Are you looking for the best filter for 36-gallon bow-front aquariums? It does not matter what size of tank you own. You should still use the best filter that you can find. A good filter will not only keep the water in the tank clear but also maintain the water chemistry within safe and healthy boundaries.
You might think you can just use any old filter you can stumble across. It is important to consider the size of the tank and what kinds of fish you are keeping when you are shopping for a filter for your round-front aquarium. For instance, if you are keeping goldfish, you will need a heavy-duty filter because this fish produces a lot of waste.
This article will teach you how to find the best filter for your aquarium. Although these filters are not that expensive, you should still not waste your money on mediocre products.
Best Filter for 36-gallon Bow Front Reviews
1. Aqueon Replacement Filter Cartridges
One of the nicest things about these filter cartridges is that they contain activated carbon. In other words, not only will these filters mechanically remove dirt from the water, but the activated charcoal will also deodorize the water. You no longer need to do partial water changes quite as often.
If you are already using an Aqueon Quietflow filter, you will discover that these filter cartridges can fit exactly into them. There is even a marking that tells which side should be facing forward.
You can swap out the old filter cartridges with these new ones in under five minutes, which includes priming the new ones.
The best filter for a 36-gallon aquarium also lasts quite a long time, a month. The nice thing about these filter cartridges is that you can rinse them with tank water whenever you do your weekly water replacement.
With that, you can extend the usability of the filters, so you do not have to replace the filters every week. This even adds to the biological filtration of the filter system.
You will also be getting great value for your money when you buy these filter replacement cartridges. Each package contains 6 cartridges, and with each of them having the potential to last up to a month, that’s half a year’s worth of filtration. You may get a cheaper deal with other brands but you will be changing filters more often.
Although I was quite satisfied with how these filters work, I could not help but notice that the original filter cartridges that came with the Quietflow filter were significantly denser than these replacement ones. I could not discern any noticeable difference but I can feel that the originals were a bit heavier.
- Contains activated carbon
- Easy to use
- Fits in most Aqueon Quietflow filters
- Lasts for up to a month
- Great value for money
- Not quite as dense as the original filters
- Could have used a bit more activated carbon
Do take note that this product is not a filter. It is just a replacement filter cartridge. You will still need to purchase an Aqueon Quietflow filter to use these filter cartridges. On the other hand, if you do have a Quietflow filter, you should use these cartridges. Your fish will love you more for doing so.
2. Marineland Magniflow Canister Filters
This is a complete filtration system designed for aquariums. This canister filter provides your aquarium with mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. The filter also comes with water polishing filters. This makes the water absolutely crystal clear. It is almost as if your fish are floating in mid-air.
What I liked about this cartridge filter and almost all cartridge filters, in general, is how easy it is to clean and maintain. Because the cartridge is separate from the tank, you will not be spilling any water in your living room, like what would usually happen if you have a HOB filter. You can carry the entire thing outside or to the sink for proper cleaning.
You can also use this cartridge filter for saltwater or freshwater builds. Although I do not have a saltwater aquarium, this worked great on my 36-gallon freshwater tank. I keep a couple of goldfish in the tank and they create a lot of waste. This cartridge filter can keep up and keep the water clean and clear.
Another thing that I liked about this product is how quiet it works. This was so silent that I once thought it was broken. Aside from the trickling water coming from the pump into the tank, no other sounds would indicate that the cartridge filter was working.
Although I liked this cartridge filter quite a lot, it still has a couple of problems. One of the biggest problems I have experienced with this item is the clamps that were supposed to hold the input and output hoses.
The included clamps are not strong enough to hold the hoses in place, leading to constant leaks. I had to buy metal hose clamps and they worked a lot better.
- Provides 3-stage filtration
- Easy to maintain
- Ideal for use for both freshwater and aquatic setups
- Quiet operation
- Excellent customer service
- The clamp for the hose is not that strong
- The seal around the lid is hard to maintain – You may need to use a liquid gasket to create a good seal
If you are looking for a canister filtration system that works well and does not break the bank, the Marineland Magniflow just might be one of the best filters for 36-gallon bow front tanks right now. Although it took a while before I could make it work the way I wanted it to, once I figured it out, it was smooth sailing from then on.
3. AquaClear Fish Tank Filters
If you are just a beginner at aquarium-keeping, this compact hang-on-back (HOB) might just be what you need to get your hobby started. This is a fraction of the cost of cartridge filters but it works quite well for small tanks, like a 36-gallon or smaller.
For a compact filter, this AquaClear HOB filter provides 3 stages of filtration. There is mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration. The biological filtration occurs through a couple of bio-balls. There are beneficial bacteria living in all the nooks and crannies that neutralize nitrates and ammonia in the water.
This filter is also quite easy to install. It already comes mostly pre-assembled right out of the box. All you need to do is attach a couple of parts. You can then open and install the filter elements in the filter housing. It only took me less than ten minutes to set up the filter and have it going.
As easy as it was to install, maintenance and cleaning of this filter are also as easy. You just need to pick it up and place the entire thing in a small bucket. Rinsing the filter elements and cleaning the filter housing will only take around 15 minutes.
As nice as this HOB filter is, this is not a filter that you can expect to last that long. This filter makes use of regular plastic for its material, which tends to turn brittle after a couple of months. You might see a couple of cracks develop after a year or so, and when the filter housing cracks, there is no fixing it.
- Compact design
- Provides 3-stage filtration
- Easy to install and maintain
- Comes with activated carbon filters
- The intake tube is telescopic, which is great for deep tanks
- The plastic is quite brittle and will start getting dull and cracking after a couple of months
- A bit noisy when not perfectly assembled
If you do not have that big of a budget for a canister filter system, you might like using this compact HOB filter. This filter may not be quite as efficient as the bigger cartridge filter but it still does a respectable job at keeping the water clean. You will need to clean it more often but it is not quite as bad as you might think.
4. Hygger Aquarium Double Sponge Filters
This is one of the most affordable aquarium filters that you can get right now. It costs less than half of most HOB filters but it works just as well. This is the ideal choice if you are a beginner at keeping an aquarium and you are just keeping a small aquarium with just a couple of fish.
This filter also comes mostly assembled out of the box. Just attach a couple of parts to the main body of the filter. You do not need any tools for its assembly. Everything that you need to use is already in the packaging. There is even a pair of replacement sponge filters, which means you have enough to last an entire year.
You can also adjust the outlet pipe to provide your aquarium with an artificial water flow. The outlet pipe is telescoping, so you can position the outlet above the water line to keep the surface moving and prevent algae film from forming. You can also place the outlet under the water to provide a gentle current.
As mentioned, you will get everything that you need to get started, including two pairs of sponge bio-filters. The nice thing about these sponge filters is that they are quite effective at mechanical filtering. They can also last quite a long time. The filters can last up to 6 months, which provides at least a year’s worth of filtration for your tank.
- Cheap yet very efficient
- Easy to assemble and install – It does not require the use of any tools
- The water outlet pipe is adjustable
- The sponge filters last a long time
- Provides biological filtration
- Needs a separate air pump
- Kind of bulky and takes up a lot of space in the tank
This item is ideal for beginners in fishkeeping. Because of the way it operates, you can only use it in smaller tanks. Anything over 40 gallons might be too big for this simple filter. On the other hand, if you use this filter within its capacity, it will serve you well.
5. Tetra Whisper Power Filters
This is the perfect size for a small tank (40-gallon below). This is a HOB filter, so it will not take up that much space in the tank. You can easily hide the filter behind the tank decoration.
Because it works quietly, you might even forget that it is there. There were a couple of times that I had to open the filter just to check if it is still working.
In addition, you can adjust the water flow coming from the water filter just by twisting a small knob. This is ideal when keeping small fish that get easily startled. I like adjusting the flow just until I could not hear the water dripping into the tank.
However, there are still bubbles forming. I do this because I have tetras and mollies in my tank. If you have bigger fish, a stronger current might be better.
For such a small item, I was quite surprised at how effective it was at keeping the water clean. This filter provides 3-stage filtration. There is a mesh filter for catching solid waste and activated carbon for preventing water discoloration.
There is also a Bio-foam that uses beneficial bacteria to remove nitrates and ammonia. However, the Bio-foam will need a bit of time before it develops a good crop of bacteria.
As mentioned, this filter contains activated carbon. This not only prevents the water from yellowing but also absorbs the bad smells coming from the tank water. I keep my tank in my living room, so it is nice that this filter keeps the tank smelling fresh.
The water will still start smelling if you do not change the water regularly. However, you do not need to do it quite as often.
The biggest problem I had with this filter is that the initial setup was quite difficult. You will need to adjust the position of the motor and secure the pipes and hoses properly to prevent vibrations and noises.
If you do not assemble the filter properly, it will be quite noisy and shaky. For instance, if you do not push the intake pipe all the way in, it will make a lot of gurgling sounds.
- The filter is compact yet quite efficient
- Comes with water flow control
- This compact filter provides 3-stage filtration
- Contains activated carbon to remove odors from the water
- Extremely quiet operation
- Needs a bit of adjustment to run quietly
- Assembly is a bit tricky
This is the ideal filter for small fish tanks. Although it is quite tricky to make the filter run quietly, you will love how efficient it is after a bit of tinkering. In addition, Tetra replacement filter cartridges are quite cheap and long-lasting as well.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Filters for 36 Gallon Bow Front
Filters that come with their own built-in water pumps are available in different sizes. You can find large ones, like cartridge filters, that are so big that you need to hide them inside the cabinet underneath the tank.
On the other hand, there are also smaller ones, like the HOB filters. They are small enough that you can hang them on the edge of the tank.
If you will only be using a 36-gallon tank, using a cartridge filter might seem like overkill. However, it will not be harming your tank in any way. It will also keep your tank clean, so you should consider them still.
Pump Flow Rate
If you are choosing a filter with a built-in pump, you need to pick one that provides ample water flow. The rule of thumb here is that the pump should be able to provide a turnover rate of at least 5x the volume of the tank per hour.
For a 36-gallon tank, the pump should have a flow rate of at least 180 gallons per hour (GPH), but of course, bigger is better. Now, if you will be using a sponge filter, you will need to attach it to an air pump that has at least 5 watts of power. This will make sure that the water is passing through the filters at a respectable rate.
Stages of Filtration
Of course, you would want an aquarium filter that has more than just one type of filtration. In the old days, aquarium owners would be happy if their filters could remove the solid waste floating in the water, but that’s not the case anymore.
These days, mechanical filtration is just the first stage of modern aquarium filters. Ideally, the filter you use should have at least three stages. Look for a filter that has mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration.
This will keep the water clean, not discolored and odorless. Most importantly, the water will be healthy for your fish to live in.
As much as possible, invest your money in an aquarium filter that can last as long as possible. Unfortunately, even though HOB filters work great (most of the time), they typically do not last more than a year.
However, some brands of HOB filters did not cut corners. They use durable plastic for their overall construction. Their motors also receive good ratings for long and continuous use. I have used a couple of HOB filters that lasted at least 3 years before they needed replacing.
On the other hand, a cartridge filter may be on the expensive side, but you can at least be sure that it will last for many years, especially if you take good care of it. In addition, if you will be using a cartridge filter for a 36-gallon tank, you will not be straining the motor too much since it will not be working too hard.
Ease of Maintenance
Speaking of maintenance, the filter should be simple enough that you can clean and maintain it easily. For instance, when it comes time for the weekly partial water replacement, you should also be able to clean the filter quickly.
With that said, the filter cartridges should be washable to extend their usability (they are still disposable, but should last at least a month). Check if you can remove the filter cartridges from the filter housing easily for thorough cleaning. If the filter has its pump motor, the impeller should be easily accessible for maintenance and lubrication.
You should always consider your budget when buying anything, including aquarium filters. However, that does not necessarily mean that you go buy the cheapest filter that you can find.
Oftentimes, you are getting what you paid for. If you paid for a cheap piece of plastic, that is what you will get.
What you want is to get the most value for your money. It may mean spending a little more if you want to get a filter that will last at least a couple of years and can keep the water in your tank clean and clear.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Size Filter for a 36-Gallon Tank?
The size is not what matters when choosing a filter for your aquarium. The important thing is how much water it can manage to displace per hour. Ideally, the filter should be able to recirculate the water at a rate of 5x the tank’s volume per hour.
In other words, for a 35-gallon aquarium, the filter should be able to move water at 180 gallons per hour. However, if you can find something that is a bit more powerful, then that would be much better.
How Often do you Change the Water in a 36-Gallon Fish Tank?
You rarely need to do a full water change in an aquarium. This is only necessary if the nitrates and ammonia levels in the water are dangerously high. For regular maintenance, you only need to do partial water changes. This should be around 25% of the tank’s volume, every week or two, depending on the cleanliness of the water.
The nice thing about owning a 36-gallon tank is that it is not that hard to find a filter that can keep it clean. You will discover that some of the best filters for 36-gallon bow front tanks are quite affordable. Most do not even go above $20.
If you are a beginner at aquarium keeping, you will be glad to know that you do not have to spend a lot just to keep your fish healthy. However, do not get the cheapest tank filter that you can find.
Now that you have reached the end of this article, you already know the qualities to keep an eye out for. This means you know how to pick the right filter at the right price.
I grew up with a fish tank in my house, and my parents would take me to the local aquarium every chance they got. This passion led me to start NationalparkAquarium.org, which I use to share my love and passion.