Can You Use a Pond Filter for an Aquarium?

Pond Filter for Aquarium

When setting up an aquarium, it is essential to consider what filter will be used. Filters are to remove dirt and toxic products from the aquarium while maintaining an environment suitable enough to support the animals. They can be made from wool, sponges, or plastic.

There are three recognized types of filters; (a) power filters which use disposable cartridges and are positioned at the edge of the back of the aquarium, (b) internal filters, which are usually small in size, are kept inside the aquarium to aid water movement inside the aquarium, (c) canister filter, which is used for aquariums with a large amount of fish in big aquariums. 

Can You Use a Pond Filter for an Aquarium?

Pond owners use pond filters to clear organic matter. The filter usually consists of a powerful cartridge and fine mesh placed at the bottom of the filter. How it works is that it collects the organic matter in the pond as they flow through it and traps them. Afterwards, the collected matter can be removed and removed, and then the filter media rinsed.

The most commonly found pond filter is the gravity filter. It works by drawing water from the bottom of the pond, purified, and then sent back to the top of the water; this cycle is nonstop. Pond filters are bigger and work with more complexity than aquarium filters, but that does not change the fact that their primary purpose is to clean the water and make it safe for the fish to live in. For this reason, pond filters can be used in aquariums, but precautions must be taken.

They have to be the right size and type for the aquarium so your aquarium is not overloaded. Pond filters are, however, harder to clean than aquarium filters because of their size. Knowing the tank size and whether there will be space for the pump to sit is important in avoiding installation and operational problems.

What Does a Filter Do?

Filters that are of good quality and in good working condition usually clean waste from the aquarium. There are three basic classifications of waste and the type of filtration method used to clean them.

  • Solid waste is usually remnants of food fed to fish, fish poop, and other particles or debris floating about in the aquarium. The process of removing this waste and unwanted products is called mechanical filtration.
  • Organic compounds that have been dissolved in either the aquarium water or the water used in filling the aquarium up usually cause discolouration to the water and bring about bad odour, i.e., dissolved leaves of driftwood that may have been used to drop and maintain pH levels in the aquarium. The process used in removing this waste is called chemical filtration.
  • Nitrites and ammonia are biological wastes because they have been biologically processed within the fish or aquarium plants that are unwanted, contaminated, and removed through biological filtration. 

Guide on How to Choose a Filter for Your Aquarium

Aquarium Tank

Aquarium filters are essential for maintaining a healthy aquatic environment for your fish and other aquatic life. They help to remove debris, excess food, and waste products from the water, which can otherwise lead to the build-up of harmful chemicals and bacteria.

However, with so many different types of aquarium filters available, knowing which one to choose can be challenging. 

1. Tank size

The size of your aquarium is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a filter. A filter that is too small for your tank will not be able to keep up with the waste produced by your fish, while a filter that is too large can create too much water flow, harming some aquatic life.

If you have a small tank (up to 20 gallons), a hang-on-back (HOB) filter may be a good choice. Our top recommendation for a small tank is the Aqua Clear HOB filter. It is easy to install and maintain, and its adjustable flow control allows you to customize the water flow to your tank’s specific needs.

A canister filter may be better for larger tanks (up to 75 gallons). Canister filters are more powerful and can handle more waste than HOB filters. Our top recommendation for a canister filter is the Fluval FX4. It has a large capacity and multiple filter media baskets, making it easy to customize the filtration for your tank.

2. Type of fish

Different types of fish have different filtration needs. Some fish produce more waste than others, and some require a higher oxygen content in the water. It’s important to consider the needs of your fish when choosing a filter.

If you have a lot of fish in your tank, or if your fish produce a lot of waste, a filter with a high flow rate may be necessary. Our top recommendation for high-flow rate filters is the Penn-Plax Cascade Canister Filter. It has a flow rate of up to 350 gallons per hour and can handle tanks up to 200 gallons.

A gentler filter may be necessary for delicate fish like Betta fish. Our top recommendation for a gentle filter is the Fluval Spec III. It has a gentle flow rate and a small size that is perfect for small tanks.

3. Type of aquarium

Your aquarium type can also affect the type of filter you need. For example, if you have a planted aquarium, you may want a filter that can handle the high biological load produced by the plants. If you have a saltwater aquarium, you may want a filter that can handle the water’s high salt content.

For planted aquariums, our top recommendation is the Eheim Classic Canister Filter. It has a large capacity and multiple filter media baskets, making it perfect for handling the high biological load produced by plants.

For saltwater aquariums, our top recommendation is the Fluval Sea Evo XII. It has a specialized filter that can handle the water’s high salt content, and its compact size is perfect for small saltwater tanks.

4. Budget

Finally, your budget is an important factor to consider when choosing a filter. Filters are available at a wide range of price points, so it’s possible to find a filter that fits your budget without sacrificing quality.

The Tetra Whisper Power Filter is our top recommendation for those on a budget. It is affordable and effective, making it a great choice for beginners or those with smaller tanks. And for those with a larger budget is the Fluval FX6. It is one of the most powerful canister filters available, with a flow rate of up to 925 gallons per hour, making it a great choice for large tanks. It also has multiple filter media baskets, making it customizable for your specific tank’s needs.

How Can I Set Up Filter For an Aquarium?

How a filter is set up will determine if the filter will work properly or at all. The installation process starts with assembling the different parts; most filters come unassembled and with a manual on how to put everything together to make one body.

Cleaning the water-resistant parts of the filter before submerging is important so they don’t bring external dirt into the water. Different filters have different installation and setup processes.

The first and most important step of any setup and installation process is to read through the instruction manual that the manufacturers must have added. 

1. Setting up Internal filter

when assembling, ensure the filter cartridge is well-fitted into the inner filter. When the filter is put in the aquarium, the suction container should be placed firmly against the aquarium’s glass. The aquarium can be filled with water now, and the filter immersed with the water is at least 15mm atop the filter lid.

The filter device attached to the wall should be hung on a hook. The tube attached to the hose should be at the surface for proper wastewater disposal. After all, this is done, you can cross-check and make sure the filter is completely covered in water. After cross-checking and ensuring everything is in the right place, the pump can be connected to a power source to start working.

2. Setting up Under gravel filter

this filter is fitted under the rock or gravel in the tank. After it has been well-fitted under the gravel, the water can be added to the tank. Make sure lift tubes are well fitted as well.

Continue to connect the pump carriers to the lift tubes with guidance from the instruction manual. It can then be plugged into a power socket to start running. 

How to Care for a Filter Aquarium

You must regularly monitor the water parameters to ensure your filter aquarium is healthy. You can use test kits to measure the ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH levels. It’s recommended to test the water weekly and take necessary actions if there are any irregularities.

Now, let’s dive into the maintenance process. The following are the steps to care for your filter aquarium.

1. Clean the filter

The filter is the heart of your aquarium, and it’s essential to keep it clean. A dirty filter can lead to clogging, reduced water flow, and decreased filtration efficiency. You can clean the filter by removing the filter media, rinsing it under running water and reassembling it.

However, it’s crucial to avoid tap water, which may contain chlorine or other harmful chemicals to aquatic life.

2. Change the water

Changing the water is an important aspect of aquarium maintenance. It helps to remove excess nutrients, waste, and toxins from the water. The frequency of water changes depends on the aquarium size, the number of fish and plants, and the filter capacity. Generally, it’s recommended to change 10-20% of the water every 1-2 weeks.

3. Remove debris

Debris can accumulate on the aquarium substrate, decorations, and plants. Removing them regularly is important to prevent them from decomposing and releasing harmful substances into the water.

You can use a siphon or a gravel vacuum to remove debris from the substrate and a soft brush to clean the decorations and plants.

4. Maintain the lighting

Lighting is essential for the growth of plants and the health of fish. It’s recommended to provide 8-10 hours of light per day.

However, excessive light can lead to algae growth, harming the aquarium ecosystem. You can control the light intensity and duration using a timer or a dimmer.

5. Feed the fish

Feeding the fish is a crucial part of aquarium care. However, overfeeding can lead to excess waste and nutrient accumulation, harming the aquarium ecosystem.

Feeding the fish in small amounts, 1-2 times a day, and removing any uneaten food after 5 minutes is recommended.

6. Monitor the fish

Fish are the stars of your aquarium, and it’s essential to monitor their behaviour and health. Watch out for signs of stress, such as hiding, lack of appetite, or abnormal swimming.

If you notice any irregularities, take necessary actions, such as changing the water, adjusting the filter, or consulting a veterinarian.


Filtration is an important part of tank setup, so choosing the best filter system for your tank type is important. When using pond filters for aquariums, make sure the tank is big enough with enough volume of water and fish to prevent an overflow of water to the fish.

Filters should be carefully assembled and set up following the instruction manual to ensure their proper functioning. Always have it in your mind when you must remove or put the filter in. Note that it has to be completely disconnected from electricity as water is a conductor, and you may experience electric shock if you come in contact with wet electrical appliances. 

Written by Justin Michaels