Best Aquarium Backpack Filters For Sale-Buying Guide

What does a backpack filter look like?

Backpack filters for aquariums, or so-called waterfall filters, are small external filters that do not need to be placed in a separate location. Hanging them up at the back or side of the aquarium is sufficient.

Advantages of backpack filters

The advantages are obvious in comparison with internal aquarium filters:

  • They do not take up space inside the aquarium
  • They have a great filtration power
  • Up to five stages of filtration are possible: mechanical, chemical and biological
  • They are easier and more practical to handle or clean

If we compare them with the external filters of cylinder or canister, the great advantage is that it is not necessary to enable a specific place for its installation, and that its assembly is much simpler and faster.

Until recently it was difficult to find backpack filters for aquariums of more than 200 liters, but there are already very improved filters on the market that can be used in large aquariums, which due to their location cannot install canister filters.

Operation of the backpack filters

The backpack filters are nicknamed “waterfall” because of their special function.

  • They have a rigid pipe through which they take the dirty water from the aquarium, thanks to the suction of the filter pump.
  • The water can be taken from the top or bottom of the tank.
  • Once the water has been sucked out, the filter mechanisms make it pass from the bottom to the top, through the different filter materials, and return the water back to the aquarium.
  • The water “falls” into the aquarium and creates a cascade effect (hence the nickname cascade filters), improving the oxygen exchange on the water surface.

How to choose a good waterfall filter

In order to choose a good waterfall filter, you have to take into account which characteristics will influence its performance:

Flow rate

The size of the flow offers us a very important information, the amount of liters/hour that is able to filter.
At least, the filter must be able to filter the volume of the aquarium three times per hour.
If we have a 200 liter aquarium, the filter must have a flow rate of 600 litres/hour.
It is recommended that the flow rate is high, most filters that we can find on sale have the possibility of regulating the flow, to adapt to what we need in each moment.

Filter materials

All filters allow mechanical filtration and are mostly equipped with chemical and biological filtration, but this is not always the case. Ideally we should look for a filter that allows us to add chemical filtration, and if possible several types of mechanical and biological filtration.

Mechanical filtration allows us to place sponges to retain the coarser particles.
The biological filtration is done through elements such as ceramics, which is very good for us to host the bacteria that influence the nitrogen cycle.
Thanks to chemical filtration, we are able to correct the quality of the water in specific situations, such as after a treatment with medication. The most commonly used material in these situations is activated carbon.

Mantenimiento y limpieza del filtro en cascada

Si la cantidad de materiales filtrantes es importante a la hora de tomar la decisión de comprar un filtro u otro, la facilidad del mantenimiento y limpieza del filtro también lo es.

El propio diseño del filtro permite una fácil limpieza, pero no todos los filtros son igual de sencillos de manipular, siendo algunos extremadamente sencillos y otros pueden resultar algo más complicados.

Algunos modelos incorporan dispositivos que avisan de que el filtro necesita ser limpiado, de manera que no tenemos que dedicarle mayor atención, salvo cuando el propio aparato nos avisa.