Using the best aquarium filter for a 50/55/60 gallon fish tank is very important to keep the water clean and clean and reduce maintenance works you have to do to keep the large tank work well for a long period. Among aquarium filter types, canister and power filters are much more powerful than other types that makes them a great choice for large size aquariums like 50-60 gallon tanks.

Best canister filters for 50/55/60 gallon fish tanks

How does a canister filter works?

A canister filter is a type of external aquarium filtration system, it can be housed in an aquarium cabinet where it won’t detract from the appearance of the tank. These filters are powered by an impeller which draws aquarium water through a tube, passing it through several levels of filter media packed in several chambers inside a canister, then releases it back into the tank through another tube. By this way, canister filters well filter the aquarium water with all 3 types of filtration – mechanical, chemical, and biological.


Mechanical filtration is the most basic type and it involves the physical removal of solid waste particles from the tank water. This is typically accomplished using a sponge or some other type of material that traps the solid waste particles as tank water moves through the filter.

Chemical filtration involves the removal of dissolved matter and heavy metals from aquarium water and it is usually accomplished using activated carbon filter media.

Biological filtration is to degrade Ammonia (NH3) and Nitrite (NO2) in aquarium water that can cause harmful for your fish and invertebrates.

Canister filters are typically much more powerful than other filters because they can accommodate more filter media and hence, perform all these filtration best. However, canister filters are more expensive than other filters used for the same tank sizes and usually chosen for medium to large aquariums upward of 30 gallons. They are the popular choice for 55-60 gallon fish tanks stocking many saltwater or freshwater fish that requires a good filtration system to do well.

Fluval 306 external canister filter for aquariums up to 70 gallons

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  • Flow rate (gallon per hour): 303 GPH
  • Ideal for: a 50-70 gallon aquarium
  • Number of baskets: 3 baskets
  • Filtration types: all 3 types of filtration
  • Filter media: 4 foam pads (mechanical), 2 x Bio-Foam (mechanical & biological), 2 x 120 g BioMax (biological), 2 x 70 g carbon (chemical)
  • Media Capacity: 6.6 l
  • Suitable for: fresh or saltwater aquariums
  • 3 year warranty.

Fluval 306 canister filter is an external aquarium filter in the Fluval 06 series from Hagen Fluval. The filter features a flow rate of 303 GPH and can be used for fish tanks up to 70 gallons. It is designed with a multi-stage filtration to purify aquarium water and provide the healthier environment for both freshwater or saltwater aquariums.

Because it is in the new Fluval 06 series, the Fluval 306 receives all of the most advanced features from this product line such as the most effective filtration, faster and easier setup, less and quick maintenance, quieter operation… The new and improved Fluval 306 canister filter helps fish keepers to do less work but still provide a healthier and cleaner environment for their fish to live in.

Fluval 06 series canister filterFluval 06 series filtration system, source

The filter has a square shape and it can hold 35 to 50% more water than round ones. Water flow is noticeably increased and the filtration is enhanced due to the ability of this filter to use the entire canister space. The sound dampening impeller is designed to operate quietly.

Everything you need to set up the filter comes with the product package, even the filter media that are already pre-packed in the three baskets for easy access and setup. An instruction video is also available on if you don’t want to read the manuals.

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Read the full review of Fluval 306 canister filter:

Penn Plax Cascade 700 canister filter for aquarium up to 65 gallons

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  • Flow rate (gallon per hour): 185 GPH
  • Rated for: tanks up to 65 gallons
  • Filtration types: all 3 types of filtration
  • Filter media: bio-floss, bio-sponges, activated carbon
  • Suitable for: marine or saltwater aquariums.

Penn Plax Cascade 700 canister filter has a flow rate of 185 gph and is used for aquarium up to 65 gallons, and certainly it works well for a 50/55/60 gallon aquarium. The large filter trays make the filter possible for accommodating more filter media to well perform all three types of filtration to keep the water clean. Moreover, you can customize the filter media use as you want to accomplish a wide array of filtration to provide a cleaner and clearer water environment for your fish. It can be used on both fresh- or salt-water.

It is very easy to set up and run the filter because everything you need to connect the tank to the filter is available. The filter is automatically primed, only press the prime button and the filtering process will begin in about thirty minutes after the installation, and within only a day the water improvement is easily noticeable. The air-tight seal assures proper flow rate while maintaining ultra quiet operation.

The larger filter trays for the longer maintaining periods, the creative design makes it easy to disassemble the top to access the inside filter media for quick maintenance. Simply release the vacuum and remove the top, and then you can easy to handle inside the filter.

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Read the full review of Penn Plax Cascade series:

Best Power filters for 50/55/60 gallon aquariums

This type of filter hangs on the back of your aquarium (hence the name “Hang-On Filter”) and it typically provides all three types of filtration mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. Power filters are powered by an impeller which sucks aquarium water up through an intake tube, passes it through the filter media, and releases it back into the tank via a waterfall.

AquaClear 70 power filter for 40 – 70 gallon aquarium

aquaclear-70-power-filter-for-50-55-gallon-aquarium5 star rating (5/5 by editor)Check on
  • Flow rate (gallon per hour): 300 GPH
  • Rated for: 40 – 70 gallon aquarium
  • Filtration types: All 3 types of filtration
  • Filter media: AquaClear Foam, Activated Carbon, BioMax and Cycle Guard.

AquaClear 70 power filter is the most powerful power filter rated for aquariums up to 70 gallons and its quality is proven by thousands of aquarists on the world. The filter has a larger capacity compared to other filters in the same type that provide the maximum capture of waste in the aquarium.

The filter comes with some filter materials such as AquaClear Foam, Activated Carbon, BioMax and Cycle Guard that are necessary for you to complete the installation. With the filtration grid, you know that all the water in the tank goes through the filter and is safe for your fish.

What make it the most favorite filter on the market is its flexibility on customization with the larger capacity. You can choose your own filter materials to work with the filter without having to use the cartridges come with the product. People love to use this filter with only 2 types of filter media (biological and mechanical) and they only add Activated Carbon (chemical media) when they see the aquarium water looks yellowish.

AquaClear 70 power filter is a great choice for 50-60 gallon aquariums. With its very affordable price, quality and customization, the filter is recommended for the creative aquarists who want to customize their own filter materials. If you don’t have an abundant budget to buy a canister filter, this power filter maybe the best replacement.

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Fluval C4 Power Filter for 40-70 gallon aquarium

fluval-c4-power-filter-for-50-55-gallon-aquarium4.5 star rating (4.5/5 by editor)Check on
  • Flow rate (gallon per hour): 264 GPH
  • Used for: 40 – 70 gallon aquarium
  • Filtration types: all 3 types of filtration
  • Filter media: Poly/Foam, Activated Carbon, C-Nodes and Bio-Screen Pad.

Fluval C4 Power Filter is also a power filter manufactured by Hagen Fluval. The filter is rated for aquariums from 40 to 70 gallons and certainly it can work perfectly for a 50/55/60 gallon fish tank. It isn’t a canister filter so it comes with a price cheaper than the previous Fluval 306 external filter. The filter well performs all 3 types of filtration through 5-stage filtering that provides the best environment for your fish.


5-stage filtration, image from Fluval Aquatic

  • Stage 1 & 2: Mechanical is made by Poly/Foam Pad,
  • Stage 3: Chemical is made by Activated Carbon Insert,
  • Stage 4: Biological is made by  Bio-Screen,
  • Stage 5: Biological is made by C-Nodes.

This is a very quality product similar to the previous, so if you are a fan of Fluval filters, this filter is ideal for your fish tank.

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Marineland Penguin 350 power filter for 50-70 gallon aquarium

Marineland Penguin 350 power filter4.5 star rating (4.5/5 by editor)Check on
  • Flow rate (gallon per hour): 350 GPH
  • Rated for: 50-70 gallon aquarium
  • Filtration types: mechanical, biological, chemical
  • Filter media: bio-wheels, Penguin-Rite C cartridge.

If you to try a new method to perform biological filtration without using ceramide rings, take your attention to the Marineland Penguin 350 power filter. The bio-wheels instead of ceramide rings play the main biological filtration in this filtration system. The bio-wheels are loved by many hobbyists because they provide a rich aeration environment for helpful bacteria to live in. When the filter is matured that means the amount of helpful bacteria is large enough, the nitrogenous toxins (ammonia and nitrite) produced by fish wastes will excellently processed to make the water safer for fish.

Beside the bio-wheels, the filter also comes with the Penguin-Rite C cartridge which is made of floss to mechanically remove dirt and debris, the between of it is filled with activated carbon to remove odors, discoloration, and impurities. All of the filtration is performed that means aquarium water is not only clean for stocking your aquatic pets but also clear for the great enjoyment.

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