Today I am here to help you make the best choice when it comes to keeping the water clean inside your fish tank by sharing the best aquarium filters for your large tank (updated for 2024).
One of the things that you must do right is keep the water clean so that your fish friends can live in a healthy and clean environment. This applies to both larger and smaller fish tanks – but we’ll focus on the latter in today’s article.
Let’s start by checking out my recommended filters for large aquariums, then dive into more details about each model.
Please note: We get commissions for purchases made through links in this article.
Best Aquarium Filter for Large Tanks: Quick View
If you don’t want to go through all the details and whys, here are the recommendations I have for you and what are they best for:
Polar Aurora 4-Stage External Canister Filter
Best with UV sterilizer
Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter
Best overall (Editor’s Choice)
Fluval 07 Series External Filter
Hydor Professional External Canister Filter
Best for beginners
SunSun Hw3000 Filter
I also have a list of the best overall filters for aquariums – make sure to check it out, especially if you also have a smaller fish tank.
Best Aquarium Filter for Large Tanks Reviews
Now, let’s get a bit more in depth and see why the models recommended above have made it on our list.
1. Polar Aurora 4-Stage External Canister Filter
A complex canister filter can be a great investment if you have a large aquarium and this external filter from Polar Aurora is the best fit for the job.
Not only is it a powerful filter that can support tanks of up to 200 gallons, it is also one of the best options if you are looking to control algae and spores using a UV sterilizer.
My Review of the Polar Aurora 4-Stage External Canister Filter
The first thing that I want to mention is that several immaterial accessories come with this filter.
However they may prove beneficial to you, so feel free to take a look at the packaging about them.
I will be highlighting the most important features, starting with the 525 GPH automatic pump, which will clear any need of you doing manual siphoning.
One of the best things about this filter has to be the spray bar. You can use it to redirect the filter outflow, as well as the 4 media trays where the filtering substance will be put.
Going back to the pump, there is not much when it comes to the maintenance as it features a single valve that is easy to disconnect and clean every couple of weeks.
Not only does this filter go through four stages during the water-cleaning process, but it also uses a 9 Watt UV sterilizer to keep the healthy balance of algae and bacteria, as well as boost the overall water condition.
You will get a number of different media filters that you can use in the trays, including bio-balls, ceramic rings, and carbon that seem to work the best with large tanks.
Now, while this filter is packing a huge amount of power, it is not as bulky and will take an area of 12x12x19 inches which is nothing compared to the size of a 200 gallons aquarium.
It is simple to use, but there are a few concerns on the life span of this product, but as long as you invest time in regular maintenance of the pump and the filter every couple of weeks, it shouldn’t be a problem.
- Various accessories, media
- Up to 525 GPH
- Self-priming pump
- 4-stage filtration
- Customer service is poor
- Not as sturdy as could be
2. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter
If you are looking to have crystal-clear water all-year long, then investing in a pricier filter is something you will have to consider.
The Penn Plax brand is one of the best when it comes to aqua filters, and there is no doubt why their products rank high in customer reviews.
While it doesn’t feature as many accessories as the product mentioned above, it has a more sophisticated filtration system, as well as a sturdier canister and better media tray.
First and foremost, you should know that the Penn Plax company offers a limited warranty on the parts and components, so replacing a defected canister or pump shouldn’t be a problem.
This filter runs using a 360-degree rotating tap and is activated by simply pressing the primer button.
It is important to mention that this filter is not the first that this company has made. The 1500 Cascade Black Series is an upgrade that differs from the previous models as it is simpler to use and can use higher-quality media bio balls, carbon, ceramic rings, or bio-foam.
Also, there is a sturdier housing and tubing that is essential for a proper and quiet filtration.
As we mentioned above, you will not need to put much effort into the maintenance of this product.
One of the best things is the fact that there is a spray bar so you can redirect the filtration outflow. The dimensions are 11.5x20x12.5 inches while the maximum power it can achieve is 350 GPH.
While it is suitable for both fish and turtle tanks, it seems that the plastic it is made of is not the sturdiest so you should consider that.
Overall, a good value product that can clean 200-gallon tanks as long as you take good care of the tap and filtration housing.
- Innovative housing, tubing
- Various accessories, media
- Reliable primer button
- 360-degree rotating taps
- Multiple stage filtration
- Slow customer service
- Could be more robust
3. Fluval External Filter
If you are looking to keep your fish and turtles in a large tank, an external canister filter is a must. The Fluval company offers one of the best models on the market. They are a reputable brand that is known for its water-cleaning and filtration media products.
It can deal with both fresh and saltwater aquariums which is the key to a good aquarium filter.
First off, it is important to note that unlike those mentioned above, this one can’t clean 200-gallons tanks, but it can perfectly clean a 100-gallon tank – all the way up to around 130 gallons, actually.
With the maximum power of 383 GPH, you shouldn’t experience any problems with the water being clear all-year long.
The highlight of this product has to be the aqua stop valve as well as filtration baskets that ensure optimal results.
I would also consider a big gain over previous model the fact that it is a lot quieter. You can barely hear it (the manufacturers claim that it’s some 25% quieter than previous models).
To protect the eternal parts and ensure the smooth flow of media to the water and back, this product comes with a strainer and a dual-layer protective foam that ensures the optimal condition of the filter.
Unlike most of its competitors, this one comes with a square canister which has its advantages over round ones, including the fact that it can fit up to 50% more water.
While it is a bit noisy, this external filter is worth every dollar. Yes, there are some design flaws, but as it comes with a 3-year limited warranty and good customer service, taking care of any problem shouldn’t be complicated. Overall, a great product for the given price.
- Dual-layer foam, strainer
- Square canister
- Multi-stage filtration
- 8.5L media capacity
- Quite flimsy
4. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter
If you are on a somewhat more flexible budget, then investing in a professional-grade filter is not a bad idea.
This is, of course, if you want to keep your aquarium clean and your sea life healthy, so you can enjoy watching the beautiful marine life.
Unlike the previous model , this filter takes it all to a much simpler level. The main parts of this product are the telescopic tubes and self-priming pumps that ensure optimal filtration and a healthy level of algae and bacteria.
It is suitable for both fresh and saltwater filtration, and it can go up to 450 GPH, which is significantly higher than the product mentioned above. It is 11x9x24 inches in size and can cover tanks that are up to 150 gallons.
Now, we have to say that for the given performance, the price is still a bit high, which is not justified by a proper warranty policy. Along with that, it is kind of noisy.
If you are looking to invest in professional equipment and a filter that can keep your water clean, then it is a good option.
- Sturdy canister
- Telescoping tubes
- Up to 450 GPH
- Self-priming pump
- Multi-stage filtration
5. SunSun Hw3000 PRO Filter
At the end of our list, we came up with a budget option that is perfect for those that can’t invest in the high-end brands but still require a good quality filter.
As you can see, price doesn’t always determine if a product is worth your attention or not. Much like the first filter that we mentioned, this one comes with a set of high-quality media including 1 lb. of ceramic rings, carbon and a set of bio balls.
Now, with the compact design that sits at 11x11x17 inches, this filter is sturdy and should last a good time as long as you don’t let the canister get damaged.
With 4 media pads, a 9 Watt UV filter, and a number of other accessories, this filter can do great work for an extremely affordable price. It’s extremely powerful too, being able to spit up to 790 gph. It’s a little beast, perfect for large tanks!
Unfortunately, there is not a good warranty policy or customer service that can cover your needs.
But, given the overall performance, this might be the optimal choice for average aquarium enthusiasts.
- Very affordable
- Built to last
- Compact design
- Plenty of accessories
- Bad warranty policy
- Non-attentive customer service
Choosing the fish tank filter is not a difficult job, but an important one to keep the water clean and keep your fish tank from smelling bad.
However, a few tips and tricks will help ease your job. Here are the most common types of fish tank filters and how to install them.
Air-Powered Fish Tank Filters
These are the most common type of fish tank filter. They are based on an air pump which drives the filter.
Air bubbles rise through a tube, and in exchange, the fish tank water is sucked up through the base of the filter. Some of them are extremely simple, such as a sponge capturing debris in the water.
Some air-powered fish tank filters have suction cups that allow them to be stuck to the aquarium side.
Air-powered filters need to be installed inside the aquarium (below the water level). All you need to do is to place the filter so that the air bubbles don’t get sucked back into the intake tube.
Additionally, you need to have a check valve which allows the air to go through but prevents water from going back.
If there is a power outage or the air pump stops functioning, the water can go down the airline and take the water out of the aquarium.
Check valves are unidirectional, so make sure you install it according to its instructions.
Under Gravel Filters (UGF)
These filters are also air powered. They are installed in an empty aquarium. It comes with a perforated filter which is placed in the empty aquarium.
Once placed, you cover it with gravel. The plate is connected to uplift tubes and each of the tubes have an air diffuser.
Fill the aquarium with water. The air pump is connected to each of the diffusers, which results in bubbles rising in the tubes. This pulls the water into the gravel and out of the tubes.
An extra tip would be to use a unidirectional valve (as in the previous circumstance) or place the water pump above the aquarium. This will prevent the water from flowing back.
And now you know all there is to be known about what filters really do in an aquarium.
We did our best to review a few professional-grade filters as well as a budget option for people who don’t have much money to invest.
Our personal favorite is the first recommendation, the Polar Aurora, which offers a complete filtration system with UV sterilization.
A truly amazing filter indeed, but this doesn’t mean that the others are bad. Always buy according to your needs and budget!
Affordable, versatile, and reliable, it is a choice that you will not regret and our absolute best large tank filter in 2024.
But in the end, all the options listed above are really good, so just pick the one that fits your budget and you’ll be satisfied!