How To Choose The Best Amazon Aquarium Internal Power Filters?

Internal powerfilters are one of the most popular filters for small to medium sized aquaria.

These filters use an impellor driven water pump to pull water through a sponge filter. The sponge acts as a mechanical filter and will also support some nitrifying bacteria. The sponge filter can be cleaned and re-used many times, and, if care is taken, it will retain most of its biological filtration ability. Eventually the sponge will start to collapse and will need to be replaced, when this is done most of the biological filtration ability is lost. The new sponge can be seeded with nitrifying bacteria by placing it in the aquarium for a period of time (ideally a few weeks) before it is needed, or by washing it together with the old sponge in some water from the aquarium. How long a sponge will last depends on the type of sponge, but 6 to 18 months is common. More expensive sponges will generally last longer than cheaper ones; overall the replacement cost of sponges is relatively low. Some models use more than one sponge, replacing only one sponge at a time will help retain biological filtration.

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✅ Best Tidal Power Aquarium Filter – 35 Gallon Fish Tank Filter

Quality and excellence – A large removable media basket makes maintenance a breeze with the options of adding filter floss and/or carbon quite feasible. Adjustable flow, quiet operation and a good flow rate all contribute to it performing its job superbly. An attractive design also makes the Seachem Tidal 35 less of an eyesore which many filters, especially HOB filters are known to be

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✅ Best Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filter

Great for smaller tank – So far this is a great little filter. It sits on the outside of the tank so doesn’t consume alot of space inside leaving more room for your fish. There is a hum to it however. It is not silent but not disturbing…for us anyhow. The price was comparable to others but again not “Quiet” The water is clear and our new fish seem happy.

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✅ Best Aqueon Quietflow E Internal Power Filter

Flows like a proper filter – Works extremely well, flows like a proper filter .Can’t hear it running it’s SO quiet. If you need a great filter for a 2.5 gallon or bigger, it’s perfect .Flow is perfect, and doesn’t disrupt the water that much at all.

Internal power filters come in a wide range of sizes and water turnovers. Models with higher turnover usually have larger sponges, which provide greater filtration area. Some have a compartment or other space for holding carbon, other chemical filtration media, or additional mechanical media. Since these are usually small, chemical filtration ability is limited.

These filters are suitable mainly for small to medium tanks. It is the area available for filtration, rather than rate of water turnover that limits their ability, plus their limited capacity for biological filtration. They are not suitable for marine tanks except as supplementary mechanical filtration. (See our marine fishkeeping tutorial for more information). However, internal power filters are an excellent addition to any tank which has a high load of organic waste, as they will help clear the water and prevent the primary biological filter from becoming clogged with detritus.

Getting the most out of this filter system:

Choose the appropriate model for the size of your tank and number of fish. (Remember that good filtration requires turning your tank volume over three times an hour, more filtration may be needed if you have more or larger fish).

Rinse the sponge gently in water from the aquarium to clean it of organic matter (this will minimise loss of nitrifying bacteria). When replacing the sponge, ideally seed the new sponge with nitrifying bacteria before it is needed.

Clean around the impellor every 2-3 months to ensure it runs smoothly, and replace the impellor if necessary.


Problem: Filter does not run, ie. impellor is not turning

Possible causes & remedies:
1. Check power supply, make sure filter is plugged in and turned on at the power
2. Impellor may be jammed: gentle shaking will sometimes start the filter, but the impellor or impellor well may need to be cleaned.
3. Faulty/worn impellor or broken shaft: check the condition of the impellor and shaft and replace if needed.
4. Burnt-out motor or broken wiring: these cannot be repaired, you will need to replace the filter.

Problem: Impellor turns but little or no water movement occurs

Possible causes & remedies:
1. Clogged sponge may be restricting water flow: rinse sponge in aquarium water
2. Restriction of water intakes or outlets: clean any debris from the intakes and outlet
3. Faulty/worn impellor: Check the impellor, ensure the fan is fixed to the impellor (some spin and click, but should only have about a quarter turn free play), replace impellor if needed.

Problem: Filter runs but no air bubbles are produced

Possible causes & remedies:
1. Is venturi in use? The filter should not produce bubbles unless it has a venturi system attached (bubbles are not essential)
2. Is the venturi intake above water level? Is it restricted? Place the intake above the water and remove or adjust taps or other retrictors
3. Position of filter: If the filter is too deep in the tank air may not be drawn in by the venturi.
4. Clogged sponge, intakes or outlets: Anything that restricts water flow may prevent air intake, rinse sponge in aquarium water, clean debris from water intakes/outlet.

Problem: Filter produces excessive noise

Possible causes & remedies:
1. Venturi is in use: the sound of air rushing through can be quite loud. Use a restictor valve, tap or clamp on the air intake to restrict air flow, or remove the venturi altogether. Ensure water level is high enough to cover the venturi intake attachment point.
2. Clogged sponge or intakes causing flow restriction and back pressure: Rinse sponge in aquarium water, remove debris that is clogging intakes.
3. Faulty/worn impellor or shaft: check the condition of the impellor and shaft and replace if needed.

Problem: Filter is running properly, but the aquarium does not stay clean

Possible causes & remedies:
1. Old or clogged sponge: Rinse the sponge in water from the aquarium. If the sponge is compacted, you will need to replace it.
2. Brand new sponge not seeded with bacteria, sponge cleaned of good bacteria: When the filter is brand new, or if you replace the sponge without seeding it with good bacteria, the filter will not work as well. Good bacteria help to break down wastes and to trap fine particles. If you clean the sponge with tap water or detergents, or if the sponge is allowed to dry out, this will kill off the good bacteria and lead to decreased filter performance. You can add cultures of good bacteria to help these establish (or re-establish) in the filter.
3. Not enough filtration for tank load. If the filter is not an appropriate model for the tank size, or if the tank is overcrowded or stocked with messy species, the filtration may not be adequate, even if the filter is running properly. Reduce the load on the tank, or upgrade filtration.

Does a better quality filter mean higher performance?

Many people are told that they should buy a better quality filter as it is better for their fish. Is it?

Not necessarily!

For example, I was recently talking to a friend who had purchased a Fluval 3 plus power filter for their aquarium. A senior salesperson from one of the largest and most reputable stores told them the Fluval 3 plus was inadequate – and suggested an Eheim 2012 as an alternative.

What’s wrong with this picture?

If you look through the power filters in our product section it will tell you the following straightforward facts. The water turnover of the Eheim 2012 is 600l/hr. The Fluval 3 plus is 700l/hr. The Eheim has a sponge volume for biological filtration of 195cc, the Fluval has 234cc. The Fluval offers better performance in both respects! So, how can they say the Eheim is better for the job?

Here are the facts:

What about features? Both have adjustable flow and directional output. The Fluval has a two-part sponge that allows bacterial filtration to be maintained, plus room for extra media and a flow indicator to show when maintenance is needed. The Eheim has a ceramic shaft which should mean longer impellor wear. Both are very easy to use and to clean.

What about quality? Both are European brands with a very good reputation and a two-year guarantee.

What about price? The Fluval is around $50 cheaper.

Therefore, you should always judge the performance of a filter independently of its quality and cost, and decide what is most important to you. A higher performance filter will keep the water cleaner or support a larger load of fish – we think that’s the most important thing! Of course, you also want to get good value for money, and features that make a filter easier to use are always appreciated. So don’t be blinded by sales bull… Choose the best filter for the job, taking into account your budget and the features you want. We aim to give you the facts, and advice based on experience. Remember – if you get what’s best for your fish – it makes the aquarium hobby easier and more enjoyable for you.

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