Skip to main content

Hang on back aquarium filters are one of the most used filters in the hobby. In order to understand why you should use this specific type of filter, continue reading. In fact, there are a few different types of filters within this category and we’re here to help you find the one that suits your needs.

Best Hang on Back Filters – Reviews

1. AquaClear Power Filter

This is a hang-on back filter known for its flexibility. It comes with an original design that allows users to place a large number of media items in the filter chambers. In this way, users can get efficient filtration. The big filter chamber is here to provide users an opportunity to use any filter media they want. The pump that this filter system has is very efficient. It can process up to 500 gallons of aquarium water per hour and it’s perfect for aquariums with a capacity between 60 and 110 gallons. Here you can find the AquaClear Power Filter!


  • Excellent flow rate
  • Good warranty
  • Different filter media options
  • Extremely efficient


  • Some parts (if needed to be replaced) are not easy to find

Read my AquaClear Review here

2. Fluval C Power Filter

The Fluval C3 hang-on-back aquarium filter was designed to deliver premium water quality. It includes a revolutionary five-stage filtration technology that has one chemical, two mechanical as well as two biological stages. Obviously, the final results are spectacular. It also has a modular design for better performance and maintenance. Here you can find the Fluval C Power Filter!


  • Sophisticated filtration technology for optimal results
  • Easy to install
  • Easy to maintain and clear


  • Price slightly above average

3. Marineland Penguin Power Filter

This hang-on-the-back filter has a full three-stage filtration that keeps the water clean, clear, and healthy for the plants and fish. One of the main features of this interesting filter is the bio-wheel technology used in it which delivers a rich, oxygenated surface area for good bacteria. In this way, the nitrites and ammonia are kept away. Here you can find the Marineland Penguin Power Filter!


  • Long life span
  • Made of safe and durable materials
  • Quiet
  • Inserts can be customized easily


  • Bio-wheel is a bit fragile

4. Aqueon QuietFlow LED PRO Aquarium Power Filter

This is another great HOB filter with additional filtration stages for perfect results. It also has a LED cartridge replacement light that guarantees the best performance. The five-stage filtration process will remove all the harmful microorganisms and impurities from the tank. Here you can find the Aqueon QuietFlow LED Pro Power Filter!


  • Excellent water flow rate
  • A good number of filter media options
  • Quiet
  • Let’s you know when to do maintenance


  • No room for extra filter media

5. Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter

This hang-on back power filter by Penn Plax provides quadruple filtration. It also has a very efficient self-priming intake tube and users can easily adjust the filtration during feeding time. Overall, it is a well-built and effective HOB filter. Here you can find the Penn Plax Cascade Hang-on Aquarium Filter!


  • Made by a reputable company
  • Special quad filtration
  • Easy to use
  • Quiet


  • Doesn’t have a bio-falls filtration system found in some other Penn Plax models

What is a Hang on Back Aquarium Filter?

As the name suggests, these filters hang on the back of the tank and use a special intake tube to suck aquarium water. Once it is processed, this water is delivered back to the tank with the help of some sort of waterfall or a specially designed return spout. There is no doubt that hangs on back aquarium filters are simple to use and very convenient, but what is even more important is that they are very cheap. Even if you need a filter for a large aquarium you won’t have to break the bank.

A hang-on-back aquarium filter is actually a specific version of a power filter that is ideal for those interested in a filtration system that doesn’t need special maintenance and cleaning. This low-maintenance type of tank filter doesn’t include many elements – the housing/filter body, the filter media basket, and the intake tube. It’s interesting that older filters of this kind usually had detachable motors. However, the vast majority of new hand-on-back filters come with fully incorporated motors so there is no need for removal and cleaning. Some of these filters have one or two so-called return sprouts used for bringing the processed water back to the aquarium, but their presence and their number are related to the size of the aquarium filter. The aforementioned filter basket is here to support biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration. There are also hang-on back filters that have detachable bio-wheels for improved biological filtration.

Hang on back aquarium filters are popular for many reasons. To start with, they are cheap. Next, they are very simple to use. All it takes to install an aquarium filter like this is to assemble the filter basket and the intake tube and hang the filter at a suitable place before plugging it in. If you are interested in using an older model of this type of filter keep in mind that they should not be used dry.

Pros and Cons

We have already mentioned a few things about hang-on filters that can be described as beneficial, but we will now summarize the benefits and downsides of using this specific type of filter.

First and foremost, the HOB filters are inexpensive. When you compare it to the rest of the aquarium filters, they will probably be the least expensive ones. In addition, these filters are available in many different sizes which is why they are one of the most widely used aquarium filters today. It doesn’t really matter whether you are using a large aquarium or a small aquarium – these filters can definitely help you process aquarium water. Furthermore, they have several elements incorporated into them which make them very easy and simple to maintain. No more spending countless hours cleaning different filter system parts regularly. The ones that have a bio-wheel are even simpler to maintain. It’s good to know that they are not using a lot of power.

The only downside of using a hang-on-back aquarium filter is that this type of filter needs a larger opening compared to most filters. As a result of that, you can expect faster evaporation and a greater risk of jumpy fish escaping the tank.


Hang on Back Filters vs. Other Types of Filters

When we compare hang-on-back (HOB) filters with other types of filters we will notice many differences. For example, when it comes to cost range, they are much cheaper compared to wet/dry aquarium filters and canister filters. They come with more or less the same price as internal power filters, power filters, and under gravel filters, but they might be costlier than air-driven internal filters. Don’t forget that the model and the brand play a significant role when it comes to price. Setting up a HOB filter is easy and simple just like in the case of power filters, under gravel filters, and air-driven filters. However, it might be a little bit difficult to install a wet/dry filter and a canister filter if you are doing this for the first time.

As we said before, they are low-maintenance filters which cannot be said for most aquarium filters. The best part is that they provide excellent mechanical, chemical, and especially biological filtration. They are better than all the types of filters in terms of biological filtration and the only other filter that can be compared to it is the wet/dry filter.

Check out the Top 5 Canister Filters reviews

HOB Filter Maintenance

HOB filter owners should know that this filter should be cleaned once a month. The cleaning process is very simple. First of all, you will need fresh filtration media, a bucket, and a small pitcher. Two quarts of aquarium water should be placed in a small picture and the filter must be unplugged. The filter must be placed in a well-cleaned bucket, and the sponge insert removed. The cleaned or new sponge insert can be placed with the help of the pitcher. After that, you can put the filter in place and start using it again.


Hang on back aquarium filters, just like any other type of filter, have some advantages and disadvantages. However, the number of advantages greatly outweighs the number of disadvantages. These filters are very efficient, they are inexpensive, quiet, and don’t require much maintenance. When looking for a HOB filter, it’s a smart idea to stay focused on filters made by reputable companies to make sure you get the best hang on the back filter possible.

Thanks for reading!

If you like the article above, here are some other similar articles you should check out!

Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Filter Review

Fluval Fx6 Canister Filter Review

AquaClear Power Filter Review


Hi, my name is Jordan. I've been in the fishkeeping hobby since my childhood. Welcome to my blog where I help fishkeepers enjoy the hobby by offering free guides, advice, & product reviews. Read more...