Best Hang on Back Filter

Hang on back filters, commonly abbreviated as HBO filters, are becoming a popular addition to many fish tanks and aquariums. Maintaining a clean environment is important for the health of your fish. As the name suggests, this kind of filter hangs along the back wall and is suitable for use with a range of tanks.

For those who are unfamiliar with keeping fish and the maintenance involved in the task, finding the correct equipment can be a little challenging. We have created this guide to make the task easier. We have browsed the market selecting our top five picks of the best hang on back filters available. Below, you will also find a buyer's guide containing all of our top tips for choosing the best product for your tank requirements. 

If you are in a hurry and don't have the time to continue reading, we have selected our top pick for you below.


A strong contender is the Penn Plax Hang on Water Filtration System. It is available in six different size options ranging from the Cascade 20 to the Cascade 300 and the largest is suitable for tanks up to 100 gallons in size. As a powerful filter, it is capable of pushing the water through at 150 gallons per hour. 

Something we particularly like about this filtration system is the lack of sound that it produces. Loud noise needn't be a concern with this filtration system as it quietly pushes the water through the system.

Courtesy of the adjustable knob, you can increase or decrease the water flow through the system as and when it is necessary. This comes in handy during feeding time in particular as you aren't going to be battling against the strong flow of water inside the tank.

Another great thing about this filter is that it utilizes disposable double-sided media cartridges. As these contain activated carbon and poly fiber floss, you can be sure that your tank is going to be subject to the best cleaning treatment. Additionally, these cartridges work to trap harmful toxins and chemicals while removing floating matter and preventing discolorations and odors from developing.


  • As a hang on filter, it is easy to secure to the back of your fish tank.
  • The bio fall system enhances water oxygen while removing ammonia and nitrates which can be harmful to fish when they have exceeded a certain level.
  • Impressively this system utilizes disposable media cartridges. 
  • It can be used inside tanks measuring up to 35 gallons.
  • This filtrations system is suitable for use in saltwater and freshwater tanks.


  • The replacement filters are a little expensive which can lead to increased costs.


With raving reviews, the aqua clear fish tank filter could be a great addition to your fish tank. Similarly to our previous picks, there are different size options available so you can choose according to the size of your aquarium. 

Impressively, the design of this system also accounts for superior contact with the filter media. Aside from this, it is also equipped with an energy-efficient pump which is going to lower your costs. 

Similar to most other hang on back filtration systems, it is quick and easy to install to your tank. Likewise, it is easy to remove for cleaning. Ideally, your filter should be cleaned on a fortnightly basis for it to work to its maximum efficiency.

You can be sure that you are going to achieve maximum filtration results in terms of mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. It can also achieve superior water quality thanks to the aquaclear foam and activated carbon filter.


  • Affordably priced, this is a great option for those on a budget.
  • This filter is covered by a lifetime warranty so there is help available should you experience any issues.
  • Impressively, this filter is suitable for tanks up to 50 gallons in size.
  • Along with the filter you are provided with everything that you need to get started.
  • There are different size options available so you can make your selection according to your tank requirements.


  • Unfortunately, this filter can be noisy when it is in use which some may find distracting. 


The MarineLand Penguin 350 BIO-Wheel power filter combines multi-stage filtration for mechanical, chemical, and biological processes. For this reason, you can be sure that this filter system is going to achieve superior results in cleaning your tank water. 

There are also five different size options available although this particular filter is suitable for tanks measuring up to 75 gallons. Impressively, it can also filter up to 350 gallons of water per hour. 

Marineland is known for producing high-quality filters and so this filter is going to deliver long-lasting durability. It is also spacious inside which allows you to add more media to the filter if you choose. This can help to improve the overall quality of the water. 

Designed with a rotating bio-wheel your tank will be subject to high standard wet and dry filtration. The hassle-free concept of the design means that there aren't any pumps or valves so the filter is easy to use. Perfect for those who are unfamiliar with filtration systems.


  • Affordably priced this is an ideal option for those who don't want to break the bank on a quality filtration system.
  • It is suitable for your tank as your fish progress through all stages of life. 
  • There are five different sizes available so you can choose the best for the water flow and your tank.
  • It is suitable for freshwater and saltwater aquariums. 
  • The black diamond carbon removes odors, discoloration, and impurities helping to maintain a healthy tank.


  • When in use this filter is loud and some may find this a little distracting.


When it comes to affordability the Tetra Whisper Multi-Stage Power Filter is an excellent choice. When functioning, this filter filters the water through the system without making a lot of noise. This is ideal for those who are likely to find a loud filter distracting. 

The convenient set up makes this an excellent choice for those who are new to using a hang on back filter. Upon receiving this filter it is ready to use right out of the box. It also doesn't need to be primed beforehand so it is ready to go right away. 

Not only has this filter been designed to maintain the quality of the water inside the tank but also the area surrounding the tank. The no-mess filter cartridges allow you to change the filters without the mess dripping in the process.

Impressively, this filter is available in a variety of sizes from 10 gallons to 70 gallons. The range of size options allows you to select the best size for your tank.


  • This filter is easy to install and doesn't require assembly beforehand - perfect for first-time fish owners.
  • The time strip technology informs you when the carbon filter needs to be changed. 
  • The carbon inside this filter helps to eliminate odors and discoloration for a healthy fish tank.
  • This filter comes with a filter cartridge carrier so you can keep your hands clean while changing the filter. 
  • This filter retails at an affordable price which is ideal for individuals on a budget. 


  • The materials used to make this filter system are a little cheap which can cause it to become damaged easily. 


If you are looking for a sleek filter that isn't going to be an obtrusive addition to your aquarium, the Marina Power Hang on back filter could be a great choice for you. Compactly designed it is going to consume considerably less room than most filtration systems.

This filter is easy to maintain and requires little effort on your behalf when it comes to installation. Impressively it is also capable of self-priming and comes with adjustable flow control which allows you to adjust the water flow level inside your tank.

Even though the motor is submerged in water, this filtration system makes minimal noise. This is ideal for those who have a tank inside their main living area as it isn't going to be a distraction. 

Both cartridges used inside this filtration system contain ceramitek which is used to enhance biological filtration. Ultimately this leads to a healthier tank environment.


  • Not only is this an effective filter but the sleek design makes it an aesthetically pleasing addition to your tank.
  • This filtration system is excellent value for money making it an ideal choice for those who are on a tighter budget. 
  • There are multiple size options available to accommodate different tanks. 
  • Installation is easy as it simply needs to be attached to your fish tank. 
  • It is easy to clean and the ceramitek helps to maintain a clean and healthy environment inside the tank.


  • This filter is prone to vibrating and producing noise which some may find off-putting.

Best Hang on Back Filter Buying Guide

There are many factors that you will need to consider before selecting a hang on back filter. We have identified our top tips for choosing the correct filter and different factors to account for before making your purchase. 

The Size of the tank

It is important to select the right sized filter according to the size of your aquarium. Filters of this kind are intended for smaller aquariums in particular. Selecting the right size is important in ensuring that the tank is filtered correctly. Failing to maintain a clean environment can cause the fish inside to become ill. Also, consider the size of the filter and the volume of water in question. These factors are crucial in ensuring that the filter works to its greatest capacity. 

Setting up the filter

Hang on back filters are commonly sought after by beginners in the fishing world. They are easy to install and in most cases, they come preassembled and simply need to be attached to the back of the tank. Thankfully they are easy to remove when it comes to cleaning the tank too. 

The Flow Required

A HOB filter allows you to control the flow of water as it makes its way through the tank. Most are designed with sliders or dials that can be adjusted to control the flow of the water. A high-quality filter of this kind should ideally be able to filter the water in your tank three to four times an hour. A filter with a 30 gallon output per hour is best suited to a tank that is 9 to 10 gallons in size. 

The Media Type

Media type works to maintain an environmentally friendly and healthy tank for your fish. A sponge is the most common media type used as they tend to be cheaper to source and easy to clean. They also last for a decent amount of time requiring minimal cleaning in between uses. The media type is intended to improve the quality of the water as it flows through it.

The cost

Most hang on back filters tend to be pretty affordable. While they aren't going to be a purchase that breaks the bank, it is important to ensure that you select a filter that is made of good quality materials. This is likely to reflect how well they perform when they are attached to the tank. If you are on a budget do not be put off by expensive price tags as there are many affordable options available. 

Multistage filtration

Hang on back filters are capable of three different types of filtration. This includes mechanical, biological, and chemical. Biological filtration removes harsh waste from the tank. Mechanical filtration is the process of removing physical particles from the tank water. Finally, chemical filtration refers to the process of removing dissolved particles from the water. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are hang on back filters good?

These types of filters are commonly sought after amongst many fish enthusiasts and aquarium owners. They are great for those who are new to owning aquariums too. They do all three different types of filtration.

What tanks can hang on back filters be used on?

A hang on back filter is a great choice for small saltwater aquariums in particular. They can be used inside planted fish tanks too. If you intend to use this kind of filter inside a larger saltwater aquarium you will need to use it alongside another filter too.