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Hang on Back vs. Canister Filter

Aqueon Quiet Flow 10 LED Pro

What is the Best Fish Tank Filter?

A commonly asked question among many aquarists is “What’s the best aquarium filter?” The truth is, there isn’t one brand, model or style of filter that’s just right for every aquarium need. A lot depends on what size aquarium you have, what kind of fish you keep, how easy you want it to be to maintain, and even how much money you’re willing to spend.

image of an Aqueon hang on the back filter

Hang on Back

Hang on Back (HOB)’s are great for beginners and mainstream aquarists because they do all three types of filtration – mechanical, biological and chemical – while being extremely user friendly and reasonably priced. Doing maintenance on most brands usually involves something simple pulling out a cartridge and either rinsing it or popping in a new one. Or by replacing specialty filter cartridges, and/or treated filter cartridge pads. Although more extensive maintenance can be required, at times. HOB’s are best suited for tanks 75 gallon aquariums and smaller.


Canister filters are usually used on larger aquariums or by advanced hobbyists, although they are also well-suited to the average 20 gallon aquarium. They can be loaded with whatever media you choose, and hold much more media than comparable HOB’s. They’re usually a little more expensive and require more work (and time) to clean than HOB’s, but the beauty is they can go much longer in between cleanings.

What Type and Size Fish Tank Filter to Get

If you have larger, dirtier fish (such as goldfish, oscars, etc.), you need a filter with more mechanical capability. If your aquarium is heavily stocked, more biological capacity is called for. And if you need absolutely pristine water, good chemical filtration is a priority. No matter what type of filter you choose, always put quality over price, as good filters will last longer and out-perform cheap filters, and your fishes’ lives depend on it! Also, always buy a filter that’s rated at least one size larger than your aquarium to make sure it can keep up with whatever you throw at it.


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