7 Best Filters For 5 Gallon Small Fish Tanks

Good water quality is essential for the aquatic ecosystem within the tank. It doesn’t matter what size of the tank you have provided that you have a mechanism that helps it balance the abiotic and biotic environment of a given aquarium. This is the only way to ensure that your fish is growing well.


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Best Filters For 5 Gallon Small Fish Tanks

So, if you are one of the proud owners of 5-gallon small fish tanks then you should be fully aware of the significant role played by a good filter.

A well-functioning filter should be able to get rid of any waste materials including debris from the tank water.

In other words, filters are designed primarily to keep water in the aquarium crystal clear without harming or stressing your fish.

Certainly, a filter is a must-have if you really want to keep the condition in the tank conducive for your fish and other living things.

There is a wide range of filters on the market today. Despite their huge differences in the design and names, filters should be able to provide three major types of filtration.

These include, mechanical, biological and chemical. Each type of filtration is as unique as their names but they are meant to keep water in the tank clean throughout.

Mechanical filters are a good choice for all species of fish kept in the tank. This type of filters ensures that the water in the aquarium stays clean as a way of maintaining a healthy environment for aquatic animals. Why should you opt for a mechanical filter?

The answer is simple; these filters are able to maintain and keep the water clean in your aquarium even in your absence. The filters do the regular tank water changes as well as keeping your fish in a better environment while you are away.

The mechanical filters work by filtering any particulates that usually appear in the tank water.

These foreign objects are removed through a small media in the form of foams, pads, filter flosses, debris or paper pleats.


Biological Filter Media

When it comes to biological filtration, you are required to know everything about the nitrogen cycle. This cycle encompasses any waste products resulting from all activities involving all living things within the tank.

These waste products from aquatic animals are converted by bacteria and fungi into ammonia.

However, you can prevent any harm from such toxins (ammonia and others) by the use of a biological filter. Keep in mind that the nitrogen cycle will accelerate depending on the number of fish in the aquarium.

This means you should look for a filter that will cope with all the changes that occur in the nitrogen cycle.

In chemical filters, activated carbon is the main medium used. These may include resin or different types of adsorbent materials known for their filtration abilities. The activated carbon contains millions of microscopic holes that collect any dissolved material.

The chemical filtration process is very effective in removing chlorine, copper, proteins, and carbohydrates from tank water. Resins, on the other hand, are a better option because they attract nitrates and ammonia. Also, they strengthen carbon when used in chemical filters.

The best filter for your aquarium should be able to keep your fish comfortable, happy and healthy throughout. A good small tank filter should provide mechanical, biological and chemical filtration to keep tank conditions favorable for aquatic life.

Learn more about the best filters for your 5-gallon small aquarium in the following quick review:

Best Filters for 5 Gallon Small Aquariums

As you may know, a bigger water volume is more stable in terms of temperature and water parameters. In a small, nano fish tank, water parameters can change drastically after feeding or after water changes. In order to keep the water quality as good as it gets, you need to use proper filtration.

Below you can find a short overview of one of the best filters for small (up to 5 gallon) fish tanks. It is true, that some setups can work without a filter, but for best results, I highly recommend getting a small filter for your nano aquarium.

1. Tetra Whisper in-Tank Filter

If you are looking for a traditional in-tank filter for your small aquarium, then your search should take you to Tetra Whisper in-Tank Filter. This is a great choice of an internal filter with a flow rate of 80 GPH, and ideal capacity for a 3 or 5-gallon aquarium.

The filter is equipped with a patented Bio-scrubber and a medium Whisper-Bio-Bag cartridge to keep your small fish tank clean and clear. The Whisper-Bio-bag cartridge inside the filter is filled with high quality activated carbon that plays a role of removing discoloration and odor while keeping water in the tank clean.

In other words, this device uses both chemical and mechanical filtration process to maintain the tank conditions. Most importantly, the cartridge is affordable and easy to assemble or replace. But you are only required to do the replacement of the cartridge once a month.

When it comes to Bio-scrubber pad, you should know that it provides a safe haven for beneficial bacteria to thrive. These helpful bacteria are equally important in processing nitrogenous toxins found in your aquarium through the biological filtration process.

In a nut-shell, Tetra Whisper in-Tank Filter uses the three major filtration process; mechanical, chemical and biological filtration process.


2. AZOO Aquarium Mignon-Filter-60

AZOO Aquarium Mignon-Filter-60 comes with all positive attributes not found in other types of filters. This external power filter (ideal for Hang On Back) is a good choice for an aquarium with a capacity of up to 3.5 gallons. On top of that, the filter is ideal for Betta fish and other small tank fish.

With its mechanical and biological filtration process, you can rest assured that your small fish will not get sucked into its chamber. As a matter of fact, your Bettas, Tetras, Neon, Guppies, and shrimp will feel stressed by this filter. This is because the filter is designed with an adjustable flow to offer protection to your fish. As such, you need not worry about your little aquatic pets getting sucked up.

The AZOO Aquarium Mignon-Filter-60 is one of the most popular small tank filters that you can use on your 5-gallon aquarium comfortably. The filter comes with powerful features such as compact design, easy maintenance, and quiet performance.

Also, this filter has an adjustable flow rate as well as a pre-filter sponge to protect your small fish against getting sucked into the chamber.


3. ZOO Med Nano-10 External Canister Filter

The ZOO Med Nano-10 is a powerful device that uses a canister filter and is designed to work on 5-gallon fish tanks. The filter boasts of a flow rate of about 80 gallons per hour (80 GPH) while using mechanical, chemical or biological filtration process. You can either use it on a saltwater or freshwater tank.

This filter comes with powerful features such as bio-ceramic, sponge, spray bar system and carbon media. Furthermore, this canister filter is able to perform three types of filtration at the same time. This means that your fish tank will be kept clean and clear for a very long time.

Apart from that, the filter chamber’s large capacity can accommodate a large amount of filter media to give your tank the best filtration ever. However, this filter gives you the option of choosing your own home-made filter media rather than relying on the ones that come with it.


4. AquaClear 20 Hang-on-Back Filter

Aqua Clear Fish Tank Filter comes with a refiltration system to provide your tank with superior contact. In addition to that, this filter is designed to give you an easy time installing it in your fish tank.

Clearly, this filter is a real workhorse given that it is capable of churning high volumes of water compared to other filters on the market. Also, you can customize its performance and efficiency by adjusting a few parameters using its control features.

Installation of this device has been made easier and quicker for you so that you won’t waste your time fixing a few things here and there.  Aqua Clear Fish Tank Filter is actually designed to give you value for your money. It comes in different sizes, which are suitable for tanks from 5 to 110 US gallons.

If you have a small, 5 gallon aquarium, the AquaClear 20 model will be your best choice. This HOB filter is very effective in keeping your fish tank clean, removing ammonia and nitrites while ensuring that your fish is thriving in the best tank conditions.


5. Boxtech Aquarium Hang-On Filter

Boxtech Aquarium Hang-On Filter is made of safe materials that are durable, strong and quiet to withstand aquatic conditions in the tank. On the other hand, this filter ensures that your fish remain comfortable and stress-free thanks to its low noise motor.

The adjustable flow valve on the filter helps in dissolving oxygen in the water for your fish to breathe by making sure that the flow of water is distributed evenly. In fact, this filter is suitable for fish bowls or grass cylinders.

With its three in one multifunction, Boxtech Aquarium Hang-On Filter can perform three major operations at one. For instance, the filter can do oxygenation, filtration, and aeration at the same time. Additionally, you can use it for clearing oil-film using its various functions.


6. Aqueon Quietflow E-Internal Power Filter

From the name, you can easily tell that Aqueon Quietflow E uses an internal power filter. This powerful and efficient small fish tank filter cleans and filters water, leaving your aquarium environment clear and better for your fish.

Even if your power supply is interrupted, this filter will still work as if nothing happened when the same power comes back. This is attributed to its auto-start pump that doesn’t require priming but starts automatically in case power is lost and restored later.

The filter is easy to install whereby you only need to use suction cups or hanging clips to hold it firmly on your aquarium. This filter comes fully equipped with a carbon cartridge to assist in chemical filtration in order to remove discoloration and odors from the tank water.


7. Aquapapa Corner Filter

Aquapapa Corner filter combines mechanical and bio-chemical filtration to keep your fish in a clean environment. This is made possible due to its multi-layer sponge filters that increase oxygen solubility in the tank.

Starting with the top-most layer in the filter, you will realize that there are filter pads arranged in a single layer. These pads aid in mechanical filtration. The second layer comprises ceramic rings and black bio-sponge that play a role in biochemical filtration as well as providing a better platform for the colonization of beneficial bacteria.

Its quiet filtering system is ideal, especially for breeding small fish. Besides, the whole filtration system removes all toxic waste and maintains a clean environment in the tank. Generally, this filter is easy to maintain and you can do so by just taking out the sponge layers and rinsing them gently before taking then back to their positions.

The complete set of Aquapapa Corner filter is made up of ceramic, gravel, sponge and any other materials that can aid infiltration.


How do You Choose a Filter for a Nano Fish Tank?

When shopping for a filter for your nano fish tank, there are considerations that you need to make. So, what should you look for when buying a filter for your 5-gallon aquarium?

The Size of Your Aquarium

You should know that different filters are designed for different tank sizes. Some may have the capability to serve more tanks at once, while others may only handle one tank. Make sure that you check the specifications of each model of filters to know the right one for your needs. Once you get the right size of the filter that corresponds with your fish tank, you will make a quick decision.

The Filtration Technology

Different brands of filters have different filtration technology. This is because each company that produces filters wants to outsmart its competitors in terms of filtration technology and this is a good thing to consider as a buyer. Look out for desirable features from different filters and compare them to find out which ones have the best. Also, check with each model to ensure that the filter you choose is suitable for your type of fish tank.

The Water-Flow Rate

The water flow rate is another factor to consider when looking for a perfect filter for your nano fish tank. This rate is measured in gallons per hour and it is the rate at which the filter fills the aquarium with water at a given period of time. Certainly, you will consider a filter that will work efficiently to keep the conditions in the tank ideal for the aquatic life. That’s why you must do a little comparison of different brands to find out which one offers the best water flow rate.

The Brand

The brand of the filter you choose matters a lot. Some brands provide more sustainability than others. That is the reason you need to think twice before you settle for a certain brand. It is even better to go for a brand name that you have ever used in other products. This helps you to have full knowledge of a particular brand.

On the other hand, you may opt for top-rated brands by going through the product rating. Doing so will give you a better platform to know the best products that are likely to deliver according to your needs.

Reviews from Other Users

The best way of getting reliable information on different types of filters is by reading the reviews on particular brands. The reviews will help you identify the best fish tank filters to choose from. At the same time, the reviews will help you confirm the information given out by manufacturers on their respective brands.

It is a well-known fact that manufacturers exaggerate some features on their filters just to capture the attention of unsuspecting buyers. Through reviews from the users, you can learn more about a certain tank filter brand so you may make a wise decision on what you want to buy.

How Often Should You Clean a Small Filter?

All factors remaining constant, filtration maintenance should be conducted regularly. In this regard, the factors that should dictate how and when to clean your small aquarium should include the number of fish, type of plants, amount of waste deposited in the tank and the type of filtration you are using.

But one thing that you should be careful about when cleaning your small fish tank filter is not to destroy the beneficial bacteria present in the filter.

To protect these important microorganisms, you are advised not to clean your filter too often or thoroughly. Nevertheless, there are no rules governing how often you should clean your filter because each type of filter has its own requirements that are different from others.

How do You Reduce the Flow on a Filter?

If your aquarium is experiencing an increased flow of water, it means there is uneven coverage. So, it is a good idea to find a way of reducing the flow on a filter. Here are a few tips that you can use to redirect the movement of water for even coverage:

  • Use rocks and caves to act as buffers that will reduce the impact created by powerful water flow.
  • Add both live and plastic plants to your aquarium to slow down the flow of water
  • Make use of a flow control valve to check on the floor flow rate
  • Install a manifold system to your aquarium
  • Recirculation method
  • Motor speed control

These tips can help you control or reduce the flow of water in your filter. But with the modern adjustable aquarium filters, you will be able to control the flow of water without much of a hustle.

What Type of Filter is Best for a Small Fish Bowl?

When it comes to a glass fish bowl you don’t have too many options regarding filters. You can use a sponge filter with an air pump or you can use a HOB filter with small adjustments.


There are different types of tank filters on the market and each works differently from the other. But one important thing to know is the three different types of filtration (mechanical, chemical and biological filtration) processes before setting out to buy a filter.

In addition, the design of tank filters is important because it will determine the compatibility of the filter and your tank. From the reviews above, you can easily choose the right product for your nano tank based on unique features displayed by each brand.

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