Best Filter for Turtle Tank: 2021 Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

Although turtles are adorable pets, they require a healthy environment in order to thrive. Turtles are more delicate than fish and require special care.

You need to keep your tank larger, the water cleaner, and the water flowing continuously.

A good filter made specifically for turtle tanks can handle these needs with ease.

It can be difficult to choose the right filter for your turtle tank, especially if there aren’t enough guidelines. So how can you pick the best filter for turtle tank without wasting too much time?

That’s exacatly why I’ve created this comprehensive guide on turtle tank filters. It will help you choose the best filter for turtle tank and highlight eight top-rated filters to keep your reptiles happy and healthy.

Fluval FX6 High Performance Aquarium Filter, Canister Filter for Aquariums up to 400 Gal., A219
Penn Plax Cascade CCF3UL Canister Filter For Large Aquariums and Fish Tanks – Up To 100 Gallons, Filters 265 GPH,Blue
Fluval G3 Advanced Filtration System
Fluval FX6 High Performance Aquarium Filter, Canister Filter for Aquariums up to 400 Gal., A219
Penn Plax Cascade CCF3UL Canister Filter For Large Aquariums and Fish Tanks – Up To 100 Gallons, Filters 265 GPH,Blue
Fluval G3 Advanced Filtration System
Filter Life
5 years
6 months
6 months
Customer Rating
Fluval FX6 High Performance Aquarium Filter, Canister Filter for Aquariums up to 400 Gal., A219
Fluval FX6 High Performance Aquarium Filter, Canister Filter for Aquariums up to 400 Gal., A219
Filter Life
5 years
Customer Rating
Penn Plax Cascade CCF3UL Canister Filter For Large Aquariums and Fish Tanks – Up To 100 Gallons, Filters 265 GPH,Blue
Penn Plax Cascade CCF3UL Canister Filter For Large Aquariums and Fish Tanks – Up To 100 Gallons, Filters 265 GPH,Blue
Filter Life
6 months
Customer Rating
Fluval G3 Advanced Filtration System
Fluval G3 Advanced Filtration System
Filter Life
6 months
Customer Rating

Review of the Best Turtle Tank Filters

You now have a better idea of what you should consider when buying a turtle tank water filter.

Fluval FX6

Fluval FX6 is an enormous filter that’s made for large turtle tanks. Fluval FX6’s 400-gallon tank has a flow rate that is 560 gallons an hour. This means you can be sure the filter system will not disappoint in cleaning up after your large turtle.

However, this filter has its downsides. It is very expensive and takes up much of the tank’s space.

This filtration system’s best feature is the design of the canister. The system is kept airtight by a series of sturdy clamps that are easily removed when it’s time to change the filter media.

Fluval FX6 High Performance Aquarium Filter, Canister Filter for Aquariums up to 400 Gal., A219
  • Multi-stage Filter that produces healthy aquarium water, freshwater or marine aquariums
  • Features Smart Pump Technology for optimum filter performance, efficiency and management
  • Self-starting filter-just add water and plug in. Head height (maximum): 3.3 m (10.8 feet)
  • For aquariums up to 400 gallons

The vertical tray is pulled out from the canister. It holds several large filter trays, which can be filled with your custom media. Aquarists will appreciate the purge valve located at the bottom and can be opened to change the water level in the tank.

Smart pump technology is another unique feature of this external canister filter. In order to let air bubbles escape from the system, the pump is turned off for a short time every 12 hours. This allows the filter to circulate water optimally at all times without the need for you to open the canister.

What I Like
  • Massive 400-gallon aquarium filter capacity.
  • Canisters are durable and easy to maintain.
  • Media that can be customized.
  • For easy water changes, purge valve.
  • Smart pump technology.
What I Don’t Like
  • Price is not cheap.
  • A little bit bulky

Penn-Plax Cascade

The Penn-Plax Cascade filter is one of today’s most powerful external filtration units. It is available in capacities of 30 to 200 gallons. This filter is ideal for high-capacity filtration requirements for turtle tanks.

The maximum flow rate at 350 gallons an hour is one of the highest we have seen in a filter this size.

Cascade filters stand out from their competitors because of a few thoughtful features.

Penn Plax Cascade CCF3UL Canister Filter For Large Aquariums and Fish Tanks – Up To 100 Gallons, Filters 265 GPH,Blue
  • CASCADE CANISTER FILTER FOR FRESHWATER OR MARINE ENVIRONMENTS: the Cascade 1000 (CCF3UL) has 3 media baskets, works at 265 GPH, and is recommended for Aquariums up to 100 gallons. It measures 11.5 x 17 x 10 inches.
  • STATE OF THE ART FEATURES OF THE CASCADE 1000: ♦ flow valves that rotate 360 degrees for easy maneuvering in even the tightest aquarium cabinets ♦ large capacity media baskets allow aquarists to customize to their media needs ♦ push button primer allows for a quick and easy prime of the filter ♦ includes a spray bar, tubing, directional spout for customization, and filter medium.
  • USE ANY COMBINATION OF MEDIA: floss pad for removing particulate matter and a course sponge that provides abundant surface for promoting bacterial growth (to remove ammonia and nitrites) included free with purchase
  • SEE BELOW FOR DIAGRAM, THE CASCADE 1000 INCLUDES: ♦ Flow rate control cut-off valves ♦ two independent directional 360 degree rotating valve taps ♦ swimming pool – style hose clamps ♦ quick, easy, push button self-primer ♦ extra-large capacity stackable filter medium containers with lift-up handles ♦ floss pad and coarse sponge included, free with each canister filter ♦ easy lift alignment clamps that release vacuum suction ♦ sturdy tip-proof base
  • FILTER MEDIA OPTIONS BY CASCADE AVAILABLE ON AMAZON, SOLD SEPARATELY: see below for details, sold separately is media such as: bio-floss, bio-sponge, bio-rings, filt-a-pack pro-z, and filt-a-pack pro-carb-z.

The large media trays can be easily removed from the filtration canister. They can also be filled with whatever media you wish. However, this means that you will need to be familiar with the types of media that can achieve both mechanical and biological filtration.

However, it is important for aquarists to have control over their canister filters.

The canister’s construction is also noteworthy. The canister’s hard plastic exterior is strong and the valves can rotate 360 degrees.

It is easier to place the canister under or behind an aquarium, while still allowing the tubing to reach the tank.

However, many users find that the filter can be quite annoying. There is no way to reduce the noise level by increasing the flow rate or cleaning your filter system more often.

What I Like
  • This product is suitable for larger turtle tanks.
  • 350-gallon flow rate per hour.
  • Media trays that can be customized.
  • Rotating valves 360 degrees.
What I Don’t Like
  • Noisy.
  • Experience with customizing filter media is required.

Fluval Advanced Aquarium Filtration Systems

Fluval’s high-tech tank filter is a great option for aquarists who are willing to spend a lot for their turtles.

The LCD screen at the front of the filter lets you monitor the flow rate and provides information about the water temperature as well as your maintenance schedule. It’s easy to see when the filter media needs to be replaced or cleaned by the flow rate alerts and maintenance schedule.

The filtration system’s interior is very similar to other Fluval tank filters. The filtration system has two removable media trays that can both be used for chemical and biological filtration. There are two key differences.

Fluval G3 Advanced Filtration System
  • Powerful filtration system for use in both freshwater and marine environments
  • Easy to use; One button self-priming technology
  • Easy access and ability to view water temperature, flow rate and conductivity
  • Equipped with silicon gasket providing superior sealing and long-term reliability
  • Suitable for aquariums up to 80 gallons; Filters 185 gallons per hour

The canister’s interior is double-walled, so almost no noise is made. The mechanical filter has a pleated cartridge that filters smaller particles than other canister filters. This does not mean that the filtration system will need to be cleaned more often.

This filtration system has the biggest drawback, which is perhaps not surprising, as it is one of the most expensive available.

Advanced Aquarium Filtration System comes in two sizes. The G3 is 80-gallon and has a flow rate of 185-gallon/hour, while the G6 is 160-gallon with a flow rate of 265-gallon/hour.

What I Like
  • An LCD screen displays flow rate and maintenance schedule.
  • Canister with double walls for quiet operation.
  • Two media trays that can be customized.
  • Fine mechanical filtration with a pleated cartridge.
  • One of the best filters for turtle.
What I Don’t Like
  • Expensive.

JackSuper Turtle Internal Filter

This JackSuper filter is designed to be used in tanks with low water levels, so amphibious turtles can be accommodated.

The filter is placed upright in the aquarium tank. It can draw as little as 0.6 inches from the base. The filter pumps water upwards and creates an attractive waterfall effect at its outlet.

It is small and quiet which makes it attractive for its low price. This filter is designed for small tanks that only have one or two turtles and has a height of just six inches.

Aquarium Waterfall Filter Reptiles Turtle Filter for small tank 1-15 gallon, Low Level Water Clean Pump Internal Bio Media Water Filtration System for Fish Amphibian Cichlids Frog (Waterfall Filter)
  • Only fits small tank (1-15 gallon) Low water Filter offer a beautiful waterfall for such as Reptiles, Amphibians, Frog, Cichlids, Newt, turtle tanks or Fish tank in any aquarium up to 15 gallons
  • Water filter pump can be hang on the aquarium or fixed with sucker. Low water level capability(Lowest water level 2.5cm)
  • It is great Aquarium filter for aquatic turtle tanks or for filtering box turtle "ponds" or aquatic amphibian tanks or Aquarium Fish tank waterfall Filter could be operate on low water level tank with easy to change filter cartridges.
  • Cable leagth:1.5m, Flow Rate:240L/H, Reptiles Filter provides quiet operation,Locking cover designed protect your pets from the filtration area
  • Water circulation and cleaning: Dense dual sided mesh to catch debris and waste, Filled with Ultra-Activated carbon which absorbs odors and discoloration

It is important to remember that the filter does not provide biological filtration. The filter can only remove solid waste from turtle’s water. Therefore, you will still need to change the water frequently.

It is important that the filter’s bottom is always submerged while it is being used. You will quickly damage the pump if you do not. It is easy to forget that you have an aquarium tank with low water levels and ruin your filter.

What I Like
  • Allows for the storage of amphibious tanks that have low water levels.
  • At outflow, a beautiful waterfall effect.
  • It is surprisingly quiet.
  • It’s affordable.
  • Compact.
What I Don’t Like
  • This is only suitable for very small tanks.
  • There is no biological filtration stage.
  • It is easy to cause damage to the pump if water levels drop too low.

Aqueon QuietFlow

Aqueon’s four-stage filtration system offers remarkable cleaning power. The filter is composed of biological, chemical, and mechanical filtration. A wet/dry diffuser grid acts as a pre-filter to prevent any clogging.

Chemical filtration is made up of activated carbon. This gives water a crisp, clean look by removing any organic matter.

The QuietFlow, as the name implies, is almost silent. This is great if you have a turtle tank in an area that is not easily accessible.

The pump does not require priming and will automatically start up if power is lost temporarily. A nice feature is the adjustable outflow nozzle, which helps maintain water circulation in your tank.

Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter, 10 Gallon,
  • Fully submersible in vertical or horizontal position
  • Adjustable return flow rate
  • Direction and height of water return is also adjustable
  • Three stage filtration: dense foam for particles and debris, activated carbon for toxins, odors and discoloration and patented BioGrid for ammonia and nitrates
  • Uses Aqueon Replacement Internal Filter Cartridges

There are a variety of sizes available for the filter, ranging from 10 to 40 gallon to each having a flow rate at 155 gallons an hour. These filters are small enough that you will need between two and three for a medium-sized turtle. This is both good and bad.

It’s also more expensive than purchasing a single large filter. However, multiple filters will ensure that you have filtration no matter what you do.

What I Like
  • Four-stage filtration system.
  • Water has a crisper appearance thanks to activated carbon filter.
  • Adjustable outflow nozzle to control circulation
  • Quiet pumping.
What I Don’t Like
  • Available only in small sizes.

Eheim Classic 2215

Eheim’s high-capacity filter is compatible with a variety of turtle tanks. It also has enough durability to last the life of your turtle. This filter is suitable for tanks up to 45 gallons in size.

It has a flow rate of 165 gallons per hour, which is enough to keep your tank water moving through the filter without stagnation.

Although the filtration system only includes biological and mechanical filtration stages it comes with everything you need in order to get started filtering immediately.

EHEIM Classic Canister Filter 2215, Classic 350 - PetOverstock
  • Permo-elastic silicon sealing ring fixed on the pump head for easy and safe closing after cleaning
  • Equipped with filter sponges and/or loose filter media
  • Accessories included: spray bar, inlet pipe, hose and installation accessories
  • Comes complete with filter media (EHEIM Mech & Substrat Pro) and valves
  • Permo-elastic silicon sealing ring fixed on the pump head for easy and safe closing after cleaning

For new aquarists, setup can be difficult since the filter is meant to be placed outside the tank. However, Eheim’s instructions are clear and all the tubing is included.

The polishing pad is something you need to be aware of when using this filter. This filter is fine and can make your tank water clearer. However, it can clog every few days.

If you don’t plan on cleaning the filter more than once a week, it is better to swap out the polishing pads for a coarse filter.

What I Like
  • Amazing 165-gallon flow rate.
  • All filtration media and set tubing included
  • Construction that lasts.
  • Larger turtles and tanks will require sufficient filter capacity.
What I Don’t Like
  • If not removed or cleaned regularly, polishing pads can cause clogs.
  • There is no chemical filtration step.

Magniflow Fast Maintenance Filter for Turtle Tanks by Marineland

This turtle tank filter is a great choice. It’s also very affordable. Because of its versatility and ability to handle any size tank, the Marineland Magniflow filter can be used by almost anyone who owns turtles.

Marineland is an established company in the field of high-quality aquarium gear. This might be their best product.

The filter’s three-stage filtration system is extremely efficient and can compete with the best. Each media stack has a great flow that effectively cleans and filters any unwanted substances.

Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter For aquariums, Easy Maintenance
  • 3-STAGE FILTRATION: Water flows through media layers to filter water and ensure a clean aquatic environment.
  • VERSATILE: For freshwater and saltwater aquariums.
  • EASY MAINTENANCE: Valve block for quick release to shut down water flow – separates from housing for quick, spill-free maintenance.
  • THREE SIZES AVAILABLE: Comes in 220 GPH, 360 GPH and 360 GPH sizes.

Magniflow’s ceramic and bio-filter balls provide a large area for bacteria to thrive and neutralize ammonia. The activated carbon bag removes odors and discoloration. This worked well in our tests.

There is also top-notch mechanical filtering. The foam filters are well-made and can capture a lot of debris.

This turtle tank filter is excellent for improving water clarity. This filter pads removes any fine particles to make your water crystal clear.

It is amazing to see all of this in one package. This is the canister filter that we first think of when thinking about a turtle tank.

What I Like
  • Three-stage highly effective filtration.
  • Water clarity is significantly improved.
  • The best value for money.
What I Don’t Like
  • It is more complicated than it seems.

Cascade 600 Submersible Turtle Aquarium Filter by Penn Plax

We love the Cascade 600 filter by Penn Plax for turtle tanks. This filter is one of our most affordable, but still packs a powerful punch.

The Cascade 600, unlike the others on this list, is a submersible filter. The Cascade 600 can filter through 175 gallons an hour in a 50 gallons tank. This filter is a must-have if you have a turtle that lives in such a large tank.

Penn-Plax Cascade 600 Submersible Aquarium Filter Cleans Up to 50 Gallon Fish Tank with Physical, Chemical, and Biological Filtration, CIF3
  • Fully submersible aquarium filter quietly delivers 175 gallons per hour of crystal clear water for your fresh or marine aquarium from 20 to 50 gallons in size.
  • Activated carbon cartridge removes harmful chemicals, toxins, odors, discoloration, and other contaminants for your aquarium.
  • Internal sponge optimizes colonization of beneficial aerobic bacteria. Large capacity aquarium filter cup allows you to choose your own filter medium.
  • Pump head with adjustable and directional water flow. Cascade internal filters provide better filtration; physical, chemical and biological while also aerating water.
  • Spray bar option allows you to distribute water evenly helping aerate your tank. Fish tank filter can be placed horizontally and is easily hidden.

Although it is quite small, it still has plenty of space for solid media cartridges. Submersible turtle tank filters have trouble with this. As media containers become larger, the quality of these media containers can suffer.

We love the directional water flow that you can get from this pump head. It is also completely adjustable, but still feels solid. This makes it easy to adjust the flow of your tank, without the pump head feeling weaker.

Although this filter won’t do as much for your water as a canister filter, it is quite impressive considering the price. The Cascade will work well in any tank as long as it fits within the guidelines.

What I Like
  • Water flow direction can be adjusted and directed.
  • Very affordable.
  • Filter media cartridges made to last.
What I Don’t Like
  • It won’t make your water as clean as the other options on this list.
  • We are not as peaceful as we might expect.

MarineLand Penguin 350 BIO-Wheel Energy Filter

This is one the most well-known tank filters. MarineLand created it. They have a great reputation for making high-quality products that aquarists will love.

This turtle tank filter is slightly different from the others on this list. The rotating bio-wheel provides a high-quality level filtration. The filter can handle all three types of filtration: chemical, biological, and physical.

It packs a lot of punch for such a small product. It can filter upto 350 gallons an hour and can be used to fill aquariums up to 75 gallons.

MarineLand Penguin 200 Power Filter, 200GPH (PF0200B),Black
  • WITH ROTATING BIO-WHEEL: Patented Bio-Wheel technology provides excellent wet/dry biological filtration.
  • MULTI-STAGE FILTRATION: Delivers mechanical, chemical and biological aquarium filtration to maintain a clean aquatic environment.
  • COMPATIBILITY: Use with Marineland Rite-Size Filter Cartridges (see individual filter for sizing recommendations).
  • FIVE SIZES: Available in 75 GPH, 100 GPH, 150 GPH, 200 GPH and 350 GPH sizes.

This product was amazing to me. It was amazing for its size and efficiency in terms of filtration.

The downside to this turtle tank filtration system is the Marineland cartridges. They aren’t bad, but there are better options on the market.

You won’t have the ability to upgrade to something stronger. Although it is not something that we expect buyers to have to worry about, it is worth noting.

Importantly, it is important to note that this filter may struggle to reach its maximum capacity depending on how many turtles you have and what setup they have. This means that a 75-gallon tank containing a lot dirt will likely challenge the filter.

This tank filter is priced at an unbelievable price, and that includes quality. We recommend this product if your aquarium is in good condition and you have a tight budget.

What I Like
  • Very affordable.
  • Solid filtration rate.
  • Keeps the water clean.
What I Don’t Like
  • A bit of difficulty with the tank size limits (as is to be expected).
  • It is easy to break the components.

Are Turtle Tanks Require a Filter?

A poor-quality filter can cause your turtle tank to turn into a sludgy mess quickly.

It’s not as attractive to look at as a clean turtle tank. As with fish, it is important to keep your turtle tank clean and maintain its chemistry.

Turtles produce more waste than fish, so cleaning is double-important. Turtles consume more food, and they also excrete more waste. This can cause serious problems for your pet if it is not cleaned out immediately.

Although adding fish and plants to your turtle tank may help maintain the water quality, a filtration system is essential for turtle tanks.

How to choose a filter for your turtle tank

What type of filtration system would be best for your turtle tank’s tank? Is it the best choice to buy an external canister filter? The sheer number of aquarium filters available can overwhelm a new turtle owner.

Let’s look at the differences between these filtration systems and how they affect your turtle tank.

Size and GPH

You could use a less powerful filtration system if you had only fish in your tank to create a healthy living space.

However, turtles are not like this. Turtles produce more waste and are larger than other reptiles. If water doesn’t circulate through the filter constantly, water conditions can quickly deteriorate.

A powerful filter system is essential if there are more than one turtle or other fish and plants in your tank.

Most canister filters have a fish-rated capacity so it is important to choose a filter that will work well in a turtle tank. A filter should have a capacity that is two to three times the tank’s size.

If you have a 50-gallon tank with turtles, you need a filter that has at least 100 gallons capacity, and ideally, closer to 150. You don’t need to have a filter that is specifically made for turtles.

Another thing to consider is the flow rate of your filter system. This is usually measured in gallons per an hour (GPH). The filter should be capable of filtering the entire tank volume at least once an hour.

If you follow the above sizing advice and buy a filter that has a rating of two to three times your turtle tank’s capacity, flow rate will not be an issue.

Chemical, biological, and mechanical filtering

Each filter system for turtle tanks should include at least one mechanical, biological, and possibly a chemical filtration stage.

Each stage of the filtration process performs a different task. It takes them all to make sure that not only are you removing any waste from your tank, but also maintain water chemistry.

The most basic stage of filtration, mechanical filtration, is what you might think of when you think about a filter.

The mechanical filtration stage removes any particulate gunk, such as turtle feces or uneaten food bits, that may be floating around in the tank’s water.

Although mechanical filtration will make your tank water cleaner, it won’t be able to maintain water chemistry. Your turtle’s urine releases ammonia, which can be removed with a mesh filter. This is where biological filtration comes into play.

A substrate media is used to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in biological filtration.

These bacteria are ammonia-oxidizers. They convert ammonia from your turtle’s release into water to nitrate. The nitrate can then be taken up and used by plants in your tank.

Remember that turtles can become sick from even small amounts of nitrate in their tank water. This is why it is important to regularly change the water even if your filtration system is high-quality.

Although chemical filtration is not as important as biological and mechanical filtration, it can increase the effectiveness of your system and prolong the interval between water changes.

Chemical filtration can use a variety of media. Each type of media is capable of cleaning up a different part of the mechanical or biological filtration often missed.

Activated carbon can be used to break down organic compounds in tank water. Ammonia removers, on the other hand, can be used to help dissolve ammonia that has escaped biological filtration.

Maintaining your home is easy

You will eventually need to replace or clean your turtle tank’s filter media. No matter how great the filter, no matter how well it is. You’ll be glad you chose a filter that simplifies maintenance when that time comes.

A simple cabinet system for filter media is a good sign that a filtration system is easy to maintain. This allows you to simply remove the filter and throw away any old media.

For mechanical filtration, you can either pull the filter out, wash it off, or throw away the mesh and replace it. Accessing the filter media should not involve removing the entire filtration system. It also shouldn’t be necessary to dig around beyond the pump.

Another thing to consider when thinking about maintenance is whether having two filters is better that one. You can have two filters running at the same time. The other filter can be pulled out to clean and replace media.

Although it is not necessary, this can help to prevent ammonia buildup in tank filters. Two filters should be sufficient to provide the filtration capacity you require.

Avoid Undergravel Filters

Although they are very popular for fish tanks and turtle tanks, undergravel filters should never be used in a turtle tank. Undergravel filters and turtles can cause a variety of problems.

First, undergravel filters need gravel substrates to function. However, turtles and gravel do not mix.

The turtles mistake gravel as food and will eat the stones, which is obviously not healthy.

Turtles also love to dig. This means that the undergravel filter will likely get blocked. Gravel can also collect unfiltered food and poop, which can cause problems in the tank. Turtles may occasionally eat this debris and make a mess.

When choosing a filter system for your turtle tank, avoid using undergravel filters.

What kind of filter do I need for a turtle tank?

These are the three most popular types of turtle filters:

  • Canister filters
  • Filters for undergravel
  • Power filters

Canister filters can be bulky, heavy, and expensive but they are the best option for indoor aquariums that have aquatic turtles.

Here are the reasons:

  1. Indoor turtles require the largest aquarium possible, so canister filters are the best type of filter to handle such large amounts.
  2. The canister filters are usually placed underneath or near your aquarium to maximize space.
  3. Multi-level filtration systems are required to remove the large amount of waste produced by turtles.

Best Turtle Tank Filter

A powerful canister is the best filter for turtle tanks. A filter with 3-stage filtration is also a good option.

Why you need a powerful canister filter

This is a good rule to follow when narrowing down your canister filter options.

Find out how many gallons your aquarium holds. A canister filter will produce twice as much water per hour.

What does this mean?

Filter for 55 Gallon Turtle Tank

A canister filter is recommended as one of the best55 gallon filters for turtle tanks. It is capable of filtering 110 gallons an hour.

The full capacity is twice as important. You don’t need to double the aquarium water capacity. Instead, you should look for a canister filter that has a rating higher than your tank’s gallons.

This is because canister filters are not designed for turtles, but fish. Turtles can be more messy than fish and put more strain on your filter. A powerful canister filter will be able handle all the turtle goop, half-eaten gunk and other debris in your aquarium.

Biological Filtration: Why Your Filter is Needed

This is the most crucial part of the filtering process.

Because of their frequent pooping, turtles excrete a lot of ammonia.

If the ammonia is not filtered and treated, it can build up quickly and cause damage to your turtle.

A biological filtration system uses ammonia to filter through the filter. It is then passed through a sponge with a good bacteria colony, which breaks down the ammonia into nitrite.

Nitrite can also be harmful to turtles, but it can be removed from the water by a biological filter system. Your turtle is fairly safe with nitrate.

Partial water changes are also important, even if you have a biological filter system.

Why your filter needs mechanical filtration

When people think about filters for turtle tanks, mechanical filtration is what they are most familiar with.

This filter removes all particulate matter from the tank. This includes:

  • Animal waste.
  • Crud and gunk
  • Food that is too dry or has gone bad.

It makes the turtle tank water look cleaner.

Mechanical filtration is most effective when there are no sand, small stones or pebbles in the water.

Do you need chemical filtering for your filter?

Chemical filtration is unnecessary, to be honest. However, it does have its advantages.

Chemical filtration uses a chemical media to remove any material that has been sucked through it.

There are two common types of chemical filtration:

  • Activated carbon. This aids in the breakdown of organic matter.
  • These are ammonia-removers. These are used to break down ammonia.

Chemical filters excel at making your tank water clear and crisp.

What is the BEST Turtle Filter System?

Avoid these filters.

Filters for undergravel

These are fine for fish but not for turtles. They work by sucking particulate matter from the bottom and cleaning it before releasing it to the top.

These filters have two major problems:

  • They are not strong enough to support larger aquariums with turtles.
  • If you have a substrate at the bottom of your tank, they can’t be used.

Filters for small tanks and fish

Be careful! These should not be used for fish. However, people continue to buy them simply because they’re cheap. These filters clean up large particles, but that’s all they do.

Best Turtle Filter System

Canister filters are the best choice for turtles. The turtle canister filter will be more effective than other types of filters, and it will take up less space.

However, the biggest drawback is the price. The cost of canister filters is usually higher than other types.

So that’s it:

Buy a filter with a warranty

Your turtle’s filter will be the most expensive item you purchase, with the exception of the aquarium.

You don’t want your hard-earned cash to be spent on a product that breaks after a few months, or worse, arrives with a broken piece.

Filters can sometimes fail, just as with any other device that has many moving parts.

It is important that you only purchase a filter with a warranty. The longer the warranty is, the better.

I’ve found that even with a warranty, you need to be cautious. Some companies offer warranties but only for things like the motor.

Oder, customer service representatives are manned by people who don’t speak English fluently or don’t know anything about the product.

It is therefore important to ensure that the filter you select comes with a reliable, multi-year warranty.

Turtles best canister filter

I believe Fluval Canister filters are the best canister filters you can use for turtles.

For a number of reasons, the Fluval series filters are my favorite.

  • You can find them in many sizes, from 25 to more than 100 gallons.
  • They are already equipped with filter media (with many options for additional accessories).
  • They come with a 3-year warranty.
  • All of them have multi-stage filtration.
  • The vacuums have a self-priming function that removes excess air after 24 hours.
  • These filters are very powerful. The 106 model filters at 145 GPH (gallons/hour) and the 406 models filter at 383 GPH.
  • There are a variety of filters that can be used to filter larger tanks. These range from 100 gallons up to the 400-gallon FX6 filter.

Fluval filters have a major drawback: the high price. These filters are slightly more expensive than other brands.

Fluval’s Fluval series is the best choice if you have a 100-gallon tank. A high-quality filter will cost you more if your tank is larger.

Here are the Fluval filters in action.

Three sets of foam filters filter water through, which remove most particulate matter. The water flows through the media stacks that you choose for your aquarium. Clear aquarium water!

Fluval filters are my go-to filter. If someone asked me which filter is my favorite, Fluval would be it.

Their 406 model is a great choice for tanks up to 100 gallons. It is also of high quality and not too expensive.

If you’re looking for something more affordable but still reliable, the Penn-Plax Cascade series is a good choice.

Penn-Plax Cascade filters

The Penn Plax Cascade is my favorite alternative to the Fluval series. Filters are an excellent choice. Here are the reasons:

  • These trays can be stacked to provide multi-stage filtration.
  • You also have many options for media filtration.
  • There are filters to fit almost every size tank, from 30 gallons up to 200 gal.
  • These filters are quick and simple to use with push-button primers.
  • They come with a 3-year warranty
  • Water flow valves can be adjusted.
  • American customers can call them for support.

These filters are available in the following sizes:


Used for this many gallons

Cascade 500

30 gallons (suitable for a 15-20 gallon turtle tank)

Cascade 700

65 gallons (suitable for a 30-40 gallon turtle tank)

Cascade 1000

100 gallons (suitable for a 50-60 gallon turtle tank)

Cascade 1200

150 gallons (suitable for a 75 to 90 gallon turtle tank)

Cascade 1500

200 gallons (suitable for 100+ gallon turtle tank) 

EHEIM Filters

EHEIM is a well-known brand in the pet world. EHEIM is well-known for its high quality.

But, I recommend looking at the Penn-Plax and Fluval brands first. You will have more options.

The EHEIM series filters include a 2-year warranty as well as starter filtration media. However, the main problem is that they aren’t available in as many sizes.

EHEIM Classic turtle aquarium filters are reliable, easy-to-use starter filters. These filters are:

  • Filterable from 42 to 92 gallons
  • These filters are more affordable than Fluval filters, but they are still very effective.
  • Include starter filtration media

These filters cost between $70 and $120.


How many gallons

Classic 40

40 gallons (suitable for anything lower than 25 gallon turtle tank)

Classic 66

60 gallons (suitable for a 30-35 gallon turtle tank)

Classic 92

92 gallons (suitable for a 40-50 gallon turtle tank) 

Sun Sun Filters

Next on the list is SunSun filters. They are considerably cheaper than Fluval filters. They also cost less than the Penn-Plax filter. Sun Sun filters are available starting at $40 Additional benefits include:

  • There are sizes available for tanks ranging from 50 to 150 gal.
  • These filters come with tons of media, such as rings, sponges and bio-balls.

Sun Sun turtle filters are highly recommended by pet turtle lovers for quite some time.

Their 406 model is a great option for smaller tanks that require a high-quality, but less expensive product. This model is great for tanks larger than 100 gallons.

Avoid the 104-5 and 204-5 models, as they aren’t as powerful or have as many stacks than the Fx6 and 405-6. However, they will still be fine for fish.

These filters cost from $40 to more than $100.

Sun Sun will replace your turtle filter if it breaks. Sun Sun Sun is a Chinese business, so you’ll have to deal with their inconsistent customer service line.


Used for this many gallons

HW-302 Pro

75 gallons (suitable for anything less than 40 gallon turtle tank)


100 gallons (suitable for a 50-60 gallon turtle tank)


150 gallons (suitable for a 75-100 gallon turtle tank)


75 gallons (suitable for anything less than 40 gallon turtle tank)


150 gallons (suitable for a 75 to 100 gallon turtle tank) 

The Best Internal Filter For A Turtle Tank

An internal filter, as its name implies, is a filter that doesn’t connect to any tubes or canisters that are outside the tank. Most models can be submerged in water and attached to your aquarium. Once it’s connected, simply plug it in.

If you have a small turtle or small tank, an internal filter is not something I recommend.

If your tank is smaller than 40 gallons, I recommend the following as an internal filter for turtles.

Fluval Underwater Filter

The Fluval Subwater Filter – (click here for the current Amazon price) is my first recommendation as an underwater filter.

  • It can be used for various low-gallon tank types (up to 15 gallons and 12-30 gallons respectively, as well as 24-40 gallons and 34-65 gallons).
  • This filter is very quiet.
  • It features a 3-stage filtration process, which includes biological media.
  • It features an adjustable flow control valve.

Fluval filters come with a 3-year warranty, as I mentioned above. This is quite an exceptional deal compared to other brands in 2020!

This filter is quite reliable and powerful for smaller tanks. However, if you have fish or other plants in your tank, it is recommended to upgrade to a canister or larger filter.

Deciding on Your Turtle filter

The filtration capacity of your turtle tank, the desired setup and your budget are the key factors in choosing the right filter.

Fluval, API and Penn-Plax canister filters offer highly customizable filtration that can be used to provide mechanical, biological and chemical filtration. They also adapt to your aquarium’s needs, even if it has residents that change over time.

Canister filters can be more costly than internal filters like the Aqueon QuietFlow, and require more maintenance. The Fluval Advanced Aquarium Filtration Systems can provide convenience and advanced monitoring tools. However, you don’t need to spend a lot to have a high-quality filter system.

Whatever filtration system you choose to use, make sure it has enough capacity to filter your turtle tank. The right filtration system will ensure that your turtle is healthy and can enjoy the beauty of clean tanks.


Although canister filters are not easy to use, once you become familiar with them, they can last many years as a reliable filter system.

There are many other options, but I recommend that you first look at Fluval, Penn-Plax, or Sun Sun based on your tank size.

Although you might be tempted by the idea of using a generic turtle aquarium filter brand, I recommend against it for several reasons.

  1. Generic brands generally have lower customer support than brands like Sun Sun or Fluval. This is true even if they are reachable. Second, generic and cheaper brands don’t offer any warranty, or have very limited warranties.
  2. Experience. Fluval filters are expensive. However, there are thousands of people who have purchased them, as well as thousands who have reviewed them and have a good understanding of them. This is impossible with a generic filter. It is difficult to get help, or even answer a simple question.

You can’t go wrong either way if you’re looking for the best turtle filter.

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