Canister Filter Vs. HOB: Which Filter Is Better For The Perfect Tank Setup

The most popular options for a tank filter are canister and HOB. You may be wondering about the canister filter vs. HOB filter; which one is better?

The canister filter has been so famous for its quality and durability. However, if you are a beginner or have a small tank, a HOB filter may be better.

This article will discuss the differences between these two devices. We also suggest some cases where you should pick a particular kind. Let's read on to discover!



First, we'll have a look at the overall operation of each filter.

Canister filter

A canister is an external filter

A canister is an external filter

Canister filters are self-contained filters that resemble a canister. These external purifiers are generally out of sight, maybe off to the side or behind a cabinet.

Canister filters are huge filter devices with a lot of power. They appear to be the most efficient and powerful devices available.

These filters operate outside of a tank. Only the tubing required for pulling in the water stays inside. The rest sits outside.

HOB filter

A HOB filter stays at the back of the tank

A HOB filter stays at the back of the tank

HOB stands for Hang On Back filter, also called power filter. These filters typically sit in the back of the tank, as its name indicates.

These filters are external. They do help to reduce the amount of room. The HOB is also simple to install. Simply lay them over the edge of your tank, switch it on, and there you go.

Canister Filter Vs. HOB: Comparison

You may notice the differences in their operation, maintenance, and price. Let's check each factor in detail.

Canister Filter Vs. HOB: Comparison

Canister Filter Vs. HOB: Comparison

Water Paraments

The canister filter includes two tubes, one for the outlet and the other one for the inlet. The water travels in one tube via the filter's media and then travels back to the tank.

On the other hand, a HOB filter features a protruding intake tube that carries water into the filter from the tank's water. The intake tube pumps water into the HOB filter, traveling through the filter material before being pumped back into the tank.


It is essential to do regular maintenance on your canister filters. The brand, model, and type of filter used will determine how straightforward it is to maintain.

Before cleaning, you'll need to dismantle the pieces. It would help if you also thought about the media's performance.

When the media gets ineffective, it's time to replace it. Even when changing the filter media, you must follow specific processes for installing the filter material.

Cleaning is a massive issue with HOB filters since you must disassemble every few days to clear the build-up. Furthermore, you have to change the filter as soon as it starts to function poorly.


Even when the capacity is about the same, the canister filter is typically more costly than the HOB. A canister filter cleans better than a HOB filter. Moreover, canister filters can function for long periods, thanks to their high-quality construction.

When you compare prices between stores, the price might vary dramatically. It would help if you also considered your purpose.

A HOB filter may be enough if you have a tiny aquarium. The best Hang On Back filter still serves your needs.

Water loss

Canister filters stay away from the top of the tank. This position reduces both evaporation and current. Hence, you don't need to worry about the water leaking.

On the other hand, using the HOB filter may result in water loss, especially when maintaining the tank. 

Pros And Cons Of Canister Filter Vs. HOB

It's crucial to consider the advantages and disadvantages of a filter before buying it. Canister and HOB undoubtedly offer some pros and cons, which we are going to mention.

Canister Filter

This model is more popular than its competitor. Thanks to the robust operation, it continues to win the tank keepers' hearts.

  • Canisters offer excellent filtration power.
  • Ample storage capacity for media, ensuring clean water.
  • Pumps and motors are powerful.
  • Installing a canister filter saves lots of space in the tank because the device sits outside.
  • It can be costly.
  • To operate and maintain the filter, you must have at least basic knowledge.

HOB Filter

Although the HOB filter is less common in use than the canister one, it still stands out in size and simplicity.

  • HOB filters are compact and don't take up a lot of room.
  • It's straightforward to install and operate.
  • It's also relatively easy to clean and keep in good condition.
  • The price is reasonable.
  • They can't handle a lot of water and aren't suitable for a large fish aquarium.
  • This model is less durable than the canister.
  • Using a HOB filter results in a higher chance of water loss.

Which One Should You Choose

Since each purchase has both pros and cons, you should consider your requirements and preferences. Here are some cases suggesting you opt for each device.

When to choose the canister filter

You should employ a canister filter if your tank is more significant than 50 gallons. They can manage a larger volume of water while preserving excellent conditions.

As a result, the canister filter is ideal for heavily populated communal tanks. Fluval FX6 canister filter, for example, is the most favorable option to try.

Canister filters often come with a variety of feature selection methods. You may choose the filter material that better serves your tank's demands.

These filters are additionally secure due to the flow control system and sealed construction. Choosing the best canister filter for big saltwater aquariums and planted ponds is no doubt the wisest decision.

When to choose the HOB filter

For beginners who have never used a tank filter before, a HOB filter is a preferred idea. When purchasing a tank, a HOB filter comes with a default. You'd better make use of this feature.

Choose the HOB filter if your tank is too tiny and their added expense makes them unaffordable in most circumstances.


Most fish owners may think choosing a high-quality tank is the final step of setting up an ideal aquarium. However, the perfect living environment for your fish also necessitates the filter.

Hopefully, the comparison in this article will help you choose the most suitable filter for your lovely tank.

If you need any further information about this topic “canister filter vs. HOB”, please feel free to ask. Thank you for reading!

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