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7 Best Hang On the Back Power Filters for Freshwater Aquariums

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Power Filter Summary

The hang on the back aquarium filter is probably one of the most commonly used filtration systems for freshwater aquariums. It is also used from time to time in nano saltwater fish tanks. This filtration systems is easy to setup and as an added bonus easy to maintenance. They also provide most of what you need to keep your fish tank clean. There are many different hang on the back (HOB) filtration systems and each one excels something a little different. This article will discuss some of the best hang on the back filters that can be used in this hobby! The filters are not listed in any particular order but I will discuss the features of some so you can choose which is best for you.

1. Aquaclear Power Filter

The Aquaclear Power Filter is a great filtration system for freshwater aquariums. It is very easy to maintenance because it has a tray that holds all of the filter media. This tray also allows you to add biological, mechanical and chemical filtration or you can customize it to your specific needs. You’re able to add or mix and match Aquaclear Activated Carbon, Aquaclear Foam Inserts, Aquaclear Biomax and more! There are many different Aquaclear Power Filter sizes:

If I plan on setting up larger aquariums I personally begin considering setting up canister filters or sump systems instead of hang on the back filters. Large fish tanks will most likely have more stock or larger fish so will require a larger filtration system. Hang on the back filters are perfect for smaller to mid-sized aquariums. This is just personal preference. Do what works best for you.

2. Tetra Whisper Power Filter

If you’re not looking for as much customization like the Aquaclear has, take a look at the Tetra Whisper Power Filters. This filter system is fairly simple. It still give you the option to utilize mechanical, biological and chemical filtering, but it is really simplified. The Tetra Whisper has a bio-bag (mechanical filtering) and you can fill the bio-bag with activated carbon (chemical filtering). Bio-foam should also be provided to create biological filtering as well. Filter setup and maintenance is easy. Filter media simply slides into slots. Each filter requires a different sized Bio-Bag. There are 3 different sizes: Small, Medium, and Large. Be sure to match the bio-bag to the filter you have. The Tetra Whisper comes in a few different size:

Most of the Tetra Whisper Power Filters have flow adjusting knobs however, the PF10 does not. I know that many users of this product are about adjusting the flow so I wanted to put it out there.

3. Aqueon Quiet Flow LED PRO Power Filter

Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Power Filter is a well made hang on the back filter that does what it is made to do. Like the Tetra Whisper, the Aqueon QuietFlow HOB filters come with cartridges that can be replaced when needed. The nice and unique things about the Aqueon hang on the back filter is that it has an LED filter cartridge change indicator. The light will flash when the cartridge needs changing. It’s a unique feature that can help many of us who are forgetful and don’t always remember to change cartridges. There are many different sizes for this filter, they are:

QuietFlow 10 Filters require Small cartridges, the QuietFlow 20, 30 and 50 require medium, and the QuietFlow 90 requires 2 large cartridges. The filter will still provide mechanical, biological and chemical filtration for your aquarium, which is great. The cartridge filled with carbon provide both chemical and mechanical filtration. Also, Aqueon’s HOB filters have Bioholsters that provide biological filtration. It’s not recommended to clean this when changing cartridges because the bioholster holds a lot of beneficial bacteria.

4. Marineland Penguin BIO-Wheel

The Marineland Penguin Power Filter is a unique filtration system because its biological filtering is done using a BIO-Wheel. Like the Tetra and Aqueon brands, the Marineland Penguin Power Filters also use cartridges filled with activated carbon to filter the aquarium chemically and mechanically. Like all the other power filters in this article, the Marineland Power Filters come in varying sizes for different aquarium needs, they are:

The Marineland Penguin BIO-Wheel Power Filters have different sized cartridges. Be sure to keep your box around or keep track of your filter’s size. The Penguin 75 and 100 use A sized cartridges, Penguin 150 uses B sized cartridges and the Penguin 200 and 300 use C sized cartridges.

5. Fluval C Series Clip-On Filter

The Fluval C Series Power Filter is an interesting power filter. This HOB filter has different compartments for chemical, mechanical and biological filtration. Each compartment can be individually removed to clean or swap out. This filter also has a pop-up cleaning indicator which tells you when your foam pads need replacing! It’s a well loaded filter and may not be as commonly found as many of the others. It comes in varying sizes, they are:

This filter is definitely more complex than many of the others. If you enjoy tinkering, and having control of individual compartments, check out the Fluval C Series Clip-on filters. Unless you’re well versed in DIY, Fluval makes filter media specifically for the C Series filters which will make your life easier.

6. Aquatop UV Power Filter

I couldn’t help but include the Aquatop UV power filter into this list. Mainly because, as the name states, this filter has a UV Sterilizer built into it. This may be useful for fish keepers who keep their fish tanks closer to windows which may create a bloom of algae in the water, giving the water a green tint. This filter will also comes loaded to provide mechanical and chemical filtration as well as a self-adjusting surface skimmer. There are a few different models for different sized aquariums, they are:

  • PF15-UV – (rated up to 15 gallons)
  • PF25-UV – (rated up to 25 gallons)
  • PF40-UV – (rated up to 40 gallons)

It’s unique to see UV Sterilization built into a hang on the back filter. You may see it in a canister filter or as a stand alone piece of equipment but it’s new to see on a HOB. If you’re interested in this sort of equipment, definitely consider checking out this power filter.

7. Seachem Tidal Power Filter

The Seachem Tidal Power Filter is a sleek looking filtration system with some very cool features. The first that caught my eye off the bat is the Heater holder! Unfortunately, it is not included with the Tidal 35 units, but the larger units have this option. I personally would not put a heater into a hang on the back filter, but it’s nice to have the option to attach it to the side of it. The Seachem Tidal Power Filters also have a self-priming pump, surface skimmer, dual water intakes, and a few other features. It is a nice looking filter that comes in a few different sizes, which are:

This filter has a lot of features from other HOB filter systems and combines them into one to create a pretty solid piece of equipment. If you’re interested in a filter system with a lot of different features, check out the Seachem Tidal Power Filter line!

Final Notes

There are many unique HOB filters available to purchase. There isn’t a single best hang on the back power filter, it is all personal preference. I wanted to share a variety of them with many different features to see which will work best for you. Whether you prefer simplicity or customizations, there is a filter for you. If you’re working with nano fish tanks and want a different filtration system, check out this guide on how to use and work with sponge filters!

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