Best HOB Filter – Hang On Back Filters

One thing that beginners in the fish keeping hobby discover is that there is an endless variety of equipment produced to make the hobby easier and more fun.

Hang On the Back or HOB filters are an example of this important principle. The following information should give you a better idea of the advantages of hob filters and the best features to look out for in our mini-reviews.

• Marina Power Filter, 20-gallon
• Aqua Clear Power Filter – 110 V
• Supreme Skilter 400 Power Filter
• Seachem Tidal Filter, 55-gallon
• Fluval C4 Power Filter

How Does A Hang On Back Filter Work?

As the name suggests, a HOB filter is placed on the upper edge of the aquarium. An inlet hose pulls water up from the fish tank into the filter. The water moves through the filter media before returning to the tank, usually from an overflow spillway.

What Are The Advantages Of Using A HOB Filter?

They’re easy to set-up: Hang On Back filters are not complicated to work with. The device is placed on the tank, filled with media, primed, and switched on. Even products that require some assembly can be up and be working within minutes.

They are accessible: These devices are located at the top of the aquarium, making them easy to reach. They do not need to be stored under the tank or on a separate stand. You won’t have to reach into the tank either.

They’re easy to maintain: The filter media is accessible, making cleaning and replacement simple. Their design also makes cleaning the filter’s interior easy, as there are no complicated steps to break it down.

The only submerged part of the filter is the inlet hose so you won’t have to disturb the tank or its inhabitants when performing maintenance.

Other advantages: These filters are often available at affordable prices when compared to other types of filters. They provide great oxygenation of the water as it is filtered. Finally, a Hang On Back filter can provide all types of filtration.

What Are The Disadvantages Of A HOB Filter?

These Filters are often smaller than other filters. This means that they are not able to hold as much media as many canister filters, for example. Their smaller size also means that they do not filter as much water as larger filtering systems can.

Due to these limitations, HOB filters are rarely used on larger aquariums. This should not be an issue for someone who is new to the hobby, as novices will rarely start out with a fish tank over 100-gallons. Many fish keepers will also use more than one HOB filter to compensate for their smaller sizes.

HOB filters can produce more noise than other types of filters. This is due to the impeller used to draw in and circulate the water as well as the water pouring into the tank from the return spillway. Manufacturers are constantly improving on filter designs to improve quiet operation.

How To Use A Hang On Back Filter

“Priming” your filter: You will need to perform this step when the filter is first set-up as well as after each cleaning or maintenance session. Priming a HOB is simply filling the filter with water before turning it on. This allows the unit to begin working instantly as there is already water within the device.

Cleaning the filter: All filters require regular cleaning of the filter and the filter media. The following list is general steps for you to follow. You should refer to the filters instruction manual for any unique requirements.

• Unplug the filter
• Take off the lid and remove the media
• Rinse the media in tank water
• Replace any needed media
• Clean the intake stem and the filter interior
• Clean the impeller
• Replace the media, prime, and restart the filter

This video shows a young hobbyist rinsing filter media and priming his HOB before restarting it.

Finding The Perfect HOB Filter

Aquarium flow rating: All products are rated on how much water they can move and this is listed as gallons per hour. These ratings will be under ideal conditions so it is best to purchase a HOB filter that can handle more water than your tank holds. This also helps to keep your tank cleaner, as the water volume is cycled more often.

Filter media and space: Besides filtration capacity, the media space should be the next thing you look at. Each product will offer a variety of baskets or compartments to hold the media, and the more media it can hold the better.

Other features: Other features to look for include automatic safety features, sound dampening, and convenience extras. Design and size may also be a factor in limited space.

HOB Filter Reviews

Aqua Clear Power Filter – 110 V

A durable HOB filter for use on medium-sized fish tanks.

This HOB filter may be bulkier than some, but it is roomy. A great feature of this product is that you can place the media you want inside of it. This provides a lot more options than a filter that requires specific cartridges or media sizes.

Shout-Out!: The box shape provides ample room for multiple filter media.

The cycle guard fits nicely into the filter and allows you to easily remove the stacked media it holds. It comes with activated carbon, BioMax, foam, and Cycle Guard that can provide all three types of filtration.

Call-Out!: The filter media that is included could be improved upon.

The water flow can be adjusted from 50-percent up to a 100-percent flow rate.


• This filter provides room for a lot of filter media
• The device can be filled with any type of media that will fit
• It comes with a two-year product warranty from the manufacturer
• The boxy shape is bulkier than similarly sized hang on back filters

Hang On Filter With Protein Skimmer: Supreme Skilter 400 Power Filter

A hanging filter that provides protein skimming capabilities as well.

Danner has improved the design of their combination unit with modern technology. This allows this filter to function better than the original design. The Skitler was designed to work on saltwater tanks.

Shout-Out!: This model produces a flow rate of 400-gallons per hour!

Unlike other filters, the skimming capabilities of this unit allow it to collect wastes before they break down. The bubbles that are created provide a surface for unwanted proteins and other wastes to collect on.

Danner improved the collection tray that the froth gathers upon, a feature that helps to prevent toxins from entering the water column after they have been collected.

Call-Out!: The filtering capabilities are limited to 100-gallons or less.

It comes with two Bio-Matrix dual medial cartridges that help to keep the nitrogen cycle stable. This combination filter offers easy access for both media cleaning as well as tray dumping.


• This filter system provides a high flow rate
• Helps to remove proteins and toxins from saltwater tanks
• Combination design may not be as effective as two dedicated products

Seachem Tidal Filter, 55-gallon

A HOB filter that has water skimming capabilities as well.

The Tidal 55 has a flow rate of 250-gallons each hour, a volume that is great for aquariums up to 55-gallons in size. Seachem offers this hang on the back filter in two other sizes as well.

Shout-Out!: The three-year warranty can be extended to five years by simply registering the product.

Its water flow is adjustable, a feature that allows you to set the filter to meet your aquarium and fish needs. The pump is self-priming which speeds up the startup after cleaning.

A maintenance monitor allows you to keep track of the condition of the filter as it cannot be monitored visually without removing the lid.

Call-Out!: The flow adjustment knob can be hard to turn.

It is equipped with dual water intakes which allow for greater flow into the filter and media.

• Various types of media can be used in this filter
• A water skimmer helps to remove contaminants from the water surface
• Its impeller is self-cleaning for easier maintenance
• The dark-colored material blocks the interior from view
• It is more difficult to clean as it requires some breakdown

Fluval C4 Power Filter

A product that provides five levels of water column filtration.

The C4 provides a flow rate of 264-gallons, which will work great for aquariums in the 40 to 70-gallon range. The media compartment is stuffed with various types of filtering materials that should provide a great clean.

Shout-Out!: It provides two layers of biological, one layer of chemical, and two layers of mechanical filtration.

The filter itself is easy to install and clean. It also comes with all of the media that is needed to get started.

Call-Out!: Fluval pad and screen materials are not cheap when replacing them.

The impeller is able to keep the water moving through the layers of media rather quietly too!

• The body design provides maximum contact between the water and the filter media
• The re-filtration technology allows the flow rate to be adjusted without affecting efficiency
• An indicator light reminds you when the foam pad is scheduled for cleaning
• The high number of filtration levels limit biological filtration surfaces
• This filter comes at a higher price point compared to similarly rated HOB filters

Quietest Hang On Back Filter

Marina Power Filter, 20-gallon

A quiet running filter for use on smaller fish tanks.

Marina’s Slim S20 is thin, a feature that takes up less room between the fish tank and the wall. The materials used for the body are clear, a nice touch that lets you see when the filter is ready for cleaning.

Shout-Out!: The housing takes up less room behind the fish tank due to its thin design.

One design feature that is nice is that this product is self-priming. This eliminates the worry of starting it without water inside the filter. The stand-out design on this HOB is the pump, that runs silently when compared to similar filters.

Call-Out!: The filters must be changed at intervals to prevent the need for recycling the tank.

The cost of media cartridges is offset by the ease of use they provide.


• Its filter media cartridges are easy to use
• The flow rate is adjustable on this HOB filter
• This product is continuously rated as one of quietest HOB filters

• The compact design provides limited media space
• This unit requires the user to purchase proprietary cartridges from the company

The Winner

Each of the hang on back filters reviewed above provides adequate filtration for aquariums. Each of these products offers unique features that allow it to stand out from the others.

Of the five filters reviewed, we feel that the Fluval C4 Power HOB Filter is the best.

Its flow rate is high enough to cover medium-sized fish tanks without struggling. This is an aquarium size that many beginners will find themselves moving into quickly if they have not started out in that range. That means there will be less upgrading to do.

What really stands out on this filter is the five levels of filtration that it provides. These layers will help to keep your water clean and your fish healthy. The media is sold ready to install and its operation is easy. Contemplate this filter when preparing your tank!

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