7 Best Internal Aquarium Filter With Buying Guide 2021

Aquarium filters are necessary for all the fish keepers, whether you have a large tank with lots of fish or a small tank with a couple of fish. Without a filter, you will have to make sure your tank water is clean all the time, which is quite tricky. Many new fishkeepers often get the wrong filter for their beginning, and they don’t even know which kind of filter would be best for their tank. So in this article, we will share some of the best internal aquarium filters available to help all the newcomers out there.

This list contains the top best internal filters for small aquariums, which you should go for if you have just started with fish keeping and searching for a filter to do the job. 

Also Read: 7 Best Low Maintenance Fish For Beginners Guide 2021 

Best Internal Aquarium Filter 2021: List And Guide

Searching for an internal aquarium filter is quite tricky because of the number of options and each filter having some pros and cons. We have tried to narrow this process down for you by selecting some of the best internal filters and putting them in one list.

These filters are on this list because of their all-around best features and are selected based on the needs of people, but before we get on to the list, let me quickly explain to you what an internal aquarium filter is, its benefits and how they work. If you already know this, then you can skip this part and get to the list directly.

What Is An Internal Aquarium Filter?

There are two types of filters available in the market: the hang-on back(HOB) filters or canister filters, and the second type is the internal aquarium filters. 

Fix nitrate levels in fish tank

Just as the name suggests, internal aquarium filters go inside your tank and do the work of filtering out the dirty water. These types of filters sit at the side of the tank, making it look good, and are specially designed for small tanks with less than 20 gallons of capacity, but you can also use them in larger tanks for dead spots to provide additional filtration.

How Do Internal Aquarium Filters Work?

Internal filters work by sucking the water from the bottom of the tank where they sit, and then the water goes into the filter chamber, which contains all the necessary things required for filtration. The media chamber contains a sponge-like material that traps all the dirt particles when the water goes through it, and then the clean water is released through a pipe that has a waterfall-like flow, or you can also fit a spray bar if you want water to spread more evenly.

These filters also have a three-layer filtration system, which means it has mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration, so there’s no need to worry about filtration efficiency. Some of the brands on this list also have UV lights to prevent algae growth. 

What Are The Benefits Of Internal Aquarium Filters?

These are some of the benefits of using an internal filter in your aquarium:

  • Best for beginners.
  • Easy to use.
  • Comparatively low priced than HOB or canister filters.
  • Makes less noise.
  • It hides well in your aquarium.
  • Less maintenance. 
  • Easy availability. 

7 Best Internal Aquarium Filters

Tetra Whisper Internal Filter

The Tetra Whisper internal filter is one of the cheapest filters you can find on the market. It’s cheap, but it does not mean that it’s inefficient in filtering water from the tank, it has a three-layered filtration system, and the filter uses a double-sided mesh, one side has a bio-bag, and the other side has a bio-scrubber. 

It comes in four variants, for 4 gallons tank, 10 gallons tank, 30 gallons tank, and 40 gallons tank, making it the best option for all beginners. 

The only thing I don’t like about this filter is that it mounts on the top of the tank in a submerged vertical position with a clip or suction cup that is not durable for a long time. As it is mounted at the top, the clean water flows from the top area like a waterfall, which helps regulate the flow in water. 

There is no manual option to set the flow according to your needs, but it works fine for most people, so there’s no need to worry about that. Also, the filter cartridge is removable as it has no lid at the top, so maintenance is easy for this filter, making it the best buy for all the new fishkeepers. 

Pros:

  • Affordable.
  • Make no noise.
  • Easy to use and maintain.
  • Three-stage filtration.

Cons:

  • The clip and suction cup are not durable in the long term.
  • The filter cartridge needs to be changed once in a while.

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Marineland Magnum Polishing Filter

This filter makes it to this list because of its filtration efficiency, and it is as good as an external filter. The Marineland magnum polishing filter can filter about 97 gallons of water which is enough for most tanks. It is usually a 2 stage filter, but the company has added a filter floss sleeve in the media chamber for biological filtration. 

Further, it also has an additional feature that no other internal filter on this list has: a pleated micron filter cartridge for providing clear water. Its efficiency is as good as a canister filter. 

Marineland Magnum Polishing Filter

It can work in freshwater, saltwater, and turtle tanks, so it’s an all-rounder. The only problem with this filter is that you need to clean the filter sleeve every few weeks, and the filter cartridges block if you use it in the turtle tank because turtles produce much more waste, and you’ll need to clean or change them in a few days. 

This filter is 297 GPH and can be tuned down manually if you want. It’s also hushed and will not make any noise unless there’s something clogged in the cartridge. 

Pros: 

  • Crystal clear water.
  • Suitable for even big tanks.
  • No noise.
  • Diatom option.
  • Three-stage filtration.

Cons:

  • Cartridges get blocked often.
  • A bit large for small tanks.

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Aqueon Quietflow Internal Filter

If you are looking for a filter for a small tank with shrimps and small fish, this is the one to go with. The Aqueon quiet flow filter is internal, but the only thing it lacks is that it has to be hung on the side of the tank half-submerged, which can be a deal-breaker for some people.

Overall this filter is a great buy; it is suitable for a 10-gallon tank and has a three-layered filtration system which means filtration won’t be an issue. 

Aqueon Quietflow Internal Filter

It uses foam and activated charcoal to clean waste and toxins from water. Also, it has a Biogrid that removes ammonia and nitrates produced from fish waste. 

You can also change the water flow by removing the tube from which the water comes and then adjusting it the way you want. 

Another issue which some users complained about this filter is that it makes noise, but I guess that’s because of the clogged cartridge. 

Pros:

  • Compact in size.
  • Easy to use and maintain.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Comes in 10-40 gallons tank sizes.

Cons:

  • Cartridges need to be changed frequently.
  • Noisy.
  • A bit expensive.
  • Mounted at the side.

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FLUVAL U4 Internal Filter

FLUVAL brand is one of the old names you’ll hear in the fish tank equipment industry. They have been there for a long time, making the best products so quality won’t be an issue with this one. It is best suited for 65 gallons tanks. It has a 3-way flow output, one from the top, which helps in excellent water circulation, another from the middle acts like a spray bar providing a gentle flow, and a third at the bottom for maintaining flow in the deepest part of the tank. You can also adjust the flow manually by turning the knob at the top if you want, which is a great option. 

The FLUVAL U4 filters the water in three stages; the foam pad removes large particles from the water at the first level. Then the carbon pads remove small particles from water at the second stage. Finally, at the third stage, the bio max filter does the biological filtration of water by balancing the minerals.

FLUVAL U4 Internal Filter

This filter does not produce any noise, and as I have told you earlier, there’s nothing to worry about quality and durability with FLUVAL products. The only thing you have to compromise while using this filter is your pocket; yes, it’s expensive but worth the price and would be enough for a long time.

Pros:

  • Easy to clean.
  • No noise.
  • Adjustable water flow.
  • You can fit it horizontally and vertically.
  • Efficient filtration.
  • Durable.

Cons: 

  • Expensive.

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Penn-Plax Cascade Internal Filter

The Penn-Plax Cascade internal filter got into this list because it just does everything well enough. It is suitable for up to 60 gallons and could be used for fresh and marine water tanks.

It is a submersible filter that you can place both vertically and horizontally. It also has a three-stage filtration system which is efficient enough. On top of that, this filter has two media chambers; the first chamber uses foam to clean out waste and adds beneficial bacteria to the water. In contrast, the second chamber uses a carbon cartridge that removes chemicals and toxins from the water. You can also add your filter media. 

Penn-plax Cascade Internal Filter

This filter also has an adjustable outflow, and you can use the spray bar feature to regulate proper flow in the tank. There is an option to connect an air tube or air muffler to the flow nozzle from which you can increase the oxygen in your fish tank.

Pros:

  • No noise.
  • Refillable cartridge.
  • Adjustable flow.
  • Spray bar option.
  • Air pump feature.

Cons:

  • Not suitable for turtle tanks.
  • Not very durable. 

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Aquatop IF-201 Internal Filter

This one is also a compact filter specially made for small tanks; it works best with tanks having a capacity of up to 10 gallons. You can place it vertically or horizontally on the tank’s walls, and it’s compact so that it won’t look ugly on your tank walls.

The Aquatop IF-201 uses a sponge inside the filter media, absorbing all the waste particles in the water and filtering out clean water. The sponge can be washed and reused for some time, but you will have to get a new one after reusing it two or three times. You can also attach a spray bar to the water outlet so that the water spreads evenly throughout the tank.

Aquatop IF-201 Internal Filter

This filter is easy to use and does not need much maintenance; you can easily take out the filter media to clean it and assemble it back.

Pros:

  • Easy to use.
  • Compact.
  • You can place it vertically or horizontally.
  • Efficient filtration.

Cons:

  • Makes a bit of noise.
  • Not very durable.
  • The flow rate is low.

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Coospider SUN JUP-01 Internal Aquarium Filter

Coospider SUN JUP-01 is not the best filter on this list, but it’s one of the most recommended internal filters by experienced aquarists to solve the algae problems in fish tanks. This filter comes with UV light attached which kills all the harmful viruses, bacteria, and algae.

Coospider SUN JUP-01 Internal Aquarium Filter

It works best with tanks from 40-80 gallons, and the filtration is just fine. It comes with two cartridges and an extra UV bulb. This filter is submerged fully in water, and it creates microbubbles; you can also adjust the flow of microbubbles. 

Pros:

  • UV light.
  • Efficient filter.
  • 1-year warranty.
  • Adjustable flow.

Cons:

  • Expensive.
  • Difficult to set up.

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Closure | Best Internal Aquarium Filter

Finding a good filter is very difficult if you are new to fish keeping. For beginners starting with small tanks, it’s recommended to start with internal aquarium filters that are easy to use and pocket-friendly. This list of best internal aquarium filters contains all the filters we found to be efficient and best among such a wide range of filters. Just make sure you get through each filter description to decide which one would suit you best.

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding internal filters, let us know in the comment section below.

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