with by plants, not to say this doesn’t happen in aquariums to certain extents but because aquariums are imperfect ecosystems (Unless you get very lucky), the ecosystem needs a little boost via what we are reviewing today, a filter.

This process is also the reason why new owners of fish tanks sometimes suffer from “new tank syndrome”, Bacteria that take small amounts of toxins out of the water take several weeks to form in new tanks and can cause fish to die if the tank is colonized quickly.


What does a filter do?

So, we have explained the basics and the science, now you ask, “What does the filter actually do then?”, basically the filter does everything we have just described but processes everything in larger volumes, that’s why you need bigger filters depending on the size of your tank.

From a technical point of view, mechanical filters are quite simple. They push the water in the tank through some sort of material which acts as a small-scale sieve (Riehl & Baensch, 1994) . Physically removing any particulate matter that other wise break down in the tank. But remember like anything in an aquarium you need to clean the filter out, otherwise it will eventually become blocked and become completely redundant. There are other ways of filtering your tank but today we will be solely focusing on mechanical filters.

Now, lets find out some of the best fish tanker filters we can find, onto the reviews.

Eheim Pickup 160 Internal Filter

best fish tanker filters 2019 - Eheim Pickup 160 Internal Filter

This fish tank filter is from a fantastic brand Eheim, offering fantastic build quality and durability in virtually all their products.

This filter can be used in aquariums up to 160L, but it is better suited for 60L aquariums for the highest efficiency. You can also use this in freshwater tanks and sea water tanks.

This is a great filter, it’s a simple attach to the side of the tank with suction cups and one of the best features is the fact that the canister can be removed from the top while the pump still remains in the tank. A fantastic way of changing or cleaning the filter. It also has one of the best ratings for fish tank filters on Easily one of the best fish tanker filters.

Eheim Pickup 60 Internal Filter

best fish tanker filters 2019 - Eheim Pickup 60 Internal Filter

Another fantastic offering from Eheim, is the smaller cousin of the pickup 160, the Eheim Pickup 60.

The Eheim Pickup 60 works in virtually the same way as the 160, offering the same reliability, efficiency and build quality but on a smaller scale.

It uses suction cups and you can change the filter from above leaving the main cartridge in the tank. It can be used in tanks up to 60L but for efficiency reasons it’s best used in 30L aquariums.

Fluval 406 Filter

best fish tanker filters 2019 - Fluval 406 Fish tanker filter

The Fluval 406 canister filter is more of an expert level filter, used in tanks up to 400L. It has fantastic water filtration and great biological filtration if you use the additional bio-foam media. Noise may also be a concern for filters of this size but fortunately the innovative sound proofing on the model works fantastically.

This filter comes from the Fluval 05 filter series but has massive improvements in all areas on that series.

Also, when purchasing something this size and price the worry of breakdowns might be a worry but fortunately, replacement parts are easy to come by on the official Fluval website. You also get a brilliant three-year warranty when you purchase this filter. This is easily one of the best fish tank filters for larger aquariums.

Fluval U3 Power Filter

best fish tanker filters 2019 - Fluval U3 Power Filter

This fantastic filter rivals Eheims product range previously mentioned in this article, it has a great sleek design and can be used in aquariums between 90-150L, it also has the same great flip top design so you can change or clean the filter while leaving the canister inside the tank itself.

You could use this filter as a supplementary filter for larger tanks or a primary filter in smaller tanks.

As before you get the three-year warranty with this filter.

Check out our latest reviews here!


Ammonia (2019) Ch.Ic.Ac.Uk, [Online]. Available at (Accessed 4 March 2019).

Carroll, S., Salt, S. and Hooper, E. (2005) Ecology For Gardeners, Portland, Timber Press.

Nitrate (2019) En.Wikipedia.Org, [Online]. Available at (Accessed 4 March 2019).

Riehl, R. and Baensch, H. (1994) Aquarium Atlas, Melle, W. Germany, MERGUS.

Sodium nitrite (2019) Pubchem.Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov, [Online]. Available at 4 March 2019).

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