How To Choose The Best Amazon Aquarium Overflow Power Filters?

Overflow powerfilters are one of the most popular filters for small to medium sized aquaria, especially for seahorses and small tropical or coldwater fish.

Overflow filters have a filter box which sits outside the aquarium. Water is drawn into the filter box via an inlet tube by an impellor driven pump, and returns to the aquarium in a wider stream, usually directed across the water surface. Most overflow filters come with replaceable cartridges, and often have room in the filter box for additional filter media. The replaceable cartridges are usually designed for mechanical and some biological filtration, some also contain carbon.

Some overflow filters also come with a means of providing biological filtration. However, any overflow filter that has adequate space in the filter box can be turned into a quite efficient biological filter with the addition of suitable media. Suitable biological filter media will have a large surface area (without restricting water flow) and should not need to be replaced.

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✅ Best Whisper IQ Power Filter for Aquariums

Quiet and reliable function, moves a lot of water. – Really like the adjustable flow, better than the aquaclear adjustment. Also like the water return pushes on the surface instead of the waterfall effect of the aquaclear. Super quiet, self priming, no fear of pushing the basket out like the aquaclear, especially with loose polyfil. Highly recommend

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✅ Best Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filter

Great for big and small! – It seems to keep my tank clean and clear with two turtles in a 40 gallon tank. It’s very noisy though and unless you fill the water to the brim, it’s going to get annoying . We have had the filter in the tank for several months now and it continues to function as well as the day we first put it in.

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✅ Best Tetra Whisper EX Silent Multi-Stage Power Filter for Aquariums

Amazing for the price! – It has a quiet, steady hum, and it sits sturdily in place on the back. The suction is good and the flow is amazing, but will be far too much for most bettas. As some others have said, definitely make sure that the suction cage tube is snug; if the tube comes loose, your fish are exposed to the open pipe leading into the filter’s motor.

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✅ Best Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filter 10

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.

Where an overflow filter has space, extra filter media may be added to provide additional mechanical or chemical filtration. Sponge can be used where extra mechanical filtration is needed, and will also provide a degree of biological filtration. Carbon, zeolite or resins can be added where chemical filtration is desired.

Overflow filters are generally suitable for small to medium sized tanks. Smaller models may not have the space for extra filtration media, and are equivalent in their performance to an internal power filter. However, overflow filters do have some advantages over the internal type. Firstly, the bulk of the filter sits outside the tank, which can be more aesthetically pleasing, and leaves more room in the tank for fish and ornaments. In very small tanks they can be used to provide filtration without taking up too much space or causing excessive water turbulanece. They are great for seahorses and for planted tanks, as the gentle flow of water provides good filtration without excessive current. They also work very well with tropical community fish and small to medium sized coldwater fish. However, in very long tanks, or where large messy fish are kept, they may struggle to keep the water very clean.

The disadvantage of some models is the relatively high cost of the replacement filter cartridges, which must be changed every few months. Some models allow the use of sponge or poly pad instead of replaceable cartridges, and this will reduce the ongoing costs. Others use longer-lasting sponge pads, which also keeps costs down and improves biological filtration.

Getting the most out of this filter system:

Choose a suitable 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). Take into account the room available for extra filter media, and, if cost is an issue, the price of replacement cartridges and their expected lifespan. If possible, use extra filter media to suit the needs of your aquarium.

Clean the filter cartridges (or substitutes) regularly. If you are relying on these for biological filtration, rinse them gently in water from the aquarium, if you are using extra biological filter media the cartridges can be cleaned with cold tap water, but no not scrub them or they will wear out more quickly. Replace the cartridges (or substitute) and any chemical filtration media as needed. If organic matter collects in your biological filtration media, rinse this gently in water from the aquarium, do not throw it out. Replacement cartridges can be seeded with nitrifying bacteria, if needed, by placing them in the aquarium or filter box for a few weeks before they are needed or by washing them together with the old cartridges in some water from the aquarium. If your overflow filter uses two or more cartridges these can be replaced one at a time rather than all at once.

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 filter media may be restricting water flow: rinse media in aquarium water, replace if needed
2. Restriction of water intake strainer or tube: clean any debris from the strainer, rinse out tube or clean with a flexible brush
3. Air blocks in intake: pour more water into the back of the filter, jiggle the intake tube
4. 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 produces excessive noise

Possible causes & remedies:

1. Air in intake tube: this is normal when the filter is restarted, but if noise perists, try jiggling the intake tube, stopping and restarting, or pouring more water into the back of the filter.
2. Faulty/worn impellor or shaft: check the condition of the impellor and shaft and replace if needed.
3. Loose intake tube: make sure the intake tube is properly seated.
4. Running water noise caused by water falling back into the tank: raise aquarium water level.

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

Possible causes & remedies:

1. Old or clogged media: Rinse the cartridge(s) in water from the aquarium, replace if needed.
2. Brand new media not seeded with bacteria, media cleaned of good bacteria: When the filter is brand new, good bacteria will not be present and the filter will not work as well. Good bacteria help to break down wastes and to trap fine particles. If you clean the media with chlorinated tap water or detergents, or if the media is allowed to dry out, or is deprived of oxygen 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 very messy species, the filtration may not be adequate, even if the filter is running properly. Increase frequency of maintenance, reduce the load on the tank, or upgrade filtration.

Problem: Water leaks from around the motor

Possible causes & remedies:

1. Worn or improperly sealed O-rings: check condition of o-rings, lubricate or replace if worn
3. Cracked filter body or connections: Replace the damaged components (if available) otherwise, a new filter will be needed

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