The Best 10-Gallon Aquarium Filter (Guide & Reviews)

Betta fish, Siamese fighting fish with green plants

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A good aquarium filter will help maintain a healthy aquatic environment in your tank, which is critical to the health and wellbeing of your fish.

Yet, you might feel overwhelmed with all the available filters on the market.

This is a list of our recommendations for the best filters for a 10-gallon aquarium.

Let’s dive right in.


Best 10-Gallon Fish Tank Filters (Reviews)

Last update on 2021-05-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API



1- Aqua Clear – Hang On Back Fish Tank Filter **TOP PICK**

Last update on 2021-05-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you’re just looking for the top-of-the-line best aquarium filter, you could totally stop here and just grab the AquaClear HOB Filter.

The AquaClear filter is usually the first recommended filter for beginning aquarists because it comes prepackaged with bio-media (more on that later), but you also have the ability to customize it should your needs vary.

Many fish will require a gentle flow or current of water in the aquarium, and the AquaClear filter has you covered.

The special design oxygenates the water while creating the perfect current for small-tank fish.

While this filter is perfect for 10-gallon tanks, it works well for tanks up to 20 gallons as well.

The hang-on-back (HOB) design makes it easy to install. And the filter is also transparent, helping it to blend in with the fish tank.

Furthermore, filtration needs are fully met across mechanical, chemical, and biological layers. Therefore, you can rest assured that your fish will enjoy the cleanest, clearest water possible.

Finally, the flow rate of the filter is one-hundred gallons per hour. That means all the water in your ten-gallon tank flows through the filter on average ten times every hour.

The AquaClear HOB filter ticks all the boxes on every level, and that’s why it is our #1 pick for the best HOB filter for a 10-gallon fish tank or aquarium.


What We Like

  • Reasonably priced
  • Customizable flow rate for lesser currents
  • Easy to install
  • Comes with a 2-year warranty


What We Don’t Like

  • May become noisy with extended use


Overall, you can’t go wrong with the AquaClear filter, so if you don’t want to compare and contrast between all your available options — go that route and you won’t regret it.



2- Seachem Laboratories Tidal Power Filter 35

Last update on 2021-05-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Our second recommendation as a runner-up is the Seachem Laboratories Tidal Power Filter 35.

If you go with this option, you’ll have a great filter on your hands.


Here are some of the key features:

  • Adjustable flow rate
  • Maintenance alert and backup support
  • Optional heater holder
  • Surface skimmer
  • High biological media capacity


We are in love with the Seachem Power Filter because it has tons of features that will benefit your fish.

Remember the amount of bio-media your filter holds has a direct bearing on the quality of filtration. As the more space available for bacteria to multiply, reproduce, and consume toxic waste, the cleaner your water.

One of the main reasons the Seachem filter is so great is that it has a higher-than-average biological media capacity. Instead of using filter cartridges, the Seachem has a huge basket where you can store as much of any kind of biological media you like.

To start you off, Seachem’s Matrix bio-media is included with the filter, which is a nice bonus.

Additionally, the filter system is designed as such water is pushed upward through the bottom of the filtration basket, ensuring that all of the water touches the biological media. That way, you have more confidence that more of your water is being treated.

Another cool feature we like on the Seachem filter is the maintenance alert system. When the filtration media needs cleaning, water is redirected around the filter, instead of through it. This water then pushes against the maintenance alert on top of the filter, letting you know it’s time for a change.

Beyond that, while the main filter catches water at the bottom of the tank, the unit also comes with a surface skimmer that catches water from the surface, where oils and floating debris may lurk.

Other features include an adjustable flow rate, a self-cleaning impeller (one less thing to remember), a self-priming pump, and a heater clip.


What we like

  • Easy maintenance
  • Flexibility with filter media
  • Huge bio-media capacity
  • Very quiet
  • Great flow speed


What we don’t like

  • More expensive than other filters
  • Impeller can get stuck periodically
  • Surface skimmer can be dangerous for tiny fish or fry



3- Tetra Whisper PF10 Power Filtration System 

Last update on 2021-05-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you’re on a serious budget but still need a good filter, the Tetra Whisper PF10 has you covered.

While Tetra filters lack many of the extra bells and whistles you’ll find with pricier filters, you will still get adequate filtration for your tank.

This Tetra filter does come with some bio-media, but the quality isn’t the best. As such, you might want to purchase your own.

In this case, you might want to weigh the cost of purchasing the Tetra filter and bio-media to see if you might be nearing the price of one of the other filtration systems on the market.

One of the best things about the Tetra PF 10 is that it boasts a 90GPH flow rate, which is well above the 40GPH minimum for a ten-gallon tank.

On the other hand, it can be noisy compared to other filters.

Overall, if you’re on a budget and need a cheap, reliable HOB filter for your 10-gallon fish tank, the Tetra is a great option.


What we like

  • Excellent price
  • Easy installation and maintenance
  • High flow rate


What we don’t like

  • Low-quality bio-media included
  • Can be noisy
  • Hard to re-start after full water draining for cleaning



4- Aqueon QuietFlow 10 Internal Power Filter

Last update on 2021-05-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Aqueon QuietFlow 10 is another great filter that would work well for a 10-gallon tank.

This filter has a flow rate of 57GPH, includes mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration capability, and uses filtration cartridges that are easy to replace when needed.

Keep in mind, this is not a HOB filter but sits inside your aquarium, so it does take up some space.

But you don’t have to prime the pump before using it, just use the suction cups to attach it to the inside of the tank, plug it in, and it’s ready to go.

One of the best things about this filter is that it is probably the quietest on the market. ,

So if you want to keep your tank in your bedroom or office, this may be the best option for you.


What we like

  • Very quiet
  • You can add your own bio-media


What we don’t like

  • No flow adjustments
  • Takes up space inside the tank
  • Somewhat expensive



5- Zoo Med Nano External Canister Filter

Last update on 2021-05-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last but not least, we have the Zoo Med Nano External Canister Filter, which is ideal for new fishkeepers and perfect for smaller tanks.

The Zoo Med Nano filter is specially designed for beginners, as it’s easy to prime and start using right away.

Inside the package, you’ll receive the canister filter, a spray bar system for improved aeration, a mechanical filter sponge, bio-media, and chemical filtration media.

This filtration system looks deceptively small straight out of the box, which might alarm you at first glance. But rest assured it is a powerful canister filter that gets the job done quietly and effectively.

Overall, we recommend this canister filter to anyone seeking a good filter at an attractive price for a smaller tank.


What we like

  • Perfect for small tanks
  • Gentle yet adequate flow for small fish
  • Very quiet
  • Attractive price
  • Bio-media included


What we don’t like

  • Not as high-quality as some other models
  • After about a month the flow can slow down and you’ll need to carefully clean the tubes, which isn’t always the easiest
  • Replacement parts, like tubing, are not universal — you’ll need to go through the company



How To Choose an Aquarium Filter (10-Gallon Filter Buying Guide)


In this section, we’d like to take a moment to explain what you should look for in an aquarium filter.

After all, the best way to become a better aquarist is to learn not just what to do – but also why you should do it in the first place.

Here are the most critical components of a great aquarium filter.


Levels of Filtration

First, when choosing the best water filter for your 10-gallon aquarium, you must assure that filtration occurs on three levels —  mechanical, biological, and chemical.

We’ll go over each in detail below:


1- Mechanical Filtration

Most likely, when you first think of “filtration”, you probably think of mechanical filtration.

Mechanical filtration occurs when there physical machinery or equipment removes solid waste from water through circulation and separation.

While mechanical filtration is a critical component of cleaning your water, you must understand that it is not a sufficient means of filtration.

You see, physical waste is only one-way water becomes unsafe for fish. Toxic chemicals such as nitrate, nitrite, or ammonia can build up in the water as well.

Mechanical filtration does not remove any of these substances.

Therefore, you also need biological and chemical filtration to make sure you cover your bases.


2- Biological Filtration & Biological Media Capacity

The second layer of filtration you must consider is biological filtration.

Remember we just talked about how much of the waste in aquarium water is chemical — not solid?

Well, much of the filtration process is done by small microorganisms and bacteria, who consume toxic chemicals and substances that can harm your fish.

This process is called “biological filtration”.

The main thing you need to consider when it comes to biological filtration is that these special bacteria need a place to live, grow and reproduce.

They need a “home base” of sorts, so they can do their job.

The amount of living space inside the filter designated for these microorganisms is known as its “biomedia capacity.”

Your job when selecting the best filter for your ten-gallon tank is to make sure that the biological media capacity of any prospective filter is up to par.

Therefore, it is critical that you select an aquarium filter that has high enough biomedia capacity so you can pack as much of the tank-cleansing microorganisms in as possible.

It can take literally millions of bacteria to process even the smallest amount of waste.

Keep this in mind so you can get as much bang for your buck as possible.


3- Chemical Filtration

Last but not least, chemical filtration occurs when chemical substances are added to the water to dissolve the waste.

The most common additives used for chemical filtration are activated charcoal and resins.

The best aquarium filter for your 10-gallon aquarium will have adequate if not robust filtration on all three levels.



Types of Filters

The next thing to consider when seeking the best aquarium filter for your ten-gallon tank is the type of filter.

There are many types of filtration systems at attractive prices. Here’s our take on some of the best options for a smaller ten-gallon tank:


1- Hang-on-the-back (HOB) filter

HOB filters hang on the side or back of a fish tank. Water passes through a filter bag that contains activated charcoal.

The upside is that HOB filters are easy to clean. But the downside is that you often need to leave space for the filter at the top of the tank. Sometimes this can leave room for your fish to jump out.

Some filters nowadays, such as the Aqueon QuietFlow 10, are designed with this in mind, and you won’t have that problem.


2- Multi-Layer Corner Filter

These filters are multi-media filters composed of layers of rocks and other filtration media at the bottom, with layers of other media building up to the top, where rests a fine filter that meets the water.

The good thing about multi-layer corner filters is that you can find them at much more affordable prices than other filters.

We included these as recommendations for ten-gallon tanks because they do very well with small fish and fry.

So, if your budget is tight and you need adequate filtration for your 10-gallon tank, yet you don’t want to break the bank — an inexpensive multi-layer corner filter may be your best bet.


3- Canister Filters

Canister filters are named as such because — you guessed it — they are shaped like canisters.

Canister filters are installed on the outside of the fish tank. The way they work is at the core, there is a pressurized container of filter media. When water is sucked into the filter, it gets pushed through the media where it is cleaned and detoxified, and then fresh water is pumped back out.

The good thing about canister filters is that they are low-maintenance.

But, on the downside, biological water filtration is less than with other types of filters.


4- Internal Filters

Finally, internal filters make attractive options for smaller tanks. In fact, they are specifically for smaller tanks as they are unable to filter water in aquariums larger than 20 gallons.

Internal filters attach to the inside of the aquarium using rubber suction cups. They do a great job of cleaning by running the water through all three filtration steps — mechanical, chemical, and biological.

The benefit of internal filters is that they are relatively inexpensive options.

The downsides, however, are that they are harder to clean and don’t naturally produce gentle currents that many fish require to thrive.

In addition to these key types, you will find other types of filters on the market, such as sponge filters, under gravel filters, and wet/dry filters.

However, the filters we’ve mentioned above are best suited for a smaller, 10-gallon fish tank.

Apart from these common types, under gravel filters and wet/dry filters are also available in the market.



Flow Rate

Finally, you must consider the flow rate of an aquarium filter.

Flow rate is measured in gallons per hour (GPH) and lets you know how much water your device can filter in one hour.

Generally, you should aim for a filter that has a GPH that is at least 4x tank capacity.

So, for a ten-gallon tank, you need a filter of 40GPH.

A quick word of advice, however, is that the 4x per tank capacity is the minimum requirement and just an estimate.

Most fish benefit from stronger flows, so you should aim much higher if possible.



10-Gallon Aquarium Filter FAQ’s

best fish tank filters

In this section, we’ll cover some of the top questions people have about filtration systems for ten-gallon fish tanks.


1- Can you use a 20-gallon filter in a 10-gallon tank?

Yes. Generally, a higher flow rate (which you would have for a filter for a larger tank) is better. So you can use a filter for a larger tank in a smaller tank. However, make sure that the filter has an adjustable flow rate. Sometimes the current from a larger-capacity filter can be too strong for smaller fish. But, as long as you can adjust the flow rate down to meet your needs, you’re good to go.


2- Should fish tank filters always be on?

Yes. You should keep your filter on 24/7 unless you are changing the water, changing filtration media, or applying medication to treat sick fish. In fact, you should plan to have a backup power source to maintain power in case of an outage.


3- Can betta fish survive without a filter?

Bettas have different needs depending on the tank.

If your tank is 2.5 gallons or smaller, you definitely want to have a filter to keep the water clean. Your Betta could probably survive in a larger tank without a filter, but it would be more work and chances are high that it could get sick. If you have a 10-gallon tank, it’s best to provide a filter for your Betta.


4- How long do fish tank filters last?

If you keep the motor and impeller clean, a good filter can last at least 10 years.

Some filters, like the Seachem Laboratories Tidal Power Filter, come with a self-cleaning impeller, so that’s one less step for you to consider.

Last update on 2021-05-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


5- Is an air pump necessary for a 10-gallon fish tank?

As long as the filter pushes water back into the tank and skims the surface, you don’t absolutely have to have an air pump. However, if you can add one, you should. It will significantly improve the water quality, add freshness, and many fish love the bubbles an air pump provides.

The Tetra Whisper air pump is perfect for a 10-gallon aquarium at a price to suit any budget.

Last update on 2021-05-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API




small tank aquarium fish

While a 10-gallon aquarium is a beautiful addition to any small space, it takes a bit of research and consideration to get the perfect setup.

Once you find the right equipment, however, you’ll realize it was worth it.

We hope our review and buying guide for the best 10-gallon aquarium filters has saved you time and taken some of the confusion out of the process.

Good luck with your setup!


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P.S. Don’t forget to check out our entire vault of fishkeeping equipment guides and reviews!

Best Filter For A 10 Gallon Tank Reviewed In 2021