6 Best Filters for Goldfish: Helpful Buyers Guide | Aquascape Addiction

6 Best Filters for Goldfish: Helpful Buyers Guide

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Need help deciding on the best filter for your goldfish tank? here is a very helpful guide on everything you need to know before buying, and why we feel these particular 6 filters are the best.

6 Best Filters for Goldfish: Helpful Buyers Guide

Goldfish are one of the most popular fish to have in a home aquarium, and this is as true for kids as it is for adults. These fish are beautiful and easy to care for. That said, one thing you do want to have for your tank is a good filtration unit.

Today we are here to help you find the best filter for goldfish tanks. We have some really good tips, advice, and more, plus we have also reviewed what we feel are some of the best filter options at the moment to give you some good suggestions.

Aqua Clear Power Filter Our Top Pick 9.3 / 10
Penn Plax Cascade Filter Good flow rate for Goldfish 8.9 / 10
Fluval C Power Filter Easy Installation 8.7 / 10

Do You Need A Filter For A Goldfish?

The fact of the matter is that people who keep goldfish in small bowls or small tanks without a filter simply don’t know what the heck they are doing. There is a popular and prevalent myth that goldfish can live in mini tanks or bowls with no filters.

Ok, so a goldfish may survive for a few months or even a couple of years without a filter, but that’s it. If you want a happy and healthy goldfish that gets to live in clean and clear water, a filter is absolutely necessary.

Folks, when it comes down to it, all fish in all aquariums need at least a decent filter.

Types of Goldfish Aquarium Filters

There are a few main types of aquarium filters for you to consider when looking to buy one for your goldfish tank, so let’s take a quick look at each.

External Canister Filter

These tend to be the most powerful of all filter types. These are external, so they take up no room inside of the aquarium, but they do need a cabinet or shelf to sit on.

A big advantage of high quality canister filters, besides their high flow rate and lots of power, is that the media that can be put inside of them is often highly customizable.

These do need to be primed and they can be a bit loud, but are also very durable.

Internal Canister Filter

There are also canister filters which are located inside of the tank. A difference here is that because these are already in the water, they usually don’t need to be primed.

However, they do take up space inside of the tank, and sometimes they are susceptible to damage due to being submerged.

However, in terms of power, flow rate, and media customization, they are more or less the same as external canister filters. These are fairly quiet due to being submerged.

Hang on Back Filters

One of the most popular filter types for goldfish is the simple hang on back filter. Now, these often come with 5 filtration stages for super clean water, although for the most part, the media here is not customizable.

An advantage here is that these hang on back filters (sometimes called power filters), are very easy to install and to maintain.

They usually even compete with canister filters in terms of power and flow rate.

Under-Gravel Filters

These are very unique filters. They consist of a grate placed under the substrate. This grate has holes which sucks water through the substrate, thus using the substrate as a filter.

This is fine for mechanical filtration, but really does not have too many other advantages.

5 Factors To Consider When Buying A Goldfish Filter

There are a few things which you need to consider before buying any sort of filter for your goldfish tank.

Let’s do a quick buyer’s guide.

1. Tank Size

First off, you need to consider the size of your fish tank. Aquarium filters are designed to handle specific aquarium sizes.

The worst thing you can do is to get a filter that cannot handle your tank size.

2. Water Flow Rate

Flow rate is also important to consider. A good filter should be able to process at least 3 times the total water volume in a tank per hour, for the best results.

On a side note, a good filter should allow you to adjust the flow rate.

3. Type of filtration system: chemical, biological, mechanical

You do also want to ensure that your aquarium filter includes all 3 major types of filtration.

You need mechanical filtration to remove physical debris, biological filtration to remove ammonia and other dissolved organics, and you need chemical filtration to eliminate other chemicals, heavy metals, odors, and discoloration.

4. Maintenance & Installation

Something else to keep in mind is how easy the filter in question is to install and to maintain. Does it take up room inside the tank? Is there a lengthy setup process?

How often does media need to be changes? Is the media easy to access? These are all questions you should ask yourself.

5. Noise

Nobody likes a noisy aquarium filter, so find one that is quiet is always a bonus. Models with submerged motors tend to be the quietest, although there are other quiet tank filters too.

6 Best Filters For Goldfish: Reviews

Now we want to take a closer look at what we feel are 6 of the best Goldfish tank filters. Each has its own advantages, so let’s get to it.

1. Aqua Clear Power Filter

Here we have a filtration unit that comes in a variety of sizes, is easy to maintain, and features a very high flow rate, among other things.

Keep in mind that the Aqua Clear Power Filter is a hang on back filter.

Size & Flow Rate

This particular aquarium filter comes in a variety of sizes including ones for 5 to 10 gallons, 10 to 30 gallons, 40 to 70 gallons, 60 to 110 gallons, and for 50 to 200 gallons.

In terms of flow rate, as an example, the Aqua Clear Power Filter 30 (10 to 30 gallons), can process 150 gallons of water per hour.

This means that even for a 30 gallon tank, this unit can process 5 times the amount of water in the tank per hour. Yes, the flow rate on this filter is adjustable.

Filtration Type

This aquarium filter comes with a full 3 stages of filtration. Yes, this filter comes with all 3 major forms of filtration including mechanical, biological, and chemical.

The bottom layer of media is an AquaClear foam insert for mechanical filtration, the middle layer is a carbon insert for chemical filtration, and the top layer consists of BioMax ceramic rings for biological filtration.

All in all, it performs all necessary types of filtration. Keep in mind that the media is included here.

What’s also worth mentioning is the patented refiltration system which helps to produce as much water to media contact as possible, especially when the flow rate is turned down.

Installation, Maintenance, & More

What can be said about the Aqua Clear Power Filter is that because it is a hang on back filter, it does not take up very much space in the aquarium at all.

When it comes to installing it, it’s as simple as connecting the parts and hanging it on the side of the tank. In terms of maintenance, it should be cleaned every 2 weeks.

The mechanical media should be replaced every 2 months, the chemical media every month, and the biological media every 3 months.

We do need to say that this is neither the most durable nor the quietest filter around, but it still gets the job done.


  • Many sizes.
  • Great flow rate.
  • All 3 types of filtration.
  • Refiltration system.
  • Easy maintenance.
  • Space friendly.
  • Easy to install.


  • Could be more durable.
  • Could be quieter.

Check the current price at Amazon

2. Penn Plax Cascade Filter

Here we have a heavy duty external filter. The Penn Plax Cascade Filter is an external canister filter, which some people might really like.

Something we want to say right off the bat is that this is quite the durable and high quality aquarium filter. Let’s take a closer look.

Size & Flow Rate

The Penn Plax Cascade Filter comes in a variety of sizes including the 500 (up to 30 gallons) the 700 (up to 65 gallons), the 1000 (up to 100 gallons), the 1200 (up to 150 gallons), and the 1500 (up to 200 gallons).

Seeing as the 700 should be more than enough for a goldfish tank, as an example, the flow rate is up to 185 gallons per hour.

Therefore, for a 65 gallon tank, this unit can process roughly 3 times the amount of water in the tank per hour, which is not too shabby at all. It’s more than enough for a basic goldfish tank.

Filtration Type

In terms of the filtration type which this unit features, this is actually totally up to you.

The Penn Plax Cascade Filter comes with 3 large and customizable media baskets, so you can pick and choose the specific type of filtration you want the filter to feature.

The fact that you can choose whatever media you want is a big bonus.

Installation, Maintenance, & More

We do like this filter due to its ease of use. There are dual flow valves (in and out), which can rotate for easy placement in a cabinet, and of course, this is an exterior filter, so it doesn’t take up room inside of the tank.

All you have to do is connect the power, the tubes, and you are good to go. On a side note, this model comes with a spray bar for the return tube, which helps oxygenate the water too.

The Penn Plax Cascade Filter comes with a single push button primer for ease of use. The lid and everything else on this filter is designed to be easily removed for quick maintenance.


  • Takes up no space inside the tank.
  • Very durable.
  • Good flow rate for goldfish.
  • Customizable media.
  • Very easy maintenance and installation.


  • Quite loud.
  • Some issues with the impeller.

Check the current price at Amazon

3. Fluval C Power Filter

This is one of the smaller aquarium filters on the list today, one that does not come in as many sizes as most of the others reviewed today.

That said, this is a convenient little hang on back power filter with tons of filtration power.

Something to note is that this filter is whisper quiet when it is new, but with prolonged use may become a bit noisy.

Size & Flow Rate

The Fluval C Power Filter is designed for smaller and medium size tanks. To be exact, it comes in 3 sizes, the C2 (for tanks up to 20 gallons), the C3 (for tanks between 20 and 50 gallons), and the C4 (for tanks between 40 and 70 gallons).

Seeing as you might have a large Goldfish tank, as an example, the Fluval C4 Power Filter features a flow rate of up to 264 gallons per hour.

If you have a 70 gallon tank, this means that this filter could process the total amount of water in the tank roughly 3.5 times per hour, which is more than good enough for your average Goldfish tank. Yes, the flow rate can be adjusted as well.

Filtration Type

What really stands out about this particular aquarium filter is that it featured a 5 stage filtration system.

It comes complete with 2 stages of mechanical filtration, 1 stage of chemical filtration, and 2 stages of biological filtration.

This should work to remove a great deal of debris, contaminants, dissolved organics, and more. 5 stage systems like this are often extremely efficient and powerful.

Let’s not forget that this unit also comes complete with a refiltration system, which allows for a lot more water to media contact to ensure optimal filtration, especially when the flow rate is turned down.

Installation, Maintenance, & More

The Fluval C Power Filter is a little clip on the back power filter, so installing it is about as easy as possible. All you have to do is clip it onto the side or rear of the tank, connect the intake hose and the power cord, and you are good to go.

The fact that this is a hang on back filter does help save a lot of room inside of the aquarium.

What does however need to be said is that because there are 5 types of media here, each in its own spot, cleaning this filter is not exactly easy, and there is a lot of media which needs to be replaced on a fairly regular basis.


  • Space saver.
  • 5 stages of filtration.
  • All necessary types of filtration.
  • Easy installation.
  • Quiet when new.
  • Waterfall feature for oxygenation.
  • Comes in good sizes for smaller tanks.
  • Pretty good flow rate.


  • Lots of media to replace.
  • Maintenance is not super easy.
  • Gets loud over time.

Check the current price at Amazon

4. MarineLand Magnum Canister Filter

This is a very unique yet nifty filter to go with for a Goldfish tank. Now, this is a canister filter, but wait, this is an internal canister filter that goes inside of the tank! Pretty funky right?

We definitely think so, let’s dive into it. Something we do want to say before we really get into it is that this is a very durable and tough filtration unit.

Size & Flow Rate

What definitely needs to be said about the MarineLand Magnum Internal Canister Filter is that it only comes in one size, this one, which is designed to be used with tanks up to 97 gallons in size.

This particular filter can process up to 290 gallons of water per hour. In other words, this unit can process roughly 3 times the amount of water in a 90 gallon tank per hour.

Once again, this kind of flow rate is more than enough for your average goldfish tank.

Filtration Type

This is quite an efficient and powerful filter, and moreover, it comes with all 3 types of filtration (mechanical, biological, and chemical).

This model features black diamond activated carbon for chemical filtration, a dual chamber for bio media, Rite-Size floss for mechanical filtration, and a reusable pleated micron cartridge for water polishing.

There are also two refillable chambers included here which can be filled with carbon or other media types. As you can see, it performs all of the necessary stages and types of filtration required.

Installation, Maintenance, & More

Installing the MarineLand Magnum Internal Canister Filter takes a little work, as you do have to place it properly inside of the tank, and with that said, this unit does take up a good deal of tank space, so it’s not ideal for small tanks.

In terms of maintenance, the lid on this thing is easy to remove and the media can be changed easily enough, although it is all stacked on top of each other, so it could be easier.

Cleaning it could be a little easier. What is however quite convenient is that because this is an internal filter, it does not need to be primed.


  • Very durable.
  • Powerful filtration.
  • Easy enough to set up.
  • Customizable media chambers.
  • All 3 types of filtration.
  • Quiet


  • Comes in only 1 size.
  • Could be easier to maintain.
  • Takes up a good deal of space inside the tank.

Check the current price at Amazon

5. Marina Power Filter

Here we have a very simple and fairly small aquarium filter, one designed to work with relatively small tanks.

Now, the Marina Power Filter might not be very large, but it is efficient and powerful nonetheless.

Size & Flow Rate

In terms of the available sizes, this filter comes in 3 sizes, one for up to 10 gallons, one for up to 15 gallons, and one for up to 20 gallons.

Seeing as you might have a fairly larger goldfish tank, as an example, the largest model, the one for up to 20 gallons, can process just under 100 gallons of water per hour.

This means that for a 20 gallon tank, it can process up to 5 times the amount of water in the tank per hour.

While this may qualify as overkill, it will certainly get the job done. The flow rate on this unit is adjustable.

Filtration Type

The Marina Power Filter can engage in all 3 necessary types of filtration, these being mechanical, biological, and chemical.

Now, the media compartments are not huge, so you do need to be sparing. You can choose to add media cartridges for all 3 types of filtration, or you can add other media as well.

Keep in mind that here you get 2 cartridges included, both designed to optimize biological filtration.

As you can probably tell, this filter is designed to excel at biological filtration, but it may lack a bit on the other fronts.

Installation, Maintenance, & More

Something that stands out about this filter is that it’s another small hang on back model, and in fact, this one is made extra slim to ensure that it does not require a lot of clearance behind the tank.

All you have to do is clip it on, plug it in, connect the tubes, and you are good to go. It really doesn’t get much easier, plus it does not need to be primed either.

In terms of maintenance, this thing is super easy to access and to clean, although filter media does need to be replaced fairly often.


  • Space saving design.
  • Easy installation.
  • Easy maintenance.
  • Very quiet.
  • Good for small tanks.
  • Good flow rate.
  • Somewhat customizable.


  • Limited durability.
  • Not suitable for large tanks.

Check the current price at Amazon

6. Tetra Whisper Power Filter

Something that needs to be said right off the bat here is that as the name implies, the Tetra Whisper Power Filter is extremely silent.

It’s also got some other great features worth looking into right here and now.

Size & Flow Rate

This particular filter comes in 4 different sizes. This includes one for up to 20 gallons, one for up to 30 gallons, one for up to 40 gallons, and one for up to 60 gallon tanks.

Seeing as you probably have a decent size goldfish tank, as an example, the model for up to 60 gallon tanks can process a whopping 330 gallons water per hour.

This means that it can process the total water volume of a 60 gallon tank nearly 6 times per hour.

For an average goldfish tank, this might even be considered overkill. Also, the Tetra Whisper Power Filter does feature an adjustable flow rate.

Filtration Type

The Tetra Whisper Power Filter includes all 3 necessary types of filtration, these being mechanical, biological, and chemical.

It comes complete with dual sided mesh filters for mechanical filtration, ultra activated carbon for chemical filtration, and bio-bags for biological filtration.

What is nice here is that all media comes in the form of simple cartridges which can be replaced very easily.

Installation, Maintenance, & More

This is a nice little hang on back filter, so to install it, simply clip it onto the rear of the aquarium, connect the tubes, and you are good to go.

Do keep in mind that this model does require a fair amount of clearance to the rear of the tank.

That said, this has to be one of the easiest to maintain units out there right now. However, durability does seem to be a bit of an issue at times.


  • Easy installation.
  • Easy maintenance.
  • All 3 stages of filtration.
  • Various sizes.
  • Very high flow rate.
  • Adjustable flow rate.
  • Media included.


  • Minor durability issues.
  • Requires a good deal of clearance.

Check the current price at Amazon

Commonly Asked Questions

Can you over filter a goldfish tank?

No, you cannot in any way over filter a goldfish tank. The cleaner the water the better.

On a side note, over filtering is not a thing as long as the flow rate of the filter is not too high for your goldfish to handle.

How long can goldfish live without a filter?

A goldfish can live for a prolonged period of time without an aquarium filter, but that said, it won’t live nearly as long as it would in a tank with high quality filtration.

In an unfiltered tank or bowl, you can expect a goldfish to live up to 2 or 3 years tops.

Are sponge filters good for goldfish?

Sponge filters are OK for goldfish. IN case you did not know, sponge filters are designed to take physical debris out of the equation, such as fish waste.

An issue with sponge filters is that they can clog fairly easily, which may be an issue if you have lots of fish producing lots of waste.

What’s the best canister filter for goldfish?

The best canister filter for goldfish would say the Penn Plax Cascade Filter. This is because it’s easy to deal with, it comes in various sizes, it has a great flow rate, and it is highly customizable in terms of media too.

Do goldfish need carbon filter?

Using carbon filtration in an aquarium is not 100% necessary for goldfish, although it will certainly help keep the water much cleaner.


As you can see, there are plenty of great goldfish tank filters out there. You just need to figure out what the best one for you is, especially in terms of size, flow rate, and filtration type. The rest is up to you to figure out, so choose wisely!