There are several great filtration systems available to aquarium owners looking to keep their tank clean and their fish happily. If you’re looking to upgrade from a more basic form of filter, you may have encountered wet/dry filters during your search for a new model. These systems are generally a little larger than canister filters, but less experienced aquarists may have trouble differentiating between the two. Need some help deciding between canister filters and wet/dry filters? Our guide has some useful pointers.
How They Work
Both of these filter types are designed to be fitted externally. However, the integral design is notably different. As mentioned before, wet/dry filters are somewhat larger than canister filters. They tend to be oblong in shape and will have varying capacities. If your wet/dry filter is a particularly large one, it may include numerous sections within it that can house multiple types of filtration media.
Wet/dry filters incorporate something called an overflow, allowing water to flow out of the aquarium and through the filter by utilising gravity. Larger wet/dry filters may include a double intake. Dirty water is passed through multiple types of filter media, including biological media. These units also tend to include mechanical filtration.
After water has been completely filtered, it is deposited in a section called a sump. This sump water is then directed back into the aquarium via pump action. One thing to consider if you’re think about buying a wet/dry filter is that most systems will not include the pump element as standard. In most cases, you will need to purchase a pump separately. If you’re needing to stick to a tight budget, this might be a deal breaker.
Canister filters are far simpler in design. They tend to be cylindrical in shape and relatively long. Most canister filters are also all-in-one systems, with all the elements you’ll need for filtration included in the package. An internal pump allows water to be drawn from the tank itself, with this pressurised water then pushed through multiple filter baskets housed within the unit itself. The filtered water is finally redirected back into the main tank via an output tube.
How Effective Are They?
If you’re looking for something that delivers superior results when it comes to biological filtration, a wet/dry filter is the best option. They tend to provide more room for biological filtration media than other systems, which also makes them ideal for filtering the water in larger tanks. However, they are lacking when it comes to chemical and mechanical filtration. You can sometimes optimise a wet/dry filter with additional components to provide chemical and mechanical filtration performance, but they don’t hold up to canister filters in this respect.
Canister filters are better all rounders. They also allow you to use multiple types of filter media to accommodate specific needs. They don’t provide the same high flow rates and water capacities as wet/dry filters, but they are still highly effective when used with a medium-sized tank.
Which is the Best Option?
Wet/dry filters are definitely the way to go if you’re seeking superior biological filtration. However, if you need high-performance chemical and mechanical filtration performance, they don’t hold a torch to canister filters. If you’re looking for something affordable and reasonably efficient, a canister filter might be a better choice. They take a little bit more effort to install and require moderate levels of maintenance, but they are a suitable choice for the beginner or those on a budget.