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Best Turtle Tank Filters 2021 Ultimate Guide

Like any fish aquariums, there must be a high-quality filter turtle aquarium should have too. Turtles aren’t clean and they make a lot of waste inside the aquarium therefore they don’t have a healthy environment to thrive so you do need a high-quality filter to clean the water inside the tank or the water will get dirtier and this will impact the turtles and any other creatures in the aquarium.
Turtles aren’t like fish, in fact, they need more care than fish, they need a larger tank, clean water, and make sure the water regularly circulates. So thankfully we have high-quality filters and this article will explain the best filters for turtle tanks and how to install the filter.

Different types of turtle tank filters
Different types of turtle tank filters

Before we get to the Best Turtle Tank Filters let us demonstrate some points, Do turtle tanks need filters? What are the types of turtle tank filters? And How to choose a filter for turtle tanks?

Do turtle tanks need filters?

The short answer is definitely they do need filters because it cleans the water and makes a healthy environment for the turtles and also saves you a lot of time cleaning the tank manually. As we mentioned before, turtles are messy creatures and you can see the water changing to a brown color in a short time as they make a lot of waste and this is a disaster for your tank especially if you have other creatures. So absolutely you need a high-quality filter.


Different types of turtle tank filters:

The most common filters for turtles are :

  • Canister filter:
    Canister filters are more reliable and powerful. This filter hangs outside of the tank and uses hoses submerged in the tank to clean the water. This filter is not suitable for beginners as it needs some experience when you first install it and also maintenance needs some experience and effort. It is not as easy as a power filter just you plug it in the tank but it needs some knowledge as it requires submerged horses, biological filtration, and regular cleaning.
    Canister filters are quite expensive.
  • Power filter:
    This filter hangs on the back of the tank and it has different sizes and shapes. The installation of this tank is pretty easy. Inside it, there is a carbon filter pad, when you turn it on the internal pump draws the water from the tank through the live tube, and then it passes through the filter cartridge which has the needed chemicals to keep the water clean.
    The maintenance of power filters is much easier than the canister filter, all you have to do is to change the carbon filters and replace it.
    Power filters are not as powerful as canister filters but affordable.
  • Undergravel filter:
    Undergravel filters have a long past however, some aquarists still think they should have one in their tank.
    Undergravel filters designed to pull the water down through a media base
    ( substrate )and it will trap particles when the water passes through it. the top surface of the media (substrate) acts as a biological filter. As you see the process it pretty simple but the trick here is to keep the media or the substrate clean via regular maintenance.

How to choose a filter?

There is some stuff you need to keep an eye on when you are looking for the right filter for your turtle tank:

  • Tank size:
    You should get a filter that will not struggle to make the tank clean. As we mentioned before, the turtles are messy creatures so if you have two turtles and live in a 60-gallon tank they will make it dirty in a short time so in this case, you need a filter that is so powerful. When you look for filters always try to pick the one that is up to more than your tank size. So if your tank is 50 gallons in this case look for the filter up to 70 gallons tanks.
  • Reliability and maintenance:
    You should consider these two factors when you are looking for a filter. You should look for a strong filter that is not going to break easily and in case it is broken, so it is easy to get maintenance as your tank will not stand without a filter and it will get dirtier and the environment will not be healthy for the turtles.
  • Flow rate:
    Flow rate is the amount of water that your filter can work through each hour. So look for the filter that has a high flow rate. The higher this number is the better. A filter with a high flow rate will be more expensive take this in mind.
  • Type of filtration:
    There are three filtration types, chemical, biological and mechanical filtration. and the best filter is the one that has them all, has three-stage filtration.
    Although it isn’t required it will make the difference inside your tank.

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Best Turtle Tank Filters

In order to have a turtle tank, this requires a lot of maintenance and looking after it and the filter is one of the most important tools you have in your tank which keeps the water clean for the turtle and that helps them to stay healthy and reduce the chances of forming harmful bacteria.
So if you started to look for a high-quality filter for your tank here is a list of the best filters for turtles that you can get them online.

  • Penn-Plax Aquarium Canister Filter:

    This filter designed for aquariums up to 200 gallons it is like a swimming pool filter with rotating valves that control the flow. It is suitable for beginners as anyone can set it up quickly and easily. It’s media has a large capacity so it gives you the chance to customize the filter according to the type of your tank. It has a spray bar, tubing, directional spout, and filter medium.


Pros Cons
1- adjustable and directional water flow


2- Well-made filter media cartridges


3- Suitable for larger turtle tanks


4- 360-degree rotating valves

1- make a little noise

2- Requires experience with customizing filter media


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  • Fluval FX4 Canister Filter :

It is a multi-stage filter that is strong and can work through a 700-gallon tank. This means if your tank is any size below this, this filter can clean it easily. It contains a few filter baskets chemical, biological and mechanical which can hold different types of media.
It also has a nice hose and pumps that allow you to change water without straining your back.


Pros Cons
1- set up is easy


2- comes with filter media baskets


3- it can filter 700 gallons per hour

4- Customizable media

5- Smart pump technology

1- a little expensive, but according to its features it is good


2- Bulky and heavy



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  • Ovation Submersible Power Jet Filter:
    This filter works with up to 80 gallons. It has 2 stages of filtration, one offers mechanical filtration and the second one offers biological filtration. According to aeration, it contains a spray bar that provides that.


Pros Cons
1- flow rate is 265 GPH


2- work with up to 80 gallons


3- dual filters

4- Ultra-quiet, powerful and effective filter

5- affordable

 not good for large aquariums



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  • Aqueon Internal Power Filter:

It could be installed in a vertical or horizontal position as you like and also contain an adjustable flow rate. It offers 3 filtration stages: mechanical, biological, and chemical.
The chemical filtration stage consists of activated carbon, which gives your water a clean and crisp look by removing dissolved organic matter.
It is a small and quiet submersible filter that comes with a directional water return which allows you to customize how it’s used in your tank a bit more. It has a flow rate of 155 GPH and can work with aquariums up to 40 gallons


Pros Cons
1- quiet


2- has a small  footprint


3- Comes with a limited lifetime warranty

4- directional water return

5- Activated carbon filter

6- Three-stage filtration 

1- not good for large aquariums as it can work with 10 – 40 gallons aquariums

2- Limited Lifetime Warranty


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  • Tetra Decorative Filter:
    It is a small filter that works with up to 55-gallon tanks that allows you to create a waterfall basking area for the turtles. It has large intake holes that prevent clogging the tank. It has a 3 stage filtration system that uses a replaceable bio bag to keep the water clean. It contains a locking cover to keep the turtles out of the filtration area.


Pros Cons
1- decorative waterfall


2- Solid filtration


3- large intake holes to prevent clogging

1- the rocks can attract the turtles to climb

2- it has moving parts which means it needs maintenance from time to time

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  • Hydor External Canister Filter:
    It has a 3 stage filtration mechanical, chemical, and biological that will help you to make the tank clean and the water to be clear. You don’t need to purchase extra stuff as it contains everything you need to set it up. It is easy to maintain too.
    This filter operates with gallon ranges from 20 to 150 and filter circulation from 160 to 290 gallons.


Pros Cons
1- Safety Locks

2- Easy Priming

3- No Noise, and  Vibration
4- Large Filter Volume
5- Simple to Use
6- No Water Bypass

1- Expensive

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Best filter for turtle tank

canister filter for turtle tank

The canister filter is one of the best filters especially when it comes to a turtle aquarium as it can handle large aquariums and make the water clean and clear. There is a rule of thumb when you narrow down your list of canister filters, the more powerful the filter is, the better it will be for the turtle. So let us see the top five canister filters you can buy online.  

Marineland c-350 Multi-Stage Canister Filter:

This filter can work with tanks between 100-150 has a maximum flow rate530 GPH which indicates that this filter has a high performance.


  • High storage capacity.
  • Staked filter trays.
  •  Assembles and disassembles quickly.
  • Easy to get cleaned.


           make some noise.

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Aquatop CF500 Canister Filter:

It works well with tanks up to 175 has 4 filtration systems, chemical, biological, mechanical, and powerful UV sterilizer. It has a maximum flow rate of
525 GPH.


  • 4 filter trays
  • Doesn’t make noise
  • Contain a powerful UV filter


  •  you have to buy one more media to start using it

                                                                            buy now


Eheim Professional 3

This a classic filter that can handle up to 320 gallons and has a maximum flow rate of
450 GPH. It has an adjustable flow rate that enables you to control the level of circulation inside your tank.


  • High adjustable flow rate.
  • You don’t have to change media regularly as it lasts for a long time.
  • Setup and maintenance are easy.


  • – Replacement filtration is expensive.
  • – poor manufacturer’s instructions.

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Filstar XP-XL:

It is suitable for tanks up to 265 gallons. Designed with high-performance features. It has a maximum flow rate of 450 GPH. it has lightweight so it could be moved easily.


  • High capacity
  • compact
  • Easy to use
  • lightweight

   – gaskets aren’t stable.

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Penn Plax Cascade 1500:

It is suitable for tanks up to 200 gallons, with a maximum flow rate of 350 GPH. it has a 360-degree rotational valve system

  • Set up is easy
  • 360-degree valve system
  • Clean the water quickly 

  – doesn’t have a no-bypass system.

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Q & A


What is the best filter for a red-eared slider?


These are the best 5 filters for a red-eared slider :

  • Tetra Decorative ReptoFilter:

    It has a three-stage filtration system that ensures a clean and healthy environment inside the aquarium. It is easy to set up, clean and a stone looks so the turtles will not notice something strange inside the tank.


– You can notice the minimum and maximum waterline easily.
– You can control the waterfall.
– Natural stone look.


            – It is hard to clean the inside and the beside.
            – the pump moves water at a slower speed, so if there is no enough water, the rock makes noises.

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Marineland Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter:

Is one of the most popular canister filters that provide you a three-stage filtration which will make your tank clean and free from dirt.


– easy to set up
– powerful which provides a good cleaning to the tank.
– according to its efficiency the price is so good.


holds very little carbon.
– there are no controls for reducing the water flow.
– after a while, the filter will start making a little noise.

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Finnex PX-360 Canister Filter:

It is a high-quality filter that will keep your water clean. It works quietly and with no noise. Provide easy maintenance which makes it perfect for beginners and you can remove the filtration chambers easily and use any other media you like.


– set up is easy.
– suitable for a nano tank.
– small and portable.


– it will make noise if you set it up wrongly.
– sometimes the water can bypass the filtration media this will make it not easy while maintenance.


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Exo Terra External Turtle Filter:

This filter will remove the odors and other media to make the water cleaner and clearer. It has a spray bar system that will provide better aeration.
It also has a dual-chamber design that gives you the maximum flexibility in maintaining your chemical, mechanical, and adsorptive filtration media.


– high-quality filter with adjustments.
– has a great design.
– keep the water clear and clean.


– It is not perfect for big turtles.

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Zoo Med Submersible Power Filter:

It is a perfect filter that comes with an adjustable flow control system that will help you to control the flow of water.


– it makes no noise
– easy to set up, and clean


– the filter gets dirty quickly.

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What turtles need in their tank?

turtle tank water filters

  • Lightning source:

    You can use a lamp or a LED that hooks into the tank. turtles need a high-quality light to stay in good health, but not all the time .you can use a timer to make a cycle of lightning for 10 to 12 hours and darkness for 12 hours. also, you can use the sunlight by placing the tank in an indirect place to the sunlight.
  • Heater:

    You can use a submerged heater in order to maintain the temperature of the water. Try to hide the heater as the turtle might break it down while swimming. Before using a heater make sure that the species of turtles you have is the one that needs warm water but if they are the ones that live in room temperature then you don’t need one.
  • High-quality filter:

    Definitely, you need a high-quality filter as we mentioned that turtles are a missy creature they will make the water dirty in a short time so you have to invest in a good quality filter in order to keep the water clear and clean which will make a healthy environment for your turtles. Our recommendation is to use a canister filter as it is so powerful and works well with large tanks.
  • Substrate:

    You don’t need to have a substrate unless you plan to have live plants in the turtle tank. In this case, you need a substrate. Also try to use sand, gravel, or fluorite as the substrate makes it difficult to clean the tank. Turtles like to dig in the sand and gravel to give the tank a nice look but you should get the gravel which is more than ½ inch or the turtles might eat them.

How often should I clean my turtle tank filter? 


Actually, this is depending on the type of filter and according to the manufacturer’s instructions but in general, regular cleaning will make your filter work efficiently without any problems for a long time and without making any kind of noise.


Can I turn off my turtle filter at night?


In fact, you shouldn’t turn it off because when the filter is not running the bacteria will increase due to the lake of oxygenated water passing through. But if you are worried about the noise you should pick the filter that works quietly and make no noise. If you switched the filter off for 1 hour or longer in this case you should remove the media and change it and refill the tank with clean water.


Do turtles need rocks in their tank?


In fact, using rocks in a turtle tank is not a must but if you would like you can prove 1 to 3 inches of large and smooth stones in the bottom of the tank.


Is it OK to put sand in a turtle tank?


Yes, you can use sand actually you can use any kind of sand. Just make sure that the filter intakes well above the san and the sand don’t go deeper than 2 inches as the turtles like to dig so 2 inches will not be dangerous for the turtles. You can use a plays or pool filter sand. Keep in mind that using sand will make tank cleaning harder.


Can I put my turtle in the bathtub?

Yes, you can. Just by drinking water from the store to put in the tub because drinking water has been filtered and the chemicals that would be harmful have been removed. but you have to change the water regularly once you found it got dirty.


Can I use fish filters for turtles?  


Usually, it is possible to use a specific filter for any kind of aquarium. You should read the description of this filter if the manufacturers mentioned that the filter can be used with different aquariums in this case you can use it for fish and turtle tanks. So make sure first before you take the risk with something important for your turtles


  • The best filter is related to the type and size of your tank. There are different types of filters: submersible, canister and hang-on back filters. There are some factors you should keep in mind when you look for a filter for your turtle tank. You should consider the size of your tank which will tell you if you need a small filter with a small flow rate or a powerful filter with a high flow rate, you should look for the filter that offers the 3 stages of filtration, these filters are more powerful and make the water clean, you should consider the maintenance of this filter, you should look for the filter that doesn’t need a regular or a lot of maintenance.
  • In this article, we mentioned why you need a filter inside a turtle tank and how the filter in a turtle tank is an important tool.
  • We also mentioned how to look for a good filter. What are the points you should consider when you are picking a filter?
  • There is a list of the best 6 filters that is suitable for turtle tanks and will help your turtles to stay in good health.
  • We focus on the canister filter as it is the most powerful type of filter. there is a list of the best 5 canister filters you can get online.
  • Finally, we give the answer to the most asked questions which are: What is the best filter for a red-eared slider? And we provide a list of the best 5 filters for red-eared sliders.
  • What turtles need in their tank? And we explained four things that turtles need which are the lightning source, filter, substrate, and heater.
  • How often should you clean your turtle tank filter? Can you turn off your turtle filter at night? And can you use rocks inside your turtle tank?
  • Is it okay to put sand inside the tank? Can you put the turtles inside a bathtub? And can you use fish filters for turtles tank?
All these questions we explained in detail and if you have any further questions we are more than happy to hear them and help you out if there are any other turtle aquarium filters that you think we should add to our list, feel free to send us some information about them. We will add them right away to our list in this article and mention the person who recommended it for us.
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