Choosing an aquarium filter: Where to start

For people who are new to owning a fish tank, knowing what to look for in an aquarium filter is a common question they’ll ask. The truth is, owning and aquarium as a hobby is as popular as it’s ever been – and the options are virtually endless and at times overwhelming to new enthusiasts.

Today we’re not going to talk models. We’re not going to talk about the type of filter, either. What we’re going to talk about is the parameters of what you should be framing your search in hopes of finding a solution. The stuff that sets the boundaries and helps the answer come into clearer focus.

Here are some of the factors you should be considering when you are purchasing an aquarium filter. Let’s jump right in!

Is it easy to install? Some filters are a lot to install and for a beginner – that can mean biting off more than you can chew. Is the filter something you can install yourself or do you need to call in a professional? Try not to dive in over your head, but in the event you do – have a pro on standby to help you out!

Cost – How much does the filter cost? Great filters can be worth their weight in gold, but if you’re newer to the hobby, holding off on making a significant financial commitment might be worth it.

Maintenance – There are some filters out there that you can set and simply forget. There are others that require constant, ongoing maintenance. Which one is for you and which one fits your lifestyle?

Space – Not every room and not every tank is set up for a large filter. Finding a fit and space to put your filter is important. Can this filter fit under your aquarium or inside it? Is it bulky and not aesthetically pleasing? What’s the practical choice?

How does it handle organic matter? – Not every form of green is bad to have in your tank. Does your filter maintain an acceptable level of biological filtration? Be sure to take your time here and ask questions as biological filtration may be the single most important aspect of your tank’s filtration system.

Chemical effectiveness – Same as above, but rather chemicals. Does it maintain balance well or does it have issues?

Noise – Believe it or not, this is one people take for granted. It’s purely aesthetic, but a noisy tank filter can be grating to people who aren’t used to it. Be sure to ask about the noise levels associated with your filtration system.

Feel free to look around at certain filtration guides you’ll find online. That can be a great place to start in terms of identifying a make and model that will work with your setup. In addition, be sure to ask the pros at your local vendor. Sometimes they’ll have various tips and tricks that might work for your unique setup and situation. Until then – stick to these rules, answer these questions and the answer of what filter to purchase will come into clearer focus.

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