6 Best Quiet Aquarium Filters

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Is owning a fish tank becoming a noisy affair?

Are you constantly irritated by the noise that comes out of the fish tank filters?

I know exactly how it feels.

How?

Because I have been there.

Every time I would go to sleep, the constant noise of motors and filters would keep me awake.

I spent an entire week researching the quietest aquarium filters available.

Fortunately, you can just scoop in on my research—here’s a quick overview of the absolute best noiseless filters. You can scroll further down to the buying guide research process to learn how exactly I rated all these products.

Product Name
Best Overall
Fluval 107 Performance Canister Filter
Hydor Professional External Canister Filter
Aqua Clear
Fluval FX4
Polar Aurora
Best Budget
Marineland Penguin
Fluval 107 Perfomance Canister Filter
Hydor Professional External Canister Filter –...
Aqua Clear, Fish Tank Filter, 40 to 70 Gallons,...
Fluval Canister Filter, FX4 Filter (250 Gal)
Polar Aurora Free Media 4-Stage External Canister...
Marineland PF0350B Penguin Power Filter, Upto 75...
Our Rating
Ideal for Tank Sizes
10-30 gallons
90-150 gallons
40-70 gallons
Up to 250 gallons
Up to 200 gallons
50-70 gallons
Best Overall
Product Name
Fluval 107 Performance Canister Filter
Fluval 107 Perfomance Canister Filter
Our Rating
Ideal for Tank Sizes
10-30 gallons
Product Name
Hydor Professional External Canister Filter
Hydor Professional External Canister Filter –...
Our Rating
Ideal for Tank Sizes
90-150 gallons
Product Name
Aqua Clear
Aqua Clear, Fish Tank Filter, 40 to 70 Gallons,...
Our Rating
Ideal for Tank Sizes
40-70 gallons
Product Name
Fluval FX4
Fluval Canister Filter, FX4 Filter (250 Gal)
Our Rating
Ideal for Tank Sizes
Up to 250 gallons
Product Name
Polar Aurora
Polar Aurora Free Media 4-Stage External Canister...
Our Rating
Ideal for Tank Sizes
Up to 200 gallons
Best Budget
Product Name
Marineland Penguin
Marineland PF0350B Penguin Power Filter, Upto 75...
Our Rating
Ideal for Tank Sizes
50-70 gallons

Note: If you also have a doggie in your home and you get a bit irritated of the barking noise, I also have a handy guide on how to soundproof a dog crate. I have also meticulously included some tips from my experience to help you quieten your four-legged buddy.

Best Quiet Aquarium Filters

1. Fluval 107 Performance Canister Filter

If you are looking for a quiet canister filter for a tank of 10-30 gallons in size, the Fluval 107 Performance might be a good choice.

It’s not only powerful but is also up to 25% quieter and energy-efficient than the older models.

It can be used in both freshwater and saltwater. It has a water flow rate of 145 gallons per hour (GPH) water flow rate. It weighs only 6lbs and has 110v of power.

It has a powerful motor that generates constant pumping power and pressure that endures over time. The rubber feet helps fight the vibration and dampen the effect.

You probably won’t see it but the pump’s internal support structure has been re-designed to eliminate annoying rattles and humming noises- making it extremely quiet. It also comes with a self-priming feature.

It has an ergonomic design and AquaStop valves with a raised lip for smoother operation. It has a unique vertical pre-filter cartridge with independent access that provides more surface area and better mechanical filtration. It is very easy to clean and a lot less messy.

It has a 3-year limited warranty and you can extend it for 2 more years if you want.

Although, all these features come with a price. This product is a little expensive compared to other products on my list. Another downside is the lack of spray bar attachments.

With its easy set-up, quiet pump, simple maintenance, and versatility, it’s definitely one of the better canister filters on the market. So long as you have a tank that’s within the capacity requirements, you should have no issues with this filter whatsoever.

Pros:

  • Vibration absorbing feet
  • Silent: has a quiet mode which drains the machine noise
  • Powerful motor
  • Clamps for better operation and strength
  • Mess-free removal of dirt from the filter

Cons:

  • The white-colored hoses do not blend in the tank
  • No spray bar attachments

2. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

If you are looking for a canister filter for a tank of 90 to 150 gallons, the Hydor Professional might be worth looking into.

This filter uses ceramic shafts on the pump motor which ensures smooth, quiet operation of the water pump. The impeller which pumps the water rotates on the ceramic shaft.

This canister filter offers three-stage filtration which means that it provides mechanical filtration to remove solid wastes from the water column, chemical filtration to remove dissolved wastes and toxins, and biological filtration to support the growth of beneficial bacteria that help maintain water quality.

It is very silent, weighs around 18 pounds, and is pretty compact too and uses 120v of power. The flow rate of the Hydor ranges from 240 gallons per hour to 280 gallons per hour.

Unlike the Fluval 107 Performance Canister Filter, this canister filter has an expandable spray bar to customize the water flow into your tank.

It has an extremely easy priming system—you just need to get it up and running fast.

It does not include activated carbon—an element that pulls in all the dirt. You’ll have to purchase Hydor activated carbon separately.

Since this is a relatively newer filter in the market, it might be an issue to find replacement parts and therefore leading to high maintenance costs. Luckily, Hydor’s customer service is top-notch.

Pros:

  • Powerful water flow
  • Silent operation- uses a ceramic pump shaft for quiet operation.
  • Easy priming system
  • Has a spray bar to customize water flow
  • Has filter media baskets

Cons:

  • High maintenance costs
  • Does not have activated carbon

3. Aqua Clear – Fish Tank Filter

If you have a 40-70 gallon fish tank and you are looking for a power filter, the Aqua Clear might be of interest to you.

Its USP is its re-filtration system. This lets you reduce the flow up to 50% without interfering with the efficiency of filtration. 

Moreover, it is pretty silent—you won’t hear a thing standing right next to it.

Its unique design enables you to put a large amount of media in the large filter chamber and allows for very long media-water contact time for the most efficient filtration. It has a water flow rate of 300 gallons per hour.

It provides both- biological and mechanical filtration.

You will need to change the foam filter at the top every two months, the carbon in the middle of every month, and the BioMax filter every three months.

This filter is perfect for delicate fish. Apart from being quiet, it also works flawlessly with its three-stage filtration process. Cleaning the filter might not be as straightforward, though.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up
  • A great biological filtration system
  • No harm on the motor and impeller
  • Very silent

Cons:

  • Tedious to clean
  • It can sink easily if left on high flow

4. Fluval FX4High Performance Aquarium Canister Filter

If you’re looking for a canister filter for a big tank of up to 250 gallons, the Fluval FX4 might be what you’re looking for.

The FX4 has five stages of filtration and has an actual maximum flow rate of 450 gallons per hour. It has removable, stackable media baskets that eliminate water bypass.

It has a unique Smart Pump feature that monitors and optimizes pump performance. This filter is self-starting. You just need to add water and plugin— then the Smart Pump takes over.

It weighs only 14.17 pounds. It is super compact and has the Aqua-Stop valves with a leak-proof Click-Fit attachment system. You can use this filter in both, freshwater and saltwater. This filter has rubberized feet which help it operate silently.

It includes all filter media- biological, mechanical, and chemical.

Although, due to its complicated basket system, maintenance might be slightly tricky. Also, it has a high initial cost—the filter is expensive compared to other similar types of products.

Pros:

  • The large canister holds plenty of filter media
  • Removable, stackable media
  • Smart Pump feature
  • Multi-directional output nozzles
  • Tri-filter media

Cons:

  • Maintenance is complicated due to basket design
  • Expensive

5. Polar Aurora Free Media

If you are looking for canister filters for a large water tank of up to 200 gallons, this might be a great choice.

Polar Aurora can achieve a water flow rate of 525 GPH at the top of its gears. It comes with 4 media trays capable of handling your choice of filtration media—you can put different filtering media inside three of them.

It also has an adjustable spray bar. This is a helpful feature if you want to adjust the output flow from the filter itself.

This filter has a self-priming system, which makes maintenance super easy with no manual siphoning required. All you need to do is click a button.

There’s an O-ring on the top which seals the opening of the filter tightly and prevents water from leaking. So you don’t have to worry about leakage.

It is designed in such a way that the thick walls help to muffle the noise of the motor. It is usually pretty quiet but might create a bit of noise after normal wear and tear or improper maintenance.

It also has a built-in UV sterilizer for controlling algae spores and bacteria and promoting clear water.

Because of the way it is designed, it doesn’t come with an on and off switch—it only comes with a plug.

A minor inconvenience? Yes.

A deal-breaker? Absolutely not!

Pros:

  • Easy to clean
  • No leaking
  • Self-priming
  • Adjustable spray bar
  • UV sterilizer

Cons:

  • There is no on and off switch, just a plug
  • Weird slurping noise

6. Marineland Penguin

Marineland Penguin might be a great for people owning an aquarium of 50-70 gallons and looking for an inexpensive option.

This filter has a 3 stage filtration system- biological, mechanical, and chemical. The biological filtration process is carried out by a patented system called Bio-wheel. It removes ammonium nitrate and toxins without troubling the fishes. You can use this filter in both, freshwater and saltwater.

This machine can conjure up 350 Gallon/Hour when it comes to water flow rate—which if you were to ask me—is pretty phenomenal at this price range.

It has 2 vented covers that reduce the noise and keeps the operation quiet and dampens vibrations. It’s certainly not the quietest filter on my list—but the noise levels are still pretty low and acceptable.

The filter uses a patented Rite-size C cartridge floss pad with activated carbon included, which screens out debris and dirt. You can use Penguin Rite-Size Filter Cartridges which are quite handy.

In some rare instances, customers have complained about the bio wheels getting clogged. However, this is likely to be a case of manufacturing defect and you can get it easily solved by getting a free replacement.

Pros:

  • It performs well and keeps the water pretty clean
  • Excellently aerates the water
  • Bio-wheels for superior biological wet/dry filtration
  • Easy to set up
  • Includes all attachments
  • Easy maintenance

Cons:

  • Mediocre design
  • Bio wheels may get clogged

Why Should you Buy an Aquarium Filter?

An aquarium purifier is very important for the well being of the fish. There are numerous types of waste that are prevalent in the tank: solid wastes, uneaten food, dissolved ammonia, nitrates, etc. Buying an aquarium filter is the way to get rid of these wastes.

The tri-filtration: mechanical, chemical, and biological filtrations get rid of the said wastes. Once these wastes are gone, you have clear and clean water for your fish to live in.

Thus, you should buy an aquarium filter to make sure your fish is healthy.

Buying Guide: Features to Consider Before Buying

1. Filter Type

Air Driven Filter

Even though they are small, these types of filters can still be very sturdy and well constructed. These run on the air your aquarium’s air pump drives in. These filters will keep your fishes healthy and away from the face of harm. These sit on a panel that’s usually at one corner of the aquarium. I’d say air filters are reasonably quiet.

Since they are so compact, they are perfect for homes, hospitals, and workspaces.

Power/Hang back Filter

The most commonly found type of filter is the hang back filter- used by aquarists particularly for their small to medium-sized tanks: 10 to 55 gallons. They are relatively easy to set up and last for a long time. Many people love them, as they provide the best performance for biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration.

They literally hang on the wall of your aquarium, creating a waterfall effect. But you need to replace the water every 3-4 days to avoid the splashing sounds. These are pretty low noise but need some maintenance.

I would not recommend this type of filter unless you’re willing to stay on top of regular maintenance.

Canister Filter

The basic function of the canister filter is to pass aquarium water through several layers of filtration media. The end goal is to remove pollutants by capturing them on the filter media. These filters are very quiet. This is because they operate in a specially designed cartridge outside of the aquarium.

You won’t hear water splashing, because the water is being returned via a tube. It is completely soundproof. There is no vibration or humming noises at all. In addition to all this, these filters are sleek and compact.

Overhead Filter

These are very common types of filters. These hang on top of your aquarium from the back. These things create water to splash in the tank.

Hence, we hear some degree of sound. I’d keep them somewhere in the lower-middle category when it comes to noiselessness. Definitely not the quietest filter available, though.

Undergravel Filter

If you don’t want your filter to be visible, this is an option. These are placed at the bottom of the tank.

They move the water through the gravel to create conditions for biological filtration to occur, where beneficial bacteria break down the wastes in the fish tank.

These are fairly quiet too. Some of them come with cartridges.

2. Filtration Technology

Mechanical Filtration

Usually, there is a lot of debris in the fish tank. This debris comes from the uneaten fish food and other dust particles in the room. Mechanical filtration removes this dust and debris from the aquarium water and makes it clean. Foam pads are the most common form of mechanical filtration filter media used in canister filters.

Once the water is purified, the tank will contain clean, clear water. Having a clean and well-aerated tank will promote good health for your fish.

​Chemical Filter

source: animals-how stuff works

The water that we rely on for drinking and cooking comes from different sources. Some sources might contain hard metals or other materials that might be harmful to the fish.

Chemical filter media removes pollutants like ammonia, nitrite and nitrate, and other dissolved waste substances from the aquarium water. There are many types of chemical filtration media for aquariums. Some can be used in freshwater and marine tanks while others only work in freshwater aquariums.

Biological Filtration

The fish waste and the ammonia produced by the gills fo fish do not have any media to get out. The ammonia needs to be removed from the tank frequently, as it is quite toxic to the fish. Biological filtration gets rid of this biological waste.

Biological filtration refers to the process of biologically converting toxic ammonia waste into nitrite (also toxic) and then to relatively harmless nitrate.

If the ammonia is not removed from the tank timely, the might die slowly.

This is probably the very first decision to make while buying an aquarium filter. There are 3 types of filtration: mechanical, chemical, and biological. You need to choose which system will be best for your fishes.

If you have a problem with debris and dust collection, go for mechanical filtration.

There are some machines with a chemical filtration system. These machines are exceptional at countering discoloration of the water and removing the stink or nasty odor that’s common in aquariums from time to time.

If you have a problem with the natural, biological waste produced by fishes, go for biological filtration. It gets rid of the ammonia and the fish wastes.

Do you have all of these problems?

No worries!

You can always buy a filter that has multiple trays. These trays often support multiple filter media and remove all kinds of wastes from inside the tank. You might consider checking out Fluval FX4High Performance Aquarium Canister Filter.

3. Water Flow rate

The water flow rate is measured in gallons per hour. When you own a fish tank, make sure you have the ability to control at what speed you want the water to flow out of the filter. Make sure you have a regulator or a switch to control the flow.

It is better if you can compare different brands to see which offers the best water flow rate.

4. Noise Levels (Decibels)

It’s not uncommon for an aquarium filter to vibrate or make a bit of noise as there’s a motor inside it. Some filters will come with covers that protect the filter as it works, but they also dampen the vibrations and noise to some degree. So if you are irritated by the whirring, irritating sound—you need a soundproof aquarium purifier.

You can choose your best pick from the options I mentioned on this list.

5. Size of the Tank

You need to choose the best size for your home. Look at the size and the capacity for water in your aquarium. Then, select the best quiet aquarium filter that complements that size.

Buying a small device for a large tank would leave portions of the tank dirty with hazy water, and it won’t look good at all. Thus, it’s very important to select the appropriate size for your fish tank.

6. Self-Priming

With self-priming, air will not jam inside the tubes or stop water on its way out.

Do you have random power outages or voltage inconsistencies?

This feature might be especially useful for you.

If you have an advanced model, you will also see a couple of switches that allow the motor to suck the air out when there is a power failure. And when it starts again, you won’t notice a drop in its performance level.

From my list, the Polar Aurora Free Media has a self-priming system.

7. Cleaning the Filter

Whatever filter you buy, make sure it is easily cleanable. You will want to own an aquarium filter that is low maintenance and less trouble to handle.

FAQs

1. What Is an Aquarium Filter and How Does It Work?

A filter is simply a tool that helps you provide a place to allow the biological filtration to take place.

The fish excrete waste constantly as they swim around in the water. If this waste is not removed, the toxins that the fish are removing from their systems will rapidly build up to high enough concentrations that the fish will poison themselves. Filters refine the water and remove these wastes from the tank.

There are 3 types of filtration processes- biological, mechanical, and chemical.

Biological filtration is the most important one and is needed by all the fishes.

2. What Size Aquarium Filter Do I Need?

The manufacturer will suggest the size of the filter as per the size of your fish tank.

Note that most of them say “up to 20 gallons” or “up to 30 gallons”. It is the maximal size of tank the manufacturers say you can use their filter.

3. Do I Need an Air Pump If I Have a Filter?

Air pumps basically pump oxygen in the tank. They are not always required. As long as you have an adequate filter for your tank, this should create enough of a disturbance making an air pump unnecessary.

4. Can a Fish Survive Without a Filter?

In most cases, you will need to use a filter in your fish tank to provide enough biological filtration. In simple words, a filter is the easiest way to provide biological filtration. Although, some fish might not require mechanical or chemical filtration.

Fishes like goldfish and betta fish can survive without a filter. Although, all fishes will do much better if filtration is provided.

5. Is It Fine to Turn off a Fish Filter at Night?

It is NOT recommended to simply turn off the filter at night. Each time the filter is turned off the bacteria inside will start to die due to a lack of oxygen. This will lead to ammonia coming back and rotating in the aquarium. This can ultimately end up killing the younger fish in your aquarium.

6. What Are HOB Filters?

HOB filters are straightforward systems that work in a rather simple way. They suck water in through the intake tube which then releases it into the canister. The filter then moves the water through the installed filtration media.

7. Are Canister Filters Better Than HOB?

Both types of filters are great for personal use, in fact, they are quite similar and yet have huge differences.

HOB filters are best for personal aquariums that are smaller to medium-sized. Most people who own an aquarium at home, are happy with the performance a HOB filter gives them.

On the other hand, if you want water filters for commercial purposes, for instance, if you own a shop, you need to think more professionally. A canister filter will do a better job for such needs. After all, most of these devices are built to work alongside big fish tanks.

8. Which Filters Should I Use in Saltwater?

A biological aquarium filter is the most important method of filtration you can have in a saltwater tank. The very best saltwater aquarium filtration system is a pump-based system.

Another really good choice for a saltwater aquarium is the canister filtration system. This multi-purpose filter can be used alone or in combination with other types of filtration equipment. Because it is the most powerful filtration system available, it is an excellent choice for anyone who has lots of fishes.

9. How to Silence a Fish Tank Filter That’s Already Running?

Here’s are some easy ways you can silence an existing fish tank filter:

  • Remove the ceramic and bio balls media
  • Use filter floss
  • Apply vaseline to the impeller
  • Top off the water level consistently
  • Wait out the remanent priming
  • Remove dirt trapped inside
  • Clean the pipes and tubes
  • Replace the faulty part

The Bottom Line

Choosing an aquarium filter can be a tough choice. Based on the size of your tank, the desired machine you want, and the lowest noise-producing system, you can choose the required filter.

Fluval 107 is a great choice for most people who own a tank that holds 10 to 30 gallons.

Another great option is the Hydor Professional External Canister Filter which has an additional, expandable spray bar unlike Fluval 107. It has self-priming features and noiseless operation.

If you’re looking for something that’s easy on the wallet and efficient at the same time, consider having a look at Marineland Penguin.

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