There are few aspects of owning an aquarium that are as important as when and how you go about cleaning the tank. There are many aspects to this – scouring the sides of the tank, scraping gravel. But the biggest decision you will make comes from choosing the type of filtration system you will use.

You and your fish need this decision to be made correctly!

One option in the canister filter. This is a fairly costly filtration system, but its effectiveness makes it highly desirable. Canister filtration tends to work best on larger tanks – those in excess of ten gallons, say, but this is not a blanket prohibition. They can be successful in smaller tanks as well. It's a question of balancing cost and result.

Canister filters are – surprise surprise – cylindrical in shape. Most filters are rectangular or square, mirroring the actual shape of the tank itself. Not so with the canister filter. Another way in which it differs from traditional filters is that it does not hang suspended from the rear of the aquarium tank,. Rather, it is specifically designed to be stored underneath the aquarium. Thus there is less interference with the visual pleasure of seeing your fish and it presents no health hazards to the fish themselves.

Canister filters are also larger than typical filters. They can be up to a foot in height and span several inches in width. If this seems bulky, remember that it is not inside the tank. The benefit of its size is that it can process a great deal of water at one time. The speed and ease with which it cleans your tank's water is impressive.

This filtration method includes a containment system. This might be a bag or a cartridge or even a basket, depending on what type of canister filter you purchase. While these are more costly, they can be used over and over, unlike traditional filter containment systems. Decide which will work best for your tank, buy one, and then you're good to go for a long time. Whether you are using a sedimentary material such as sand or a sponge, the canister filter does an excellent job of straining and removing excess debris from your aquarium environment.

Again, despite its benefits, canister filtration won't work for every fish hobbyist. Because they are so powerful, and handle such large volumes of water, they aren't really needed for small tanks. It's a bit of overkill. But on larger tanks, they can be ideal. They are effective and low-maintenance. You could literally go six or seven months before you need to do any remedial work.