A 10-gallon tank makes a small aquarium, doesn’t it? So you might think that maintaining a small aquarium is an easy task. Well, to be honest, the undertaking of keeping the water clean and fresh in even a small aquarium is not easy. Not as long as you don’t have the best filter for 10 gallon tank.

Aquarium filters are the perfect solution for not only small but also large tanks. So if you wish to improve the quality of your pet fish’s life. Then you’ve got to know how to choose the best filter for 10 gallon tank. So here’s the ultimate guide for that.

10-Gallon Tank: Does It Really Require A Filter?

Even though easier to clean in comparison to large tanks, a 10-gallon tank does indeed demand a filter. An aquarium filter doesn’t just keep the visible dirt and impurities away. But it also tackles the invisible bit. Such as the hidden processes and chemicals present in the tank that leave a huge negative impact.

Rotting food and excrement release toxins. And these are considered to be seriously poisonous to the fish. No wonder it’s so important to eliminate these chemicals. The best way to do that is known as nitrogen cycling. Water carries out this process in a larger amount. That means when the tank is small and enclosed, you have to facilitate the process manually.

So the answer to the question is YES, a 10-gallon tank does really require a filter.

What Is The Nitrogen Cycle?

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It’s a simple chemical reaction that occurs everywhere. Earth’s atmosphere mainly consists of nitrogen. In natural bodies like lakes, rivers, and oceans, nitrogen cycling is different. Than what happens in aquariums.

Atmosphere nitrogen enters the water through rainfall and condensation. After that, the process of nitrogen converting into nitrites and nitrates takes place. Then phytoplankton synthesizing all the organic matter. The result of this is waste produced in the form of ammonia and urea.

The excretion settles at the bottom, where it is nitrified using bacteria. Good bacteria convert the waste back to nitrites and nitrates. And that’s how it becomes nitrogen again. But you should know that ammonia has proven to be toxic for underwater creatures.

In aquariums, decaying food and fish waste pave the way for a lot of ammonia. Friendly bacteria then convert this ammonia into harmless chemicals. And that’s how the waste is removed on its own.

But how are you going to encourage the process of bacteria converting the harmful chemicals into harmless ones in an aquarium? Enter AQUARIUM FILTER.

Best Filter for 10 Gallon Tank: Types of Filtration Stages

1. Mechanical Filtration

This filtration stage traps decaying food and waste particles physically. It’s what gets the bigger dirt floating in your aquarium. So please make sure you choose a filter that activates mechanical filtration first. So you can eliminate the larger particles. That is very likely to clog up the smaller filters.

2. Biological Filtration

It’s the second part of the filtration process. And what it does is facilitates the nitrogen cycling I talked about earlier. The section consists of ceramic hoops, in most cases at least. This is nothing but a sponge with a generous surface area.

The biological filtration supports bacteria responsible for transforming toxic ammonia into nitrites and nitrates.

3. Chemical Filtration

The final stage is chemical filtration. The method employs activated carbon for getting rid of all the leftover impurities. Such as metabolic waste, hormones, proteins, organic pollutants, and other such chemicals.

However, there is a drawback to this. Activated carbon tends to decrease oxygen levels. But you can rectify this by soaking it for 1 hour in water before inserting the thing into the filter.

Just keep in mind that chemical filtration eliminates medication too.

Best Filter for 10 Gallon Tank: Types of Filters

Canister/External Power Filters

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They work on power, obviously. It’s the best small aquarium filter if you ask me. And also the most efficient because of the capacity to hold a lot of filter media and size. Along with the ability to turn over huge volumes of water every hour. And also the flexibility for letting you change the media. It’s the perfect quiet 1- gallon aquarium filter.

HoB (Hang-on-Back) Filter

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This hangs on the tank edge. And it filters water through a mechanism installed at the edge. Meaning minimal space.

The HoB filter is also very accessible in terms of maintenance. And the thing is submerged in the water partly, thus minimal noise too.

Box or Corner Filters

These types of filters are small. The greater part of them remains underwater. It’s just the little tube that emerges from the water surface. Easy to remove in order to clean, these filters don’t occupy much space in the aquarium

Multi-Layer Corner Filter

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It’s also tucked away, but this one comes with a visible 3-layered mechanism. The layers are made of stone and cotton. And they’re responsible for purifying water and enhancing oxygen levels.

You can always remove or add layers depending on the size of your tank.

Internal Power Filters

These types of filters are submerged in water completely. Thus, difficult to access. It also means they take up too much tank space. In short, an internal power filter is not suitable for a 10-gallon tank.

Undergravel Filter


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Such a filter is flat and long. And you can place it quite conveniently and invisibly. It goes below the gravel. But that compromises the effectiveness of the filter.

Sponge Filter

Enclosed in the plastic housing, this type of filter features an air pump for bubbling water. The spongy layers do the filtering action. But these spongy layers are prone to becoming dirty very often. That means they attract bacteria, which implies more frequent cleaning.

Final Say: So What Size Filter for 10 Gallon Tank is the Most Suitable?

Keep away from sponge and undergravel filters since they’re old-fashioned. And also not very efficient and easy to access. The others end up occupying too much space in a 10-gallon tank. Except for the canister/external power filter. It’s the best filter for 10 gallon tank.

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