Small Fish Tank

12 Best Fish for No Filter Tank

Whether you’re a seasoned fish keeper or a budding aquarist, a no-filter tank’s allure is appealing and practical. These setups reduce the need for constant maintenance, and they’re fantastic for hobbyists who want to create a more natural environment for their fish. Plus, they can serve as a quieter, more serene home for your aquatic friends. As we dive into the best fish for no filter tank, remember to be mindful of each species’ specific needs to ensure they thrive. So, let’s dive in!

The Benefits of Opting for a No Filter Tank

For many aquarists, choosing a no-filter tank is a conscious decision from various motivating factors. These range from economic considerations to the desire for a more natural setup, lower maintenance, and quieter operation. Let’s dive deeper into each of these reasons.

Economic Considerations: One of the prime reasons hobbyists opt for a no-filter tank is due to economic considerations. Traditional aquarium setups with filters require a continuous electricity supply to keep the filter running. Over time, this continuous operation can contribute significantly to the electricity bill. On the other hand, a no-filter tank eliminates the need for a constant power supply, thereby reducing the overall cost of maintaining the aquarium. It’s a more sustainable option that can save energy usage and reduce your carbon footprint while being kinder to your wallet.

Natural Setup: In the wild, fish are accustomed to living in environments without artificial filters. No filter tanks aim to replicate these natural habitats, allowing fish to exist in conditions akin to their original ecosystems. This can positively affect the well-being and behavior of the fish, as they are allowed to thrive in an environment that closely mirrors their natural homes. This closer alignment with natural habitats can enhance the beauty and authenticity of your aquarium, providing a little slice of the wild in your living room.

Low Maintenance: An obvious advantage of no filter tanks is the reduced need for maintenance. Aquarium filters demand regular cleaning and occasional replacement of parts to function optimally. This upkeep can be time-consuming and tedious, especially for busy hobbyists. By opting for a no-filter tank, you eliminate these tasks. However, this means no maintenance at all. You’ll still need to perform regular water changes and monitor the health of your fish and plants but without the additional task of filter upkeep.

Quiet Operation: Many aquarium enthusiasts enjoy an aquarium’s tranquillity in their living space. While a filter’s constant hum can be soothing to some, for others, it may be an unwanted background noise. No filter tanks offer a more peaceful, tranquil environment. Without the incessant buzz of a filter, you can enjoy the soothing sight of your fish swimming peacefully, undisturbed by noise.

Choosing a no-filter tank can be a rewarding decision, but it’s essential to remember that successful aquarium keeping without a filter requires understanding and respecting the needs of the fish and the balance of the aquatic ecosystem. Considering these factors, you can provide your aquatic friends with a beautiful, healthy, and serene home.

Best Practices for a No-Filter Tank

A no-filter tank is a rewarding option for many aquarists, providing a more natural and peaceful environment for your aquatic friends. However, maintaining a no-filter tank requires special care to ensure the water stays clean and the ecosystem balances. Here are four key recommendations for keeping your no-filter tank thriving:

Implement Regular Water Changes: Keeping up with regular water changes is the cornerstone of maintaining any fish tank, especially a no-filter one. This is essential as it helps to maintain the overall water quality and ensure the tank environment remains healthy for the fish. Aim to replace about 10-20% of the tank’s water weekly. This dilutes waste products and replenishes valuable minerals your fish need for good health. During water changes, match the new water’s temperature, pH, and hardness with the existing tank water to avoid shock to the fish.

Incorporate Plenty of Aquatic Plants: Aquatic plants are crucial in a no-filter tank. They absorb excess nutrients like nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia from the water, effectively acting as a natural filter. Simultaneously, they produce oxygen daily, which is vital for your fish’s survival. In addition, plants offer an added aesthetic appeal, providing a beautiful, natural backdrop for your aquarium. Some suitable plants for a no-filter setup include Java Moss, Anubias, and Hornwort.

Monitor Your Tank’s Bioload: In aquarium parlance, ‘bioload’ refers to the load of living organisms in the tank. This includes your fish, of course, but also any plants and microorganisms. It’s critical not to overcrowd your tank. Remember, more fish means more waste; without a filter, this waste can rapidly degrade water quality and harm your fish. Keep the number of fish in line with the size of your tank. A general rule of thumb is one inch of fish per gallon of water, which can vary depending on the species.

Maintain a Balanced Diet for Your Fish: Overfeeding is a common fish-keeping mistake. Excess food decays, leading to poor water quality, and can also cause health problems for your fish. Feed your fish only what they can consume within a few minutes, and make sure the diet is balanced and appropriate for the species you’re keeping. Remove any uneaten food promptly to prevent it from decaying and affecting the water quality.

In conclusion, a no-filter tank can be a healthy and vibrant home for your fish, but it requires careful management. Following these guidelines help create a balanced, sustainable, and low-maintenance environment where your aquatic friends can thrive.

Now, let’s move to our list of the best fish for no-filter tanks.

The Best Fish for No Filter Tank

Choosing the right fish for your no-filter tank can be daunting. establishing a no-filter tank demands a thoughtful selection of fish species that can adapt to and thrive in such specific environments. Hardy fish like betta fish, white cloud minnows, and various types of guppies are excellent choices for no-filter setups due to their resilience and adaptability.

However, remember that a no-filter tank still requires regular maintenance, such as water changes, to ensure a healthy environment for your aquatic pets. With a careful selection of suitable fish and consistent care, your no-filter tank can be a vibrant and fascinating addition to your space.

1. Betta Fish

Best Fish for No Filter Tank - Betta

Known for their vibrant colors and long, flowing fins, Betta fish are a favorite among aquarists. These fish are hardy and can adapt to various water conditions. Change the water regularly to keep a Betta healthy in a no-filter tank. Bettas are tropical fish, so maintaining a consistent water temperature between 78-80°F (25-27°C) is crucial.

2. Guppies

Best Fish for No Filter Tank - Guppies

Guppies are small, colorful, and full of life. Their ability to gulp air when oxygen levels are low makes them well-suited for non-filtered environments. Regular water changes and careful temperature monitoring, which should remain around 74-82°F (23-28°C), will help ensure your Guppies’ longevity. Feeding them a balanced diet of high-quality flake food, supplemented with occasional brine shrimp or bloodworms, will keep them happy and healthy.

3. White Cloud Mountain Minnows

Best Fish for No Filter Tank - White Cloud Minnow

White Cloud Mountain Minnows are small, sturdy fish known for their silver bodies and bright red fins. Their preference for cooler water (64-72°F, or 17-22°C) reduces the need for a heater and a filter. Keeping them in a school of at least six and feeding them a varied diet will promote a longer, healthier life.

4. Endler’s Livebearers

Best Fish for No Filter Tank - Endlers

Like Guppies, Endler’s Livebearers are vibrant, and lively, and can thrive in a no-filter tank. They don’t require a heater if kept at room temperature. Providing a diet rich in vegetable matter and keeping them in groups will support their overall well-being.

5. Zebra Danios

Best Fish for No Filter Tank - Zebra Danios

Resilient and adaptable, Zebra Danios are known for their distinctive horizontal stripes. These active swimmers enjoy a temperature range of 65-77°F (18-25°C). They should be kept in at least five schools for comfort and well-being.

6. Goldfish

Best Fish for No Filter Tank - Goldfish

Goldfish, particularly varieties like fancy goldfish, can live without a filter. They need ample space due to their size and waste production. Keeping the water temperature between 50-75°F (10-24°C) and ensuring your tank is at least 20 gallons to accommodate their growth will contribute to a long, healthy life.

7. Platy Fish

Best Fish for No Filter Tank - Platy Fish

Platy Fish are easy to care for and highly adaptable, making them suitable for a no-filter tank. Keep the water temperature around 70-80°F (21-27°C), and provide a diet of flakes, vegetables, and occasional live or frozen foods to keep Platies thriving.

8. Swordtails

Best Fish for No Filter Tank - Swordtail Fish

Swordtails are robust and known for their elongated lower fins. Regular water changes, a well-balanced diet, and a water temperature between 72-82°F (22-28°C) will ensure these fish live a healthy life.

9. Paradise Fish

Paradise Fish

Paradise Fish are hardy, beautiful, and can breathe air, making them perfect for a filterless environment. Maintaining a consistent temperature of 68-82°F (20-28°C) and offering a protein-rich diet will help these fish flourish.

10. Killifish


There are many varieties of Killifish, some of which are well-suited to a no-filter setup. These colorful fish prefer a diet of live foods and require consistent water temperatures (the range varies based on the species).

11. Cherry Shrimp

Best Fish for No Filter Tank - Cherry Shrimp

Though not fish, Cherry Shrimp contribute to maintaining water quality by consuming algae and leftover food. Providing plenty of hiding spots and keeping the water temperature between 65-85°F (18-29°C) will ensure these beneficial critters thrive.

12. Ghost Shrimp

Best Fish for No Filter Tank - Ghost Shrimp

Like Cherry Shrimp, Ghost Shrimp helps maintain water clarity and quality. They need similar care—ample hiding spots, consistent temperature control, and regular feeding of a high-quality diet will promote their well-being.

By understanding the needs and preferences of these fish, you can create a thriving no-filter tank that brings beauty and natural tranquillity to your space. Remember, each species has unique needs, and their overall health and longevity depend on meeting those needs consistently.

Please… Get a Filter! Making a Case for Filtered Aquariums

While the idea of a no-filter tank can be alluring due to its natural appeal and lower operational costs, it’s essential to understand that a filter can drastically simplify the maintenance of your aquarium and ensure a healthier, happier life for your aquatic pets. Here are some compelling reasons why you should still consider getting a filter for your tank.

Firstly, a filter helps maintain water quality by removing harmful substances and waste. This keeps the water clear and reduces the risk of disease among your fish. Without a filter, you must change the water frequently and monitor the water parameters closely to avoid harmful ammonia and nitrate build-ups.

Secondly, filter aid in biological filtration. Beneficial bacteria that grow on the filter media break down harmful ammonia into less toxic substances, contributing to a healthier tank environment. This process can be significantly slower or less efficient in no-filter tanks.

Finally, a filter enhances water oxygenation. The movement created by the filter promotes the dissolution of oxygen, which is crucial for the survival and health of your fish.

Aqueon QuietFlow 10 LED PRO Aquarium Fish Tank Power FilterOne filter we highly recommend is the Aqueon QuietFlow 10 LED PRO Aquarium Power Filter. It’s a quiet, affordable, and highly effective option that comes packed with features:

  • LED Indicator: The LED indicator light flashes when water cannot pass through the cartridge, generally signaling it’s time to change it.
  • Self-Priming Filter Pump: This feature means the pump will auto-start initially or restart if power is interrupted and restored, ensuring continuous filtration.
  • Comprehensive Filtration: The filter provides mechanical, chemical, biological, and optional specialty pad filtration, covering all your bases for clean and healthy water.
  • High Flow Rates: These ensure optimal dissolved oxygen content to promote healthier, more active fish.
  • Internal Pump Design: This design feature helps dampen noise and eliminate leaks. It also includes a self-priming feature.
  • Versatile: This filter fits fresh or saltwater aquariums up to 20 gallons in size.
  • Easy to Maintain: It uses one Medium Aqueon Replacement Cartridge and Size 10 Specialty Filter Pads, making it easy to keep in top condition.

In conclusion, while no filter tanks can be appealing for various reasons, incorporating a filter like the Aqueon QuietFlow 10 LED PRO Aquarium Power Filter into your setup can significantly enhance your aquarium’s health, vitality, and overall aesthetics. By doing so, you’re investing in the longevity and well-being of your aquatic companions.


No filter tanks are a great option for hobbyists looking for a low-maintenance, natural setup for their aquatic friends. Remember, while the above-listed fish can survive without filters, it’s crucial to maintain their environment through regular water changes, proper feeding, and keeping an eye on the tank’s bioload.


1. Do no filter tanks need aeration?
Some fish will require aeration, but many on this list can survive without it due to their ability to gulp air.

2. Can any fish survive without a filter?
Not all fish can survive without a filter; the ones listed above are some of the hardier species that can.

3. What happens if a no-filter tank isn’t maintained properly?
Failure to maintain a no-filter tank can lead to poor water quality, which can stress or even kill your fish.

4. How often should I change the water in a no-filter tank?
Aim to change about 10-20% of the tank’s water weekly.

5. Can I add a heater to a no-filter tank?
Yes, especially if the fish you choose requires a warmer environment.

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