Aquarium backpack filters

The cleanliness of the water depends on the filter

Backpack filters are a good choice for an aquarium, large or small, and it does not matter if you are an aquarist new to the world of fish or with a great experience. They are very complete devices that usually offer three types of filtering, in addition to other very interesting features.

In this article we will talk about the different backpack filters, what they are, how to choose them and even which brands are the best. And, if you are interested in the subject and want to inform yourself in depth, we recommend that you read this other article about aquarium filters.

The best backpack filters for aquariums

What is a backpack filter

A large aquarium needs a powerful filter

Backpack filters are one of the most popular types of aquarium filters. As the name suggests, they hang from one of the edges of the aquarium, like a backpack. Its operation is simple, since they simply absorb the water and pass it through their filters before letting it fall, as if it were a waterfall, back into the fish tank, already clean and free of impurities.

Backpack filters They usually include three different types of filters that are in charge of making the most common filtering required by aquariums. In mechanical filtration, the first through which the water passes, the filter removes the largest impurities. In chemical filtering, the smallest particles are removed. Finally, in the biological filtration a culture of bacteria is created that transform the elements that are harmful to the fish into harmless ones.

Advantages and disadvantages of this type of filters

Bettas aren't big fans of backpack filters

Backpack filters have a number of advantages and disadvantages that can be useful when choosing whether to get a filter of this type or not.


This type of filter has a large number of advantages, especially regarding its versatility, which make it a perfect action for any initiate:

  • They are a very complete product and of a great versatility that usually includes the three types of filtering that we have commented (mechanical, chemical and biological).
  • They tend to have a Adjusted Price.
  • They are very easy to assemble and useThat is why they are highly recommended for beginners.
  • Do not take up space inside the aquarium.
  • Finally, normally its maintenance is not very expensive (In terms of time, more or less two weeks depending on the capacity and dirt that accumulates in the aquarium, and money).


However, this type of filter also has some disadvantage, especially related to species that do not seem to tolerate it as well as others:

  • This type of filters they are not recommended for aquariums with prawns, since they can suck them.
  • At betta fish are not enthusiastic eitheras the filter causes a current of water against which it is difficult for them to swim.
  • El chemical filter it tends to not be very good or, at least, to not give as good a result as the other two.
  • Likewise, backpack filters sometimes they are a bit inefficientas they can reprocess the water they have just drawn.

Best backpack filter brands

Close-up of an orange fish

In the market we can find three queen brands when it comes to backpack filters that will be in charge of filtering the water in your aquarium until it looks like jets of gold.


We already talked about the AquaClear filters recently. It is undoubtedly the most recommended brand by both expert and novice aquarists. Although it stands out that it has a somewhat higher price than the others, the quality of its products is indisputable. Its filters are divided according to the capacity in liters of water in your aquarium. In addition, they also sell spare parts for filters (sponges, charcoal ...).

Filters of this brand they can work for years as well as the first day. You will only have to do a correct maintenance so that the engine does not burn out.


A German brand that excels in the manufacture of water-related products, be it aquariums or gardens. Its filters, gravel cleaners, clarifiers, fish feeders or aquarium heaters stand out especially. It is a very interesting brand that not only sells the devices, but also loose parts and loads for its filters.

Interestingly, the water pumps of this manufacturer, originally intended for aquariums, are also being using in computing contexts to cool servers in a continuous, low noise and efficient way.


Tidal is another brand of great quality with which we can buy backpack filters for our aquarium. It is part of Seachem, a laboratory in the United States dedicated especially to chemical products, for example, stimulants, phosphate controls, ammonia tests ..., although it also includes water pumps or filters.

Tidal filters are famous for offering features not included in other brands of filters, for example, adjustable water level or a cleaner for debris that accumulates on the surface of the water.

How to choose a backpack filter for our aquarium

The filter can easily swallow the prawns

Choosing a backpack filter that meets our needs and those of our fish can also be a challenge. That is why we offer you this series of tips to keep in mind:

Aquarium fish

Depending on the fish we have in the aquarium, we will need one type of filter or another. For example, as we said, avoid backpack filters if you have a shrimp or betta fish, since they do not like these filters at all. On the other hand, if you have big fish that are therefore quite dirty, opt for a backpack filter that has a fairly powerful mechanical filtration. Finally, a good biological filtration is very important in aquariums with many fish, since otherwise the delicate balance of the ecosystem can be ruined.

Aquarium Measure

The measure of the aquarium is equally important when choosing one filter or another. That is why it is very important that, before deciding on one model or another, you calculate what capacity your aquarium has and how much water you need the filter to process per hour to keep it clean. By the way, backpack filters are especially suitable for small and medium aquariums. Finally, it is also a good idea to take into account where you are going to put the aquarium, since the filter will need a little space on the edge, so it is worth looking at the measurements if, for example, you have the aquarium against a wall.

Aquarium type

Actually the type of aquarium is not a problem for backpack filters, quite the contrary, since due to their versatility, they fit very well in any room. They are even recommended for planted aquariums, since the tube with which they absorb the water is very easy to hide in the weeds. However, remember that the current generated by these types of filters is quite strong.

What is the quietest backpack filter?

Water line in an aquarium

It is very important to choose a silent filter in case you don't want to stress your fish… Or even yourself, especially if you have the aquarium set up in a room. In this sense, the brands that stand out the most for offering silent filters are Eheim and AquaClear.

However, even so a filter can emit noise and be annoying even without being faulty. To avoid it:

  • Give the engine some time to acclimatize. A few days after a new filter is released, the engine should stop making a lot of noise.
  • Check that not a pebble or any residue has been stuck that may cause vibration.
  • You can also put something between the glass and the filter to avoid vibration.
  • If what bothers you is the waterfall that clean water that comes out of the filter, try to keep the water level quite high (you will have to refill every three or four days) so that the sound of the waterfall is not so intense.

Can you put a backpack filter in a fish tank?

A fish tank without a filter

Although there are backpack filters specially designed for nano aquariums, the truth is that for a fish tank with a sponge filter we will have enough. As we have said above, waterfall filters cause a fairly strong current that can negatively affect our fish or even kill them, for example if they are shrimp or baby fish.

That is why it is much better that we opt for a sponge filter, as it does not have any water pump that can accidentally swallow our fish, something whose probabilities increase exponentially the smaller the space. Sponge filters are precisely what their name indicates: a sponge that filters the water and that, after about two weeks of use, also becomes a biological filter, since it ends up containing beneficial bacteria for the fish tank ecosystem. .

On the other hand, If you have a large fish tank, there are motorized filters, but designed for places with very little volume of water.

We hope we've helped you better understand the world of backpack filters with this article. Tell us, have you ever used this type of aquarium filtration? What has been your experience? Do you recommend a particular brand or model?

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