Best HOB Filter for Aquarium – 5 Hang On Back Filter Reviews, FAQs, Guide & More

HOB filters are one of the most popular types of filters and you’ll agree with us that with so many brands coming out with HOB filters, it can be quite difficult to choose one that’s most suitable for you. 

Keeping this in mind, we tested all popular HOB filters we could find to bring you this extensive list. 

Today, we’ll discuss the benefits of having a HOB filter in your aquarium and what qualities you should be looking for while buying one. 

Top Pick

Coming with superior filter media and a built-in pump, this product showcases consistent performance while using a very low amount of electricity consistently.

Runner Up

Appropriate for all kinds of aquariums, this product is filled with features that ensure your fish are living in a healthy environment including a surface skimmer.

Also Great

Coming in many sizes, this filter operates so quietly, you’d think it hasn’t been turned on properly. It’s very simple to assemble and requires very little maintenance overall as well.

After months of testing, we’ve concluded these three HOB filters to be at the top of their game. 

Now, let’s get into the detailed reviews for the top 5 best HOB filters.

Best HOB Filters - Best 5 Reviews

1. Overall Best HOB Filter - Aqua Clear Fish Tank Filter Review

This HOB filter is designed to be as versatile as possible. It can be mounted onto all sorts of aquariums such as freshwater, saltwater and coral reef aquariums. We tested this on a number of different aquariums and it gave an impressive performance on every one of them. 

Not only is it effective, but it’s also designed to utilize power very efficiently so it doesn’t drive up your electricity bill. 

The design of the filter is intuitive so you will have no trouble setting it up or using it. 

It’s well-built to last you a very long time and it even comes with a 2-year warranty so you can rest easy and let it operate without a care.

Features of Aqua Clear Fish Tank Filter – Best HOB Filter

  1. Comes in a variety of sizes
  2. Appropriate for aquariums up to 110 gallons
  3. Filtration media included
  4. Comes with a 2-year warranty
  5. Energy-efficient
  • Durable
  • Lightweight for its size
  • Low-maintenance
  • Easy to use
  • Easy installation
  • Noisier than its competitors

If you’re looking for a filter that operates well in a variety of aquariums and does it while utilizing very little electricity, you’ve just found it. It’s incredibly versatile and very easy to handle.

2. Best HOB Filter with Ventilation Slots - Seachem Tidal Power Filter Review

The Seachem Tidal Power Filter is a relatively new filter that’s come out into the market and it thoroughly wowed us with its incredible performance. The surface skimmer does a wonderful job of cleaning out any large particles floating in the aquarium and it even fixes algae problems if you happen to have them. 

The ventilation slots do a great job of aerating the aquarium and making sure it’s well-oxygenated. 

Along with all these features, you’ll be pleased to know that the filter operates very silently and does not disturb you or your fish in the slightest.

Features of Seachem Tidal Power Filter

  1. Available for aquariums of three sizes: 55 gallons, 75 gallons and 110 gallons
  2. Ventilation slots for aeration
  3. Surface skimmer for capturing debris
  4. Adjustable flow rate
  5. Works in both saltwater and freshwater environments
  • Sleek and attractive appearance
  • Lightweight
  • Highly sturdy
  • Operates very quietly
  • Does not require manual priming
  • The filtration basket clogs quite easily
  • No sizes available for smaller aquariums

If you want an aesthetically pleasing filter that would look great on any aquarium, this is the product you’re looking for. It’s not all style and no substance since this product filters aquariums very effectively as well.

3. Best Affordable HOB Filter for Aquariums - MarineLand Penguin Review

The Marineland Penguin filter is a HOB filter that can work perfectly for both beginners fishkeepers as well as veteran aquarists. 

It comes with a well-built, well-thought-out design that is not only easy to assemble but is also very simple to use. You’ll find that you’ll have this filter up and running in no time without even having to refer to the instruction manual that comes with it. 

The filtration media that is provided with it is excellent and does a great job of effectively filtering your aquarium water. 

It also does all this very quietly so you can rest assured that it won’t disturb or cause any stress in your fish.

Features of MarineLand Penguin

  1. Available in four sizes
  2. Appropriate for aquariums between 1 gallon to 70 gallons
  3. Uses Rite-Size filter cartridges
  4. Works for both freshwater and saltwater aquariums
  5. Two-piece vented cover
  • Easy to operate
  • Easy to assemble
  • Quiet operation
  • Durable
  • Inexpensive
  • Requires more regular cleaning than its competitors

If you’re running low on cash but still want to provide your fish with effective cleaning, this product is definitely for you. It may be cheaper than its competitors but it provides the same level of performance, if not better.

4. Best Low-Maintenance HOB Filter for Fish Tanks - Fluval C Power Filter Review

This filter comes with a large surface area that helps it filter water at a very efficient rate. The adjustable flow rate ensures that you’re able to get the appropriate flow rate for your aquarium that adequately filters your tank water while not disturbing your fish. 

It’s well-designed to be inconspicuous so even if you don’t hide it with ornaments or plants, it still looks wonderful mounted on your aquarium. 

This filter is specifically designed with delicate fish in mind so it operates and creates waves that are gentle. The waves it creates are right in that sweet spot where they are strong enough for stimulation in fish but also not strong enough to be stressful for them.

Features of Fluval C Power Filter

  1. Available in sizes appropriate for aquariums of sizes 30 gallons, 50 gallons and 70 gallons
  2. Built-in cleaning indicator
  3. Comes with filtration media and all necessary tubing
  4. Sleek, streamlined design
  5. Controllable flow rate
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to install
  • Incredibly lightweight and easy to handle
  • Long-lasting
  • Low power consumption
  • Tricky to clean

If you’re worried about your fragile fish being harmed due to your aquarium’s filter then this is the product you’re looking for. It’s extremely energy-efficient and works to protect sensitive fish while also stimulating them.

5. Best Self-Priming HOB Filter for Fish Tanks - Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filter Review

This lovely filter works incredibly silently and the amount of water it’s able to filter in a short amount of time is astounding. 

It has a self-priming pump which is very convenient so you don’t have to prime it every time after cleaning, maintenance or power outages. 

The internal pump is well-designed in order to help eliminate any noise during operation and it’s also very resistant to leaks. 

The LED indicator is also quite convenient so you don’t have to constantly check whether the filter needs cleaning or not. The LED indicator does that for you and starts flashing whenever the filtration basket gets clogged.

Features of Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filter

  1. Available in many different sizes
  2. Appropriate for aquariums between 1 gallon and 75 gallons
  3. Self-priming
  4. Lifetime warranty
  5. LED indicator for cleaning
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to mount
  • Simple operation
  • Works silently
  • Budget-friendly
  • Seems more flimsy than its competitors

If you’re frustrated due to aquarium filters making too much noise then this product is ideal for you. With silent operation and incredible performance at such a reasonable price, this product is a great option for all kinds of fishkeepers.

best hob filter

Buyers’ Guide

How can I tell which HOB filter is most suitable for me? 

There are many factors you can look towards and think about which can help you make your decision about which HOB filter would be best for you. Some factors to ponder over before going out to purchase a HOB filter for your aquarium are: 

  • Aquarium Size and Flow Rate

You’re going to want a HOB filter that has a flow rate which would be appropriate for the size of the aquarium you have. 

Having a filter that’s too weak for your aquarium would lead to inadequate performance. Your aquarium would be dirty and it would create an environment inside the fish tank where your fish would be oxygen-deprived and ammonia levels would rise. Ammonia is very toxic to fish. 

If you have a filter that’s too strong for your aquarium, this would lead to currents inside it that would be too strong for your fish and thus, it would cause them to be stressed. Too strong filters can also lead to fish being swept into them. This is often fatal for fish. 

If you’re not entirely sure what flow rate would be most appropriate for your aquarium, we recommend getting a filter whose flow rate can be manually adjusted.

  • Ease of Use 

A filter is a very important part of your aquarium setup and it’s essential that you get your HOB filter properly running in order to have a successful aquarium. Thus, you have to ensure that the HOB filter you get is easy to use and does not have overly complex controls. Having a filter that’s difficult to program or use can lead to frustration. You would have to spend a lot of time figuring out how to make it work properly and in some cases, you might not even be able to get it to work and then your fish would suffer.

  • Brand

As we mentioned earlier, there are a lot of brands currently manufacturing and selling HOB filters. However, not all brands manufacture high-quality filters so it’s a good idea to get your filter from a brand that is reliable and has built a reputation for itself over the years. 

How do I set up my HOB filter? 

Most HOB filters have a similar setup process that can vary slightly depending on the brand. Most brands provide you with an instruction manual that you can follow easily in order to get your HOB filter set up. Some general instructions for installing a HOB filter onto your aquarium are: 

  • Assemble your filtration media. Usually, you start with the bio wheels and then add the others. The order can vary depending on the brand so you should consult your HOB filter’s instruction manual to be sure. 
  • Next, you assemble the intake sump so it’s able to suck up water and pass it through your filtration media. 
  • Mount your filter onto your aquarium and plug it in. 
  • Make sure all wires and tubing are properly connected and then turn on your filter. Note that your aquarium should be filled with water but it should not contain any fish or plants when you first start up your HOB filter. 
  • Start your HOB filter and let it run for a few weeks in order to complete the nitrogen cycle. This process is important as it helps grow beneficial nitrifying bacteria inside your aquarium that help in biological filtration. You can identify when the nitrogen cycle is complete when the ammonia levels in your tank drop to zero. 
  • Once the nitrogen cycle is complete, your filter is fully set up and you can begin adding aquatic life to your aquarium. 

How do I clean my HOB filter? 

Here are some steps to easily clean your HOB filter: 

  • Unplug your filter and remove it from your aquarium. 
  • Remove the top lid and take out the filtration basket. You’re most likely going to find a sponge, biological media in the form of beads and a bag of carbon. 
  • Clean the beads and the sponge in a bucket using old aquarium water. Note that you should never clean filtration media with tap water as tap water contains chlorine that could kill off beneficial bacteria. 
  • The carbon bag can’t be cleaned, it has to be replaced. Usually, the carbon bag is replaced every three weeks or so. 
  • Check the motor and impeller to see if they’re clean and remove any obstructions. Add a lubricant to the motor to ensure it works smoothly. 
  • Reassemble your filter and mount it back onto your aquarium.

How does a HOB filter compare to a canister filter? 

The main difference between a HOB filter and a canister filter is that a HOB filter hangs onto an aquarium while a canister filter is mounted externally. 

Canister filters are usually harder to set up and take more effort to clean and maintain. However, they work much better than HOB filters in larger aquariums. 

So, if you have a large aquarium, you might want to invest in a canister filter but for smaller aquariums, a HOB filter is your best bet.

How does a HOB filter work?

HOB filters have a pretty simple way of operation. They suck in aquarium water and pass it through a series of membranes that filter out waste and debris and treat the water to eliminate harmful toxins from it as well. This cleaned and treated water is then pushed back into your aquarium.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What type of media should I use in my HOB filter? 

There’s usually a minimum of three different filter media in a HOB filter that do the job of mechanical, biological and chemical filtration. You can mix and match many different kinds of filter media but the important thing to keep in mind is that you should have at least one of each type of media so your filter is able to perform all three kinds of filtration. 

How do I make my HOB filter quieter? 

The most common culprit for a noisy HOB filter is usually dirt stuck in it. We recommend you unmount your HOB filter and check it for any stuck dirt inside it. Other than that, you should also check for any damaged or loose components inside it which could be making the noise.

What purpose does Purigen serve in my HOB filter? 

Purigen performs the same job that a carbon big filter medium would perform in your HOB filter. So you can replace that with Purigen that would help in the removal of ammonia from your tank along with other harmful compounds.

How often should I clean my HOB filter? 

It mostly depends on what’s going on in your aquarium. If you have a lot of fish inside your aquarium that require a lot of food, you might want to clean your filter more regularly.

As a general rule of thumb, you should check your filter every 1-2 weeks to see if it needs cleaning. As for the carbon filtration media inside your HOB filter, as we mentioned before, it needs to be replaced every 3 – 4 weeks on average.

Can I use a HOB filter in my saltwater aquarium

Yes. Most HOB filters are built to be used in both freshwater as well as saltwater aquariums. We do recommend, however, that you confirm from the manufacturer that their HOB filter can indeed handle saltwater before you install it onto your aquarium.

How do I prime my HOB filter

Tilt your HOB filter into your aquarium and let it fill with water. Once, it’s filled with water, mount it into its intended position onto your aquarium and turn it on. Let it run for a minute or so and voila, your HOB filter is now primed. 

What are the 3 types of filtration? 

The three essential forms of filtration in an aquarium are mechanical, chemical and biological. 

Mechanical filtration refers to the removal of large particles from your tank water such as debris, dirt, leftover food, etc. 

Chemical filtration is the removal of chemical additives, preserves, dyes and any other unnatural compound from your aquarium water which could be harmful to your fish. 

Biological filtration is by far the most important type of filtration in an aquarium. It refers to the breaking down of ammonia and nitrite in your aquarium into nitrate which is a lot less toxic to fish. Effective biological filtration is essential to the healthy lives of your fish and aquarium plants.

Can I have two HOB filters in one fish tank? 

You can but we strongly advise against it. When you have two filters running in an aquarium at the same time, they start to “compete” with each other and as a result, neither of the filters work to their fullest potential. This is because each filter becomes a lot less efficient due to restrictions placed on the operation of these filters due to water volume and surface area.

Should my HOB filter always be on? 

Yes. Your HOB filter should be in operation 24/7. It should never be turned off. 

How long can my fish survive without my HOB filter?

In theory, the beneficial nitrifying bacteria start dying off inside your aquarium after 30 minutes of your filter shutting off. In our experience, fish can go up to 24 hours without a filter but we strongly recommend that you get a replacement filter as soon as possible before that in case your HOB filter malfunctions. 

Final Verdict

Filters are arguably the most important part of an aquarium so it’s paramount that you find a HOB filter that works perfectly in order to ensure the good health of your aquatic life. 

After months of debate and research, we’ve decided to give the crown to the Aqua Clear Fish Tank Filter. Its performance is astoundingly impressive and it’s very easy to use and maintain. 

With that, we’re at the end of our post for the best HOB filters for aquariums.

Give us feedback and let us know what HOB filter you’re using for your fish tank.

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