Having the best filter for a 30-gallon aquarium means that you will not be worrying about a cloudy and dirty tank ever again. Although it is possible to keep an aquarium without a filter system, it can be quite difficult, especially if you do not have a lot of free time on your hands.
A good aquarium filter will make keeping fish a more relaxing and fulfilling hobby. Picking the 30-gallon filter system will take a bit of work. However, after you finish reading this article, finding the right filter for your aquarium will be a whole lot easier.
- Best Filter for 30 Gallon Aquarium Reviews
- 1. Tetra Whisper IQ Power Filter
- 2. NICREW Aquarium Internal Filter
- 3. Zilla Aquatic Reptile Internal Filter
- 4. AQQA Aquarium Fluidized Moving Bed Filter
- 5. Fluval U Series Underwater Filter
- 6. Aqua-TECH Power Filter
- 7. JackSuper Aquarium Turtle Waterfall Filter
- 8. Marineland Penguin PRO Power Filter
- 9. Fluval 07 Series Performance Canister Filter
- 10. Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Power Filter
- What to Look For When Buying a Filter for 30 Gallon Aquarium
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Filter for 30 Gallon Aquarium Reviews
1. Tetra Whisper IQ Power Filter
I have to say that this product is one of the quietest options for the good filter for a 29-gallon aquarium I have used so far. This system has a barrier that separates the motor from the filters to minimize noise and vibrations. I have a small tank set up in my bedroom, and I can hardly hear this aquarium filter from across the room.
If the motor is submerged in the water, the pump will start moving water as soon as it gets power. Unlike other HOB water filters that you need to prime first or else the motor will burn out, this one is something that you can just easily set up.
After that, you can plug it into a wall socket and forget about it for a time. Even if there was a power outage in your area, you can be sure that it will start itself without any problem.
Unlike other aquarium filters that only take out the solid waste floating in the water, these 30-gallon fish tank filters tend to do more. It allows the growth of beneficial nitrifying bacteria, thereby neutralizing harmful ammonia and nitrates in the water.
I have a tank containing a couple of goldfish, and the ammonia and nitrate levels are always either zero or close to it.
This is supposedly an incredible choice for a 29-gallon aquarium, but its motor is so powerful that I do not doubt that you can also use it for larger tanks, maybe up to 55 gallons. This had no trouble moving the water in my 30-gallon tank, and thankfully, it can reduce the flow rate as it is a bit too strong for my small tank.
The issue that I have with this aquarium filter is its rather massive size. The pictures of it you see on online retail sites do not give an accurate depiction of its size. I was surprised at how large the actual device was, and it took up quite a lot of the real estate on the side of my tank.
2. NICREW Aquarium Internal Filter
I was looking for a relatively inexpensive 30-gallon sponge filter, nothing too fancy, so I got this filter. I was surprised when I saw the attachments that came with it as they added a lot of versatility to the filter. I particularly like the spray bar because of how well it agitates the surface of the water to prevent protein film from forming.
This device also comes equipped with a water flow regulator. I am currently using mine on a small shrimp tank, and at full power, the rapid water flow stressed the tiny shrimp so much that they could not breed. However, I lowered the water flow to keep the water under the surface relatively still and now, my shrimps are all vibrant and happy.
This filter set already came with filter cartridges: one sponge filter and one activated carbon packet. I liked using the activated carbon because it helped keep the water clean and pH-balanced.
Most of all, it absorbed the smell coming from the water. It helped a lot in keeping my living room from smelling fishy, especially during days before you need to do a complete water change.
Speaking of water changes, when it comes time to change the water, you will discover that cleaning this filter is easy. Although there are many parts to watch over, disassembling does not require any tools. Also, putting it back together is as easy as taking it apart. I think it only took me around 30 or so minutes to clean it completely.
The only thing that I did not like about this device is that the instructions were written in broken English, which kind of makes them hard to understand. Thankfully, the instructions also come with illustrations, so I was still able to figure out what to do.
3. Zilla Aquatic Reptile Internal Filter
I have to keep a couple of red-eared turtles, and those of you who have kept one know that they are quite persistent climbers. This is why I am happy to say that this internal filter comes with a tiny plastic grate that prevents little critters from climbing into the filter and getting stuck. These little details sometimes make or break a product.
I have a shallow tank setup for my turtles so other HOB filters fit awkwardly on it. However, this is one of the most suitable filters for 29, 30-gallon freshwater tanks because it has suction cups at the back, ensuring that the filter stays flat on the side of the tank.
The suction cups are quite strong. This means that I do not have to worry about my turtles knocking this off. I sometimes have a hard time removing them for cleaning.
One of the unenjoyable things about keeping turtles is that they create a lot of waste. They also smell funky. Thankfully, this submersible filter uses cartridges that contain activated carbon.
This means that aside from trapping solid waste and clearing the water, it also deodorizes it. This is a good thing, especially if you don’t like your home smelling like a swamp.
Aside from the water trickling out of the filter, you will hardly hear any sound that would indicate that this device is working. The motor, although powerful, runs silently and with hardly any vibrations. I have my tank set up in the living room and I can hardly hear it running in the background.
The only issue I had with this filter is that it was a bit difficult to dismantle at first. I had a hard time pulling the internals out of the housing, I thought that it would break if I forced it any further. I was so happy when it eventually came apart without anything snapping off.
4. AQQA Aquarium Fluidized Moving Bed Filter
Although this product is a somewhat budget version of a fluidized bioreactor, I was impressed at how efficient it is at keeping nitrates and ammonia levels down. The moving ceramic pellets mimic the action of pebbles and rocks in rivers. They also provide better chemical filtration compared to just using bio balls.
I am using this device as a backup filtration system. I mainly got it because it helps the nitrification cycle. It is a good thing that this device has a compact design because I would like my tank to be uncluttered as much as possible. This device is almost the same size as a tumbler, so it is easy to hide behind aquarium plants and/or driftwood.
My aquarium contains a couple of cichlids, which is why I have another HOB filter in addition to this one. However, if my tank did not have such a big bio load, like a tank with shrimp or small fish, I believe that using this filter alone would be fine.
In addition to the moving bed filter, this also has a sponge filter at the bottom. This is beneficial as it works in catching the bigger waste particles in the water.
Also, aside from filtering the water in the tank, this device has a built-in air stone. The air stone produces thousands of fine bubbles that allow more oxygen to get dissolved in the water. The finer bubbles evenly push the bio media and make them tumble in the reactor.
Although this device works well as a bioreactor and helps keep the nitrates and ammonia levels down, it is not that great as the main filter for an aquarium. This is why I also have another HOB filter that acts as the main filtration system of my aquarium. This bioreactor is just there to keep the water safe for the fish.
5. Fluval U Series Underwater Filter
For such a compact submerged aquarium filter, it did a great job at cleaning the water of my fish tank. The fish I keep do not make that much waste, but they still produce a significant amount.
This filter has 3-stage filtration – mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. I love the biological filtration stage as it helps immensely in keeping the ammonia level in check.
This Fluval 30-gallon filter also has three options for water output – top, middle, and bottom. The bottom water output is the one I prefer to use because it stirs up the water at the bottom of the tank and makes it circulate better. It is a shame, though, that you cannot use multiple outlets at one time.
This canister filter for a 30-gallon planted tank can also be installed vertically and horizontally. Mine is installed vertically and stuck on the side of the tank, but I have seen other people using this lying down on the bottom of their setups.
I also think that using the middle output while the filter is installed horizontally would be a great way to create a waterfall effect in turtle habitats.
Another small detail, but useful nonetheless, is the easy-open lid set at the top of the filter. This provides convenient access to the filter cartridges and the inner workings of the filter for easy cleaning.
The only issue that I have with this is that you cannot use other brands of biological filter media other than those of Fluval’s. The space inside the filter housing is too small to get enough bio-balls inside to make a significant effect.
I am not saying that the media offered by Fluval is not good. However, it would have been nice to be able to use other brands if Fluval’s are not available.
6. Aqua-TECH Power Filter
One of the biggest reasons why I got this filter is that I know a lot of other aquarium owners who have been using their Aqua-Tech HOB filter for at least a decade, and they are still going strong. This is the kind of durability that you can confidently invest your money in, and so far, it is worth every penny.
Aside from mechanical and chemical filtration, this sponge filter for 30-gallon tanks also contains bi0 foam, which is a very porous synthetic foam material. This allows the growth of nitrifying bacteria and plenty of them. I have been using the product for a couple of months and so far, I have not seen a huge spike in nitrate and ammonia levels.
The included mechanical and chemical filter cartridges also do a great job of keeping the water clean. I keep a couple of goldfish in a 30-gallon tank and experienced aquarium keepers know how much waste these fish make.
With that in mind, you will need a heavy-duty filter to deal with them. Aside from the mechanical filter, it also uses an activated carbon cartridge. This removes the discoloration and smells from the water.
I also like how quiet this aquarium filter works. I have my tank set up in my home office, and aside from the bubbling water, I could not hear any noticeable noises from my water filter. This is thanks in large part to the decoupled motor and dampeners that work together to limit the amount of sound this device produces to below 40 decibels.
The only issue I have with this filter is that the newer ones, like the one I have, no longer have removable motors like they used to have. My aquarium keeper friends told me that they can easily remove and replace the water pump motor without replacing the whole thing.
7. JackSuper Aquarium Turtle Waterfall Filter
The most important quality that you need to look for in a water filter for a turtle tank is the ability to move a lot of water. Turtles create a lot of solid waste, so you should get a water filter that has a pump strong enough to circulate the water in the tank constantly.
I have been using this water filter for a couple of months. Although I would have to say that it is not perfect (the far corners of the tank are still a bit dirty), this was able to keep the tank relatively clean.
Aside from the sound of the water trickling out of the mini waterfall outlet, you will not be hearing anything to indicate that this filter is working. For something small and powerful, the motor hardly makes noise. If you set it up in your private Zen garden, it will not distract you from your daily meditations, the quietest filter for a 30-gallon tank.
I have this water filter set up in a small 1-gallon betta tank, and the waterfall outlet does not agitate the water surface enough that it would stress the fish. However, the waterfall still stirs up the water enough to prevent a surface film from forming. It also oxygenates the water efficiently.
Another thing that I liked about this filter is that it pulls apart easily for thorough cleaning. As mentioned earlier, turtles create a lot of waste, and they will all end up inside the filter.
I am glad that I can easily take this filter apart, and not just remove the filter media. I could thoroughly clean the filter so that it would be able to work well for many years to come.
I only wished that the manufacturer hired a proper English translator for the instruction manual. I have used a couple of other similar products so setting it up was not much of a challenge, but I would be willing to bet that beginners would have a hard time. One big typo is that you can run the filter for 2-4 hours, and not the intended 24 hours.
8. Marineland Penguin PRO Power Filter
The best feature of this water filter is the bio-wheel. This rotating plastic water wheel provides lots of surface area for nitrifying bacteria to grow, and they get more efficient at neutralizing ammonia and nitrates when exposed to air. With this filter on my aquarium, the ammonia and nitrate levels have constantly been zero.
Out of the box, this kit already came with an activated carbon filter cartridge. I previously had trouble with the water in my fish tank constantly getting cloudy even after complete water changes. The activated carbon filter cartridge helped immensely by turning the water crystal clear. It also removed the fishy smell from the water.
I use this water filter on a 30-gallon tank with a dozen or so mollies, and they are easily agitated. This is why I liked how you can easily tune down the flow rate of the water by simply turning a plastic knob. Since this filter came with a rather strong pump, I had to decrease the flow rate by almost half to keep my fish from getting too stressed.
Aside from the included bio-wheel, you can also add more biological filtration using the included media basket. I used a couple of bio balls for additional nitrifying capabilities and it worked wonderfully. The bio-wheel was already working great for me, and I just added more media for good measure.
I only hoped that the included sponge filter was not so fine because it clogged up easily. When I used it to replace a broken filter, it took no more than two days before the filter clogged up and caused the water to backflow.
9. Fluval 07 Series Performance Canister Filter
I liked the pull mechanism used for priming the pump of this canister filter. It is much easier to use than the conventional push primer. I also found that it was much easier to get the pump going if you raise the outlet tube just above the water line before priming. This cartridge filter is easy to use straight out of the box.
Once assembled, which is a bit of a challenge because of the number of parts, maintaining and cleaning this cartridge filter is easy. I loved that I can remove the inlet and outlet hoses from the lid at the same time using just one latch.
The filter compartments are also easy to remove from the housing, thanks to built-in handles. This is significantly less messy to clean compared to the other filters I have used.
Another improvement that this Fluval filter had over its predecessor, which is still one of the best canister filters for 30-gallon tanks, is that it is more compact but still has excellent suction.
It took up less space in the cabinet under my tank, which is always great because there is room for other stuff. However, this filter is not completely silent. It produced a slightly muted humming noise.
Unless you already have other brand filters in mind that you want to use, this kit already comes with everything to get you started. Straight out of the box, you will be getting a lot of Fluval bio-foam filter media and an activated carbon cartridge.
Although I was impressed by the amount of filter media included, I added ceramic bio pellets in the included media basket for additional filtration and improved nitrate cycling.
I do not have any serious complaints about this device. However, I do wish that mounting the inlet and outlet tubes to the tank was much easier than it is now. The tubes only have one flimsy suction cup each to hold them in place inside the tank.
When the pump is turned on at medium-high to high settings, the suction cups tend to peel off the tank.
10. Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Power Filter
This is ideal for beginners at aquarium-keeping because it is easy to operate. One of the reasons I recommend this is that it is self-priming.
Unlike other HOB filters that you need to prime by pouring water into the pump first, this one is self-priming. This means that even if the power trips in your home, the water pump will not burn out due to it running dry.
Another nice feature of this water filter is that it monitors the water level inside the filter, and would flash a LED light to signal that you need to change the filters. I liked this feature a lot because it means I do not need to check the filters every day. It will tell me when it needs filter media replacement.
As the name suggests, this aquarium filter is quiet. The motor is uncoupled from the impeller. It also has dampers to minimize the noise it makes. However, when I first used this filter, the impeller was quite noisy. Fortunately, it just needed a bit of non-toxic silicone spray to get it going again.
This tiny water filter is surprisingly powerful. Although this is rated for a 30-gallon tank, I believe that it can handle a bigger capacity. I needed to place a sponge pre-filter over the inlet pipe because my small shrimp would get stuck on it. I had to dial the power down quite a bit to get it just the way I wanted.
As mentioned earlier, the impeller was quite noisy when I first got it. I belong in an online group of aquarium keepers and a couple of my buddies there use the same filter. They all said that after a year, the impeller will start getting noisy, and lubricating it would only minimize the noise, but not totally.
What to Look For When Buying a Filter for 30 Gallon Aquarium
Buying aquarium filters can be quite difficult, especially if this is your first tank. To help you make the right decision, here are some of the things that you should keep an eye out for:
Water Pump Power
If you have a 30-gallon tank, you will need a pump that’s strong enough to move all the water, especially if you keep quite strong fish. On the other hand, if you are keeping small and delicate fish, it is best to get a filter with an adjustable flow rate. That way, you can slow down the flow to prevent the fish from getting too stressed.
A good aquarium filter does not just trap the solid waste suspended in the water but should also filter out other harmful substances. Ideally, you should get a filter that can do mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration.
You need mechanical filtration to get rid of the solid waste. Chemical, on the other hand, is to get rid of discoloration and smell while biological filtration provides a close-to-natural environment for the fish.
It does not matter if you buy a cheap aquarium filter, if it breaks easily and you end up buying a new one every couple of months, then you are just wasting money. It is best to buy an aquarium filter that can last for at least a couple of years. I have seen top-brand filters that are more than a dozen years old and are still working like new.
Of course, the price of the filter should be based on the size of your budget, and how much you are willing to compromise when it comes to maintenance and efficiency. For instance, you can get a serviceable HOB filter for under $20.
However, the catch is that you will be cleaning it at least once a week. On the other hand, if you choose a more expensive external cartridge filter, you may need to clean it maybe once a month or so.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Size of Filter do I Need for a 30-Gallon Fish Tank?
Typically, you will find the filter size for a 30-gallon tank on the label of the device. If that information is not available, you should get a pump and filter setup that is capable of at least 120 gph, or four times the tank’s volume per hour.
Can you Use a 30-Gallon Filter on a 20-Gallon Tank?
Yes, you can. However, if the flow rate is too strong for your fish, then you should dial it down.
Although it is possible to keep an aquarium without using a water filter, it will be quite a tedious exercise. You will also be limiting yourself to a handful of fish that you can take care of and the size of the tank you can use.
Using the best filter for a 30-gallon aquarium will ensure that the water will always be clean and your fish will be healthy and happy in their home.