The Best Hang On Back Filter For A Shrimp Tank?

AquaClear or MarineLand?

This was meant to be a what is the best hang on back filter post but I have two filters I think are just as good as each other, both have been manufactured by reputable brands in the aquarium hobby for a long time and longevity in a brand means it is a big deal because it shows they know what they are doing.

My opinions and my review are based on me owning these items because I think its important to point out there are alot of fake blogs out there doing best of this and best of that but not showing they actually have any tanks or any products they own.

One of the best posts that made me laugh today while researching this topic is a post that made the claim that you have to change the filter media in the hob filter every 3-4 weeks !! Now, this is a post ranked on the first page of google for best Hob filter 2018 or something like that.

But you guys are not stupid you can tell the fake from the real … I hope ūüôā

So let us start by looking at a problem that all aquariums have and this is how do you clean the water? Shrimp and fish all need a clean environment to thrive and live in so it is up to us to do the best we can to provide adequate filtration that meets the needs of individual tanks and animals.

Without sufficient filtration, your tank is doomed to fail so this is something that you really should look into before adding animals to the aquarium.

Where do you start? The first thing to consider is the bioload and the amount of waste you will expect this filter to handle, for us with shrimp the bioload is tiny compared to owning even a small goldfish, second is practicality and how does it fit into its environment.

This is specifically where Hob Filters or Hang On Back filters as they otherwise know come into play. They can quit discreetly filter a tank without really being seen because



they hang on the back of the tank.


There is a cylinder inside the pump housing that has an impeller on top of it, this cylinder is encased in a round magnet.

Once electricity is passed through coils of copper that you cant actually see inside the pump housing the magnet starts to spin.

Whats fantastic about this type of design is that it is self-cooling, water is then sucked into the pump via a vacume, this is why you have to fill the HOB with water before you start it to give it something to pull against.

The water then moves through media and then out of the filter into the tank.

How to set up hang on back filter?

For a start they are super simple to use, once you have unboxed your filter and disposed of the garbage, just give it a rinse under the tap and then just place it on the outside of the tank in your preferred position, fill them with tank water and plug them in.

Most of these types are self-priming meaning you don’t have to do anything to get them started, so don’t worry if you hear a lot of gurgling noises.

Hang on back filter noise?

However, if the noise lasts more than say 15 minutes something is wrong and you should inspect the unit to see what the problem is.

In older units, it’s not uncommon to have worn parts but they are easy to source and install, in most cases all you need to buy is the impeller because the blades do snap sometimes.

Very often its just air trapped in the Ubend part of the pipe on the intake, the Aquaclear models have a little slider I find useful for playing with if you just move it left to right it throttles the flow sucking out air.

Above we just mentioned discretion as a pro and another one would be the amount of filter media this type of filtration can handle compared to an internal filter, my only gripe with some of the models would be that I don’t think the media configuration is necessary the best way setup.


Optimal setup for a shrimp tank as an example¬†would be a sponge on the filter intake, this does a few jobs, first, it stops baby shrimp getting sucked up into the filter and it’s actually a good means of mechanical and biological filtration.

Your options on making it shrimp safe vary a little first is adding a shrimplet safe sponge filter because not all sponge filter are baby shrimp safe, you want to look at the pore size of the sponge as baby shrimp when they are born are under 1mm in size.

The second option is a stainless steel strainer with tiny holes, these are good but then you also lose the biological filtration you get from a sponge filter.

Last option is using a pair of tights, you cut the foot off and put it in the kettle YES DO THIS !! this makes it shrimp safe because you are going to boil it.

Once its boiled coo down with fresh clean water, you can then pull this up around your Hob Filter Intake and tie the ends together.. just make sure you checked for tiny holes.

Tights last anywhere up to a year in water but it is worth you checking them ever so often for small rips etc. because the last thing you want is to lose shrimplet.

Hang On Back Filter Maintenance?

Having a sponge on the filter intake means minimal cleaning once a month, what I like is to do my water change take of the sponge from the HOB filter and gently drop it into a bucket of water a few times, this is because baby shrimp are clingy meaning they like to hang onto things.

This gives you a chance to save their little asses and place them back in the tank.

Once you are sure there are no baby shrimp in the bucket just gently squeeze the filter in the water to get all of the waste out of it.. its normal for the water to go quite dirty here.

A good tip I can give you here is not to waste this water even though it looks gross and probably like liquid mud keep it and go around your home and throw it in the wife’s face I AM KIDDING¬† give it to your plants because its literally food of the gods for them.

Back to that hob filter !!


I was saying having a sponge on the intake leaves the entire compartment in the Hang On Back filter open to your choice of filtration material. I personally would fill it with Seachem Matrix but if you are on a budget the very next best thing would be Lava Rock or something like Ceramic Rings.


Another thing I like about the hob filter is that its output of water flow is spread over a large area compared to an interal powerhead of the same rating, this creates a gentlier flow in the tank that is ideal for plants and shrimp alike.


I also know a few tips on tricks on making this type of filtration run silently with a mod which I have shown before in a video which I will add at the bottom of the page, All this involves is cutting up a cola bottle and it only takes a few seconds to do and add to the tank. click here for a video


Before buying a HOB filter AKA hang on back filter you should consider the tank size that it will be running on, as an exsample an Aqua Clear 20 HOB filter is suitable for small nano type tanks but you will need more power and a larger model on a larger tank.

I think the gallon rating on them is in US gallons so for us the AquaClear 20 would be suitable for a 40-liter tank.. To get liters just double the gallon rating on the device.


If you have space and your tank is longer than it is wide then it makes sense for you to put the filter on one of the sides of the tank instead of the back, this is the same with all filter types you want the flow along the longest route inside the tank.


  • Refiltration system that offers superior contact time with filter media and energy efficient pump lowers operating costs
  • Quick and easy installation
  • Filtration volume is up to 7 times larger than comparable filters
  • Comes equipped with AquaClear Foam, Activated Carbon and BioMax and Cycle Guard for continuous biological filtration and superior water quality
AquaClear power Hang on Back ( HOB ) type filters are one of the best-known brands on the market and for good reason. They are cheap reliable and do the job. I personally have owned 4 of these little filters and not once did they ever leak or fail to start back up after a power cut, which is a very common problem with HOB filters.
They are available in a variety of sizes so please remember to match up your tank size to the filter.
What is worth noting about the AquaClear is that it has a recirculating ability of the water, if any of you guys are familiar with this concept its also in cars where the Airconditioning will recirculate air to save energy, in the filter it does this to increase the contact time of the water and the media.
This is just to give the bacteria a little bit more time to deal with nutrients in the water.
The AquaClear filters come in five different sizes so check them out below if you are interested in them.

But let’s look at another brand of filter that is getting rave reviews



 Marineland Penguin Power Filter

  • A certified flow rate of 150GPH (US), perfect for all aquariums up to 60 liters, uses the Rite-Size B” filter cartridge”
  • Delivers easy, three-stage mechanical, chemical, and biological aquarium filtration
  • Convenient Penguin Rite Size Cartridges come ready to use with each filter
  • Check it out here


marine land 2.jpg


This model also comes in a large size like this which is for larger tanks, I would get this on tanks over 100 liters.

Check it out here if you are interested.



MarineLand Claim this filter is easy, effective and extraordinary and I have to agree,
I also like that it has this bio-wheel which kind of acts like a wet and dry filter.
Again You will have to make sure you use a sponge prefilter to make this safe for shrimp and match the model size up with your tank.
The other thing I like about Marineland over AquaClear is the units look good, the AquaClear models actually look dated like some device that was made in the 70s but they still are cracking filters, and what does it matter anyway?
Here is the YouTube Video with the filter modifications that I promised.







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