Fish Tank Filter Showdown: Hang on Back Filter vs Canister Filter!

Hello Fellow Fish Keepers,
We did a video comparing sponge filter with hang on back filters. Now it’s time to look at how canister filters compare to hang on back filters!

Feel free to share your opinions in the comments section.

How we filter our fish room:

Thanks for watching!


Peter Pham says:

I go with HOB due to convenience of cleaning, basically no risk of leaks, and the risk of losing bacteria due to a power loss is smaller. Also, it’s a lot cheaper to buy something like 2 Aqueon 75s, 2 Marineland 350Bs for $70 or so. This would provide more biomedia and mechanical filtration than say a Fluval 206 which costs 2x as much as the dual filter setups I mentioned earlier. Anyway, your video is very thorough and hits the pros and cons of both!

Green Thumb Aquariums says:

Who makes that small canister filter you showed? I’ve been looking for a small one like that where the tubes are close enough to fit through a small opening.

Esteban says:

I like running an oversized HOB with sponges and fine filters to polish the water and a spongefilter as a backup to keep everything alive if the HOB were to fail and the water oxygenated. I have a small HOB that I switch between tanks to polish the water on my smaller tanks because a spongefilter doesn’t do that for me.

Eric Fialkowski says:

I use all 3 for different reasons. Canister on my 75, sponges on my shrimp & Betta tanks, HOBs on the others. Although I’m probably not going to be buying any more HOBs because I’ll just use sponges or be building a sump for my 125.

Anthony Ragan says:

I think canisters and HOBs come out about even, overall. I’m a big fan of Aquaclears, but I will note you can still get water all over if you don’t maintain the O-ring that provides the seal between the motor and the filter body. As for canisters, I plan to put mine in a bucket, just in case of leaks.

Andy's Angels says:

Sponge filters are taking over the hobby

Rudy Briskar says:

I am about to set up my first canister filter. I have a 20H so I went with a Cobalt Aquatics EXT Canister filter. It’s relatively compact and I will be mounting the pump in the tank. That way if I have a power outage the filter WILL restart whether I am there or not.

Timothy Miller says:

Thanks so much for this video. I’m setting up a cold water tank for a salmon in the schools project and this info is invaluable !

Jordan Yang says:

I kept my HOB on when upgrading to a canister cause I like how it oxygenates the water surface and it’s good to have a backup.

Triple 10 Tanks says:

I like both types depending on needs

Hobo Aquatics says:

I use both on a single tank. HOB I use mainly for water flow in the tank and mechanical filtration as well as the ease of use for adding a bag of charcoal etc on the fly.

Stealth Bobber says:

Use a canister for mechanical and bio media, then use a HOB like an aquaclear for polishing and chemical media. Easy to maintain and replenish the HOB and then the canister with bio balls or what have you is super low maintenance.

Anjelo Benedicto says:

I use trickle shower filter for my large tank and sponge filters for smaller ones.. I have never used Hob on any of my tanks before

Kekistani Freedom Fighter 01 says:

Sponge filters can’t go in an aquascape their so ugly and take so much space. HOB all the way babie!

Andy Pastuszak says:

I just replaced an Eheim 2215 with an AquaClear 110, because I HATED cleaning the filter. And I was avoiding it. Which is bad for the fish. Pro-top. Replace the impeller shaft on a AC110 with a Fluval 406 impeller shaft for much quieter operation.

SonyX64 says:

Do I’ve to add water to it every time when I switch this hang on filter turn on?

The Budget Aquarist says:

Hobs are great for smaller tanks. You get into huge tanks and you need bigger filtration. My largest tank is a 100 gallon and I still use 2, 75-gallon hob filters rather than a canister. My water is clean and my fish are healthy. But I do it because I can easily check the HOB filter media, and easily change it. Sometimes I go nuts and feed my fish some excess…just because they are my babies…and I like that I can change out the filter media in a few minutes. Good video!

Railway City Tanks St. Thomas says:

All depends on what you have in the tank and the size of the tanks

Jacob Streiff says:

Pond Guru was saying alot pf us habe undersized canister filters, if thats the case then HOB are not even an option. I suppose it depends on the bio load

redjack56 says:

All of these filters have their place in the hobby, as for choice I choose all of them. My big tank is a 210 and I currently run all of the types of filters you mentioned on it. My tank is stocked with African cichlids and they can be messy. I run 2 x lg sponge filters hidden behind my rocks, 2 x AquaClear 110’s, 1 x Aquatop CF 400 and last is my monster Eheim 2262. I love all of these filters for different reasons, however as for canisters being a pain to clean I disagree. It takes me about 30 minutes to clean my monster Eheim Classic 2262, the thing is I only have to really clean it once every 2-4 months so it’s worth it.

Shari Bice says:

Canisters…. if you don’t want to do as much maintenance than get a filter booster added on to it. This will be filled with mechanical filtration three different grades of sponges that will filter out heavy,medium and fine mulm. These filter boosters are smaller and easier to clean than the big canister filters and you can just every 6 months do maintenance on the bigger main filter if you need to. While you mechanical in the filter booster the main canister will be for biological filtration.

Curry View says:

What’s your favorite fish prime time aquatics

Rath Man says:

Hi Jason, I’ve been seeing a lot of videos with what looks like the canister outtake hung at an angle. I’ve been googling for reasons why people do that but I can’t seem to find any. Can you tell me if there’s a reason for doing that?

Longbranch Outdoors says:

Just found your channel love your content.

jbond1957 says:

Thank you for a sensible and balanced review.
Our Aqua One HOB’s (not Aqua clear) are totally silent. As a person with disabilities I find them so easy to clean even when I take to whole system apart to clean out the pipes. I have looked at canister and I know it is too difficult. I have ‘0’ Ammonia & Nitrites. We turn them off at night, fill with water, open top and Pothos in the media. The aquarium water is healthy, fish happy. Jane Sth Australia

DaggyGuins says:

What are your thoughts on nitrate conversion and the nitrogen cycle? I have a problem with understanding how anaerobic bacteria have ready access to nitrate laden water, and there effectiveness/efficiency in converting same.

Also, I have quite a few canister filters. I also had a sump for a while. More recently I have taken to using the large box filters from jehmco and sponge filters together, the box for mechanical and the sponge biological. I was pleasantly surprised at just how much debris the air driven box filters take out of the water; they really are great at polishing. Never had a problem with the sponges and ammonia or nitrites. I too hate cannisters for maintenance. But the box & sponges are quick and easy. I would like to get rid of the cannisters and go only box and sponges. I think water changes are a constant no matter what method of filtration you use, for various reasons.

johnny stone says:

I use multiple forms of filtration in all my aquariums. I always have a minimum of 1 sponge filter but most have 2 or more. In some tanks I use the HOB and a sponge, on others I use the canister and a sponge but on 1 tank I use all three forms. 2 large sponges for biological filtration, 1 oversized canister for flow and biological and an oversized HOB for mechanical. It’s an overstocked tank to say the least but it looks great. Another form of filtration is plants. Not to be the sole form of filtration for an aquarium but useful for most

Eric K says:

Sumps! Consider doing one for your Oscar tank. You could grow a ton of hornwort and water wisteria in a sump to help reduce nitrates/ water changes. With the right overflows, they can be super quiet too. Will be redesigning my sump in my 135 to accommodate more plants in the the near future, and my Oscar tank project will be a similar setup. I like your channel and your reasons / background for having a fish room. Good job dude.

Bilifang Basumatary says:

Do i need airstone along with Hang on back filter?

53bigmack says:

Just starting my tank room…I have 6- 20 gallon tanks and after watching your videos I will go with sponge filters, make my own LED lights using outdoor gutter and LED light bulbs…still searching for good heaters..thanks

Michael Piccirillo says:

People overlook that canisters have “head pressure” loss that reduces flow.

A canister rates at 900 gph flow rate will suffer 45-60% reduced flow rates from both head pressure when canister sits on floor then needs to pump water up 4 – 5 feet away into tank. Thats why many people need 2 canisters to regain flow for larger tanks.

Hang on the back filters do not loose head pressure loss. HOB rated at 250 gph is 95% there.

Thats again why you’ll see experienced hobbyist use a canister with just coarse sponge & bio media they only service every 3-6 months & have a HOB to just handle fine filtering, water polishing with carbon added.

Makes the job simple & easy.

“Keep your fins wet!”

Salim Sebat says:

I have 75 gallons tank with 2 Aquaclear 110 ,2 Aquaclear 70 and 2 large sponge filters ( 1 mechanical 1 biological) and my fish is happy and healthy.

dat b0i says:

HOBs for me, cuz it does te same thing but cheaper

kingkato21 says:

Did or could you do a sponge vs undergravel filter?

Christian Quinn says:

the Aqua Clear 110 moves 500 gph. that is pretty impressive when comparing to canister filters.

Jeffrey Lei says:

thank you for the info and the comparison, you have an excellent channel and please keep making these videos! subbed and shared!

muddyriverdogz says:

Canister filter’s are a PITA ! Aqua clear HOB’s for me and i have had it all including FX’s. They are just as quite as a canister and way easier to maintain.

Richard Young says:

Fx6 baby

Michael Piccirillo says:

Also you speak of brand name products.

I built a custom HOB using a large plastic bin that can hold 10 gallons of bio media connected to a 275 gph power head.

Best of both worlds. No leaks when power outs & its cheap, priceless

pancudowny says:

When I set-up my 40-gal. breeder as a community tank, I built an under-gravel reverse-flow system for it from CPVC pipe. Transferring everything from an established 20-gal., including a Filstar/API XP3 canister bought second-hand at a local indie LFS, I fashioned hoses from 7/8″-o.d. clear braided vinyl hose with garden hose connections and diverter valves, added a full-size sponge filter to the intake and set the canister in a large polyvinyl storage tote.
The system worked well… for a while. But when an increase in stocking brought issues about, I added a second canister (XP2) in tandem, filled primarily with mechanical media of increasing fine steps. This made floss changes easy because now all I had to do was switch off the system, remove the head and switch the used floss with a fresh piece in the top basket, then reassemble it and switch it back on.
Water changes were easy: Just run the drain hose out a window and flip a few valves, and the system pumps the waste-water out as I ready a hose attached to a source of temperature-matched water. Once the tank drained enough, it’s flip a valve and attach the freshwater hose, then flip a few more valves to fill the tank as I measure & add chemicals to it. Once done, flip a few valves once more, disconnect the freshwater hose and put the two hoses away neatly.

clubtc05 says:

Subbed! Great informative video! I have a 48gal bow front. I had a aquaclear 110 ($80), loved how big it was and the GPH it produces but the noise and somewhat the look bothered me, the impeller got loud after a few days (even putting vasolene on it when I first got it), I returned it. Then doing some research, I got a Penn Plax Cascade 1000 on sale ($67 =D). It’s so quiet and I like the look and I can put the hoses anywhere.

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