Best Filter for Turtle Tank – 5 Reviews, Comparison & Buyers’ Guide Upd.

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It is very important that you get an appropriate filter for your turtle tank but you’ll agree with us when we say that it’s easier said than done. 

This is why we’ve spent months with different filters to find out which ones work the best for our turtle friends. 

By the end of this post, you’ll know what the best filters for turtle tanks are available on the market and what makes a great filter for a turtle tank.

Top Pick

This self-starting canister filter is a powerful machine that will not let your turtles down. Its simple design makes it very easy to use and to set up.

Runner Up

If you’re looking for a filter that will last a long time, this product is for you. Its durable exterior coupled with a powerful motor promises a long shelf life.

Also Great

This sturdy filter is perfect for you if you enjoy peace and quiet. It’s 4-clamp locking system makes it easy to mount and the filter is quiet itself.

The turtles we had had to endure the cleaning powers of several different filters that we had to test over the course of a few months. In the end, we decided that these three were the ones that showed the best results. 

Now, let’s get into the reviews for the top 5 filters for turtle tanks.

Best Filter for Turtle Tank - Best 5 Reviews

1. Best All-Around Filter for Turtle Tank - Fluval Canister Filter Review

This simple-looking filter packs a great punch. We were impressed by its elegant design as well as powerful filtering capabilities. 

It features a powerful motor that is able to operate effectively in aquariums as big as 400 gallons. It also has a self-starting feature which takes away a lot of anxiety of fish-keepers since you don’t have to worry about starting it or siphoning it. 

A lot of fish-keepers have problems with air being trapped inside their filters. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that this filter has a built-in mechanism to prevent the trapping of air.

Features of Fluval Canister Filter – Best Filter for Turtle Tank

  1. Can clean aquariums up to 400 gallons
  2. Multi-stage filter for three-stage filtration
  3. Exterior made of hard plastic
  4. Smart Pump Technology to prevent clogging
  5. Rubberised feet for quiet operation
  • Easy to set up
  • Easy to clean
  • Does not let air get trapped
  • Self-starting
  • Can be used in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums
  • Extremely quiet
  • Expensive
  • Water current may become too strong in smaller tanks

If you’re looking for a powerful filter that is easy to maintain and use, you’ve found it. Its elegant design coupled with its smart features make it the ultimate filter to have for your turtle tank.

2. Best Multi-Purpose Filter for Turtle Tank - Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter Review

As soon as you’ll hold this filter in your hand, you will be impressed by its build quality. This heavy-duty filter is made to last and it is able to clean the dirtiest of tanks with minimal effort. 

The multi-stage filter provides all three types of filtration and it is made to function both in freshwater as well as saltwater aquariums. 

We also noticed that its interior is unconventionally-designed. We did not know what purpose this served but once we started using it, we noticed that it helped the filter work for an extremely long time without clogging up or requiring maintenance.  

Features of Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter

  1. Works in aquariums up to 200-gallons
  2. Exterior made from hard plastic
  3. Comes with over $50 of added accessories
  4. 360-degree rotating taps for draining
  5. Easily-removable flow valves for maintenance
  • Does not clog easily
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to set up
  • Works for both freshwater and saltwater tanks
  • Quiet filter
  • Changing filter media can be a hassle

If you don’t have time to open up and clean your filter regularly, this is the product for you. Its unique design discourages clogging and it works effectively in large turtle tanks.

3. Best Quiet Filter for Turtle Tank - Hydor Professional External Canister Filter Review

This is an external canister filter and so, it is built to withstand all kinds of extreme conditions that its owner might put it through. 

It’s a heavy-duty filter that features a 4-clamp locking system that is able to secure its motor and lock it in place securely on your turtle tank. This system also helps prevent any water leakage as it keeps the filter tightly sealed at all ends. 

When we first plugged this in and turned it on, it operated so quietly that we thought we might not have plugged it in properly.

Features of Hydor Professional External Canister Filter

  1. Works in tanks up to 100 gallons
  2. Three-stage filtration process
  3. Hard plastic exterior
  4. 4-clamp locking system to ensure secure mounting
  5. Leak prevention system
  • Sturdy build quality
  • Easy to set up 
  • Quiet
  • Easy to clean
  • Filter media is easy to change
  • Replacements parts hard to find

If you’re looking for a filter that works extremely quietly, this product is ideal for you. It’s focus on noise suppression and fast cleaning makes it a great choice for your turtle tank.

4. Best Easy-to-Clean Filter for Turtle Tank - EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media Review

This filter is small in size but is able to clean turtle tanks of sizes up to 300 gallons with ease. 

Unlike most of its competitors, the clamps on this filter are made from stainless steel which made us rest easy as we were sure that it would be mounted securely on our turtle tank. Gone are the days of cheap plastic clamps on filters that break with ease.

The EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter features a vacuum-sealed design that helps prevent any leakage of water. It is able to operate effectively and will pass your turtle tank water through a three-stage filtration process that will clean your tank of any and all unwanted particles. 

Features of EHEIM Classic External Canister Filter with Media

  1. Works in tanks up to 300 gallons
  2. Stainless-steel Clamps
  3. Comes with mounting accessories
  4. Comes with complete filter media
  5. Silicon-sealing ring for easy closing
  • Extremely silent
  • Prevents leakage
  • Consumes less energy
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to set up
  • Interior propeller is a bit flimsy

If you’re looking for a canister filter for your turtle tank that is easy to clean and maintain, this is the product you’re looking for. Its simple design makes it perfect for novices and it won’t require too much effort from you when it comes to cleaning.

5. Best Budget Filter for Turtle Tank - Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter Review

This small and lightweight filter works great if you have a small turtle tank with only a few or a single turtle companion. 

Unlike all of its competitors, this filter boasts a four-stage filtration process as opposed to the standard three-stage one. The additional step being passing the water through a dry/wet diffuser grid that gets rid of any large substrate particles in the tank water. 

Since it is extremely lightweight, it can easily be mounted anywhere on your tank and securely positioned for it to filter out all the waste particles at an effective rate. 

Features of Aqueon Quietflow Internal Power Filter

  1. Works in tanks up to 40 gallons
  2. Exterior made from plastic
  3. Four-stage filtration process
  4. Adjustable filter flow rate
  5. Fully-submersible
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to set up 
  • Highly adjustable/customizable
  • Cleans water more effectively 
  • Extremely quiet
  • Not effective in larger tanks
  • Plastic exterior feels cheap and flimsy

If you have a smaller tank and are looking for a light-weight option that would be suitable for it, this is it for you. The simple design and lightweight exterior makes it perfect for effective cleaning of your smaller turtle tank.

best filter for turtle tank

Buyers’ Guide

Do I really need a Filter for my Turtle Tank?

You absolutely do need to invest in a filter for your turtle tank. 

A lot of people have a misconception that turtles aren’t as messy as fish and they can clean the tank on their own without investing in a filter. That’s all this is though; A misconception. 

In fact, turtles are even messier than fish and require a filter that’s usually more powerful than a fish tank filter in order for the turtle tank to be effectively clean at a reasonable rate. 

After all, turtles are living, breathing creatures that require oxygen and produce waste. Thus, there needs to be a system in place that is able to keep their environment clean so that they are able to breathe and live easily. 

What Should I look for when Buying a Filter for my Turtle Tank? 

Just like when buying a fish tank filter, there are several factors that you need to keep in mind when going out to buy a filter for your turtle tank. These factors are: 

  • Tank Size 

The most important thing you need to consider is how big your turtle tank is.

If you buy a filter that is too powerful for your small turtle tank, it will create strong currents in your tank and ultimately, make it uninhabitable for your turtles. 

If you buy a filter that is too weak for a larger turtle tank you have, it won’t be able to clean the water at an effective rate. 

So, it is very important that you look into what operating capacity the filter you’re buying operates at and to make sure that it will be able to clean your turtle tank at an appropriate rate.

  • Build Quality 

No one wants to spend their hard-earned money on flimsy products that will break down over the course of a few months. 

When you’re buying a filter for your turtle tank, observe the material it’s made of and ensure that it will be able to last for a long time in the conditions you have in your home or in your turtle tank in the case of an internal filter. 

Most filters are made of plastic but that’s fine. What you need to observe is how strong and hard the plastic is. Usually, the most durable filters have a body made of hard plastic with many small parts made of metal. This makes them long-lasting and sturdy.

  • Type of Motor 

The motor is the heart of the filter and you need to make sure that you’re getting one that has a motor that can serve your needs. 

Depending on the type of construction, some motors don’t need any maintenance at all while others are extremely needy. You need to keep this in mind if you’re not going to have time to clean the motor regularly. 

Also, if you’re not a big fan of humming or ambient background noise, you might want to invest in a filter that has some sort of noise suppression system built into the motor for quiet operation.

What are the Different Types of Filtration and is it necessary for my Filter to be able to do all of them? 

There are mainly three types of filtration processes and yes, it is necessary that your filter is able to perform all three of them in order to be a well-rounded filter for your turtle tank. 

The three main types of filtration processes are: 

  • Mechanical Filtration 

This process takes out any undissolved large particles in the tank water such as substrate residue, solid dirt and food leftovers. It does this by passing the water through a sponge or filter floss. 

  • Chemical Filtration 

This process uses activated carbon to neutralize any harmful toxins and chemicals that might be present in the tank water. 

  • Biological Filtration 

Biological filtration optimizes the nitrogen cycle which encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria within your turtle tank. This boosts oxygen generation and makes the turtle tank a much more pleasant place for your turtles to live in.

What are some types of Filters I should avoid? 

If you’re getting a filter for a turtle tank, we strongly recommend that you look towards the external canister or internal filter options. 

Do not, under any circumstances, go for an under-gravel filter. Turtles are inquisitive creatures that like to mess with the gravel and substrate at the bottom of their tank. If  you go out and invest in an under-gravel filter, you might end up in a situation where your turtles are messing about with the equipment and making it stop working or maybe even harming themselves in the process.

Should I get an External or an Internal Filter for my Turtle Tank? 

Both external and internal filters have their pros and cons. 

External filters are usually more expensive as they are larger and are able to work in bigger turtle tanks more effectively. They can be quite big in size and difficult to handle but they are quite powerful and get the job done. 

Internal filters are relatively lightweight and less expensive. They are usually a great option if you have a smaller turtle tank that you would like to keep clean.

Do I have to invest in a more powerful Filter if I increase the number of Turtles in my Turtle Tank?

Yes. If you increase the number of turtles in your tank, you might want to invest in a filter that works at a greater operating capacity as you will now have to account for twice the waste in the same amount of time. 

Not only this, when your turtles grow after a certain period of time, they start producing more waste. So, you might even have to change your filter and upgrade to a bigger one after some time even if you haven’t bought more turtles for your tank.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


How do I Set up a Canister Filter for my Turtle Tank?

External Canister filters are a little more complicated to set up than internal filters as internal filters just need to be mounted and you can just plug them in and they start doing their job. 

Canister filters, on the other hand, come completely disassembled in their box. You have to carefully follow the instructions given with them in order to assemble them into a single module that can then be mounted onto your turtle tank. 

Connect all the tubes and power cords. Double-check to make sure everything is securely connected and then turn the power on.

What type of Filter is best Suited for a Turtle Tank? 

There are several factors that determine what kind of filter could be best for your specific turtle tank such as tank size, flow rate, type of motor, etc. 

Normally, the biggest determining factors is the size of your turtle tank. A lot of people choose internal filters over external filters simply because they have smaller turtle tanks that do not need the high performance power of external filters.

Can I just use a Fish Filter for my Turtle Tank? 

Yes. Most brands build their filters to be highly versatile so they can work in many different kinds of environments. 

However, if you do plan on doing this, make sure you properly research the product you’re getting in order to ensure that it will be able to clean your turtle tank effectively within a reasonable time.

How regularly should I clean my Turtle Tank Filter? 

Different filters come with different schedules and timelines that they require you to clean and maintain them. Like you may have noticed in our reviews, some filters required little to no maintenance at all while others were a bit more needy. Be sure to research your filter in order to know how often you need to perform maintenance on it in order to ensure there is no clogging, leakage or dirty tank water.

My water is starting to have a Green Tint to it, what’s wrong with my Filter? 

This is due to an annoying kind of algae known as “Green Soup” algae. This algae breakout tends to happen when a new filter is installed and the turtle tank is not “cycled” properly. 

Cycling refers to the process of letting the turtle tank breathe in its natural environment without any living creatures in order to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria that are able to remove toxins from the tank water.

If your tank water has developed this green tint, we suggest leaving the tank in darkness for 1-2 days. It should be able to fix your problem. If the problem persists, we suggest investing in a water-detoxifying agent which are readily available in the market.

Final Verdict


Turtles are adorable creatures but they are hard to take care of. It’s very important that we don’t skimp out when buying equipment that is responsible for keeping their living environment clean and healthy. 

In the end, our winner definitely has to be the Fluval Canister Filter. It’s an extremely powerful filter that can clean turtle tanks up to 400 gallons in size without breaking a sweat. It’s extremely durable, easy to use and clean, and works without making the slightest sound. 

And with that, we’ve reached the end of our post for the best filters for turtle tanks. 

Let us know what filters you’re using for your adorable turtles.

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