5 Best Filter for 10 Gallon Aquariums

Your 10-gallon tank may look small and easy to maintain, but it needs a filter. Even if the water looks clean and debris-free, it may have toxic elements like ammonia and nitrates, which will affect the aquatic life.

Best Filter for 10 Gallon Aquariums

Best Filter for 10 Gallon Aquariums

There are several filter types you can use in a 10-gallon tank, depending on the kind of fish you have and their bio-load, and the kind of filtration you are interested in. The best filters for a 10-gallon aquarium include:

1. Aqua Clear – Fish Tank Filter

This filter boasts a filtration volume that is up to seven times larger than that of comparable models.

It works with aquariums of up to 20 gallons, and it will, therefore, meet the filtration needs of your 10-gallon tank.

It is a hang-on-back filter system that provides superior contact time with filter media. The filter is packaged with several media to deliver excellent water quality.

The AquaClear Foam Insert removes debris, and it encourages optimal water distribution patterns to enable subsequent media to function at maximum efficiency.

The insert boosts biological filtration and promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria.

The AquaClear Activated Carbon media contains 100% superior research-grade carbon. Its large surface area is ideal for the absorption of impurities. The BioMax ceramic rings have a complex pore structure that lets bacteria to thrive.

The filter also features a patented re-filtration system to let you control the flow rate without interrupting filtration efficiency. Once the flow rate decreases, up to 50% of the water in the filter chamber is processed several times. This function is especially suited for fish and plants that need gentle currents.

The filter has a multi-stage filtration system for optimal biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration. It will, therefore, ensure you always have a healthy aquarium for your aquatic pets.


2. Zoo Med Nano 10 External Filter

This filter will suit nano tanks and aquariums of up to 10 gallons. It has a flow rate of 79 Gallons per Hour, which is not very powerful, but it should do for a 10-gallon setup.

The filter will suit both freshwater and marine environments. Its compact design will save on space, while its quiet operation makes it a solid buy.

The build is satisfactory for the price range, and the tubing and piping leave zero allowance for leaks. The filter makes it easy for new users to open, customize, and prime.

It is packaged with a spray bar for greater aeration. You get carbon media for chemical filtration, bio-ceramic media, and a mechanical filter sponge.

Overall, this filter is a solid buy for beginners who are on a budget. It does its job well and will leave your tank with quality water.


3. Tetra Whisper IQ Power Filter

The Whisper IQ prides itself on being one of the quietest models in the market. The SoundShield provides a barrier between the filter and motor to reduce noise.

It also has vibration-dampening technology to minimize noise further. This filter is a perfect fit for fish owners looking for a budget model that is efficient and quiet.

The filter relies on StayClean Technology to provide a healthy environment for fish. It provides a 90 gph flow rate for tanks of 10 gallons, which can be controlled by a dial for fish species like bettas that need a gentle flow.

The smart path spillway oxygenates the water as it flows to the tank. You can also adjust the intake telescopes up and down to suit your tank.

The filter’s submerged motor is designed to start up easily with no priming. Its Bio-Grid cultivates the aerobic bacteria required to remove toxic elements. You will, however, need to buy higher-quality filtration media.


4. NO.17 Submersible Internal Aquarium Filter

This filter provides 8 watts of power for a flow rate of 200 GPH. It also has a lift height of up to 3.28 ft to let you adjust it for various spaces. You can adjust the flow rate depending on the kind of plants and fish in the tank.

It provides powerful but ultra-quiet filtration. The simple design makes cleaning and maintenance hassle-free. It is packaged with two nozzles to ensure your aquarium is fresh and clean.

Its multiple filter media will promote the quality of your aquarium, and you can be sure that your fish will be swimming in healthy water. The suction cups are, however, not adequate.


5. AQUEON Quietflow E Internal Power Filter

This vertical-oriented filter by AQUEON is built to be economical and efficient. It provides chemical, biological, and mechanical filtration to leave your water clean and suitable for fish.

A Carbon cartridge removes odors and discoloration while the Bioholster extracts nitrites and ammonia. There is also a Coarse Media Sponge to remove any debris and particles.

The pump operates automatically, and it does not need priming. It will restart after power has been restored. You can use hanging clips and suction cups to install the filter easily.


How to Choose a Filter for 10-Gallon Aquarium?

There are several features you can choose to determine if a filter will keep your 10-gallon tank clean and fresh. The factors to consider include:

Filter Size

The size and design of a filter is an important factor to take into account. Traditional filters were bulky, although they were incredibly durable. Brands have been implementing space-saving designs with their filters, as more and more fish-owners prefer a slimmer look.

Most fish owners use hang on back filters with small tanks like the 10-gallon setup. These filters leave adequate space for plants, fish, and decorations in the tank. Models like the AQUEON Quietflow E internal power filter feature a vertical design for improved aesthetics.

Filtration System

Identify the flow rate of the model you have in mind. If you have a community tank with many fish, opt for a high processing power since the aquarium will get dirty quickly. A filter with an adjustable flow rate will make it easy to customize the power of the model.

Some species like bettas prefer a gentle flow rate, and adjustable filters will prevent them from getting stressed. Appropriate filters for a 10-gallon tank will have minimum processing rates of 70 gallons per hour.

The filter you select should provide a multi-stage filtration process. It should provide biological filtration to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria to extract toxic elements like ammonia and nitrates.

Mechanical filtration is mostly provided by aquarium gravel, sponge, and filter pads that remove dirt and particles. If your tank is well-populated, you will need chemical filtration where activated carbon removes toxins.

Filter Type

There are several filter types that will work well in 10-gallon tanks.

Box filters are among the cheapest options, although they are not very effective. They will often be packed with a layer of activated charcoal on top of polyester fiber media. They are quite small and will not intrude on your aquarium setup.

Hang on back filters are fairly popular because they are placed externally at the edge of the tank. These filters initially only contained activated carbon, but advancements have allowed for as many as four filtration stages.

An intake tube is used to channel water from the tank to the filter box. The filter is easy to clean and maintain, and you only have to change the media after several weeks.

Another filter type to consider is under-gravel filters. They are quite popular as secondary filters as they offer excellent biological filtration. An under-gravel filter features a perforated plate that is placed under the gravel or any other substrate.

The filter will trap debris, pull it through the tubes, and blow it away via an air pump. This process will allow bacteria to colonize the gravel and promote biological filtration. The filters can, however, become clogged by plant roots, and fry can also get caught up in them

Internal power filters are submerged in the tank, and the ones rated for 10-gallons are fairly small to save on space. The filters also produce low currents, making them perfect for fish species that are easily stressed by high flow rates.

There are also small external canister filters that will be ideal for small tanks. Canister filters are known for their impressive power, and they will leave your tank healthy.

Filter Pump Type

In-tank motors remain submerged in water, where they promote water aeration. These motors will typically eliminate the need for air pumps. The water also dampens the noise of the motor for quiet operation.

The motors can, however, crowd a small tank. With external motors, the filter goes in the water while the motor is placed along the back of the tank. External motors promote better aesthetics.

Filter Maintenance

A good filter will be easy to maintain, and its parts will be easily removable. You should also be able to install it quickly.

Priming gets thrown around a lot in fish-keeping communities, mainly because it takes a lot of effort on the part of the fish-owner. Some filters are self-priming, and they will not require a lot of work.

How Often do You Need to Clean the Filter?

Unlike the aquarium tank, the filter does not need to be cleaned too often. Over time, beneficial bacteria accumulate in the filter and support the nitrogen cycle.

Cleaning the filter often will interrupt your aquarium’s biological filtration and may cause the tank to recycle. This scenario will end up hurting your pets.

If you have a hang-on-back filter, clean it every couple of weeks or once a month. You can clean it as you replace the filter media. For a sponge filter, clean the sponge every two weeks to keep it in good shape.

You can get away with cleaning canister filters every three to four months, and they will still work properly. For under-gravel filters, ensure you vacuum the substrate after two weeks.

Cleaning a filter involves getting rid of the accumulated dirt and debris. You need to preserve the beneficial bacteria, and you should, therefore, not use bleach or very hot water. Disassemble the filter and scrub parts like the impeller and tubing.

Why Choose a Bigger Filter for Your Tank?

When given a choice between under-filtering and over-filtering, aquarists will go with the latter. Over-filtering will not harm your fish, and it will only ensure that your aquarium is a suitable environment for the pets.

Most brands include a recommended aquarium size with their filters, which helps in making a decision. Along with the size, the models will also be branded with their respective flow rates.

A bigger filter is, however, ideal as the efficiency of a filter reduces as it gets clogged. Bigger filters will also effectively deal with fish that produce a lot of waste like goldfish.

A large filter also deals with aquariums that gets dirty quickly because of species that are messy eaters. You should opt for a powerful filter and high flow rates, even for small setups.

Can You Use a Sponge Filter for a 10-Gallon Tank?

Sponge filters can be used for 10-gallon tanks, and they are quite affordable and easy to use. They are used with an air pump that forces water across the sponge for optimum mechanical filtration.

Some models will support biological filtration, along with mechanical filtration. The sponge should contain a large surface area to allow for the growth of beneficial bacteria.

The sponge also traps large particles to keep the water clear. One downside, however, is that the sponge gets clogged over time.

Sponge filters come in various models, including round ones and corner configurations. Some will have two separate heads for both mechanical and biological filtration.

You can shake the filter in water to get rid of dirt while preserving the beneficial bacteria. Most of these filters will, however, not provide chemical filtration, making them only ideal for secondary filtration.


Filter have become must-haves for the modern aquarists, whether you run a small tank or a big one. Most beginner aquarists will be wrong to assume that the water in their tank is clean because it is clear, but toxic elements like ammonia are invisible and will kill your pets quickly.

You can choose between sponge, hang-on-back, canister, and even box filters for your 10-gallon setup. Brands like AQUEON, Aqua Clear, Zoo med, No.17, and Tetra have various models that will fulfill the filtration needs of your aquarium.

Aquarium Equipment   Updated: December 4, 2019
avatar Hello, my name is Fabian, and I am the Chief Editor at Aquarium Nexus. I have over 20 years of experience in keeping and breeding fish. The aquarium hobby brings me immense joy, and I take great pleasure in sharing my experiences with others.

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