How to Choose The Right Sized Canister Filter

In Aquarium Filtersby PaulK

When selecting a canister filter for your fish tank, you want to get one that can do the job!

In other words, what is the turnover rate? The turnover rate is how many times per hour the water in your fish tank will go through your canister filter media. Normally, you want to turn over your aquarium water about 4-5 times per hour. So on a 50-gallon tank, you would need a canister filter with a flow rate of at least 200-250 gph (gallons per hour).

Obviously, the larger the fish tank, the more powerful the canister filter you will need.

You have to keep in mind that the advertised gallons or liters per hour rating is done without any filter media in the canister filter or any aquascaping in the aquarium. With media added, your gph flow rate will go down. That’s why it’s a good idea to get a more powerful canister filter than the advertised flow rate says to get.

So for a 50-gallon fish tank, you would get a canister filter rated for up to a 75-gallon fish tank etc, etc.

For any fish tank under 25 gallons, a canister filter is probably overkill. You can easily get by with a good power filter, but you may like the quietness of a canister filter over a power hang-on-the-back filter.

Best Canister Filter for a 55-gallon fish tank

For a 55-gallon fish tank at 5 tank turnover per hour, that’s 275 gph so you would need to get a canister filter that’s rated in the 300 gph range to make up for the reduced flow rate with full media and aquascaping.

I really like the Aqueon Quiet Flow. Get the one that’s rated for 75/300gph. This filter is super quiet and really gets my fish tanks clean. I put in three stage mechanical filtration (coarse, medium, and fine) to help get the water super clean. I also add some Purigen for extra measure.

Best Canister Filter for a 75-gallon fish tank

For a 75-gallon fish tank, you’re going to need a more powerful filter. The Fluval FX4 really fits the bill. It’s really well designed with advanced features like a self-starting Smart Pump and auto air extraction for maximum running efficiency. I would suggest adding your own media like 3 stage mechanical filtration and extra biological media to really scrub the water clean.

Best Canister Filter for a 150-gallon fish tank

Even more powerful than the FX4 is the Fluval FX6. It’s built with the same features as the FX4 only it’s rated up to a 400-gallon fish tank.

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