Goldfish are thought of as the pet you can bring home and leave in a bowl on the counter – but that isn’t true. I myself had a goldfish as a child that we kept in a vase on the counter, and not only did it fail to thrive, but my cat knocked the vase – and the fish – onto the floor.
Goldfish need a large tank and clean water; and unless you change the water frequently, you’ll need a filter. A filter will remove toxins and waste that build up to keep your tank clean and fishy friends healthy.
There are multiple types of filters on the market to consider. Canister filters are more expensive to buy, but they require less maintenance overall and have reusable filter media. HOB (hang on the back) filters are cheaper to start but have disposable filter pieces that will be more costly over time.
When selecting a filter, it’s important to know the size of your tank, as you need a filter that can accommodate that much water. You will also need to consider the types and size of your fish, as some are more sensitive to current.
Filter For Goldfish Reviews
The Hikari Bacto-Surge filter is ideal for fish with delicate fins or of small size, such as goldfish. A low flow rate and smaller filter makes it perfect for smaller fish.
The filter itself makes almost no noise, making it a good choice for small tanks – 10 to 20 gallons – in quiet rooms. The filter is also easy to clean due to the sponge-based functional design.
The Hikari Bacto-Surge filter is easy to set up and install. A weighted base ensures the filter stays where you put it. Its design also allows it to be hidden behind plants for maximum visual appeal.
The filtration unit is made of high-quality foam with a large surface area to encourage colonization of beneficial bacteria. This will encourage the health and growth of your fish while cleaning their home.
- Great for goldfish, which require low-flow water
- The unit is silent and easy to maintain
- A large surface on the sponge means plenty of room for beneficial bacteria to grow
- There is no place to install an air stone
- Best for tanks over ten gallons, as the unit itself takes up a decent amount of space
This powerful filter from Polar Aurora can filter up to 200 gallons, meaning it is made for larger tanks. No matter how many goldfish friends you have, you can rest assured knowing their water is clean.
The flow rate on this external canister setup is up to 525 GPH (gallons per hour) depending on the model purchased. It has a pump power of 55 Watts.
The Polar Aurora filter is unique in that is has a 9-Watt Ultraviolet light (UV light) sterilizer to ensure your water is as clean as possible. This kills the most bacteria, as well as eliminates algae spores.
In addition to UV light, the Polar Aurora filter has four media trays to add other filtration media. This lets you use your preferred filtration method, from activated carbons to bio-balls to ceramic rings.
- The canister can handle up to 525 gallons per hour
- The filter features a specialized UV sterilizer to kill bacteria and algae spores
- The flow is easy to adjust for sensitive fishy friends
- The instructions are poorly written
- The pieces are stiff
The Marina Power filtration system packs a big punch in a little package. The unit is designed for tanks 20 gallons or less and doesn’t take up a lot of room.
One primo feature is the self-primer, which saves you time in setup and installation. The filter comes with three cartridges: 2 Bio-Carb and 1 Bio-Clear. All filters are made with Ceramitek to ensure quality filtration.
The filter is versatile in installation and allows for adjustable flow control to tailor the unit to your fishes’ needs. This is ideal for goldfish owners, as they can be easily stressed by too-strong currents.
The filter also comes with a submerged pump, which allows it to run both smoothly and quietly. The provided instructions are clear and easy to follow to make for ease of setup.
- The unit is self-priming to save effort and frustration from the get-go
- The filter comes with 1 Bio-Clear and 2 Bio-Carb cartridges
- A sponge pre-filter keeps your fishy friends safe from being sucked into the unit
- The cartridges offer questionable hit-and-miss performance
- The units are clear, which means you can see the dirt and debris build up
The Fluval 407 canister filter is designed to provide maximum efficiency with 25% less noise than related brand or models of filter. Depending on the selected model, it can filter up to 383 gallons hourly.
The energy use of the filters is incredibly efficient, drawing as little energy as 1-2 LED lightbulbs’ worth. Smaller models, such as the 107 and 207 units, draw a mere 10 watts of electricity.
The 07 Series is easy to clean and maintain. The media basket design allows you to pull out all trays simultaneously for cleaning and replacement, so you can keep your water crisp and clear.
The Fluval 407 canister filter is also incredibly quiet. With the right size tank and proper maintenance, the filter can effectively drop the frequency of your water changes to as infrequently as twice monthly.
- Can filter up to 383 gallons per hour
- Low energy use without compromising high efficiency keeps your tank clean and clear
- The media basket handle can pull out all media trays at once for cleaning and replacement
- The instructions can be hard to follow
- Not entirely silent
The 75-gallon Tidal Powers Filter from SeaChem is designed with maximum efficiency, filtration, and goldfish health in mind. It’s easy to install and alerts you when the unit needs maintenance or cleaning.
An included surface-skimmer captures harmful debris floating on or just below the surface of the water. Contaminants cleared can include algae, fish oils, and even small bits of uneaten food.
The Tidal Powers filtration unit is compatible with both fresh and saltwater tanks. There is even a clip to allow ease of attachment for a heating unit to create the perfect environment for your fish babies.
A fully-adjustable design allows you to maintain precise control over the unit – and the health of your fish. Adjustable aspects include flow regulation, telescoping intake pip, and intake regulation.
- The unit alerts you when the filter needs to be changed
- The flow rate of the water is adjustable
- There are multiple options for filter setup to best suit your specific needs
- Large screen intake opening pose a danger to fry and small species of goldfish
- The filtration unit is quite loud
The AquaClear Fish Tank Filter comes in five sizes to allow aquarists to select for the option that best suits their needs: 5-20 gallons; 10-30 gallons; 40-70 gallons; 60-100 gallons; and 50-200 gallons.
The AquaClear filter offers quick, easy installation and low operating costs. The pumps in the unit are energy-efficient, and the re-filtration system allows more time for water to contact the media.
The unit comes with activated carbon, AquaClear foam, and BioMax and Cycle Guard. The variety of media allows for superior biological filtration and water quality.
Every AquaClear Fish Tank Filter comes equipped with a 2-year warranty in case of accident or manufacturer fault. Every unit is suitable for water temperatures up to 35 degrees Celsius.
- Comes in five sizes to provide the most options to goldfish enthusiasts
- Re-filtration system allows more time for debris to contact cleaning media
- Activated carbon, AquaClear foam, BioMax, and Cycle Guard included for max filtration
- The unit isn’t as quiet as some other options on the market
- Warranty is voided upon any alteration, including fixing cracks or trying to reduce the unit’s noise with grease
The MarineLand Emperor Filter comes with a patented bio-wheel design to provide the best possible biological filtration. Utilization of mechanical, biological, and chemical filtrations keep your water as clean as possible.
The Emporer filter has a flow rate of 400 gallons per hour, and a maximum filtration capacity of 80 gallons per filtration unit. A two-pump design boosts overall performance and the flow rate in particular.
Multi-stage filtration through the wet/dry biological filter and spray-bar driven Bio-wheel kills most harmful organisms. The filter also serves to oxygenate the water through its unique design.
The filter itself is very easy to install and maintain, and the carbon compartment itself is easy to move. This is a versatile filter so you can make adjustments or move between tanks as needed.
- Simple and easy to install yourself
- Multi-stage filtration weeds out the maximum number of particles and bad bacteria
- A large water capacity allows it to filter large tanks
- Some users have had poor durability in their models
- A new impeller might be required if the system gets noisy or isn’t filtering properly
The Penn Plax Cascade filtration unit is a canister design built for tanks 20-50 gallons. It can intake up to 175 gallons hourly and comes with a spray bar to aerate the aquarium.
This filter is ideal for tanks with multiple goldfish, as it is built to handle high intake of water and debris. Activated carbon takes care of chemicals, odors, toxins, and discoloration.
An internal sponge allows for bacterial colonization to promote beneficial organism growth. A large aquarium filter cup means that you can utilize your preferred filter medium.
The pump head of the unit is adjustable and allows you to direct the water flow. The internal filter provides excellent filtration of chemical, physical, and biological agents.
- Can filter up to 175 gallons per hour
- An included spray bar aerates the tank without stressing out your goldfish
- Activated carbon takes care of chemicals, odors, toxins, and water discoloration
- A large aquarium filter cup allows for customization of media
- The top of the filter can be stubborn and difficult to remove
- The powerful filter is not recommended for smaller tanks or smaller fishes
The Fluval C Power filtration unit features five stages in the filtration process to accommodate aquariums between 40 and 70 gallons. The unit can filter up to 264 gallons per hour.
The unit itself is easy to install, as it clips on to the side of the tank. Its versatile design also allows it to be moved between tanks or removed for cleaning with ease.
The Fluval C Power filter will alert you when it requires cleaning or the polyfoam requires rinsing. This will let you know when unexpected clogs and issues arise, as well as remind you of basic maintenance.
The Fluval C Power filter takes advantage of a patented trickle chamber filtration system to thoroughly clean your tank step by step. The filter media can also be customized if desired or required.
- Can filter 264 gallons hourly in tanks from 40 to 70 gallons in size
- The unit alerts you when cleaning is required, or if clogs arise
- A patented trickle chamber filtration system produces crystal clear water
- The filter can rattle or otherwise be noisy
- The cartridge can quickly become clogged if proper maintenance is not ensured
The Whisper In-Tank Filter comes in five sizes to allow for the most options: 3, 4, 10, 20, and 40-gallon options. Each size comes with small filter cartridges to keep your fish safe.
Depending on the unit, it can filter 27-120 gallons per hour. The larger units double as air pumps. Each unit is fully submersible and clips to the side of your tank.
The dual filter/air pump design aerates the water simultaneously. The convenient design also utilizes Bio-Bag cartridges and dual-sided filters to remove debris and fish waste from the aquarium.
The units are quiet, due to their smaller size and being submerged. However, their design means they can function in water as shallow as 2 inches.
- Larger units double as air pumps
- All units are optionally fully submersible
- The dual filter/pump design aerates the water as it filters
- Requires minimum 2 inches of water to function
- Small fish fins can get caught in the bottom of the filter where the fan spins; it is highly recommended to keep the bottom of the unit out of reach of fish
Types of Goldfish Filters: The Unit Themselves
There is a wide variety of fish filters on the market for all sizes of tanks and fish. However, goldfish require particular standards for their filters, as they are small and delicate.
Their small size also means they can be sucked into large or unguarded filtration units. However, as they produce a lot of waste, it’s recommended you purchase a unit designed for one tank size up.
Other things to consider when looking at the types of filters include whether they have cartridges or sponges that need cleaning or just replacement. There are two basic types of filters that are selected for goldfish tanks:
- Canister filters are often an excellent choice. They require relatively little maintenance and offer reusable filter media. As the canister is housed below the unit, they require less space behind your tank. They have high filtration capacities and are built to handle larger aquariums. Water flow is almost always adjustable to alter flow patterns and speed to best suit your fish. However, though they don’t need to be cleaned as often, they are more difficult to clean when the time comes.
- HOB (hang-on-back) filters are easier to maintain as a rule, but they require more room behind your tank. Though they often cost less to purchase, they have higher maintenance costs due to requiring replacement filter media. HOB systems utilize waterfall return systems, which mean the flow cannot be controlled as precisely as with canister filters. For larger tanks, two or more units are required to clean the water adequately.
How to Select a Filter?
When selecting a goldfish filter, there are many factors to take into consideration. Though there is no one “right” type of filter for goldfish, there are better and worse options depending on several factors, including your fish themselves, the size of the tank, and media desired.
- The goldfish. The first thing to consider is the fish themselves. Larger tanks may require larger filters, but larger filters pose a risk to small fish. If you have small goldfish or fry, a larger filter unit can suck fins or fish inside. As death by filter is a brutal way to go, it’s recommended to select a filter with the size of your fish in mind.
- Tank size. Every filter will be labeled with the size tank it can service, as well as how many gallons per hour it can clean. As goldfish produce a lot of waste, it’s recommended to purchase a filter one size up. If you’re concerned about your fish getting caught in your filter, you can purchase two smaller units.
- Internal or external? Depending on the size of your tank and/or the space around your tank, where the filter is placed matters. Some units are fully submersible in the tank, while others hang on the bank or can be tucked into a cabinet. Smaller tanks will need either smaller units or an external unit so as to not crowd your fish.
- Desired media. You may desire a specific media for your fish, be it a sponge that generates beneficial bacteria, UV light, activated carbon/charcoal, or others. Some filters come with multiple media trays, while others will require a specific media to function. It’s a good idea to know what media you need going in, as that may change the options available to you.
How to Maintain Your Filter?
As with all good things in life, goldfish filters require upkeep. Not cleaning or properly maintaining your filter will not only cloud your water quickly, it will allow toxic levels of waste to build up, which will cause your fish to get sick and die if the problem is not addressed.
Each filter will come with its own specific directions on how to maintain the unit, but there are some general rules of thumb any fish owner can take into consideration:
- Never clean any filter in tap water. For filters that utilize beneficial bacteria via sponges or other methods, tap water can kill the good bacteria and potentially introduce bad bacteria into your system.
- Avoid hot water, soap, and bleach, as these will all kill the good bacteria in a biological filtration system and can damage the unit itself.
- Frequency of cleaning. While it may seem oxymoronic, you don’t want to clean your filter too often or thoroughly. Cleaning too often will kill any beneficial bacteria that have built up in the unit, while cleaning not often enough will harbor bad bacteria in great abundance. Each unit will need to be cleaned according to function:
- HOB and in-tank filters should be cleaned at least once a month. The unit will need to be disassembled and gently cleaned; it’s recommended to time your cleaning with the media replacement.
- Sponge filters need to be gently cleaned and squeezed (in tank water) roughly every two weeks. Cleaning methodology varies from sponge to sponge. The important thing to remember here is to not squeeze the sponge too roughly, and don’t let it dry out while cleaning.
- Canister filters only need cleaning every three to four months. They will need to be unplugged, emptied of filter media, and scrubbed with a soft brush before reassembly.
Frequently Asked Questions about Goldfish Filters
Why do I need a filter for my goldfish? Filters are essential in keeping your tank healthy, unless you want to change your water daily. Filters not only remove uneaten food and built-up waste, but ammonia, bad bacteria, and algae spores. A good filter will also aerate your tank’s water.
What type of filter do goldfish need? There is no “right” kind of filter for goldfish. The two basic types are internal (in-tank) and external (out-of-tank) filters. Some of the biggest factors for selecting a filter are the size of your fish/the filter’s intake, the media you desire, and how large your tank is.
What size of filter is recommended for goldfish? The size of the filter is less important than the flow rate. The flow rate is the amount of water filtered hourly. The minimum recommendation is a flow rate five times your tank’s volume per hour. Ideally, ten times your tank’s volume is suggested.
Is a filter required in small tanks and fishbowls? For those who want to change the water in their goldfish bowl daily, a filter is not absolutely necessary. However, adding a filter to your tank can only improve the longevity and health of your goldfish. A filter can remove harmful bacteria that sloshing water into the bowl can’t achieve.
What kind of media should I use? The type of media you use depends on both your filter and the needs of your fish. UV rays are good at filtering bad bacteria, while a sponge or foam brick will sweep up debris and chunks. Activated charcoal offers the best of both worlds.
Goldfish not only look attractive but will grow on you as cute little pets. To give them proper care, you’ll want to make sure they have a good filter to keep their home clean.
A goldfish filter should be safe, quiet, and cost-efficient. There are many models and media to choose, from UV rays to sponges to bio-filters. If you have a fish and no filter, it’s time to consider one today.
Have you had a good – or bad – experience with goldfish filters? Do you have any questions or suggestions not covered in this article? Let us know below!