7 Best Turtle Tank Filters – Complete Guide!

A turtle tank filter is helpful as it helps to clean the water in the tank. You not only need a filter but a good filter that will do the job. Let us look at why you need a turtle tank filter, the types you will find today, how to choose the best a look at some of the best turtle tank filter units you can buy today.

Best Turtle Tank Filters

To understand the tank filters available in the market, we have reviewed some of the filters that have been the best-rated today. They will help you narrow down your choices in search of the best turtle tank filter.

1. Aqueon Quiet Flow

Aqueon QuietFlow 155/400 Canister Filter

$199.95  in stock
17 new from $199.95
Free shipping
as of 11/07/2023 2:05 pm

The filter is best known for its impressive cleaning power. It is a four-stage filtering system with all three filtering stages; mechanical, biological, and chemical filtering. Preceding all these is a diffuser grid that prevents large substances from going through the filter, causing clogging.

The chemical stage utilizes activated carbon to give the tank waster that crisp, clean look before it flows back into the tank.

They are available in small sizes, between 10 and 40 gallons, with a good flow rate of about 155 gallons/hour. Due to their small capacity, you will need at least three filters for an effective filtering job.

The beauty of having more than one filter working is that even as you clean, the others are still working, which means that the filtering work will not be interrupted. The only downside to this is that buying multiple filters will always be more expensive than buying one big-capacity unit.

Aqueon Quiet flow filters have an automatic pump that means that you will not require to switch it back on if there is a power interruption. It is vital in case power interruption happens when there is no one at home. The unit also comes with an adjustable outflow nozzle that ensures proper water circulation throughout the tank.

Lastly, as its name suggests, this filter works very silently. It is a great feature, especially if the turtle tank is in the main living area of your house. It is also suitable for the turtles as too much noise for extended periods may stress your turtles.


  • Four-stage filter system for effective filtering
  • Works silently
  • Utilizes active carbon for clean, crisp water
  • Adjustable outflow nozzle for proper water circulation


  • It has a small capacity
  • It might be expensive to buy several units at the onset

2. Eheim Classic 2215

EHEIM Classic 2215 External Canister Filter with Media for up to 92 US Gallons

$177.77  in stock
2 new from $177.77
as of 11/07/2023 2:05 pm

Eheim classic 2215 filter can work well with most turtle tanks. It is known for its durability, lasting as long as the turtle’s lifespan. It has a capacity of about 95 gallons with an impressive flow rate of 165 gallons per hour. At this rate, the filter can efficiently service a tank with a capacity of 45 gallons or less. Such a flow rate will ensure there is no clogging in the tank.

Eheim’s classic 2215 filter has a two-stage filtration system; the mechanical and biological one. The unit comes with all necessary accessories and parts to start using it immediately. Setting it up might be challenging for new pet owners, but the setup manual is well-explained and easy to understand. It also comes with all the necessary tubing.

Be on the lookout for the polishing pad in the mechanical filter. This pad does an excellent job of removing most of the solid material in the water. However, since it is very fine, it easily clogs and will require cleaning after every few days, preferably at least once a week. If you cannot maintain this, switching it with a coarse filter is better.


  • An impressive flow rate of 165-gallon per hour
  • It is durable
  • It comes complete with filtration media and necessary tubing
  • Can easily handle larger turtle tanks


  • Lacks chemical filtration
  • The fine polishing pad clogs easily

3. Penn-Plax Cascade 1500 Canister Filter

Penn-Plax Cascade All-in-One Aquarium Canister Filter – for Tanks Up to 200 Gallons (350 GPH) – Cascade 1500

$194.99  in stock
4 new from $194.99
Free shipping
as of 11/07/2023 2:05 pm

Penn-Plax Cascade filter is one of the best external filtration units in the market. Having a capacity ranging from 20 to 200 gallons, it is suitable for different capacity tanks. It has an impressive filter rate of up to 350 gallons an hour, which is impressive.

The first advantage of the Cascade filter is that it has retractable media trays. It means that you can remove the tray from the filtration chamber and fill them up with the media you want. Selecting the media to use gives you more control over your filter.

For experienced aquarists, having control over your media is an essential thing in that you can greatly improve your filter’s performance, thus saving on cost. To do this, you will need to have a good knowledge of the different kinds of media available and their combinations for the mechanical and biological stages.

Secondly, cascade filters feature a durable exterior cover that can withstand harsh conditions like extreme heat or cold. The hard plastic exterior ensures that the inner chambers are well-protected. Another good thing is that all the valves rotate 360 degrees, allowing you to twist the tubing in any direction, especially in cramped spaces.

The only flaw and probably a glaring one is that this filter is loud. Irrespective of the number of modifications you make to the filter, it is hard to get rid of the noise. You have to pay this price for having such a powerful filter.


  • A fast flow rate of 350-gallons an hour
  • Suitable for large tanks
  • Customizable media trays
  • 360-degree rotating valves


  • They are noisy
  • Requires some experience with filtering media

4. API Filstar XP

API FILSTAR XP FILTRATION FOAM 30 PPI Aquarium Canister Filter Filtration Pads 2-Count,Blacks & Grays

 in stock
14 new from $9.40
Free shipping
as of 11/07/2023 2:05 pm

API Filstar XP is a large but simple-to-maintain filter which makes it a favorite of most aquarists. It features a quick-to-release valve, making it easy to disconnect and remove the filter chamber for cleaning. While this filter is not completely silent, it has a low noise which would not bother most people.

Its canister consists of three filter stages, each for every filtering stage; mechanical, biological, and chemical filtering. The filter trays are easy to remove when it is time to change the media. It means that you need not look for a technician to do the simple maintenances as you can easily do it yourself.

You can also customize the media to your liking for a more effective filtering job. It is worth noting that while the system comes with some media when new, it is not enough, and you will need to buy some. For this reason, it is vital to have some experience with handling media prior to purchasing this unit.

One ingenious aspect of the XP Filstar filters is that the water in the filter flows from the bottom to the top. Bottom-top flow ensures that the large particles settle at the bottom of the canister due to gravity. The square shape of the canister provides a wide surface area which allows the filtering media enough room for mechanical and biological filtering. At the same time, the shape ensures that there are no leaks of dirty, unfiltered water in the system.

The XP filter is available in various capacities ranging from 45 to 265 gallons. It has varied flow rates, too, but the larger 265-gallon filter can reach astonishing rates of 450 gallons an hour. Such a rate means that you do not have to worry about having a large capacity tank for your turtles. The XP Filstar filter will be able to handle anything thrown at it.


  • It is available in varied capacities.
  • Simple and easy to clean and maintain.
  • Water flows from bottom to top, making it easy to trap sediments.
  • It has three customizable trays for efficiency


  • It is not completely quiet
  • It does not come with sufficient media

5. Fluval FX6

Fluval FX6 High Performance Aquarium Filter, Canister Filter for Aquariums up to 400 Gal.

$369.95  in stock
14 new from $369.95
6 used from $347.16
Free shipping
as of 11/07/2023 2:05 pm

The Fluval FX6 filter is massive and specially designed for large turtle tanks. It has a 400-gallon capacity with a flow rate of up to 560 gallons an hour. You need not worry about your large capacity tank at such incredible rates as this filter will get the job done. The downside of such a large size is that the filter will cost more and take a considerable ample space beneath your tank.

The FX6 filter features some of the best features of a filtration system. It has a tight and durable clamp that keeps the filter airtight to maintain the flow pressure. The clamps are also easy to remove, making it easy to remove, clean, and replace the filter media.

Further, the media trays are vertical, making it easy to pull them out. As an aquarist, you can choose which type of media to use to improve the filter’s efficiency. Fluval F6 filter comes with a purge valve at the bottom of the canister, which expels water from the tank when it is time to replace it.

The filter adopts the smart pump technology that turns off the pump briefly after every 12 hours of running. Turning off the pump allows the collected bubbles to escape from the system. Such ensures that the pump will function optimally without requiring you to open the canister constantly.


  • It has a massive capacity
  • Durable and easy to maintain
  • Customizable media
  • Smart pump technology
  • Purge valve to expel dirty water


  • It takes a large space and is expensive to buy
  • Requires experience handling media

6. Fluval 206

Fluval 206 External Filter

 out of stock
as of 11/07/2023 2:05 pm

Yet another Fluval filter, we have the Fluval 206, which is a smaller version of the Fluval XP series. It has a capacity of between 25 and 100 gallons. The flow rate of the 206 version is up to 200 gallons per hour, but for the bigger 406 series, the rates can reach up to 380 gallons an hour.

The Fluval 206 comes with four filter baskets that you can fill with the media of your liking. The filter provides you with the necessary slots to set up all three filtering stages. This filter adopts a square design which allows it to hold up to 40% more water than its round counterparts. A larger capacity allows for a faster and more effective filtering job.

A huge setback for these filters is the tubing works which can be challenging to connect securely. It is advisable to change the tubing before you start connecting the filter. As compensation for this, the unit has a sound-dampening impeller, which effectively reduces the noise. However, be on the lookout for the impeller as it is known to stop working after only one year.

The good news is that the filter comes with a three-year warranty, giving you ample time to confirm what works and what needs fixing. Luckily, this warranty covers the sound-impeller.


  • Available in various capacities up to 100 gallons
  • Square design allows for more volume
  • It has a sound-dampening impeller that offers noise-canceling
  • It has a three-year warranty
  • It comes with four customizable filter baskets


  • Poor tubing that will require an upgrade after purchase
  • Quality issues with the sound impeller

7.     MarineLand Magniflow Canister Filter

Marineland Magniflow Canister Filter For aquariums, Easy Maintenance,Black

$144.49  in stock
4 used from $134.40
Free shipping
as of 11/07/2023 2:05 pm

Next, we have this canister filter by MarineLand, a brand known to create quality aquarium equipment. The canister filter features a 3-stage filtration system that facilitates efficient cleaning and filtering of the tank water.

Another quality feature of the Magniflow canister filter is that it features bio-filter balls and a large ceramic surface area through which bacteria grow and neutralize ammonia keeping the water clean. It also comes with an activated carbon bag that helps remove discoloration and odor in the tank.

Its mechanical filtration is superior to most in the industry; it provides well-curated filter pads that catch an impressive amount of debris, making the water have a crystal clear look. Such features coupled with reasonable pricing make the MarineLand Magniflow canister filter one of the best turtle tank filters for the money.


  • Highly effective filter
  • Impressively improves water clarity
  • Affordable
  • Removes odor and discoloration


  • It can be challenging to setup

Why Do Your Turtles Need a Filter?

Turtles are messy animals by nature, and if left alone, they will quickly accumulate a lot of waste in the aquarium. For this reason, it is pretty necessary to have ways through which you can clean your tank from time to time.

If you do not remove the waste frequently, it will accumulate, causing the aquarium to become dirty and clogged. A dirty tank may cause illnesses hence the need to keep it clean.

Turtles, unlike fish, are big animals which means that they will eat more and thus expel more waste.

Therefore, relying on the usual fish tank filtration systems to keep the turtle tank clean might not work. You will need a more robust system to get the job done.

Turtle tank filters, just like any other product, will offer you service at a different level of efficiency according to their manufacturers.

Therefore, it is essential to understand your needs in a tank filter before settling for one. Purchasing the right turtle tank filter will ensure that you get the value for your money and save you time and energy.

What to Look For When Buying a Turtle Filter

Buying the right filter is crucial for maximizing efficiency. Since different filters are suitable for different tanks, you need to be specific on what you want to ensure that you choose the best.

Below are some essential points to consider when looking for the best turtle filter.

Size and Capacity

When looking for the best turtle filter system to buy, one of the most important things to consider is the size and capacity of the filtration system.

As mentioned earlier, you will need a more powerful system for turtle tank filtration than that of a fish tank. Failing to get an optimal tank will result in poorly filtered water which may cause your turtle illnesses.

As a standard rule of thumb, when you have more than one turtle in a tank or have both turtles and fish in the same tank, you will need to upgrade the fish tank filtration system.

The recommendation is that the capacity of the system you choose should have a filtering capacity of a bare minimum of two or three times the capacity of the tank.

For instance, if your tank is 50 gallons, you should get a filtration system that filters at least 100 gallons per hour (GPH). When choosing a good turtle filter system, ensure that the system can filter the whole capacity of the turtle tank within one hour.

Number of Filtration Stages

There are three stages of filtration for turtle tanks; mechanical filtration, biological filtration, and chemical filtration. All these stages serve a purpose, and they are all crucial in ensuring that your filtration system is working effectively.

Mechanical filtration involves getting rid of the physical matter in the water. It more or less acts as a sieve.

The material could either be uneaten food, scutes, feces, algae, or any other debris that may be in the tank. By getting rid of the physical matter, the water will look cleaner but still contain dissolved substances.

Some water-soluble substances like ammonia, which is present in the turtle’s pee, will affect the chemistry of the water, therefore making it unsafe for your turtle.

The second stage of the filtration system deals with this problem. Biological filtration consists of a media that encourages the growth of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria. It helps in breaking down the dissolved ammonia making the water remain safe for your turtle.

After oxidation, the resulting product is a nitrate, beneficial to plants in the tank. It is worth keeping in mind that excess nitrates in the water could also cause harm to your turtles. You should change the tank water regularly to avoid the accumulation of nitrates to toxic levels.

The last filtration stage is chemical filtration which is not as important as the first two but will help deal with some chemicals that may persist even after the first two stages.

Special substances such as activated carbon break down the residual ammonia that didn’t break down in biological filtration.

Having a filtration system that incorporates all three filtration stages is excellent. However, if this is not possible, get the one that has at least the first two stages.

Ease of Service

Another important filter feature to pay attention to when getting a turtle tank filtration system for your turtles is the ease of servicing the system. After using the system for some time, you will need to service and clean it to work more effectively.

A good system should be easy to take apart and put together. You should ‘t have to hire a technician every time you need to service it.

The best turtle tank filtration system should also have a simple cabinet for the filtration media making it easy to replace it. It should also be easy to access the mesh without taking the whole system apart when dealing with a mechanical filtration system.

In addition, a good filtration system should have a clear guide for operating it. The manual or guide should clearly explain how to take it apart during maintenance and how to clean it. Having a clear manual improves the user experience and eliminates room for errors.

You may also consider getting two filters such that when you are cleaning one, the other one is still running. While this is not a must, it helps ensure no ammonia buildups in the water.

Furthermore, by using two filters, you will not lose all the beneficial bacteria at the same time. Lastly, having two systems may help act as a backup if one fails before you can purchase another.


When buying a turtle tank filtration system, you should always ensure that it has a warranty for at least one year.

It ensures that if anything that is not as a result of your action happens, you will have your filtration system repaired or, in some cases, replaced for free. It will give you ample time to observe how the filtration system works with peace of mind.

A warranty covers manufacturing-related defects in the product. A warranty also assures you that the manufacturing company is offering you a good product that is free of any defects.

It shows the level of confidence that the manufacturing company has in its products. The longer the warranty period, the better it is for you.

For the time that the warranty will cover you, it is always best that in case you need help with maintaining the filtration system, whenever possible, you should get a technician from the company where you got the system.

Hiring the manufacturing company to maintain the system will avoid problems in the future when the filtration system malfunctions and you seek to have the company repair it under the terms of the warranty.

They may reject your claim deeming that your hired incompetent technicians to service your filter, and that might be the reason why it malfunctioned. It is a risk you don’t want to take.

Manufacturing Brand

Another crucial feature you need to consider when buying a turtle tank filter system is the tank filter’s manufacturer. Some well-known brands manufacture filtration systems that have a good reputation.

Whenever possible, it is best that you go for those. There is a good chance that a recognized brand will offer a better product than brands that are not very well-known.

Another good thing with buying from big brands is that since most people get products from them, there will be enough reviews of their products.

Genuine reviews are important since they will tell you of other people’s experiences with the products. If most people are giving positive reviews, there is a good chance that a product will work well.

When reading reviews, always pay more attention to the critical reviews since they give an idea of the challenges you may encounter with the particular tank filter.

Understanding the challenges with the product will help you decide whether they are challenges you can deal with or not. Knowing this will help you make a more informed decision.

The only downside of buying a filter system from a big brand is that they tend to be priced slightly higher than the other products. This means that you need to be prepared to pay more than you would ordinarily pay for products from smaller brands.

In addition, it is not always the case that a big company offers the best product. There are also some not-very known brands that may be offering even better products.

Ultimately, research on a dependable product, and if it comes from a small brand, do not shy away from buying it; it might be as good or better than a big brand.

Types of Turtle Filters

Besides the filtration systems, it is important to know the type of tank filter you intend to buy. This information helps you decide which tank filter will be the best fit for your turtles, as each comes in different designs. There are mainly four types, and we discuss each of these in detail below;

1. Internal Filters

As the name suggests, internal turtle tank filters are inside the tanks. They are also called submersible tanks. An internal tank filter is usually attached to the wall of the tank using suction cups and is ideal for beginners with small tanks.

The capacity of these pumps is usually between 20 and 30 gallons, which means they can only accommodate one turtle.

Due to their filters’ tiny size, they have a small media capacity which means that you will have to keep cleaning and replacing them frequently.

Constant replacements can be cumbersome and, at the same time, increase the wear and tear of the filtering system. It also costs more money in the long run.

Internal filters have motors that can be noisy, making the environment unfit for your pet and the people in that house. 

Another disadvantage of an internal filter is that it involves some level of risk, especially if it is electric-powered.

Installing any electrical device underwater is potentially dangerous for both you and your turtle, as you might get an electrical shock if the connection is improper. Also, if sharp objects are sticking from the device, they can easily injure your pet.

2. Canister Filters

These filters are regarded as the best in the industry. You mount them beneath the tank, which means that they will not take space in the tank. Canister filters are some of the best available but are also quite expensive, especially those with bigger capacities.

Canister filters have one main competitive advantage over most filters; they have huge trays that hold a lot of media. Having a lot of media means that a substantial amount of ammonia is filtered every time water goes over this.

Another critical advantage of canister filters is that it has a higher flow rate that turns water over the media at least five times per hour.

The more the number of times water goes over the media, the higher the filtration rates. Some people prefer that water turns over the media at least ten times per hour; however, five turns per hour are sufficient with good quality media.

Another attractive feature of canister filters is that they allow for several stages of filtration. Multiple stages allow for more effective filtration.

It also means that you are able to switch the filtration chambers for cleaning without necessarily interrupting the filtration process. Lastly, multiple stages allow for the inclusion of extraction filtration systems like activated carbon.

With such benefits, it is clear why canister filters rank high among the best turtle tank filters.

3. Hang-on-back Filters

SeaChem – Large Aquarium Fish Tank Filter, Tidal 75 Gallon (300 Liters) by Sicce

 in stock
13 new from $58.38
2 used from $57.80
Free shipping
as of 11/07/2023 2:05 pm

For this kind of filter to work, they need to have a filter cutout that prevents water from filling to the brim, allowing your turtles to escape from the tank.

The Hang-on-back filter relies on siphoning power for it to work, meaning that it will not work well if the water levels are below the level of the pump.

To ensure that the filter works optimally, you can choose to install a water filter cutout that will keep the water from overflowing.

Alternatively, you may decide to have a basking area at the top of the tank. It will prevent the turtles from escaping even if the water fills to the brim.

Another important note about these filters is that they are designed for fish and not turtles. Since turtles are messier than fish, you need to have a more robust filter for effective filtration.

Therefore, if you are to use them for your turtle tanks, ensure that they have a capacity of at least three times higher than the capacity of your tank.

4. Under Gravel Filters (UGFs)

Penn-Plax Undergravel Aquarium Filter for 40-55 Gallon Tanks – Four 11.25” x 11.25” Plates – Under Gravel System for Clear, Clean Water – Safe for Freshwater and Saltwater Tanks

$18.50  in stock
4 new from $18.50
2 used from $17.41
Free shipping
as of 11/07/2023 2:05 pm

Under gravel filters, uses gravel for filtration. This gravel is found at the bottom of the turtle tank. Traditionally, the filter worked by passing water through the gravel, which would act as a media, containing the beneficial bacteria that would work on the solid matter, digesting it. Aquarium powerheads would, in turn, pump the water back into the tank.

The only problem with a UGF filter is that with time, turtle poo, pee, and the uneaten food particles clog at the tank’s base.

The clogging at the bottom of the tank encourages the growth of the anaerobic bacteria, which undermines the growth of the beneficial bacteria. The reverse flow method came to deal with this challenge.

The reverse flow method involves pumping the clogging material up through the gravel. That way, it will not settle down on the gravel.

Some pet turtle owners use this method, believing it works well. However, it remains unclear whether under gravel filters are suitable for a turtle tank, with various pet owners holding different views.

One of the arguments against these filters is that turtles may eat gravel, which is dangerous. Turtles will mistake gravel for food particles and start feeding on them in most cases.

The other reason against these filters is that when the poo and uneaten food particles settle on the gravel when a turtle disturbs them, there is usually a massive mess in the tank.

Lastly, UGFs are really loud when working, which can cause discomfort to both you and your turtle.

We would not recommend you to buy a UGF filter for these three reasons. However, if you are one of those turtle owners who believe that they are the best filters available, the best way to find research and watch the filters in action before deciding to buy.

Whatever turtle filter you settle for, you should always make sure it is running at all times. If the water ceases flowing through the filter, oxygen will be cut out, leading to the death of the beneficial aerobic bacteria.

In their place, anaerobic bacteria would take over, leading to the accumulation of poisonous products in your turtle tank, which may significantly affect your turtles’ lives.

You may turn off the filter for a short time, maybe when rearranging or cleaning the tubing. However, when the filter has been off for more than one hour, for instance, in case of a power failure, you should change the media before turning it back on.

It is necessary to do this to avoid the accumulation of anaerobic bacteria in the media.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use A Fish Tank Filter In My Turtle Tank?

It is acceptable to use a fish filter for a turtle tank. However, fish are less messy, and you might need to go for a higher capacity if you need to use a fish filter in a turtle tank. The same filter gallons capacity may not be adequate for the same capacity for a turtle.

What Kind of Filter Should I Use For My Pet Turtle Tank?

Even though there’s a variety of filters for turtle tanks, canister filters are the best choice. Their design is suitable for large tanks, and they are often more powerful than the others.

In addition, canister filters are pretty easy to install with minimal maintenance works. Though their price varies from one brand to another, most tend to be fairly priced.

How Often Should I Clean The Turtle Filter?

It ultimately depends on the specific filter. Different manufacturers give different cleaning instructions for their filtration products.

Some require more frequent cleaning than others. Read and adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions to get optimal results from the turtle tank filter of your choice.

Besides cleaning the filter regularly, you should also change the tank water every 2 to 3 weeks. Else, the filter will not be effective no matter how good it is.

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