No matter how tight your budget is, cutting short from the filtration on your planted tank is no way to do it. Some aquarists do go entirely low tech and try their best to have a planted aquarium with no filtration whatsoever, but this isn’t very wise. You do need filters to maintain the water circulating clean and fresh for the plants and the animals inside.
Why is the filter necessary?
Even the cheapest and the simplest filtration system is able to provide efficient water circulation. The mechanical and biological filtration are important even though plants themselves offer biological filtration one way or another. The mechanical filtration cannot be replaced though as it’s the only type able to remove the particles from the water.
The aquatic plants in any tank are depending on water movement and only powerful water circulation isn’t enough for the health of the plants and animals. As you may know by now, all filters are made to fit specific sizing of tanks. Generally speaking, though, a filter moving the water 7 to 10 times in your tank is a good choice.
Don’t overdo it with the flow rate as you want your plants to slowly sway in the water. They also need to get the nutrients they need and the fish to leave in a calm area of your tank, not having to fight the current.
Some other things to consider
The direction of the flow is also essential for even distribution of the CO2 and nutrients to your plants. The best flow is the one coming from the back of the aquarium, without breaking the surface of the water. A front to back circulation motion is the best way to go for a planted tank.
As for the chemical filtration, you should take it cautiously in your planted tank. Carbon, which is the most common choice, may be harmful for your plants. You should consider filters that come with buffers that control the water hardness so that is compatible with your plants.
Page Table of Contents
TOP 5 Filter For Planted Tank Reviews
1). Filter Aquarium Fish Tank
When you go shopping on a tight budget but don’t want to come back home empty handed, put your trust and faith in a filter like the Corner Filter Aquarium Fish Tank Internal Air Driven Filter with Media XY-2008.
Even though it’s small, the filter is quite efficient and it’s going to keep clean any tank ranging from 5 to 10 gallons. It comes with multi-layer media so it’s not difficult to use or clean.
The mechanical filtration is provided by the top layer of the white filter pad, whereas the black bio-sponge and the ceramic rings with gravel are going to solve the problem of biochemical filtration.
The wattage consume is low as the air pump isn’t strong. Additionally, it’s also quiet so you shouldn’t worry about the noise level.
In order to make the best out of the filter, you need to fully submerse it in water. You should consider also installing a check valve so you eliminate the risks of back flow/draining in case of a shut down.
Every 2 to 4 weeks you need to rinse the water. Don’t overdo it as you may ruin the beneficial bacteria so don’t use tap water. It’s better to use water from the tank instead.
Just because it doesn’t show it, doesn’t mean the filter isn’t efficient nor reliable so you should give it a try.
Here are its main features:
- It sustains mechanical and biochemical filtration
- It’s efficient and reliable
- It’s easy to install and to clean when in need
- It’s quiet
The downsides aren’t major:
- Some expected it to be even smaller
- You also need a pump for it
Giving your planted tank what it needs and the plants the oxygen and nutrients, the filter is a good choice and quite a bang for the buck too.
2). Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter
Well-priced and dependable, the Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter With Quad Filtration System is a valid option for the planted tanks as it gives 300 gallons per hour of clean water, keeping your aquatic plants and animals healthy. It’s made for aquariums ranging from 55 to 100 gallons, but there are several sizes to choose from.
The filter stands out with the Bio-Falls Quad-Filtration system that gives effective filtration with anaerobic bacteria for removing ammonia and nitrite. The oxygenation is improved and the filtration works well.
The activated carbon cartridge is going to remove the dangerous chemicals, odors, discoloration and toxins that contaminate your aquarium.
The internal sponge improves colonization of the “good” anaerobic bacteria, whereas the poly fiber floss cartridge catches the floating particles.
The filter comes with adjustable flow knob so you may reduce filtration according to your needs. You may safely use it for both saltwater and freshwater applications.
Easy to set it up, the filter comes with a self-leveling case that maintains its level. The intake tube length is also adjustable and the filter runs quiet.
Well-made, the filter has a durability feel to it and comes for an affordable price too.
Here’s what we like the most about it:
- It comes with adjustable flow rate and adjustable intake tube length
- It provides chemical, mechanical and biological filtration
- It’s easy to put it together
- You may use it for both freshwater and saltwater applications
We’re not making a drama out of some minor problems:
- Air may get stuck in the intake tube
- The filter cartridges could be better
Nevertheless, for the adjustability, efficiency and reliability, the filter is an option to keep in mind and money well spent altogether.
3). Marineland Emperor 400-Power Filter
Presenting a certified flow rate of 400GPH, the Marineland Emperor 400 Pro Series Bio-wheel Power Filter is a great choice for the aquariums no bigger than 80 gallons.
The filter stands out with a revolutionary two-pump design so the filtration and the flow are quite impressive.
It also comes with double the capacity of the filter cartridge, which enhances its efficiency. You need to use two Rite-Size E” filter cartridges for it.
The filter comes with a large, spray bar-driven Bio-Wheel wet/dry biological filtration. The Multi-Stage filtration keeps your tank crystal clear for a good amount of time. It comes with separate movable carbon compartments, for higher performance.
The movement of the Bio-Wheels is adjustable and the filter pumps a lot of water. It gives your plants the oxygen and nutrients they need.
The filter has a solid build and it’s quite user friendly.
Let’s make short list of pros:
- The filter comes with two-pump design
- It moves a lot of water
- It presents adjustable movement for the Bio-Wheels
- It’s solid and user-friendly
The minor flaws shouldn’t change your mind:
- It has no on/off switch
- It’s a tad loud
All things considered, as it’s efficient and good the plants in your tank, the filter shouldn’t be skipped on when shopping.
4). EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter
Running nice and smooth, the EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media has a great value for the money and brings a lot of good things to the table.
The list of features begins with the permo-elastic silicon sealing ring found on the pump head. Thanks to this detail, you don’t need to worry when cleaning the filter.
Even though the filter is powerful, it runs quiet. It also comes with a filter sponge and enclosed media. There are plenty of accessories coming with the filter and you can use them for higher efficiency on the filter (spray bar, hose, filter basket, inlet pipe and installation accessories).
The filter provides biological and mechanical filtration in a single process and the water circulation is continuous. The oxygen intake is simultaneous which is great for the plants in your tank.
As for the installation, it’s quite a breeze too. Many install it under a cabinet, with no need for drilling any holes at all. The setup isn’t difficult and you only need to do some handy work.
The priming is no brainer either and you only need to do it in the beginning. So it is the maintenance of the filter, which doesn’t require much of your time or patience.
The filter has a good build and it may take the use for quite some time. The design is well thought-out and the filter is dependable.
Let’s highlight the most important qualities:
- The filter has a good build and seems durable
- It provides mechanical and biological filtration
- It’s easy to install and to take care of
- It’s powerful, but runs quietly
The inherent flaws aren’t deal breakers:
- Some note it clogs too often
- The instructions aren’t very helpful
It goes without saying that the filter is efficient in any planted tank and it’s a good investment of your money too.
5). Hydor Professional External Canister Filter
The filter has a 345GPH speed and it’s a complete eco-system in just one box. It provides mechanical, biological and chemical filtration, keeping your plants and animals healthy for longer time.
The filter comes with easy priming feature and telescopic intake tubes, so it’s quite user friendly.
There are many accessories related to the filter, which explain its performance and efficiency. The flow is strong, but the filter is quite silent.
The vibration is minimal when the filter is running and the filter cleans your planted tank fast and easy. The hoses fit perfectly so there’s no rattle from them either. The filter also comes with a spray bar that you may easily adjust when in need.
The filter is well made and seems to be able to take the use for a long time. The filter baskets are well thought out and it’s not difficult to adjust the filter media.
The compact size of the filter makes it easy to fit and the filter looks good too.
Here’s a short list of pros:
- The filter has a good build
- It’s easy to install and to use
- It comes with telescopic intake tubes
- It’s powerful, but runs silent
The cons aren’t major:
- The container doesn’t seem durable
- Some find the priming quite tricky
However, as it’s strong, efficient and runs quiet, the filter isn’t a deal to miss on whenever in need.