The Fantastic Baffle-free Filter: Tom Internal Power Filter

Filters help maintain high quality water for fish but many betta keepers struggle to find a filter that is acceptable for their fish. The main problem is flow output, often too strong for the calm-water loving betta. Strong currents created by many filters make it difficult for long-finned bettas to swim and harder yet for them to create bubble nests or breath from the surface. As surface breathing is a necessity for Betta spendens, finding the perfect filtration system without creating a perfectly naturally planted fish tank is a difficult task indeed. Many aquarists find it easier to baffle a filter than to find one with a gentle flow. If there is a way to modify the flow of a filter, somewhere a betta keeper has found it. Baffling, or adjusting the output through modification, can be frustrating, time consuming, and unguaranteed with results. So when a good product comes along that offers an adjustable flow that actually benefits both betta and keeper, it is worth investing in it.

Luckily, the Tom Internal Power Filter is neither expensive nor baffle-required. As the name suggests, this filter is placed inside the aquarium. This filter also does not require special media or carbon. It is a sponge filter. The beneficial bacteria required to create the nitrogen cycle house themselves inside the sponge without any other additions needed. As a sponge filter, this product has a naturally gentle flow and is almost completely silent. As someone who is quite sensitive to sounds at night and had to sleep in the same room as the fish tank for several years, I can attest to its silent appeal. Unless I tried really hard to concentrate on sounds, I never heard the filter if I heard it at all.

This makes the Tom Internal Power Filter ideal for betta owners in two unique ways: a gentle flow that is agreeable to long-finned bettas is produced without the need for modification and there is no need to purchase carbon or additional media for maintenance. Both of these factors are blessings for anyone who has experience with less-than-desirable filters for their fish. As an internal sponge filter with a 45 gallons-per-hour (GPH) flow rate, this product is ideal for nano tanks or tanks between 1 and 6 gallons. This is a common volume for betta keepers to maintain for their fish but it should be noted that creating a cycle in a tank less than 5 gallons can be very difficult and should not be attempted with a live fish as the ammonia source. Because filters are only useful for creating and maintaining the nitrogen cycle, it is important to consider if this filter will benefit your tank size.

Until I lost one of my boys and only began using my 10-gallon tank rather than my 5-gallon, I exclusively used the Tom Internal Power Filter for three years without a problem. One of the nicer features of this sponge filter is the adjustable attachment that comes with it. The stream comes from a wand that can either be attached to a small tube to be raised above the water or directly inserted into the filter to be used near surface level but under the water. I placed the wand submerged but near the surface, sometimes with the tip sticking above the water. The wand is fantastic for long-finned bettas because it offers the gentlest flow and Betta fish tend to like to play in its stream. My boy Crusoe purposely used to swim in its wake, enjoying being pushed by the gentle current. When he had to be quarantined and I gave his 5-gallon to my rescue boy, Gyarados, I witnessed this same behavior from him as well.

Crusoe flaring at the camera as he played in the Tom Internal Power Filter's stream. Photo by A. Sivan of BettaSmart

Crusoe flaring at the camera as he played in the Tom Internal Power Filter’s stream. Photo by A. Sivan of BettaSmart

Maintaining the filter is easy as well. Once a month or so, during a regular water change, take the filter apart and scrub any excess algae from the plastic shell. Clean the sponge by gently squeezing it into a bucket of water from the tank. This will help rid the sponge of excess gunk but keeps the beneficial bacteria intact. A few gentle squeezes should be enough. Make sure this is done in the bucket, however, as you do not want the excess gunk to return into your tank. Keep the sponge in tank water until the change is done and you are ready to turn your filter on again. Starting it up again is as easy as plugging the filter in. If it sounds as though it is struggling, dip the wand into the water and raise it above the surface until water pours out of each opening.

Overall, I believe this filter is a solid product. Sponge filters are fantastic for betta tanks, especially for those on the smaller side. I love the wand attachment, the quiet flow, and low yet functional strength of the filter output. It is easy to manage and relatively inexpensive compared to other options out there, though there are similar options on the market. I’ve had great experiences with this brand, though, and highly recommend it to betta keepers. Find it here on Amazon from the seller I purchased it from.