Best canister filter under $100 in 2021

Best canister filter under $100

Due to the rapidly changing technology, several companies are trying to make the best canister filter in the market. The aim is to stay ahead of the competition. This has seen production of many budget friendly filters. But, which is the best canister filter under $100?

Canister filters are more desirable because they the most reliable when it comes to aquarium water filtration. They are powerful and leave your aquarium water looking pristine.

Rapid change in technology though good may lead to production of substandard products. To find the best canister filter under $100 our review group undertook a thorough research. We reviewed customer feedback from various forums and tested some of the products ourselves.

Here is a summary of our findings and an unbiased review of the top canister filter under $100.

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For additional information, feel free to talk to us through the comments section below. You may also browse through the table of contents to find what you are looking for if you are in a hurry.

Comparison table of the best canister filter under $100

ProductMarineland magniflow 160 EHEIM Classic 150Polar Aurora 4 stageSunsun HW-304B Pro Marineland magnum polishingFinnex PX-360
Image
Self-primingYesYesYesYesNot necessary / submergedNo
Tank size30 gallons40 gallons200 gallons150 gallons97 gallons25 gallons
Flow rate160 GPH80 GPH525 GPH525 GPH290 GPH95 GPH
Mechanical filtrationYesYesYesYesYesYes
Biologic filtrationYesYesYesYesYesYes
Chemical filtrationYesYesYesYesYesYes
Water polishingYesYesYesYesYesNo
AerationYesYesYesYesYesYes
UV LightNoNoYesYesNoNo
Rating4.3 / 54.1 / 54.4 / 54.4 / 54.3 / 54.0 / 5

*The rating is based on Amazon at the time of publication and is subject to change.

Factors to consider when selecting a canister filter

Aquarist rely on filters to keep their aquariums looking pristine and habitable for their pets. Canister filters are a popular choice as they are powerful and efficient. When selecting a good canister filter there are several factors you can consider.

  1. Your tank capacity – Choose a filter that is capable of running smoothly on your tank. For example the Marineland magnum polishing internal canister filter can run on a tank of up-to 97 gallons of water.
  2. The filters flow rate – the flow rate is the number of times water runs through the filter. A good filter should have a high flow rate. The flow rate is measured in gallons per hour (GPH). For example the Sunsun HW-304B Pro is capable of holding 525 gallons of water per hour.
  3. Maintenance – A good canister filter should be low maintenance. Choose a filter that is easy to clean and change the filter media such as the Polar Aurora.
  4. Durability – Select filters made using quality materials if you are looking for durability. You may want to consider buying from brands that have a reputation for quality such as Marineland, Fluval among many others.
  5. Purpose – Choose a filter that is capable of serving the purpose you intended for it. For example, some filters are more favorable for saltwater or freshwater aquariums. Others cannot be used in turtle tanks.
  6. Your budget – While canister filters are expensive, there are several good canister filters under $100 for anyone on a budget.

Review of top 6 best canister filter under $100

MarineLand Magniflow 160 Canister filter

We recommend the Marineland Magniflow 160 canister filter as a superior canister filter under $100 for several reasons.

The first reason is because Marineland products are known for their innovation, precision and are the best there is in the market. Additionally, Marineland products are both stylish and perform well.

The second reason is because this canister filter uses a powerful 3 stage filtration system.

  1. Polishing filter pads act as water polisher and remove fine debris.
  2. The bio-filter balls and ceramic rings provide a large multifaceted surface for growth of bio spires. Additionally, it allows for the growth of the beneficial ammonia neutralizing bacteria that are responsible for biological filtration.
  3. The black diamond carbon removes odors, discoloration, and water impurities. It therefore provides for chemical filtration.
  4. Filter foam pads screen out dirt and debris thus provide for mechanical filtration.

This multistage filtration ensures that your aquarium maintains a clean and heathy aquatic environment. With this powerful canister filter you can therefore be assured that your pet will stay healthy and happy.

This canister filter is suitable for use with tanks up-to 30 gallons and is ideal for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums. Additionally, this filter is capable of handling up-to 160 gallons of water per hour.

The other reason is that this canister filter comes with a lid that ensures a watertight seal.

Lastly, this canister filter is easy to use and maintain.

  1. Replace the filter pads once every 3 weeks
  2. Since carbon deactivates with use, replace the carbon bag once every month
  3. Clean the filter foam pads once every 3 weeks and replace every 9 weeks. Do not clean with soap or abrasives.

 Key features

  • Best canister filter under $100Canister lead to ensure water tight seal
  • Maximum flow rate of 160 GPH
  • Comes with filter media
  • Self priming

Pros

  • This canister filter is leak proof due to the watertight seal
  • The lid can easy be removed to clean the filter
  • This canister filter is easy to install and maintain
  • This filter allows for 3-stage filtration leaving the water clean and looking pristine
  • Budget friendly (under $100) while allowing for powerful filtration

Cons

  • Sometimes this canister filter may take in air bubbles which make it not to function well

Check price on Amazon here.

EHEIM Classic 150 external cannister filter

You cannot go wrong if you choose the EHEIM classic 150. This is because this cannister filter is reliable and has several features which you may be looking for in a filter. We recommend this filter as one of the best canister filter under $100 for many reasons.

The first reason is because this filter has very low energy (power) consumption. It uses only 5 watts (230 V/50 Hz). You will therefore be able to save on energy consumption with this filter.

The EHEIM classic 150 can be used on an aquarium of up to 150 liters (40 gallon). Additionally, this filter is fast and is capable of pumping up to 300 liters (80 gallons) of water per hour. Furthermore, the pump offers pleasant quiet running.

The third reason is because it comes in a compact design that can be used on any aquarium. Additionally, this filter is suitable for use with both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

Fourthly, this canister filter has a permo-elastic silicon sealing ring fixed on the pump head. This ring allows for easy and safe closing after cleaning the pump.

Additionally, the EHEIM classic 150 comes with a base for easy positioning.

The other reason is that this filter allows for mechanical, biological and chemical filtration alongside water polishing.

  1. EHEIM substrat biomedia that provide a large surface area for growth of beneficial bacteria (biologic filtration)
  2. EHEIM mech that removes dirt and debris (mechanical filtration)
  3. Sponge carbon filter that removes odor, discoloration and impurities (chemical filtration)
  4. Polishing pad to remove fine debris leaving the water clean.

Lastly, this filter is versatile and easy to use and maintain. You can operate it using filter media of your preference. Additionally, you can prime it in 3 ways. Self priming using the starter bulb. You can also use the universal installation kit or by sucking the hose on the pressure side.

Key features

  • Best canister filter under $100Base for safe positioning
  • Compact design- can be used on any aquarium
  • Permo-elastic silicon sealing ring on pump head – for easy and safe closing
  • Versatile accessories
  • Starter bulb for self priming

Pros

  • Very quiet running
  • Low power consumption
  • Excellent value for your money
  • Easy to use and maintain

Cons

  • Needs to be primed to work properly

Check price on Amazon here.

Polar Aurora Free Media 4 stage external canister filter with 9-watt light

The Polar Aurora 4 stage canister filter is another superior filter that we recommend for various reasons.

The first reason is that this filter is powerful when compared to other filters at the same price. This canister filter can be used on up to 200-gallon fish tanks.

Additionally, this filter is capable of handling a maximum of 525 gallons of water per hour (GPH). Furthermore, this canister filter comes with an adjustable spray bar. You can therefore adjust the output flow from the filter to your desired rate.

The second reason is that this canister filter is versatile.  It comes with 4 media trays that are capable of holding any media of your choice.

In addition, this canister filter has a large media storage capacity. The aquarium water therefore comes into contact with more filter media in a single pass. This ensures clearer pristine looking water.

The other reason is that this filter includes a self-priming pump. This eliminates the need to manually siphon the filter. Therefore, routine maintenance of this filter is quick and easy.

Additionally, this canister filter comes with a built-in 9-watt light to promote clear water. The built in UV kills harmful viruses and parasites.

Lastly, this canister filter allows for mechanical, biological and chemical filtration alongside water polishing through the media as follows

  1. Blue coarse filter sponge removes dirt and debris (mechanical filtration)
  2. Activated carbon removes odors, discoloration and water impurities (chemical filtration)
  3. Ceramic rings and bio-balls allow large surface area for growth of beneficial bacteria (biologic filtration)
  4. White fine cotton pads that remove fine debris (water polishing)

Note however that you can use filter media of your choice to achieve your desired water clarity.

Key features

  • Best canister filter under $1004 media trays capable of holding any media
  • Self-priming pump
  • Built-in 9-watt light
  • Maximum flow rate of 525 GPH
  • Adjustable spray bar

Pros

  • High value for your money when compared to other filters at the same price
  • Easy to set-up and maintain
  • Quiet running
  • Great media storage capacity
  • Allows for 4 stage filtration – mechanical, biological, chemical and water polishing

Cons

  • May leak if not closed properly after cleaning
  • Cannot work unless fully filled with water

Check price on amazon here.

SunSun HW-304B 525 GPH Pro canister filter kit with 9-watt UV sterilizer

We recommend this external canister filter kit as a powerful canister filter under $100 for several reasons.

The first reason is because it comes with a built in 9-watt UV sterilizer. The UV light kills harmful viruses and parasites. It also controls algae spores and bacteria and therefore keeps your aquarium looking pristine by promoting clear water.

The second reason is because this canister filter is as powerful as they can be. This filter can be used on aquariums of up-to 150 gallons. Additionally, this filter is capable of handling a maximum of 525 gallons of water per hour (2000 liters/hour).

The third reason is that this canister filter is flexible and versatile. It comes with 4 flexible media trays that allow you to add any media of your choice.

The other reason is that this canister filter comes with a self-priming pump. It therefore eliminates the need to siphon manually.

Additionally, this canister filter improves water clarity, color and odor through mechanical, chemical and biological filtration alongside water polishing and aeration. The kit includes the following filter media

  1. 4 white filter pads that remove fine debris (Water polishing)
  2. 1 blue coarse filter pad that removes dirt and debris (Mechanical filtration)
  3. 1 lb. Premium filter carbon that removes odor, discoloration and water impurities (Chemical filtration)
  4. 1 lb. Ceramic rings that create a large surface area for growth of beneficial bacteria (Biological filtration)
  5. 1 set of Bio-balls that promote gas exchange and increase dissolved oxygen levels (Water aeration)

Lastly, this external canister filter is excellent for use in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

Key features

  • Best canister filter under $100Built in 9-watt UV sterilizer
  • Flow rate of 525 GPH
  • Self-priming pump – no need to siphon manually
  • Includes 4 flexible media trays
  • Free media (4 white filter pads, 1 blue coarse pad filter pad, 1 lb premium filter carbon, 1 lb ceramic rings, 1 set of Bio-balls)

Pros

  • Easy to start up and maintain – no mechanical siphoning required
  • Easy to clean
  • Quiet running
  • Excellent value for your money
  • Allows for mechanical, chemical and biological filtration

Cons

  • May leak if not closed properly after cleaning
  • May stop working if not properly primed and filled with water

Check price on Amazon here.

Marineland Magnum Polishing internal canister filter

The Marineland Magnum polishing internal canister filter is another powerful canister filter under $100. We recommend this filter for your aquarium for several reasons.

The first reason is because this filter is powerful. The Marineland magnum polishing internal canister filter can be used on aquariums that hold up-to 90 gallons of water. This filter can filter up-to 290 gallons of water per hour.

The second reason is because this filter offers you a versatile filtration of your aquarium. It comes with two refillable chambers that house carbon. Alternatively, you can use your choice of media as it is customizable.

The other reason is because this filter allows for a 4-stage filtration of your aquarium. As such you will be able to maintain a pristine a healthy environment for your pet with this filter.

  1. Water polishing – reusable pleated micron cartridge removes fine debris efficiently leaving the water crystal clear. The cartridge can be “charged” with diatomaceous earth to increase the efficiency further
  2. Mechanical filtration – Rite size JH floss sleeve traps dirt and debris. Rinse or replace the sleeve monthly.
  3. Chemical filtration – Black diamond premium activated carbon removes odors, discoloration and water impurities. Replace the carbon monthly as it becomes deactivated with use.
  4. Biological filtration – The unique design of the dual chambers allows a large surface area for growth of Bio spira and beneficial bacteria. These are responsible for neutralization of ammonia and nitrites.

The other reason is because it is easy to start up this filter. The motor of this motor is submerged. It therefore requires no priming and thus is easy to start up.

Lastly, this canister filter has no back flush. Therefore, when the motor shuts off, dirt and debris stay in place leaving the water clean and pristine for your pet fish.

Key features

  • Best canister filter under $100Dual chamber media container – holds carbon or customizable media
  • Submerged motor – for easy startup, no priming required
  • Allows for 3-stage filtration – biological, chemical and mechanical
  • Has no back flush

Pros

  • Easy to start-up
  • Easy to use and maintain
  • Allows for versatile filtration

Cons

  • May make a buzzling sound if not cleaned regularly

Check price on Amazon here.

Finnex PX-360 Compact canister aquarium filter

The finnex px-360 compact canister aquarium filter is a powerful filter for small fish tanks. We recommend this canister filter for a number of reasons.

First, this filter is suitable for use in both freshwater and saltwater fish tanks. You can therefore use it even on a turtle tank.

Second, this canister filter comes with removable filter chamber trays. You can therefore easily remove and change the filter media at will. Additionally, you can use the filter media of your choice on the chambers.

The other reason is because this filter allows for multiple stage filtration using the various filter media. This ensures that your aquarium water stays clean and looking pristine.

This canister filter comes with an activated carbon floss pad that removes odor, discoloration and water impurities accounting for chemical filtration.

Additionally, this filter comes with sponge and ceramic rings. These remove dirt and debris accounting or mechanical filtration. The ceramic rings also increase the surface area for growth of beneficial bacteria accounting for biological filtration.

Lastly, this canister filter offers powerful filtration for small tanks. It comes with a top mounted sealed motor that is capable of handling up to 95 gallons of water per hour (95GPH). This filter is therefore perfect for small fish tanks. It can be used on up-to 25-gallon tanks.

Key features

  • Best canister filter under $100Removable filter chamber trays
  • Top mounted sealed motor
  • Filtration rate of up-to 95 GPH
  • Canister made of high-quality ABS material
  • Includes activated carbon floss pad, ceramic rings and sponge as filter media

Pros

  • Easy start up and maintenance
  • Powerful filter for small tanks up to 25 gallons
  • Allows for multiple stage filtration (biological, chemical and mechanical)
  • Quiet operation
  • Easy to clean and replace filter media (removable filter media trays)
  • Suitable for both saltwater and freshwater fish tanks
  • Budget friendly for small tanks

Cons

  • Does not self-prime, you have to siphon manually
  • May suck in air and stop working if not use properly, use the spray bar to prevent this
  • The impeller may be hard to clean

Check price on Amazon here.

FAQs about canister filters

How do canister filters work?

Canister filters work using the principle of siphoning. Water from the aquarium is forced into the canister through the inlet tube.

Once inside the canister, the water passes through a series of filter media. Within the filter media, the water is screened and cleaned removing solid waste, toxic chemicals and microorganisms. The type of filter media present depends on the brand and model of the canister filter.

After the water is cleaned, it is pushed back to the aquarium tank through the canisters outlet tube by the motor.

To find out more, read our separate article on how canister filters work.

What are the benefits of a canister filter?

Canister filters although expensive have several benefits that you may want to consider

  1. They are more efficient than other filters when it comes to water filtration. The reason for this is because when water is powered through the filter, it passes through several types of media ensuring that more waste is caught the by media.
  2. With a canister filter you are able to choose your preferred type of media unlike other types of filters. This allows you to achieve your desired level of water clarity.
  3. Canister filters have reduced currents when compared to other filters. Most canister filters come with an adjustable spray bar that allows the filtered water to be sprayed back into the tank in a way that reduces splash. Additionally, you can control the flow rate in most canister filters to your desired level.
  4. Canister filters allow for multiple stage filtration. They come with filter media that removes physical dirt and debris, odor, discoloration and water impurities and reduce the levels of ammonia and nitrates in water. Other canister filters come with in built UV bulbs that kills and controls algae in the tank. Therefore canister filters enable you to tackle most aquarium problems.
  5. Large aquariums need powerful filters to be able to run smoothly. Canister filters are as powerful as they come. There are several large powerful canister filters but these are very expensive. But if you are looking for a blend of quality, efficiency, durability and power you cannot go wrong with a canister filter.

How often should you clean your canister filter?

If you own a canister filter, it is critical to clean it regularly for optimal performance.  Generally speaking, a canister filter should be cleaned every one to three months depending on the type of filter you have.

Note however that this does not always apply for all cases. Depending on the purpose and the type of work your canister filter performs you may need to clean it more often than the recommended frequency.

As an aquarium owner, you need to regularly assess the condition of your aquarium water and tank to determine if you need to clean the filter. If the water and filter looks murky then it may be time to clean the filter. Additionally, if you notice reduced flow rate and efficiency then you may need to clean the filter and/or replace the filter media.

Related: Best filter for axolotl tank.

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