The Best Hob Filters For Aquariums in 2023

our guide on the best hob filters for aquariums

Perhaps one of the most important factors that you’ll need to set up for your aquarium is a filter. Filters are vital in the setup of your aquarium equipment because they help to make sure that the water inside of the aquarium remains clean and healthy for your fish at all times. It can be a tedious and lengthy process to constantly have to change the tank water and manually pick out all of the dirt and debris from the tank.

By having a filter, you’re relieved of the duty of removing all of these harmful elements that can potentially have dangerous implications on your fish and other tank organisms. You’ll want to find a filter that’s able to offer maximized filtration for your aquarium. Not only that, but you’ll also want to find an aquarium filter that’s able to be easily installed and accessed after installation.

Because of that, you might want to think about buying an HOB filter, which is classified as a hang on back filter. I’ve created this complete guide that can help you choose what type of HOB filter would best work for your purposes, since it contains both helpful buying information as well as reviews of the five best HOB filters on the market.

What is an HOB filter?

best hob filtersHang on back filters are the most common types of aquarium filters because they’re simple to install and maintain, easy to access, and they offer great mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. More specifically, they’re able to remove debris, toxic chemicals, and bacteria from your aquarium water, giving them the ability to provide the right amount of protection for your fish from infectious diseases and even death.

They offer mechanical filtration when the water passes through a filter pad that the device contains. This filter pad helps to remove the physical debris and other larger dirt particles from the water. Next, hang on back filters offer chemical filtration when the water then flows through a carbon filtering system, which involves removing other smaller particles from the water that the mechanical filtration wasn’t able to remove. For instance, the chemical filtering system included within hang on back filters is able to remove both toxins and chemicals from the water.

Lastly, the hand on back filter is able to offer biological filtering within the cartridge. Biological filtering is important because it deals with beneficial bacteria forming and dispersing throughout the tank, thus benefiting the tank by removing excess ammonia and other types of negative substances.

Just as the name suggests, hang on back filters are responsible for hanging on the back of the aquarium, which is beneficial because they don’t require difficult installation processes, and they can even be easily accessed after they’ve been installed. Because of that, you can easily change out the cartridge in the filter and clean the filter itself. These filters’ location is also beneficial because you don’t have to worry about the device taking away from the beauty of the tank, since they’re installed in the rear part of the tank, which is barely visible from the front perspective.

Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a hob filter


Tank size

You should consider what size your aquarium is when you’re choosing an HOB filter, since you’ll want a device that’s able to filter the proper amount of water within an adequate amount of time. More specifically, you can find the most adequate HOB filters for your tank size by referencing the water flow rate that each filter offers. The water flow rate is classified as the amount of water that the device is able to filter, and it’s usually measured in gallons per hour.

If you don’t have an HOB filter that’s able to filter through enough water quickly, then the device essentially won’t be able to keep up, resulting in a greater chance of there being more dirt, debris, and other harmful elements within the tank’s water. Most effective filters have the ability to filter through all of their tank’s water at least twice per hour, but obviously the more filtering that the device conducts, the better.

Type of media

It’s also important that you consider what type of media each HOB filter is able to offer. The filtering media is defined as the type of material or padding that the unfiltered water travels through, so having a high quality media is beneficial, since it’s responsible for collecting the unwanted elements from the water. The most basic type of filtering media are a sponge material, since they’re easy to clean and cheap.

To offer more effective and precise filtering methods, you have the ability to purchase sponge filter media that’s covered in activated carbon. This is able to offer an even more adequate filtering, since it removes more elements than simply physical debris and mechanical filtration. Aside from sponge media, there are also ceramic rings, and bio-media, which are also able to offer more than simply mechanical filtering, thus creating a healthier and cleaner environment for your fish.

Types of filtration methods

Perhaps one of the most important factors that you should consider before purchasing an HOB filter is the type of filtration processes that the device is able to offer. The best filters are able to offer all three types of filtering process, including mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. But there are some filters on the market that are more basic and cheaply-made that they’re unable to provide all three filtration processes.

Most HOB filters are able to offer all three methods, but it’s still important that you make sure that each specific device is able to perform adequate filtering capabilities.

 Before checking out our comparison of the best hob filters, have a look at this interesting video on how to make the perfect hang-on-back filter:

Comparison of the Best HOB Filters


1. Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter

You’re highly recommended to check out this HOB filter because you have the ability to choose between how many gallons you want the device to filter through, which helps you customize the filter to fit your aquarium specifically. For instance, you have the ability to choose between devices from Penn Plax that have a GPH of 20, 80, 100, 150, 200, or 300.

In addition to each of these benefits, you’re also recommended to check out this device because it features a revolutionary Bio-Falls Quad-Filtration system that’s able to provide excellent biological filtration specifically. For instance, this device releases anaerobic bacteria to remove excess ammonia and nitrates from the water. It even features an activated carbon cartridge that can remove some of the smallest elements, including chemicals, toxins, odors, and discoloration.


  • Features an adjustable flow knob
  • Includes a quad-filtration system as well as an activated carbon cartridge
  • Contains an internal sponge to colonize beneficial bacteria


  • Previous customers complain that it’s not produced with high quality material

2. Aqueon QuietFlow LED Pro Aquarium Power Filter

This Aqueon power filter is highly suggested for you because it’s able to offer three types of filtration, including mechanical, chemical, and biological filtering processes. Not only that, but this filter can even filter more than the traditional three processes, since it comes with specialty filter pads to offer additional assistance. This filter also has self-priming features, since it can automatically start filtering water even after it’s been turned off for cleaning purposes.

Furthermore, this HOB filter is equipped with an LED indicator that is responsible for lighting up when the cartridge needs replaced. Additionally, it also comes with an internal pump design that limits the amount of noise that occurs when the pump is operating. This internal pump design even helps with eliminating leaks from occurring, so it offers more protection from the surrounding equipment and furniture around the fish tank.


  • LED light indicates when the filter’s cartridge needs changed
  • Self-priming
  • Offers extra filtration in addition to the three main methods of filtering


  • More expensive than some other HOB power filters

3. MarineLand Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filter

You should consider purchasing this HOB filter because it’s extremely affordable and offers all three types of filtration processes. Not only that, but this filtering system is equipped with convenient Penguin Rite Size cartridges that you can use for the first few changes of the filter, preventing you from having to purchase separate ones immediately after buying the device.

Moreover, this MarineLand HOB power filter is easy to install, and its actual device enclosure is smaller than most other types of HOB filters on the market, protecting the natural appearance of the aquarium.


  • Affordable
  • Uses a Rite-Size A” Filter cartridge
  • Comes with filter cartridges for the first few changes


  • Not suitable for large aquariums, since it only filters 100 GPH

4. Tetra Whisper EX Silent Multi-Stage Aquarium Power Filter

The Tetra Whisper Silent Multi-Stage Aquarium Power Filter is suggested for you to check out because you have the ability to choose between the certain water flow rate that the device has, which helps you customize the filter for your specific tank size. More specifically, you have the ability to choose between 10-20 gallons, 20-30 gallons, 30-45 gallons, and even 45-70 gallons. Additionally, this filter is suitable for large-sized aquariums, since it’s equipped with two large carbon filters.

This HOB filter also uses large Whisper EX carbon filters that give the device the ability to quietly operate and remove the unwanted elements from the aquarium’s water. This device also requires no assembly, since it’s ready to use right out of the box when you first receive the product.


  • Uses two large carbon filters
  • Quiet operation
  • Requires no assembly


  • More expensive than most other HOB filters on the market

5. Fluval C Power Filter

You’re advised to check out this Fluval HOB filter because it features five different stages of filtration for your aquarium. For instance, this device offer two stages of mechanical filtering, one chemical stage, and two stages of biological filtration. This device is able to filter through 153 gallons of water per hour, so it’s suitable for both larger and smaller aquariums.

Furthermore, this Fluval device comes with a cleaning indicator that flashes when it’s time for the polyfoam to be cleaned. Given that, you can simply remove the polyfoam media and then rinse it in order to clean the device.


  • Offers 5 different stages of filtration for top performance
  • Suitable for both small and large tanks, since it filters 153 GPH
  • Contains a cleaning indicator


  • External filtering pump, so it may be louder when operating


Overall, each of these HOB filters is able to offer your aquarium a wide variety of benefits, including the ability to adequately remove all of the dirt, debris as well as the other unwanted elements from your fish tank. Not only that, but each of these devices is able to fit easily and be installed on the back portion of your aquarium, which allows you to have easy access to the filter while also not taking away from the natural beauty of the tank overall.

Given the variety of beneficial features included within each HOB filter, it can be difficult to choose the best HOB filter for your specific needs. That’s why you’re most recommended to purchase product #1: Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter. This filter is classified as the best HOB filter because not only is it affordable, but it’s also available in a wide range of different sizes, and it features a quad-filtration system.

In addition to that, this Penn Plax filter contains an activated carbon cartridge filter that offers excellent filtering services. It’s also equipped with an adjustable flow knob that gives you the ability to adjust how fast you want the filter to push the filtered water back into the tank. Given these benefits, you should purchase the Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter on the market.

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