10 Gallon Fish Tank Inside Pet Shop

Top 5 Best 10-Gallon Aquarium Filters (2020 Buyer’s Guide)

An aquarium filter is a good idea in any tank to keep your water in pristine condition. There are a huge variety of filters available, so it can be a bit confusing to find the most suitable one for a 10-gallon aquarium.

To help you on your search, I’ve reviewed an array of 10-gallon aquarium filters that will ensure your fish stay happy and healthy.

After considering all the options our top picks were…

Results Summary

Best All-Rounder

Marina Power Filter

This power filter from Marina is my overall recommendation as it’s affordable and high-quality. I really like the design of this filter as it’s small, slim, and looks great.

Marina Power Filter

This is the filter I believe to be most suited for the majority of 10-gallon aquariums.

The Marina power filter is a great option for your 10-gallon tank. It comes with an adjustable water flow control so you can decrease or increase the water output, as well as two filter cartridges. This filter is compact, easy to setup and simple to clean too!

Best on a Budget

Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter With Bio Scrubber

The Tetra Whisper internal filter is a great choice if you’re looking for a good quality filter that’s low in price. It’s perfect for tanks up to 10-gallons.

Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter With Bio Scrubber

The filter in this category is the most inexpensive option out all the products I’ve reviewed, but still works to a good standard.

Tetra’s Whisper internal filter is extremely affordable and provides efficient filtration. Installing the filter is easy and cleaning it requires little effort at all. The filter is small in size and uses Bio-Bag cartridges for convenience.

Editor’s Choice

Aqua Clear Power Filter

It comes with AquaClear foam, activated carbon, and BioMax ceramic rings for optimal water quality. There’s a lot of room in the filter case to add more media too.

Aqua Clear Power Filter

This filter offers some impressive features but is a little pricier as a result. It’s also my personal favorite out of all the products.

The Aqua Clear power filter allows you to adjust the flow of the water output and comes with filter cartridges that provide you with chemical, mechanical, and biological filtration. It can hold a lot of filter media and is energy efficient to help reduce operating costs.

What Does an Aquarium Filter Do?

An aquarium filter cleans the water in your tank by removing waste products, leftover food, toxic chemicals, and debris. Filters also add aeration to your aquarium, so your fish don’t suffocate. Without a filter, the fish in your aquarium will not live very long, especially in smaller tanks like a 10-gallon.

An aquarium filter cleans the water in your tank by removing waste products, leftover food, toxic chemicals, and debris…

Although you may have heard stories about people keeping fish without an aquarium filter, this is not recommended. Toxins and debris quickly build-up in tanks if they are not removed, so you would need to perform daily water changes to prevent this from happening.

An aquarium filter makes your life a lot easier as it removes waste and dangerous chemicals from your tank. Instead of daily water changes, you only need to do a weekly water change when you have an aquarium filter. That’s a lot less work and time!

Types of Filters

Types of Aquarium Filters

Undergravel Filters

An undergravel filter is positioned under your substrate and pulls the water from underneath it through uplift tubes. Undergravel filters are typically used with either an airstone and air pump or a power head which is placed onto the top of the uplift tubes. 

TIP

Using an undergravel filter does mean you need to clean your substrate regularly to prevent detritus and high levels of hydrogen sulfide from building up. 

Wet/Dry Filters

Wet/dry filters (also known as a trickle filter or bio-tower) are popular in saltwater aquariums. They can only function with oxygen, so the more aeration in your tank, the better the filter works.

The way a wet/dry filter works is by pumping water from the aquarium via a drip plate or rotating spray arm. The water is then distributed through a biological material that is inside the filter chamber.

Wet/dry filters work best with mechanical filtration…

Wet/dry filters work best with mechanical filtration, which is achieved by either using a protein skimmer or by putting pre-filter material like filter floss on the top of the drip plate. 

Once the water flows through the holes of the drip plate, it falls onto the bio-media which creates oxygen saturation of the water. That’s why this type of filter works best with tanks with good aeration.

The now filtered water flows directly back into the tank or through a sump first before being deposited back into the aquarium. 

Canister Filters

Canister filters are one of the most common types of filters, but they are primarily used in aquariums that are 40 gallons and above. They pull water up through a lift tube and into an external filter chamber where the water is then passed through filter media to clean it.

A canister filter is extremely large in size, which means they offer great chemical, biological, and mechanical filtration…

When the water has been passed through the filter media, it is deposited back into the tank. A canister filter is extremely large in size, which means they offer great chemical, biological, and mechanical filtration. They are often used in saltwater setups and planted aquariums.

However, canister filters can be rather expensive and are not essential for tanks under 40 gallons.

Internal Filters

An internal filter is small in size and ideal for nano aquariums and small tanks under 20 gallons. They are placed inside the aquarium with the use of suction cups or by placing it on the ground. The outlet of the filter needs to be just below the water surface in order for it work correctly.

Internal filters pull water from the base of the filter and push it through a sponge that catches dirt and debris. Bacteria live on this sponge and turn toxic chemicals ammonia into nitrite and nitrite into nitrate. 

Hang On Back/Power Filters

Hang on back/power filters are another choice for aquarists as they provide good chemical, biological, and mechanical filtration. They are positioned on the back of your aquarium and draw water up through a siphon tube.

Sponge Filter Texture
Sponge Filter Texture

Sponge/Air Driven Filters

A sponge filter does not provide chemical filtration, only biological, and mechanical filtration. It is typically used for nursery tanks, breeding, hospital/quarantine tanks, and tanks with invertebrates and very small fish. 

It is typically used for nursery tanks, breeding, hospital/quarantine tanks, and tanks with invertebrates and very small fish… 

Sponge filters function with an air pump where water is drawn through a spongy material. 

What Type of Filter is Best for a 10-gallon Tank?

For a 10-gallon tank, I’d recommend using an internal or hang on back style filter. They work great in small aquariums and are fairly inexpensive. They also provide good chemical, biological, and mechanical filtration.

3 Way Filtering Function

Understanding Aquarium Filtration

There are three types of filtration: chemical, mechanical, and biological. All of them are recommended for your tank, but mechanical and biological are the most important.

Chemical Filtration

Chemical filtration gets rid of dissolved particulates from your tank by means of activated carbon, resins, and other types of absorbents. 

Mechanical Filtration

Mechanical filtration sieves through particles such as fish waste, leftover food, and debris. It is used in conjunction with biological filtration.

Biological Filtration

Biological filtration is the process of beneficial bacteria breaking down waste and toxins into much less dangerous forms. You need beneficial bacteria in your tank to convert ammonia into nitrite and nitrite into nitrate.

Which Type of Filtration is Best for a 10-gallon Tank?

All three types of filtration are ideal for a 10-gallon tank, but at the bare minimum, you need biological and mechanical filtration.

Water-Flow Rate for Your Filter

Your filter needs to have an appropriate water flow rate to effectively clean the water in your tank. Using a filter that lacks power or isn’t suitable for your aquarium capacity can affect the quality of your water and cause toxins to build-up to dangerous levels. 

RECOMMENDATION

As a general rule of thumb, your filter should be able to clean at least four-times the amount of water in your tank per hour. For example, a 10-gallon aquarium needs a filter with a flow rate of a minimum of 40 GPH (gallons per hour).

Maintenance and Filter Media Replacement

Maintaining and cleaning your filter is important for keeping it functioning properly and increasing its longevity. If you don’t clean you filter regularly, it will become clogged and won’t be able to clean your tank very well.

RECOMMENDATION

I’d advise you to clean your filter and filter media every four weeks with water from your tank (never use tap water!). Some types of filters may need to be cleaned more often, such as canister filters.

Most of your filter media doesn’t need to be replaced too frequently, but activated carbon loses its effectiveness after 2 to 4 weeks. If you use filter floss, this needs changing around every 5 days or when it starts looking dirty. 

Other types of filter media like ceramic rings rarely need changing unless they are damaged…

Other types of filter media like ceramic rings rarely need changing unless they are damaged. Although how often you change your filter media is open to interpretation, it is generally recommended to only change your filter media when it’s falling apart.

Fine foams typically only last around 4 to 6 weeks, so might need changing often. Coarse sponges, on the other hand, only need replacing when their pores are larger, or when they are heavily damaged.

TIP

Filters that use cartridges will often tell you to change them every month, but I think this is often a slight exaggeration.

Best 10-gallon Aquarium Filters

Best All-Rounder

Marina Power Filter

This power filter from Marina is my overall recommendation as it’s affordable and high-quality. I really like the design of this filter as it’s small, slim, and looks great.

Marina Power Filter

This power filter from Marina is my overall recommendation as it’s affordable and high-quality. I really like the design of this filter as it’s small, slim, and looks great. The compact size also means your fish have more swimming space as it doesn’t take up too much room.

You get an adjustable flow control with the filter for you to alter the water flow in your aquarium..

You get an adjustable flow control with the filter for you to alter the water flow in your aquarium, which is a great feature. This means you can increase or decrease the flow of the water to suit a variety of species, such as ones that are more comfortable to more slow-moving currents. 

Setting up the filter is a breeze and doesn’t require any priming. Position the filter on the back of your tank, add the two provided filter cartridges, plug it in, and you’re ready to go. Maintenance and cleaning is also easy with this filter.

The two cartridges that come with the Marina filter both contain Ceramitek…

The two cartridges that come with the Marina filter both contain Ceramitek, which is a highly porous ceramic filter medium that improves the efficiency of biological filtration. However, it does not come with any permanent media for biological filtration, so you would need to purchase this separately.

The only flaw with this filter is it emits a low humming sound during operation, so it might be a little noisy if your aquarium is located in your bedroom.

Specs

  • Filter Type: Power
  • Size: 3.7” x 7.3” x 6.5”
  • Weight: 1.2 lbs (with packaging)
  • Recommended Tank Size: Up to 10-gallons

Pros

  • Adjustable water flow controls
  • Small size
  • Easy setup and maintenance

Cons

  • Can produce a low humming sound
  • Doesn’t come with permanent biological filter media

Best on a Budget

Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter With Bio Scrubber

The Tetra Whisper internal filter is a great choice if you’re looking for a good quality filter that’s low in price. It’s perfect for tanks up to 10-gallons.

Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter With Bio Scrubber

The Tetra Whisper internal filter is a great choice if you’re looking for a good quality filter that’s low in price. It’s perfect for tanks up to 10-gallons.

The Tetra Whisper internal filter is a great choice if you’re looking for a good quality filter that’s low in price…

Tetra are a well-known brand in the fishkeeping hobby, so their products are reliable and trustworthy. This filter uses medium Bio-Bag filter cartridges for convenience, which are ideal for aquarists new to owning fish as you don’t need to go out and purchase separate filter media.

Installing the filter is very easy as all you need to do is place it inside your tank on the provided clip, then attach it to the wall of your tank with the two suction cups. After that, you’re all set! Cleaning the filter is also simple as the bottom of it can be removed to access the impeller.

NOTE

The only downside with the clip and suction cups is that they are a little weak and may need reattaching regularly.

Internal filters are typically very quiet as the motor is submerged under water, so this one from Tetra is an excellent option if your tank is located in your bedroom or living room. I use a Tetra internal filter in my 20-gallon tank and I’ve never had an issue with it being overly loud.

Specs

  • Filter Type: Internal
  • Size: 4.2” x 4” x 8”
  • Weight: 1.05 lbs
  • Recommended Tank Size: Up to 10-gallons

Pros

  • Fairly quiet
  • Easy to clean
  • Compact size

Cons

  • Clip and suction cups are a little weak

Editor’s Choice

Aqua Clear Power Filter

It comes with AquaClear foam, activated carbon, and BioMax ceramic rings for optimal water quality. There’s a lot of room in the filter case to add more media too.

Aqua Clear Power Filter

Aqua Clear’s power filter is suitable for tanks up to 20-gallons and is my personal favorite out of all the products I’ve reviewed. It comes with AquaClear foam, activated carbon, and BioMax ceramic rings for optimal water quality. There’s a lot of room in the filter case to add more media too.

it provides you with chemical, mechanical and biological filtration, it is the perfect starter filter for your tank as you don’t need to purchase additional filter media…

As it provides you with chemical, mechanical and biological filtration, it is the perfect starter filter for your tank as you don’t need to purchase additional filter media. Another feature I like with the Aqua Clear is it uses an energy efficient pump to help reduce its operating cost.

You are able to control the water flow of the filter, which is handy if you need a slower or more powerful flow for certain species of fish.

Cleaning the filter is quite straightforward and involves removing the cover and filter basket…

Cleaning the filter is quite straightforward and involves removing the cover and filter basket, before discarding the water and debris inside the water case. Make sure you turn the filter off before doing this and allow it to self-prime after reassembling it.

The intake “U” tube and extension tube needs to be cleaned with a filter stem brush to get rid of any debris or sludge. Although this filter does require a bit more maintenance than other filters, it shouldn’t take up too much of your time.

NOTE

One of the downsides with this filter is that it can break easily if you suffer from a power outage. If you regularly experience power cuts in your location, then this is something to keep in mind.

Specs

Pros

  • Works well for keeping water clean
  • Can store a lot of filter media
  • Adjustable water flow control

Cons

  • Requires a bit of maintenance
  • Power outages can cause it to break

Aqueon QuietFlow LED Pro Aquarium Power Filter

Ideal for aquariums up to 20-gallons, the Aqueon power filter provides your tank with mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration when used with Aqueon’s medium replacement cartridges.

Aqueon QuietFlow LED Pro Aquarium Power Filter

Ideal for aquariums up to 20-gallons, the Aqueon power filter provides your tank with mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration when used with Aqueon’s medium replacement cartridges. 

The flow rate of the filter is a little stronger than filters of a similar style to allow for good water circulation. You cannot adjust the flow rate of this filter, so if you own fish who prefer slower currents, then this is a factor to bear in mind.

Design wise, I really like how this filter looks. The pump is placed inside the aquarium, which means it doesn’t require priming after restarting it or during a power outage. It also means that it’s less likely to leak. The filter doesn’t operate as quietly as some of the other products I’ve reviewed, unfortunately.

The feature I like the most about this filter is its LED indicator. When your filter cartridges need replacing, a light flashes on the filter to notify you. This is very useful if you have trouble knowing when you need to change your filter cartridge. The only negative with this is that the cartridges need replacing semi-regularly.

Cleaning and installing the filter is also quite easy and shouldn’t take too long to get up and running. 

Specs

Pros

  • Works efficiently
  • Powerful water flow
  • LED light flashes when filter cartridges need replacing

Cons

  • Quite noisy
  • Cartridges need to be changed fairly frequently

NO.17 Submersible Aquarium Internal Filter with Water Pump

The NO.17 internal filter is an incredibly affordable option for a 10-gallon tank. You can adjust the flow of the water pump to create a slower or faster current for your fish. It also comes with multiple filter media.

NO.17 Submersible Aquarium Internal Filter with Water Pump

The NO.17 internal filter is an incredibly affordable option for a 10-gallon tank. You can adjust the flow of the water pump to create a slower or faster current for your fish. It also comes with multiple filter media.

This filter operates quietly and is very convenient to maintain. Unfortunately, it gets clogged up fairly easily so may need to be cleaned frequently. On the plus side, this filter is simple to disassemble and put back together to make maintenance and installation less time-consuming.

NO.17’s internal filter comes with an air pump to add more oxygen into your water, which is a nice touch. However, the filter is very small and doesn’t allow for a large amount of room for filter media. The suction cups are also a bit weak and may need to be reattached to the side of your tank often.

Considering the price of the filter, I think it works quite well and is a good choice for nano aquariums.

Specs

  • Filter Type: Internal
  • Size: Unknown
  • Weight: 0.9 lbs
  • Recommended Tank Size: 10-gallons

Pros

  • Operates quietly
  • Comes with an air pump
  • Easy to assemble and disassemble for maintenance

Cons

  • Gets clogged up easily
  • Can’t hold a lot of filter media
  • Weak suction cups

Conclusion

After considering all the options our top picks were…

Best All-Rounder

Out of all the 10-gallon aquarium filters I’ve reviewed, I think the clear winner is the Marina Power Filter. It’s affordable, high-quality, and allows you to adjust its water flow rate. 

I love the design of this filter as it’s attractive and compact, which means it doesn’t take up a lot of space in your tank. I also appreciate how easy it to clean and install. However, you don’t get any permanent biological filter media, so you would need to purchase your own.

The filter isn’t overly noisy but can produce a low humming sound during operation. This shouldn’t be a huge issue unless your aquarium is positioned right next to your bed. 

Best on a Budget

In terms of value, then the Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter With Bio Scrubber is also an excellent choice. It’s the most inexpensive option on the list and works very well despite its low price. 

Editor’s Choice

Alternatively, if you’re after a filter that offers a few more bells and whistles, then my personal favorite is the Aqua Clear Power Filter. It’s energy efficient and comes with an adjustable water flow rate as well as three types of filtration.

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