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5 Best 5-Gallon Fish Tank Filters In 2022 | Honest Reviews

5 Best 5-Gallon Fish Tank Filters In 2022 | Honest Reviews

Contrary to popular belief, a smaller tank is trickier to manage than its bigger counterpart.

The lesser the water volume, the faster the toxins accumulate. Bigger tanks can maintain their ecosystem themselves to an extent. However, a minute change in the level of ammonia or pH can have grave consequences in small aquariums.

So, good filtration that can remove chemical and biological toxins without using excess power is crucial.

Here are my top 5 choices for you guys of 5-gallon fish tank filters. 

5 Best 5-Gallon Fish Tank Filters At Glance

  • Marina S10 Power Filter 
  • Aquapapa Corner Filter Air Driven Bio Sponge 
  • Aqua-Tech Power Aquarium Filter 
  • Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter
  • Marina I25 Internal Filter

My Choice For Best 5-Gallon Fish Tank Filter

I painstakingly compared dozens of options available in the market to come up with the list. Thus, they’re all great in their own right.

However, there’s one that I think ticks all the right boxes—Aqua-Tech Power Aquarium Filter.

Especially with the filtration system, this one has left no stone unturned. The 3-step filtration system features a bio-fiber that doesn’t wear down. This filter can remove everything from ammonia and nitrite to discoloration and odor.

On top of that, the fountain-like functionality is a nice touch, don’t you think?

Now, let’s check out the detailed reviews!

Marina S10 Power Filter 

Appropriate for fish tanks up to 10 gallons, Marin S10 Power Filter is an excellent option for 5-gallon tanks, too, as it is equipped with adjustable flow control. 

It has a sturdy build, versatile functions, and a good look, making it an ideal 5-gallon fish tank filter. 

For filtration, it houses two filter cartridges—Bio Carb and Bio-Clear. Both of the cartridges contain a very porous ceramic filter medium called Ceramitek that optimizes biological filtration. 

The motor is designed to be submerged in the water. So, it helps to suppress any noise it produces and mitigate the risks of overheating. 

However, the motor is positioned on the intake tube, taking up a bit of space. 

Nonetheless, that is compensated by the tank’s slim and compact design. Also, its transparent color doesn’t meddle with your tank’s aesthetics. 

Best for the last: The filter has a self-priming feature. Thus, if there’s a power shortage or failure, the filter can self-prim without you having to refill it every time. 

Is It Suitable For Beginners?

Marina S10 Power Filter features adjustable flow settings. Likewise, the auto-priming makes it easy for you to operate and safe for your tank’s creatures. 

Also, since it has a capacity of taking 4 filter cartridges, you can change 1 every two weeks. That way, you’ll save your time and the good bacteria your tank needs. 


  • Self-priming feature 
  • Doesn’t make noise 
  • Submerged motor prevents overheating 
  • Adjustable flow settings 


  • The plastic piece covered by the sponge disconnects in some sets
  • The motor takes up considerable space

Aquapapa Corner Filter Air Driven Bio Sponge 

Aqua papa’s Corner Filter depends on the tried and tested filter mechanism and doesn’t disappoint. 

This small, cylindrical filter provides all three mechanical and biochemical filtrations with its multi-layer sponge filters. 

The topmost layer of the white filter pad functions as a mechanical filter, while the ceramic rings and black bio-sponge work as biochemical filtration. The biochemical filtration also provides a suitable environment for harboring beneficial bacteria. 

However, the air pump and airline tubing required for the sponge filter are sold separately.

A sponge filter effectively nullifies the risks of fry or small fish getting trapped, as mentioned in several reviews. For extra safety, cut a little nylon fabric and put it over the intake. 

Its quiet operation won’t stress your tank’s creatures.

Likewise, the inclusion of the air infusion chamber creates bubbles that increase oxygen solubility in the tank.

Is It Suitable For Beginners?

For cleaning, you just have to take out the sponge and rinse thoroughly every few weeks. So, that’s great for a beginner, right?

Also, since there’s no way that small fish or fry will get stuck in the filter, that’s a relief. 


  • Quiet filtration system
  • Great for tiny species 
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Increases oxygen solubility


  • Have to buy an air pump and air tubing separately
  • No instructions in the box

Aqua-Tech Power Aquarium Filter 

Offering superb value at a reasonable price, this 5-gallon fish tank filter by Aqua-Tech is an excellent option for anyone. 

The Power Aquarium Filter does a solid job with its 3-step filtration to eliminate the trapped impurities, toxins, and dirt. In the first, the filter cartridge floss screens out dirt and impurities, while in the second step, the activated carbon inside the filter cartridge removes discolorations and odors. 

In the final step, the Bio-Tech Biological Grid gets rid of toxic nitrite and ammonia. Unlike sponges, this bio-fiber never clogs or need replacement. 

So, there’s no doubt that it is a powerhouse filter that does a top-notch job of keeping the tank clean. Thus, it’s also perfectly suitable for turtles. 

Lastly, it has a fountain-like functionality that gives an impression of a fountain inside the tank—enhancing the visual appeal while keeping the water crystal clear. 

Is It Suitable For Beginners?

Unlike most filters that need to be cleaned once every two weeks, this filter needs cleaning only once a month. Similarly, the bio-fiber doesn’t clog and doesn’t need replacement, making a beginner’s job easy. 


  • Quiet operation
  • Advanced three-step filtration
  • Regulates nitrites and ammonia levels
  • Fountain-like function enhances the appearance


  • The integrated motor can’t be removed 
  • Instruction on how to insert filter is confusing 

Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter

Described as easy, efficient, and economic, Tetra Whisper In-Tank Filter is famous among fish keepers, as suggested by its thousands of raving reviews. 

The internal filter mounts on the aquarium’s inside wall, making it possible to place the tank flush against the tank wall. Since the motor is under the water, it is hushed in operation. 

And it can function in as little as just 2 liters of water and create a waterfall inside the aquarium. 

Although there’s no adjustable flow setting, the water current it produces is ideal for 5-gallon tanks.

As for filtration, each filter comes with a single pre-assembled Whisper Bio-Bag filter cartridge. 

Its 3-stage filtration system can effectively eliminate the debris and fish waste while filtering about 80 gallons per hour by oxygenating the water.

Is It Suitable For Beginners?

Yes, it’s a reasonably suitable 5-gallon fish tank filter for a beginner. It doesn’t have to be primed. You can simply turn it on, and it will do its work. Also, the top edge of the pad is above the waterline. This makes it easy to simply grab it with your fingers and lift it out, unlike most filters where you have to dip your arm.


  • Made of durable yet flexible plastic 
  • Replacement and cartridges are readily available 
  • You can put another filtration media
  • Easy maintenance 


  • No adjustable water flow 
  • The suction cup may come off once in a while

Marina I25 Internal Filter 

This internal filter by Marina is compact yet powerful for 5-gallon fish tanks.

It easily clips onto the tank with its secure suction cups and doesn’t take up much space. 

As for filtration, it works on all three levels: mechanical, biological, and chemical. It comes with a power cartridge designed to allow the water to go to the middle of the cartridge for all 3 levels of filtration.

First, the water enters the zeolite chamber, where it gets rid of the toxic ammonia. Then, when it flows through the second chamber, the carbon removes pollutants and odors, and finally, the floating debris is caught inside the cartridge. 

Lastly, since the motor is submerged, it ensures a super quiet operation that won’t disturb your fish. 

Is It Suitable For Beginners?

The power cartridge is very easy to remove and change, which, of course, is a good thing for a beginner. Also, you don’t have to scrounge through the market, as its replacement cartridges are easily available at a reasonable price. 


  • The low water current makes it a perfect fit for bettas 
  • 3-step advanced filtration 
  • Eliminates microbial pollutants as well as odor
  • Silent operation


  • The capacity of only one filter media cartridge at a time 
  • No adjustable flow setting

Relevant Articles:

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5 Best Wall Mounted Aquariums in 2022 – Buyer’s Guide

Hey! Before you leave, skim through these pieces of information. 

What Are The Most Common Types Of 5-gallon Fish Tank Filters?

Before we answer that, let’s have a look at a 5-gallon fish tank’s dimensions.

  • L x W x H: 16” x 8” x 10”
  • Empty weight: 7lbs. 
  • Filled weight: 62 lbs.

A 5-gallon fish tank has a smaller bio-filtration capacity, besides being quite temperamental. Therefore, a filter should be capable of getting rid of the toxins and residues quickly and effectively. 

Here’s brief information about each kind of filter mentioned above. 

HOB Filters

A hang-on-back (HOB) filter is a simple external filter that hangs on the tank’s back wall. It uses a pump to push water via the media filter and then back into the aquarium.

These are great for smaller tanks since they don’t take up much space. Likewise, all the filtering material and pumps are stored in an enclosed case. Finally, make sure the HOB filter you buy has an adjustable flow setting. 

Canister Filter 

Canister filter works by removing the tank’s water through an intake tube, running it through filter media in a pressurized canister, and pumping the filtered water back via spillway/bar.

These are especially great for planted and saltwater aquariums. Since these tanks are spacious, you can add more filter media at once. In turn, that will keep the tank cleaner for longer durations. 

Internal Filter 

Internal filters function by using a tube positioned outside the tank to suck water through a sponge to trap the debris while housing good bacteria. 

These filters are inexpensive, quiet, and easy to install. However, since the media holding capacity is low, you’ll need to maintain it more often. 

5 Things To Consider When Buying A 5-Gallon Fish Tank Filter 

Alongside the filter’s type, here are a few other things you’ll have to keep in mind when selecting a filter. They are adjustable flow settings, filtration stages, size, noise level, and brand. 

Adjustable Flow Setting

It’s hard to find a filter that’s manufactured precisely for a 5-gallon tank. So instead, they come in ranges like 1-5 gallons or 5-10 gallons.

So, you must get a filter with adjustable flow settings. High current or low current – both of them – are equally bad for the tank. A low-current filter won’t do its job correctly, whereas a high-current filter can trap and even shred your tank’s creatures.

Three Filtration Stage 

The basic standard for a filter is to have three filtration stages. Biological filtration for bacteria, mechanical for debris, and chemical for nitrites and ammonia. 

In some models, the chemical filtration can be swapped out, but you would still want to go for one that can hold all three kinds of media. 

Right Size For The Tank

A 5-gallon tank just holds a couple of creatures and some plants and decorations. An oversized filter will take up a lot of space in the tank and hinder movements. 

Likewise, a filter’s size also determines the current flow. So you wouldn’t want a filter that produces a too high or too low amount of current for a small tank. 

Noise Level

Ideally, a filter should always be turned on and working. However, if it’s the kind that makes noise, it will stress out your fish. 

While small-capacity filters are generally quiet, you’d still want to check the reviews. 


When choosing any equipment for a fish tank, you should always stick with a reliable brand. If you’re new, you can look at the reviews to see what the real buyers say. 

A good brand doesn’t only ensure the right product but also good customer service and warranty/guarantee programs. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

A lot of fish

How To Know If The Filter Is Too Strong?

A high-current filter produces high levels of oxygen, which is beneficial to the tank. But the constant and ferocious production of bubbles is not desirable, although it may seem like a ‘healthy’ thing to happen. 

Here’s how to know if your tank’s water flow is too strong:

  • Fish and other aquatic creatures struggle to move at their own pace
  • Fish prefer hiding instead of swimming 
  • Big-finned fish display retarded and high dangling motions 
  • Small fish struggle to swim at the usual angle 
  • Plants bend over excessively and die sometimes 

How To Reduce The Flow On Filter?

So, if you’re noticing any of the signs mentioned above, it’s likely the water flows at a high current.

Here’s what you can do about it:

Add Rocks And Caves 

Rocks and caves can redirect strong water flow patterns by acting as buffers. Similarly, driftwood can also help to stabilize the overall turbulence in the aquarium—creating slow-flow regions. 

Add Live And Artificial Plants 

Plants help not only to upgrade the tank’s appearance but also help to absorb and disperse the water. For this, you can create aquascaped zones using live and artificial plants in your tank. 

You May Also Like: A Round-up of 5 Best Floating Aquarium Plants

Flow Control In The Filter

Whether using an external or internal filter, you can still customize the water flow by reducing the filter’s output.

This helps to lessen the gallons per hour passing through the filter. Again, look for instructions in the manual to achieve this. It’ll be pretty simple and doable in a few steps.

How Often Should You Clean A 5-gallon Fish Tank Filter?

The filtration routine is based on several factors, like the tank’s size, its inhabitants, the plants, and the type of filtration. 

You can clean it biweekly or at least once monthly. If the cleaning regime coincides with the timing of replacing filter media, it can be timesaving for you.

To emulate the best possible environment for your fish, heaters and chillers are just as important too. So, while you’re at it, go through our meticulously selected round-up of the best heaters and chillers. 

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