Best Filter For A Ten Gallon Tank

If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water - Loren Eiseley

Gazing into an aquarium and watching the lives of its inhabitants slowly unfurl and take shape is, according to some devoted aquarists, better than therapy.

Long recognized and acknowledged as being one of America’s favorite ways to relax, becoming invested in, and watching the lives of fish as they happen is a chemical-free form of stress relief.

Unburdened by the trivialities and overbearing mundanities of everyday existence, fish just do what they do in their own carefree way, completely oblivious to the worries we often find ourselves drowning in. 

That’s one of the reasons why we love to watch fish because we can imagine the absolute, unfettered freedom that they have and long to experience it for ourselves.

It’s also why so many of us choose to keep fish as pets because they’re not only relaxing to watch, they’re also undemanding to look after, and as long as they’re fed and the water in their tank is clean, they’re content to just be.

Every would-be aquarist, or someone who keeps fish as pets, has to start somewhere, and if you’re thinking about dipping your toes into the world of aquariums, the best way to begin is with a ten-gallon tank.

But as well as the fish you’re going to need to populate your tank and the food you’ll need to feed them, you’re also going to need a filter for your new tank to help to keep the water in it clean, so your fish will be healthy and happy. 

That’s why we’ve found five of the best filters for a ten-gallon tank so that you choose one and then get straight on to the important business of selecting which fish are going to live in your new tank. So, without further ado, let the filter based fun, begin…


Tetra has been a guiding light in the world of aquarists for seven decades, and everything that they do is designed to improve the quality of life of fish and their guardians.

They make everything from food, to habitats to specialist water cleaning solutions, but the thing that we’re most interested in is their filters. And more specifically, the Whisper IQ.

One of the things that people always find a little off-putting about filters is the noise that they make, which is something that Tetra took into account when they designed the IQ Power Filter.

Using their patented StayClean technology, which preserves the PH balance of your tanks water, Tetra’s Whisper IQ never breaks the forty-decibel barrier, and only needs to have it’s Bio-Bag cartridge changed once every month.

Mounted on the side of our tank, its motor is submerged which ensures that it’s not only quiet but is also thorough and effective and minimizes any disruption to the inhabitants of your tank.  

Able to filter up to ninety gallons of water an hour, the Tetra Whisper IQ is incredibly easy to install and is simple to clean and maintain. 

It’s an ideal first filter for any budding aquarist and an excellent way to learn how to look after your fish properly. There are many reasons why Tetra is so beloved in the aquarist community, and the Whisper IQ is just one of them.


  • Incredibly affordable and easy to use, the Whisper is an ideal way to learn how to get to grips with filters easily and quickly.  It’s simple to fit and use, just attach it to your tank and switch it on. 
  • You only need to change the biological component of the filter, the BioBag, once a month. And apart from that, as long as it’s plugged in, the Whisper should take care of everything else.
  • It has an adjustable flow rate, so you can turn it up or down according to the needs of your fish and their environment.


  • If you’re not used to filters, even the Whisper technology that this filter uses can seem a little loud. It’s not silent, so be prepared for a little extra noise and all will be well.
  • Some users have warned the rest of the aquarist world that they need to be careful when setting the levels of the Whisper, as if they’re too high, it can suck your fish into it. Which won’t be pleasant for you or your fish, so listen to their warnings. 


Pets are Penn-Plax’s passion and for more than fifty years this Brooklyn-based, family-owned company has been designing and manufacturing innovative products for pets everywhere And the Cascade 300 continues their grand legacy in fine, and imminently, affordable fashion.

Able to clean up to seventy gallons of water per hour, this submersible filter uses activated carbon cartridges to remove all of the harmful toxins, contaminants, and odors from the water.

At the same time, it’s biological sponge promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria and algae, which make sure that your fish will thrive. The head of the filter pump is also fully adjustable and features a spray option, which helps to aerate the water in your tank and increase the available oxygen levels. 

It’s quiet too, and apart from changing the cartridges, when you’ve fitted this filter, you won’t have to do much else. You’ll be able to leave the Cascade 300 to take care of your tank while you busy yourself watching the happy, healthy fish that live in your aquarium.


  • Penn-Plax is synonymous with quality and reliability, so you won’t have to worry about this filter failing, as it’s been designed and manufactured by a brand with stringent, proven testing methods. 
  • It’s seventy gallons an hour turnover rate is more than capable of effectively dealing with any, and all, of the contaminants in your ten-gallon tank. 
  • Simple to fit and even easier to use and get to grips with, the Cascade 300 was made with beginning aquarists in mind and is a forgiving, efficient filter that you’ll soon master.
  • And what’s more, it’s also incredibly well priced. It won’t even mildly damage your pocketbook.


  • Surprisingly, for a Penn-Plax product, there have been some whispers among the aquarist community that the quality of this filter isn’t everything that it could, and should be.  Which is something that’s definitely worth thinking about when you’re choosing the filter for your tank.


While they’ve been paving the way for reptile enthusiasts the world over for the last forty years, Zoo Med aren’t exactly slouches when it comes to catering to, and for, all sorts of aquatic life. 

Fish might not be their primary focus, but that doesn’t mean that they’ve taken their eyes off the fish-shaped prize, and this external canister filter just proves that point.

Primarily designed for a nano tank (a smaller tank filled with smaller fish), this filter uses both ceramic and activated carbon cartridges to clean the water of your tank and a bio sponge to promote the growth of algae and bacteria.

Ideally suited for both saltwater and freshwater tanks, the Zoo Med can effectively and efficiently clean up to eighty gallons of water an hour and is easy to install and simple to use, which makes it an ideal filter for first-time tank owners. 

Zoo Med made their filter to be convenient for you and your tank. It’s compact, and thanks to the anti-vibration bushings that it’s motor uses, it’s also incredibly quiet so you’ll barely even notice that it’s there.

It’ll fade into the background noise of your everyday life and just keep on doing what it does best; keeping your aquarium clean and your fish healthy, happy, and safe. 


  • It’s a perfectly sized filter for a perfectly sized beginners fish tank.  Aquarists seem to love it and they’re the people you need to pay attention to and listen to as they’re the ones who know what they’re talking about.  Not that we don’t, but our fish know-how doesn’t even come close to approaching the same ballpark that a lot of these fish folk play in. 
  • The Zoo Med is quiet, simple to set up and use, and does exactly what it’s supposed to. Filter and effectively clean the water in your ten-gallon tank.  And it does all of that for a surprisingly agreeable, and incredibly affordable, price.


  • Even in the world of fish tank filtration, it seems that old adage about getting what you pay for rings true. Some disgruntled tank owners have complained that the manufacturing quality of the Zoo Med isn’t what they were promised it would be. 


MarineLand are, as they’ll happily tell you, first, and foremost fishkeepers. They want to make the hobby fun, educational, informative, and interesting for everyone. And that’s almost certainly why they make some of the very aquariums and tank related equipment that you’ll find anywhere.

The Penguin Power filter uses MarineLand’s patented Bio-Wheel technology to create a dynamic three-stage (mechanical, chemical, and biological) filtration process that’s designed to ensure that a ten-gallon tank, and it’s contents, remains in peak condition.

It uses a purpose-made cartridge to ensure the smooth operation of the chemical and biological parts of the filtration equation, while it’s motor and pump, which turn over seventy-five gallons of water per hour, takes care of the mechanical part of the operation. 

Easy to install and use, it’s a filter that any fishkeeper, no matter what their level of experience, will be able to get to grips with in next to no time. And when it’s set up? All you’ll need to do is change the cartridge when you need to, and the Bio-Wheel will do everything else for you. 


  • MarineLand believes in all of its products and that’s why they all come with a three-year warranty. That’s right, three years. You get at least thirty-six months of worry-free filtration with a BioWheel, and that’s worth its weight in filtration gold. 
  • The Penguin Power is easy to set up, use, and maintain and has the sort of price tag that’ll put a smile on every fish lover’s face.


  • The Bio-Wheel is a little noisy, so if you like things to be perfectly quiet and sedate, it might not push all of your desired filtration buttons. It all boils down to how much noise is too much noise, which is a question that only you can answer.
  • The Bio-Wheel might be incredibly affordable, but the cartridges it uses can be a  little on the expensive side. They hook you in with their filter and then sting you with the cartridges it needs. 


While they’re not a brand that we’re overly familiar with, we do like Newkosea’s air filter.

In fact, we like it a lot and we think that you will too. It bucks the trend that most filters rigidly adhere to and charts a course that a lot of fish keepers are reluctant to follow. 

It uses a sixty pounds per inch air pump to filter your tank, which blows said air through a specially designed and formulated sponge, which keeps your aquarium in consummate working order with its two-stage, mechanical and biological, filtration process.

Because it uses air as it’s primary filtration agent, you can place the Newkosea anywhere you want to in your tank, at the top or the bottom, and it’ll keep on pumping and filtering

As it’s an air filter, it’s also deathly quiet. And when we say quiet, we mean it runs silently, especially if you locate it near the bottom of your tank.

If you adore the absence of noise, then Newkosea’s air filter will quickly become your aquatic best friend. 


  • Newkosea’s double sponge design means this filter is capable of dealing with any and all of the filtration issues that your ten-gallon tank might throw at it, and you.
  • Air filtration might just skyrocket to the top of your pocketbooks Christmas card list, as the Newkosea will keep your tank clean for an incredibly affordable price.


  • It doesn’t do chemical filtration, so if you invest in a Newkosea, you’re going to have to change the water in your tank (or use additional chemical cleaning agents) much more regularly than you would if you used a chemical filtration capable filter. There’s a price to pay for everything, and regular water changes are the cost of using a Newkosea air filter. 

Best Filter For A Ten Gallon Tank: Buying Guide

What Is A Fish Tank Filter? 

Fish tank, or aquarium, filters remove physical and soluble contaminants in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

They are a vital component of all aquariums as they oxygenate and aerate the water in a tank, ensure that tanks maintain ideal biological conditions that fish need to thrive and clean any and all waste products that the inhabitants of an aquarium produce.

Without a filter or filtration system, tanks and aquariums would be unable to sustain the conditions that fish and marine life need to survive, and as such are a necessary and crucial component of any aquarium. 

Which Ten Gallon Filter Is The Right One For Me?

That is a question that depends entirely on how you feel about possible noise, changing the water in your tank or adding a chemical cleaning agent, and what your budget is.

That said, we’re sure that you’ll want your fish to thrive in your tank, and as such, we’d always recommend the filter that will do everything that your ten-gallon tank, and its inhabitants, will demand of it and won’t break your bank account.

Which is, in our humble opinion, the Penn-Plax Cascade 300. It’s the filter that we use, and our fish have never been happier.