Best Canister Filter For Saltwater Aquarium[ Reviews & Buyers Guide]

Saltwater fish are always more beautiful, and the environment is also unique. But saltwater, by its chemical characteristics, is hard to maintain. Moreover, freshwater equipment, especially filters, falter with seawater. Thus you need to find the best canister filter for saltwater aquarium.

Best Canister Filter For Saltwater Aquarium

Now, you don’t need to scour the internet for that. We have don’t that for you. Here we have the reviews of the top five saltwater canister filters. We have marked their highlights for your ease.

There is also a buying guide for canister filters. All in all, you have a total value package here. Now, you just have to scroll down and read the article.

Best Salt Water Canister Filter List

Here are the five products we have chosen from the sea of possibilities-

  • Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter- Customizable and versatile canister filter- Highly effective filter for saltwater aquarium
  • Sunsun Hw304B 525GPH Pro Canister Filter Kit with 9-watt UV Sterilizer- Best value saltwater canister filter
  • Fluval FX4High Performance Aquarium Canister Filter- High-tech smart saltwater canister filter
  • Marineland Multi-Stage Canister Filter for Aquariums, C-Series- Best saltwater canister filter for beginners
  • EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media- A time tested saltwater canister filter

Below are the details of this product

Best Saltwater Canister Filter Reviews

Here are five reviews of the best saltwater canister filters. We have mentioned all the goods and bads along with the details of the saltwater canister filters.

1. Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter

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  • UV sterilizer kills algae and harmful bacteria
  • Very quiet
  • Customizable filtration media and system
  • Versatile
  • Stylish
  • Compact design

It is a small compact machine that does everything you want seawater canister filters to do and more. It has three models with a few different features. Here is a table describing some of the details of those models.

ModelFlow raten(GPH)nCapacityUVFiltrationFine filter pads
CF-300 non UV26420-75 gallons
CF- 400UV37075-125 gallons9 watt3+13
CF- 500UV525Up to 175 gallons9 watt4+14

Inside the filter, you will have compartments where you can place the media of your choice. Because all aquatic needs are not the same. We have mentioned the white fine filter pads of the configuration of different models in the table. However, all of them will have a single blue coarse filter sponge.
As you can see, you will only have UV sterilizers with the two larger options. Alongside that, you will have all the necessary equipment for installation and maintenance.

The sponges take care of mechanical filtration. For other filtration, you can add activated carbon, ceramic rings, and even bio balls. This will give you the best protection.

A thing that I didn’t like in the filter that, after taking it apart, I noticed the O-rings and impellers are not glued. So, it could reduce the longevity of the product.

2. Sunsun Hw304B 525GPH Pro Canister Filter Kit with 9-watt UV Sterilizer

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  • Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater
  • Customizable media
  • Four baskets and 1 UV
  • For medium to larger tanks
  • High flow rate
  • Self-priming pump

There are no variations of this product. Just this one is ready to cater to a unique class of customers who are sure about their purchase. And if you are not, you are gonna be after reading this saltwater canister filter review.

You can use it with big tanks ranging up to 150 gallons. And the flow rate is going to be 525 GPH. Like most of our filters in this saltwater canister filter list, it has customization options. You can play with your chemical and biofilters. Activated carbon is also a good option.

And as you can see in the name, it has an (-watt UV sterilizer. This feature lets you have perfectly clean water eliminating all the algae spores and harmful bacteria. There is no need for manual siphoning for the 55-watt self-priming pump.

Here are the contents of the package other than the versatile canister filter itself-

  • 1lb of Premium Filter Carbon
  • 1lb of Ceramic Rings
  • 1 Set of Bio Balls

And if you are taking the pro kit, you will also have-

  • Four white filter pads
  • A blue filter pads
  • Four media baskets

These features are enough o make any filter bad. However, it is a little on the larger side, and the priming process might be a bit complicated.

RELATED POST:  The Sunsun Canister Filter Review in 2020

3. Fluval FX4High Performance Aquarium Canister Filter

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  • Sleek and stylish look
  • Restarts every 12 hours
  • 5-stage filtration
  • Monitors and optimizes pump performance
  • Removable baskets
  • Ideal for up to 1000 liters or 250 US gallons
  • Made in Italy

In this small bucket, there are five stages of filtration. These baskets are all removable and customizable. Moreover, their baskets are designed to fit in a tiny space giving you a compact design. And the media space is also more than enough.

One of its special features is the periodical restart to purge all the air out every 12 hours. This refreshes all the mechanisms and rejuvenates the electronics.

Another cool feature is the multistage filter that can give an output of 2650 liters or 700 US gallons per hour. There is also a microchip that monitors and optimizes pump performance.

You will have everything, including different media like carbon and ammo chip. However, there won’t be any chemical filters in the package. Along with the biological, ceramic, and mechanical filters you will have-

  • Aqua-Stop valves positioned at 45-degree angle
  • Multidirectional output nozzle
  • Utility valve with drain hose
  • Anti-clog, telescopic strainer

With these accessories, the filter becomes very convenient to work with. The valves have leak fit attachments.

If you want smart performance from your canister filter, this is what you need for your aquariums. However, for a canister filter, this high-tech, a UV sterilizer was a must. But they didn’t have that here.

Read our Complete Review HERE >>> Fluval Canister Filter

4. Marineland Multi-Stage Canister Filter for Aquariums, C-Series

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  • Three-stage filtration
  • Stackable trays
  • Suitable for saltwater, freshwater, and reef fish
  • Good for plants, Cichlids, and Oscars.
  • Easy storage and maintenance
  • Available in four sizes
  • Child safety key
  • Durable structure

One of the best things about Marineland is that they don’t overrate their filters. So, they keep their promises. If you are just getting into the hobby, then this is a decent filter that you can rely on.

In the C-series, you have four types of products suited for different situations. Here is a table that makes it easy to understand the feature matrix-

ProductFlow rate (GPH)Space clearanceMazimum aquarium size (gallons)

It gives you biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration. There is no by-pass option here. And the bio-balls effectively kill only the harmful bacteria. The mechanical and chemical trays give you impurity and odor-free water. It also treats discoloration.
It is generally used for medium to large size tanks. With the thick hard plastic body, it gives you a durable performance all of its life. Inside the body, you have four stackable trays giving you the multi-stage filtration.

However, this intricate mechanism is not hard to setup. Furthermore, you will have a DVD to guide you through the process. The only products you have to change monthly are-

  • Activated carbon
  • Polishing pads

Cleaning it is effortless. The small maintenance requirement makes this good for busy enthusiasts.

5. EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media

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  • Can be sued for up to 95 gallons
  • Inlet and outlet measurement are 12/16mm
  • The flow rate is 164 GPH
  • Great filtration
  • All of the accessories included

This canister filter houses all the intricate filtration mechanisms inside a basic looking design. It has filter sponges and filter media. These media are Eheim mech and substrat pro.

With these, the filter ensures biological, mechanical, chemical, and absorption filtration capabilities. All of these give you the best filtration in the budget.

You can get this filter in three sizes. They are-

  • 40 gallons
  • 66 gallons
  • 92 gallons

Manufactures also gave it a sealing ring made of permo-elastic silicon so that you can safely open and close the head. Along with the saltwater canister filter, you will have the following accessories-

  • Spray bar
  • Inlet pipe
  • Hose
  • Installation accessories

This reduces your cost of ownership further. You can use them with quite large tanks. The maximum capacity is 95 gallons. The flow rate of 164 GPH is also remarkable and enables you to use it for a large community.

However, I have to say that the installation instruction is not very eloquent, and the product itself doesn’t look that ugly. But the small stature helps you to keep it away from sight.

Saltwater Canister Filter Buying Guide

Instead of giving you the fish, we are teaching you how to catch. Not that the products we reviewed are unworthy, but people can have a different choice. So, here we are trying to make those choices more informative.

Follow the instructions below to find the best saltwater canister filter.

Saltwater Vs. Freshwater filter

This is the first thing you want to make sure. Freshwater filters won’t work with saltwater. But saltwater filters will work with freshwater. Saltwater is corrosive, and it is tougher to handle the environment of the aquarium. So, if you don’t have a dedicated saltwater filter, you shouldn’t be continuing with your project.

Flow rate

This tells you the speed of filtration of the canister filter. You have to give a good concentration on this information, as this is the most important input in your filter calculations.

The rate will generally be shown in gallons per hour. It is US gallons. You can easily convert them into liters. And always take more filtration capability than you actually need.

Multistage filtration

This is a no brainer that you need multiple stages of filters. However, some special filters might qualify to pass this restriction. But that is only for the experts.

Customizable media option

There are various media options available. Their main categories are-

  • Biological media filter
  • Mechanical media filter
  • Chemical media filter
  • Ceramic media filter

All of them should be usable in your filter. Moreover, they should be customizable as well. Generally, in canister filters, some trays or baskets lets you alter the amount and type of filter media you want in your filter. There should also be the freedom to choose filter pads.

UV sterilizer

If you are getting a smart saltwater canister filter, it should have a UV sterilizer. It helps to clear algae spores and other microbial substances. It is also good for the underwater environment. Look for a 9-watt sterilizer.

Tank measurement

Every filter will give you recommended tank measurements. Always take one which is in the range of your tank.

Quiet operation

Cheaply manufactured canister filters can make a lot of noise. And that noise means vibration, which reduces the longevity of the product.

Special features

Filters that are on top of the food chain will give you some special features. If you are spending a good amount, then you should care about these benefits too. Some of them are-

  • Auto-refresh after a particular time
  • Child lock
  • Self-priming pump
  • Heat management

There could be innovations in filters as well.

Setup and installation

For beginners, saltwater canister filter installation can be a little tricky. You might be missing out on a lot of cool features. So, your setup and maintenance guide should be very clear and well communicated. And all the necessary parts should come with the machine. Along with that, you should also have a minimal amount of media.


Here are a few questions that might come to the mind of some enthusiastic aquarists.

  1. What kinds of filters should I take for my African cichlid?

A: African cichlid always needs more purified water. So take double the filtration capacity. If you have a 125-gallon tank, take something around 250 gallons. From our reviews, you can take the Fluval FX-4.

  1. Is overkill in filtration a problem?

A: If you are using the correct the media then overkill shouldn’t be a problem. However, overspending is never a good thing. So, better plan a bit.

  1. Will the filter media create good bacteria?

A: No, the media are not supposed to do that. However, they won’t reduce the number of beneficial bacteria.

  1. Will any of these filters control the temperature of the water?

A: It is a feature that I would love to see in the filters, but none of our filters have that capability.

  1. Do freshwater filters work with saltwater?

A: No, they don’t. But the opposite happens.


I know choosing with this much information in the head could be a bit tricky. So, focus on the tank capacity and flow rate first. These are the primary markers that you want to focus on.

But if you are still confused, you can go for the Aquatop CF Series Canister Filter. It is undoubtedly one of the best filter for saltwater aquarium.

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