Best Fish Tank Filters For Your Goldfish Tank


What really is the best fish tank filters for goldfish? A clean and safe tank starts with a good filtration system.

Whether you keep goldfish, tropical fish or marine fish a filter is always required.

Not only is a filter a must for your tanks health but having a good system will also reduce the amount of work that you have to do.

It will not eliminate cleaning or water changes but it will greatly reduce the amount you have to do.

Fish are living beings.

They produce waste.

Without the best fish tank filter, these little guys are left swimming around in their own pee and poop.

How would you feel in these conditions?

The problem most face is that there is so much choice out there.

What filter should you choose?

I am going to reveal all as I show you how to choose the best fish tank filters for your goldfish tank. I have shown other filters that are more suited to reef tanks but it’s to give you a better overview.

My Recommendations For The Best Fish Tank Filters

ImageNameType RatingCustomer Reviews
Image of the AquaClear 70 reviewAquaClear 70 Power FilterHang On Back FilterEase Of Use: 5/5
Aesthetics: 5/5
Filtration: Good if you choose the correct size for your tank.
Size: Fits on back of tank meaning no lost swim space.
Total Score: 9/10
Check It Out!
Eheim Classic Filter ReviewEheim Classic Filter 2217Canister FilterEase Of Use: 4/5
Aesthetics: 3/5
Filtration: Powerful Filter with space for plenty of filter media.
Size: Big but can be stored in cupboard.
Total Score:8/10
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Lees Premium Undergravel Filter ReviewLee's 30 Premium Undergravel FilterUndergravel FilterEase Of Use: 4/5
Aesthetics: 5/5
Filtration: Great at catching stubborn debris from gravel but not as powerful as a HOB or canister filter.
Size: Will consume some tank space as it sits under the gravel. Not much though.
Total Score: 6/10
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Bacto-Surge High Density Foam FilterBacto-Surge High Density Foam FilterSponge FilterEase Of Use: 3/5
Aesthetics: 3/5
Filtration: Great additional filter but the other types are stronger as a standalone. This filter is great when used with an air pump and very affordable.
Size: Will consume some tank space as it sits in the water.
Total Score: 7/10
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Penn Plax Cascade 600 Submersible Aquarium Filter reviewPenn Plax Cascade 600 Submersible Aquarium Filter Internal FilterEase Of Use: 3/5
Aesthetics: 3/5
Filtration: If you want a powerful filter at half the price of a canister then this could do the trick. It is powerful but i don't like filters that sit in tank.
Size: Will consume some tank space as it sits in the water.
Total Score: 8/10
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Lifegard Fluidized Bed FilterLifegard Fluidized Bed FilterFluidized Bed FiltersEase Of Use: 2/5
Aesthetics: 5/5
Filtration: They are great powerful filters with very little maintainance if setup correctly. Unfortunately there is not a lot of information available about them.
Size: External Filtration.
Comments: I have heard that the bottom seal can leak on these so but i have also seen great reviews too.
Total Score: 4/10
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Why Do You Need A Filter

I hear from a lot of new fish keepers ask do goldfish need a filter? Most actually believe that goldfish don’t and they meticulously clean the tank on a weekly basis to satisfy their need to feel like they are caring for their fish.

Would you sit in your own excrement?

Fish are just like us… they produce waste material that they have to excrete from their little fishy bodies.

When you have the best fish tank filter this can be filtered out. It doesn’t mean that they are a solution to save you cleaning the tank. They will, however, minimize the amount of cleaning you have to do.

The filter also holds onto good material that helps to keep the water in check.

Ammonia is one of the most dangerous substances produced by fish. Inside your filter is media that will hold onto good bacteria that will convert this into a safer product.

A filter is so important to any species of fish kept in a tank. It’s also nice to listen to the trickle of water from the filter (a home waterfall).

Or is that just me?

Read More: Learn About The Nitrogen Cycle & How To Cycle You Aquarium

Types Of Filtration

Your filter has a job to do, it has to filter the water of any crap. To do this the water has to go through a vigorous system.

Water enters the filter and mechanical filtration begins. It then moves through the biological filter media to catch the rest. If you want to be super cautious you can add a chemical filtration (activated carbon) to catch any rogue particles or bacteria.

Mechanical Filtration: This is the physical process where particles and waste matter are removed from the fish tanks water.

Biological Filtration: This happens when the good bacteria break down the ammonia in the tank. Ammonia is converted all the way to nitrate. This is much safer to the fish as they can tolerate large amounts of Nitrate.

You should keep your eye on the biological filtration to make sure that no particles have got through the mechanical filtration process.

Chemical Filtration: Out of the three this is the least important. No fish will die if this isn’t carried out. You can add activated carbon to the filter to remove organic pollutants, which cannot be handled by biological or mechanical filtration.

The problem with carbon is that it will release all the bad bacteria when it comes to the end of its lifespan.

Types Of Filters

I hope you understand the importance of that little machine that sits on in the tank now. Fish need to hold onto that good bacteria and they need the impurities and dirt removed.

Filters come in so many forms and choosing the right one will help keep your tank in tip-top condition.

Undergravel Filter

This is exactly what it sounds like. The under gravel filter uses the gravel as the mechanical filtration. It does this as it is fitted under the gravel.

This is like a big plastic box. You simply put it on the floor of the tank and then add the aquarium gravel on the top. The water is drawn through the gravel and this is the mechanical stage.

Most of the work done by the filter its self is primarily biological. If you have purchased one with activated carbon you will also have a chemical process.

One benefit of this aquarium filter is that when you siphon the tank you will lift the debris from the filter. This will reduce the effort on the cleaning side of things.

Lees Premium Undergravel Filter Review

These filters are easy to fit and can do a great job of catching stubborn debris. You can see the product specs here.

Hang On Back Filter

These are the most common and my favorite two as they do not take up much of the swim space from the fish.

These hang on the back of the tank and have a tube/pipe that extends into the water.

In my opinion, these are the best fish tank filter for most tanks.

Water is sucked into the filter where the mechanical process starts. This is usually some filter floss or a filter pad. Next, the water will pass through the carbon.

After chemical is biological which occurs in the filter cartridge. A large number of beneficial bacteria from within the filter cartridge and this is what causes the biological filtration. The success of this process depends on the amount of oxygen within the aquarium.

Once the water has been through the filtration stages it is returned back into the tank. The AquaClear is a great filter and I love the waterfall effect as the water is pumped back into the tank.

If you have a newer filter you may have a bio wheel. This is where your filter cartridge will carry out biological filtration as the water passes over them.

Image of the AquaClear 70 review

If you think that a hang on back filter is best for your tank then you should check out my AquaClear 70 review here.

Canister Filter

These are a very popular type of filter for aquariums. They do a fantastic job due to the size of them. If your tank is over 40 gallons these are a great choice.

They sit outside the tank and can be snuggly tidied away in a cabinet. A tube or pipe is then fitted into the tank and this will siphon the water through the filter.

Due to the sheer size of these, you can add larger amounts of filter media. This makes their mechanical, biological and chemical filtration a lot more successful.

Mechanical has an extra boost due to the canisters being pressurized. This helps force the water through finer materials which will catch smaller particles.

Unfortunately, there is no air to water contact which will reduce its biological filtration capabilities. Having said this, the power of the mechanical and chemical help do a fantastic job.

Eheim Classic Filter Review

What is the best canister filter for your tank? Checkout my Eheim Classic Filter 250 Review.

Sponge Filters

These aren’t the best on their own but will work for really small tanks with small fish. For example, breeding tanks, nurseries, hospital tanks etc…

They work by attaching an air pump which forces the water through the sponge-like material. This is the mechanical part of the process.

The beneficial bacteria live on the sponge and this is what creates the biological part of the process.

If the sponge is getting dirty simply use some tank water to clean the sponge. See the Bacto Surge High-Density Filter if you are looking for a strong sponge filter

Internal Filters

These are only really good for smaller tanks where the fish swim size will not be compromised. So if you have a 10-gallon tank and 4 guppies then this would be an ok filter for the tank.

The problem with these filters is that they sit directly in the tank. Like I said this will reduce the swim space.

It is best to place these at the bottom of the tank because that means the debris doesn’t get time to settle.

Always check the filter when you buy, some of these may require an air pump to produce the water movement up through the filter.

Penn Plax Cascade 600 Submersible Aquarium Filter review

Penn Plax do a great range of internal filters, that have a really powerful filtration system.

Wet/Dry Filters

These act like an overflow.

The water will rise and trickle over the filter media. This is why they are sometimes known as a Trickle filter. The excess water may fall into a sump where the filtration process begins.

There is a drain pipe that channels the water to a drain pipe. The water will trickle through the biological media and then it is moved to the sump where it can be pumped back into the tank.

As the water enters the tank it will cause the tank to overflow and the process begins again.

This video shows you the type of filtration a sump could offer. The CPR 500 is a fantastic wet/dry filter to get started with.

Fluidized Bed Filters

These provide a biological filtration system similar to an under gravel filter.

Nitrifying bacteria colonies grow on the surface of the particles of sand in the bed, and process ammonia and Nitrite into Nitrate as the water passes through the filter.

The water needs to be pumped up through the filter which causes it to fluidize. Just beware these do not usually come with a water pump. That means you will have to buy one so that the process can begin.

Sand and water are constantly being pushed up the filter but because of the weight of sand, it will fall back to the floor. The water continues up and the filtered water is expelled back into the tank.

Lifegard Fluidized Bed Filter

Keep your eye on the sand bed as this can become stagnant, it may take years but be aware.

Choosing The Best Filter

So now you know what kind of filters exist in the aquarium market. This still leaves one question though…

How do I choose the best fish tank filter?

Should I choose a HOB or canister filter?

The first thing to think about is the size of your tank. A small filter will not be strong enough to filter a 100-gallon goldfish tank. Luckily filter manufacturers do a good job of telling us how much water that the filter can cope with.

They print this on the box. It will tell you the recommended aquarium size and they will tell you how many gallons per hour the filter can handle.

Personally, I ignore their size recommendation. Having said that I do pay attention to the gallons per hour.

Goldfish are messy they produce a bucket load waste. This means that to sufficiently filter the aquarium you need a filter that can go through your tank about 10 times an hour.

So for a 45-gallon aquarium, you would need a fish tank filter that can cope with 450 gallons per hour.

Don’t follow the tank size recommendation on the box of your filter because these tend to be aimed at tropical fish. These freshwater fish produce a lot less waste.

These freshwater fish produce a lot less waste in comparison to Goldfish.

Is One Filter Enough For Your Tank

By now you know that your tanks filter has to be able to filter your tank about 10 times per hour. If you have a large 100-gallon aquarium that would mean your filter would have to filter 100 gallons per hour.

This would be a  hard filter to find.

In this case, you would need to purchase another filter. This will give you a more powerful filtration system.

That is not the only reason you may consider a dual filter system. Having two filters gives you a backup should one of your filters fail.

Fair enough if one failed it wouldn’t be strong enough. IT is still better to have some sort of filtration than none. In the case of a  failure, it is only a short-term thing.

Always strive to get the two up and running again.

How To Install Your Filter

For most filters, it really is a matter of taking out the box. Then add the filtration media and fix to the tank. When your filter is in place plug-in and go.

If you have a more technical filtration system you might need to do a bit more though.

Here is a step by step setup for a canister filter…

Step One: Unbox your new canister filter.

Step Two: Add the filter media to the filter. Sounds easy enough.

Step Three: Add the siphon to the tank and attach to the in outlet of the canister filter.

Step Four: Add the pump tube and attach to the out outlet of the filter.

Step Five: Plug in and let your filter build up its good bacteria.

See even a complicated system is pretty much plug and play.

Now You Know How To Choose The Best Fish Tank Filters

I hope you enjoyed this guide on how to choose the best fish tank filters for your goldfish tank. Remember goldfish are serial waste producers, this means your tank filter must be able to do 10 cycles of your tank per hour.

This will help keep that tank looking pristine.

If your filter can’t cope with that kind of filtration then consider adding a second filter to pick up the rest.

Two filter filtration systems are pretty common, especially with goldfish.

The biggest takeaway… never underestimates the importance of your tanks filtration system. When choosing the best fish tank filters always strive to reach the 10x GPH or go over and above it.



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