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8 Best Hang-on Back Aquarium Filters in 2022 – Reviews & Top Picks

hang on back tank filterFilters are an essential item for aquariums that help keep the water quality clean and fresh which keeps the inhabitants healthy. Every aquarium should have some form of filtration to run smoothly and finding the right type of filter for your aquarium is the first step.

Many hobbyists do not like the appearance of filters directly inside of the tank, which is where the benefits of a hang-on back filter come in handy. Hang-on back filters provide a form of external filtration and clip onto the rims of the aquarium. The majority of hang-on back filters have a strong water output which forms a waterfall onto the surface. This can act as a type of aeration system which means you do not have to spend the extra costs on a separate system that will ruin the natural look of an aquarium.

This product guide has reviewed some of the best hang-on back filters that are attractive and suitable for a variety of aquariums.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2022

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
MarineLand Penguin Bio-Wheel Multi-Stage Power Filter MarineLand Penguin Bio-Wheel Multi-Stage Power Filter
  • Affordable
  • Durable material
  • 3-stage filtration
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Boxtech Aquarium Hang-on Filter Boxtech Aquarium Hang-on Filter
  • Low noise output
  • Ideal for fishbowls
  • Includes waterfall suspension
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    AquaClear Fish Tank Filter AquaClear Fish Tank Filter
  • Easy installation
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Multi-filtration system
  • Fluval C Series Power Filter Fluval C Series Power Filter
  • Enhanced filtration
  • 5-stage clip-on power filter
  • Suitable for both salt and freshwater
  • Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter With Quad Filtration System Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter With Quad Filtration System
  • Quiet
  • Filters a large volume of water
  • Removes contaminants effectively
  • The 8 Best Hang-on Back Filters

    1. MarineLand Penguin Bio-Wheel Multi-Stage Power Filter – Best Overall

    MarineLand Penguin Bio-Wheel Multi-Stage Power Filter

    Tank Size: 10-75 gallons
    Product Dimensions: 9.5 × 6.25 × 8 inches
    Filtration Type: Mechanical, biological & chemical
    Size Options: 75GPH-350GPH

    The best overall product is the Marineland power filter which is at the top of our list for the high quality and benefits this filter has to offer. It comes in several different sizes which makes it ideal for a range of different aquariums from 10 gallons to 75 gallons. It stands out against its competitors by providing an aquarium with mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration for optimal water quality. This filter is compatible with the Marineland filter cartridges which can be bought separately. This filter contains a rotating bio-wheel with patented technology to provide an excellent source of wet and dry biological filtration.

    Pros
    • 3-stage filtration
    • Durable material
    • Affordable
    Cons
    • Too large for tanks under 10 gallons

    2. Boxtech Aquarium Hang-on Filter – Best Value

    Boxtech Aquarium Hang-on Filter

    Tank Size: 5-30 gallons
    Product Dimensions: 4.72 × 4.72 × 3.54 inches
    Filtration Type: Biological & chemical
    Size Options: 50GPH-250GPH

    The best value for money product in this category is Boxtech hang-on back filter because it includes a powerful waterfall suspension oxygen pump that is submersible. It has a hanging activated carbon biochemical wall and provides filtration, oxygenation, and a clearing-oil film. It is a lightweight and thin design which blends nicely into the aquarium while looking elegant and professional. The motor has a low noise output, and the adjustable flow valve allows you to adjust the current according to the tank size and type of fish you keep. This can be beneficial for fish species who prefer little to no current such as the popular betta fish.

    This filter will also work for a fishbowl and a standard-shaped aquarium, which is something its competitors are unable to achieve. This filter is suitable for aquaria between 5 to 30 gallons, but it is possible to use it for larger understocked aquariums on high flow.

    Pros
    • Includes waterfall suspension
    • Low noise output
    • Ideal for fishbowls
    Cons
    • Delicate and breaks easily
    • Better suited to small aquaria

    3. AquaClear Fish Tank Filter – Premium Choice

    AquaClear Fish Tank Filter

    Tank Size: 10-30 gallons
    Product Dimensions: 4.5 × 8.2 × 6.7 inches
    Filtration Type: Mechanical, biological, & chemical
    Size Options: 75GPH-250GPH

    The Aquaclear fish tank filter is suitable for aquariums ranging between 10 to 30 gallons. It’s our premium choice for all it has to offer as a filtration system. It is simple to install and use and only has to be cleaned every 2 weeks for maximum operation and efficiency. This filter provides mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration and the filtration volume is seven times larger than comparable hang-on back filters. This aquarium filtration system offers superior contact time with the filter media and the energy-efficient pump which results in lower operating costs. The Aquaclear filter comes with a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.

    Pros
    • Multi-filtration system
    • Lifetime warranty
    • Easy installation
    Cons
    • Breaks easily
    • Should be cleaned every two weeks

    4. Fluval C Series Power Filter

    Fluval C Series Power Filter

    Tank Size: 40-70 gallons
    Product Dimensions: 11 × 7.5 × 10 inches
    Filtration Type: Biological, chemical, & mechanical
    Size Options: 300GPH-450GPH

    This filtration system has a 5-stage clip-on power filter that is designed for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. It is suited for aquariums between 40 to 70 gallons. The two mechanical stages trap both large and fine debris and the foam pads easily slide out for quick cleaning. The activated carbon effectively removes toxins for chemical filtration and the biological stage features a bio-screen pad that blocks debris and provides a large area for beneficial bacteria to grow. The biological trickle chamber is supercharged for fast and efficient nitrification when it is loaded with Fluval C-Nodes. The patented recirculation grid enhances mechanical filtration when the flow rate is reduced.

    Pros
    • 5-stage clip-on power filter
    • Suitable for both salt and freshwater
    • Enhanced filtration
    Cons
    • Only suited for larger aquariums
    • Bulky

    5. Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter With Quad Filtration System

    Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter With Quad Filtration System

    Tank Size: 55-100 gallons
    Product Dimensions: 9 × 6.5 × 11 inches
    Filtration Type: Biological, chemical, & mechanical
    Size Options: 350GPH-600GPH

    This hang-on back filtration system is quiet and effectively delivers 300 gallons per hour of crystal clear water for aquariums ranging between 55 to 100 gallons in size. The revolutionary bio-falls is a quad-filtration system that provides filtration with anaerobic bacteria for additional nitrite and ammonia removal while providing maximum oxygenation. The cartridges hold activated carbon that removes harmful chemicals, toxins, odors, discoloration, and any other contaminants that may enter the water column and disrupt the ecosystem of the aquarium. The internal sponge filter optimizes colonization of beneficial bacterial and poly-fiber floss in the cartridge to trap floating particulate matter. This filtration system includes a flow knob to reduce the flow of the filter with ease.

    Pros
    • Quiet
    • Filters a large volume of water
    • Removes contaminants effectively
    Cons
    • Pricey
    • Filter media should be purchased separately

    6. Azoo Mignon Filter 150 Power Filter

    Azoo Mignon Filter 150 Power Filter

    Tank Size: 5-30 gallons
    Product Dimensions: 9 × 6.5 × 11 inches
    Filtration Type: Biological & mechanical
    Size Options: 75GPH-250GPH

    This filtration system is quiet and efficient and does a great job at filtering aquariums while remaining affordable. It is easy to maintain and clean, but the material is prone to scratching or chipping if it is not handled with care. It uses mechanical filtration to trap and remove debris from the water column, but it should be cleaned weekly to ensure that it operates effectively. It is suitable for aquariums up to 30 gallons, which makes it ideal for smaller aquariums or large fishbowls. It filters 120L per hour which is excellent and efficient in keeping the water clean and clear.

    Pros
    • Quiet
    • Powerful
    • Affordable
    Cons
    • Prone to scratches and chipping
    • Excludes chemical filtration

    7. Aqueon Quiet Flow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filter

    Aqueon Quiet Flow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filter

    Tank Size: 5-20 gallons
    Product Dimensions: 6.4 × 6.3 × 3.8 inches
    Filtration Type: Biological, chemical, & mechanical
    Size Options: 75GPH-200GPH

    This hang-on back filter contains an LED light that flashes to indicate when water is not passing through the cartridge properly. This is used to indicate when the cartridge needs changing or cleaning. The self-priming filter pump automatically starts if the power is interrupted or restored without damaging the system. It provides chemical, mechanical, and biological filtration with the addition of a specialty pad filter. It features a high flow rate for optimal dissolved oxygen to promote a healthy aquarium ecosystem for plants, invertebrates, and fish. This specific filter is suited for aquariums up to 20 gallons, but there are larger sizes available sold by the same supplier. It uses a one medium Aqueon replacement filtration cartridge with the 10-filter pad size which can be bought separately when it needs to be replaced.

    Pros
    • 3-stage filtration
    • Indicator LED light
    • Affordable
    Cons
    • Delicate material
    • The indicator light may malfunction after a few years

    8. Marina Power Filter

    Marina Power Filter

    Tank Size: 5-20 gallons
    Product Dimensions: 3.4 × 11.5 × 6.4 inches
    Filtration Type: Biological & mechanical
    Size Options: 75GPH-200GPH

    The Marina power filter offers filtration for aquariums of up to 20 gallons. It is self-priming and easy to maintain. This filter includes adjustable flow control for effective current control. You can change the flow according to the size of the aquarium and the species of fish you keep. It is better suited for smaller aquariums; however, you can keep it inside a larger aquarium if it is understocked and an additional filtration system is used. It mainly uses biological and mechanical filtration.

    The material is on the more delicate side so it should be handled gently to prevent the filter from cracking. This filter is slightly longer and thinner than other hang-on back filters, so it is a better option if you do not want a bulky filter and a solid color.

    Pros
    • Self-priming
    • Adjustable flow control
    Cons
    • Delicate material

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    Buyer’s Guide – Choosing the Best Hang-on-Back Aquarium Filter

    When you are looking through the different hang-on back filters for your aquarium, the size and stocking rate should be considered. Some species of fish such as goldfish are messier and require a stronger filter in comparison to bettas or tetras. The size of the aquarium is equally as important because a filter that only processes small amounts of water at a time is only beneficial to small aquariums, whereas large aquariums require a stronger flow and input system.

    The filter should be suited to the design of your aquaria, for example, some hang-on backs can fit onto both a fishbowl and standard tank, whereas some designs are only suitable for a rectangular tank.

    The manufacturer will typically specify what type of aquaria and water volume the filter can handle to operate efficiently.

    planted tropical aquarium
    Image Credit: S-F, Shutterstock

    Tips for Buying a Hang-On Back Filter

    • Look for a filter that will fit the type and size of your aquarium. You risk breaking the filter if it is not suited for your type of aquarium.
    • The filter should meet your budget requirements and not be too overpriced for what the filter has to offer.
    • Ensure that the filter has everything you are looking for in terms of filtration. There are both lavish and plain hang-on back filters that appeal to different buyers.
    • Ask the manufacturers as many questions as possible before making a purchase. This allows you to determine how communicative the manufacturers are and how the product works outside of the guidelines and information panel.

    What Are the Options?

    Size

    The hang-on back filters power for a specific sized filter is calculated using GPH. The products reviewed above start at a minimum of 75GPH and a maximum of 600GPH. These models are suitable for both small and large aquariums. Small hang-on back filters are typically designed for tanks under 20 gallons, whereas larger hang-on back filters are suited for tanks between 30 to 100 gallons.

    aquarium with cichlids
    Image Credit: Frantisek Czanner, Shutterstock

    Type

    Some filters include a built-in aeration system which saves you money from having to purchase it separately. Some filters have cartridges where the media for chemical and biological filtration need to be replaced which should be purchased separately from the same company to ensure that the media is compatible with your type of hang-on back filter.

    Flow Rate

    Filters with adjustable flow rates enable you to take control of the water flow in your aquarium. Most have an adjustable slider or dial that lets you easily change how fast the water flows through the system.

    The flow rate that you need depends on what type of fish you keep. A good general rule is that all the water in your tank should cycle through the filter three to four times an hour. To put this in perspective, a 30-gallon- per -hour flow rate will appropriately filter about 10 gallons of water.

    How to Set Up a Hang-on-Back Filter

    Hang-on-back filter systems are relatively easy to set up, operate, and maintain. Once you’ve decided where on your tank to place it, you’ll only need about 5 minutes to set it up.

    • Add your filter media. Some systems have baskets to indicate where each media should go.
    • Hang your filter system in place. Most tanks have a cut-out made specifically for a filter. If your tank doesn’t have one, you get to pick the location.
    • Prime the filter. This involves filling it up with water. If your filter has a self-priming feature, you can skip this step.
    • Plug in the filter.

    Back filter systems don’t require much maintenance. But if you notice your aquarium getting dirty, it’s time to clean your filter. To do so, unplug your system, disassemble it, and thoroughly scrub the tubes and pipes. Change or clean your filter media before you replace the system.

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    Conclusion

    The top pick out of the hang-on back filters that we reviewed in this product guide is the MarineLand Penguin Bio-Wheel Multi-Stage Power Filter because it has received excellent reviews from customers and the product itself is of high-quality and effective in providing three-stage filtrations. The second pick is the Boxtech Aquarium Hang-on Filter because the included items with this filter are great for the value of money. It includes everything you require to get started on using hang-on back filters for your aquarium.

    Overall, each product in this review is unique and innovative while remaining affordable for the average aquarium hobbyist.

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    Featured Image Credit: Amazon

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