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10 Best Quiet Fish Tank Filters for Your Precious Aquarium

Silent Home Hub Quiet Fish Tank Filter

Although the sound of water flowing makes for great white noise, the sound of mechanical filtration certainly DOESN’T when it lasts for more than an hour.

There’s a great deal of commercially available aquarium filters for SERIOUS marine life lovers out there, but where would you even begin to find out which ones are the quietest aquarium filters around?


We have a comprehensive guide to help you:

  • Select the best quiet fish tank filter for you, and
  • How to tackle the humming sound of your fish tank filter

Let’s get started!

Best Value
Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Filter 
Best Overall
Eheim Classic External Canister Filter with Media
Best for Beginners
Marina Slim S20 Power Filter
Table of Contents

The Quietest Fish Tank Filters for Your Aquarium

After trial and error, we found that these are the BEST quiet fish tank filters that can help you sleep peacefully while your precious aquarium is operating!

DISCLAIMER: No fish were harmed in the making of this buying guide.

1. Eheim Classic External Canister Filter with Media

Best Overall

Type: Biological and Mechanical Filtration || Tank Size & Dimensions: 8 x 6.3 x 14” || Weight: 4.49 lbs || Volume Capacity: 66-gallon tank

Eheim Classic External Canister Filter with Media 2

The Eheim brand has been around for a long time, so we can assure you they know what they’re doing when it comes to manufacturing top-notch fish tank filters.

If the Eheim Classic External Canister Filter isn’t the first silent aquarium filter you ever purchased, you’ll notice an AMAZING difference from your previous aquarium filter within just a few hours of using it.

The instructions might be a bit difficult to follow, but there are many instructional guides on setting it up the way you should. However, if you’re a seasoned fish hobbyist, you’ll have no problem assembling this beast of a filter together.

These aquarium filters have been on the market for around 30 years or so and have not gone through any major changes to their systems. That’s a testament to how well they hold over time!

It’s a total WORKHORSE of a fish tank filter. Once you get it going, you’ll find that it’s easy to clean and allows easy maintenance.

You simply CANNOT beat the price and the great water clarity you get out of this canister filter!

This silent canister filter comes with external valves to open and close the water flow for the in and out pipes of the filter, so maintenance of the water level is hassle-free, as simple as close valves, disconnect them and go.

It leaves no mess — as you could expect with any modern silent aquarium filter.


  • Equipped with filter sponges and/or loose filter media
  • Accessories included: spray bar, inlet pipe, hose and installation accessories


  • Reasonably priced
  • Powerful
  • Quiet operation
  • High quality material
  • Easy to customize filter media
  • Great for tanks with plants


  • Not the best looking silent aquarium filter
  • No self-priming
  • Unclear instructions manual

2. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter

Best Value

Type: Mechanical, Biological, and Chemical Filtration || Tank Size & Dimensions: 4.5 x 7 x 6.5” || Weight: 12 lbs || Volume Capacity: 100-gallon tank

Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade 1000 Canister Filter 2

The Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter comes highly recommended by owners. 

As always, there’s always a bit of a learning curve for those coming into contact with canister filters for the first time, though the instructions are very straightforward. 

We really suggest going through the instruction manual first before getting your hands dirty!

Canister filters are observably the quieter choice if you’re sensitive to sound, and this is no exception. This silent aquarium filter is so quiet, you won’t even hear it running!

Penn Plax boasts that you can see tank water circulation improvement within a DAY. It uses a heavy-duty external aquarium filtration system and is especially great for turtles that make a mess more often than other aquarium filters can handle.

The motor unit of this Penn Plax filter has a convenient fold-up handle that allows for ease of pick-up and locating the filter itself. 

By the looks of it, you can already tell that the construction is sturdy, and it’s also very simple and easy to get it up and running. 

Disassembling this quiet aquarium filter might seem a little daunting at first, but you’ll quickly get used to this once you look at the little card that shows you where everything needed to go.

With all these features, this Penn Plax fish tank filter is just SCREAMING great value!


  • Has 3 filter media baskets
  • Good for up to 100 gallon fish tanks
  • Flow valves rotate at 360° and can be easily taken out for maintenance
  • Includes a spray bar, tubing, directional spout
  • Push button primer


  • Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater
  • Quiet operation
  • Powerful
  • Large filter box
  • Reasonably priced
  • Easy to customize filter media
  • Aquarium water quality improves in a day


  • Tubing is a bit long
  • Big

3. Marina Slim S20 20 Gallon Power Filter

Best for Beginners

Type: Biological Filtering || Tank Size & Dimensions: 3.8 x 11.5 x 6.5” || Weight: 1.88 lbs || Volume Capacity: 20-gallon tank

Marina Slim S20 Power Filter

For a customizable quiet aquarium filter that can handle up to 20 gallons of water, the size of this power filter is relatively smaller compared to other models with similar volume, so it doesn’t take up too much space. 

It simply hangs on to the back of your aquarium filter with no problem.

Not only is it compact but design-wise, it looks pretty good and doesn’t distract you from viewing what’s inside the fish tank filter and aquarium. 

The motor is completely sealed and designed to be submerged, along with the cord. This dampens the sound coming from the motor, which helps you control the flow rate going all the way up to 92 GPH.

Depending on the water, it’s important to know how to sustain the environment of the fish. The self-priming feature definitely comes in handy in order to clear the air bubbles in the aquarium water. 

Installing the Marina power filter in your aquarium is definitely a no-brainer and you can get it done within 5 minutes at the very least. 

As for maintenance, it’s recommended to clean your filter at least once a week and replace them every 4 to 6 weeks at a time. 

Replacing the cartridges may be the only downfall for this aquarium filter as it is it can get fairly pricey and rack up quite a bill.

Nevertheless, this is our top recommendation for beginners!


  • Power filters for aquariums
  • Self priming
  • Adjustable water level flow control
  • Includes 4 filter cartridges: 2 Bio-Carb and 2 Bio-Clear


  • Reasonably priced
  • Quiet operation
  • Strong power filters
  • Both cartridges contain Ceramitek
  • Easy to install
  • 2 year limited warranty


  • Pricy cartridge replacements
  • Cannot handle a aquarium that gets really dirty too often

4. Aqueon Quietflow E20 Internal Power Filter

Type: Mechanical, Biological, and Chemical Filtration || Tank Size & Dimensions: 5.75 x 3.94 x 8.19” || Weight: 1.6 lbs || Volume Capacity: 20-gallon tank

Aqueon Quietflow E20 Internal Power Filter 2

For the new fish hobbyists out there that want to get started on their aquarium, this is the go-to internal power filter for you, especially if you don’t want to add stress to your life and your fish.

Its sleek all-black design doesn’t stand out too much in your fish tank, so don’t worry about it taking away the attention from your aquarium.

The Aqueon Quietflow E20 Internal Power Filter can either be attached to the aquarium via a suction cup or can hold on to the top of the fish tank — so it’s up to you where you want to position the filter.

Despite its minimal size, the Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter delivers a powerful performance.

The system is so quiet that users have observed not knowing whether it’s on or not. The flow rate from the top is good and is very gentle on sea life such as Betta or Blue Tangs.

The aquarium filter keeps your tank water translucent and all the chemicals at normal levels. If you want to save a little more money, you can use your own filter media as the cartridges need to be changed more often.

You don’t need to worry about having to turn on this Aqueon Quietflow filter if you experience a power outage because of its auto-start feature. As the filter is quite small, you’ll have to clean it at least once a week.


  • Economical vertical-oriented internal filter efficiently cleans and filters tank water
  • Provides chemical, biological and mechanical filtering
  • Auto-start pump requires no priming, automatically restarts if power is interrupted and restored
  • Flow control rate up to 130 GPH


  • Reasonably priced
  • Powerful
  • Quiet operation
  • Customizable
  • Easy to install
  • Limited lifetime warranty


  • Cover doesn’t stay on properly

5. AquaClear Power Filter – 110V

Type: Mechanical, Chemical, and Biological Filtration || Tank Size & Dimensions: 4.5 x 7 x 6.5” || Weight: 1.4 lbs || Volume Capacity: 20 gallons

AquaClear Power Filter - 110V 2

The AquaClear Power Filter may be the most stylish-looking internal filter available, and there’s no question about whether it does a good job or not. 

The AquaClear Power Filter has a very simple and efficient design. It disguises itself very well in the corner of your fish tank. 

The operation is so silent, you’ll forget it’s even there. The filter comes with a standard 3 stage filtration setup (sponge filter – mechanical, carbon – chemical, and ceramic balls – biological). 

Based on reviews, it’s considered one of the most adaptable hangback filters on the market and is easy to set up. 

Regular cleaning of the filter and its parts is recommended every two weeks. It keeps alive beneficial bacteria needed for a stress-free environment, which is also essential for purging poisonous ammonia and nitrite from the fish tank.

This quiet filter boasts a consistent level of effects over time. Even though the device is small, it can give sufficient water movement and is very straightforward to polish. 

BE WARNED THOUGH: It’s best for medium-sized or slightly larger fish. Smaller sea critters could get sucked into the intake tube, so we recommend placing a pre-sponge filter over the intake tube just to be safe.

The large open filter media baskets allow you to customize whatever kind of filter media you prefer, and you’re not required to continually purchase their brand cartridges that don’t last as long as using other filter media. 

What we really like about this unit is how readily available the cartridges and replacement parts are.


  • Refiltration system that offers superior contact time with filter media
  • Energy efficient pump lowers operating costs
  • Filtration volume is up to 7 times larger than comparable filters
  • Ideal for aquariums up to 20 gallons of water
  • Water flow rate up to 100 GPH


  • Reasonably priced
  • Powerful
  • 2 year limited warranty
  • Quiet operation
  • Works on saltwater filtration
  • Large filter box


  • Rattles when impeller needs to be changed

6. Polar Aurora 4-Stage External Canister Filter

Type: Mechanical, Chemical, and Biological Filtration || Tank Size & Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 19” || Weight: 17 lbs || Volume Capacity: 200 gallons

Polar Aurora 4-Stage External Canister Filter 2

As it says in its name, the Polar Aurora 4-Stage Filter has an external canister. This filter is for the SERIOUS fish tank enthusiasts with a little more experience. 

The setup may be simple for those that know what they’re doing. 

For those dealing with canister filters for the first time, you’ll find that the Polar Aurora requires a lot more setup work than what you might be expecting. 

The unit is made to fit bigger aquariums, up to 200 gallons of water in this line of canister filters from Polar Aurora. It sure packs a lot of power, especially with its water flow rate up to 525 GPH!

It enhances fish tank filtration with large-volume, 4-stage canister filters ensuring high water quality. 

Once you’re familiar with the features of the Polar Aurora, the unit is easy to take apart and clean. You should read what the manufacturer has to say once you take it out of the box and use it for the first time.

The water will not be clear the first time you use it, so you need to wait for 1 to 2 days for all the impurities to be filtered out. 

Users suggest you get all the air out of the hoses for maximum water flow rate. If necessary, set up the intake and spray bar underwater to get the air out. 


  • Good for up to 200 gallon fish tanks
  • Maximum water flow rate of 525 GPH
  • 4 filter media trays
  • Comes with adjustable spray bar
  • Self-priming pump
  • Built-in 9 Watt UV sterilizer for controlling algae, bacteria


  • Reasonably priced
  • Promotes clear water
  • UV sterilizer handles bacteria very well
  • Powerful
  • All filter media are readily available
  • Quiet operation


  • Might be challenging to use for first-timers
  • Can’t bend the hoses
  • Hard to keep against a wall

7. MarineLand Penguin Power Filter with Multi-Stage Filtration

Type: Biological, Mechanical, and Chemical Filtration || Tank Size & Dimensions: 11.5 x 17 x 10” || Weight: 1.86 lbs || Volume Capacity: 30 gallons

MarineLand Penguin Power Filter with Multi-Stage Filtration 2

MarineLand has been in the business for over 40 years, so they know a thing or two about making filters. 

The Penguin Power Filter uses a 3-stage filtration:

  1. Mechanical (utilizes a patented ribbed back for maximum water to carbon contact)
  2. Chemical (activated carbon work to remove odors, discoloration and impurities)
  3. Biological (gets rid of toxic ammonia and nitrite and proliferates beneficial bacteria to aid with the process)

This MarineLand Penguin model is a breeze to assemble and even easier to rinse away. 

It has no issues with keeping your tank sanitized. The translucent design allows you to see the water being filtered. 

You’d be amazed at how smooth these Hang On Back (HOB) filters function. It doesn’t take up a huge amount of space on your tank as it sits comfortably on the edge.

If you’ve got a black background, the filter can blend in so well that it goes virtually unnoticed!

It leaves a lot of room for more cartridges or filter media, depending on your preference. For the price, it certainly doesn’t sacrifice quality. This filter is optimal for your tank set-up, waste filtration, and health.

If you don’t always have the time to be super finicky, then that’s no problem at all since this unit is easy to keep in good condition.


  • Maximum water flow of 150 GPH
  • Good for up to 30 gallon fish tanks
  • 3-stage aquarium filtration


  • Reasonably priced
  • Quiet operation
  • Promotes good bacteria
  • Powerful
  • Replacement pads are readily available


  • Tubing is a bit long
  • Water flow might be a bit too strong

8. Fluval External Filter

Type: Mechanical, Chemical, and Biological Filtration || Tank Size & Dimensions: 7.6 x 11.4 x 14.8” || Weight: 6.4 lbs || Volume Capacity: 45 gallons

Fluval External Filter 2

The Fluval External Filter is far up on the high-end spectrum of fish filters, but don’t let its price fool you. 

Although it’s not the prettiest filter available on the market, it gets the job done quietly AND efficiently, with less maintenance frequency to keep you worry-free.

Setting up this bad boy is way less intimidating than it looks. The instructions in the manual are easy to understand. It can maintain healthy colonies of the bacteria that convert ammonia to nitrite, and nitrite to nitrate.

The filter has an adjustment valve in the connection to control the flow rate. The company explains they’ve precise-engineered the bearing, which minimizes the cover and impeller vibration to reduce the noise.

It tries to control the sound to give you a quiet experience. This filter is perfect if you’re planning to put the tank in your bedroom or at least in a place you don’t want a lot of noise.

If you have fish that frequently gets the water murky, this gets the job done flawlessly.

It’s best recommended to position the filter under the aquarium or right beside it, but hanging it is NOT a good idea. You can put your own bio media in the trays and the trays just fit together very easily.


  • Multi-stage filtration
  • Good for up to 45 gallon tanks
  • Equipped with a clog-proof intake strainer
  • Sound dampening impeller


  • 3 year limited warranty
  • Quiet operation
  • Great for both freshwater and saltwater
  • Powerful


  • Pricey
  • Have to keep the hoses straight

9. SunSun HW Series External Canister Filter

Type: Mechanical, Chemical, and Biological Filtration || Tank Size & Dimensions: 10.5 x 10.5 x 16” || Weight: 12.8 lbs || Volume Capacity: 100 gallons

SunSun HW Series External Canister Filter 2

SunSun may be one of the more obscure brands in the aquarium community, but it’s surely gaining the trust of its users.

The SunSun HW External Canister Filter works great for high-maintenance aquariums. This glass piece is bulky, so you can’t put it directly by the wall. You’ll need to leave a bit of space for it.

This is how this bad boy works:

  1. The water from the tank enters the canister and directly goes to the bottom
  2. The water then goes through all the filter media and fills up to the top
  3. It then gets siphoned and the filtered water goes back into the tank

The model runs so quietly, it’s almost like it isn’t there.

It might take you a minute or two to get it up and going, but once it’s in operation, you can almost sweat it and forget it.

You can go for a few months without having to change the filter. How convenient is that?

It doesn’t need to be changed weekly or monthly to keep the water scrubbed crystal clear and is easy to wash when the time comes.

We’d like to note that this unit runs on electricity and is not battery operated. The tubes are clear so it doesn’t take away the beauty of what’s in your tank.


  • Good for up to 100 gallon tanks
  • Maximum flow rate of 370 GPH
  • 3 media trays
  • 3-stage filtration


  • Great for both freshwater and saltwater
  • Quiet operation
  • Easy to customize media
  • Reasonably priced


  • Unclear instructions manual
  • Tendency to leak after a year (can be fixed with some silicon grease)

10. Fluval C Power Filter

Type: Mechanical, Chemical, and Biological Filtration || Tank Size & Dimensions: 6 x 8.2 x 8.5” || Weight: 3.3 lbs || Volume Capacity: 70 gallons

Fluval C Power Filter 2

This model is the second Fluval product on this list. The difference being that it’s a HOB filter, and a damn good one at that. This brand has earned a good reputation for making reliable and durable filters!

The Fluval C Power Filter is nothing to scoff at. It will EASILY take care of bacteria or fungi that grow in water tanks. You don’t need any patience putting this filter together because everything is present in one powerful unit.

There’s absolutely no need to crack your head over trying to install this thing.

They’ve provided a cleaning indicator that lets you know when the polyfoam needs to be rinsed off, which is highly convenient and saves you time.

The company does give a tip on when to sanitize these HOB filters:

  • For optimal performance, it’s recommended to wash the impeller cover assembly once a year
  • The motor should be thoroughly cleaned also every three months.

 Once you’ve got the hang of it, this filter promises crystal clear water and no headaches when it comes to maintenance. 

The mechanical filter aspect is incredibly a cinch to clean, and the replacement cartridges are inexpensive and easy to find online.

If in case, you have issues with priming at first, be sure to fill the filter box with water before you start it. Once it’s filled with water, it will self-prime when you plug it in.


  • Maximum flow rate of 264 GPH
  • Clip on filter
  • Equipped with cleaning indicator
  • 5-stage filtration


  • Reasonably priced
  • Cleaning indicator lets you know when polyfoam needs rinsing
  • Extremely easy to clean
  • Replacement pads are inexpensive & readily available
  • Large volume of water 


  • Gets noisy over time

What You Need to Know About Filters for Fish Tanks

Gold fish in an aquarium

Fish tanks with filters have been increasing in popularity throughout the years. If you’re new to fish tanks, you should make sure to slow down and read about them first before going out and buying the first one you see available to you.

You’ll find that the fish hobbyist community is a comfortable place where people like to share their own experiences with different types of filter boxes and the kind of sea creatures that they own!

How to Select the Best Quiet Fish Tank Filter For You

Selecting A Quiet Fish Tank Filter

Every fish owner knows it’s no small feat to keep a fish alive.

Fish tank filters were invented to imitate the natural filtration system in the wild. They are important for the survival of marine life in closed containers of water a.k.a an aquarium.

You should make sure to provide a filter that suits the size of your aquarium and fulfills the needs of your sea critters, such as purifying freshwater or saltwater, removing the dirt effectively, etc.

When fish are kept in contained volumes of stagnant water, excrement, food wastes, and even algae will build up in the aquarium over time.

These waste products that gather in the aquarium pollute the water and endanger the life of your aquaria. To prevent this, owners always install aquarium filters instead of constantly having to toss out the dirty water every couple of days or so.

These are some of the things you should keep in mind to know which option is the best quiet aquarium filter for your situation — let’s dive deeper.

1. Maintenance

Most people don’t want to be stuck with an aquarium filter that takes forever to scrub.

A definite requirement would be how easy it is to change mediarinse out the filterreplace the cartridges, and keep the water clear.

You’ll be doing yourself a favor with a low-maintenance filter!

2. Price

There’s a wide array of water aquarium filters that come at different price points. The lower-priced aquarium filters actually do a really decent job in filtering out water — if that’s the sort you’re looking for.

Sure enough, the price will often indicate quality, and if you are willing to spend more, you would be rewarded with an improved water environment for your pets.

3. Tank Size

It’s important to keep in mind that tank aquarium filters come in all shapes and sizes, and depending on your setup at home, the tank size of your aquarium will help you choose the kind of filter you need.

Make sure to take measurements into account before making a purchase.

4. Filter Types

You’ll notice that we’ve mentioned three filter types over and over again.

For those unfamiliar with this, there are only three kinds of filtration: biological, mechanical, and chemical. 

Experts suggest that all three kinds should be used for your tank. However, an aquarium should have biological AND mechanical at the VERY LEAST.

It’s important to know which filter types would be best to keep your aquarium in tip-top shape.

Biological Filtration

Biological filtration refers to the procedure by which gainful microorganisms separate smelling salts and nitrite and change them into compound nitrate, which is significantly less dangerous. Sounds science-y, we know.

For valuable microbes to flourish, oxygen-rich water is required, just as a surface that microscopic organisms can append to, for example, sand.

All aquariums should have a few arrangements for biological filtering, and with little fish residents in the tank, this by itself may be enough to support the aquarium.

Nonetheless, in many aquariums, natural filtration will be only one strategy that is joined with others.

Mechanical Filtration

The parts of mechanical media are inactive — this implies they will do NOTHING to meddle with your water chemistry.

This media physically and precisely strains solids from water going through it, which is fundamental for the effectiveness of your natural media.

Mechanical filtration removes unwanted particles including fish feces, algae, uneaten food, or residue from your aquarium.

To avoid fish waste buildup, the filtration media must be cleaned every once in a while. Replacement is also required when the media can’t discharge all the dirt that it holds anymore.

Chemical Filtration

The chemical system for filtration expels broken-up particulates from the aquarium by means of activated carbon, gums, and different adsorbents.

Substance filtration media keeps up water quality as undesirable waste products stick to it. The two most common types of chemicals found in your aquarium are activated carbon and saps.

Protein froth skimming or oxidation with ozone are two different types of compound filtration.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can I Do About the Humming Sound?

Many filters get quieter with time. When it’s new, you may hear a soft humming sound, but that will go away with time as the filter settles in.

As the filter does its job, it may over time get louder as well, so regular maintenance is KEY to keeping filter sounds in check and water quality at its optimum.

How Often Should I Change My Filter Cartridge?

It will depend on a variety of factors like how much waste is produced in your tank over a period of time.

Companies normally give suggested timelines for when to change your filter but on AVERAGE, you can change it every month or every month and a half.

Just make sure to keep an eye on your fish tank and observe if it needs some filter replacements.

Why Do Canister Filters Have to Be Underneath the Tank?

Canister filters should be below the tank, as it works best as a gravitational suction system — but you could probably have it alongside the tank provided it’s below the water level.


Our Top Picks

Best Value

Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade 1000 Canister Filter

It just goes to show that you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars getting the best of the best for your aquarium setup.

The Penn Plax Cascade Canister Filter offers you a quiet experience with no hassle involved whatsoever, even your fish would be very pleased!

While canister filters are definitely an upgrade from HOB filters, both have their takeaways.

They only seem intimidating to set up at first, but very easy to catch on to. Don’t be hesitant to choose alternative canister filters if you’re planning to upgrade your tank volume.

Best for Beginners

Marina Slim S20 Power Filter

MarineLand filters have been well known to hold up over time. We cannot stress enough how easy this baby is to operate and get running.

If you’re not in a position to spend a lot of money on a tank filter or just want to get started on a basic aquarium setup, this Marina power filter is for you. For what it’s worth, it shows very impressive filtration for the price you get it at!

The Marina power filter provides better use of the space available in the filter box compared to other hang-on-back filters, along with no tubing to deal with.

Best Overall

Eheim Classic External Canister Filter with Media

If you’ve done your research, and we’re pretty sure most of you have, you’ve probably come across the Eheim Classic Canister Filter.

Users have mostly good feedback to report about this canister filter. To some, it might seem like overkill, but there’s no such thing as too much filtration. Prime value, without a doubt.

If anything, extra filtration allows for a little room for error and decreases the amount of maintenance. That said, you will never have to buy another fish tank filter again!

FINAL TIP: If you’d like to see other pet-related reviews, we recommend checking out our post on the 10 Small Quiet Pets for Apartments.


July 27, 2021 – converted article formatting to Gutenberg

July 8, 2021 – updated 1 heading, removed 3 external links

June 30, 2021 – added changelog, updated featured image, fixed and updated article formatting and content, optimized content

About the Author


Andrea has always been bombarded by the hustle and bustle outside her home. Living in the city doesn’t get any quieter. The never ending noise from construction, traffic, and dogs barking on the streets day in and day out drove Andrea to a breaking point.

For 3 years, Andrea committed herself to studying DIY hacks, performing soundproofing experiments, and installing noise-free solutions. Now, she lives a quiet life free of the stress from noisy environments.

She hopes to share this knowledge so that others don’t have to endure the noise reigning in their ears and live a peaceful, stress-free life.