5 Best Canister Filters for 55-Gallon Tanks – Versatile and Effective

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Last updatedLast updated: November 03, 2021
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If you just bought a new aquarium for your bedroom, your package should include a basic filter. That’s all you need to keep your new nice aquarium up and running, right? Wrong. You need to get a canister filter. This is a system that siphons contaminated water from the fish tank and pumps back clean water. The best canister filter for a 55-gallon tank is a terrific investment to keep your fish healthy. It makes your life easier too.

This review takes into account five top-rated canister filters currently on the market. We provide you with a deep insight into their features. We also provide you with factors to keep in mind when making your choice. These crucial factors include max tank size, max flow rate, stages of filtration, size. Considering these factors helps you make a wise decision before you settle for the best canister filter for a 55-gallon tank.


Aqueon Quiet Flow Canister FilterEditor’s Choice

  • Max tank size: 55 gal
  • Max flow rate: 200 gph
  • Stages of filtration: 3
  • Size: 8.5 x 7.5 x 17.25 inches

More features: simple to replace cartridge; multiple water return options; includes quick disconnect valves

The AqueonQuietFlow Canister Filter is among the most popular canisters on the market today, partly because of its UV sterilizer component. The UV sterilizer eliminates microorganisms like algae, bacteria, and other parasites in the aquarium. It has a flow rate of about 200 GPH, and you can use this model for tanks up to 55 gallons.

A unique hang-on-the-back water polishing unit makes maintenance quick and easy. You don’t always have to replace the media basket’s contents; you only need to replace the carbon cartridge.

If you have used a canister filter before, setting this one should be pretty easy. However, for new users, you might need some guidance, as the manual might be a little complex to follow. This package also comes with all the media filters you need, making it a user-friendly option for beginners.

What stands out? We liked the UV sterilizer feature, which kills microorganisms and gives the fish a safe environment. Besides, the filter is super easy to maintain, and the cartridge is simple to replace.

What cons did we manage to find? The suction cups provided for securing the inlet and outlet tubes have long stems on them. The long stems make them feel flimsy. To ensure that they last longer, position them so that you don’t have to touch them often, and they will be fine.

  • Max tank size: 70 gal
  • Max flow rate: 145 – 383 gph
  • Stages of filtration: not specified
  • Size: 0.39 x 0.39 x 0.39 inches

More features: quiet; energy efficient

The Fluval 307 Performance Canister Filter is unique among the canister filters for some of its amazing features. This ranks it among the best Fluval canister filters for a 55-gallon tank you can getThe design comes with superior filtration abilities making it suitable for all types of aquariums. It is equally effective with both saltwater and freshwater aquariums.

Some filters will disturb the sleeping baby during the filtration process. But not for this model. This model is quiet and won’t disturb your peace when you want to relax. The multistage filtration setup is crucial for this model ensures the water is clean and safe for your pets.

What stands out? This filter is big on power, yet small on energy consumption. Again, it’s extremely quiet, and can’t even hear it running. It’s well designed. We also loved the latch for removing the tubing so you can take it apart for cleaning.

What cons did we manage to find? The inlet and outlet tubes are black while the connecting pieces are pure white. It looks terrible when you look into the tank and see all the black tubing against absolute whiteness. This doesn’t affect the function, though, and is easy to overlook.

  • Max tank size: up to 97 gal
  • Max flow rate: 290 gph
  • Stages of filtration: 3
  • Size: 8.5 x 5.81 x 11 inches

More features: micron water polishing; versatile

If looks and good quality matter to you, this sleek design is just what you might be missing. MarineLand Magnum, Polishing Canister Filter, is suitable for both marine and freshwater aquarium at a relatively affordable price. Clean, sparkling water is the mark of a healthy, thriving aquarium. This Internal Canister Filter guarantees a clean aquatic environment thanks to the mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration stages. It polishes your water and removes small debris and particles, making the water crystal clear. The design for this canister filter provides a quick, spill-free setup. It is really easy to handle and requires no priming. The fact that the entire unit is submerged in water makes it a space-saving option. Just remember to clean it often. It is suitable for aquariums up to 97 gallons and capable of filtering 290 gallons of water per hour.

What are our favorite features? The internal canister filter polishes your water giving you crystal clear water in your aquarium, a great feature. It requires no priming making it easy to use. It also boasts a space-saving design since the unit is fully submerged in water.

What could be better? This model requires high maintenance, which is not much of an issue if you spare a few minutes each week to ensure your fish are safe.

  • Max tank size: Up to 200 gal
  • Max flow rate: 525 gph
  • Stages of filtration: 4
  • Size: 12 x 12 x 19 inches

More features: external; 4 media trays; self-priming pump; built-in light

If you need something budget-friendly yet effective, the Polar Aurora Free Media is the go-to-guy. The filter uses a less-common but highly effective option for filtering your freshwater tank: the UV light. The UV light kills viruses and parasites, making the environment safe for your aquatic pets. One of the really nice things about this canister filter is that it comes with literally everything you need for installation. The four flexible media trays allow you to add other filtration media to achieve excellent mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. The mechanical stage removes particles and dirt, while the other stages remove harmful substances from the fish tank.

What makes it special? We liked the affordable pricing with a quality that matches many – even most – of the market’s high-end options.

We also love the UV light for killing bacteria. While it’s not exclusive to this filter by any stretch, it’s a good feature for this budget-friendly model.

What cons did we find? This is one of the noisy options we found on our list. If you need an uber-quiet filter, you might need to look for another model. This filter is high maintenance since you need to change the water often. But I bet you don’t mind sparing a few minutes for the sake of your aquatic friends. Do you?


Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister FilterCustomizable Media

  • Max tank size: up to 100 gal
  • Max flow rate: 265 gph
  • Stages of filtration: 3
  • Size: 11.5 x 17 x 10 inches

More features: 3 media baskets; swimming pool style rotating valves; easy to use push button primer

With this model, you got a multistage filter, and your fish get to enjoy your fish will enjoy a sparkling clean environment thanks to this filter’s filtration capability. You can use it for either saltwater or freshwater aquariums. It works excellently at 265 GPH and is recommended for Aquariums up to 100 gallons. The state-of-the-art features of the Cascade with flow valves that rotate 360 degrees makes it convenient for small aquarium cabinets. You can easily maneuver the valves. Besides, it has a sturdy tip-proof base to keep your filter firmly in place. With the large capacity media baskets, you can customize your media according to your needs. Changing the media should is not hard, as it comes with an easy-lift clamp that gives access to the filtration media and other parts that require maintenance. The large filter trays mean you can use more media to make it easier to maintain.

What we liked: We noted that the motor unit has a convenient fold-up handle which allows for easy handling and use. Besides, each of the filter baskets has a handle to help you remove the filter baskets. The Penn Plax is quiet, and you can use it pretty much anywhere in your home. The hoses are simple and easy to detach for maintenance.

What could be better? Though the overall quality of the device is sturdy, the carrying handle is a bit flimsy. Like any other machine, handling it carefully is crucial to ensure the handle lasts longer.

RELATED: 6 Best Canister Filters for Turtles – Keep Their Tank Clean

Things to Consider

Canister filters are often the best aquarium filters because of their superior filtration setup. Unfortunately, the many models and designs could easily throw you into a maze. So, if you’re not yet sure of which best canister filter for a 55-gallon freshwater aquarium to pick, you’d better read on. Our buying guide contains information that experienced hobbyists, as well as beginners, will find useful. Here we show you the upsides of owning a canister filter, plus the fundamental features to consider when buying one. We conclude by answering some of the commonly asked questions people have when shopping for a canister filter for a 55-gallon aquarium.

Why do you need a canister filter?

5 Best Canister Filters for 55-Gallon Tanks - Versatile and Effective

  • Versatile

A canister filter is extremely versatile and will work with a wide range of aquariums, whether fresh or saltwater tanks. This type of filter is extremely versatile, and so it works for a wide range of aquariums. You can also use this for a turtle tank bearing in mind that turtles are a lot messier than fish.

  • Excellent Flow Rates

Compared to other filters, the best canister filter for 55-gallon saltwater tank has better flow rates. Some can even do up to 320 GPH. If you want to save your time and energy, a canister filter is an ideal option. Of course, the flow rates might vary from model to model, so if you purchase one, ensure you check various models and their flow rates before making a choice.

  • Easy to Setup

Setting up a canister is easy compared to other types of filters. Though the ease will depend on the canister filter model, many canister filters are a breeze to install. Ensure you follow the instructions on the manual to make sure the setup procedure is correct.

  • Easy to Clean

If you have a manual and the right tools, cleaning a canister filter is easy. Besides, cleaning the filter is basically part of normal aquarium duties, and with the best canister filters, cleaning is not difficult or time-consuming. You can easily disassemble to access the inside components for cleaning.

  • Quiet Operation

Having an aquarium in your room can give you a truly soothing atmosphere. But not when you have a noisy filtration right beside it. The noise can be distracting when you need to relax. Though the quietness could differ through models, among the best ways to avoid noise and vibrations is using a canister filter. The best canister filters can stay in your bedroom without causing trouble.

  • Mechanical Filtration Removes Particles

The whole idea of mechanical filtration is to remove unwanted particles from the water. The fish excretes in the water. Uneaten food also remains in the water. You don’t want such stuff floating around them. The 2-layer system for mechanical filtration is the typical configuration for canister filters. It filters the larger particles first, and another layer gets rid of the finer particles.

  • Biological Filtration Removes Ammonia in Water.

The ammonia in water can easily kill your pet fish since it’s highly toxic. Since your mechanical filtration system might not filter fecal matter and leftover in time, they could produce ammonia in the fish tank. The ammonia in the water, the mechanical filters convert the ammonia into nitrogen, which is less harmful.

  • Keeps Your Water Clear

Chemical filtration for canister filters usually comes in the form of activated carbon. The carbon removes water impurities such as chlorine, especially if you’re getting water directly from your faucet. Basically, the activated carbon eliminates discolorants, and the water becomes crystal clear. If you choose to include a chemical filtration in your filter setup, it improves the aquarium’s water quality.

Features to consider before you buy a canister filter for 55-gallon tank

Buying a canister filter is an awesome idea, but you need to realize that the machine you pick determines the results. If you have to choose a canister filter and don’t know where to start, we can help you select one with ease. You need to check out its maximum tank capacity, maximum flow rate, size, weight, and extra accessories. Here is more information.
5 Best Canister Filters for 55-Gallon Tanks - Versatile and Effective

Max tank capacity

The tank capacity is an important factor to consider when shopping for the best canister filter. As a rule of thumb, buy a double or triple-sized canister filter. If you have a 20-gallon tank, you must get a 40 or a 60-gallon rated canister. You must check out the aquarium capacity first. If your aquarium is small, you should go for a low filter. If your tank is bigger in capacity, the Polar Aurora Free Media 4-Stage External Canister Filter is a good choice.

Max flow rate

The number of gallons per hour for a canister filter is significant when choosing one. It would be best if you compared the rate to the size of your aquarium. With a flow rate of up to 383 GPH, Fluval 307 Perfomance Canister Filter has excellent flow rates. However, if the fish tank is smaller, it is advisable to buy a filter with a slower flow rate to avoid circulating clean water.

Canister filters typically have a higher flow rate than most other types of filters, but they can still vary from brand to brand.

Stages of filtration

For the cleanest water in your aquarium, the best filters will have media trays for each filtering stage: mechanical, chemical, and biological. In the three-stage filtration, the aquarium water goes through a media that catches tiny particles, removes toxic chemicals, and gets rid of ammonia. Consider getting a model like MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter with a three-stage filtration. Some models might even have more than three filtration stages.


The size of the canister filter you choose is among the most important features. It determines how much space the filter occupies in your cabinet.

If you have enough space and some room to spare, any size of the canister filter will do.
Smaller cabinets call for smaller sized filters. A model like the Fluval 307 Perfomance Canister Filter on our list is versatile and can fit in very small spaces.


You also need to check out the weight of the canister. Weight is a factor that you cannot overlook as it indicates the size and volume of the filter. Heavier models are more stable, but they are also difficult to carry around. Lighter models are easier to handle and carry.

Extra features

Extra features in a canister filter might mean digging deeper into your pocket. However, they will give you more convenience when using your filter. Some canister filters like the Polar Aurora Free Media 4-Stage External Canister Filter have a UV light component that kills microorganisms in the fish tank.

You can look out other extra features for include water polishing ability, handles to remove the filter baskets, sturdy base, and energy efficiency.


Even for first-time users, most setups are easy and straightforward if you follow the instructions. The exact accessories you need depend on your particular canister filter, including hoses, tank connectors, motor, clips, media, rings, and others. To start with, you need to get a place for your filter. Gather the media, categorize, and prepare to set them up in layers. After installing all the media, get the intake, which is the filter part that draws water directly from the tank. If your canister filter comes with a connector that goes to the tank, attach it to the fish tank. Prepare the output, attach the hose to the canister filter, and then move the hose to the tank.

Before you start cleaning a canister filter, you need to unplug and remove any other accessory attached to it, such as an inline heater. You need to keep the media wet so as you don’t kill the beneficial bacteria. When cleaning your canister filter, please focus on the canister itself, the impeller, and the hoses. Ensure you use a soft brush to clean the impeller and the hoses, and other small parts. Ensure that all parts are completely clean before reassembling the filter. Failure to clean the parts is among the primary cause of leakages for canister filters. When you are done cleaning, fill the canister with tank water, hook it back up and turn it on.

Our Verdict

If you had no idea why your aquarium needed a canister filter, it is now apparent you have to get one today. If you’re considering any of the filters on our list, we have three that we’d love to recommend. Our best pick is Aqueon Quiet Flow Canister Filter. This canister is easy to maintain, has a water polishing component, and can sterilize the water with its UV light feature. Our premium choice Fluval 307 Perfomance Canister Filter a portable, robust, and energy-efficient option. It is extremely quiet and versatile for all kinds of aquariums. We awarded the best value to the MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter, which is the most budget-friendly yet effective option. It also features large media trays to add more filters. The five models are among the best canister filters 55-gallon tank you will find in the stores. Hoping this guide helps you make an informed buying decision.

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