We totally understand – you want your fish tank to be an oasis of calm, a serene place to relax in a sanctuary of color, movement, and life.
But you can’t get that if your fish tank is making constant noise, and the most common culprit of a noisy fish tank is the filter.
We know how important it is that you find a quiet filter to enjoy your aquarium at its best, so, in this guide, we’re going to help you find the perfect solution.
Fluval 07 Series Performance Canister Filter for Aquarium
- Powerful motor generates constant pumping power and pressure that endures over time and re-engineered, precision-crafted pump runs up to 25% quieter than previous generation
- Energy-efficient – some 07 series filters draw as little energy as a single household LED lightbulb
The Fluval 07 Series Canister Filters are the latest range from Fluval and are the best-selling canister filter in the world. With new technological innovations, this series is 25% quieter than previous models (which were already pretty quiet!).
The range comes in 4 sizes: 107, 207, 307, and 407, which are suitable for tank sizes of up to 30, 45, 70, and 100 gallons respectively.
Fluval has worked hard to reduce the energy consumption of their filters, so these models now only use between 10 and 23 watts of electricity, saving you money on your bill every year.
Mechanical innovations for a quieter performance include sound-dampening impeller shaft supports, a diamond-polished alumina shaft, and enlarged rubber feet stabilizers.
The only downsides with canister filters are that they’re more expensive and a little bit more fiddly to set up and clean. With a bit of practice, however, you’ll get the hang of it, and they only need cleaning every 1-3 months rather than every 2-3 weeks!
One last note – Fluval offers a 3-year warranty with this filter that can be extended by a further 2 years if you register your purchase within 30 days.
They’re clearly confident that their products will last!
Things we like:
- Outstanding design and innovations from a leading brand.
- Very quiet and very efficient leaves water crystal clear.
- Up to a 5-year warranty speaks volumes for the quality of workmanship.
Things we don’t:
- Canister filters are more expensive & are maybe not worthwhile for smaller tanks.
- Only mechanical flow control, rather than electric, as found on other premium models.
Aqueon Quietflow Canister Filter
The Aqueon Quietflow Canister Filter comes in three sizes: for tanks up to 55 gallons, 55-100 gallons, and 100-155 gallons.
This canister filter has scored extremely well in customer reviews rating the noise level. Any noise that does occur can be further dampened by better sealing the unit inside a cabinet under the aquarium.
The filter also scores highly for its efficiency in cleaning the water and is cheaper than many other canister filters on the market.
On the minus side, the filter is lacking some features for easy maintenance.
The absence of a priming pump means that you need to fill up the filter manually every time you clean it, and the total cleaning and reinstallation can take up to one hour.
The unit comes with a 1-year warranty.
Things we like:
- One of the quietest aquarium filters on the market.
- Very good cleaning performance.
- Cheaper than other canister filters.
Things we don’t:
- Clumsy design makes cleaning a lengthy process.
- 1-year warranty is rather short for a canister filter.
Seachem Tidal Power HOB Aquarium Filter – 35 Gallon Large Fish Tank Filter
- SURFACE SKIMMER: The surface skimmer on the Tidal Power Filter will capture the water from just below the surface, where excreted fish oils accumulate, as well as deeper in the tank to remove floating debris.
- ADJUSTABLE INTAKE FLOW: With Tidal’s dual intake, it pulls water in through the telescoping pipe below the surface and at the surface through the surface skimmer. Easily adjust how much flow comes from the underwater intake pipe versus the surface skimmer with the intake flow dial.
Seachem Tidal Power Filters are a series of hang-on-back filters for larger tanks of between 35-110 gallons. Sadly, they don’t offer any smaller models for aquarists with nano tanks.
These top-of-the-range hang-on-back filters are extremely efficient and versatile, and they’re our top pick out of the hang-on-back filters because they’re extremely quiet, beating all other hang-on-back filters for ‘noise level’ rating.
As with all hang-on-backs, you still need to make sure that your water is at the correct level and that the filter is cleaned regularly, without air bubbles inside to maintain quiet operation.
But with all of those boxes ticked, most customers report that this is a very quiet filter.
The unit also comes with a 3-year warranty that can be extended to 5 years with registration – very impressive for a hang-on-back filter!
Things we like:
- Excellent hang-on-back filter for crystal-clear water
- Very quiet operation when everything is prepared properly
- Up to 5-year warranty!
Things we don’t:
- More expensive than other HOBs
- Needs cleaning more often that a canister filter
Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filter, Size 10
This extremely popular series of power filters from Aqueon cover a range of tank sizes between 10 – 50 gallons. The manufacturers are so confident that it’s a quiet filter, they even named it after this desirable trait!
But how quiet is the QuietFlow series in reality? The answer is: variable.
While some fishkeepers will tell you that this unit is almost silent in operation, others have reported significant noise that has even prevented them from sleeping.
It still makes our list, because the majority of fishkeepers seem fairly satisfied by how quiet this hang-on-back is, but, as with any cheaper filter, the quality will always be variable as the parts aren’t as reliable as more premium models.
The LED light that indicates when you need to change the filter is also rather unreliable, often not corresponding with the real condition of the filter.
On the plus side, this 3-stage filter series is extremely affordable, does a great job at clearing the water, and is suitable for nano tanks of 10-gallon capacity.
Things we like:
- Unbeatable price.
- Efficient filtration.
- Suitable for smaller tanks.
Things we don’t:
- Unreliable parts mean noises can occur.
- LED light feature is misleading.
What To Look For In Quiet Aquarium Filters
There are several factors to consider when searching for a quiet filter – let’s take a look at some of them here.
Two Kinds of Aquarium Filters
The two kinds of aquarium filters that we’ve focused on in our guide are canister filters and hang-on-back filters.
As we discussed in our article on the best filters for large tanks, Canister filters are the Rolls Royce of aquarium filters.
These large, powerful units are much too large to hang on the back of the tank and are instead stowed away under the aquarium – often in some sort of cabinet or closet.
Being larger means that canister filters can hold much more filter media than smaller types of filters and therefore clean the water more efficiently.
Because of this extra cleaning power, canister filters can handle higher bio-loads than any other filter type. This is especially useful when dealing with overstocked fish tanks or specialist pets like turtles that create a lot of mess.
But canister filters also have an extra advantage when it comes to sound issues.
Modern canister filters are engineered to be quiet, and since they are stored away under the aquarium, the noise can be further reduced or even eliminated by a tight-fitting cabinet and extra sound insulation.
Canister filters tend to be much more expensive than other types of filters, though – you have to pay for all that extra efficiency and quietness!
Hang-on-back filters do just what they say and hang on the back wall of your aquarium, outside your tank.
With pipes that run in and out of the water, they take water in, process it through a series of filter media chambers, then return it to the tank via the output tube.
Hang-On-Back Filters tend to be easy to install, clean, and maintain, and so are great for beginners. Being outside of the tank, they also don’t occupy precious aquarium space as internal power filters do.
They’re also much cheaper than canister filters.
Hang-On-Back filters aren’t always renowned for being quiet though! The return water flow can cause splashing in the water, and the filter impellers can sometimes get noisy.
Sometimes, loose plastic housing can rattle when the filter is running.
Despite manufacturers’ claims for ‘silent operation’, cheaper models often don’t live up to the promises. Cheap parts come loose too easily, and, when they do, you’ll get all sorts of inevitable rattles and hums.
If you’re looking for a hang-on-back filter that you can rely on to be quiet, you’ll need to be looking at the more premium models.
Other Filter Types
Other types of filters that didn’t make our list of best quiet aquarium filters are sponge filters, internal power filters, and undergravel filters.
Sponge filters are powered by air pumps that produce bubbles. As you’ll know, bubbles make noise, and air pumps aren’t always without their own buzzing and vibrating sounds too!
If you don’t mind the noise though, gentle sponge filters may be the best option for very small tanks that are less than 10 gallons in size.
Internal power filters, without any additional air input, can indeed be fairly quiet. But, because the water usually flows entirely underwater, there’s less mixing of water and air, and oxygen levels can become less than ideal for many fish.
If you add an air intake, internal filters will produce bubbles, which produce more dissolved oxygen but also more noise.
Undergravel filters are usually considered a rather obsolete technology these days and have been supplanted by more effective filter types. They are also usually run by an air pump with the noisy operation that we’ve already mentioned.
Quieter Isn’t Necessarily Better!
When searching for the ultimate quiet filter, don’t just jump for the quietest model you can find.
There are many other factors to consider when buying a filter, such as how effectively it will clean the water, how strong the current will be for your type of fish, how easy it is to maintain and clean, and how often you’ll have to do so.
Take a close look at each of our product descriptions, and FAQs, and read the specifications carefully to understand if it’s going to be the right filter for you.
How To Reduce Noise In Your Aquarium Filter
The main reasons that your filter is making a noise are 1) Splashing 2) Impeller Noise 3) Loose Filter Housing. Let’s take a look at how to correct some of those problems.
How To Reduce Splashing From a Fish Tank Filter
Hang-on-back and Canister filters typically return water to the fish tank just above the water’s surface, to increase the contact time between air and water.
But while this can improve dissolved oxygen levels in the water, it can also create noisy splashing if not done correctly.
The primary solution to this problem is to have the aquarium water topped up to the right level. If your tank is full, the return flow from your filter should trickle back into the tank without splashing or the sound of a constant waterfall in your house!
How To Reduce Noise From a Noisy Impeller
A filter’s impeller is the rotating component that propels water through the filter. But, as you can imagine, impellers do a lot of work and can get worn or loose with time, especially if they’re made from cheap materials.
If your impeller is making noise, check it over for any signs of wear or damage. If you find any, see if you can get the manufacturer to replace the faulty part (this is where long-term warranties come in handy!).
If your impeller shows no obvious signs of wear, try lubricating the shaft with vaseline or any other type of petroleum jelly.
I can attest that this method saved me what would have otherwise been sleepless nights from a noisy filter!
How To Reduce Noise From Loose Filter Lids and Loose Filter Housing
The other common complaint from fishkeepers suffering from a noisy filter is rattling sounds coming from their filter’s plastic housing.
Cheaper brands often use low-spec, thin plastic to house their filters which can often be a little loose, even when new. Hang-on-back filter lids are a common culprit for noise!
Luckily these lids are often expendable, so many fish keepers simply remove them to do away with the excessive noise.
Other solutions could include finding a way to clamp your lid or plastic housing tighter to the body of the filter or sending back any parts that are clearly faulty to the manufacturer.
How To Reduce the Overall Noise From a Fish Tank
Whether it’s a noisy impeller, rattling housing, or even an aquarium heater that makes a noise every time the thermostat clicks on, there’s one last trick that can help reduce the overall noise coming from your fish tank – and that’s a rubber mat placed under the tank.
Rubber mats are sometimes included with new aquariums and not only reduce the vibrations that carry disturbing noises into the room, but also provide the tank with a degree of extra padding and stability.
Quiet Filter FAQs
What Is the Noise Coming From My Fish Tank?
Filters are the most likely cause of noise in an aquarium, and we’ve given some great tips for how to reduce noise in the section above.
Other sources of noise could be a heater that buzzes when it’s switched on, air pumps and bubbles, or on rare occasions, even a squeaking fish!
Are There Any Silent Aquarium Filters?
Set up properly, without any trapped bubbles, and placed inside a cabinet, a good canister filter is near enough silent.
The two canister filters on our list are exceptionally quiet and some users have reported being concerned that the filter wasn’t working because the function was completely silent.
If your canister filter isn’t as quiet as you want it to be, check it for air bubbles, and consider placing foam or other types of sound insulation around the unit.
How Many Gallons per Hour Do I Need for My Fish Tank?
As a rule of thumb, your filter needs to cycle four times the total volume of water in your tank every hour.
So if you have a 10-gallon tank, you’ll need a filter that can handle 40 gallons per hour, or, if you have a 100-gallon tank, you’ll need a 400 GPH filter.
What Is 3-stage Filtration?
There’s a lot of technical jargon thrown around when it comes to talking about fish tank filters.
3-stage filtration simply refers to the mechanical filtration, biological filtration, and chemical filtration stages that clean the water on its way through the various chambers of the filter.
You can learn more about the 3 stages in our article on the Best Aquarium Filter For Larger Tanks.
Our Top Picks
If you’re looking for the ultimate quiet filter for a medium-large tank, then I’d highly recommend the Fluval 07 Series Performance Canister Filter Series.
Canister filters are the all-around ultimate filter solution for their efficiency, longevity, and quiet operation.
What makes this series especially good are the new innovations in noise reduction technology and the compact design which makes it easy to fit into a sound-proofed cabinet under the fish tank.
What’s more, Fluval also offers a 5-year warranty upon registering the product – which just goes to show that this filter was made to last.
To go ahead and get your hands on a premium Fluval 07 series canister filter for tanks between 10-100 gallons, click here.
For a high-quality, lower-cost hang-on-back filter that is also relatively quiet, check out the Seachem Tidal Power Filter Series here.