7 Best Small HOB (Hang on Back) Aquarium Filter


Best Small HOB (Hang on Back) Aquarium Filter

A clean fish tank is essential for the survival of your fish. The best way to maintain cleanliness in your aquarium is by use of a well-functioning filter. Without proper cleaning of your fish tank, your fish may start experiencing some health-related problems.

This is one of the incidents that you should avoid by all cost lest you risk losing your fish. That’s when Hang on Back filter comes into play. So, what is the best HOB filter that will work for your aquarium to achieve the desired cleanliness?

HOB filters have become popular lately among advanced and beginner aquarists. These filters are easy to use and don’t occupy a lot of space in the aquarium. If you are not familiar with everything regarding HOB then it is time to learn about these essential aquarium devices.

Perhaps after getting enough information about them, you might make up your mind to have them installed to your tank.

First of all, you need to have a full understanding of HOB and how it works. As mentioned earlier, HOB is a short form of “Hang on Back”. This device is relatively bulky but you can easily hang on the rear wall of the aquarium, hence the name. Even though they are bulky, HOBs don’t occupy any space within the tank.

This gives your fish and live plants more room to swim around and thrive best without any interference.

HOB works by simply drawing water out of your tank via the tube all the way into the filter. From there, water is forced out through a couple of channels into the filter media. Here, the water is cleaned before it flows back into the aquarium over an overflow or spillway.

HOB may use either a biological, mechanical or chemical filtration media depending on the choice of your model.

Purchasing HOB filters for your tank is a good idea but learning about them or how they work is even a better idea. Here is everything you need to know about HOB if you are a newcomer in the aquarium business:

  • Filtration: The filter cartridges within the HOB are designed to provide mechanical, biological or chemical filtration or to some extent, a combination of the three. A few models come with a bio-wheel that promotes the growth of bacteria (the beneficial ones) in the aquarium. Therefore, it’s not advisable to clean your bio-wheel or leave it to dry because this will destroy the beneficial bacteria.
  • Motor: The function of the HOB motor is to draw water into the aquarium via the filter. Most of the newer filters have built-in motors as opposed to the older models which have detachable motors. Built-in motors have one advantage over the detachable ones such that you won’t have to remove and clean them.
  • Water Spouts: HOB filters feature at least one or two spouts that are designed to take back clean water into the aquarium after filtration.
  • Maintenance: The best thing about HOB filters is that they need very little maintenance. You are only required to replace cartridges after every three or four weeks. But in case of algae build-up inside the filter or the tube, you may only carry out a quick scrub.

Best Small HOB Filters Review

Now here is the moment of truth and you are going to find out more about our seven top-pick HOB filters in the following review. Find out more:

1. AquaClear HOB Filter

Aqua Clear Fish-Tank comes with a refiltration system designed to provide superior contact with any filter media. This model of HOB filters works efficiently through its energy-efficient pump thus lowering running costs for you. In fact, this filter is easy to install and operate as long as it is a perfect fit for your tank.

Its filtration volume can go as high as 7 times more than other comparable filters on the market. Most importantly, this HOB filter comes fully equipped with Activated Carbon, AquaClear Foam, BioMax and Cycle Guard to give your tank a continuous filtration as well as superior water quality. This model is ideal for a 20-gallon aquarium.


2. Penn Plax Cascade-Hang-On Aquarium Filter

If you are looking for a HOB filter that will deliver 20 gallons (per hour) of crystal clear tank water for your saltwater or freshwater aquarium, then you should consider taking Penn Plax Cascade-Hang-on.

This filter comes complete with activated carbon cartridge to remove toxins, odors, harmful chemicals and any other contaminants that might affect your fish in the aquarium. Its internal sponge plays a key role in optimizing colonization of beneficial bacteria. Also, the poly fiber floss cartridges found within the filter traps any floating particles to keep your tank clean throughout.

The adjustable flow knobs on the filter enables you to decrease the level of filtration when it’s feeding time for your fish or whenever it is necessary. This filter is designed primarily for both saltwater and freshwater applications.


3. AZOO Aquarium Mignon Filter

AZOO Aquarium Mignon Filter-150 comes in a variety of colors with beige being the most popular of them. This hang on the back filter is designed to work efficiently while keeping the tank conditions in your aquarium favorable for your fish.

The most intriguing thing about this stylish HOB filter is that it operates in absolute silence such that your fish will not experience any sort of noise. Being a hang on back design, you can rest assured that AZOO Aquarium Mignon Filter-150 will not be a challenge to you when it comes to installing and maintaining it.

Once you buy it, you will only need to unwrap it from the box and mount it at the back of your aquarium to serve its intended purpose. Inasmuch as the AZOO Aquarium Mignon Filter-150 looks a little bit utilitarian, you will be surprised to learn that it works well for most tanks.


4. Boxtech Aquarium Hang-on-Back Filter

Boxtech Aquarium Hang-on Filter Power is one of the few filters made from safe materials such as ABS plastic. These materials are strong and durable, making the filter to last longer than you can imagine. This HOB filter is quieter thanks to its low noise motor that runs smoothly without affecting the life as well as the mood of your fish in the tank.

Apart from that, this filter comes with an adjustable flow valve to control the flow of water. This way, the filter can help in the distribution of dissolved oxygen for your fish and other creatures in the tank. Being a 3-in-1 multifunction filter, this device can perform filtration, clearing oil-film, oxygen aeration, and other related functions.

Its filter plates do a remarkable job of cleaning up the aquarium fish feces and creating clean surroundings for your fish.  The filter is a perfect choice for the fishbowl or grass cylinder. In other words, the Boxtech Aquarium Hang-on Filter Power is suitable to satisfy most of your aquarium needs.


5. Tetra Whisper EX-Silent HOB Filter

Tetra Whisper EX-Silent is a model designed for both the experienced and beginner aquarists. Most of its parts are assembled by its manufacturer, making it readily usable when you take it out of its box.

The whole device is equipped with two large carbon filters to clean water in the aquarium through filtration. Furthermore, the model comes with two plates for growing bacteria. These microorganisms play a significant role in keeping your fish and live aquarium plants healthy throughout.

This model is compact in design and can fit well on the aquarium, taking very little space while leaving the rest for your fish. One unique thing that will make you like this device is that it is equipped with a clever way of alerting you when it’s time to replace the older cartridge. In this case, you will not have to keep on guessing the right time to carry out routine maintenance of your hang on back filter.

When it comes to the mode of operation, this model is the best. This is because it operates quietly and you can stay with it in the same room without even realizing that it’s indeed working.


6. Zacro HOB Aquarium Filter

Zacro Aquarium Filter is suitable for a 13-gallon aquarium. The filter is efficient and comes fully equipped with two filter boxes that can do filtration as well as getting rid of waste, discoloration or odor from the water tank.

The accumulator for an oil slick on this filter serves the function of increasing oxygen content on the water surface in addition to enhancing the illumination of your aquarium. Its adjustable length of between 0 and 6 centimeters is suitable for fish tanks with different heights.

At the same time, its filter boxes can be removed separately to facilitate the cleaning process. Just like a few other models, Zacro Aquarium Filter operates in a quiet mode thus not affecting the peaceful nature of your room or fish in the tank. This model is recommended for those aquariums kept in bedrooms or any other quiet place.


7. Marineland Penguin Power-Filter

Marineland Penguin Power-Filter model stands out from the rest because of its impressive durability. As a user, you will realize that this is the main selling point for this device and many users have come forward to attest to this great feature. This is due to the fact that manufacturers designed this model using the strongest parts that assure the end-user of reliability and durability.

So, spending your money on this model of HOB filters will not be vain given that it will serve you for a very long time. Indeed you will end up getting the value for your cash when you install this model on your aquarium. Besides its ability to last longer, Marineland Penguin Power-Filter boasts of its ease of customization and spaciousness.

This should tell you that it is capable of accommodating more media and water for filtration purposes. As a result, this filter will deliver the best performance, especially in the filtration capacity.

On top of that, the filter is quiet and efficient thanks to its well-designed impeller that operates at low noise levels throughout. And its installation is as simple as taking a leisurely walk in the park. Even a beginner will have an easy time installing and using it.


Why Choose a HOB Filter for Your Aquarium?

What are the reasons for buying HOB filters? Are they beneficial in any way? Find answers to these two questions by examining the following:

  • Given that HOB filters hang on the back of aquariums, it easy to have access to them anytime you want to change their cartridges or when cleaning them.
  • HOB filters are affordable compared to other models of filters that are designed to offer the same level of water filtration. This is quite encouraging, especially to the upcoming aquarium hobbyists because they will save a lot of money when using HOB filters.
  • One interesting thing about HOB filters is that they are extremely quiet than the older versions thanks to the current cutting-edge technology. Once installed on your tank, they will not scare your fish or make noise to you during the filtration process.
  • HOB filters have a larger capacity and they are very effective as well as efficient, thus saving you time and money at the same time.
  • These filters require low maintenance.

How Do You Maintain a HOB Filter?

You can maintain your HOB filter by replacing older cartridges with the newer ones on a regular basis. Apart from that, you can also maintain this type of filter by simply cleaning it. It is recommended that you carry out this exercise once every month. For better cleaning, you can take the following steps into account:

  • Before you even start cleaning, ensure that your HOB filter is unplugged. Then remove it from your aquarium.
  • Open the lid and remove the basket or cartridge that holds the entire filter media.
  • Clean the sponge or any biological filtration like the ceramic discs in aquarium water. Never use tap water because it may kill the beneficial bacteria.
  • If you are using the activated carbon, make sure you replace it with a new one.
  • Remove the inlet tubes and other tubes available before cleaning the interior section of the filter using a small brush.
  • Detach the motor carefully and then clean the impeller.
  • Lubricate the motor before sealing the gasket while replacing it.
  • Re-assemble the filter and then place it back to the tank. Fill it up with old aquarium water just before plugging it back in its previous position.

HOB Filter vs Internal Filter vs Sponge Filter

HOB filters are designed to provide mechanical and biofiltration. These filters have impellers driven by motors to move the tank water. While some are adjusted to control the flow of water, some are not. HOB filters are rated according to the size of the aquarium they can handle in terms of gallons or liters per hour.

Internal filters employ both mechanical and biofiltration methods and most of them work with air pumps or a powerhead. A few models have an impeller. However, these types of filters are for small-sized aquariums because of their small sizes compared to HOB or Sponge filters.

That is why these filters require frequent rinsing to keep them in good working conditions. Those driven by air tend to float at the surface unless something is added to make them sink to the bottom.

Sponge filters are truly outstanding aquarium filters known for their incredible biofiltration. These filters are capable of removing a huge percentage of organic matter from the tank water. Some of the organic matter is broken down by bacteria in the sponge’s pores while the solid matter remains at the tank bottom to be removed by other methods.

These filters run on air pumps but a few are operated by a powerhead. Most of them are placed at the bottom of the tank but a few are attached to the inner walls of the tank with the help of suction cups. In addition, there are free-standing models which are fitted with weighted bottoms to prevent them from floating. Sponge filters come in a wide range of sizes and shapes to choose from.


There is no doubt that at this point you can easily choose the right hang on back filter for your aquarium. For those who do not have any idea about these devices, it is obvious that they will have a hard time when choosing the right filter for their tanks among numerous models available on the market today.

As for you, you can simply focus on the information provided here to help you find the right HOB filter that will serve you better. Every model discussed here comes from the top brands which means you have a better idea of landing the right model to meet your needs.

Most importantly, all these HOB filter models are affordable and easy to maintain. For that reason, you will not have to go deeper into your pockets to get the right device for your aquarium.

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