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Best Internal Aquarium Filters in 2021

Internal Aquarium Filters, also known as submersible filters, are one of the most popular filtration systems on the market for small and medium-sized aquariums, with a wide spectrum of customers. This filter probably has more variations than any other, which can be confusing to newcomers: What factors should you consider before selecting an internal Aquarium power filter for your aquarium?

A Short Look at the Top 5 Internal Filters

Product Features

Aqueon Internal Power FilterAqueon Internal Power Filter

Style: Internal.
Filtration Volume: Up to 40 Gallons.
Dimensions: 6.5 x 5.69 x 11.19 inches.
Penn Plax Cascade Internal Filter

Penn Plax Cascade Internal Filter

Flow Rate: 70 GPH
Stages: 3 filter media chambers
Extras: 1 refillable carbon cartridge and 1 bio-sponge
Aqueon QuietFlow 10 Internal Power Filter

Aqueon QuietFlow 10 Internal Power Filter

Capacity: Up to 20-Gallons
Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 8 inches
Flow Output: 100 GPH
Tetra Whisper Internal Filter

Tetra Whisper Internal Filter

Capacity: 5 to 10-Gallons
Dimensions: 4.2 x 6 x 7.1 inches
Flow Output: 90 GPH
Dennerle Internal Corner Power Filter

Dennerle Internal Corner Power Filter

Style: Internal Submersible
Filtration Volume: Up to 20 Gallons
Dimensions: 7.7 x 3.9 x 2.4 inches

Internal Aquarium Filters Overview.

Once upon a time, aquarium filtering options were restricted to a few low-cost undergravel filters, mid-range HOBs, and expensive canister systems. When I first began keeping fish, there were only two brands available, and neither had an internal power filter.

Internal power filters are currently available in cheap and luxury versions, as well as for tanks of all sizes, thanks to major advancements in filter technology since then. Let’s look at the greatest hang-on back filters and talk about why they’ve grown so popular in the previous ten years!

The Benefits of the Internal Power Filters.

Before we get into internal power filter features and how to choose the right one, consider why you will need this form of filter over the other choices. Every style has advantages, but I would argue that the advantages of HOBs make them an excellent choice for a wide range of inexperienced and seasoned aquarists:

  • Internal power filters are electrical in nature and do not require a separate air pump to work.
  • They are available in more sizes than any other style, with capacities ranging from 10 to 40 gallons.
  • They have two or three phases of filtration, and the filter pads/media can be customized to provide the exact form of filtration your tank needs.
  • The best filter style for small and medium-sized freshwater aquariums.
  • Easily used as a secondary filtration system for larger or more complex aquatic setups.

Internal  Filter Features.

Aqueon Internal Power Filter

 

Now that you’ve learned about their advantages, it’s time to discuss the usual HOB features. Although all filters do the same job, Submersibles power filters have some special ways of cleaning the water.

Filtration stages allow customization.

One of the advantages of Internal Filters is the adaptability of the box that houses the filtration stages: filter pads and media. While most manufacturers sell pre-filled new pads with media that you just put into the filter, you can save money by buying padding in bulk and cutting your own.

At least two stages of filtration are included in submersible aquarium filters: mechanical and chemical. Extra baskets or containers for holding different types of media for focused chemical filtering are common on high-end internal power filters. Although the performance of these phases varies, the third stage for biological filtration has proven highly popular.

Choosing the proper Internal Aquarium Filter

If you’ve determined that an Internal Aquarium filter is the best option for your tank, how do you go about investigating and selecting a filter? When purchasing aquarium filters, I look for four things:

Fisk Tank Size.

Look for a model that is suitable for your aquarium’s size. Most filters may include a tank size or range of sizes on the box to assist you in making your decision, however, this can be subjective. Using a filter designed for specific tank sizes is not a good idea because it can result in your tank being under- or over-filtered.

Flow Rate.

The maximum flow rate, in gallons per hour (GPH), cycled through the filter under optimal conditions is usually listed by the manufacturer. Your actual flow rate is determined by the quality of your filter’s intake tip, pads, media, impeller, and motor. Using filled media baskets, flow rates can be lowered or altered.

Although the ideal flow rate is arguable, I usually start with a filter that cycles the entire water in my tank four times an hour, or twice for low-flow species like shrimp, Bettas, and goldfish. Then, when needed, I add additional filtration to the tank, which is especially important in big or planted tanks. I go over how to use several systems in the section below.

Noise.

Because its motor is internal and they sit in, rather than beneath your filter, submersible power filters are often quieter to run than HOBs filters.

However, as your filter ages, it is usual for it to get noisier. The movements are more obvious, and the components are looser. To hide the sound and keep the water flowing, cheaper filters also require impeller replacement.

Special Features.

Manufacturers frequently tout features like adjustable flow rates, silent rotors or various media baskets, and independent biological filtration stages as unique or exceptional features of their Internal Power Filter.

Because the efficiency of these features varies by model, I recommend conducting research and speaking with other filter users before selecting an internal aquarium filter. This will assist you in identifying filters with features that perform the way you need them to and avoiding those that have gimmicks.

How to Use Internal Filters.

submersible-filter

Now that you know how to choose your Internal filter, let’s talk about how to get the most out of your system. Consider the following factors before deciding on a Submersible model:

Aquarium Size and Decoration

Submersible filters, as their name implies, are usually mounted inside the aquarium or at the bottom. To fit inside your tank, they’re usually quite small. They can even be mounted on the tank’s side or corner.

Installing an internal filter in a densely grown aquarium might be tough. Rather than attempting to do so, you should always opt for a canister device. The majority of these systems, however, can be used in a standard-sized aquarium.

No matter where you put your submersible filter, make sure you can quickly extract the filter box. You don’t want to discover afterward that you put it somewhere you won’t be able to see it or access it. Your filter box should be cleaned, and your filter pads should be examined.

Is More Than One Filter Necessary?

As I previously stated, the flow rate of your filter is vital, but no filter, no matter how powerful, will be able to pull trash in from all sections of a large tank. Because plants and decorations block the flow, a thickly grown or decorated tank, regardless of flow rating, may require additional filtration.

The position of your Internal Power Filter is more significant in a wide or long tank than in a small or tall tank. The intake should be towards the center-back area of a small tank so that detritus can be drawn in from both ends. Several filters with intakes in various locations along the back may be required to keep the tank clear.

Filter Pads and Media Replacement

Although replacement pads that are already loaded with media can normally be obtained, cutting your own pads and filling the baskets with bulk media may be more cost-effective and efficient. Chemical filtration is reduced because most brands use only a tablespoon or two of media in their pre-made mats.

This also allows you to choose a finer filtering pad for greater water-polishing power, albeit these types clog more quickly and can reduce flow rate. One of the reasons I like them is how simple it is to change the phases of internal aquarium filters.

Product Reviews for the Best Internal Filters.

Because there are so many labels and styles, narrowing down a shortlist of internal filters to examine is never easy. Although I believe these are the best examples of modern submersible power filters, this is far from a complete list of filters.

Most of these filters exist in a variety of sizes, so if the one I reviewed doesn’t fit your tank, check to see if they manufacture it in another size. You’ll need to do some study because the features can vary based on the size.

1.Aqueon Internal Power Filter.

Aqueon Large Filter Quietflow InternaStyle: Internal
Capacity: Up to 40 Gallons
Dimensions: 6.5 x 5.69 x 11.19
Flow Output: 290 GPH

Check Price

This internal Quietflow model from Aqueon is one of the best 40-gallon aquarium filters. It hangs or is suction-cupped to the inside of your tank, similar to a HOB, except instead of hanging outside, it hangs inside. This is a fantastic choice for a planted aquarium with a small number of fish.

However, I wouldn’t use this filter with delicate species because the flow rate can’t be adjusted to match the gentle currents they prefer. In certain tanks, reaching into the filter to adjust the media may be difficult. It’s still the choice I’d choose for a plant-focused tank up to 40 gallons, and it’s still very affordable.

Aqueon Large Filter Quietflow Internal Pros & Cons
  • With a hanger or suction cups, it’s easy to lock in the upper part of your tank.
  • It has three filtration stages and even a biological stage.
  • It has a high flow rate of up to 290 GPH, making it ideal for planted tanks.
  • Changing the filter pad and media can be difficult depending on the design of your hood or lid.
  • It’s nearly a foot long, so it’ll stand out unless it’s concealed behind your tank’s decor.
  • The motor is very noisy, making it unsuitable for a bedroom aquarium.

2. Penn Plax Cascade Internal Filter

Penn Plax Cascade Internal Filter

Flow Rate: 70 GPH
Stages: 3 filter media chambers
Extras: 1 refillable carbon cartridge and 1 bio-sponge

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The Penn Plax Cascade is a well-made and functional internal filtration device that is reasonably priced.

The unit draws 70 GPH of water through the dual filter chambers, assisting in the removal of chemicals and other contaminants and ensuring a stable, secure atmosphere for your fish. If you like carbon filters, you’ll like the fact that carbon is included in the cartridges, along with filter sponges that provide a lot of surface area for bacteria to grow.

Despite its strength, the device is very quiet and also helps to aerate the water in your tank. On the downside, the filtration system’s flow strength is very high, which may pose a problem for some users.

Penn Plax Cascade Internal Filter Pros & Cons
  • It’s extremely quiet.
  • Exceptional flow rate.
  • Long-lasting and dependable.
  • The flow rate cannot be changed.

3. Aqueon QuietFlow AT40 Internal Power Filter.

Aqueon QuietFlow 10 Internal Power FilterStyle: Internal
Capacity: up to 40 Gallons
Dimensions: 3.75 x 1.75 x 10 inches
Flow Output: 155 GPH

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Aqueon’s internal Quietflow type is one of the top 40-gallon aquarium filters. It is suction-cupped to the inside of your tank, that is why this internal power filter is an excellent choice for a planted aquarium with a few fish.

I wouldn’t use this filter with fragile species, however, because the flow rate cannot be altered to match the gentle currents they enjoy. Reaching into the filter to alter the media may be challenging in some tanks. It’s still the option I’d make for a plant-focused tank up to 40 gallons, and it’s still extremely inexpensive.

Aqueon Quietflow Internal Filter Pros & Cons
  • With a hanger or suction cups, it’s easy to lock in the upper part of your tank.
  • It has three filtration stages and even a biological stage.
  • It has a high flow rate of up to 290 GPH, making it ideal for planted tanks.
  • Changing the filter pad and media can be difficult depending on the design of your hood or lid.
  • It’s nearly a foot long, so it’ll stand out unless it’s concealed behind your tank’s decor.
  • The motor is very noisy, making it unsuitable for a bedroom aquarium.

4. Tetra Whisper Internal Filter.

5-gallon aquarium filter

Capacity: 5 to 10-Gallons
Flow Output: 90 GPH
Dimensions: 4.2 x 6 x 7.1 inches

Check Price

The Tetra Whisper internal aquarium filter is the ultimate of three-stage filtration that is both silent and convenient. The mesh of the Bio-Bagdual-sided ® catches detritus and fish waste, while activated carbon absorbs odors and discoloration. Biological filtration is provided by the Bio-Scrubber. The Bio-anti-clog Scrubber’s design ensures optimum biological filtration while requiring less maintenance. Because the Bio-Scrubber has a solid back, water is forced to flow uniformly across the bacteria-rich bristles. The filter is submersible.

Tetra Whisper Power Filter Pros & Cons
  • The filter is simple and inexpensive, making it ideal for small tanks with low bioload.
  • Tetra filter replacement pads and parts are easy to come by.
  • Bettas like the low flow because it’s normal.
  • The flow rate cannot be changed.

5. Dennerle Internal Corner Power Filter.

Dennerle Internal Corner Power FilterStyle: Internal Submersible
Capacity: Up to 20 Gallons
Dimensions: 7.7 x 3.9 x 2.4 inches
Flow Output: 40 GPH

Check Price

I wish this sort of filter had been available when I was a kid because I would have loved to have had this Dennerle internal corner power filter! It’s an internal submersible filter with an adjustable spray bar for the outflow that hides in the corner of your tank.

The Dennerle is extremely quiet, and its 40 GPH capacity is ideal for Bettas and shrimp. However, the 3-stage filtration is appropriate for goldfish and planted aquariums. Although you will have to reach into your tank to adjust the pad and media, it is a simple process that does not require you to remove the entire tank!

Dennerle Internal Corner Power Filter Pros & Cons
  • The submersible filter is tucked away in the corner of your aquarium.
  • Is delicate enough for Bettas and shrimp, and with an aftermarket projector, it can also be used to raise fry.
  • For tanks with a capacity of 20 gallons or less, this is an excellent premium filter choice.
  • It costs more than many internal filters and about the same as a standard HOB filter.
  • You have to reach into the tank to adjust the media and access the filter pad.
  • Replacement parts are difficult to come by and will have to be shipped in from Europe.

Final Thoughts.

As you can see, internal power filters are a great choice for both seasoned and beginner fish keepers and are suitable for freshwater tanks up to 50 gallons. They’re simple to set up and maintain, and the most difficult part is generally deciding which model is best for your tank!

With so many sizes, features, and versatility choices, an internal aquarium filter can benefit nearly any tank. If you’re still undecided about which filter from my list is best for you, consider the following:

  • My overall favorite and best premium filter on the list is the Aqueon Internal power Filter, but if you want a simple and inexpensive filter, the Tetra or Penn Plax are good options, or the Aqueon if you want a filter with a few more features.
  • The Tetra isn’t flashy, but it’s the quietest filter on the market and has a solid design that performs like a luxury filter. If you have rough tap water, I would recommend the Penn Plax over the Darlene to save time cleaning mineral particles from your tank.
William
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