The Best Filters for Turtle Tank (Review) in 2021

Last Updated April 26, 2021

For some people, it’s dogs, for others cats. If you are a little more unique in your choice of pets, you may have a turtle as your ideal companion. And whenever you take ownership of any living thing, you want to make sure that they have the best conditions possible. If you are looking for a place that your shelled friend can call their own, a turtle tank is the perfect option. Of course, this takes plenty of maintenance and looking after, and a filter is one of the most important pieces of equipment that you can own. Keeping the water clean for your turtle will help them to stay healthy and reduces the risk of harmful bacteria forming.

So, if you already have the tank and you are looking to get the best filter for your turtle tank, we have compiled this list of our top choices to help making your mind up that little bit easier.

The Best Filter for Turtle Tank


penn plax turtle tank filter
Penn Plax Cascade Canister Turtle Tank Filter

First up on the list, we have this premium product designed for aquariums up to 200 gallons in capacity. Essentially, it operates like a swimming pool filter with rotating valves which control the flow. Setup is made to be quick and easy, so you can install it in your aquarium in no time at all.

The media baskets are large capacity, so you can customize your filter depending on your pet and the type of aquarium you own. Other features include a spray bar, tubing, directional spout for full customization and filter medium. It has been highly rated by many customers, and we also think that this is a very strong choice, which is why we have ranked it at the top of our list of best canister filters.

Powerful filtration system

High quality flow valves

Large capacity media baskets

Easy push button primer

  • Brand: Penn Plax
  • Model: CCF5UL
  • Weight: 15 pounds


fluval external filter
Fluval External Turtle Tank Filter

Designed to fit in fresh and saltwater aquariums alike, this product provides multi-stage filtration. It is suitable for aquariums of up to 70 gallons, so make sure that you know the capacity of yours before purchase.

Some aquarium owners are concerned by the amount of noise that their tank makes, but this one has a sound dampening design for a quieter operation. It comes complete with a clog-proof intake strainer and dual layer foam screen, which are useful in catching the waste which your turtle naturally produces.

Easy to set up and customize

User-friendly features

Quiet operation

Three-year warranty

  • Brand: Fluval
  • Model: A212
  • Weight: 9.15 pounds


If you are looking for a mechanical-biological purification system, this one has been tried and tested to offer a high level of efficiency – even for the larger systems. The purification takes place in a single process, providing continuous water circulation and oxygen enrichment.

The included accessories are spray bar, inlet pipe, hose and installation accessories – everything that you need for proper start up. This particular model is compact in size, and it also comes complete with its own stand too, which is another added bonus.

Suitable for tanks up to 95 gallons

Flow rate of 164 GPH

Simple and effective cannister filter design

Offers balance between mechanical/biological long-term filtration, water circulation, and oxygen enrichment

  • Brand: Eheim
  • Model: 2215371
  • Weight: 6.07 pounds


Everything that you need to set up this filter in your turtle tank is right here in the box. It provides a combination of biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration, which helps to maintain the long life of your turtle.

As well as being easy to maintain, they are also effective in sucking up plenty of waste. The priming feature is designed to be straightforward to use, as are the telescopic intake tubes as well.

Complete eco-system in a box

Provides biological, mechanical and chemical filtration

Everything is made to be easy to use

  • Brand: Hydor
  • Model: C02301
  • Weight: 13.5 pounds


Our next choice is this underwater filter from Fluval. Once you get your hands on it, the filter promises to be easy to both install and maintain. As well as operating efficiently, it is also silent, so it is not going to irritate you or your turtle.

Once it is installed, it will get to work filtering out dirt and debris from the tank, as well as offering optimal biological filtration. Whether you choose to use it as a supplementary or a stand-alone filter, it is a good choice.

Three-stage filtration system

Operates silently

Suitable for tanks of 34-65 gallons

Easy installation and maintenance

  • Brand: Fluval
  • Model: A480A1
  • Weight: 2.8 pounds


tetra turtle tank filter
Tetra Decorative Turtle Tank Filter

Suitable for smaller aquariums up to 55 gallons, this filter combined some style with its substance. It allows you to create a waterfall basking area for your turtle, and it also does the job of filtering the water at the same time.

Clogging of the tank is prevented thanks to the large intake holes. And there is also a locking cover to keep your turtle out of the filtration area. The three-stage filtration system uses replaceable bio bags to keep the water clear and odor-free.

Combined filter and decorative feature

Blends and enhances your turtle’s tank environment

Locking cover to keep animals out

Large intake holes to stop clogging

  • Brand: Tetra
  • Model: 25905
  • Weight: 7.5 pounds


aqueon turtle rank filter
Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Turtle Tank Filter

This filter gives you the option of whether you would like to install it in a vertical or horizontal position. You can also adjust the return flow rate as you want, as well as the direction and height of the water. The classic three-stage filtration system uses dense foam to absorb particles and debris, activated carbon to take care of the odors, toxins, and discoloration, and BioGrid for ammonia and nitrates.

Submersible in vertical or horizontal positions

Three-stage filtration system

Uses patented BioGrid

  • Brand: Aqueon
  • Model: 100106973
  • Weight: 1.15 pounds


This powerful filter works with large tanks with a capacity as big as 175 gallons. But despite this, it still operates quietly, which is a relief for anyone who has ever had to endure a noisy filter! It uses a 4+1 filtration system with replaceable filter sponges. Also included with this product is a UV Sterilizer, which will tackle the type of algae spores and harmful bacteria that is so prone to developing in a turtle tank.

Suitable for tanks up to 175 gallons

Very quiet operation

Includes 9-watt UV sterilizer

  • Brand: AquaTop
  • Model: CF500UV
  • Weight: 16 pounds


The second to last product on our list is this one which is suitable for smaller turtle tanks of up to 25 gallons. Remember to double check that you match the filter up with the tank. Suitable for saltwater and freshwater environments, operation is quiet, and you can maintain it easily. As for the filtration chambers, these are easily replaceable, so you can choose the ones that work best for your turtle.

Accessories include water intake strainer, spray bar and filter hanger

Quiet operation and easy maintenance

Offers vacuum tight force filtration

  • Brand: Finnex
  • Model: PX-360
  • Weight: 3.5 pounds


The final choice that we have for you is this filter which works in tanks of up to 80 gallons. The design is highly efficient, and it can filter as much as 265 gallons of water per hour. There are two filter elements at play here; one works to offer mechanical filtration, and the other biological filtration. If you need extra aeration, there is also a spray bar included to provide this.

Flow rate of 265 GPH

Capacity of 80 gallons

Dual mechanical and biological filters

  • Brand: Danner
  • Model: 1000
  • Weight: 2.2 pounds

Best Filter for Turtle Tank Buying Guide

The next section that we have for you is the buying guide of best turtle filters, which gives us the chance to go into more minute detail about some issues which you may still be wondering about. We will start with a breakdown of what to consider when buying this type of product, before looking at some of the major benefits that you and your turtle can expect to receive. Following this, we have a section of the kinds of filtration and types of filter which you can look into buying. Then, we have our frequently asked questions, and a recap of the number one product which we have selected to put at the top of our list.

turtle swimming

What to Consider When Buying a Filter for Turtle Tank

Before you settle on your choice of filter, you may need some more information about the different features to look out for. So, here are a few of the top things to consider. Get out your checklist and start marking them off one by one!

  • Tank Size

While it may seem obvious, it is still an important point to mention, nevertheless. You need to match up the turtle water filter with the appropriate tank size. Each manufacturer should list this clearly, so make sure that you choose correctly before purchase. Otherwise, you will have to go through the time and effort of getting a replacement. Choose one which is too small, and it will not do the job of filtering the water in the tank as effectively, and it is more likely that your turtle will be living in an unclean environment. We will go into more detail about why this is so bad later in the blog post.

  • Flow Rate

Good quality turtle aquarium filters are supposed to have high flow rates. This will help to keep the tank cleaner and will ensure that your turtle’s living environment will stay undisturbed. All manufacturers should list this information clearly, so you shouldn’t have much trouble comparing and contrasting the different options available to you.

  • Durability

There is no point in spending good money on a product which is likely to brake soon after you have bought it. Consider the construction and type of material which has been used in the making of the tank. Generally, they are made from a hard-plastic material, but what is important is the actual strength of the plastic. If there are some metal parts as well, this often helps in standing the test of time.

  • Type of Motor

One of the most essential features of a filter system for a turtle tank is the motor. You want to ensure a decent level of reliability so that it maintains its efficiency and effectiveness for the longest possible amount of time. Also, you want a motor which is easy to maintain as this makes your life so much easier. Some of the high-end motors may not need any maintenance at all!

  • Filter Maintenance

Following on from the previous point, you should look closer at any filter maintenance which you may need to undertake. It is easier if you choose a model which is easy to take apart, so you can conduct any maintenance tasks with ease. You should get a detailed guide on what is involved in proper maintenance. It may also be worth looking online to see if the brand offers any useful videos or guides to help you out.

  • Brand

A brand with a decent reputation gives you an extra level of reassurance that you are investing in a quality product, so check for their credentials, the years that they have been in operation etc. Even if the brand is relatively new, it is easier than ever to see how they are doing thanks to the online reviews which are now readily available. Of course, you are likely to ‘shell out’ more money for a good brand of turtle tank filter, but if it lasts for longer, this could actually prove to be a saving in the long-run.

  • Customer Reviews

Checking the customer reviews is an option which is becoming more and more popular in recent years. However, make sure that you look across a broad spectrum of different responses, and also check to ensure that the information you are getting is from a verified reviewer. You don’t want to end up getting thrown off by data which is not accurate.

Benefits of Filter System for Turtle Tank

A decent filter system is a product which is certainly worth having if you have a turtle tank. Here are some of the main benefits that you can expect to get from one.

  • Keeps the Water Clean

The most obvious reason why you would want a filter system for your turtle tank is to keep the water clean. Turtles are naturally messy creatures – much more so than fish – and it is important that they live in a clean environment. While turtles don’t tend to as sensitive to the water as fish, their waste can break down, leading to the formation of ammonia. If the water gets too dirty, this can lead to more bacteria forming around the tank and could mean that your turtle gets sick or dies.

  • Reduces Bad Smells

As we have just mentioned, turtles create a lot of waste, and this can lead to bad smells, which will then spread to the rest of your home. A proper filter system will help to keep these odors at bay.

  • Lessens Your Workload

A good filter system reduces the need for you to do so much cleaning and maintenance work of the tank, which makes your life a lot easier and frees up your time to take care of some less unpleasant jobs around the house! Of course, there are plenty of jobs involved in a turtle tank, and a filter won’t take care of all of them. But it does help in your task.

Kinds of Filtration

There are three different types of filtration that a filter provides, so let’s look at each of them in turn here. Some of the filters which we have listed above promise to provide all of the above, but it is worth knowing a little bit more about what the individual differences are.

  • Mechanical Filtration

First up, you have mechanical filtration, which is designed to filter out solid substances like dirt and leftover food. The type of media used to do this job could include a sponge or aquarium filter floss. If you choose a sponge option, you need to remember that this involves cleaning it out, which can prove to be an unpleasant job. But some people prefer it for the better biofiltration which it offers. The fiberfill solution is more affordable, and it is straightforward to just throw it away when you need to.

  • Biological Filtration

Biological filtration comes from ‘good’ bacteria which lives in the filter media. These will help to clean the tank by ‘eating’ away at anything that shouldn’t be in there such as turtle waste, ammonia, and nitrates. Some will last effectively forever, while others will need to be replaced from time to time. Again, you should always investigate what you are buying thoroughly before purchase.

  • Chemical Filtration

The final type of filtration on the list is provided chemically. Usually, this is provided by charcoal and ammonia filtering media. This isn’t always the first in line when it comes to filters, but if your tank has an odor problem, something like aquarium charcoal can help out with this.

Different Types of Turtle Tank Filters

Now you know a bit more about the different types of filtration systems out there, it is worth understanding more about the four individual varieties of turtle tank filter. So, here is a little bit more detail on each of the four in turn.

  • Internal Filters

First up, you have the internal filters, which are also known as submersible filters. There are most common in smaller aquariums. On the downside, these can end up creating an overly loud environment for your turtles. Also, if it doesn’t contain a whole lot of media (which many internal filters don’t) you will have to clean or replace it more often. If you decide on an internal filter, you need to be careful running over the wire to ensure that it doesn’t snag on any sharp surfaces which could be damaging. As always, ensure that the filter is big enough for the size of tank you own.

  • Canister Filters

Many turtle owners opt for canister filters, which often mount under the tank in a separate cabinet or stand to ensure that they don’t take up too much space. While these do provide a high level of filtration, they can often be expensive for the larger varieties. Look for the canister filters which have bigger trays to hold more media. The better ones tend to have a minimum of three separate stages. The flow rate should be strong enough to turn over the tank water a minimum of five times per hour.

  • Hang-on-back Filters

As you would expect from the name, these are designed to hang over the back of the tank. In general, you will need a tank which has a special filter cut-out as the water level in the tank should be several inches below the top. If the water level is lower then the filter, it will be more of a struggle to siphon the water into the filter. Alternatively, you will need a tank which has a basking area allowing you to fill up the rank to the brim. Often, these are used for fish, so you will need a powerful one to use with turtles as they produce a lot more waste.

  • UGFs

The final variety of tank that we have on our list is the under-gravel filter (UGF). Water is pumped up through the gravel so that none of the waste has the chance to settle in this area. This is a type of filter which many people still rely on, but a major issue is that these can get clogged up over time. Also, they tend to be louder than some of the previous options which we have discussed so far.

Best Filter for Turtle Tank FAQ:

Q: How to set up canister filter for turtle tank?

A: Like all products of this nature, setup is always going to vary from brand to brand, so you need to check the individual instructions that you have been given closely. Setting up an external filter is very different from setting up an internal one. If the filter is in several parts, you will need to begin by assembling these. The manufacturer should provide a guide on how to do this. You will then need to attach the mounting accessories and get it put properly in position. If there are any connecting tubes required, you should seal all the joints up tightly to avoid any leaking.

Q: Can I use a fish filter for a turtle tank?

A: It is usually possible to use a fish filter for a turtle tank. Many manufacturers make filters which are suitable for all different types of marine life. However, make sure that you check the product description to get confirmation on whether or not it is suitable. You don’t want to do any second guessing when it comes to such an important product for your turtle.

Q: How often should I clean my turtle tank filter?

A: The frequency of cleaning depends on the individual turtle tank filter that you go for. Defer to the manufacturer’s instructions on the regularity of cleaning and stick to them. Proper cleaning will keep your filter working effectively for the longest possible amount of time.

Q: Can I turn my turtle tank filter off at night?

A: You should not turn your turtle tank filter off at night as it is supposed to filter the water 24/7. You cannot over filter the water, but there is certainly the risk that you could under filter it. Impure water could be harmful to your turtle, and there is even the risk that they could die. Also, when the filter is not running, the ‘good’ bacteria will die, and the bad bacteria is likely to multiply due to the lack of oxygenated water passing through. When you come to turn the filter on again, the bacteria and poisonous waste products will be pumped back into your turtle’s water. If you are worried about the noise that the filter will make through the night, choose one which has noise-reducing properties to keep it running quietly. You can turn the filter off for a few minutes for cleaning or tubing rearrangement. If it hasn’t run for an hour or longer, you should change the media and fill up the tank with clean water once again.

tortoise filter

Our Top Pick

Returning once again to our top pick of all the filters that we have discussed in this post, one of its most celebrated features is its large capacity stackable media strays. This means that filtration of your turtles’ tank is happening on multiple levels at once. The primer button makes sure that you can set up the filter and get it to work quickly. If you need to remove the flow valves for maintenance, this is very easy to do as well. All-in-all, it is a professional and effective product which does the job that you would expect of it well.


  1. John Virata, How to Pick the Right Turtle Tank Filter and Tank, PetMD
  2. How to Build a Turtle Tank, HowStuffWorks
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