The 5 Best Aquarium Filter for Guppies

Guppies are one of the most popular fish species among aquarium enthusiasts. As vibrant and lively creatures, they can brighten up any aquatic environment. While their care might be relatively low-maintenance, choosing the best aquarium filter to maintain clean and safe water conditions is crucial for their well-being.

best aquarium filter for guppies

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Read on as I share my insights and personal experience on finding the perfect filter for your guppy-filled aquarium.

Best Overall Filter for Guppy Fish Tank

Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter is the best overall option for guppy tanks. It ensures a clean, healthy environment with its superior filtration, noiseless operation, and ease of maintenance. Give your guppies the care they deserve with this exceptional filter.

The Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter provides outstanding mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. This three-stage process ensures your guppy tank stays pristine and clear.

  1. Mechanical Filtration: Riddance of particulate matter and debris is paramount. The filter’s advanced cartridge design does this superbly.
  2. Chemical Filtration: This stage utilizes Black Diamond Activated Carbon, which excels at removing odors, impurities, and discoloration.
  3. Biological Filtration: The Bio-Wheel nurtures beneficial bacteria, resulting in a stable and healthy ecosystem for your guppies.

Why is Filtration Important for Guppies?

Before diving into more details about the best aquarium filters, let’s first explore why proper filtration is essential for guppies. These little fish, despite being hardy and adaptable, still require clean and healthy water to thrive. Filtration systems help maintain this appropriate environment by removing debris, excess food, and waste products from the water.

Furthermore, proper filtration also aids in the processes of biological and chemical water treatments. With guppies being sensitive to changes in water quality, investing in a reliable filtration system will reduce stress on your fish, keeping them healthier and happier.

In my experience, I have observed that guppies are prone to diseases when living in poorly filtered water. Consequently, a good filter ensures a stable and balanced aquarium, making it an indispensable component for any guppy owner.

Best Filters for Guppies

As an aquarium enthusiast, I have experimented with various filter types, ultimately identifying those that work best for guppies. Here are the top three filters I recommend for guppy-filled aquariums:

  • Sponge Filters: Known for their simplicity and efficiency, sponge filters are cost-effective and gentle on guppies. They function by providing mechanical and biological filtration, effectively removing debris while promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria. Sponge filters are also known for being guppy fry-friendly, making them an ideal choice for breeders.
  • Hang-On-Back (HOB) Filters: If you are looking for a more powerful filtration system that doesn’t intrude on your aquarium’s aesthetics, HOB filters could be your best bet. These filters hang on the outside of your tank and use a combination of mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration for optimal water quality. By adjusting the water flow, you can ensure the perfect conditions for your guppies without causing stress.
  • Canister Filters: For larger aquariums, canister filters are unmatched in their performance. These heavy-duty systems use multiple stages of filtration, effectively keeping your water crystal clear while maintaining their low-maintenance appeal. Just keep in mind that guppies prefer a gentle water flow, so be sure to monitor and adjust accordingly to avoid creating stressful conditions.

Keep in mind that aquarium size, fish population, and specific needs might influence your choice of filter. So, the best filter for your guppies is the one that maintains excellent water quality while meeting your individual requirements.

Now let’s take a look to the best filters I recommend for guppies:


Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter

The Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter is a superior aquarium filter. This innovative filter offers a 3-stage filtration process: mechanical, chemical, and biological. It removes waste, odors, and discoloration while effectively eliminating toxic ammonia and nitrite.

The patented Bio-Wheel technology enhances wet/dry biological filtration, providing a clean aquatic environment for your fish.


  • Patented Bio-Wheel technology
  • Efficient 3-stage filtration
  • Easy setup and maintenance
  • Quiet operation
  • Adjustable mid-level intake


  • Requires regular cartridge replacement

The Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter outperforms competitors by offering a user-friendly experience, exceptional filtration, and a healthy, thriving environment for your aquatic friends.


hygger Aquarium Double Sponge Filter

The hygger Aquarium Double Sponge Filter, provides your fish tank with exceptional water quality for happier aquatic pets. This multifunctional filter combines bio-filtration, oxygenation, and physical filtration while maintaining a small water flow.

The detachable 60ppi fine sponges offer a large surface area for beneficial bacteria to thrive, contributing to a crystal-clear environment. Easy to assemble and adjust, this filter includes two suction cups for secure placement and a rotating, extendable water outlet. Experience the difference with hygger!


  • Multi-filtration functions
  • Detachable fine sponges for easy cleaning
  • Strong suction cups for secure placement
  • Adjustable, rotating water outlet


  • Air pump and air hose not included
  • Requires a powerful air pump for larger tanks

This filter comes in 2 sizes, a small (10-40 gallons) and a medium (15-55 gallons). The package includes one double sponge filter, 2 containers, 1 bag of ceramic media balls, 2 spare sponges


AQUANEAT Sponge Filter

The AQUANEAT Sponge Filter is an impressive, affordable corner filter that provides both mechanical and biofiltration while oxygenating the water. Ideal for small fish like dwarf cichlids, guppies, and shrimp, this filter is perfect for tanks up to 20 gallons.

With its compact dimensions (4″L x 3.125″W x 3.25″ to 6″H), it’s easy to set up, clean, and maintain. The sponge filter ensures the safety of your aquatic life, producing minimal current and preventing fish from being sucked in.


  • Affordable and economical
  • Provides mechanical and biofiltration
  • Oxygenates water
  • Easy to set up and clean
  • Safe for small fish and shrimp
  • Compact size


  • Can be too light, causing it to float
  • Airflow direction could be improved

The AQUANEAT Sponge Filter outperforms competitors in affordability, ease of use, and effectiveness, making it a fantastic choice for small tanks and aquatic life. This filter is recommended for tank sizes of up to 20 gallons


Penn-Plax Clear-Free Premium Under Gravel Aquarium Filter

You’ll love the Penn-Plax Clear-Free Premium Under Gravel Aquarium Filter for its powerful yet simple filtration system. This air-driven filter works wonders in 20-29 gallon tanks, providing biological, chemical, and physical filtration by utilizing Filt-a-Carb Activated Carbon Cartridges.

Maintenance is a breeze with fewer moving parts, and the filter doubles as an aerator, saving you time and effort. With easy assembly, your aquarium will benefit from both filtration and aeration in one sleek, efficient system.


  • Powerful filtration system
  • Suitable for 20-29 gallon tanks
  • Easy maintenance
  • Doubles as an aerator
  • Simple assembly


  • Air pump not included

Experience the perfect harmony of old-school reliability and modern efficiency with the Penn-Plax Clear-Free Premium Under Gravel Aquarium Filter. As air is pushed through Air Stones and Lift Tubes, water is gently suctioned through gravel and filter plates, fostering anaerobic bacteria colonization.

This air-driven system is not only quiet but also environmentally friendly, reducing the need for additional equipment. 


Fluval U3 Underwater Filter

The Fluval U3 Underwater Filter, is a versatile solution for aquariums up to 40 gallons. This filter offers three-stage filtration, including BIOMAX biological filtering, ensuring top-notch water quality for your freshwater, saltwater, or reptile habitats.

With its adjustable 3-way flow control, easily customize flow patterns or create a stunning waterfall feature. The flip-top lid enables swift access to the filter cartridge for hassle-free maintenance.


  • Suitable for various environments
  • Adjustable 3-way flow control
  • Convenient flip-top lid
  • Easy maintenance
  • Can be used as a primary or supplementary filter


  • May not be sufficient for tanks larger than 40 gallons

The Fluval U3 Underwater Filter outperforms its competitors with its sleek design, easy-grip water control panel, and redesigned media cartridge that effectively traps debris. It offers unparalleled flexibility, as it can be positioned both horizontally and vertically to create the ideal aquatic environment for your pets.

Suitable for a wide range of tank types, from planted aquariums to those with low water levels, the U3 provides an efficient and visually appealing filtration option. Enhance your aquarium experience and enjoy a healthier, happier aquatic life with the innovative and reliable Fluval U3 Underwater Filter.


Different Types of Filter Media

Knowing the key types of filter media available for aquarium filters is crucial for establishing the ideal environment for your guppies. Each type serves a specific purpose, so understanding their roles will allow you to customize your filter system as needed. Here are the three main types of filter media to consider:

  • Mechanical Filter Media: Mechanical filtration is the process of physically removing particles and debris from the water. Some common types of mechanical filter media include foam, filter pads, and fine mesh. To maintain optimal water quality, it is essential to regularly clean or replace this media.
  • Biological Filter Media: Biological filtration helps break down harmful substances, such as ammonia and nitrite, which can be toxic to your guppies. This type of media fosters beneficial bacteria growth, converting harmful compounds into less toxic forms. Common examples of biological filter media include bio-balls, ceramic rings, and porous rocks or stones.
  • Chemical Filter Media: While you might not need chemical filtration as often, it helps in removing specific undesirable compounds from the water, like tannins or excess medication. The most common type of chemical filter media is activated carbon, which can be used in conjunction with other types of media for optimal water parameters.

In my experience, a combination of mechanical and biological filtration is often sufficient for guppies. However, it’s essential to monitor your water quality closely, and use chemical filter media as needed. Remember that choosing the appropriate filter media can significantly impact your guppy’s health and longevity.

1. Mechanical Filtration

Mechanical filtration is the first line of defense in maintaining pristine water conditions for your guppies. As the name suggests, this type of filtration works by physically trapping suspended particles, debris, and excess food in the water. The result is a cleaner and clearer aquarium.

Mechanical filtration relies on filter media with varying degrees of porosity. [Fine] filter media, such as filter floss or fine sponges, can capture smaller particles, while [coarse] media, like coarse sponges or foam blocks, will trap larger debris.

When setting up a filter for guppies, it is critical to choose mechanical filter media that can effectively remove unwanted particles without restricting water flow. Guppies prefer gentle water currents, so a filter that is too restrictive might lead to excessive water flow and undue stress on your fish.

Routine maintenance is key for mechanical filtration. As your filter media traps particles, it will eventually become clogged, making it less efficient and possibly resulting in poor water quality. Regular cleaning or replacing of your mechanical filter media will prevent such issues and promote a healthy environment for your guppies.

In my own aquarium, I opt for a combination of fine and coarse mechanical filter media to ensure thorough particle removal without jeopardizing the overall water flow. This way, my guppies can enjoy a clean and comfortable habitat.

2. Biological Filtration

While mechanical filtration takes care of the visible particles in your guppy’s tank, biological filtration addresses the invisible yet potentially dangerous substances, such as ammonia and nitrite. As a guppy owner, understanding the importance of biological filtration is critical for maintaining a healthy aquatic environment.

Biological filtration relies on beneficial bacteria that naturally occur in your aquarium. These bacteria convert harmful ammonia, produced by fish waste and organic decomposition, into nitrite and eventually into the far less toxic nitrate. This biological process, known as the nitrogen cycle, safeguards your guppies from harmful toxins and promotes a stable ecosystem.

Biological filter media, like ceramic rings, bio-balls, or sponges, serve as homes for these bacteria to grow and prosper. The porous surfaces allow for a high surface area, maximizing the colonies of beneficial bacteria within the filter.

Knowing that beneficial bacteria require oxygen to effectively break down waste, selecting filter media with increased oxygen exposure is essential. While most biological filter media perform similarly, choosing one with a higher surface area can amplify your biological filtration efficiency.

In my experience, regularly monitoring water parameters is vital to ensuring the efficacy of your biological filtration. Testing for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels helps you make appropriate adjustments to the filter as needed, thereby maintaining a healthy home for your guppies.

3. Chemical Filtration

Chemical filtration, while not always necessary, can be invaluable for maintaining ideal water conditions for your guppies. This type of filtration utilizes specialized media to remove or neutralize dissolved compounds in the water, such as chemicals, medications, or other pollutants.

The most commonly used chemical filter media is activated carbon, known for its ability to remove a wide range of impurities from aquarium water. Activated carbon effectively adsorbs unwanted chemicals, including chlorine, organic waste, and certain odors. It can also remove tannins, preventing the water from turning yellow due to driftwood or decaying plant matter.

Unlike mechanical and biological filtration, chemical filtration is more selective and isn’t always necessary. In most cases, chemical filter media should be used as needed, and it is essential to replace the media once it loses its effectiveness.

During my tenure as an aquarium enthusiast, I’ve found that using chemical filtration, especially activated carbon, after treating my guppies with medication has been particularly helpful. It ensures that traces of the treatment are removed, allowing the aquarium to return to its balanced state.

How to Set Up a Guppy Tank Without a Filter?

Although I firmly believe a proper filter is essential for a thriving guppy tank, it is possible to create an aquarium without one. Successfully keeping guppies in such a tank requires additional maintenance and specific strategies to maintain water quality. Here’s a brief guide on setting up a filter-free guppy tank:

  • Choose a Larger Tank: A larger aquarium holds more water, allowing for better dilution of waste and other impurities. A smaller tank would require more frequent water changes and careful monitoring. I recommend opting for at least a 20-gallon tank if you plan on pursuing a filter-free setup.
  • Live Plants: Incorporating live plants in your aquarium can help with water quality by absorbing excess nutrients and providing supplementary oxygen. Choose durable and fast-growing plants, like Java fern, Anubias, or Hornwort, for optimal results.
  • Adequate Aeration: Guppies still need oxygen-rich water, even in a filter-free tank. Use an air pump and air stone to ensure proper oxygen levels and water circulation in your aquarium.
  • Limit Guppy Population: Overcrowding can lead to deteriorating water conditions, stress, and disease outbreaks. With a filter-free setup, it’s essential to keep the guppy population low to reduce the bioload.
  • Frequent Water Changes: Regular water changes become even more crucial in filter-free tanks. Be prepared to perform partial water changes (20-30%) every week to maintain water quality and remove excess waste.
  • Monitor Water Parameters: Keep a water testing kit handy and monitor the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels regularly. Maintaining well-balanced and stable water parameters is essential for your guppies’ health.
  • Consider Adding Beneficial Bacteria: While a filter is the preferred method for housing beneficial bacteria, you can still introduce them into your tank through commercially available bacterial supplements.

Remember that a filter-free guppy tank requires extra dedication and commitment, as it takes more work to maintain optimal water conditions. Nonetheless, with proper care and diligence, you can provide a healthy environment for your guppies without a filter.


In summary, choosing the best aquarium filter for guppies is a crucial factor for their sustained health and happiness. Knowing the various options available, such as sponge filters, HOB filters, and canister filters, along with the different types of filter media, allows you to select the perfect filtration system tailored to your needs.

While setting up a guppy tank without a filter is possible, investing in the right filter can significantly reduce stress and enhance your aquarium’s overall quality. Ultimately, a well-filtered aquarium ensures a flourishing and vibrant environment for your guppies, providing them with the best possible home.

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