How to select the right filter for your aquarium Sponge filter, Hang on Back, Canister or sump

Now that you have decided the right aquarium size for you, lets help you select the right filter for your aquarium. I am going to follow the same tank size approach you to took when you selected the size of your aquarium



Selecting the filter size/model/output ?

aquarium filter turnover rate


As a thumb rule, turnover rate of your freshwater hardscape aquarium between 4 to 6 times whereas your planted aquarium between 6 to 10 times.

Example you have a 3 ft x 1.5 ft x 1.5 ft aquarium which is freshwater hardscape then the total tank volume would be around 170 litres, then you would need a external canister with L/H flow of about 1000 L/H (Litres per Hour).


  1. Nano Aquarium upto 1.5 ft/ 18’’/ 45 cm
  • A nano aquarium can be easily filtered with a HOB (Hang on Back) filter or even a small/mini external canister filter. If you are on a tight  budget you can go ahead with a HOB filter, but please be aware that the HOB filter should have some space for the biological media. A small/mini external canister is always a better option of you have a bit more to spend. The major advantage would be more biological media and less filter cleaning and overall lesser water changes and maintenance.


     2. Medium size tanks upto 3 ft/36’/ 90 cm

  • External Canister would be the best choice for a medium size aquarium of upto 3 ft as they would be the cheaper than a sump and always easier to operate and maintain.


     3. Large size tanks 4 ft / 48’’/ 120 cm and above

  • An external canister or a sump both would be an ideal option for larger aquarium. For example in a 4 ft x 1.5 ft x 1.5 ft you can get away with 2 x External Canister filters however when you go beyond 4 ft aquarium for example like a 6 ft x 1.5 ft x 1.5 ft then a sump would be a cheaper and a much better approach as it would hold more filter media than an external canister filter (even if you install x4 combined) more control such as deciding L/H pump is possible in a sump but not in a canister. There are many more advantages over more filter media volume such as you can hide all equipments inside the sump, you can even a small section for your fishes if you have aggression issues in your fish. Another major advantage in the in/our plumbing can be hidden with a sump into your aquarium whereas you cannot with a eternal canister. I have seen all advanced hobbyist keeping specially monster fishes such as stingrays and arowana take huge sumps of even 80% size of their aquarium so that they have more filter media space and more stability and lesser maintenance.


Understand other types of filter:

Sponge and internal filters:

  • Sponge and internal filters almost work with the same mechanism, they both are submerged in water and have a kind more of a mechanical filtration. They are only used by breeders or for your hospital tanks where in a hospital tank you change the water almost every other day or keep the fish just for a few days until they are well. Whereas a fish breeder use them as its more cost effective for them and they change water almost everyday upto 100%. I have seen discus breeders in mumbai using sponge filters and changing water 200% or even 300% per day because they feed 4/5 times a day (meat based diet) to grow fish faster. These filters are not meant to be used by a hobbyist to be completely relied on as a filtration, only if you can do water changes every 2/3 days and give that much time to your aquarium then only you can keep them as filters.


Conclusion Chart: Pros & Cons

chart for aquarium filter according to aquarium size


I have made a visual comparison chart for you all to understand better.

- Kshitij Gupta

How to



Hasnat’s guide on selecting the right aquarium filter is a concise and informative resource for beginners and experienced hobbyists alike. It offers practical tips and considerations to ensure optimal filtration for a healthy aquatic environment. Thanks for the amazing content please also check Visit Google



Great article! The points you raised are incredibly insightful and thought-provoking. I particularly appreciate how you address the topic from multiple perspectives, offering a well-rounded view. Your writing style is engaging, making it easy to follow along. Looking forward to reading more from you!
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thanks for sharing wonderful information
Best Aquarium Filter

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