7 Best Quiet Aquarium Filters

Having an aquarium with fish in your home or office can be soothing and add to your décor, but some filter systems are very noisy. People often wonder what kind of filter they should get to keep the sound to a minimum. There are different types of filters, including the following:

  • Sponge filters
  • Hang on back filters
  • Canister filters
  • Internal filters

It is important to understand each of these types of filters and how they work so that you can choose the quietest aquarium filter for your fish tank.

What to Look for

Quiet is a relative term because it means different things to different people. For example, some people want their filter to be quiet but they don’t mind a relaxing noise. Others want no sound at all. Each type of filter is a little bit different in terms of how it operates and how loud it is. Continue reading to learn how to choose a quiet fish tank filter.

Sponge Filters

A sponge filter is powered by an air pump. This kind of filter creates air bubbles that rise to the surface of the water and create a bubbling noise. This is a calming sound for many people, and some consider it an acceptable quiet aquarium filter. However, others do not. Those who prefer a silent fish tank filter will not want this type. This type of filter is often used as a second filter to provide extra oxygen in the water.

Hang on Back Filters

Hang on back filters are very quiet aquarium filters, but they can make louder sounds when they return the water to the tank. These filters hang on the side of your aquarium, and they filter the water and send it back in as a waterfall. You can keep this type of system quieter by making sure you top the water off every couple of days, or you can buy an attachment so the water slides back in rather than falling.

This is not the quietest aquarium filter, but for those who enjoy white noise, it works.

Internal Filters

Internal filters are quiet fish tank filters, but they are not as strong as sponge filters or hang on back filters, and they break easily. They are powered by air, but their filtration isn’t strong enough to do a good job of cleaning the tank. You may end up buying replacements. These filters work best for tanks with a few fish in them, and they will work as quiet aquarium filters, but if you have a bigger tank or a lot of fish, they just aren’t strong enough.

External Canister Filters

Canister filters are the quietest aquarium filters on the market. They are powered by the water, which makes them silent fish tank filters, and they move the water without creating a waterfall effect. The new models come with sound dampening technology to make them even quieter, and you won’t hear any humming or vibration noises.

7 Best of the Best

Buying a quiet fish tank filter will reduce the sound of the filter and improve the life of the fish. Continue reading to learn about the seven best quiet aquarium filters.

1) MarineLand Penguin 350 BIO-Wheel Power Filter

The MarineLand Penguin 350 BIO-Wheel Power Filter is one of the quietest aquarium filters on the market. It has rotating patented bio-wheel technology that allows for wet or dry filtration. The filter uses mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration to create a clean habitat for your fish, and it comes in four sizes in addition to the 350, which is the largest.

MarineLand Penguin 350 BIO-Wheel Power Filter

This silent fish tank filter is compatible with MarineLand Rite-Size Filter cartridges, and it is good for all environments whether salt or freshwater, large or small. It quietly removes waste, discoloration, and odors. It features quiet, noise-reducing, two-piece vented covers, and it has adjustable mid-level intake strainers.

There is virtually no setup needed, as you simply follow the simple instructions in the manual and hang the filter on the back of your tank. Prime your filter with the water in the aquarium, and then plug it in. You can adjust the water flow with the mid-level strainer, and you will replace the filter once a month.

The three-stage filtration process begins with mechanical filtration, and it will screen dirt and debris with the cartridge. Next, the carbon is activated to remove odors, discoloration, and impurities. The final stage is where the BIO-wheel eliminates toxic ammonia and nitrate and helps to grow beneficial bacteria that is needed. Your tank will be clean and you will not have to listen to it working.

  • Three-stage filtration for mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration
  • Quietest aquarium filter on the market
  • Easy setup, ready to use
  • Easy to control the flow rate with intake strainers
  • Simple to clean and replace filter
  • Make sure you add water as needed to keep filter quiet
  • Be sure to use the right size for your tank

Our rating:  4.7 / 5

2) Fluval External Canister Filter

The Fluval External Canister Filter features a new engineering solution that creates a more fluent operation that is 25% quieter than previous models. It generates between 145 and 383 gallons of constant pumping power and pressure. Fluval external canister filter does not use a lot of energy, as it is designed with efficiency in mind. Also, it requires little time for maintenance.

Fluval External Canister Filter

The canister sits outside your tank, and it is designed efficiently to use every bit of the space available. In addition, it is optimized to maximize media space in a compact way. Fluval is a leader in aquarium filtration, and this model is designed for performance and efficiency.

  • High performance filter
  • Energy efficient
  • Up to 25% quieter than previous models
  • Designed with efficiency in mind
  • Maximizes the use of media
  • Expensive
  • Need space outside the tank for it

Our rating: 4.6 Star Rating 4.6 / 5

3) AquaClear CycleGuard Fish Tank Filter

This economical fish tank filter comes in different sizes, and it can accommodate tanks from the 5-gallon size up to 110 gallons. It uses an energy efficient pump, which lowers your operating cost, and it is quick and easy to install. The manufacturer recommends cleaning the filter every two weeks for best performance.

AquaClear CycleGuard Fish Tank Filter

This is a quiet aquarium filter, and it has a filtration volume up to seven times greater than other comparable fish tank filters. It has mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration, and it comes equipped with AquaClear Foam, Activated Carbon Filter, BioMax, and Cycle Guard so that you will always have superior water quality.

This filter comes with a lifetime warranty, so you can buy with confidence. The filter hangs on the side, and you can control the flow rate so that it works best for the fish or plants you have living in the tank.

  • Affordable
  • Quiet operation
  • You can control flow rate
  • Mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Recommended cleaning process will take time
  • The motor is not protected very well and even a small nearby electric surge can permanently damage it

Our rating: 4.5 / 5

4) Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter

This filter will work well for both freshwater and marine environments. It has three media baskets, and it is recommended for fish tanks up to 100 gallons. They have other sizes if you have a bigger tank. It features flow valves that rotate a full 360 degrees and it is customizable. It has a push button primer that makes priming the media quick and easy.

Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter

This filter is close to being a silent fish tank filter, and you can only hear it if you press your face up to the glass. It offers three stage filtration, and you will see the difference in less than a day. It has an airtight seal to ensure proper flow and maintain the quiet operation. You can use a custom combination of media, including bio-floss, bio-sponges, activated carbon, and more. This is a powerful filter that is quiet and efficient.

  • Powerful filter for freshwater and marine water
  • Three-stage filtration
  • Customizable media
  • Very quiet system
  • Push-button primer
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • A bit more expensive
  • Some customers complain about suction cups for mounting

Our rating: 4.4 Star Rating 4.4 / 5

5) Marina Power Filter

This power filter works on aquariums up to 10 gallons. It has a compact and slim design, so it takes up less space. The filter has an adjustable flow control that allows you to adjust the flow level in your tank, and its motor is submerged in the water, so it is a quiet fish tank filter.

Marina Power Filter

This filter is easy to set up and start, and it doesn’t require any priming. It is also easy to maintain. It has a power filter with two filter cartridges, and one is Bio-Carb and the other is Bio-Clear. They both have Ceramitek in them, which is a porous ceramic filter that helps to optimize biological filtration and keep your aquarium clean and healthy for your fish.

  • Compact slim design
  • Quiet filter
  • Easy to set up and start
  • Great price
  • Optimizes biological filtration
  • Pump takes up some space in the tank, so make sure it is still enough room for your fish
  • It’s a budget filter, which is reflected on the minimal amount of filtration it provides

Our rating: 4.4 Star Rating 4.4 / 5

6) Eheim Classic External Canister Filter

The Eheim Classic External Canister Filter is equipped with filter sponges and loose filter media. It has a permo-elastic silicone sealing-ring fixed on the pump head so that it is easy to close after cleaning. It comes with the spray bar, inlet pipe, hose, and installation accessories.

Eheim Classic External Canister Filter

This filter system achieves mechanical and biological purification in a single process with constant water and oxygenation processing. This is a very quiet fish tank filter, and it is completely silent once you prime it. You will be able to feel the vibration if you touch the tank directly, but you cannot hear it.

The filter comes in different sizes, so you need to choose the best side for your tank according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. It is strong and durable, and you will never have to listen to your tank working to keep the environment clean for your fish. It is easy to maintain and very reliable, and it is one of the best on the market.

  • Virtually a silent fish tank filter with no noise at all
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Strong and durable
  • Mechanical and biological cleaning system
  • Reliable
  • Instructions are confusing, so you might want to search a YouTube video for help with setup
  • The seal between the top and bottom is of lower quality

Our rating: 4.3 / 5

7) Aqueon Quietflow Internal Filter

The Aqueon Quietflow Internal Filter comes in four sizes, 3-gallon, 10-gallon, 20-gallon, and 40-gallon. It is an efficient filter with an auto-start pump that doesn’t require any priming. If your power is interrupted, it will restart right away. It is easy to install with hanging clips or suction cups, depending on whether your aquarium has a frame or not.

Aqueon Quietflow Internal Filter

This is a quiet filter, and if it becomes noisy, you need to check the impeller. If it has moved, it may make noise. It includes a carbon cartridge that removes odors and discoloration from the water, and it needs to be changed once a month. This filter is economical, quiet, efficient, and simple to use.

  • Affordable
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Auto-start pump needs no priming
  • Will automatically restart if power is interrupted
  • Variety of sizes to suit different tanks
  • Impeller may move and needs to be adjusted
  • Not the quietest filter out there

Our rating: 4.2 / 5

Final Words

Having a quiet filter system for your fish tank makes your aquarium a lot more enjoyable, and manufacturers realize this. They are making filtration systems that are more powerful and much quieter than they were in the past. No matter what style filter you need for your fish tank, you can find one that will not raise the noise levels in the room.

You can buy less expensive systems that are designed for smaller tanks, or you can get more elaborate systems with custom media configurations. No matter what kind of fish and plants you keep in your tank, there is an option available that is quiet. Most models require that you change the filter once a month, and they operate efficiently and quietly and will keep your aquarium clean, clear, and odor free.

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