Looking after a fish can be more work than you think, especially when it comes to ensuring their tank is equipped with everything they need to survive. Not only do you need to ensure they have the right tank, the right substrate and the right food, you also need to ensure you purchase the right aquarium air pump and the right filter so their water stays clean and non-toxic.
Fish tank filters can be known to make a lot of noise and this, therefore, limits where you can keep your fish. If you’re trying to concentrate in your office or trying to sleep in your bedroom, a noisy filter is going to distract you or keep you awake, so you might have to place your fish tank in another room.
Fortunately, there are fish tank filters on the market that are designed to operate quietly. This gives you the freedom to keep your fish wherever you want, without the worry of disturbance. In our buying guide below we explore how fish tank filters work, the types of filters available and what you should be looking for in the best quiet fish tank filter. We’ve even included some of our top picks out there, so if you want to learn more, keep reading on.
How Does A Fish Tank Filter Work?
An aquarium filter uses three different types of filtration systems to ensure that your fish’s home is clean and safe for them to live in. These are biological filtration, chemical filtration and mechanical filtration. Some filters use all of these types of filtration, while others only use one.
Biological filtration helps to remove any waste from your fish tank. Your fish is constantly producing waste and over time this will build up in the tank and cloud the water. Biological filtration usually works by converting your fish’s waste into a substance that is less toxic for your fish.
Mechanical filtration, also known as physical filtration, works by removing any particles from the water. A mechanical filter strains the water and catches any of these particles before they can dirty the water.
Chemical filtration helps to remove harmful substances and impurities in the water that can harm or even kill your fish. Chemical filtration is usually done by activated filter carbon that is found in most filters and helps to remove chemicals.
Types of Fish Tank Filters
There are a few different types of fish tank filters out there available to you. It will be up to you to decide which one is going to be best for your tank.
A canister filter is great for any tank of 40 gallons in capacity. They are great for mechanical, biological and chemical filtration because they are much larger than other filters. These filters have both a siphon tube and a flexible pipe that go from the filter to the tank. They are particularly good for cichlid, planted or saltwater fish tanks.
A sponge filter, also known as an air driven filter, is the most basic filter on the market and don’t do much when it comes to biological, mechanical and chemical filtration. However, they are great for breeding tanks, hospital tanks or tanks with small fish. The sponge filter is run by an air pump where the water is pulled through the sponge material and catches any debris.
An under-gravel filter is a filter that you place under your gravel or substrate. They work by pulling water up through uplift tubes. This filter offers both biological and mechanical filtration, but chemical filtration does not happen with this filter.
A power filter, also known as a hang-on back filter, is probably the most common filter out there. These offer chemical, biological and mechanical filtration and hang on the back of your fish tank. These filters work by sending the water through a suction tube that is inside the aquarium and pushing the water through a filter pad. The filter pad often has activated carbon in it to help remove any harmful toxins.
An internal filter is a compact filter and therefore great for small tanks or nano tanks under 20 gallons. They are stuck to the inside of tanks using suction cups. You get biological, mechanical and chemical filtration from an internal filter.
A wet-dry filter is one of the most uncommon filters but are normally used by experienced tank owners. They are also usually used for saltwater tanks. These filters provide great biological filtration but do not provide good mechanical filtration as the water is not as restricted as it is with other types of filters.
Things To Look For In A Quiet Fish Tank Filter
Once you have decided which type of filter is going to be right for you, you’ll want to make sure it is quiet! Take a look at the features we think you should be looking out for in your quiet filter.
First and foremost, you’ll want to ensure your fish tank operates quietly. Fish tank filters are known to make some noise, especially a humming or buzzing noise. Fortunately, quiet filters are becoming more common these days, but you must be aware you may not find a filter that is 100% silent. The filters in our list are some of the quietest out there on the market, so take a look.
Size of Tank
Fish tanks can come in many different sizes from as small as 3 or 5 gallon fish tanks to very large, meaning fish tank filters also come in many different sizes. You’ll want to get one that is the right size for your tank so it does it’s job properly and doesn’t harm your fish. This will also mean it doesn’t make any unnecessary noise.
A filter is only going to get noisier the longer is goes without maintenance. Therefore, maintaining your fish tank filter and cleaning it accordingly is very important. If your fish tank filter is difficult to assemble or has lots of fiddly parts, then you’re going to be less inclined to service it and check it is working properly. Ensure it is easy to maintain before buying.
Fish tank filters can come at a range of different prices. You should be able to find one that fits within your budget and is of good quality. The more expensive, the better quality the filter is likely to be. This can help prevent rattling or excess noise due to poor manufacturing. However, there are many good filters out there at a lower price, too.
If you’re ready to find the quietest fish tank filter for your aquarium, take a look at the best filters we recommend below. These are all available to you on Amazon.
The Best Quiet Fish Tank Filter — Reviews
This internal filter from Aqueon provides chemical, biological and mechanical filtration and is easy-to-install with suction cups and/or hanging clips. It can be hung either vertically or horizontally and can be used with frameless or framed aquariums. It comes with a carbon cartridge for chemical filtration, a bioholster to remove toxic ammonia and nitrites and a course media sponge that removes particles and debris.
Fully submersible and with an adjustable return flow rate, the direction and height of water return is also adjustable. As the name suggests, this filter is also very quiet as is operates and will not disturb you. This filter comes in a range of sizes depending on your tank size — for 10, 15, 30 and 40 gallon tanks.
– Provides chemical, biological and mechanical filtration
– Very quiet operation
– Can be hung either vertically or horizontally
– Fully submersible
– Adjustable return flow rate, direction and height of water return
The Polar Aurora external aquarium filter is great for fish tanks up to 75 gallons and provides filtration at a rate of 265 gallons per hour. Super quiet, many users have reported they can barely hear this filter as it is working. With 3 media trays capable of handling your choice of filtration media, this filter offers mechanical, chemical and biological filtration. The spray bar is adjustable so you can adjust the output flow from the filter and the self-priming pump eliminates the need for manual siphoning.
This also makes for easy maintenance of the filter, helping to keep your tank clean and also making your job easier! Even better, a built-in 9 Watt light controls algae spores and bacteria and promotes clear water.
– Provides mechanical, chemical and biological filtration
– Users have reported it to be a very quiet filter
– Adjustable output flow
– Self-priming pump
– Simple maintenance to help keep the tank and filter clean
The EHEIM fish tank filter provides mechanical and biological purification for any fish tank up to 40 gallons in size. It comes with filter sponges and loose filter media included, as well as accessories such as a filter basket, a spray bar, an inlet pipe, a hose and other installation accessories. The bio media offers a great place for beneficial bacteria to thrive, too. With a permo-elastic silicon sealing ring fixed on the pump head, you can be sure this filter is simple to use and allows for easy and safe closing after cleaning.
Many users have also reported how quiet this filter is, meaning you can keep your fish tank in any room without having to worry about the noise disturbing you. Furthermore, this filter comes in bigger sizes, great for 66 gallon aquariums and 92 gallon aquariums.
– Mechanical and biological filtration
– Filter sponges and filter media included
– Accessories included such as a filter basket, a spray bar, an inlet pipe and a hose
– Super quiet operation means you can keep your tank in any room
This Tetra Whisper filter uses three stage aquarium filtration to help keep your fish tank clean — mechanical filtration catches debris and fish waste, chemical filtration absorbs odors and discoloration, and biological filtration eliminates toxic ammonia and nitrites. As the name suggests, it operates at a whisper quiet volume so you don’t have to worry about being disturbed. The filter works for 20 gallon fish tanks and uses Large Bio-Bag cartridges, which are both quiet and dependable.
A convenient flow control allows you to turn down the flow to promote better feeding and extend the cartridge life by reducing uneaten food particles and preventing clogs, too. As with many of the other filters on this list, this Tetra filter comes in three other sizes for tanks of different sizes.
– Mechanical, chemical and biological for all round filtration
– Whisper quiet operation
– Convenient flow control prevents clogging
– Available in multiple sizes
This canister filter from Penn-Plax is great for both marine and freshwater environments and offers a 3 stage filtration process. This filter has many great features such as swimming pool style rotating valves with flow controls, an easy to use push button primer for a quick and easy set up, and 3 large media baskets that can be customized to meet the needs of all aquarists. It also comes with a spray bar, tubing, directional spout for customization and filter medium, great if you’re setting up your tank for the first time.
An air-tight seal assures proper flow rate while maintaining ultra quiet operation, perfect if you want to keep your tank in your bedroom. There is a floss pad for removing particulate matter and a course sponge that provides abundant surface for promoting beneficial bacterial growth, removing ammonia and nitrate, too. This filter is great for any tank up to 150 gallons in capacity.
– For marine and freshwater tanks
– 3 stage filtration
– Air-tight seal ensures quiet operation
– Adjustable flow
– Easy set up
– Filter medium included
Filtering 400 gallons of water an hour, this filter from MarineLand is perfect for tanks with a capacity of 80 gallons. This filter comes with a noise-reducing cover, so the filter doesn’t make too much noise. It uses patented Bio-Wheel technology that helps to provide excellent wet/dry biological filtration for your tank, removing toxic ammonia and nitrite. Also delivering mechanical and chemical filtration to help maintain a clean and clear aquarium, this filter comes with Emperor Filter Cartridges that remove waste, discoloration and odors.
It also provides excellent water quality, using Black Diamond Premium Activated Carbon for great efficiency. This filter is available in four other sizes, too.
– Offers mechanical, chemical and biological filtration
– Noise-reducing cover for quiet operation
– Removes toxic ammonia and nitrate
– Comes with Rite-Size Filter Cartridges and use Black Diamond Premium Activated Carbon
The Fluval FX6 Canister Filter is great for aquariums up to 400 gallons in capacity. With a rate of 925 GPH, this filter has all mechanical, chemical and biological filter media included and microchip technology helps to monitor and optimize the pumps performance. The filter is self-starting and trapped air is auto-evacuated every 12 hours to ensure maximum efficiency. Allowing easy-water changes, this filter has media baskets that eliminate water bypass, too.
The valves are positioned at convenient 45-degree angles for easy installation and rotation and the multi-directional output nozzles can be fully adjusted to create customized water flows. With rubberized feet to ensure quiet operation, it stands only 21″ tall and will easily fit under most aquariums. Even better, this filter comes with media included: Biomax Filter, Clearmax Phos-X Phosphate remover and Pre Filter Media.
– Mechanical, biological and chemical filtration
– Comes with media included
– Rubberized feet to ensure quiet operation
– 21” tall to easily fit under most aquariums
– Easy installation
– Adjustable water flow
As the name suggests, the Tetra Whisper EX Power Filter provides silent multi-stage filtration for clear, clean water. Moving water continuously to prevent debris buildup, the carbon inside the filter eliminates odors, discoloration and impurities and the Bio-Scrubber removes ammonia and nitrites that are toxic to your fish. The filter comes with a filter cartridge carrier which keeps your hands clean and eliminates any unwanted drips, as well as a timestrip that tells you when your carbon filter needs to be changed.
Easy to set up right out of the box, this filter is perfect for aquariums with a capacity of 45 to 70 gallons, although it is also available for tanks of a smaller size.
– Almost silent multi-stage filtration
– Continuous flow to help prevent build-up
– Filter cartridge carrier to keep your hands clean and eliminate drips
– Timestrip to tell you when the carbon filter needs to be changed
– Easy set up
The Aqua Clear fish tank filter provides optimal mechanical, chemical and biological filtration for tanks between 60 and 110 gallons in size. The filter offers superior contact time with filter media and has an energy efficient pump that helps to lower operating costs. Quick and easy to install, this filter comes with AquaClear Foam, an Activated Carbon Filter and BioMax and Cycle Guard for superior water quality.
The filter preserves beneficial bacterial creating a stress-free environment for your fish and the waterfall design enables filtered water to return to the tank silently, so it’s not too noisy! The filter is also available for tanks with smaller and larger capacities.
– Offers mechanical, chemical and biological filtration
– Waterfall design means that filtered water returns silently
– Energy efficient
– Easy to install
– Preserves beneficial bacteria for a stress-free environment
The SunSun external filter can be used in any freshwater or saltwater aquarium and has five stage filtration. With an LCD display, you are able to adjust the flow of the pump and the duration of the 9 watt UV sterilizer, perfect for maintaining a clean and clear aquarium with minimal hassle. With no priming required, this pump is very easy to set up and therefore easy to maintain, too.
While this filter is powerful, it has a very quiet operation, too, perfect for keeping your fish tank wherever you want in the house. Also included with this tank filter are 4 filter media baskets, which gives you the ability to add and personalize the amount of filter media (which is sold separately).
– 5 stages of filtration
– LCD display for easy use and adjustments
– Powerful yet quiet operation
– 4 filter media baskets
– Easy to set up and maintain
This power filter from Marina is designed for fish tanks up to 20 gallons in size. It has a unique compact and slim design that provides both practical and aesthetic benefits: it takes up less space than standard size filters and it brings a touch of elegance to your aquarium. The filter comes equipped with an adjustable flow control so you can adjust the water flow level in your tank and the motor is submerged in the water and operates very quietly.
The filter includes two filter cartridges — 1 Bio-Carb and 1 Bio-Clear — both which contain Ceramitek, a highly porous ceramic filter medium that optimizes biological filtration for a healthy aquarium. With no priming required, the installation and set-up is very easy, as is the maintenance.
– Two filter cartridges that optimizes biological filtration
– Adjustable flow control
– Submerged motor allows for super quiet operation
– Compact and slim design
– Installation and maintenance very simple
Another filter quiet from Fluval, this C4 filter is a power filter that features 5 stages of filtration for aquariums between 40 to 70 gallons. Filtering 264 gallons of water an hour, this filter is a clip-on filter which means it is easy to install and easy to maintain. Helping to keep your fish tank free of any toxins while remaining quiet while doing so, this filter allows for a stress-free environment for your fish, removing unwanted odors, discoloration and impurities.
The flow rate is completely customizable based on the needs of your fish and plants, too. The Fluval Activated Carbon Filter Insert contains 100% premium research grade carbon and and there is a cleaning indicator to show you when the polyfoam needs to be rinsed for further maintenance.
– Five stages of mechanical, biological and chemical filtration
– Quiet operation
– Clip-on filter making it easy to install and maintain
– Customizable flow rate
– Cleaning indictor to show when the polyfoam needs to be rinsed
As you can see, there are many different quiet fish tank filters out there, designed to make looking after fish a lot more simple. A quiet filter gives you the pleasure of enjoying having your fish around, rather than being distracted and irritated by the noise their tank is making. Ensure you check the size of the filter against the size of your tank before buying, and take note of the filtration method and type of filter to ensure you get the right one. Which quiet aquarium filter do you think you’ll go for?