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Best HOB Filters Updated October 2020

Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
★ BEST OF THE BEST
Seachem
Tidal 75
Bottom Line
With the most features included in the design of this filter, and the highest flow in its class, the Seachem Tidal is a solid choice for an easy-to-use and quiet filter.
Pros
Large, easy-to-remove filter material bin for easy customization and cleaning, with adjustable flow and intake rates.
Cons
Some consumers report that the surface skimmer intake can make some sound when water level evaporates too low.
★ BEST ON A BUDGET
Fluval
Aquaclear 70
Bottom Line
A budget-friendly and easy-to-use HOB filter, but some consumers report problems with lack of change in the intake rate and a potentially noisy lid.
Pros
Customizable filter bin and adjustable intake rate.
Cons
Consumers report intake rate doesn't change much, and lid vibrations can make noise over time.
★ Honorable Mention
Marineland
Penguin 350
Bottom Line
Large room for filter material, but consumers report the biowheels can stop spinning overtime.
Pros
Lots of filter material space and a thinner and wider design to fit better against walls.
Cons
There's no bin you can easily remove to clean out all filter media, and over time the biowheels can gunk up according to some consumers.
★ Honorable Mention
Penn-Plax
Cascade 300
Bottom Line
Less customization and less easy-to-use than the Seachem or Fluval filters, but it comes with everything you need for media.
Pros
Comes with filter cartridges and an adjustable flow rate.
Cons
More expensive and less room for customization.
★ Honorable Mention
Aqueon
Quietflow 75
Bottom Line
The most basic filter that comes with a carbon and floss pad that might not last long.
Pros
Can replace their filter pad with better filter media.
Cons
Weird shape makes it harder to put custom filter media in.
How we decided
15
Products
Considered
8
Hours
Researched
156
Consumers
Consulted
Why trust Popular Reports
We spend an inordinate amount of time researching products, analyzing third-party opinions, studying candidates first-hand, and synthesizing conclusions. Our analysis considers a wide range of online reviews, buying guides, and our editorial team's hands-on experience. We may earn money when you purchase products recommended on our site, but we do not earn money from placement. This does not affect our selection of products or our editorial integrity.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best HOB Filter

Buying a HOB filter can be difficult because there are so many different factors to consider. Here we break down the most important factors we found through hours of research and product analysis.

Ease-of-Use

Hang on back filters are commonly used as alternatives to canister filters and sump systems which are notoriously more difficult to setup and clean. The more convenient a filter is to clean, the more likely you are to actually clean it. Many companies have come up with great ideas from media baskets to drip tray lids and even self-priming impellers inside the tank.

Keeping a filter easy-to-use shows that the company has thought about real use cases. Designing with the consumer in mind also shows that the company puts time and effort into their products.

Filters that make it so you don't have to pour water into the compartment to prime it with pumps that are inside the tank are also quieter and restart by themselves after a power outage or water change.

Customization

The ability to put whatever kind of media you need into your filter makes it more accomodating to a much wider variety of situations. You can add or remove media that you need after stirring up ditritis, or you can add pre-cycled biological media to jump start your tank's nitrogen cycle.

Many people have plants in their aquarium, and in this case they opt to remove the carbon from the filter because it filters out nutrients the plants need. It also allows them to add in more mechanical or biological filtration to use it as additional filtration for a tank.

Having a large customizable media basket is one of the most important features when choosing a filter that can be changed to your needs.

Noise

A lot of people have tanks setup in bedrooms or living rooms where the sound of flowing water isn't welcome. While adjusting the flow rate on a filter can impact how loud the water is coming out of the filter, key design features can reduce the sound even more.

The most popular and common complaint people have is their filter lid rattling on the Aquaclears. While there are some that say it's not a problem, it's worth taking into consideration when buying a filter for your bedroom tank.

A quiet filter can be key when looking at long term use and reliability. With more quality parts, such as impellers, lasting longer, a filter is less likely to create noise with broken parts.

Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
★ BEST OF THE BEST
Seachem
Tidal 75
Bottom Line
With the most features included in the design of this filter, and the highest flow in its class, the Seachem Tidal is a solid choice for an easy-to-use and quiet filter.
Pros
Large, easy-to-remove filter material bin for easy customization and cleaning, with adjustable flow and intake rates.
Cons
Some consumers report that the surface skimmer intake can make some sound when water level evaporates too low.
★ BEST ON A BUDGET
Fluval
Aquaclear 70
Bottom Line
A budget-friendly and easy-to-use HOB filter, but some consumers report problems with lack of change in the intake rate and a potentially noisy lid.
Pros
Customizable filter bin and adjustable intake rate.
Cons
Consumers report intake rate doesn't change much, and lid vibrations can make noise over time.
★ Honorable Mention
Marineland
Penguin 350
Bottom Line
Large room for filter material, but consumers report the biowheels can stop spinning overtime.
Pros
Lots of filter material space and a thinner and wider design to fit better against walls.
Cons
There's no bin you can easily remove to clean out all filter media, and over time the biowheels can gunk up according to some consumers.
★ Honorable Mention
Penn-Plax
Cascade 300
Bottom Line
Less customization and less easy-to-use than the Seachem or Fluval filters, but it comes with everything you need for media.
Pros
Comes with filter cartridges and an adjustable flow rate.
Cons
More expensive and less room for customization.
★ Honorable Mention
Aqueon
Quietflow 75
Bottom Line
The most basic filter that comes with a carbon and floss pad that might not last long.
Pros
Can replace their filter pad with better filter media.
Cons
Weird shape makes it harder to put custom filter media in.
How we decided
15
Products
Considered
8
Hours
Researched
156
Consumers
Consulted
Why trust Popular Reports
We spend an inordinate amount of time researching products, analyzing third-party opinions, studying candidates first-hand, and synthesizing conclusions. Our analysis considers a wide range of online reviews, buying guides, and our editorial team's hands-on experience. We may earn money when you purchase products recommended on our site, but we do not earn money from placement. This does not affect our selection of products or our editorial integrity.