Best filter for 50 gallon tank – Reviews and buying guide

A 50-gallon tank is one of the most popular choices for a family tank among aquatic enthusiasts because it not only could hold most of the freshwater fishes but also a good size for saltwater fish and coral. Thus, many people will wonder about how to set up a good filtration system for such a tank. Let’s start with the top 5 best filter for 50 gallon tank in the current market before thinking about adding media or gradually cultivating your new tank.



==> Top 5 Best Filter For 20 Gallon Tank You Should Not Miss

==> Let’s figure out the best filter for 10 gallon tank through below guideline

Top 5 best filter for 50 gallon tank for your need

Top 1: Penn-Plax Aquarium Canister Filter – Cascade 700

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The cascade 700 is efficient for up to a 65-gallon tank and has a cycling capacity of 165 GPH (gallon per hour).


  • Large capacity media basket: The canister offers big baskets for you to experiment with the filter media of multiple filtration stages until you find the one that works for your tank.
  • Easy primer: The primer button on the top lid lets you easily prime your filter with some pushes.
  • Versatile water flows: The filter comes with a spray bar, tubing, and directional spout for you to create different choices of returning the water. 
  • Easy-to-install: The canister features 2 independent directional 360-degree rotating valve taps made for easy placement. The flow-rate control valves & pool-style hose clamps make setup & adjustment easily. The sturdy rubber base keeps the unit in place.


  • It is not a dead-silent filter and some plastic parts create cheap feels, however, it is really a good canister with a limited budget.

Top 2: Penn-Plax Cascade Aquarium Filter

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This filter could circulate water at 175 GPH (gallon per hour) and is suitable for up to a 50-gallon tank. 


  • Submersible with versatile water flow: This cascade 600 from Penn-Plax is fully submersible, which is really helpful in reducing operation noise. The pump head comes with adjustable and directional water flow for your change in certain purposes such as feeding, adding bettas, etc. The spray bar helps distribute water evenly in the tank as well as aerate it.
  • Refillable cartridges: This design also helps you save money by creating refillable cartridges instead of replacement cartridges. You could even pour out the refilled carbon to customize the filter media by yourself. 
  • Efficient 3-stage filtration: The cascade 600 provides a powerful 3-stage filtration system: mechanical, chemical, and biological for both freshwater and marine tanks. Activated carbon chemically removes all the toxic odors and contaminants. Internal sponge promotes the colonization of bacteria. The large capacity aquarium cup allows room for you to fill your own filter media.


  • The suction cup sometimes may pop out and you need tape to make them rest in place.

Top 3: AQUA-TECH Ultra Quiet Power Filter

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This power filter could run the water cycling at a max of 375 GPH and is designed for tank sizes from 30 to 60 gallons. This filter uses the Aqua-Tech EZ Change #3 Filter Cartridge (pre-filled for the first time but sold separately from the second use) with premium activated carbon.


  • Easy-to-maintain: All you need is to change to filter cartridge monthly or more often if your tank is heavily stocked. 
  • Complete & powerful 3-stage filtration system: The filter cartridge floss screens out debris and large particles. The molded ribbed back of the cartridge maximizes carbon and water contact to remove all odors and impurities. The bio-foam grows bacteria for removing ammonia and nitrite, which doesn’t need to change. The impeller and motor have been improved to be more powerful and long-lasting compared to the old model.
  • Quiet operation: This filter is upgraded with dampeners for decoupled motor for reducing noise under 40 dB – the same level as “whispering waterfall”. 


  • No particular downside has been ever detected so far. 

Top 4: Tetra Whisper EX Silent Multi-Stage Power Filter for Aquariums

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This filter is designated for tank holding from 40 to 75 gallons, cycling capacity up to 340 GPH.


  • Easy-to-install: You could easily set it up to the aquarium with this clipped-on design. Just remove all the packing and even the extension tube to make it no closer than 2” from the aquarium gravel. The next step is to hang the system on the aquarium frame and make sure the water level is at or above the level indicated on the system’s motor. Finally, plugin and see the results in the water tank. No need to prime because this is a self-priming filter.
  • Good water flows: The water is continuously circulated and thus, the water will be fully oxygenated. 
  • Quick and clear filter with multi-stage filtration: The Whisper EX directs water through multiple densities of floss, which helps to quickly remove particles. The carbon skeleton helps chemically remove the toxins and odors. If you want to customize your own filter media, the carbon could be swapped out to fill other types. The Bio-Scrubber will help to remove ammonia and nitrite by growing bacteria colonization and literally, there is no need to change it.


  • The water flow is not adjustable. 

Top 5: MarineLand Penguin 350 Power Filter

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This filter’s cycling capacity can reach 350 GPH and is suitable for up to 70-gallon tanks. It is used with Marineland Rite-Size C Filter Cartridges.


  • Easy-to-maintain: Just simply pull out the old cartridge and replace the filter cartridge to add new activated carbon for faster filtering and you even do not need to turn the filter off. If the impeller stops or a wheel sticks, just try to turn the filter off, clean the surface of the magnet and cavity and plug again to see the results.
  • Adjustable flow: The flow rate could be adjustable by using the mid-level strainer so that you could still filtering while feeding your fish or you could add small bettas to the tank without worry.
  • Multi-stage filtration: The floss of the Rite-size cartridge removes large particles mechanically, the activated carbon in the cartridge does the chemical filtering job and the biological process is done by the patented Bio-wheel, which proves it best at growing bacteria for removing ammonia and nitrite.


  • The Rite-Size C filter cartridge replacement is not cheap at all. 

How to choose the best filter for 50 gallon tank?

Going through 5 of the best filters in the current market which is targeted for a 50-gallon tank, we could draw out some below must-have characteristics of those filters, whether it is a power filter or a canister. 

  • Cycling capacity: It is advisable that a filter should circulate around 4 times the water volume in a tank to get the best filtering results. That means a 50-gallon tank should run a filter at around 200 GPH. 
  • Easy-to-maintain: The filter media should be easily accessible and when there are some clogs, the cleaning job or changing media should be done within some minutes. 
  • 3-stage filtration: Whether the filter is advertised as 3-stage filtration or multi-stage filtration, it should contain 3 different types of media for 3 main filter methods: mechanical, chemical, and biological methods. 
  • Powerful and long-lasting: Does the motor create such powerful circulation for a long time without being broken down? You may see it at the warranty and after-sales service of the manufacturer to see. However, there are still such cases that you get the defective one and you are too lazy to return all of it for a change or repair. In such a case, repair it by yourself or make it a part of an expensive hobby.

Best filter for 50 gallon tank FAQs:

How many types of aquarium filters out there?

#01 Corner filter:

This is a type of filter that fits the corner of the aquarium. Though it is kind of old and “low-tech” type, it still could offer 3-stage filtration. When changing media, it is important the change only carbon and part of the filter material. The corner filter needs frequent maintenance and only used for small tanks these days.

#02 Undergravel filter (UGF):

The undergravel filter does good mechanical filter because it forces the water down the gravel of the aquarium, where the debris is kept. Then you could use an aquarium vacuum to clean those detritus. Biological filtration also happens at the gravel when water goes through it slowly. The water then is pushed up back to the tank through uplift tubes where contain activated carbon for chemical filtration. The UGF is now still used widely among aquatic enthusiasts though it takes time to vacuum all the detritus in the gravel plate.

#03 Sponge filter:

Sponge filters could provide cheap and effective biological filtration, also very weak mechanical filtration. There is no need to add mechanical or chemical filtration to the tank if you do regular water changes. This filter is used by many breeders.

#04 Power filter:

The power filter is one of the most popular kinds of filters nowadays because of its convenience in setup and maintenance. The filter is usually small enough to be submerged in the tank or hang on the back without taking away a good view of the tank. It provides complete and efficient 3-stage filtration (mechanical, chemical, and biological) and the maintenance job is simple just by replacing the filter cartridges. 

#05 Canister filter

The canister filter is a kind of biggest and the most efficient aquarium filter, thus, it is also the priciest. It usually comes with multiple trays (or baskets). Each tray provides a type of filtration: usually mechanical first, then chemical and biological filtration. Sometimes there are more than 3 trays to double mechanical or biological filtration. The water is usually circulated through all the trays and then going back to the tank via outflow tubes with a directional spout or via spray bar. 

What is the difference between a power filter and a canister?

Power filter:

  • It is also usually referred to as a hang-on-back filter (HOB) and thus, it is very easy to setup.
  • Easy maintenance, just simply change filter cartridges, which is usually provided by filter manufacturers themselves.
  • Less effective filtration compared to the canister.
  • More loss of water because the water is more exposed to the air.
  • More affordable than a canister.

Canister filter:

  • Comes in a bigger shape and should be placed under the aquarium stand
  • Comes with multiple trays for users to customize their filter media in each tray, thus, it also takes more time and investment in maintenance.
  • More effective filtration because of multi-stage filtration and moreover, the output water and input water are circulated at a different point and through a longer path.
  • Less loss of water via evaporation. 
  • At the highest end of the filter pricing scale

In short, this article shows you some choices of the best filter for 50 gallon tank that may suit you. You need to take a look on your fish tank and then figure out the feature of filter that you want. For that, you can find one which can be the best filter for you.

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