Just like any other fish in any aquarium out there, discus fish need to have a good filter to survive. They definitely won’t survive in dirty and unfiltered water. While they are not the most sensitive and fragile fish out there, they also aren’t the toughest.
So, maintaining good water conditions is paramount to their survival. Today, we are here to talk about the best filter for planted discus tanks and to help you find the one that works best for you.
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What Type Of Filter Do Discus Fish Need?
Well, to be honest, they don’t need much of a different filter than other freshwater tropical fish tanks. First off, one thing to remember is that you should not use a filtration unit that shoots out water. What we mean to say is that a lower or medium flow rate is ideal, as discus fish are not the best swimmers and can’t handle strong currents.
Yes, you could get a canister filter or a HOB filter, but just make sure that you can turn the flow rate down so it won’t negatively affect your discus fish, especially when it comes to the canister filter. Other than that, they just need a standard 3 stage filter that engages in all 3 major types of filtration. If you would have to sacrifice one type of filtration, it would be chemical, as mechanical and biological filtration is by far the most important aspect for discus fish.
They tend to eat quite a bit, make a mess, produce a fair amount of waste, and therefore produce quite a bit of ammonia and nitrites. The best way to get rid of ammonia and nitrites (the right plants can help with this too), which discuss fish are especially sensitive to, is through good mechanical and biological filtration.
However, we would strongly recommend getting a 3 stage filter that does also include chemical filtration. It will serve to remove colors, odors, and leftover toxins from the water, which is always beneficial.
A Quick Look at our 2022 Favorites
|Best Overall||AquaClear 110 Power Filter||
|Best Value||MarineLand Emperor Filter||
|Premium Choice||API Filstar XP Filter||
|Fluval C Power Filter||
|Eheim Classic 350||
5 Best Filters for Planted Discus Tanks
1. AquaClear 110 Power Filter
Like we said, the AquaClear 110 is one of our favorite options to go with, and it is because it has many features and aspects that make it ideal for a planted discus tank (we have covered some good plant suggestions here). For one, this particular filter, the 110, is rated for aquariums between 60 and 110 gallons in size, making it perfect for a good-sized discus tank.
Now, what is impressive about this filter is that it has a flow rate of 500 gallons per hour. This means that it could filter the total volume of a 100-gallon tank 5 times per hour, every hour. This is great as discus fish do like their water to be clear. However, they also don’t like a high flow rate. This is why we like the AquaClear 110, because you can turn the flow rate down by 50% to 250 gallons per hour.
It will still clean the water, but it will also make sure that your discus fish don’t have a hard time swimming. What is also cool about the AquaClear 110 is that when you turn the flow rate down, it won’t harm any of the components, plus it has a re-filtration system. In other words, when the flow rate is turned down, this filter works to make sure that the water gets filtered several times over before leaving the filtration chamber, thus ensuring some really clean and clear water.
This filter is a HOB (hang on back) filter, which we do like. It doesn’t require much effort or time to mount, plus it doesn’t take up any shelf space or space inside of the tank. It’s definitely a convenient option to consider, one that is quite easy to maintain. One thing that you do need to keep in mind here is that the AquaClear 110 Power Filter has to be manually primed, which can be a bit of a pain in the butt.
Of course, the 110 Power Filter is a 3 stage filter that includes mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration for some really clean, clear, and discus-friendly water. On a side note, all of the media you need for the beginning already comes included, which is always nice. This thing is quite easy to open and it’s not too hard to access the media, which makes media changes and general maintenance fairly easy and straightforward.
2. MarineLand Emperor Filter
Another good option to go with, the MarineLand Emperor Filter is a big filter intended for larger tanks. It is intended to handle fish tanks up to 80 gallons in size, making it rather perfect for a planted discus tank. It has a maximum flow rate of 400 gallons per hour, which means that it can filter the entire volume of an 80 gallon tank 5 times per hour.
This is quite powerful and definitely results in clear water. One thing to note here is that this particular filter does not have an adjustable flow rate.
We do like the fact that the MarineLand Filter has a dual pump system, which helps deliver awesome flow and filtration. If one pump happens to give out on you, at least there is a second one until you can do repairs. This is a HOB filter, something we do like for discus tanks for a few reasons.
For one, it does not create huge currents like other filters do, making it ideal for discus fish. At the same time, it does not require shelf space, plus it doesn’t eat up valuable real estate inside of the tank.
Also, this filter features an absolutely massive capacity for filter media, about twice as much as other HOB filters of the same size. It features twice as much mechanical filtration capacity as other similar filters, plus it uses easy-to-change cartridges.
Also, it comes with extra room for lots of chemical filtration, plus it has a large bio-wheel driven by a spray bar. In other words, this thing engages in all necessary types of filtration to keep a discus tank clean.
3. API Filstar XP Filter
This next option, the API Filstar XP Filter is yet another good choice to keep in mind. Now, this is a canister filter, unlike the previous options which were HOB filters. While it does create quite a current at times, the flow rate is not so high to make it unmanageable for fish. We do like the fact that canister filters tend to be fairly easy to maintain, they are easy to access, and changing media is not hard either.
Canister filters also come with the benefit of not taking up any space inside of the aquarium, thus saving valuable real estate for your fish and plants. There is also the fact that the API Filstar XP Filter is designed to be fairly compact, so it doesn’t take up much shelf space either, plus it is built to be extremely durable.
Another thing we like about the API Filstar is that it is self-priming. Priming a filter can be a real pain in the butt, something that can be avoided with this filtration unit.
This filter is rated to be used for aquariums up to 175 gallons in size and it has a flow rate of 350 gallons per hour. While the flow rate on this filter is not as high as with other filters we have looked at, about half as much to be exact, it does still have a large filtration capacity.
It can handle the total volume of a 175-gallon tank twice per hour, which is not bad at all. Also, this means that it does not create a really strong current which can mess with your discus fish.
Moreover, we do like how this is a nice 3 stage filter. It comes with all of the necessary media included, so you don’t have to buy any extra. Also, it engages in all 3 major types of filtration including mechanical, chemical, and biological.
Even though it has a fairly low flow rate, the advanced tech and filtration used here makes up for it without a doubt. The baskets all have a large capacity for media. On a side note, this thing is built to be super quiet, which is always beneficial.
4. Fluval C Power Filter
In terms of pure filtration, the Fluval C Power is one of the best options out there. This is an advanced 5 stage filtration unit that engages in all 3 major types of filtration, plus some backup too. Stages 1 and 2 are both mechanical filtration, stage 3 is chemical filtration, and stages 4 and 5 are biological filtration.
This filter does have a large capacity for media, the media comes included, and it definitely does a great job at clarifying and purifying water for your discus fish.
What is neat is that the Fluval C Filter has an adjustable flow rate, which is convenient because it means you can turn the rate up if you need more filtration, or you can turn it down if the flow rate is too much for your discus fish.
This filter is rated for aquariums between 40 and 70 gallons, making it a good option for smaller discus tanks. It has the ability to process 264 gallons of water per hour. In other words, it can handle the entire volume of a 70-gallon tank about 3.5 times over per hour.
If you turn the flow rate down, the C Power Filter comes with a patented re-filtration system which increases the contact between the water and all media. So, even if you have the flow rate turned down, the water will still get clean and clear.
We do like that this is a HOB filter because it definitely helps save space, both inside and outside of the tank. Also, this thing is notoriously easy to maintain, change media, and to keep clean. It’s a convenient option no doubt.
5. Eheim Classic 350
To round off this top 5 list, the Eheim Classic 350 is a nice canister filter to go with. It is not the nicest or fanciest of filtration units, but it does get the job done. This is a canister filter, so one benefit is that the media is very easy to access. The whole thing is fairly easy to clean and maintain, a big benefit if you ask us. At the same time, this thing doesn’t take up any space inside of the tank, thus reserving real estate for your fish and plants.
We do also like how the Eheim 350 is very easy to install. Just pop the media in, connect the intake pipe, the spray bar for the output, and plug it in. It could really not be any easier than that. Now, with that being said, this thing is notoriously hard to prime.
Once you get the hang of priming, it should be fine, but it can be hard to get the hang of in the beginning. Also, if you don’t find a good place to put it, it can create quite a bit of vibration noise, so try keeping it off of hardwood shelves.
The Eheim Classic 350 is rated for aquariums up to 92 gallons, which makes it ideal for an average-size discus tank. It can handle up to 4 times the amount of water in a 90-gallon tank per hour, which means that the water in your discus tank should always be clean and clear.
This is a 3 stage filter that engages in the major types of filtration including mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. The media comes included with the Eheim Classic 350, which is always nice to see.
HOB VS Canister Filter For Planted Tanks?
This really is a matter of personal preference over anything else, but we personally prefer HOB filters for discus fish and plants as opposed to canister filters. There is one main reason for this and it is because HOB filters, while still being very efficient and useful, tend to not create quite as much water disturbance and movement, especially lower down in the water column. This is important for discus fish and many plants as they cannot handle strong currents well, making the HOB filter the better choice.
However, with that being said, if you can find a good canister filter where you can turn the flow rate down, there should not be any problems with it. Now, on the other hand, canister filters tend to do a better job at actually filtering the water than HOB filters do, plus they tend to have more room for media.
To switch sides again, HOB filters tend to be a little easier to operate and set up. It is a matter of personal preference, what you need, and what you want.
As you can see, there are plenty of options to go with if you are looking for a good filter for your discus tank. We would of course recommend our number one option, but any of the others will do fine too. As long as you can find a suitable HOB or canister filter with everything that you and your discus fish need, you should not have any problems keeping them happy and healthy.
Feature Image Credit: Rethinktwice from Pixabay