Best Filters for Turtle Tanks

  • By:

    Casey Fenn
    Casey Fenn

    Author: Casey Fenn

    Casey Fenn has 3+ years of experience in writing content. He lives in western North Carolina with his wife, four children, and an assortment of farm animals – including a dog, twenty chickens, a handful of quail, and one milk cow. Casey specializes to write articles in Dog Care, Cat Care, and Tips for Aquarium Owners.

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  • Updated on: 09/02/2020

best filters for turtle tanks@joaquincorbalan / Freepik

In recent years, turtles have become an ever more popular pet choice. Not only do they remind many of those four famous teenaged ninjas, but their laid-back nature and slow speed also lead many people to believe that they are a low maintenance choice. But they aren’t quite as simple as some people believe. Turtles need more care in space than you may think. And since they can live for decades, the maintenance they do require extends well into the future. In other words, adopting a turtle is a big commitment (and investment).

One of the first things you’ll spend money on as a new turtle owner is a terrarium that is large enough to house your pet. Generally speaking, bigger is better. Although you may be able to get by with a 20-gallon tank, even smaller species of turtles will prefer a 30 gallon or 55-gallon turtle tank. And if you end up adopting a turtle that’s more than 8 inches across, you should probably opt for a 100-gallon aquarium.

After doing some research on caring for your turtle, you’ll quickly realize that, in addition to a spacious aquarium, there is one piece of equipment that’s absolutely necessary for the health of your pet: a filter system. Without a high-quality filtration system, aquariums will quickly become overrun by waste and bacteria. And no one wants to spend time in a room (or home) that smells like a stagnant pond.

You may not realize that aquatic turtles release more waste than fish, which means getting the best filter for your turtle tank is necessary. Not only will dirty water stink up your home, but it can also lead to your beloved pet turtles becoming sick and even dying. Because of the unique needs of turtles, there are many companies out there that make filtration systems specially designed for aquariums housing turtles.

Turtle filtration systems differ from their more generalized peers in a couple of different ways, including the use of different filter materials and a higher rate of water circulation. Both of these things help mitigate the problems caused by excess turtle waste.

When looking at turtle tank filter reviews, you’ll discover that there are three basic types:

Submersible filters, or internal filters, are the kind that most people imagine when they hear the phrase ‘aquarium filter.’ These filters attach to the inside of your tank with the help of suction cups. Although these are a good option if your tank is smaller (30 gallons or less), they can be loud and create a less-than-perfect environment for your turtle.

Canister filters are generally seen as the best kind of turtle filtration system. Usually, they are mounted under your tank and do a great job of keeping the water clean. They come in a variety of models that offer multiple stages of trays. The filters in these trays increase the capability of the system. However, they are usually more expensive than other options.

Under-gravel filters (UGFs) come in two varieties, traditional and reverse-flow. Both systems move water between the area underneath the terrarium’s gravel and the top of the water. The difference between the two is which direction the water flows.

Throughout this article, we will look at some of the best turtle filter reviews on the market today, including an examination of their effects and drawbacks.

What are the Best Filters for Turtle Tanks?

Product

Features

Rating

Link

1. Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Aquarium Filter

  • Works at 365 GPH, includes 3 media baskets and will work with up to 100 gallons of aquariums.

  • It can be used with any combination of media.

  • Highly customizable flow valves, tubing, filter, and more.

4.2 out of 5

Price: from $97.99

2. EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media

  • Models available for 25 gallons, 30-35 gallons, and 40-50 gallon turtle tanks.

  • Filter comes with filtration media so you can get started right away.

  • Built for beginners – setup and maintenance are simple.

4.5 out of 5

Price: from $210.81

3. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

  • Built to work effectively with freshwater and saltwater setups.

  • Simple enough for beginners, powerful enough for seasoned experts.

  • Offers models and filters that can work with tanks up to 150 gallons.

4.1 out of 5

Price: from $197.95

4. Fluval 306 External Canister Filter

  • Built to work with freshwater and saltwater tanks of up to 70 gallons.

  • Includes sound dampener to ensure minimal disturbances for you and your turtles.

  • Uses Bio-Foam media for greener, biological filtration.

4.3 out of 5

Price: from $169.99

5. Fluval Underwater Internal Filter

  • Simple installation and maintenance makes it the perfect choice for beginners.

  • Can work with an external filter or, in smaller tanks (34 - 65 gallons), as a stand-alone filter.

  • Includes everything you need to immediately get started.

4.2 out of 5

Price: from $34.43

6. Odyssea EX 250 DX Internal Filter Powerhead

  • Incredibly simple to install and works with freshwater and saltwater aquariums.

  • It can be used as a filter or to circulate water.

  • Has a flow rate of 250 GPH, enough to work as a stand-alone unit or as a supplement.

4.2 out of 5

Price: from $17.95

7. Fluval G6 Advanced Filtration System

  • A powerful unit that can be used in freshwater and saltwater tanks up to 160 gallons.

  • Simple to install, maintain, and use.

  • Intuitive interface allows you to easily see water temperature, flow rate, and conductivity.

5 out of 5

Price: from $379.99 

8. Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter

  • Built to be submersed horizontally or vertically.

  • Comes in models made for 10, 15, 30, and 40-gallon tanks.

  • Includes a quiet, three-stage filtration process that minimizes debris, toxins, and odor.

3.9 out of 5

Price: from $12.58

9. MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter

  • Unique, internal canister filter that's built for aquariums up to 97 gallons.

  • Designed with two refillable filter chambers that you can use a variety of media with.

  • Benefit from high-efficiency micron water polishing.

3.9 out of 5

Price: from $63.99

10. Polar Aurora Free Media 3-Stage External Aquarium Filter

  • Designed to be used with terrariums that are up to 75 gallons.

  • Includes three media trays that can handle any filtration media you choose.

  • The self-priming pump and single valve disconnect make maintenance a simple task.

4.3 out of 5

Price: from $52.99

Turtle Tank Filter Reviews

1. Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Aquarium Filter

penn plax cascade canister filter 1000

The Penn Plax Cascade 1000 Canister Filter is one of the best aquatic turtle filters on the market today. Since it works at 265 GPH and includes three media baskets, it’s capable of keeping an aquarium of up to 100 gallons clean and well-maintained.

This is a highly customizable setup, giving you complete control over every aspect of your filter – from the filtration media you use to the way it’s connected to your aquarium. And it comes with the instructions you need to make sure that you get the most out of it. In addition to the filter itself and the trays, you’ll also receive a variable directional spout, a spray bar, excess tubing, and media to get you started.

Key benefits:

  • This external canister filter includes three media baskets and works at 365 GPH, allowing you to easily use it with aquariums with a capacity of up to 100 gallons.
  • Its trays can be easily removed, cleaned, and replaced with the media of your choice, whether a floss pad, a coarse sponge, or any number of others.
  • This unit is highly customizable concerning flow valves (it has 360o rotating valves), tubing, filters, and more.
  • If the 1000 doesn’t suit your needs, Penn Plax offers eight other models to choose from that vary in capacity, power, and price.

Pros

Cons

  • Works at 365 GPH, includes 3 media baskets and will work with aquariums that are up to 100 gallons.
  • It can be used with any combination of media.
  • Highly customizable flow valves, tubing, filter, and more.
  • This unit has a reputation for being louder than other similar units.
  • You’ll need to have a bucket handy when using the quick disconnect to clean your filter media, water will escape from the valve.

Back to the chart

2. EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media

eheim classic 2215 aquarium filter

The ‘EHEIM’ name is practically synonymous with reliable aquarium filtration systems. And the EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter definitely lives up to its name. It’s the perfect option for the beginning turtle owner and will provide you with everything you need to get started right out of the box. Models are available that will work with 25 gallons, 30-35 gallons, and 40-50 gallon tanks, making this an excellent option for anyone who only has one or two small turtles.

However, you shouldn’t assume that this filter is only suitable for beginners. It’s designed for any turtle owner who wants a comprehensive system that includes mechanical, chemical, biological, and absorptive filtration.

Whether you’re just getting started or are a long-time turtle owner, this could be a great option for you as long as you need something that will work with a smaller tank.

Key benefits:

  • This filter comes in three different models: one designed for 25-gallon tanks, one designed for 30-35 gallon tanks, and one designed for 40-50 gallon tanks.
  • This filter comes with everything you need to get started, including all of the filtration media, valves, hoses, a spray bar, and more.
  • This is a filter that’s built with beginners in mind. It’s simple to maintain and even simpler to install.
  • This is a quiet filter, providing you and your turtle with a peaceful environment to enjoy.

Pros

Cons

  • Models available for 25 gallon, 30-35 gallon, and 40-50 gallon turtle tanks.
  • Filter comes with filtration media so you can get started right away.
  • Built for beginners – setup and maintenance are simple.
  • If your tank is larger than 50 gallons, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
  • A handful of owners have had issues with it breaking down after a short period of time.

Back to the chart

3. Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

Hydor bills this filtration unit as a “complete ecosystem in a box.” This external filter is built with ease-of-use and versatility in mind. Because of this, you can find models in this line that will work in aquariums that range in size from 20 gallons all the way up to 150 gallons.

This unit also allows you to customize the filters and media to your hearts content, providing a truly premium experience for you and your turtles. If you’re looking for a professional canister filter that’s reasonably priced, the Hydor Pro External Canister Filter is for you.

Key benefits:

  • This is a professional grade external canister filter that’s designed to work with freshwater and saltwater setups.
  • Although it’s a little pricier than the other options on this list, it justifies that price with increased features and customization options.
  • This unit is simple enough for any beginner to setup and maintain while being powerful enough for a seasoned expert to take advantage of.
  • This external filter will work with tanks that have up to a 150 gallon capacity. 

Pros

Cons

  • Built to work effectively with freshwater and saltwater setups.
  • Simple enough for beginners, powerful enough for seasoned experts.
  • Offers models and filters that can work with tanks up to 150 gallons.
  • Leaks have been known to develop in the connection points of the included hoses.

Back to the chart

4. Fluval 306 External Canister Filter

fluval 306 external canister filter

The Fluval 306 External Canister Filter is a great option for anyone who wants an effective filter that doesn’t sound like a jet taking off in your living room. Not only does it have a sound dampener to minimize any noise pollution, it’s an overall quality filter that’s designed for both saltwater and freshwater use in tanks up to 70 gallons.

This unit also includes several features that set it above the competition, including a clog-proof intake strainer, a dual layer foam screen, and patented valves. And perhaps best of all, it’s small enough to fit anywhere so you won’t have to worry about hiding a giant black box next to your aquarium.

Key benefits:

  • This external fluval canister filter will work with any tank that has a capacity up to 70 gallons, whether saltwater or freshwater.
  • The Fluval 306 features a patented sound dampener to minimize disturbances for you and your pets.
  • It includes unique Aqua-Stop valves that make cleaning and maintaining your filter a snap.
  • This filter makes use of the latest bio-foam media for greener biological filtration.

Pros

Cons

  • Built to work with freshwater and saltwater tanks of up to 70 gallons.
  • Includes sound dampener to ensure minimal disturbances for you and your turtles.
  • Uses Bio-Foam media for greener, biological filtration.
  • Some owners have had issues with leaking during regular maintenance.
  • There have been complaints about lid clips not fully locking into place.

Back to the chart

5. Fluval Underwater Internal Filter

fluval underwater internal filter

Fluval is known for making high-quality filtration systems for fish and turtle aquariums. The Fluval Underwater Internal Filter is a submersible filter that effectively moves and filters water in tanks with a capacity up to 65 gallons. However, since this is a small filter, it can easily be paired with other, more powerful filters if you want to use it in a larger tank.

One of the other benefits of this filter is its ability to be positioned horizontally or vertically, depending on your needs. And whenever you need to access the filter, a handy flip-top lid makes maintenance a simple task. 

Key benefits:

  • This internal filter is incredibly easy to install and get running. It’s the perfect choice for anyone who’s new to aquariums, filters, and everything that goes with them.
  • You can use this filter on its own in a turtle tank that hold between 34 and 65 gallons, or you can use it as a supplemental filter in a larger aquarium.
  • This filter comes with everything you’ll need to get started, right out of the box.
  • It includes a three-stage filtration system that will circulate, filter, and oxygenate your water quickly and effectively.

Pros

Cons

  • Simple installation and maintenance makes it the perfect choice for beginners.
  • Can work with an external filter or, in smaller tanks (34 – 65 gallons), as a stand-alone filter.
  • Includes everything you need to immediately get started.
  • Occasionally, owners have had issues with the flow knob getting stuck or otherwise malfunctioning.
  • Some have complained that it requires more regular cleanings than other, similar filters.

Back to the chart

6. Odyssea EX 250 DX Internal Filter Powerhead

odyssea ex 250 dx internal filter powerhead

The Odyssea EX 250 DX is a fantastic submersible filter that can be used as a filter or simply used to circulate water in a tank. And since it offers 250 GPH, it’s quite capable of being used in a tank that has a 30 to 40 gallon capacity.

This is one of Amazon’s highest rated filters, bar none. As a result, if you’ve got a smaller tank, it’s one should carefully consider – after all, at $16.95, it’s a cheap model that will get the job done. And if you can find it on an Amazon sale, you may feel like they’re practically giving it away.

Key benefits:

  • This filter is incredibly simple to install and maintain. It’s one of the easiest models to deal with on the market.
  • This model offers tremendous versatility, being capable of acting as a stand-alone unit or a supplement to a larger model.
  • You can use this pump as a filter or simply use it to circulate the water in your tank – the choice is yours.
  • It will work in both saltwater and freshwater environments.

Pros

Cons

  • Incredibly simple to install and works with freshwater and saltwater aquariums.
  • Can be used as a filter or to circulate water.
  • Has a flow rate of 250 GPH, enough to work as a stand-alone unit or as a supplement.
  • People have sometimes had issue with the deflector being too flimsy or simply breaking.

Back to the chart

7. Fluval G6 Advanced Filtration System

fluval g6 advanced filtration system

The Fluval G6 Advanced Filtration System lives up to its name. Not only does it offer dozens of different filter cartridges to choose from, it has technology in it that allows you to quickly check your tank’s temperature, flow rate, and more. And the primer and drive pump make getting it going and keeping it maintained a no-nonsense affair.

If you’re looking for a professional unit with all the bells and whistles that you’d expect, this is the filtration system for you. However, it will cost you for all of those additional features and technology. At $379.99, it’s one of the most expensive units on this list.

Key benefits:

  • This is a powerful unit that can be used in freshwater and saltwater tanks that have up to a 160 gallon capacity.
  • Its AquaStop valves, advanced primer, and drive pump make this filter simple to install, maintain, and use.
  • An intuitive interface allows you to easily see water temperature, flow rate, conductivity, and more.
  • If you don’t need the additional power, you can opt for the smaller unit and get all the features of the larger one with enough flow to maintain a 40 to 80 gallon tank.

Pros

Cons

  • A powerful unit that can be used in freshwater and saltwater tanks up to 160 gallons.
  • Simple to install, maintain, and use.
  • Intuitive interface allows you to easily see water temperature, flow rate, and conductivity.
  • It’s one of the most expensive units on our list.
  • Since the unit is a closed system, repairs are difficult if not impossible to make on your own.

Back to the chart

8. Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter

aqueon quietflow internal power filter

If you’re looking for a small, cheap internal filter that will keep your 10 to 40-gallon tank clean and healthy, you can’t go wrong with the Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter. This submersible filter is a cute, plastic unit that you can easily stick to the inside of your tank. Since it can be used horizontally or vertically, it’s a versatile unit that can meet your needs no matter what they are.

Don’t be fooled by its small size. This filtration unit offers three stage filtration and will remove debris, toxins, and odors. And since it only costs $23.79, it’s one of the best aquatic turtle filters if you only have a small turtle or two and don’t want to break the bank.

Key benefits:

  • This unit is built to be submersed horizontally or vertically, making it more versatile than many similar units.
  • This filter system comes in models built for 10, 15, 30, and 40-gallon tanks.
  • It also includes a quiet, three-stage filtration process that minimizes debris, toxins, odor, and discoloration.
  • You can take advantage of Aqueon’s patented Replacement Internal Filter Cartridges when you need to change the filtration media.

Pros

Cons

  • Built to be submersed horizontally or vertically.
  • Comes in models built for 10, 15, 30, and 40-gallon tanks.
  • Includes a quiet, three-stage filtration process that minimizes debris, toxins, and odor.
  • You can’t use your own media with this filter system.
  • Since this unit is on the cheap side, it likely won’t last you a lifetime.

Back to the chart

9. MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter

marineland magnum polishing internal canister filter

If you’ve been searching for the best canister filter for turtle tanks, you may have just found it. Although the MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter doesn’t have some of the advanced features found on its more expensive peers, it makes up for it with an incredibly affordable price (only $42.99 on sale at Amazon) and a reliable design.

This is one of the best turtle filters because of its high GPH (290) and the fact that it can be used with aquariums up to 97 gallons. But that’s not all. It has a submerged motor which means it doesn’t give off much noise pollution at all and it’s super easy to get up and running. Finally, with this unit, you’ll enjoy chemical, biological, and mechanical filtration, as well as water polishing. 

Key benefits:

  • This unit is a unique, internal canister filter that’s built for aquariums up to 97 gallons.
  • It’s designed with two refillable filter chambers that you can use a variety of media with.
  • You and your turtle will benefit from crystal clear water thanks to this unit’s high-efficiency micron water polishing.
  • This unit is one of the easiest turtle filters on the market to get up and running.

Pros

Cons

  • Unique, internal canister filter that’s built for aquariums up to 97 gallons.
  • Designed with two refillable filter chambers that you can use a variety of media with.
  • Benefit from high-efficiency micron water polishing.
  • Some users have been less than impressed with its water polishing abilities.
  • There have been reports of this unit getting clogged up far sooner than it should.

Back to the chart

10. Polar Aurora Free Media 3-Stage External Aquarium Filter

polar aurora free media 3 stage external aquarium filter

The Polar Aurora Free Media 3-Stage External Aquarium Filter is one of the best canister filters for turtle tanks that you’ll find on the market today. It allows you to use more media than similar filters, increasing its ability to filter your tank’s water effectively.

This should be one of the first filters you consider if you have a tank that’s up to 75 gallons. Why? Because it’s a near perfect mix of quality, versatility, and affordability. Plus, it comes with all the accessories and equipment you need to get your water filtered and moving in no time.

Key benefits:

  • This unit is designed to be used with terrariums that are up to 75 gallons.
  • It includes three media trays that can handle any filtration media you choose, allowing you to take advantage of chemical, mechanical, and biological filtration.
  • You’ll get a self-priming pump and single valve disconnect that make maintenance a simple task.
  • If you have a tank that’s larger than 75 gallons, you can choose one of the other models (some of which can be effectively used in 200 gallon tanks).

Pros

Cons

  • Designed to be used with terrariums that are up to 75 gallons.
  • Includes three media trays that can handle any filtration media you choose.
  • The self-priming pump and single valve disconnect make maintenance a simple task.
  • Some owners have complained about leaks, though it has been a minority.

Back to the chart

FAQ – Best Aquatic Turtle filter

how to set up a filter in a turtle tank@user12627046 /Freepik

🐢 How to set up a Filter in a Turtle Tank?

How you go about setting up your filter will largely depend on what kind you purchase. For example, if you purchase an internal filter, you will either set it on the substrate or use suction cups to mount it on one of the internal sides of the aquarium. It will draw water into it, filter that water, and quickly send it back out.

On the other hand, if you purchase a canister filter, you’ll need space to locate the filter below your aquarium. Then, you will make sure that the media are in their proper place within the filter and run the included tubes into the filter so that water can be pumped out of the aquarium, into the canister filter, through the media, and back up into the aquarium.

Finally, if you choose to purchase on the under-gravel filter, you’ll need to place it at the bottom of your aquarium before you install any gravel. This kind of filter is primarily for smaller aquariums. It focuses on pulling and water from the bottom of your tank and recirculating it after filtration.

🐟 What type of filter should I use for a Turtle Tank?

Although you can use a variety of different kinds of filters for a turtle tank, most experts recommend a canister filter. There are several reasons for this suggestion. First, canister filters are designed for larger aquariums (which also happened to be the best habitat for turtles). Second, they tend to be more powerful than other kinds of filters. And as we’ve already said, turtles put out a large amount of waste compared to fish. Third, canister filters are fairly easy to install, require minimal maintenance, and are reasonably priced.

🐡 How often should you change a Turtle Tank Filter?

Maintaining a clean habitat for your turtle is essential for its long-term health. If you want to keep your pet’s home in top condition, it’s a good idea to do the following…

  • Remove any turtle droppings or other floating waste with a small net on a daily basis.
  • Replace some of the water in your turtle’s tank on a weekly basis. This will prolong the water’s overall quality and lessen the amount of ammonia and nitrates that your turtle is breathing in.
  • Completely clean out your tank and refill it with fresh water every 2 to 3 weeks. At this time it would also be a good idea to check your filter and make sure that it’s still in good condition.
  • Take your filter out and give it a comprehensive cleaning every few months.

🐟 How to use a Filter for a Turtle Tank?

Although there will be differences in the way you use your filtration system depending on which kind you decide on (internal, external, pump, etc.), the basic use is the same for all.

First, you need to make sure that it’s properly installed. This means that if it’s meant to be submersed, it is. If it only has hoses going into the water, those hoses are sufficiently submerged and in their proper location.

Second, you’ll want to make sure you have the media installed. For most of the units on this list, you’ll need to either find your own media or use the media provided. For other units, this will mean purchasing a cartridge that includes the media within it.

Once your unit is set up correctly, turn it on, and let it run. It should automatically move water into the filter, through the media, and back into the tank.

And be sure to check the media on a regular basis so that it doesn’t start spitting out dirty water. If you’re going to get the most out of your turtle filtration system, you’ll need to make sure that the filter is fresh.

ThePets is an informational website that features articles written by qualified veterinarians and professional writers. You can learn more about our editorial process. When selecting food for your pet, use Pet Food Finder, and search for the clinic to treat your pet using Vet Clinics Locator.

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