Best Filter For A 10 Gallon Tank Reviewed In 2020

A filter is an essential part of any aquarium.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to pick a filter for a 10 gallon aquarium, and then review the top 6 options and pick the best filter for 10 gallon tanks.

Quick Overview: Top Pick

When it comes to a filter for a 10 gallon aquarium, you want a hang-on-the-back filter, and that makes the two best filters for 10 gallon tanks the Seachem Tidal and the AquaClear 110 .

Top Pick: Seachem Tidal 35
Top Pick: Seachem Tidal 35

    Last update on 2020-07-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    Sale
    Runner up: AquaClear 110
    Runner up: AquaClear 110

      Last update on 2020-07-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

      What to Look for in an Aquarium Filter

      Let’s discuss what you need to look for when choosing your filter.

      Biomedia Capacity  

      For me, the single biggest thing to look for in a filter is biomedia capacity. I want to be able to pack as much biomedia into a filter as possible.

      The more biomedia you have, the better off your tank will be long term. It takes millions of beneficial bacteria to process even a small amount of fish waste. All those bacteria need a place to set up shop so they can do their job.

      So maximizing the surface area they have to grow on is key.

      The Hype Around Filter Cartridges

      Lots of companies will try to sell you on how awesome and convenient filter cartridges are, but I really do not like them.

      All a filter cartridge really is is some activated carbon sandwiched between thin pieces of coarse material (similar to kitchen scrubbies).

      The coarse material catches particles in the water, and the carbon filters out things like tannins, chlorine and dissolved organic compounds.

      There is a huge debate about whether or not you even need to run carbon in your aquarium filters. Some people absolutely swear by it, and some say you don’t need it except in rare instances.

      I’m on the side that says you only need carbon if you need to filter out medications after you’ve treated sick fish. I’ve run successful aquariums for years without ever adding carbon to my filters.

      For me, carbon is just an expensive add on that doesn’t do that much.

      If you’re using cartridges, the carbon is only good for about 3-4 weeks and then it needs to be replaced. In order to add new carbon, you have to throw away the entire thing. That means you’re also tossing out any beneficial bacteria that has grown on the outside of the cartridge.

      So you’re throwing away what you really need just to swap out the carbon that you really don’t!

      On top of all this, cartridges are expensive. I recommend avoiding cartridges if at all possible.

      Flow Rate

      Flow rate for aquarium filters is measured in gallons per hour (GPH). This lets you know how many gallons of water the filter’s pump can move in an hour.

      It’s generally recommended that your filter have a GPH that is at least 4 times the capacity of your tank. So, for example, you’d want at least a filter with 40 GPH for a 10 gallon tank.

      I would urge you to go much higher than this, if at all possible. The majority of species benefit from stronger flow in the tank because it keeps water moving over the biomedia and prevents stagnant areas in your aquarium.

      Best 10 Gallon Aquarium Filters Reviewed

      1. Seachem Tidal 35 (Top Pick)

      Key Features:

      • Large biomedia capacity
      • 130 GPH
      • Self-priming pump
      • Surface skimmer
      • Adjustable flow rate
      • Self-cleaning impeller

      The Seachem Tidal filter offers some really great features.

      The filter’s pump is on the front of the filter so it’s in the aquarium water itself. This means you don’t have to prime the filter (fill it with water) so it’s much easier to get it started after the power goes out or after a water change.

      You can just plug it in and it should be good to go.

      The impeller is self-cleaning, which should help cut down on maintenance. You can also adjust the flow rate if needed.

      It has a large compartment that can be packed full of the biomedia of your choice, something I’m a big fan of.

      It also has a surface skimmer meant to suck in any kind of detritus from just below the surface. 

      Frankly, I’m not too crazy about this feature. I don’t think it’s necessary and it can suck in things you don’t want it to, like flake food that you’ve just added to the tank.

      The biggest downside to this filter is that it is not suitable if you have fry or freshwater shrimp. The intake and the surface skimmer are not designed to be covered with a sponge pre-filter so tiny inhabitants could be sucked in and killed.

      Pros: 

      • Large biomedia capacity
      • High flow rate that can be adjusted
      • Self-priming
      • Low maintenance impeller

      Cons: 

      • Surface skimmer and intake can suck in invertebrates/fry
      Seachem Tidal Power Aquarium Filter - 35 Gallon Large Fish Tank Filter
      Seachem Tidal Power Aquarium Filter - 35 Gallon Large Fish Tank Filter

        Last update on 2020-07-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

        2. AquaClear Power Filter (Runner Up)

        Key Features:

        • 150 GPH
        • Large biomedia basket
        • External motor
        • Adjustable flow

        I have to admit some bias when it comes to this filter. I currently own four of these.

        So I can definitely tell you both the pros and cons on this one.

        The thing I love the most about this filter is that it has a huge biomedia capacity. I have mine loaded up with ceramic media.

        If you want to run carbon, AquaClear makes mesh bags of carbon that can be swapped out monthly without having to discard the other media.

        It has a reusable sponge for mechanical filtration that you can just rinse out every few weeks to keep it clear of gunk.

        The media is packed into a little basket that makes it super easy to pull it all out when you need to do maintenance.

        But, this filter can be a pain since it does need to be primed. I’ve had it not start back on its own after a short power outage or be super finicky about starting after a water change.

        Also, the impeller has to be routinely pulled out and cleaned (just wipe it with a paper towel) or else the filter will refuse to start back up even when it’s primed.

        But, it’s easy to install a sponge pre-filter on the intake if you plan on using this for a fry or shrimp tank.

        Pros: 

        • Large biomedia capacity
        • Simple to set up and maintain
        • Basket makes getting media out simple

        Cons: 

        • Not self-priming
        • Impeller requires maintenance
        Sale
        Aqua Clear, Fish Tank Filter, 10 to 30 Gallons, 110v, A600
        Aqua Clear, Fish Tank Filter, 10 to 30 Gallons, 110v, A600

          Last update on 2020-07-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

          3. Fluval C2

          Key Features:

          • 119 GPH
          • 5 stage filtration
          • External motor

          This filter is a bit more complicated because the water goes through five stages of filtration. It has coarse and fine mechanical media, a large tray for carbon, another small filter pad that keeps fine particles out of the biomedia, and then the biomedia itself.

          My big gripe is that the actual biomedia compartment is really small, about half the size of what you can fit into the AquaClear. Personally, I’d probably put a mesh bag of ceramic biomedia in the compartment meant for carbon.

          I do like the huge reusable sponge that should be great for removing even fine particles.

          This filter does have an external motor so you’ll need to clean the impeller every few weeks and the filter will need priming to get it started after it loses power.

          Pros: 

          • Excellent mechanical filtration
          • Offers multi-stage filtration for clean and clear water

          Cons: 

          • Not self-priming
          • Small biomedia capacity
          Fluval C2 Power Filter
          Fluval C2 Power Filter

            Last update on 2020-07-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

            4. Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel 150 Power Filter

            Key Features:

            • 150 GPH
            • External motor
            • Features unique Bio Wheel for biological filtration

            Marineland filters have been popular in the hobby for as long as I can remember. My first tanks had Penguin filters. They’re quiet and reliable.

            The stand out feature for this filter is the Bio Wheel, a cylinder of biomedia that is constantly turned by the outflow of water. And the newest design gives the Bio Wheel even more surface area than previous models, providing even more room for beneficial bacteria to colonize.

            This filter does use cartridges, something that I’m not a huge fan of. But, the Bio Wheel should preserve some of your beneficial bacteria when you change the cartridge out.

            Pros: 

            • Bio Wheel helps add biological filtration
            • Reliable and quiet filter

            Cons: 

            • Not self-priming
            • Uses cartridges
            Sale
            Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter 150 GPH, Multi-Stage aquarium Filtration
            Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter 150 GPH, Multi-Stage aquarium Filtration

              Last update on 2020-07-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

              5. Aquaneat Air Driven Bio Corner Filter

              Key Features:

              • Air driven filter
              • Mechanical and biological filtration

              There’s a lot of focus on hang-on-the-back filters in the aquarium trade. But I think it’s wise to also consider other options. 

              A corner filter works by pushing air through an upright tube. As the air moves through, it creates a vacuum that pulls water through the filter media below.

              The Aquaneat gives you both coarse and fine mechanical media and a compartment filled with ceramic biomedia. This provides plenty of room for beneficial bacteria.

              This filter does require that you attach an external air pump, but it’s super simple to set up and maintain.

              This is an excellent choice for a shrimp or fry tank since there’s no way for them to get sucked into this filter.

              The one downside is that there’s not really a way to add chemical filtration if you need it.

              Pros: 

              • Low maintenance
              • Easy installation
              • High biomedia capacity
              • No need for priming

              Cons: 

              • Requires an air pump
              • No chemical filtration
              AQUANEAT Aquarium Air Driven Bio Corner Filter Sponge 20 Gallon Fish Tank w/Accessories
              AQUANEAT Aquarium Air Driven Bio Corner Filter Sponge 20 Gallon Fish Tank w/Accessories

                Last update on 2020-07-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

                6. Aquaneat Corner Sponge Filter

                Key Features:

                • Air driven filter
                • Mechanical and biological filtration

                Sponge filters work in a similar way to corner filters. You’ll need to purchase an external air pump. 

                The pump blows bubbles up through the lift tube. This creates a vacuum that forces water through the sponge. 

                The sponge catches little particles of detritus and waste and it’s the ideal home for beneficial bacteria that will happily eat up the ammonia and nitrite in your water.

                This filter takes only minutes to set up. And cleaning it couldn’t be more simple, just disconnect the air hose and squeeze out the sponge in a bucket of dechlorinated water. 

                A sponge filter is the best choice for a fry or shrimp tank.

                The biggest downside is that it doesn’t look that great sitting in the tank. But, you can easily hide it behind plants and decor.

                Pros: 

                • Excellent mechanical and biological filtration
                • No need for priming
                • Very simple to set up and maintain
                • Will not harm fry or shrimp

                Cons: 

                • Requires external air pump
                • No chemical filtration
                • Not too pretty
                Sale
                AQUANEAT Aquarium Bio Sponge Filter Breeding Beta Shrimp Nano Fish Tank Water Corner Filter 15 Gallon
                AQUANEAT Aquarium Bio Sponge Filter Breeding Beta Shrimp Nano Fish Tank Water Corner Filter 15 Gallon

                  Last update on 2020-07-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

                  Pro Tip: Sponge filters can be REALLY loud if you don’t add an airstone to them to break up the bubbles. I like to add one of these little diffusers (inside the strainer, below the bullseye) to break the bubbles into a fine mist that eliminates the noise.

                  JZMYXA Air Stones Bubble Stones Fit for Aquarium Fish Tank, 0.98 inch, 10 Pieces
                  JZMYXA Air Stones Bubble Stones Fit for Aquarium Fish Tank, 0.98 inch, 10 Pieces

                    Last update on 2020-07-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

                    Which is Best?

                    When it comes to hang-on-the-back filters, I think it’s a tie between the Seachem Tidal and the AquaClear 110. Both have large biomedia capacities, the most important part of any filter in my opinion.

                    But, if you’re going to house shrimp or fry in the tank, I think the AquaClear is the best choice since you can easily add on a sponge pre-filter to prevent mishaps.

                    For air driven filters, I really like the AquaNeat corner filter. It has such a high biomedia capacity, it’s simple to use and all of the media is reusable.

                    Top Pick: Seachem Tidal 35
                    Top Pick: Seachem Tidal 35

                      Last update on 2020-07-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

                      Sale
                      Runner up: AquaClear 110
                      Runner up: AquaClear 110

                        Last update on 2020-07-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

                        Leave a Comment

                        This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.