Hang on Back Filter?

When you set up your first fish tank, you will have to make some serious and practical decisions. These decisions will decide how much the fishes will be happy and healthy inside the aquarium. One of such important decision is to choose the right filter.

The HoB filters are highly customizable and let you use all the three types of the filtration system with the best results. However, you will need an additional plastic tube and an air pump to properly run the sponge filter.

If your tank is small to medium and has only a few occupants (read fish) the sponge filter will work the best. When you have fries, you dont want to get hem washed away inside the powerful HoB or canister filters . When it gathers sufficient debris, it provides biological filtration with bacterial growth.

It is also an excellent choice for community tanks since it can control a large amount of water flow effortlessly. Since it is powerful, you need to setup a sponge or baffle right in front of it to control the water flow, if you want to use it for shrimps and Bettas. It is because the sponge pore will soon get clogged and stopped working due to debris accumulation.

It is recommended that you look at the hang on back filter to check its working efficiency carefully. Finally, you will have to replace the entire screening system once in a year to hang on back filters. When you clean the hang on back filter regularly, the water frequency rate will change too.

But we often forget that the sponge filter also needs an air pump and inlet tubing for proper functioning. So, when you consider such air pump and tubing costs, it might surpass an introductory HoB filter price. Also, it has a strong current.Best ForWhen you medicate a sick fishIf you want customized chemical and mechanical filtration.SpaceIt needs huge space inside the tankIt wont occupy space inside the tank.These are the best benefits of the two aquarium filter types.

The actual flow rate of the filter depends on the air pump power. Also, priming whenever power shortage happens or maintenance can be tedious for busy people. If you are a beginner and starts with a small tank, always begin your aquarium career with the sponge filter.

Are hang on back filters good?

Hang on Back (HOB) filters are great for beginners and mainstream aquarists because they do all three types of filtration – mechanical, biological and chemical – while being extremely user friendly and reasonably priced.

How long do hang on back filters last?

If you want to keep the cartridges in a cartridge filter use a brush to remove the brown gunk from the face of the cartridge to clean. The activated carbon in the cartridge functions as a chemical filtration media for all of about two weeks.

What is hang on back filter?

A hang on back (HOB) filter is a type of filter for your aquarium that hangs on the back wall of your tank. They are classified as simple external filters. … A water intake tube carries water (via a nozzle) from the tank to the filter. Then, inside the case the water is filtered by the sponge or any other material.

Does hang on back filter provide oxygen?

Do hanging filters provide oxygen to fish? – Quora. Not directly, no, but they do keep water moving around, which allows the oxygen that enters the water via gas exchange to be circulated around the tank. The gas exchange that dissolves oxygen into water is passive and happens 24/7 wherever water and air meet up.

Aquarium filtration is one of the key components required to keep an aquarium healthy and the water clear. The most common type of filter is the hang on the back power filter, and with good reason!

AquaClear Power Filters provide all three types of filtration: mechanical, chemical, and biological. The Tidal power filters are a joint project between Seachem and Italian aquarium pump company Sicce.

Available models for 35-110-gallon tanks 5-year warranty Adjustable water flow Quiet operation Flow rate must be turned down when a lot of media is used Cleaning indicator reacts too quickly The Whisper EX also has a plastic insert to provide extra surface area for biological filtration.

The Bio-Falls component is a plastic insert that channels some water flow over zig-zag shaped fins. The idea is to rotate the partially submerged Bio-wheel in the water stream, maximizing aeration for the bacteria growing on the wheel. Since nearly all of the beneficial bacteria live on the gravel and in the water, the Bio-Wheel is more of an accessory than essential component of the filter.

The Penguin uses a basic HOB design to pump water through a filter cartridge. Noticeable trickling water noise from Bio-Wheel Bio-wheel stops spinning when it gets dirty No flow control The current LED Pro model features a self-priming water pump for easy set-up and automatic restarting.

The LED turns on when the water inside the filter rises, due to clogging. The removable plastic grid is said to add extra surface area for beneficial bacteria. The design consisted of a clear plastic box filled with activated carbon and polyester fiber.

The typical method was to sandwich loose activated carbon in between layers of polyester fiber. Early models still used loose granular activated carbon sandwiched in between layers of polyester. Aquarists no longer had stick their arm into the aquarium and the filter didnt take up valuable space inside the tank.

The electric pump could make noise in not seated correctly against the filter box. The pump motor is attached directly to the filter box, eliminating most of the rattles and vibration. The sum of all these innovations have transformed the noisy external power filter into a quiet, energy-efficient filtration system that can be used in any room of the house or office without calling attention to itself.

Designs vary, but filter cartridges consist of outer layers of polyester fabric to remove particulate matter with activated carbon sandwiched in between. The carbon removes water discoloration and odors cause by dissolved organic compounds. These are designed to make it easy to snap off a section of plastic so the filter will fit on the tank.

Simply mark the filler strip, trim it with scissors and slip it back in place. Eventually youll have to clean these so its a good idea to take a close look now before the installation. The drip loop prevents water from flowing down the power cord and into the outlet.

Now is a good time to look inside the filter box and see how the water flows through the system. Youll see how water enters the filter through the uplift tube, passes through the pump and flows back into the aquarium by gravity. If it is tilted backwards water may be able to slosh over the back, wetting the floor and causing damage.

It does not matter if it is a tiny HOB for a nano tank or a giant multi-cartridge system for a large aquarium. Every time you feed your fish, make sure the intake screen is free of debris like plant leaves and algae. Eventually the filter will develop a layer of biological slime on the impeller and magnet.

One method involves pushing a piece of paper towel through the tube with a pencil. Consider a special uplift tube brush if you find the paper towel method difficult. The cartridge consists of porous polyester material attached to a rigid plastic frame.

The frame keeps the polyester material in the proper shape and keeps it from collapsing under the pressure caused by flowing water. The truth is the aquarium water is not being filtered at all once the cartridge is clogged with debris and slime. If you want your aquarium to remain clear and clean, you must change the cartridge every month or even sooner if it gets really dirty.

They may use foam blocks for particulate removal and a bag of activated carbon for adsorption of organics. Even though these HOB filters boast more advanced water purification, they still require new media about every 30 days. Much of the particulate waste found in a heavily stocked community tank wont occur in a planted aquarium.

Its much easier to keep the water sparkling clear since the plants act as a giant biological filter that removes algae-promoting nutrients, helping to keep the tank balanced and healthy. HOB filters provide removal of suspended debris (mechanical filtration) and adsorption of dissolved organics (chemical filtration) that discolor the water, cause odors and reduce water quality. HOB filters have been used on small saltwater fish and reef aquariums for over 25 years.

Aquarists struggling to properly care for an over-stocked or over-fed aquarium frequently think a bigger filter is the answer to their problems. The root cause of cloudy water, high ammonia and nitrite and sick fish is rarely lack of filtration. HOB and canister filters use the same basic approach to removing suspended particles and organics.

Canister filters are just larger and able to hold greater quantities of filtration media. You may want one and thats OK. Youll have more flow, more options on routing the intake and return lines and more room for filter media. Reliability of the motor and pump depends on the quality control standards maintained by each company.

While the importance of the Bio-Wheel for biological filtration is questionable, it provides a fun rotating extra biofilter that creates a gentle splash of water.

Also known as power filters, hang on back (HOB) filters are a basic recirculating water filter design that was created specifically for aquarium hobbyists in mind. They are great for beginner aquarists, especially if you are starting small.

This quiet filter is perfect for a nano aquarium up to 3.5-gallons with small fish and shrimp. It comes with a sponge pre-filter to cover the water inlet to prevent drawing up any small aquarium inhabitants.

Check on Amazon #ad Type : HOB Flow rate : adjustable For tank : nano fish tanks up to 4 gallons, Betta fish Filter media : foams Other options : It also comes almost completely assembled in the box, for a simple plug and play setup. Check on Amazon #ad Type : HangOnBack Flow rate : 55 GPH, adjustable For tank : up to 10 gallons Filter media : filter cartridges with included carbon & zeolite Other options : Marina Slim S15 (to 15 Gal), Marina Slim S20 (to 20 Gal)

Its filter box is designed to have a slim profile to help create a minimalist, sleek look. This helps reduce the amount of noise created by the pump, making it much quieter than other filter brands. Instead, its all separate, which allows for multistage filtration and gives you the option to modify your filter media combination to suit your specific aquarium needs.

The AquaClear 20 Power filter comes equipped with a foam insert, that should be placed on the bottom of the media basket, which filters large particles and helps divert the water equally through the rest of the media. The foam insert is also a highly porous surface, providing lots of space for healthy bacteria growth. Next is the activated carbon bag that provides ample surface area for absorption of water impurities, like odors, chemicals, or medications.

After the carbon bag is the BioMax filter that is full of highly porous ceramic rings that provide even more surface area for beneficial bacteria growth. The AquaClear 20 Power Filter is suited for aquariums up to 20-gallons and has a flow rate of 100gph. They also have the pump placed inside the aquarium attached to the water intake tubes.

The Patented Bio-Holster (the blue plastic holster that holds the cartridge) is to help encourage beneficial bacteria growth, as well as remove ammonia and nitrites. The diffuser grid with a honeycomb pattern, which provides more surface area for bacteria growth and increases dissolved oxygen in the water. It also has the added benefit of reducing splashing noise from the water waterfalling back into your aquarium.

Other features of this filter are an adjustable flow control valve and the option of an extendable intake tube for deeper filtration. The most special stage of filtration on the Penguin 350 power filter is the two wet/dry Bio-Wheels that spin as the water is pushed over them. The Rite-Size C filter cartridge is a poly floss pad on one side with a rigid plastic backing that is filled with activated carbon.

Check on Amazon #ad Type : HOB Flow rate : 264 GPH (1000 L/h) For tank : 40-70 gallons (265 L) Filter media : floss pad, foam, activated carbon, C-nodes, and drip tray pad Other options : Fluval C2 #ad (119 GPH, 10-30 gallons), Fluval C3 #ad ( 153 GPH, 20-50 gallons) As it turns out Fluval and AquaClear products are owned by the same company, so the Fluval C Series Power Filters are essentially the updated version of the AquaClear Power Filters. A unique feature of this mechanical media basket is a pop-up cleaning indicator.

Once the water trickles over the Bio-Screen, it falls through a basket that can be filled with whatever biological media you desire, or the Fluval C-Nodes that the filter comes with. After passing through the 5 stages of filtration and being highly aerated by the wet/dry filter, the water then cascades gently back into the aquarium. Other great features of this filter are that it is easy to install, easy to perform weekly maintenance with its simple quick filter release design, and has telescopic intake tubes with an adjustable flow control valve on top.

The rest of the large filter compartment is open to fill as you choose. Another clever design feature of this filter is the surface skimmer in line with the intake tube. The amount of flow coming out of either the surface skimmer or the intake tube can be adjusted with a dial on the side of the filter.

This water then pushes the blue indicator-up, alerting you that the filter needs to be replaced. The best feature of this filter is the self-cleaning, corrosion-resistant impeller that makes it suitable for both fresh and salt environments. Other great features on the Seachem Tidal 55 filter are an adjustable flow control valve, a telescoping intake tube, and an optional heater clip.

Which is all housed in a rounded edge frame that makes replacing quick and mess-free. The Bio-Scrubber filter is designed to stay clog-free and provide ample surface area for beneficial bacteria growth, helping remove ammonia and nitrites. Check on Amazon #ad Type : HOB with surface skimmer Flow rate : 158 GPH, adjustable For tank : 30-gallon Filter media : sponge, activated carbon, bio balls Other options :

The Hygger power filter, with a max flow rate of 158 GPH, is suitable for aquariums from 20 to 30 gallons. This filter also has a surface skimmer and a telescoping intake tube that can be adjusted to different depths. Every major aquarium supply company has its version of a HOB filter, all having their unique features and range in price.

Understanding the fundamentals behind how and why a HOB filter works, will make it easier for you to choose the right one that suits your aquarium needs. Without going too deep into physics, the magnetic current created when power is supplied to the pump causes the impeller to spin and moves the water. Filter media These typically come in easy-to-replace filter cartridges, like foam pads (mechanical), ceramic beads or highly porous media (biological), and either a carbon foam pad (mechanical/chemical) or activated charcoal bag (chemical).

Step 1 The powered pump creates a magnetic current that causes the impeller to spin and moves the water through centrifugal force. Step 2 This force pulls water up through the intake tubes, through the pump. Step 3 The pump then pushes the water at an increased pressure through the filter media.

As you can see, it is a pretty simple, yet highly effective way to filter your aquarium water. Most all aquarium filters will be designed this way, with a few individual modifications that brands give them to increase their efficiency and filtration capacity. When searching for the right HOB filter for your aquarium setup there are a few things to consider first.

A smaller filter will need regular maintenance to prevent the media inside from being clogged, too. For example, a 10-gallon aquarium would need a filter that features a flow rate of 30-40 GPH (Gallon Per Hour) or higher. The flow rate required for your aquarium depends on what kind of fish, or invertebrates you are keeping.

They are divided into three types of filtration (mechanical, biological, and chemical) based on which aquarium wastes they deal with ( more here ). I preferably like to add some ceramic rings and other highly porous media in addition to the sponges that come with my HOB filters for better biological filtration. There is usually some assembly needed to get it running, but a lot of brands have them almost completely setup right out of the box.

Helpful steps to ensure a successful HOB filter setup. Step 2 Take apart the filter completely, including the pump and impeller, and give everything a good rinse. Plus, knowing how to remove the pump and access the impeller will save you down the road.

This will ensure that any leftover dust from manufacturing is removed before installing the filter on your aquarium. Step 4 Put the filter back together, making sure not to forget any pieces. Setting your media up this way ensures that no debris or harmful chemicals get into the biological filter, and will keep your beneficial bacteria happy and healthy.

If youve gone through all these questions and the filter is still not working, the best thing to do is reach out to the manufacturer to see if they have a solution for you. This can easily be remedied by either rinsing the filter pad or replacing it completely. The main thing to keep in mind when placing your HOB filter is to try to prevent water current dead spots.

For best flow, place the filter on the back centered in the middle and pushing the water toward the front of the aquarium. If you are injecting CO2 or adding any form of CO2 , then increase the water level to avoid too much surface agitation that can cause great CO2 loss. For smaller or nano saltwater aquariums, a HOB filter might work alright for you.

If you are keeping a large or heavy bio-load saltwater aquarium, then you should be looking at a sump filtration setup, or at the very least a canister filter. Once a week: Rinse mechanical and chemical filter media in dechlorinated water Once a month: Completely un-assemble the filter, including the pump and impeller, and wipe clean with a soap-free scrub pad, every nook, and cranny.

This water is safe for helpful bacteria colonizing on the filter media. Buying filter media in bulk is a great way to cut costs and improve filtration. Using a pre-filter on the intake tube will protect small fish and fry from being sucked into the filter.

It will prolong the life of the filter pump and will help reduce noise. Adding some sort of ceramic biological media to your HOB filter is also really beneficial for your aquarium. It also will lessen the effect of bacteria loss when the filter pads are replaced.

Yes, HOB filters help increase dissolved oxygen in the water. The pump will start moving the water and will create a siphon to get it recirculating. They are all called power filters; however, externals are placed out of the water and save you some space inside the aquarium.

For those of you with aquariums up to 10 gallons, I recommend a small hang on back filter that can easily deal with the water volume in your tank without taking up too much space.

Another major selling point of this power filter is its patented re-filtration system, which allows you to reduce flow rates without compromising on filtration efficiency. Even at reduced flow rate, up to 50% of the water continues to be processed multiple times.

The flow control is a feature that comes in handy when housing small fish that dont require a powerful current in their tank. The filter is easily installed on your aquarium by sliding over the edge of the tank. Internal sponge filter allows beneficial bacteria to develop that will help process toxins in the aquarium; The activated carbon cartridge provides chemical filtration by removing toxins, bad odors, traces of volatile organic compounds, chemical disinfection by-products, and any other water ingredients that are attracted to carbon; The polyfiber floss cartridge traps debris and suspended solids, contributing to the clarity of the water and the undisturbed operation of the other filter media within the system.

This is a great filter for keeping shrimp, bettas, or other small fish or fry thanks to the flow rate, which can be regulated. The cartridge floss traps debris and other particulate matter, while the carbon medium acts as a chemical filter. This HOB filter is silent, uses medium bag cartridges, and comes with all thats needed for installation.

This Tetra Whisper power filter offers silent and efficient filtration for aquariums that are 10-20 gallons large. The BioBag filters that come with this system contain activated carbon media, which offers chemical filtration. The cartridge floss keeps out debris from filtered aquarium water, which contributes to a cleaner and clearer tank.

This intuitive filter is excellent for any hobbyist, whether theyre just starting out or theyre already experienced aquarists. By getting rid of the hassle of installation, these filters can be easily operated by beginners and advanced aquarists alike. They require no technical know-how or any plumbing skills, as they simply slide on the edge of the aquarium with hangers or they can be attached with suction cups, depending on the preferred mode of installation and type of HOB filter.

Depending on the type and brand of filter biological, mechanical and chemical filtration can be achieved. Therefore, periodic maintenance is the only way to ensure that your filter operates at peak performance and your aquarium water is clean and clear. When you buy a HOB filter, make sure you check its maintenance requirements too.

Hang on back filters are popular because of the ease with which they install, because they offer mechanical, biological and chemical filtration in one system. Biological filtration is achieved by creating a hospitable ground for beneficial bacteria to thrive. Sponge filters on their own dont do much in the way of mechanical or chemical filtration, unless theyre attached to an air pump with an airline tubing that forces water through the sponge, which helps along with mechanical filtration.

Sponge filters are also capable of biological filtration as they form a hospitable site for healthy bacteria. A good sponge filter can last for a long time provided its cleaned periodically by rinsing them in aquarium water to dislodge debris and accumulated dirt. Hang on back filters are great for most aquariums, except for very large tanks, which would require more powerful systems intended for professional use.

The 5 HOB filter are all a great choice if you have a small aquarium up to 10 gallons. They install easily, operate silently and do a good job at removing dirt and impurities from your aquarium water.

What Is Sponge Filter?

As the name suggests, a sponge filter is nothing but a piece of sponge. It is the fundamental of all filtration system. However, the sponge doesn’t work singly. It needs an air pump and tubing to work in a team.The tube connects the pump and sponge for an integrated filtering mechanism. As the air pump uses the air pressure to push the water through the tubing, it comes to the sponge. When the water passes the sponge, it collects the debris to filter the water.The sponge has pores, and the pore size will decide the debris size it will collect. The debris collection happens through a mechanical system. As the debris keeps attaching with the sponge, it later provides bacterial growth too.

What is (HOB) Hang on Back Filter:

A Hang on back, aka, HoB filter, will literally seat at the back of the aquarium and it remains invincible from the front side. The device will sit on the aquarium rim, and its box will be right at the back portion of the tank. It also has an intake tube submerged inside the tank water.The water travels through the tube to the filter and gets refined. The HoB filters are highly customizable and let’ you use all the three types of the filtration system with the best results. So, you will get the mechanical, biological and chemical filtering with the hang on back filters.

Application and operational mode:

The sponge filters are the easiest to setup. However, you will need an additional plastic tube and an air pump to properly run the sponge filter. You will have to connect the air pump and the filter using the plastic tubing. The pump will sit right inside the aquarium.When you plug in the air pump, it will start working immediately. It doesn’t need any priming at all.On the contrary, you will have to plan appropriately to mount the hang on back filters. The tank must have sufficient room at its back so you can mount the filter there. Sometimes, you will have to adjust the aquarium to have the desired space between the tank wall and the tank.During the power shortage or maintenance, the HOB filters will lose its suction. So, you will have to manually prime it each time after maintenance or a power cut. It can be hectic at times.

Maintenance procedure:

If your tank is small to medium and has only a few occupants (read fish) the sponge filter will work the best. You can also use the sponge filter as a secondary filter with the canister or hang on back filters for even a better result.Also, a sponge filter is useful for three special conditions. These situations are-A sponge filter initially offers mechanical filtering with the accumulation of debris. When it gathers sufficient debris, it provides biological filtration with bacterial growth.The HoB filter is made for medium to large aquariums with several occupants in it. It is also an excellent choice for community tanks since it can control a large amount of water flow effortlessly. Also, it works best for the planted aquarium and if the tank has critters.Since it is powerful, you need to setup a sponge or baffle right in front of it to control the water flow, if you want to use it for shrimps and Bettas. Also, the hang on back filter comes with specific tank capacity and GPH. It means you precisely know how much capacity you are getting.

Pricing:

No doubt a sponge filter is cheaper than the hang on back filter. But we often forget that the sponge filter also needs an air pump and inlet tubing for proper functioning. Therefore, you will have to count its costing too.So, when you consider such air pump and tubing costs, it might surpass an introductory HoB filter price. But if you have a large tank, HoB filter expense will be more than the sponge filters.

Seachem Tidal Power Filters

The AquaClear range of power filters has been around since 1978. Hagen is the world’s largest manufacturer of aquarium and pet supplies. Hagen is the inventor of the magnetic impeller design used in all HOB filters. It produced less heat, friction and wear that the original HOB design.AquaClear filters have adjustable flow rates so you can turn down the flow when feeding your fish or working in the aquarium. AquaClear Power Filters provide all three types of filtration: mechanical, chemical, and biological. These filters use filtration inserts designed to fit into compartments or baskets within the filter.

Marineland Penguin 200 BIO-Wheel Power Filter

Tetra has been making aquarium filters for over 30 years. The Whisper EX is supposed to be an upgrade to the original Whisper filter.There is nothing complicated with this HOB design. The replaceable filter cartridge is loaded into a plastic frame. The frame slides into the filter box. The cartridge provides mechanical and carbon filtration. When dirty, just pull out the frame, squeeze the frame and the old filter falls out. No need to touch a dirty cartridge.The Whisper EX also has a plastic insert to provide extra surface area for biological filtration. This bio-filter component never needs to be replaced. The pump is positioned inside the aquarium making the EX series self-priming.

The invention of the power filter

The Aqueon company was formed by a group of aquarium industry veterans that wanted to start their own product line of aquarium products. The QuietFlow filters have undergone several changes over the years.The current LED Pro model features a self-priming water pump for easy set-up and automatic restarting. It also has a red LED indicator light on the lid. The LED turns on when the water inside the filter rises, due to clogging.The filter cartridges provide mechanical, chemical, biological filtration plus additional purification with the Aqueon specialty filter pads for ammonia and phosphate removal. The removable plastic grid is said to add extra surface area for beneficial bacteria. The filter range covers aquariums from 20 through 45-gallon aquariums

Modern hang on the back aquarium filters

Today’s HOB filters are much more reliable and easier to use. The water pump is smaller and more efficient. The pump motor is attached directly to the filter box, eliminating most of the rattles and vibration. Improved impeller configuration is quieter and more reliable that early designs. The filter will automatically restart if there is a power failure.The sum of all these innovations have transformed the noisy external power filter into a quiet, energy-efficient filtration system that can be used in any room of the house or office without calling attention to itself. But there’s more.Today’s HOB filters feature ready-to-use filter cartridges. Designs vary, but filter cartridges consist of outer layers of polyester fabric to remove particulate matter with activated carbon sandwiched in between. The carbon removes water discoloration and odors cause by dissolved organic compounds. The filter cartridges slip into the filter box. When the cartridge gets dirty, just pull it out and pop in a new one. No messy filter clean-outs!

Where to install the filter

As the name implies, HOB filters hang on the top edge of the aquarium. Nearly all aquarists place the filter on the back of the aquarium. This keeps the filter out of sight.It’s important to make sure there is enough room behind the aquarium for the filter to fit. Some filter designs are larger than others and require more space between the wall and the aquarium.If you are using a plastic aquarium hood and light, you will most likely have to trim away part of your plastic to make room for the filter. Most name-brand aquarium hoods have special cut-out areas on the back on the light. These are designed to make it easy to snap off a section of plastic so the filter will fit on the tank.Another common design uses a removable plastic filler strip. Simply mark the filler strip, trim it with scissors and slip it back in place. Now your filter will slide onto the back of the aquarium.If you’re using an open top aquarium you can place it anywhere on the tank. Some aquarists put the filter on the side of the aquarium. They like the side to side water flow pattern it creates.

Assembling the power filter

Hang on the back power filters range from very simple to very complex designs.Read the manual to become familiar with the components of the filter. Check the parts list to be sure you have everything you need before starting the installation. That way you can return or exchange the filter right away if something is missing.Your filter may have a leveling tab on the bottom of the filter box. The tab allows you to change the tilt of the filter so it’s level. If the filter is tilting backwards, it could cause water to splash over the back of the filter box.Make sure the pump and impeller are seated correctly. Eventually you’ll have to clean these so it’s a good idea to take a close look now before the installation.Check the routing of the power cord. You want to form a drip loop as described in the set-up guide. The drip loop prevents water from flowing down the power cord and into the outlet. If water makes its way into the outlet it will cause a short and trip the breaker. It could even start a fire. Check your filter manual to learn how to create a drip loop!

Maintaining your aquarium filter

In order to keep your filter performing at peak efficiency it will require periodic maintenance. It does not matter if it is a tiny HOB for a nano tank or a giant multi-cartridge system for a large aquarium.Every time you feed your fish, make sure the intake screen is free of debris like plant leaves and algae. A clogged intake screen won’t allow water to enter the filter.Without the intake screen snails and other debris can jam the impeller and stop the impeller from turning. Eventually the filter will develop a layer of biological slime on the impeller and magnet. The slime will create drag on the impeller and reduce efficiency.Every six months remove the impeller and clean it with a small brush. Some aquarists use this as an opportunity to scrub out the entire filter. Take the filter to the sink and remove the uplift tube and intake screen. Clean every surface with a paper town or small brush. Ordinary water works fine for cleaning the filter.The uplift tube can be challenge to clean. One method involves pushing a piece of paper towel through the tube with a pencil. Consider a special uplift tube brush if you find the paper towel method difficult.

When to change the filter cartridge

The most common type of HOB filter media is theNew cartridges are very porous and not able to trap much debris. But eventually a biofilm coats the fibers and reducing the spaces in between the poly fibers. This makes the cartridge better able to capture tiny bits of particulate matter. This efficiency-improving coating is known as “filter cake” in the industrial water filtration world.A “mature” filter can capture fine particles that pass right through a fresh filter cartridge. It takes about a week for the new cartridge to mature. It may even turn brow of look dirty. This is normal.But after about 30 to 45 days the cartridge becomes clogged. Water can’t pass through it, so it bypasses the cartridge and flows back into the tank. Many aquarists think because water continues to circulate the cartridge is still active. The truth is the aquarium water is not being filtered at all once the cartridge is clogged with debris and slime.HOBs are designed to allow water bypass in case of a clogged cartridge. If the cartridge includes activated carbon, it will function for about three to four weeks at most. If you want your aquarium to remain clear and clean, you must change the cartridge every month or even sooner if it gets really dirty.

A word about advanced external power filters

Some brands of power filters have very complex designs. They may use foam blocks for particulate removal and a bag of activated carbon for adsorption of organics. Some designs even have biological media to enhance removal of ammonia and nitrite.These filters are more complicated to assemble and will take more time to service and maintain. Keep the instruction manual in a safe place. You’ll probably have to refer to it when changing the filter media and reassembling the filter after cleaning.Even though these HOB filters boast more advanced water purification, they still require new media about every 30 days.

HOB filters and planted aquariums

If you’re raising live aquatic plants a HOB filter is a great filter choice.With a planted aquarium the focus is on growing plants, not packing the tank with fish. Much of the particulate waste found in a heavily stocked community tank won’t occur in a planted aquarium. It’s much easier to keep the water sparkling clear since the plants act as a giant biological filter that removes algae-promoting nutrients, helping to keep the tank balanced and healthy.Plants need moderate water flow and HOB will move the water nicely.

HOB filters and saltwater tanks

Some aquarists wonder if a HOB power filter is suitable for a saltwater aquarium. HOB filters provide removal of suspended debris (mechanical filtration) and adsorption of dissolved organics (chemical filtration) that discolor the water, cause odors and reduce water quality.HOB filters have been used on small saltwater fish and reef aquariums for over 25 years. Today’s all-in-one nano reef tanks are based on the same principles of filtration.An HOB won’t provide a chamber to place a protein skimmer. But you can add an internal protein skimmer if you need one.

HOB vs canister filters

Aquarists struggling to properly care for an over-stocked or over-fed aquarium frequently think a bigger filter is the answer to their problems.The root cause of cloudy water, high ammonia and nitrite and sick fish is rarely lack of filtration. It’s a misunderstanding of how to properly care for their fish.HOB and canister filters use the same basic approach to removing suspended particles and organics.Canister filters are just larger and able to hold greater quantities of filtration media. You can even use biological filter media in both types of filter.So, the question is not which one is better. It really comes down to which one is larger. Do you really need more water flow and more filter media? If the answer is no, then there is no need for a larger canister filter. You may want one and that’s OK. You’ll have more flow, more options on routing the intake and return lines and more room for filter media. But you’ll also have a little more work when it comes time to change the filter media.

Recommended hang on the back filters

The topic of HOB power filters is highly subjective. A model that is well-liked by one aquarist may not be favored by another.The main concerns are quietness and reliability. The truth is, these filters are mass-produced by the thousands. Some manufacturers buy “off the shelf” models and put their name on the box. Other companies engineer and fine-tune their own design with custom features. Reliability of the motor and pump depends on the quality control standards maintained by each company. Filter cartridges range from poor to excellent, depending on the brand.Based on this knowledge and over 25 years of using these HOB filters I can recommend the following models.

Marineland Penguin Bio-Wheel Power Filters

The Marineland filter line has been in the hobby for well over 25 years. The design has proven to be reliable and effective for freshwater and marine aquariums. The fit and finish of the filter range is very good. The filter box is made of thick, high-quality plastic. The filter cartridges are excellent quality.While the importance of the Bio-Wheel for biological filtration is questionable, it provides a fun rotating extra biofilter that creates a gentle splash of water. If you don’t like the splashing sound, just remove the Bio-wheel and enjoy the silent operation.

Fluval C Power Filters

If you’re the kind of aquarists that loves sophistication, the Fluval C series is sure to satisfy. The multi-component design provides a variety of filtration options for your saltwater or planted aquarium.This is not a simple filter and will require more time to maintain and clean. But it gives you a lot of options for customization and has a variety of filter media to choose from.

Seachem Tidal Power Filters

The Tidal line of filters provides the Italian water pump quality of Sicce combined with a unique filter design. The goal of aquarium filtration is to pass water through media. The Tidal filter does that with its large removable media basket.The filter basket makes it easy to use an array of filter media of your choice. You’re not locked into using the filter manufacturer’s cartridge or carbon. The filter is quiet and self-priming too.I’d use this filter on any type of aquarium since I get to choose the filter media and it’s easy to clean and maintain.

Best HOB filter comparison table

Also known as power filters, hang on back (HOB) filters are a basic recirculating water filter design that was created specifically for aquarium hobbyists in mind. They are great for beginner aquarists, especially if you are starting small.

Aqueon QuietFlow 30 power filter

The Tetra Whisper Power Filter 20 is a great economical HOB filter for a 10- to 20-gallon aquarium, with an adjustable flow rate of up to 105 GPH.It incorporates a 3-stage filtration system with a double-sided dense mesh filter cartridge filled with Ultra-activated carbon, and a Bio-foam pad for bacterial filtration.The cartridges are easy to replace, and either come pre-assembled for ease, or un-assembled for half the price.

Marineland Penguin 350 Bio-wheel power filter

The Penn-Plax Cascade 200 HOB filter is rated for aquariums up to 55-gallons, with a flow rate of 185gph.This filter has a 4-stage filtration system starting first with a double-sided filter cartridge, one side poly-fiber floss, the other filled with activated carbon.After the filter cartridge is the Bio-sponge, independent from the cartridge and permanent, to encourage healthy beneficial bacteria growth.
The final filtration stage is the Bio-fall wet/dry filter that trickles the water through a zip-zag pattern to increase oxygenation of the water and promote more nitrifying bacteria to grow.Other features of this filter are an adjustable flow control valve and the option of an extendable intake tube for deeper filtration.

SeaChem Tidal 55 large fish tank filter

The Fluval C4 Power Filter is a very cleverly designed HOB filter that incorporates a 5-stage filtration system with a wet/dry trickle filter.

As it turns out Fluval and AquaClear products are owned by the same company, so the Fluval C Series Power Filters are essentially the updated version of the AquaClear Power Filters.Just like the AquaClear filters, the Fluval C4 has the same patented refiltration system that diverts 50 percent of the water to recirculate back through the stage one mechanical filter pads.The Fluval C4 doubles up on the mechanical filter media, one foam pad for large debris, and one dense floss pad for fine debris. These two filters are slid into an easy-pull plastic cage, which makes filter cleaning easy.A unique feature of this mechanical media basket is a pop-up cleaning indicator. This tab will pop-up when the water flow rises, indicating that the water is diverting the foam filter pads due to being clogged and need a good rinse or replaced.After the water flows through the mechanical filters, it is then pushed through to the next compartment that can either be filled with activated carbon that the filter comes with, or any other bagged media that you like.From there, the water is then pushed through a little spout that pours the water over the wet/dry filter basket. On top of the wet/dry filter basket is a Bio-Screen, a micro weaved mesh filter pad that blocks any debris from entering the biological stages underneath. It also provides more surface area for beneficial bacteria growth.Once the water trickles over the Bio-Screen, it falls through a basket that can be filled with whatever biological media you desire, or the Fluval C-Nodes that the filter comes with.After passing through the 5 stages of filtration and being highly aerated by the wet/dry filter, the water then cascades gently back into the aquarium.
Other great features of this filter are that it is easy to install, easy to perform weekly maintenance with its simple quick filter release design, and has telescopic intake tubes with an adjustable flow control valve on top.

Hygger hang-on power filter with surface skimmer

This filter has a multi-stage filtration system, with two easy-to-replace multi-dense carbon cartridges (size large), and two Bio-Scrubber filters that never need replacing.
The Whisper filter cartridge consists of a course floss pad, a carbon foam pad, and a multi-dense floss pad. Which is all housed in a rounded edge frame that makes replacing quick and mess-free.The Bio-Scrubber filter is designed to stay clog-free and provide ample surface area for beneficial bacteria growth, helping remove ammonia and nitrites.The Tetra Whisper EX70 is rated for aquariums up to 70-gallons, with a max flow rate of 340gph. Other sizes are also available for choice.

Basic HOB filter design

Every major aquarium supply company has its version of a HOB filter, all having their unique features and range in price. Understanding the fundamentals behind how and why a HOB filter works, will make it easier for you to choose the right one that suits your aquarium needs.There are a few basic design components that all HOB filters come equipped with; the filter box, a water pump, water intake tubes, and filter media.

How does a HOB filter work?

A HOB filter works simply by using a recirculating water pump that pulls in the water from your aquarium, then pushes the water through various filter media, and back into the aquarium.Let’s take a deeper dive into how it filters your aquarium water step by step.Step 1 – The powered pump creates a magnetic current that causes the impeller to spin and moves the water through centrifugal force.Step 2 – This force pulls water up through the intake tubes, through the pump.Step 3 – The pump then pushes the water at an increased pressure through the filter media.Step 4 – The filtered water is then cascaded back into the aquarium.As you can see, it is a pretty simple, yet highly effective way to filter your aquarium water. Most all aquarium filters will be designed this way, with a few individual modifications that brands give them to increase their efficiency and filtration capacity.

How to choose the right HOB filter?

When searching for the right HOB filter for your aquarium setup there are a few things to consider first.
Getting a filter that is adequate for your aquarium size is very important. If you are using a filter that is too small for your aquarium, you run the risk of under filtering your aquarium as well as fish health problems. A smaller filter will need regular maintenance to prevent the media inside from being clogged, too.
If the flow rate of the filter is too low, your aquarium will be under filtered; and vice versa, a too strong filter can stress and kill the fish. A good aquarium filter will turn over the volume of the aquarium at least 3 to 4 times in an hour. For example, a 10-gallon aquarium would need a filter that features a flow rate of 30-40 GPH (Gallon Per Hour) or higher.The flow rate required for your aquarium depends on what kind of fish, or invertebrates you are keeping. An adjustable flow control valve is the easiest way to fine-tune the flow to fit your needs. Most HOB filters come with this capability.
There are three types of filter media. They are divided into three types of filtration (mechanical, biological, and chemical) based on which aquarium wastes they deal with (more here). Ideally, the filter you choose should include all three types of filtration.Most HOB filters come with at least two out of the three filter media types. The most common is the sponge filter, which provides mechanical filtration and (limited) biological filtration. Some HOB filters take it a step further by adding in chemical filtration with either a sponge filter dusted with activated carbon or a bag of activated carbon.A large filter allows you to add some more filter media of your choice. I preferably like to add some ceramic rings and other highly porous media in addition to the sponges that come with my HOB filters for better biological filtration.

How to set up a HOB filter?

All filters come with the filter media or cartridge suited for the filter when purchasing new. There is usually some assembly needed to get it running, but a lot of brands have them almost completely setup right out of the box.Helpful steps to ensure a successful HOB filter setup.Step 1 – Remove all filter components from the box.Step 2 – Take apart the filter completely, including the pump and impeller, and give everything a good rinse. This will help you understand how the filter parts work together. Plus, knowing how to remove the pump and access the impeller will save you down the road.Step 3 – Rinse all filter media with tap water. This will ensure that any leftover dust from manufacturing is removed before installing the filter on your aquarium.Step 4 – Put the filter back together, making sure not to forget any pieces.Step 5 – Hang the filter on the backside of the aquarium.Step 6 – Plug the filter into a power outlet and let it do its magic.Note: some HOB filters are not able to prime by themselves and you have to do this work. It may be the water pump is too weak or can’t reach the water to have the first water flow through to prime itself. It is so easy to prime a HOB filter, just take a cup and fill the filter with aquarium water before plugging it in.

Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter

Due to its 3-stage filtration and easy filter changeover, this Aqua Clear HOB filter is suitable for small tanks that aren’t larger than 10 gallons.There are three layers of filtration offered by the Aqua Clear as follows:The foam layer is replaceable every two months, the activated carbon filter is replaceable every month, while the ceramic rings are replaceable every three months.Another major selling point of this power filter is its patented re-filtration system, which allows you to reduce flow rates without compromising on filtration efficiency. Even at reduced flow rate, up to 50% of the water continues to be processed multiple times.The flow control is a feature that comes in handy when housing small fish that don’t require a powerful current in their tank.

AZOO Aquarium Mignon Filter

This quiet and efficient hangonback filter is easy to install and maintain. It has a flow rate of 30 gallons/hour and it’s rated for aquariums up to 10 gallons.The filter media included is a black sponge filter, but you can easily upgrade the filter media by using AquaClear Biomax and AquaClear Foam.This is a great filter for keeping shrimp, bettas, or other small fish or fry thanks to the flow rate, which can be regulated.The Azoo filter hangs easily and securely on the back of your aquarium and creates a small cascade effect, which is another plus if you want a “waterfall” effect for your aquarium.

Tetra Whisper in-Tank Filter

The Tetra Whisper filter that’s rated for 10-gallon aquariums installs with a hanger and a suction cup or two suction cups depending on how you want to place the filter.Once installed, you can envelop it in live plants or decorations to hide it since it’s small enough to not disturb the decor of your tank.As for the filter media, the Tetra Whisper comes with easy to replace filter bags that use activated carbon. The cartridge floss traps debris and other particulate matter, while the carbon medium acts as a chemical filter.This HOB filter is silent, uses medium bag cartridges, and comes with all that’s needed for installation. It’s perfect for small fish and shrimp.

Hassle-free Installation

Unlike canister filters designed for professional use in large aquarium, hangonback aquariums are easy to install with suction cups or hangers that are included in the filter kit.By getting rid of the hassle of installation, these filters can be easily operated by beginners and advanced aquarists alike.They require no technical know-how or any plumbing skills, as they simply slide on the edge of the aquarium with hangers or they can be attached with suction cups, depending on the preferred mode of installation and type of HOB filter.

Easy Maintenance

All filters require maintenance, but HOB filters make this step simple too. The filter media included in these filters can’t be used forever, therefore, periodic replacement — every month, two months or three months depending on the filter media — is needed.Filter changeover is usually an easy and clean process. Some filter system also create slots that allow you to replace the filters in a drip-free way, without any contact with the used filter material.

Affordability

Affordability is another advantage of HOB filters along with variety. There’s a filter for every aquarium size at every price range.Whether you have a nano tank, a 10-gallon aquarium or a medium sized aquarium, there is a HOB filter rated for the type of aquarium you have.

Complex Filtration

Quality HOB filters offer multi-stage filtration thanks to the multiple filter media integrated into the filter. Depending on the type and brand of filter biological, mechanical and chemical filtration can be achieved.The filter media in HOB filters can include a sponge filter that removes debris and creates favorable conditions for beneficial bacterial colonies to thrive, activated carbon filter, which is responsible for the chemical filtration of the water, and ceramic filters, which are also responsible for biological filtration.

Silent Filtration

It’s important that aquarium filters are silent not only because it’s annoying to have something buzzing in your home all the time, but also because noisy filters can stress out fish.The sound-dampening technology of HOB filters, makes them quiet alternatives to more robust filtration solutions, e.g. compared to canister filters designed for large aquariums.These are the reasons why you should consider getting a HOB filter for your small aquarium. Next up, let’s how to maintain these filters and how they compare to other small aquarium filters.

Flow Control

Another feature of HOB filters that’s worth noting is their adjustable flow control, which allows you to adjust the current in your aquarium so that it meets the preferences of your fish.Small fish like bettas and guppies don’t require a strong flow, therefore, the fact that flow is adjustable makes it easy to create the ideal water flow for your fish.

Space-Saving

Traditional internal filters can take up too much space in the aquarium. When it comes to small aquariums, you don’t have too much space to work with to begin with. HOB filters are an elegant solution to this problem allowing you to have a filter without it taking up valuable space in your aquarium.

How to Maintain a HOB Filter?

The reason why maintenance is important when it comes to any filtration system is because, with time, the filter media in the system becomes saturated with debris and contaminants.This causes performance issues, clogging issues, and renders the whole system unable to perform and continue cleaning your water.Therefore, periodic maintenance is the only way to ensure that your filter operates at peak performance and your aquarium water is clean and clear.Periodic maintenance means replacing the filter media at the intervals recommended by the manufacturer and cleaning out the filter chambers.When you buy a HOB filter, make sure you check its maintenance requirements too. Buy a filter that’s easy to clean and maintain because the time and effort you spend on maintenance can be a deciding factor in how well your filter will perform in the years you’ll be using it.Filter changeover should be as easy as taking out a filter bag, a sponge or a cartridge and replacing it with a new one. The whole process of replacing the filter cartridge and cleaning the filter should not take longer than 20 minutes.