Which Is The Best Fish Tank Filter On The UK Market?

Unlike a natural habitat such as the ocean, an aquarium is not self-cleaning. You need a filter to remove chemicals, waste and debris from the water and keep your fish healthy.

A good fish tank filter incorporates the three types of filtration: mechanical, chemical and biological. This ensures all unwanted material is removed from the water.

In addition to keeping your fish tank and gravel clean, most aquarium filters also do a great job aerating the water by agitating it. This keeps the water adequately oxygenated, ensuring your fish are healthy and active.

In this buying guide, we recommend the best fish tank filters on the UK market, and give you some tips on how to choose the best type of filter for your aquarium.

If you are in a hurry, here is a brief summary.

Best Fish Tank Filters (UK Market)

Our Top Pick

Interpet Internal Aquarium Fish Tank Mini Power Filter

Interpet Internal Aquarium Fish Tank Mini Power Filter

  • Low price
  • Aerates water
  • Three filtration stages
  • Easy to install and maintain


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For Large Tanks

Fluval U2 Underwater Aquarium Filter

Fluval U2 Underwater Aquarium Filter

  • Great for bigger aquariums
  • Three filtration stages
  • Vertical or horizontal installation
  • Adjustable flow


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Easy To Maintain

All Pond Solutions EF-150 Aquarium External Filter

All Pond Solutions EF-150 Aquarium External Filter

  • Comes with multiple filters
  • Powerful water flow – ideal for large aquariums
  • Easy maintenance
  • Includes spray bar for aeration


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Algae Filter

Interpet Internal Aquarium Fish Tank Cartridge Filter

Interpet Internal Aquarium Fish Tank Cartridge Filter

  • Includes algae filter
  • Oxygenates the aquarium
  • Quiet
  • Easy to maintain


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Nice Design

Hagen Elite Stingray 15 Underwater Aquarium Filter

Hagen Elite Stingray 15 Underwater Aquarium Filter

  • Works quietly
  • Three filtration stages
  • Aerates the water


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Key Considerations When Choosing A Fish Tank Filter

A. Type of Filter

Here are the main types of fish tank filters.

  • Hang on back or power filters – A power filter sits on the rim of the fish tank with the main body sitting against the fish tank. A tube brings water from the aquarium into the filter box. Filtered water goes back into the tank as a waterfall that aerates the aquarium. Hang-on-back filters are versatile (you can use different filter media) and easy to maintain. On the downside, they tend to be noisy.
  • Underwater canister filter – If you don’t like the noise from power filters, a canister filter is a silent alternative. It sits under the water so there’s no water falling from above and any vibrations are dampened by the water. Canister filters can be fitted with a wide range of filtration media including algae filters, UV sterilizers and carbon media. On the downside, canister filters are pricier and a bit more work to maintain.
  • Sponge filters – These are the most basic types of filters, ideal only for small and lightly stocked fish tanks. A sponge filter works with an air pump to draw water through the sponge. Water is mechanically filters. Bacteria on the sponge also help clean water by breaking down and converting toxic chemicals like ammonia. Sponge filters are not suitable for large tanks or aquariums with lots of fish. The filter would not keep up with the amount of waste in the water.

Other less common types of fish tank filters include fluidized bed filters and baffle filters. However, the type of filter doesn’t matter as much as the kind of filtration it provides. We discuss this next.

B. Filtration Stages

Three forms of filtration are essential in keeping your aquarium clean.

  • Mechanical filtration – debris and other waste products are trapped by a material such as foam or sponge as water passes through it.
  • Chemical filtration – a chemical media absorbs odours, waste products and toxic chemicals or converts them into less harmful by-product.
  • Biological filtration – beneficial bacteria convert toxic chemicals from fish food and waste products into less harmful chemicals.

The best fish tank filters provide all three forms of filtration.

C. Fish Tank Size

Make sure to get a filter that matches the size of your fish tank. Manufacturers will usually indicate the aquarium size (in litres) a filter can support.

Getting a filter that’s too small will cause a build-up of pollution in the tank. A filter that’s too big will cause powerful currents and excessive turbulence that stresses the fish.

D. Aeration

Finally, check if the filter has a feature that improves aeration.

Hang-on-back filters return clean water in form of a waterfall that aerates the fish tank. Some include a spray bar that creates more agitation on the water’s surface, resulting in more oxygen dissolving in the water.

Canister filters can also improve aeration. Filtered water coming out of the outlet at the top agitates the water to dissolve oxygen. You can set the outlet to be slightly above the water surface such that the filtered water falls on the water to create more movement.

Some canister filters include a flow deflector that improves aeration and lets you direct where the water falls.

Top 5 Reviews

1. Interpet Internal Aquarium Fish Tank Mini Power Filter

Our Top Pick
9.1/10 Our Score

The Interpet Mini PF is perfect for small fish tanks up to 40 litres in capacity. It has a max flow rate of 200 l/h.

The Mini PF contains both plain foams and carbon foams. The plain foam provides mechanical filtration. It also acts as a habitat for beneficial bacteria that provide biological filtration.

The carbon foam removes chlorine, heavy metals and other toxic chemicals from the water.

Installing the Interpet Mini PF is easy. Use the bracket and suckers included to secure it against the inside of the fish tank. A flow deflector allows you to direct the output water jet where you want it within the aquarium.

You can position the flow detector to be slightly above the water surface to ensure maximum aeration.

Maintaining the Interpet Mini PF is easy. You just need to occasionally clean the cartridge and impeller. You’ll also need to replace the filter foams every few months.

2. Fluval U2 Underwater Aquarium Filter

For Larger Tanks
8.9/10 Our Score

The Fluval U2 is suitable for larger fish tanks with a capacity up to 110 litres.

Similar to the Mini PF, the Fluval U2 is an under-water canister filter with three stages of filtration.

Plain foam pads provide mechanical filtration. Biological media hosts beneficial bacteria that provide biological filtration. Carbon cartridges provide chemical filtration, removing toxic chemical and odours from the water.

One thing we love about the Fluval U2 is its versatility. You can install it vertically against the aquarium wall. If your tank is shallow or you’d like to create a waterfall effect, you can also install it horizontally.

It also comes with adjustable flow control. You can set the clean water to come out from the top to improve aeration, at the bottom to agitate and aerate the deeper parts of the aquarium and from a spray bar for a gentle aerating spray.

3. All Pond Solutions EF-150 Aquarium External Filter

Easy To Maintain
8.9/10 Our Score

The All Pond Solutions EF-150 is another good choice for larger fish tank. With a flow rate of 400 l/h, it is suitable for tank capacities up to 150 litres.

The EF-150 is an external aquarium filter that sits on the outside of your fish tank. It draws water through an inlet tube and returns filtered water through an outlet tube fitted with a spray bar to improve aeration.

In between the two tubes, the water passes through multiple filters. The package includes three layers of coarse filter foams, one filter floss pad and bio balls.

The filter foams and floss pad provide mechanical filtration while the bio balls are for biological filtration.

As far as we can tell, the EF-150 doesn’t come with carbon filters for chemical filtration. Luckily, you can buy carbon filters separately and add them to the EF-150.

Maintenance is easy. Unlike underwater canister filters, you don’t have to disturb the fish when cleaning the filter cartridge. A shutoff valve allows you to remove the filter for cleaning without making any messes.

4. Interpet Internal Aquarium Fish Tank Cartridge Filter

Algae Filter
8.7/10 Our Score

The Interpet CF1 offers 4 stages of filtration for small and medium size aquariums with a capacity up to 68 litres.

The Cartridge filter sits under the water with only the top part where the water flows out being above the water surface. This allows the filtered water to agitate the fish tank and provide aeration.

Water passes through four filter media. A mechanical floss pad removes debris and particulates in the water, a carbon filter removes dyes, odours and toxic chemicals, an Algaway pad reduces algae growth in the tank and a biomedia filter hosts beneficial fish that break down toxic chemicals in the water.

By the way, the Interpet CF1 is the only fish tank filter among our picks that deals with algae. It doesn’t remove the algae directly. Rather, it removes phosphate, which reduces the growth of algae.

As for maintenance, it’s fairly easy. You just need to clean the filter cartridge now and then and replace individual filters every few months.

5. Hagen Elite Stingray 15 Underwater Aquarium Filter

Nice Design
8.6/10 Our Score

The most noticeable aspect of the Hagen Elite Stingray 15 filter is its design. It looks like a cute stingray fish sitting at the bottom of the tank. It actually blends in quite nicely with other fish.

With a max flow rate of 300 l/h, the Stingray 15 is ideal for tanks up to 75 litres in capacity.

The underwater filter provides all three stages of filtration, ensuring your aquarium stays clean and safe for your fish.

In addition to filtration, it’s also great for aeration. You can even adjust the direction of water flow to create a unique effect.