Best Filter for 125 Gallon Cichlid Tank | Aquascape Addiction

Best Filter for 125 Gallon Cichlid Tank

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We have narrowed it down to these particular 5 as the best filters for a 125 Gallon Cichlid tank, here is why and what you should keep in mind when shopping for a new Cichlid filter.

Best Filter for 125 Gallon Cichlid Tank

Cichlids are some very beautiful fish and they need some fairly large tanks. These fish can be territorial, so they need plenty of space. Well, lots of space means lots of water, and that means needing a great aquarium filter.

Today we are here to help you find the best filter for a 125 gallon Cichlid tank. We have narrowed it down to 5 particular options that we feel work well with Cichlids.

Fluval FX6 Our Top Pick 9.5 / 10
Eheim 2262 Quiet & Effective 8.9 / 10
Penn Plax Cascade 5 large customizable baskets 8.4 / 10

Do Cichlids Need A Filter?

Yes, absolutely! Cichlids are voracious eaters and they can be quite messy too. They produce a good deal of waste that will contaminate the water if not properly taken care of.

For an average Cichlid tank of any size, you want the filter in question to be able to process at least 3 times the amount of water in the tank per hour. These fish do require fairly efficient filters.

What Type Of Filter Is Best?

Generally speaking, when it comes to Cichlid tanks, your two main choices of filter types include HOB or hang on back filters and external canister filters. Is there a preferable option?

Ok, so HOB filters tend to be fine for smaller tanks, plus they are very easy to set up and maintain. However, they usually just are not designed for massive 125 gallon tanks.

The external canister filter is really the only type of filter designed for bigger aquariums, many people also use a combination of a HOB + Canister, it really depends on your set up.

5 Best Filters For 125 Gallon Cichlid Tanks

There are a lot of good and viable options available, but we personally feel that these particular 5 are some of the better options for Cichlid tanks, here s a detailed summary of each of our picks.

1. Fluval FX6

Here we have a very large and extremely powerful canister filter for Cichlid tanks, a big time external canister filter that can be used for some truly herculean sized fish tanks.

What you should know here right off the bat is that the Fluval FX6 can be used for both saltwater and freshwater aquariums, not to mention that it’s one of the most durable filters out there.

Size & Flow Rate

In terms of the size, the Fluval FX6 can be used for aquariums up to 400 gallons in size, which is of course massive. Moreover, in terms of flow rate, this mammoth filter can process up to 925 gallons of water per hour.

In other words, it can process well over 7 times the amount of water in a 125 gallon tank per hour, which should be enough for even the messiest of Cichlids. Yes, the flow rate on this aquarium filter is adjustable, something else that should help.

Let’s keep in mind that this thing comes in at 21 inches high and it quite wide, so you’ll need a pretty large space under or behind your aquarium to fit this thing.

Media & Filtration Type

What is really impressive about the Fluval FX6 is that it comes with a plethora of media baskets which are customizable.

First off, there is are foam pre-filters included here to provide mechanical filtration before water gets to the actual media baskets, and this is true for each media basket.

The media baskets in this filter can hold a whopping 5.9 liters of filtration media. This means that you can customize this filter with a plethora of media types, whatever you see fit, and that’s a pretty big deal indeed.

The baskets can be stacked in whatever combination or order you desire. Did we forget to say that all filtration media is included?

Yeah, this thing comes complete with tons of filter media to get you started. Before we move on, it’s also worth noting that this beast comes with a telescopic strainer to help prevent clogs.

Setup, Maintenance, & More

The Fluval FX6 may be large and bulky, but it is still quite easy to setup. What is quite impressive about this thing is that it is fairly quiet for such a large filter, not whisper quiet, but quiet enough, and this is thanks to the rubber feet.

All you have to do to set it up is connect the hoses, place the Fluval FX6 wherever works best, and turn it on. It comes with dual telescopic valves placed at 45 degree angles for easy setup.

This filter comes with a self-priming pump, so you never have to prime it, plus it comes with smart pump technology to continuously monitor and adjust the pump for maximum performance.

The media baskets can simply be lifted out the top for easy maintenance, and this thing even comes with a purge valve in the bottom too.


  • Extremely large and efficient.
  • Massive and adjustable flow rate.
  • Takes up no space inside the tank.
  • Quiet for its size.
  • Easy setup and maintenance.
  • Tons of space for media – customizable.
  • Comes with various features to prevent clogging.
  • Very durable.
  • Smart pump tech.


  • Requires lots of space outside the tank.
  • Still quite loud.
  • Might even be overkill for a 125 gallon tank.

Check pricing and more info at Amazon

2. Eheim 2262

Here we have another massive monster canister filter that can pump a ton of water per hour. This thing is big, it’s durable, and it can definitely get the job done.

Just like the previous filter, this one can also be used in both saltwater and freshwater aquariums.

We do want to mention that this filter is made in Germany, something which we should all be able to appreciate because those Germans do make some high quality stuff!

Size & Flow Rate

The Eheim 2262 is designed for use with aquariums up to 500 gallons, so it should be more than powerful enough to handle a 125 gallon Cichlid tank.

Moreover, this beast can process a whopping 900 gallons per hour. As is the case with all high quality filters, the flow rate is adjustable.

For a 125 gallon Cichlid tank, this means that this filter could process 7 times the amount of water in the tank per hour, which is nothing short of impressive.

Now, let’s do keep in mind that while this filter won’t take up room inside of the tank, it is a massive external canister filter and will need plenty of space outside the tank.

Media & Filtration Type

In terms of filter media, what we want to say here is that there is no media included, which is a bit of a bummer, but definitely not a deal breaker.

Now, what really stands out about the Eheim 2262 is that it comes with a massive media capacity of just under 19 liters.

That is right folks, this thing can fit 19 liters of media. It comes with plenty of baskets on the interior which you can customize with whatever kind of media you see fit.

You should have no problems keeping your aquarium clean with this thing. It does also come with some pre-filtration to help prevent clogs from occurring.

Setup, Maintenance, & More

For one, the Eheim 2262 comes with all components you need to set it up and get started, besides actual media that is. In terms of setup and maintenance, there is really not much to it.

As long as you connect all the parts in the right way, there should not be much of an issue, although that said, the assembly instructions are not fantastic.

However, we do like how this thing comes with valves places in such a way that makes setup easy and space friendly, not to mention that the purge valve in the bottom helps make life easier as well. This filter also does not require you to prime it before use. It does that all on its own.

The media baskets can be removed for easy maintenance, but keep in mind that this filter does require a fair bit of maintenance.

On a side note, for a filter of this size, the Eheim 2262 is about as quiet as humanly possible.


  • Insane flow rate + adjustable.
  • Everything included for setup.
  • Extremely quiet.
  • Takes up no space inside the tank.
  • Self-priming.
  • Massive 19 liter media capacity.
  • Media is fully customizable.
  • Durable + built in Germany.


  • Media not included.
  • Takes up lots of space outside the tank.
  • Bad assembly instructions.

Check pricing and more info at Amazon

3. Aquaclear 110

So, both of the filters reviewed above were canister filters designed for monster aquariums, whereas this one is a hang on back filter designed for medium size aquariums.

It still works just fine for Cichlid tanks, more than fine in fact, and it has plenty of amazing features. It’s just not as massive as the others we have reviewed so far.

Size & Flow Rate

Ok, so in terms of size, the Aquaclear 110 is designed to be used with aquariums up to 110 gallons in size, so it actually is not made for 125 gallon tanks, but who knows, you may not have such a massive Cichlid tank anyway. This particular filter does also come in various sizes for smaller tanks as well.

This model can process up to 500 gallons of water per hour, so it can still handle up to 4 times the amount of water in a 125 gallon tank per hour, which should be fine for Cichlids.

The flow rate on this unit is also adjustable, something which can be beneficial. Something that does stand out here is how this filter does not take up much space.

It is a HOB filter that hangs on the back, so it doesn’t take up space inside the tank, but it also does not require too much clearance to the rear of the tank, although it does require some.

Media & Filtration Type

In terms of filtration, the Aquaclear 110 is a 3 stage filter that engages in mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. It comes complete with all the media you need to get started including AquaClear Foam, Activated Carbon, BioMax, Cycle Guard. In other words, it comes with all the media you need.

We do want to say that when compared to other HOB filters, this thing does have lots of media capacity. What we also need to say is that the media here, while it does need to be replaced fairly often, is very efficient and easy to replace. There is no doubt that it can make crystal clear aquarium water.

Something also worth noting is that this filter comes with a patented re-filtration system. This means that when the flow rate is turned down, the filter will re-filter water with much more media contact to ensure that water is as clean as can be.

Setup, Maintenance, & More

Setting this thing up is about as easy as it gets. Simply insert the included media, connect the hoses, hang it on the back of your tank, plug it in, and it’s good to go. The setup process is as easy as it gets.

In terms of maintenance, this filter does require regular maintenance and cleaning, although this is easily done. Next, what you might like is that the Aquaclear 110 comes with a little waterfall feature for a nice look and to help aerate the water too.

On a side note, we do have to say that this filter is not overly quiet, and durability is somewhat limited too, although, that said, there are still much worse options out there in both of these regards.


  • Very high flow rate for its size.
  • Adjustable flow rate.
  • All media included.
  • Easy maintenance.
  • 3 stage filtration.
  • Easy setup.
  • Refiltration system.
  • Doesn’t take up much space in general.
  • Great for small and medium size tanks.


  • Technically not made for 125 gallon tanks.
  • A bit noisy.
  • Not the most durable in the world.

Check pricing and more info at Amazon

4. Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter

Here we are going back to canister filters, although that said, this one is not quite as hefty as the others reviewed today.

It’s a good canister filter to go with for all but the very largest of aquariums. It’s a great canister filter with easy maintenance, lots of capacity, and it’s highly customizable too. Right off the bat, this thing comes with great value for what it is.

Size & Flow Rate

This particular filter does come in various sizes including the 500, 700, 1000, 1200, and the 1500. Now, technically speaking, the 1500 is rated for aquariums up to 200 gallons, and the 1200 for up to 150 gallons.

However, due to the somewhat low flow rate of this unit, we would recommend going with the 1500 model for your 125 gallon Cichlid tank.

The Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter (1500), can process up to 350 gallons per hour, which is nearly 3 times the water volume in a 125 gallon tank.

This should be adequate for Cichlid tanks, at least for ones that don’t have massive filtration demands. Yes, the flow rate on this model is adjustable.

What is nice about this thing is that it’s not too massive, so it won’t take up too much space on a cabinet or wherever else you decide to place it.

Media & Filtration Type

In terms of the media, it is not included here, well, there is some floss and a coarse pad included, but nothing else. However, that said, this thing does come with 3 stage filtration, so it can handle mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration with ease.

Moreover, it comes with 5 fairly large media baskets which are fully customizable. You can put whatever kind of media in this thing that you please, and lots of it too. In terms of efficiency, this unit is quite efficient and will certainly produce clean water.

Setup, Maintenance, & More

The Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter is very easy to set up, as it comes with all of the hoses and all other components required to get started.

Connect the hoses, plug it in, find a good place for it, and that’s it. It even comes with a simple push button primer for a quick start.

In terms of maintenance, this thing should be cleaned regularly, but that said, the top is easy to open and the stackable media baskets can be easily removed for quick cleaning and media replacement, plus the flow valves can also be easily removed for quick cleaning. Moreover, the swimming pool style hose clamps are very easy to work with.


  • Fast setup.
  • Easy maintenance.
  • 3 stage filtration with 5 large customizable baskets.
  • Some mechanical media included.
  • Good size for a 125 gallon Cichlid tank.
  • Various sizes available.
  • Doesn’t take up too much space.


  • Comparatively low flow rate.
  • Can be a bit loud.

Check pricing and more info at Amazon

5. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

Here we have another fairly large external canister filter, quite an interesting one, as it has a transparent body so you can see the interior. It’s pretty neat indeed.

Moreover, this is just a very durable, efficient, and easy to deal with filter that should produce clean and clear aquarium water without much trouble at all.

Before we get to it, we do want to say that this is one of the most durable filters out of the options we have covered today.

Size & Flow Rate

The Hydor Professional External Canister Filter does come in a number of sizes, although that said, we would recommend the largest one, the 600, which is designed for aquariums between 90 and 150 gallons.

This filter can process up to 345 gallons of water per hour, which is slightly on the lower side of things, but that said, it should still be efficient and powerful enough for an average Cichlid tank. There is also the fact that the flow rate is customizable.

In terms of the physical size of the filter itself, it comes in at a medium size, so it shouldn’t take up too much space on a cabinet, or wherever else you choose to place it.

Media & Filtration Type

In terms of the media and filtration type, this is a multi-stage filter with customizable media baskets. Now, it does come with some quartz bio-rings for biological filtration, but other media will need to be purchased separately.

We do like how this filter can hold lots of media and how highly customizable it is. Due to being so highly customizable, the Hydor Professional External Canister Filter can be used for freshwater and saltwater tanks, as well as for aqua terrariums too.

Setup, Maintenance, & More

In terms of setup, this is one of the easiest canister filters to deal with. The instructions are clear and all you have to do is to connect a couple of parts, plug it in, hit the primer button, and it is good to go.

When it comes to maintenance, thanks to being transparent, it’s easy to see when media needs to be replaced. When maintenance is needed, the top and all other components are easy to remove for fast cleaning.

Something else we do want to note about the Hydor Professional External Canister Filter is that it is very quiet. In fact, it’s one of the quietest canister filters out there right now.


  • Great media capacity.
  • Customizable media.
  • Many applications.
  • Various sizes.
  • Good for medium size Cichlid tanks.
  • Comes with some bio media.
  • Extremely durable.
  • Very quiet.


  • Comparatively low flow rate.

Check pricing and more info at Amazon


The bottom line is that Cichlids do need very good filtration for their tanks, and today we have reviewed what we consider to be some of the best options.

Just keep in mind that you do want a relatively high flow rate and lots of capacity for media!