Turtles are fun to have, but just like other aquatic pets turtles also require a healthy and clean living environment to flourish. In comparison to fish, turtles are messy little beasts that require more maintenance — you need to get a proper tank, maintain the water cleaner, and guarantee that the water remains circulating.
Luckily, a filter designed for turtle tanks is effective at tackling these requirements.
Best Turtle Tank Filters
Finding the best filter for the turtle tank can be difficult, especially if you don’t have an idea of what to look for in a filter. But worry not, as we’ve assembled this guide to help you find the best filter for turtle tanks.
We analyzed dozens of turtle tank filters to spot the very best of the best available in the market right now. We read reviews, scoured user testimonials, as well as analyzed Amazon ratings for each of the products. That effort enabled us to pick the best turtle tank filters and list them here for you.
Best 10 to 20 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter: Aqueon QuietFlow
This is an advanced four-stage filtration system by Aqueon, which offers an efficient cleaning power. The filter contains biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration functions, all topped up by a diffuser grid that serves as a powerful pre-filter to protect against clogging.
The filtration phase includes activated carbon, which makes the turtle tank water crispy and clean by removing organic matter. The QuietFlow Turtle Filter has a silent operation, as its name implies, which can be helpful in case your turtle tank is placed inside your room.
Even better, when the electricity goes out, the pump does not need any loopholes and will begin automatically. The adjustable outflow nozzle is also an amazing feature for maintaining up water flow throughout your tank.
The filter is offered in a variety of sizes each, ranging from the filter for 10-gallon tanks to filter for 40 gallons tank, with each having a flow speed of 155 gallons per hour.
- A four-stage advanced filtration system
- Noiseless motor
- Activated carbon filter gives water a crisp and clean look
- Adjustable outflow nozzle for circulation
- Starts up automatically without priming after the electricity goes out
- Also available for tanks up to 40 gallons
Best 20 to 30 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter: Aquapapa Corner Filter Air Driven Bio Sponge
It’s a silent corner filter. The filter offers three layers of filtration mechanism, blending both biological and mechanical filtration systems.
The white coating on the top is a mechanical filter, whereas the coating of ceramic rings and gravel with black bio-sponge on the bottom provides extra mechanical filtration to help maintain and develop colonies of beneficial bacteria to perform biological filtration.
The packaging only includes a filter, which means you may need to additionally purchase a hosepipe and an air pump by that to attach the filter to the pump, or it can be used as a pre-filter for another complete turtle tank filter. As it utilizes air, this filter also helps aerate a turtle’s tank as it cleanses the water.
- Biological and mechanical filtration
- Silent operation and low noise
- Also makes for an ideal prefilter
Best 30 to 40 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter: EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media
This large capacity filter by Eheim is available for many types of turtle tanks and also provides durability to coordinate with the life span of the turtle. The filter is made for 95-gallon tanks, which means it’s acceptable for turtle tanks approximately 45 gallons or smaller.
It has an impressive 165-gallon flow rate, which is sufficient to make sure your tank water is circulating and there is no stagnation in your tank. The filtration system comprises biological and mechanical filtration phases and includes all you want to start filtering straight away.
Installation can be somewhat complex. This is because this filter is made to be set outside the tank, however, Eheim’s instruction booklet is well-written to help you guide how to set up this filter.
One important thing to look out when using this filter would be the polishing pad. This filter is excellent for making your turtle’s tank water clear and crisp, but it clogs after a couple of days. So if you don’t want to wash out the filter more often or even at least once per week, you are going to be better off swapping the polishing pad for a coarse filter.
- Impressive 165-gallon flow rate
- Comes with proper instructions, filtration media, and set up tubing
- Durable build quality
- Also available in sizes for large aquariums
Best 40 to 50 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter: Tetra ReptoFilter
This unique filter by Tetra is made specifically for up to 50-gallon turtle tanks. The filter sits vertically inside your tank and is designed to work in as little as 2 inches of water. The most unique thing about this filter is that it pumps water upward which creates a beautiful waterfall effect.
The filter is silent in operation, which makes it an attractive product to grab at such an economical price. With a height of 6 inches and a flow rate of approximately 50-G per hour, this filter is best intended for tanks with one or two small turtles.
Additionally, it is essential to remember that this filter doesn’t provide biological filtration – which means it is only good for eliminating solid waste from turtle’s water, and you will need to replace the water more often than you have to do with filters that have biological filtration. Also, you must be careful that the base of the filter should always be submerged inside the water. Otherwise, the pump may burn up.
- Very quiet
- Creates an aesthetic waterfall effect
- Affordable & Compact
Best 50 to 60 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter: Aquapapa Pack of 2 Bio Sponge Filter
For medium-large turtle tanks, what could be a better option than the Aquapapa Pack of 2 Bio Sponge Filter? Every one of both filters contains two 10-layer ribbed sponges that encourage the evolution of colonies of beneficial bacteria and also offer biological and mechanical filtration.
They also aerate the water at precisely the same time they filter it. The filters feature built-in suction cups and an air tubing that is extendable with the right angle duct for optimal placement.
In addition, the Aquapapa Pack of 2 Bio Sponge Filter comprises only the filters, which means it’s possible to put it to use for a pre-filter or secondary filter or merge it with air pump and tubes to use it as a primary filter. And because it comes at a bunch of 2, it’s quite easy to double Up for larger or multiple turtle terrariums.
- Dual sponge filters
- Extendable air tube with right angle duct
- Built-in suction cups for mounting the filter
- Offers biological and mechanical filtration
- Low noise operation
- Can be used as a prefilter
Best 60 to 70 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter: Fluval 206 Canister Filter
The Fluval 206 has a flow rate of approximately 200-G per hour, whereas the higher-capacity 406 (100 gallons) features a heavy flow rate of up to 380 gallons per hour. These canister filters comprise four filter baskets which may be filled with your own choice of media, and also the filter is provided with whatever you have to begin using chemical and biological filtration along with mechanical filtering.
The square design is somewhat strange, however, it is an innovative advancement in the filters industry. The square model of this filter canister usually means that the canister may endure up to 40 percent more water at one time when compared to a round canister.
The canister all together feels solid, but the tube can be hard to connect and customers recommend changing out the tubing before even setting up this filter in the aquarium.
The sound-dampening impeller makes the filter do its thing without any noise. And the best part? The product is covered with Fluval’s 3-year money-back warranty.
- Fully-customizable four filter baskets
- Sound-dampening impeller for silent operation
- Unique square shape allows the canister to hold more water
- Three-year warranty
- Also available for aquariums up to 100 gallons
Best 70 to 80 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter: Penn Plax Aquarium Cascade Canister Filter
For 80 gallon aquariums, this product delivers more than expected. It has a simple to use priming button for the pump which enables a flow rate of up to 265 gallons per hour, thus eliminating the need for manual siphoning. It also features a flexible spray bar which lets you correct the filter output volume.
The filter is also simple to take apart and wash to create regular cleaning and maintenance a breeze, and also to keep your filter running as effectively and economically as you can. Its three media trays permit you to readily combine mechanical, biological, and chemical filter mediums in a three-stage filtration procedure to get a turtle tank that is always contaminant-free, even eliminating organic debris and detritus out of the water’s surface.
- Priming button for pump
- Requires no manual siphoning
- 360-degree flow valves
- Adjustable spray bar
- Three media trays that can be filled with your preferred filtration mediums
- Efficient cleaning technology
- Easy to maintain
Best 80 to 90 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter: Ovation 1000 Submersible Power Jet Filter
It is a submersible filter with the strong build quality and inclusion of several features. For people who have a massive tank, this version could be a good one. The main reason is that it can handle capacities that are larger up to 90-gallon aquariums. Using a flow speed of 265 gallons per hour, filtering your aquariums won’t be a big deal for the Ovation Filter.
The amazing part?
There isn’t disruption, vigorous vibration, or the creation of ripples when the filter operates. This ensures no disturbance is caused to your ninja turtle inside the aquarium!
The version features dual filter components. Both of these help supply biological and mechanical filtration. The filter can be placed vertically or horizontally and it will still do the job, all thanks to its unique design.
The unit also contains a spray bar for the enhanced aeration of the aquarium. And then there’s the addition of a filter nozzle along with other accessories important for setup and mounting the filter inside the tank.
Unlike some other filters on the current market, this version is completely noiseless when operational. The carbon filtration process is another supreme feature of this filter, helping to eliminate impurities, discolorations, and odors in the turtle’s tank water.
- Great design
- Noiseless Operation
- Supplies both biological and mechanical filtration
- Easy to mount
- Removes discolorations and odors
Best 100 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter: Penn Plax Cascade 300 Hang-on
Hang-on filters are out of fashion, but we still love the Penn Plax Cascade 300. Why? Despite many filtration methods, this version provides a good deal of power and contains a lot of space for customizing the unit with different filter material.
It generates a flow of 300 gallons per hour, which is incredible for a hang-on filter!
What makes this filter rank among the best turtle tank filters is its Bio-Falls Quad-Filtration mechanism which provides excellent filtration with anaerobic microbes for additional ammonia and nitrite evacuation giving most extreme oxygenation. And the activated carbon cartridge removes unsafe synthetic compounds from the aquarium.
Two of those filters (rated for a max of 100 gallons) can make a great primary filtration system for a turtle tank. Alternatively, a solo Cascade 300 would make a fantastic option to use together with a canister filter or to maintain a tank crystal clear.
- Extremely Powerful
- Can be customized with different filter material
- Excellent filtration technology
- Efficient in removing impurities from water
Best 150 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter: API Filstar XP
The API Filstar XP provides both durability and easy maintenance, which makes it a popular choice among aquarists. A quick-disconnect valve makes it effortless to remove the filter out of the system for cleaning.
Even though the filter pump isn’t entirely noise-free, it is silent enough that most of you will not be bothered with its light humming sound.
The canister comprises three filter media trays so it is possible to conduct biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration. All the trays are easy to replace and customize.
One odd aspect about the AP Filstar XP filter is the fact that it flows water from the base of the canister to the very top. This permits gravity to help in the filtration process by settling particles to the bottom bedding of the canister.
The square canister also raises the surface area of the filtration system to boost debris capture and biological filtration, while also ensuring that there are no water leaks from the system.
The XP series is offered in sizes ranging from 45 to 265 gallons. Flow rates depend on the model, but the 265-gallon capacity filter provides an impressive 450 gallons per hour of circulation for the best of the best water filtration.
- Three customizable media trays for trio-filtration
- Easy to maintain
- There’s added power of gravity in the filtration process
- No leaks
- Impressive flow rate
Best 200 Gallon Turtle Tank Filter: Fluval FX6
The Fluval FX6 is a huge filter designed particularly for big turtle tanks. The 400-gallon model comes with a flow rate of 560 gallons per hour, which means that you can be sure that the filtration system won’t fail when it comes to cleaning up after a large turtle tank.
The design of the canister is among the best features of this filtration system. The system is kept airtight – all thanks to the clumps which close tight yet are simple to remove when it’s time to replace the filter media.
A vertical tray pulls from the canister where you can put several big filter trays of your choice. Aquarists will love the purge valve in the base of the canister, which may be opened up when it is time to change out the water from the tank.
Another exceptional aspect of this filtration system is the Smart Pump Technology. The system shuts down temporarily every 12 hours, to permit air bubbles to discharge from the system. This guarantees that the filter is properly circulating water, without requiring you to open up the canister. The only downside of this product is that it is expensive.
- Customizable media with ample space for big filter trays
- Impressive 400-gallon filtration capacity
- Durable and easy to maintain canister design
- Purge valve for easy water changes
- Smart pump technology
Who Should Buy a Turtle Tank Filter
With no good quality filter, it would not take long for your turtle tank to turn the tank’s water into a sludgy green mess. Cleaning is important for turtles, since they produce more waste than other aquatic pets like the fish. Turtles eat meals and expel stool and urine, which if not removed from the tank may cause problems for the reptile.
The dirty water is not only unhealthy for the pet, but also degrades the look of the tank. Whilst including fish and plants into a tank may play a part in maintaining the water quality, there is no substitute for a good quality filtration system installed in a turtle tank.
Important Features to Consider
Which type of filtration system is ideal for a turtle tank? The large variety of turtle tank filters available on the market could be overwhelming for a first-time buyer. To help you discover the best filter for your turtle tank, take an insight into important features to consider when buying a turtle tank filter.
Size and GPH. For fishes, even a slightly underpowered filtration system will create a wholesome living environment. But that is not the case with turtles. This is because turtles are larger and create more mess, therefore if the water is not always circulating through the filter – water conditions can deteriorate quickly. Therefore, having a powerful filtering process is important when you have turtles.
The capabilities of most canister filters have been rated for fish, and that means you have to scale up when picking a filter for a turtle tank. Generally, you need to find a filter that provides just two to three times as much filter capability as your tank’s dimensions.
So, in case you’ve got a 50-gallon turtle tank, then you should find a filter that provides at least 100 gallons of power and closer to 150 gallons.
Mechanical, Biological, And Chemical Filtration. Every turtle filter must have mechanical and biological filter phases, and ideally a chemical filtration mechanism as well. These distinct filtration phases each perform various jobs and gives you peace of mind by not just eliminating waste in the tank but also preserving water chemistry.
Mechanical filtration is the most simple phase of filtration. It eliminates any particulate gunk – such as turtle stool, pieces of food, and algae – which is floating around on your tank water.
The mechanical filter alone will make your water tank cleaner, but it will not regulate the water chemistry. Whenever your turtle pees, ammonia is released into the water and this ammonia can’t be emptied using a mechanical filtration. And this is where biological filtration comes in.
Biological filtration is made up of substrate media that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria. These beneficial bacterias are ammonia oxidizers – they convert the ammonia your turtle discharged into the water to nitrate, which may subsequently be consumed by plants into your tank and then taken out of the water.
Remember that even nitrate could be detrimental to turtles when sufficient of it builds up in the tank water, and this is part of the reason you must replace the water from time to time even in case you’ve got a high-speed filtration system.
Chemical filtration is not as crucial as biological and mechanical filtration, but it could further boost the efficacy of your filtration system and expand the time between water changes. Chemical filtration may consist of unique kinds of media, each of which can clean up another part of the biological and mechanical filter frequently overlook.
For example, activated carbon is good at breaking down dissolved organic matter in the turtle’s tank water, whilst ammonia removers help break down ammonia which slipped through the biological filtration phase.
Cleanliness and Maintenance. No matter how superior your tank filter is, at any stage, you will want to wash it out or replace the filter media. When that maintenance time comes, you will thank yourself for choosing the filter that is easy to clean and maintain.
It is recommended that you invest in a filtration system that features a cabinet system for filtration media. This way, you can easily pull the filter out, throw the old media, and insert new media. Obtaining the filter media should not require digging around the pump or separating the entire filter machine.
Avoid Undergravel Filters. Undergravel filters are famous for fish tanks, but they definitely shouldn’t be used for a turtle tank. There is a range of issues using turtles and undergravel filters. The first is that undergravel filters need gravel substrates on the base of your tank to do the job. Turtles usually mistake gravel for food particles and will attempt to consume the stones, which is not healthy for your turtle.
Additionally, turtles love to dig. That means an under gravel filter is very likely to get clogged. Worse, gravel collects pieces of food and feces debris, and turtles may kick all the undegraded debris up to the tank and create a mess. Therefore, it is always a great idea to prevent undergravel filters when deciding upon a filtration system for a turtle tank.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s a turtle tank filter and how does it function?
A turtle tank filter is just what it sounds like: a system that is used to keep water in a turtle tank clean by removing unwanted chemicals, detritus, and debris. As we discussed previously, most turtle tanks utilize three cleaning methods – biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration methods, to keep the water clean. They do this by sucking in water, running it through the filtration system, and then releasing the water back.
Do turtle tanks require a filter?
Turtle tanks certainly require a filter. With no filter, leftover food, turtle waste, and other materials can build up, causing the tank water to become foggy, look messy green, and also harmful for the reptile – resulting in death and sickness. Besides, tap water has to be filtered to eliminate substances like chlorine and fluoride which may be harmful to your reptile. Therefore, furnishing your turtle’s tank with a good quality filtration system is necessary.
How often does a turtle tank filter require replacement?
As a rule of thumb, you just have to change your filtration system once it seems damaged or pasts the expiry date set by the manufacture, which is usually for several years. Furthermore, you should be cleaning the filtration system every 2 to 3 months, or as directed by the manufacturer.
Why does my turtle tank get dirty so quickly?
Numerous reasons could result in your turtle tank becoming dirty fast, but the main problem is the lack of a good quality filtration system. Ensure that you’re using a mesh net to strain out large droppings, testing the water pH and spot cleaning a few times every week, shifting out 25 to 50 percent of the tank water, along with heavy cleansing the tank every couple of weeks. You should also dismantle and clean the filter and the filter trays every two to three months. You might also include plants or cleaning fish, such as otos or plecos, inside the turtle tanks. Plants absorb pollutants and protect against algae growth.