An aquarium can be a source of great joy and relaxation. Watching your beloved fish interact and explore is incredibly rewarding, and the larger an aquarium gets, the more you can do with it.
You can introduce more fish in a wider variety, and there is more room for decorating as well.
The bigger your tank is, the more powerful a filter you’ll need, though. A powerful filter designed for a large tank can be a daunting purchase…
So to help with the decision, we’ve narrowed the endless filters available down to the ten best aquarium filters for large tanks.
My name is Michelle Ropp, and I’ve loved caring for freshwater fish. Over the years, I’ve cared for aquariums in a variety of sizes—the bigger, the better.
Because of this, I’ve wrestled with several different filters and have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly.
What is Considered a Large Tank?
Large is relative, but where aquariums are concerned I would consider any aquarium that is fifty gallons or larger in volume to be a large tank.
Small tanks tend to be ten gallons or less. They are easy to maintain but limit how many fish and what kind of décor you can use.
Medium tanks tend to be between ten and fifty gallons… a wide range, and offer more flexibility in what fish you can keep (and how many).
Large tanks take the cake, though. With fifty gallons or more, you can have all kinds of décor, and more importantly, all kinds of fish.
Big fish, small fish, small schools, and fun bottom cleaners like plecostomus, cory catfish, or ghost shrimp. Big tanks have plenty of room for all of your plants and fish to stretch out.
The Importance of Having a Filter for Your Aquarium
A filter may not be the most exciting part of caring for an aquarium, but it is by far one of the most important.
Without a filter, toxins can build up in an aquarium and — if left unchecked — can poison and kill your fish.
Filters keep these toxins in check and promote a balanced ecosystem that is healthy and comfortable for your fish.
It also helps to keep your water sparkling clear so you can admire your beautiful tank, too.
Different Types of Filters
There are many different types of filters that can be used in aquariums.
Although there are a few others, most filters fall into one of three categories.
Power filters, which hang on the back of a tank, are one of the most common types of filters.
A small tube reaches down into the water of your tank to pull water up into the filter, where it passes through multiple different filter cartridges before flowing back down into the tank.
Power filters are easy to install and maintain, but the larger the power filter, the stronger the flow of water will be in your tank.
Under Gravel Filters
Under gravel filters aren’t always as effective as power filters or canister filters.
These focus mostly on mechanical filtration and usually, that’s it.
Under gravel filters are high maintenance and usually work better in smaller tanks.
Canister filters offer powerful mechanical. Despite their size, canister filters stay out of sight, as they are installed outside the tank.
A siphon pulls water through separate sections which each filter the water in different ways.
These filters tend to be a bit pricier, but they are pressurized, so they don’t rely on gravity at all.
That makes them much more efficient.
With different types of filters to choose from it can be hard to pick the right one.
To make it a little easier… here is our breakdown of the ten best aquarium filters for large tanks.
The Best Aquarium Filters for Large Tanks
10. Marineland Penguin Power Filter
It works for aquariums up to 70 gallons in volume and uses two Rite-Size C filter cartridges that deliver mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration.
It filters a whopping 350 gallons per hour.
This filter does have a bio-wheel, which while excellent for filtration, is not as great for aquatic plants.
9. MarineLand Emperor Filter Systems, 400B
Like the last filter, this one may not be the best fit if you have aquatic plants, but it does offer extremely efficient filtering on a mechanical, chemical, and biological basis.
This filter works well for tanks up to 80 gallons in volume and cycles about 400 gallons of water through the filter per hour.
As far as cartridges go, it uses two Marineland Rite-Size E cartridges which are easy to install and replace.
8. Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter with Quad Filtration System
Tanks anywhere from 55 gallons to 100 gallons in volume are a perfect fit for this filter.
This filter has a Bio-Falls Quad-Filtration system and internal sponge for beneficial bacteria growth, making it an excellent choice for biological filtration.
It also filters well mechanically, and it has a nice flow knob feature where you can turn down the flow of filtration as needed.
This is perfect for when you need to feed your fish.
7. Aqua Clear Power Filter – 110 V
It filters on all three levels, is easy to set up, and has a unique refiltration system.
The refiltration system makes sure the water cycles longer through the filter for maximum cleaning power.
An added perk to this filter is that it comes with a 2-year warranty, as well.
6. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter
This one is a great example.
It fits tanks that are 90 to 150 gallons in size and offers biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration.
Because this sits on the outside of the tank, as well, you won’t need to look at it or worry about water flow for delicate fins and plants.
5. Sunsun Pro HW-304B Canister Filter Kit with 9-watt UV Sterilizer
This filter is a fraction of the cost of many of its competitors and works for aquariums up to 150 gallons in size.
It cycles 525 gallons per hour, filters mechanically, biologically, and chemically, and comes with a 9-watt UV sterilizer which helps prevent algae build-up.
It’s easy to see why this filter has rave reviews!
Despite having several cartridges and components to clean your water, it is relatively easy to set up and stays comfortably out of sight, so that you can enjoy an unobscured view of your precious fish.
4. Polar Aurora 4-Stage External Canister Filter with 9-watt Uv Sterilizer
Like the last filter, this one comes with a 9-Watt UV sterilizer to prevent algae growth.
It is perfect for tanks up to 200 gallons in size and pumps 525 gallons per hour.
This filter comes with 4 media trays for your choice of filtration media and an adjustable spray bar so that you can set the output flow to what works best for you.
This filter has a self-priming pump (no manual siphoning required) and single valve disconnect to makes things simple and easy.
3. EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media
Although this canister filter is intended for tanks 92 gallons and smaller, it has excellent mechanical and biological filtration.
In one single process, it will clean your water and enrich it with oxygen.
This filter will get your water crystal clear, is whisper quiet, and can be hidden from sight since it is an external filter.
2. Penn Plax Cascade 1500
It cycles 315 gallons per hour and comes with the option to adjust the flow rate as well as a quick push-button self-primer.
The filter has lots of room for stackable filter medium that offer filtration on multiple levels, and the filter medium containers have easy lift-up handles.
The bottom of the filter comes with rubber feet and a tip-proof base as well.
1. Fluval Canister Filter, FX6 Filter (400 Gal)
It will cost a bit more upfront, but the cost is well worth it.
The Fluval FX6 filter works for tanks up to 400 gallons in volume and cycles an astounding 563 gallons per hour.
It comes with 6 stage filtration, works for both fresh and saltwater aquariums, and like all other canister filters, it can hide neatly out of sight to keep your aquarium looking flawless.
This filter also features Smart Pump Technology and is self-starting. Just plug it in and go.
The Fluval FX6 uses easy media baskets, each one capable of holding 5.9 liters of media, and the baskets can be stacked in layering order that works best for you.
Each basket is foam-lined for maximum mechanical pre-filtering.
Every twelve hours, the pump will pause to allow trapped air to escape as well, making sure that your filter stays at maximum efficiency.
There are a lot of great filters available for just about any size tank.
If you’ve been dreaming of setting up your dream aquarium or already have a nice big tank and want to upgrade to a better filter, any of these choices would work well.
Ultimately, choosing between these top ten filters comes down to how big your tank is and what kind of filter you prefer.
A reliable filter that works well is well worth the money — and creates less work for you so that you can sit back and enjoy your beautiful aquarium in all its splendor.
If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them below!