10 Best Quiet Fish Tank Filters for Your Precious Aquarium

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Silent Home Hub Quiet Fish Tank Filter

Nowadays, it’s all the rage for companies to develop quiet products for each aspect of your daily life. You can now add quiet fish tank filters to that list of products. Why go quiet, you might ask.

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 is a great deal of commercially available filters for serious marine life lovers out there. It may come as a challenge starting a tank from scratch and getting everything together along with minimal noise.

Where would you even begin? Luckily for you, we have a comprehensive guide to help you select your next fish tank filter and even how to tackle the humming sound of your filter.

Table of Contents

Our Top Quiet Fish Tank Filters

Best Overall

Type: Mechanical and Biological Filtration

Dimensions: 8 x 6.3 x 14”

Weight: 4.49 lbs

Volume Limit: 66 gal

The Eheim brand has been around for a long time, so I can assure you they know they’re doing when it comes to manufacturing filters.

If the Eheim Classic External Canister Filter isn’t the first filter you ever purchased, you’ll notice the amazing difference from your previous 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 how to set it up the way you should. However, if you are seasoned fish hobbyist, you’ll have no problem assembling this beast of a filter together.

These filters have been on the market for around 30 years or so and have not gone through any major changes to its systems as a testament to how well they hold over time.

It’s a total workhorse of a 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 it.

This filter comes with external valves to open and close the water flow for the in and out pipes of the filter, so maintenance is hassle free, as simple as close valves, disconnect them and go. It leaves no mess as you could expect with any modern filter

Features:

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

PROS

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

CONS

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

Best Value

Type: Mechanical, Chemical, and Biological Filtration

Dimensions: 4.5 x 7 x 6.5”

Weight: 12 lbs

Capacity: 100 gal

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. 

I really suggest going through the instruction manual first before getting your hands dirty.

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

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

The motor unit 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 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. 

Features:

  • Has 3 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

PROS

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

CONS

  • Tubing is a bit long
  • Big

Best for Beginners

Type: Biological Filtration

Dimensions: 3.8 x 11.5 x 6.5”

Weight: 1.88 lbs

Volume Limit: 20 gal

For a customizable filter that can handle up to 20 gallons of water, the size 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 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 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 water flow rate going all the way up to 92 GPH.

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

Installing this 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 filter as it is fairly pricey and racks up quite a bill.

Features:

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

PROS

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

CONS

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

Type: Mechanical, Chemical, and Biological Filtration

Dimensions: 5.75 x 3.94 x 8.19”

Weight: 1.6 lbs

Volume Limit: 20 gal

For the new fish hobbyists out there that want to get started on their aquarium, this is the go-to internal 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 tank so as to take the attention away 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 tank so it’s up to you to position the filter wherever you like.

Despite its minimal size, it delivers a powerful performance.

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

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

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

Features:

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

PROS

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

CONS

  • Cover doesn’t stay on properly
  •  

Type: Mechanical, Chemical, and Biological Filtration

Dimensions: 4.5 x 7 x 6.5”

Weight: 1.4 lbs

Capacity: 20 gal

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. 

This filter has a very simple and efficient design. It disguises itself very well in the corner of your tank. 

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

Based on reviews, it’s considered as one of the most adaptable hang-on back filters on the market and easy to set up. 

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

This quiet filter boasts a consistent level of effects over time. Even though the device is small, it is able to move a lot of water 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 users do report placing a pre-sponge filter over the intake tube. 

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

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

Features:

  • 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

PROS

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

CONS

  • Rattles when impeller needs to be changed

Type: Mechanical, Chemical, and Biological Filtration

Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 19”

Weight: 17 lbs

Volume Limit: 200 gal

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

The set up 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 they require 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 tank filtration with large-volume, 4-stage canister filters ensuring high water quality. 

Once you’re familiar with its features, 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. If necessary, set up the intake and spray bar underwater to get the air out. 

Features:

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

PROS

  • Reasonably priced
  • Promotes clear water
  • Handles bacteria very well
  • Powerful
  • All media are readily available
  • Quiet operation

CONS

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

Type: Biological, Mechanical and Chemical Filtration

Dimensions: 11.5 x 17 x 10”

Weight: 1.86 lbs

Capacity: 30 gal

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: mechanical (utilizes a patented ribbed back for maximum water to carbon contact), chemical (activated carbons works to remove odors, discoloration and impurities), and biological filtration (gets rid of toxic ammonia and nitrite and proliferates good bacteria to aid with the process).

This 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 this HOB filter functions. It doesn’t take up a huge amount of space on your tank as it sits comfortably in 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 media, depending on your preference. For the price, it certainly doesn’t sacrifice on 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. 

Features:

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

PROS

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

CONS

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

Type: Mechanical, Chemical, and Biological Filtration

Dimensions: 7.6 x 11.4 x 14.8”

Weight: 6.4 lbs

Volume Limit: 45 gal

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 impeller vibration and cover in order 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. 

Features:

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

PROS

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

CONS

  • Pricey
  • Have to keep the hoses straight

Type: Mechanical, Chemical, and Biological Filtration

Dimensions: 10.5 x 10.5 x 16”

Weight: 12.8 lbs

Volume Limit: 100 gal

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.

 How it works is the water from the tank enters the canister & directly goes to the bottom which then goes through all the media & fills up to the top. 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.

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.

 I’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.

Features:

  • Good for up to 100 gallon fish tanks
  • Maximum flow rate of 370 GPH
  • 3 media trays
  • 3-stage filtration
  • Comes with a spray bar

PROS

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

CONS

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

Type: Mechanical, Chemical, and Biological Filtration

Dimensions: 6 x 8.2 x 8.5”

Weight: 3.3 lbs

Capacity: 70 gal

This model is the second Fluval product on this list. The difference being that it’s an HOB filter and a damn good one at that. This brand has earned a good rap 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 your unit: 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.

Features:

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

PROS

  • 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 

CONS

  • Gets noisy over time

What You Need to Know About Filters for Fish Tanks

Fish tanks with filters have been increasing in popularity throughout the years. If you’re new to fish tanks then you might want 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 A Quiet Fish Tank Filter

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

Fish tank filters have been invented to imitate natural filtration systems in the wild. They are important for the survival of marine life in closed containers of water or aquarium.

It would be vital for you 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 filters instead of constantly having to toss out the dirty water every couple of days or so.

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 media, rinse out the filter, replace the cartridges and keep the water clear. You’ll be doing yourself a favor by getting a too much looking out for.

2. Price

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

Sure enough, 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. Size of the Tank

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

4. Types of Filtration

You’ll notice that I’ve mentioned three filtration processes over and over again. For those unfamiliar with this, there are only three kinds of filtration. Experts suggest that all three kinds should be used for your tank, however, an aquarium should have biological and mechanical filtration at the very least.

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.

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 ought to have a few arrangements for biological filtration, and with little fish populaces, this by itself may be adequate 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 precisely or physically strains solids from water going through it, which is fundamental for the proficiency of your natural media.

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

To avoid waste buildup, the filtration media must be cleaned every once in a while. Replacement is also required when the media is unable to discharge all the dirt that it holds.

Chemical Filtration

The chemical system for filtration expels broken up particulates from the aquarium by means of activated carbons, 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 is 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 on 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.

Why does the canister filter have to be underneath the tank?

The filter 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 is 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 set up.

The Penn Plax Aquarium 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 (Hang On Back) filters, both have their takeaways.

They only seem intimidating to set up at first, but very easy to catch on. 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. I 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 is the filter for you. For what it’s worth, it shows very impressive filtration for the price you get it at.

It 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 I’m pretty sure most of you have, you’ve probably come across the Eheim Classic External Canister Filter.

Users have mostly good feedback to report about this 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 filter again.

If you’d like to see other quiet pet care products, I recommend checking out our post on the best silent hamster wheels.